The outrage over the lack of a valedictorian and elimination of class rank is just as misplaced as those frothing over the loss of the dreamcatcher logo. In both cases the superintendent and school committee totally mishandled matters, and they continue to tear the community apart with their divisive machinations.
There are school districts (and many private schools) that have eliminated class rank that still have a valedictorian (& even salutatorian or top students chosen or elected by faculty and/or students); there are ways to do this without the harmful aspects of class rank. Naturally this school committee and administration couldn't manage to do it with an inclusive and transparent process, instead making the community feel like its traditions are being trampled.
There are ways to manage the issue of a logo/mascot change, also, that don't alienate and inflame the community, but once again, this school committee and super opt for running roughshod because they honestly don't give a crap and are entirely taken with their own sense of power. They are also just plain incompetent in managing anything, having a complete lack of people skills, a total lack of interest in doing actual due diligence to accomplish necessary tasks (being concerned only with their small-minded political and personal agendas), and a total contempt for any who might dare to question or criticize their corrupt and proven illegal processes.
Meanwhile, Rome burns....
The school committee approved the crazy and corrupt plans of the super to eliminate several department chair positions, effectively signaling the end of even a pretense of academic quality in the district. Naturally they did this by burying the actions within an ill-conceived "reorg" chart in their massively incompetent meeting packet a few meetings back, never having any public meetings or having any kind of legitimate process before such a major hackjob on the core structure of delivering academics. There was no outrage except for the reliable and trustworthy eloquence of Mr. Mroz, who of course was treated with total contempt by Margaret Driscoll, Cyndy Taymore, and several of the committee members who now have no checks and balances at all since Mrs. K left and feel quite comfortable unloading their childish rage on Mr. M anytime their hostility starts erupting. The mayor continues his juvenile feet-stamping and rants about "not one more dime to the schools" with no outrage from the parents who should be storming the meetings if they were appropriately concerned about what is happening to their childrens' education right under their noses.
The bizarre conduct of these incompetent despots is most obvious in the staged unveiling of the crazy and totally disruptive plans to reconfigure middle and high schools. Everything about this and the "reorg" is crazy and ill-conceived, all only about the mayor's continued rage over the loss of his ridiculous override and about punishing those who voted against it, while testing the political waters to float another tax initiative as "the only" way to save the district (rubbish).
What the public continues to see is more and more of the self-congratulatory whitewashing that is supposed to keep the public in control and lined up to accept whatever the contemptuous officials have decided to cram down everyone's throats, regardless of the consequences. The public continues to flare up in self-righteous anger over feathers and valedictorians instead of the real issues that underpin the elements of their justifiable outrage and confusion. Parents keep reacting only to the most superficial things and stay almost purposely ignorant about the real things. While parents can rightfully claim a lack of transparency or appropriate management of process, they also share the guilt and responsibility in the wretched state of affairs. When there is a real issue brought to their attention, they have chosen over and over again to look the other way or "go along to get along," instead of stepping up and demanding appropriate action.
The multiple OCR cases are the most obvious examples of poor community response. Even the little clusters of parents gathering in minimal "outrage" over proven civil rights abuses by administration have been consumed with treading so lightly as to be rendered virtually meaningless even before actually doing anything in their frantic efforts to suck up to and not anger officials, where these things would have been met with swift and effective calls for action (and heads on platters) in other communities. Same thing with the feathers crew. So many of the faux activists are linked socially with administration and have already demonstrated their allegiance that will override/negate any action deemed unacceptable by officials. These groups are all intermeshed with the HRC, the Women's Commission (both appointed by RD, naturally), so their effectiveness was predetermined to be nil (unfortunately). Whether they mean well (initially at least) or not, they were put there as window-dressing by RD to make it look like there are the necessary elements of political correctness to whitewash the damaged image and win back some of the squandered trust. The politics within these fine-sounding organizations are already so tainted that the administration knows it still has ultimate control over the message and the actions.
The community desperately needs a mature and organized response if there is to be any hope of countering all of this. There are real and mature change agents who have demonstrated their integrity and commitment to making things better. Unfortunately this community has not supported them, in fact choosing to alienate and disrepect them. They are still here and could be called upon to lead. Even that requires a bit of actual backbone because of what it will signal to officials, even before any organized action. But it is desperately needed. Real leaders are few and far between. Melrose parents need something better than the awfulness of MEF or the other politically (or personally--as in looking for an easy job in the district) motivated shills that substitute for real leaders as it stands now. It's a decision. Continue to allow this madness or decide to get informed and demand corrective action while there is still anything left to fix. Take the time to delve into those horrid school committee packets on IQM2 (and demand that this be renamed and made actually accessible/understandable!). Decide to show up even on those purposely ill-timed Saturday "meetings," like the one coming up this Saturday morning, even if it means serious inconvenience. Show up Tuesday nights. Write, speak, send letters to the papers, have meetings at the library or anyplace that could take a crowd. Ask the known leaders and advocates for the students to help. It's a choice. It's your and our children, after all.
