A New Perspective – 08-31-2004: Collier Schools

August 31, 2004

The Collier County School District is a very large tax-based institution in our county, which gets relatively little attention from most of us. They exist and play a major role in developing our community and its future.
The resignation of Superintendent Ben Marlin was a shock and a disappointment for many of us. Wherever he went, he brought a positive message of the future and dealt boldly with the difficult tasks that lay before him. We’ll never know the whole story behind his resignation, but some of it came out soon after with the confirmation that he has taken a consulting position with an educational firm.
It seems odd that a person of Marlin’s standing could be so rattled at the abuse the position takes. His early withdrawal also means he probably wasn’t the right person to complete the task to move things forward.
The sad part is it will be difficult to find the CEO-type of person needed for the position, who will want to come into this school district and subject themselves to considerable abuse. Word gets out in school circles and it won’t be pretty.
Many things will be left in limbo, many goals will not be addressed to as strongly, and the political hot seat will become even hotter.
The hotbed created in the district exists because most people, myself included, chose to put this essential part of local government on the back burner. We didn’t get involved in the process. We let the negative segment of the community dictate our direction and the unconstructive squeaky wheel got the grease.
One of the best things we can do now is to become active participants in the school system by showing our support. We should write letters of support for existing leaders in our school system and rally this community to become a welcome place for those interested in ensuring our children are taught properly. It is possible to be friendly as well as firm in seeing our educational system is moving in the right direction.
We need to be supportive of our school board members, who have implemented many good programs to improve our schools.
The business community frequently rallies itself regarding growth, health, voting, and tax-related issues, but they have been, for the most part, silent when it comes to our schools.
The news media, including us, have spent a good portion of coverage on the negative aspects of the district by highlighting improvements that need to be made rather than the progress and improvements that are being made.
The complaints are long and loud as to how students today are worse off academically, physically and emotionally and how parents just don’t participate in the process.
There is nothing new under the sun. The problems of the “youth of today” are the same things mentioned in commentaries of noted philosophers at the turn of the century and centuries before that.
Things only change when we take it upon ourselves to get involved in the process. Marlin’s departure is a wake-up call that it is time for us to take an active role in our school system. The effects and consequences of ignoring such a critical governmental body could be devastating as we move into the future.
How are you going to take part?