Get to know our schools before spreading hurtful gossip

Think for Yourself


School is back in session, in White County, as of last week.  A few days ago, I overheard a conversation between several individuals at Walmart. I silently stood as they said the vilest things about White County schools, teachers, and students. I finished my shopping and drove home. The more I thought about the conversation, the more upset I became. I knew some of the individuals holding the conversation. Their children attended school with mine. I replayed the incident in my mind. I couldn’t decide if their gossip or my silence bothered me more.

I love White County schools. I love White County teachers. I especially love White County students. I know that nothing or nobody is perfect. I encountered teachers I didn’t like, and I met students headed down the wrong path. I’ve seen individuals with no children in the school system who take every opportunity to run down our schools and faculty. Those same individuals wouldn’t waste a moment talking to any students. I encourage people to be involved, but spreading hurtful gossip is not being involved. Making accusations without offering solutions is not being involved.

White County schools consistently score above the state average in almost every metric. White County students consistently score higher than the state average on standardized tests. None of that matters. I know White County teachers and students. My children have benefitted from being in the White County School system. As I said, I love the White County School System!

I sometimes disagreed with Director Dronebarger (like masks and school closings during COVID). I had tough conversations with teachers occasionally, and I’ve been upset and disappointed by the behavior of some students on occasion. The difference between those instances and the conversation I overheard is that I was trying to address specific issues to find a solution, and those individuals just wanted to attack and tear down. Our school personnel are dedicated, caring, and extraordinary. Our students are full of talent and potential.

I don’t appreciate people tearing others down to feel good. Unfortunately, I did something just as wrong. I stood silent while they did. I stood silent while being told that only the wrong kids would attend a chess club. I even joined in when people trash-talked coaches they second-guessed or disliked. I was wrong, but I never admitted or apologized for it. My concerns were possibly legitimate, but I should have discussed them with the coach. I shouldn’t have spread gossip and insults with other parents. I regret and am ashamed of the flaws in my character.

If you have legitimate concerns about the system, schools, teachers, or students constructively address them. I always end my column with “Think for yourself.” I hope you are inspired to do that despite my failings. The desire for acceptance has swayed me at times. I said from the beginning of this column that I am not perfect. I write this column hoping you are inspired to be better than me. The administrators, faculty, and students of White County are better than me, and I will no longer remain silent or join in the attacks.

Do your research. Go to the county-wide open house, on Thursday, from 3:15 – 6:15. Talk to the students and teachers. Get to know the janitors, bus drivers, and office workers. You will discover what I already know. Don’t assume you know if you won’t bother to invest a little time. If you hear someone spouting accusations, tell them about the bus driver who drove his car to my home so I could sign a form in case my daughter needs to ride the bus instead of driving herself. Tell them about the teachers and principals who have always made themselves available. Tell them about the students who were always kind and respectful to this awkward old man. I won’t be silent anymore, but think for yourself.


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