I disagree that the Valedictorian issue is not worthy of anger. It's a piece of the overall puzzle and symptomatic of just how far off track this system has gotten. Frankly, it annoys me no end that a self-motivated student who worked his or her butt off for four years is now not recognized for that commitment and achievement, and can not list it on a college app, a resume, or a job app, and believe me, things like that do get noticed. We're denying the highest achiever in the class that honor in the name of PC. Heaven forbid a kid who spent four years with his/her thumb up their butt should feel bad about their class rank. Do the work. I mean, how hard can it be? All you have to do now to pass is show up and be able to sign your name.
Whoever you are, NOT Valedictorian, I hope you take pride in your accomplishment on it's own merit and for it's own sake. You know what you did. Not everyone thinks it's right to ignore you. You got screwed, and I'd like to apologize personally for that.
If you were that kid's parent, what would you be feeling right now? I'd want to strangle someone - or maybe a bunch of people.
When you don't recognize excellence, what you end up with is across the board mediocrity, or worse.
Other than that, though, everything else you said is completely accurate.
Valedictorian status has exactly zero bearing on a college application process, unless of course one takes a gap year and applies late. In Melrose class rank was determined in the few days before graduation and has always been a non-entity in the college application process.
There are schools that designate a valedictorian but have only internal (faculty) ranking, thereby granting the honor to the highest academic performer without all the negatives that the ranking system brings generally, or at least as it has been played out at MHS for far too long (cheating, grade-grubbing, inappropriate or non-optimal course selections, toxic environment). Good schools have excellent communication with college admissions officers who are entirely savvy about which schools are honest in their evaluation of students and which are not. These officers communicate about the whole student on an individual basis when ranking is eliminated, rather than the cursory once-over that is standard where ranking is still used. Unfortunately now all that's left at MHS are the negatives, since the administration removed the valedictorian without fixing the greater underlying problems. The toxicity is worse, and the damage to students continues to mount. Great job, Cyndy and SC!
"The multiple OCR cases are the most obvious examples of poor community response. Even the little clusters of parents gathering in minimal "outrage" over proven civil rights abuses by administration have been consumed with treading so lightly as to be rendered virtually meaningless even before actually doing anything in their frantic efforts to suck up to and not anger officials, where these things would have been met with swift and effective calls for action (and heads on platters) in other communities. Same thing with the feathers crew. So many of the faux activists are linked socially with administration and have already demonstrated their allegiance that will override/negate any action deemed unacceptable by officials. These groups are all intermeshed with the HRC, the Women's Commission (both appointed by RD, naturally), so their effectiveness was predetermined to be nil (unfortunately). Whether they mean well (initially at least) or not, they were put there as window-dressing by RD to make it look like there are the necessary elements of political correctness to whitewash the damaged image and win back some of the squandered trust. The politics within these fine-sounding organizations are already so tainted that the administration knows it still has ultimate control over the message and the actions."
All this effort by the burgeoning little groups forming to "talk" with super and SC chair mean well but seem to be focused on finding a "safe" path where they can believe they are working "collegially" to address wrongs and make things better. Their naivete is understandable but exasperating nonetheless. Surely Rosa Parks would have appreciated a way to do the right thing without risking her life.
In Melrose all one has to do is watch 5 minutes of any SC meeting and it should be obvious that there is no reasoning with this bunch. Take a stand and stop mimsying around if you actually care! Otherwise, keep doing the little dance with those contemptuous officials until they wear you out, which they most certainly will do. You may have convinced yourselves that you're actually accomplishing something, but these officials are pernicious and they are playing you. Oh, that's right, you don't stoop to read Melrose Messages....!
Go and have coffee with the felon, or with the person responsible for ramrodding CT through the superintendent search process or with the MEF mommies who flooded the SC with letters in support of CT so that she would be hired instead of the immensely qualified alternative (who most certainly would not have allowed a teacher to tell a black student to "go back to the plantation" or a dept. chair to "evaluate" a teacher as poor for refusing to "separate the students of color" in her arts class). Go sit with CT and listen to her blather about all her FEDERALLY MANDATED corrective actions and watch her take credit for things that have nothing to do with her (including whatever happened in Bedford where she worked for only a year before applying for the job in Melrose, though she claims every good thing there as if she had anything whatsoever to do with it!). Go and have coffee with Rob or Margaret and convince yourself that you have influence and are making a difference. Whatever helps you sleep at night....
Agree that this was done poorly and unnecessarily takes away recognition that should have gone to Ms. Carbonneau. Don't agree that rank itself should be reinstated. There are proven ways of keeping valedictorians while going to a better system than class ranking.
Do agree with the best line from a poster on this petition: CT "is unfit to be superintendent." This community had plenty of warning with mountains of factual documentation about this from CKK and chose to dismiss it (except for the excellent 2 letters from Colleen Murphy). This community is still flaying away pathetically instead of demanding not only the resignation of CT but of those who failed in their oversight roles of her. Just what kind of horror will it take before enough will step up and demand what all know should have happened a long time ago? How many more ways will this administration be allowed to cause huge and unnecessary expense or tear up the community before enough citizens will insist that these officials be shown the door?