Wake NCAE President Jennifer Lanane is in damage control mode after having sent an e-mail message accusing the new school board members of not caring about children and teachers.
As noted in today's article, Lanane sent an apology letter on Monday to the new board members, who weren't happy about the tone of an earlier message sent to Wake NCAE reps. She says that the first message was a draft that was never meant to be sent, pointing to the multiple grammatical errors.
Lanane is in a difficult spot as she wants to try to get along with the new board majority. The problem is Wake NCAE didn't endorse any of the new members.
Let's start from the beginning of this e-mail exchange.
The initial e-mail message was sent Oct. 27 to urge Wake NCAE reps to lobby the new board members to keep the Wednesday early dismissals. She said she had heard the new board was going to drop "Wake Wednesdays" effective Dec. 2, which she said would mean "throwing teachers and students under the bus so that they can show how powerful they are."
"They don’t care about children and it in now clear that they don’t care about teachers…WE HAVE PLANT OUR FLAG IN THE SAND HERE AND NOW," Lanane wrote in the first message.
The message wasn't meant to go outside the group as it includes the disclaimer that "WakeReps is a list serv for Wake NCAE Association Representatives and other members -- Do not forward to non-members."
But the message got into the hands of new school board member Deborah Prickett, who fired a response back at Lanane. She also forwarded her response to the leadership of the N.C Association of Educators, saying she was concerned about "the damage this [Lanane's message] may have done."
"Various teachers and WCPSS staff members have communicated to me that they have felt suppressed and stifled by the existing Wake NCAE leadership’s slanted focus," Prickett writes. "Freedom of speech has been muffled for some for fear of retaliation."
Here's the Oct. 27 message from Lanane:
From: Jennifer Lanane <email@example.com>
Subject: [WakeReps] Urgent
Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 4:50 PM
I have it on good authority that the new school board is going to do away with Wake Wednesdays effective at the Dec. 2. It is going to be their first order of business to show their strength! What it is, is their throwing teachers and students under the bus so that they can show how powerful they are. The newly elected board does not what to talk about it, see how it is working, see how it is improving education, they are not even concerned about the disruption this will cause in the middle of the year. If we allow this to happen, just think what might next. They don’t care about children and it in now clear that they don’t care about teachers…WE HAVE PLANT OUR FLAG IN THE SAND HERE AND NOW. Plan to send emails, call, send letters and show up at the school board meeting on Tuesday, November 2 to speak during public comment. Tell them your story, tell them how hard you work and that Wake Wednesdays need to be given a chance. This is just the beginning guys we need to start fighting NOW
Ron Margiotta needs to hear form us load and clear…everyone needs to email…spread the word
Mr. Ron Margiotta
7800 Secluded Acres Road
Apex , NC 27523
New members…I don’t have all the emails but will get them too you as I get them
John Tedesco 850-9772
Deborah Prickett 293 0235
Debra Goldman 637 9292
Chris Malone 395 4903
They all campaigned on the premises that they will listen, let see if that is true.
Thanks for all you do, Jennie
Here's Prickett's response:
In reference to the recent email sent by Jennifer Lanane, President of the Wake NCAE, to membership (approximately 5,000), I feel it is important to reveal this information to the public and other teachers and staff members that may not be participants in Wake NCAE in order to draw their own conclusions. My newly elected office to the Board of Education representing District 7 is one that I take seriously and respectfully. In addition, my stance has always been and will continue to be supportive of teachers and WCPSS staff members as they are the foundation of our school system. Having been a teacher and counselor with the WCPSS for 22 years, I personally recognize the dedication and commitment that staff members demonstrate in working and interacting with students. Make no mistake in knowing that I absolutely support educators and care about providing excellent educational opportunities for all children.
As you know, the Wake NCAE chose not to endorse me or any of the newly elected Board members as they seemed to be politically motivated using the same, rigid, narrow-minded focus boxing staff members into a politically decorated container. Even though the container was nicely packaged, the contents did not deliver results. The community said different on their ballots. Furthermore, various teachers and WCPSS staff members have communicated to me that they have felt suppressed and stifled by the existing Wake NCAE leadership’s slanted focus. Freedom of speech has been muffled for some for fear of retaliation.
This is a new day for WCPSS. I will be listening, watching, and participating as I go forth in doing the best possible job I can of representing the views of the public as well as WCPSS staff members involving the issues surrounding education. The Wake NCAE can be an important advocate for staff members in building the requested priorities and visions, but a partnership must exist with community associates in lieu of the present leadership fixation with stringent, outside political agendas.
Board of Education Member Elect
Here's Monday's apology letter from Lanane:
From: Jennifer Lanane <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 1:50 PM
Subject: letter to incoming school board members
Wake NCAE, President
3900 Merton Drive
Raleigh, NC 27609
Dear Incoming School Board Members,
Today, I had a conversation with Mr. Tedesco about the email I sent to Wake NCAE's Association Representatives (AR's) on October 27th. Much to my dismay, the email you received was a first draft that was sent inadvertently (as you can clearly see by the spelling and grammar errors). It was the first of what was intended to be several drafts before being officially sent out to all the ARs. With the barrage of distressing calls I had been receiving that day from upset, angry, and frustrated members, uncertain and disturbed by the changes reported to be on the way, so I quickly reacted. My email was obviously composed in anger but it certainly was not meant to be sent in that form. I apologize. I very quickly sent out a second and then later even a third e-mail to inform the AR's of my mistake, but you likely did not receive those.
This unfortunate episode is a clear example of why it is vitally important that we have regular, on-going conversations. You will find that at times we will be on the same "side" despite the times we will not; however, it would be dangerous to everyone for there to be no communication between an elected school board and the educators it employs - the very backbone and foundation of our entire educational system. If we fail to communicate, no one will win and, sadly, the children of WCPSS will lose.
We believe professional judgment the individuals working most closely with students on a day to day basis should matter greatly. Parents clearly play an equally vital role in their child's educational attainment, but a failure to acknowledge and utilize the knowledge and experience of those who have studied, trained and devoted their lives to teaching seems unthinkable.
I attempted to reach out to each you all numerous times in the last two weeks so that we can begin to establish the kind of relationship that we all know is in the best interest of students. Please contact me so that we can start on the right foot. Anger and frustration grows for the employees as each newspaper article is written and we hope that the voice of the educator is not being lost. As much as I regret the inadvertent distribution of a draft of my communication to our school representatives, it did reflect the views of many of our members. We need to talk for many reasons, but it is important for educators to know who you are and believe that you honestly value the significance of their contributions to Wake County students and our entire society.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible and to future conversations focused on doing what is right for children.