Read by Aron Maberry during Public Participation at the December 7, 2021 School Board meeting:

Author Simon Sinek has an amazing best-selling book, “Start with the Why.” If you’ve never read it – it’s a great read and I highly recommend it.  The premise of the book is society spends so much on the “How” and the “What” and we tend to neglect the “why.”  At our last School Board meeting, you voted on using a firm to search for the next Director of Schools.  There are a lot of thoughts on the subject and I shared mine at the meeting prior and you voted to use a firm for the search. 

I say all that so I could say thank you to Mr. Baggett for taking the time in the midst of the vote to explain the “why” using the firm for the director search.  Without this, you leave it up to those listening to interpret their own “why.” 

So often parents and those attending School Board Meetings feel as if we are in the middle of a movie without context of what came before us.  The conversations behind closed doors that you are a part of – we the stakeholders are not.  The context – the why – is so important. Explaining what you are doing and why you are doing it is transparency.  It keeps your community informed and I want to encourage you to develop a way to inform your stakeholders on what is being talked about.  I attend every meeting and sometimes I am not tracking insider language used or what you are referencing because there is no context.

I want to encourage you to develop a report and publish it before the meetings with the context and “why” behind what you are speaking about and voting on.  Or build into the meetings intentional short pauses to keep your stakeholders in the loop in what you all have already discussed behind closed doors as you did at the last meeting.

Your community wants to be able to trust you.  We want to follow you.  We are asking you to lead.  According to a great local parent advocacy group, the Freedom Fighting Collective, I was shown that I was the second person in 6 years who was approved to speak in front of the School Board.  This is crazy. There is a perception that comes along with this truth – that you are not being transparent. 

Right now we are having a discussion in our community about the Family Life Curriculum.  We are skirting around a state law that speaks to having a public hearing where the program is to be explained to members of the public and the law states that the public shall have the opportunity to speak and express their opinions and concerns.  We were promised a committee of parents and community members to speak about the formation of this curriculum. 

Instead, we got an email over a holiday break with a pre-chosen curriculum with a December 1 deadline to give feedback online.  Nothing in person.

Perception is reality.  When the School Board continues to hold back context, purposely or not, and in the past denied parents from speaking – which I commend you all for the great strides recently had with public participation – but it could be better – the perception is that you are hiding something and do not want to hear from the voices of your stakeholders – the parents and you are not being transparent and therefore need to be held accountable.  This is why we are here tonight.

Please be transparent.  The parents of our community want you to follow state law and have a public hearing where our voice is heard.  Keep to your word.  Pause the forward motion of this curriculum and form a new curriculum selection committee that allows parents, faith leaders, and concerned citizens to be included.   And just like when I was a student here in Clarksville Montgomery County School System – we want all students to have to Opt-IN to this education and not Opt-Out.  No teacher should have permission to include our children in any sex education instruction without our prior written approval from we – the parents.

Thank you for your time.