At the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education meeting of 04/16/01, James Anderson resigned as president of the MAS Board. His reason for resigning was to spare the community the consequences of an impending recall vote, based on a technical decision that the majority of the school board voted for; that he was chosen to be lynched for.
The recall petition language, to be considered by the election board, as submitted by retired MAS teacher Jane Henson, stated: "Mr. Anderson has chosen to conduct himself in a manner inappropriate to that of member of the school board. His conduct includes the following example: At the regularly monthly board meeting of March 19 (2001) he raised doubts about the possible acceptance of the state funded Teacher Technology Initiative program. At one point he described the program as "welfare for well paid teachers." No opportunity was given for the presenters of the proposal to respond to his criticisms and comments before he called for the board to accept or reject the resolution. A majority (5) of the school board members then voted to reject over $80,000 in computer hardware, software and services provided free of charge to the district by the State of Michigan."
Mr. Anderson resigned earlier than he planned, this Summer to pursue a career move to Escanaba. There is little doubt his early resignation is joyful news to some, but it speaks volumes about single issue politics, in Manistique, and how it molds policy, in general, and discourages qualified people from running for, or holding, office.
I was made aware of some past MAS School Board issues as a consequence of an e-mail directing me to a web site that claimed to represent an unrelenting search for truth, relative to Manistique Area Schools. Reading what was displayed at that site, I realized that I needed substantiated, detailed information, from somewhere, to form my own opinion about what might be ailing school board politics, so I attended the meeting above and read, most, if not all, of the past four months of Manistique schools related articles, in both local newspapers. I am far from having a comprehensive knowledge of recent issues, now, but I feel quite confident about writing about several issues.
Mr. Anderson's position as MAS Board of Education president is history. His reference to a "substantially incorrect depiction of the events of that night (March 19)", in the April 5 edition of the Pioneer Tribune, deserve a hearing he chose not to make. I am more than willing to address mob politics, based on the detailed Pioneer Tribune reporting of Paul Olson.
Mr. Anderson may have erred in judgment, but that is hardly "inappropriate conduct", unless he claimed to be infallible.
It is his responsibility to voice doubts, if he has them, about any program he must consider.
The comment attributed to Mr. Anderson, describing the considered Teacher Technology Initiative program as "welfare for well paid teachers", was his personal opinion, that he had every right and responsibility to express, regarding his reservations about the program. His choice of words may have stung some, indicating a possible insensitivity to frail, adult, well educated egos. Recall justification language it ain't.
If no opportunity was given to respond to his criticisms and comments, then not only is it possible he made an error of judgment, so did every member of that board meeting, that had the responsibility to recognize a procedural error, speak up and stand their ground.
A majority of a quorum of elected board members voted, 5 to 2, to reject the approximately $80,000 state offer. It was a decision of a majority of board members, done of their own free will. It was not the result of James Anderson's position, right or wrong.
That such an offer had to be considered in the first place, with its "strings" that all such offers have, indicates to me that some, if not most, of Manistique teachers are a likely part of the majority of teachers, nation wide, that have inadequate computer skills, hardware and software to meet their teaching responsibilities. If professional teachers cannot, or will not, stay abreast of the times, don't hang the messenger.
In an economic backwater of the US, Manistique teachers are relatively well paid, and as the educational elite of the community, they should have, already, certain prerequisites of teaching in the 21st century, that many children have. "Welfare for well paid teachers" is more likely, than not, to be the truth, depending upon which teacher one might refer to.
The only public support for Anderson, that I noted in my reading, was a quote by middle school principal and assistant high school principal, Butch Yurk. He had the courage to state, as reported in the April 10 edition of the Daily Press, "I am not in favor of them recalling Mr. Anderson. I think he does a good job, management-wise." This was from a man who voiced, publicly, his disappointed of the majority "no" vote but maintained an appropriate degree of perspective beyond the single issue.
Who will be the target of the next recall attempt, for contrived reasons? Who wants to line up for the opportunity? I am sure there are many qualified prospects that will pass up the opportunity to be the next Judas goat, sacrificial lamb or lynching victim.
Off with you, Mr. Anderson, and the best of success to you.
Don't look back, at the mob howling with glee.
My apology for stating the board vote numbers incorrectly. I spotted my error reading the article again, today. The substance of the article is unchanged, but the vote against the T.T.I. was 5 to 2 rather than 3 to 2. If anything, the correct numbers make Mr. Anderson less "responsible" for the board's decision.