Sunday, March 25, 2018
With regard to your recent editorial "Detractors will not kill Youngstown Plan," I agree with your points that the "urban district had hit rock bottom" and that "members of the school board displayed a disturbing lack of intellect-ual foresight to recognize that Youngstown's children were being sacrificed at the altar of special-interest agendas."
However, I disagree with your comment that "Dr. [Wendy] Webb was clearly unqualified to lead the urban school system, but she was popular because she gave in to the school board and the teachers union."
First, during her tenure, Superintendent Webb performed as well or better than her male counterparts. Neither of “her” male counterparts (from Zinser to Hathorn) achieved a 70 percent-plus graduation rate.
Second, I disagree with your statement that “she” gave in to the school board. Dr. Webb was the board’s employee and subject to their policies and directions. Remember, the board had only two employees that they interviewed, hired via contract and supervised under contract (the superintendent and treasurer). Dr. Webb had to operate under the terms of her contract with the board or be deemed insubordinate.
Third, I disagree with your statement that “she” gave in to the union. Under her contract, Dr. Webb had to abide by the contract negotiated by the board’s general counsel and authorized by a majority vote of the board.
“She” did not enjoy the powers of the current CEO. She was in no position to ignore the board, change the union contract and press on at will.
Even with the CEO’s powers and being “highly qualified”, the CEO is having trouble with the teachers union and board.
The NAACP opposes state takeovers at all levels. However, we must advocate for the human and civil rights of our children and work with whatever power structure is in place.
The education of our community’s children is our No. 1 priority.
The power structure is responsible for ensuring that our children receive a quality and equitable education by negotiating a teachers’ union contract that is performance- and outcome- based.
It is the responsibility of the families, community and NAACP to use all of its resources, power and authority to ensure those in the above power structure do their jobs better than they have done year-to-date.
George Freeman Jr., Youngstown
George Freeman is president of the Youngstown Branch of the NAACP.