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Tonguegate a bigger deal than teachers, students

Tonguegate a bigger deal than teachers, students

I was told as many as eight teachers left the Kennedy Elementary School after the last school year.

Yes, eight teachers.

Typically, the school has two classes for each grade — kindergarten through sixth. That would mean more than half the teachers left the school, and more than half the teachers for the next school year will be new.

One teacher, who according to just about everyone you ask was the hardest-working teacher in the building, did not have her contract renewed for reasons that the principal did not even tell her. Despite protests from students, parents and teachers, the schoolboard rubberstamped that decision with hardly a word of discussion.

The rest of the departing teachers just wanted away from the school, for whatever reason.

Think about that for a second. Could you imagine if a college basketball coach lost more than half of his return-eligible players? And not to the NBA, either.

What if a college football coach lost more than half of his players?

You better believe there would be some kind of an investigation by the higher ups at the school.

I am pretty sure there would be hell to pay for a coach if he lost half of his or her team in any sport at Butte High.

Also, imagine if more than half the teachers felt they just had to leave the Hillcrest Elementary School. That is where the Country Club kids to school, so you can better believe there would be some blowback — from the parents and the Administration Building.

With the Butte School District, however, Kennedy losing eight teachers was just business as usual.

When it effects the school where the poorest children go, it is no big deal. Nothing to see here. Those freeloading kids get free hot lunch because of the amount of low-income families living in the area. That is good enough for them.

Had I only I gone to law school instead of journalism school. Perhaps I could lead the way in a lawsuit on behalf of the poor kids of Butte.

Of course, if I had done that, my kids would go to Hillcrest or Margaret Leary, and I wouldn’t have to worry about my children seeing their favorite teachers race out the door.

So if eight teachers leaving one school does not get a rise out of the Butte School District Administration Building, then what does? Well, I’m glad you asked.

One thing that does get the school district worked up into a frenzy is the tongue — or lack thereof — on the cartoon bulldog stitched onto the center of the new artificial turf at Naranche Stadium.

Yes, the big bulldog at the 50-yard line looks mean and scary. But it is not showing its tongue like the bulldog at the center of the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gymnasium.

It isn’t the same bulldog on the shirt you bought from Universal Athletic.

Apparently there was a miscommunication when approving the plans, so now we are stuck with a bulldog that isn’t sticking out its tongue.

Can you imagine that?

Talk about a waste of $700,000. Can we get our money back?

We might as well rip the carpet up and go back to MRSA-laden dirt and sawdust that the old timers played on at Naranche.

The easy remedy, of course, would be for the district to get a new bulldog for the field. And, the company installing the field will be glad to do that … for an extra $20,000 or so.

How upset people are about the big goof depends on who you ask. But apparently it reached the point of asking about the price of a new bulldog.

You can only assume it prompted some administrators to make the roundtrip from the Administration Building on Montana Street to Naranche — about 2,000 miles roundtrip for mileage reimbursement purposes — to check out the mistake.

Whose goof it was, again, depends on who you ask. But it was a goof that caused some hurt feelings.

Butte High head football coach Arie Grey, always a problem solver, ended the bulldog controversy with one statement: “I think it’s great.”

Just like that, Tonguegate came to an end.

The goof bulldog looks meaner, and that is what we should want out our cartoon bulldogs. And, really, who is to say Butte High has just one Bulldog anyway?

A blunder on such a minor detail on the football field should not get more of a reaction than the “oh well” that the departure of eight teachers from one school received from the folks at the Administration Building.

Luckily, the district is full of incredible teachers, especially at the elementary level. The replacement teachers will undoubtedly provide a quality education for the students at Kennedy.

Still, you have to wonder about the continuity — for the teachers and students. Stability is a good thing in anything you do, and that goes double for education.

You also have to wonder why in the heck so many teachers would want to leave one school at one time. It should, at very least, be worth asking a question or two.

Do the teachers not like driving up the hill in the winter? Are the students and parents causing too many problems? Or, maybe, do the teachers not like the leadership of the principal?

Really, it’s hard to say what the problem is, but it is clear that there is a problem. It should be considered a much bigger deal than the cartoon on the fake grass at a football stadium.

That raises the question as to where the bigger problem lies. Is it the teachers’ problem? The students’ problem? The principal’s problem? Or, is it the problem of apathy from the rubberstamp school board and Administration Building?

Whatever the case, the Great Kennedy Teacher Run Away of 2016 teaches us a valuable lesson.

In the Butte School District, it is perfectly OK to thumb your nose at the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

Just make sure you are sticking your tongue out when you do it.

— Bill Foley, who would never thumb his nose without sticking out his tongue, writes a column that appears Tuesday on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 6 comments



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6 Comments

  • Lindsey Wolstein (Randolph)
    July 19, 2016, 11:41 am

    Mr. Foley, I have dedicated the past 10 years of my life to the Kennedy school & I don’t regret a day there!! I met some of my best friends there & took pride in being part of the Crusader team! I have VOLUNTEERED tremendous extra time to the Kennedy kids through coaching & other events! As a teacher I feel like I had the love & respect from most students & families that I had the pleasure to teach & interact with throughout my ten years!! My coaching career began at Kennedy with track & then continued with volleyball!! Coaching became a new passion for me & I decided to pursue it at the middle school level coaching volleyball this past school year! I absolutely loved it & found a new passion for working with older kids! Which brings me to my DIFFICULT choice to leave Kennedy!! Issues with: Principal? No…Staff? No…Parents? Very few in 10 years…Students? Are you kidding? Those are the kids I helped raise over the past 10 years!! Not just for 9 months in my classroom but I follow them & their successes for years to come! I have taken a job at Butte High to grow professionally & to have the opportunity to make a difference with older kids! My first group of 3rd graders will be seniors & I can’t wait to see how much all those Kennedy kids have thrived since leaving US behind! My heart is & always will be at Kennedy! Leaving behind my family (I believe you were at your daughter’s 6th grade graduation so you should be aware we are very much a family) was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made!! My decision to leave was for professional growth & to pursue a new passion with working & coaching older kids…that’s it!! It had zero to do with Mr. Ricketts; he was a great boss! It had nothing to do with the staff; my friendships I’ve made there will continue as they have all supported my decision to leave and it most definitely had nothing to do in support of the teacher that was non renewed. Teaching at Kennedy was a difficult job. The low income status most definitely brings many challenges but I loved working there until the very end! My only regret is having to deal with parents like you!! They never volunteered a day to help make it a better school for their kids but they are the first ones to use their public forum to tell everyone why "I" left the school I love, without doing their journalist job & I don’t know maybe ask us why we left?? You want to know why the others left…I think you will be disappointed in their reasons as they will bring very little validity to your article!! Frankly we are all just sticking our tongues out at it right now!

    REPLY
  • Lindsey Wolstein (Randolph)
    July 19, 2016, 11:57 am

    Mr. Foley, I have dedicated the past 10 years of my life to the Kennedy school & I don’t regret a day there!! I met some of my best friends there & took pride in being part of the Crusader team! I have VOLUNTEERED tremendous extra time to the Kennedy kids through coaching & other events! As a teacher I feel like I had the love & respect from most students & families that I had the pleasure to teach & interact with throughout my ten years!! My coaching career began at Kennedy with track & then continued with volleyball!! Coaching became a new passion for me & I decided to pursue it at the middle school level coaching volleyball this past school year! I absolutely loved it & found a new passion for working with older kids! Which brings me to my DIFFICULT choice to leave Kennedy!! Issues with: Principal? No…Staff? No…Parents? Very few in 10 years…Students? Are you kidding? Those are the kids I helped raise over the past 10 years!! Not just for 9 months in my classroom but I follow them & their successes for years to come! I have taken a job at Butte High to grow professionally & to have the opportunity to make a difference with older kids! My first group of 3rd graders will be seniors & I can’t wait to see how much all those Kennedy kids have thrived since leaving US behind! My heart is & always will be at Kennedy! Leaving behind my family (I believe you were at your daughter’s 6th grade graduation so you should be aware we are very much a family) was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made!! My decision to leave was for professional growth & to pursue a new passion with working & coaching older kids…that’s it!! It had zero to do with Mr. Ricketts; he was a great boss! It had nothing to do with the staff; my friendships I’ve made there will continue as they have all supported my decision to leave and it most definitely had nothing to do in support of the teacher that was non renewed. Teaching at Kennedy was a difficult job. The low income status most definitely brings many challenges but I loved working there until the very end! My only regret is having to deal with parents like you!! They never volunteered a day to help make it a better school for their kids but they are the first ones to use their public forum to tell everyone why "I" left the school I love, without doing their journalist job & I don’t know maybe ask us why we left?? You want to know why the others left…I think you will be disappointed in their reasons as they will bring very little validity to your article!! Frankly we are all just sticking our tongues out at it right now!

    REPLY
  • Bill Foley
    July 19, 2016, 2:07 pm

    It is unfortunate if anyone sees this column as anything other than a defense of every teacher in the school district. I have nothing but respect for every teacher who dedicates his or her life to children. As a Little League coach and someone who has done volunteer work (even before I had kids) in a kindergarten, I know teachers are truly heroes. That goes double for the teachers leaving the Kennedy. I do not blame any one of them for leaving, whatever the reason. I am just sad that my kids and their friends are losing excellent teachers.

    REPLY
    • ida reighard@Bill Foley
      July 20, 2016, 8:20 pm

      so sad. Kennedy was a great school for my kids. it was the best kept secret because of the teachers. my oldest said one day if every kid had Mrs Hawbaker or Mrs Willhite, they would know someone cared about them. I will never forget that. you are very correct in this article Foles except for one thing… even as a lawyer.. I hope you would still live up here on the hill and send your kids to Kennedy.

      REPLY

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