2015 was a banner year for community engagement in Williamson County School Board issues, and we hope to see even more folks engaged in 2016.
Parental and community engagement is crucial to the life of our kids, our individual schools, and our school district. We want to make sure that the voices of parents and other community members who want public schools to thrive are heard throughout Williamson County and with our elected officials. How will you make your voice heard in 2016? Will you send an email, sign a petition, volunteer at a school, attend a meeting, or do public comment? Will you be sure to vote and encourage others to do the same?
In 2015, Williamson Strong’s user-friendly app Roar was used to send more than 10,700 emails to the Williamson County School Board, County Commission, Dr. Looney and our Williamson County legislative delegation. Thousands more were sent via other email applications like Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo. Way to be engaged, Williamson County!
2015 saw local petitions initiated by various community members to support Dr. Looney and WCS and to ask Susan Curlee to resign. Each garnered more than 2,000 signatures. 912 President J. Lee Douglas also proposed a “Dump Looney” petition to remove Mike Looney as superintendent though he would not disclose the number who signed because of bogus signatures. Statewide petitions supported by Williamson Strong to grant teachers a grace period from the use of student test scores in their evaluations in the first year of new TNReady tests and to call for testing transparency had hundreds of Williamson County supporters.
School board meetings and work sessions had an unprecedented number of attendees and viewers in 2015. Nearly 2,000 watched the July standing-room-only meeting on YouTube. Several meetings had more people sign up for public comment than could be accommodated, and overflow rooms were added for some meetings. More than 300 watched the September County Commission meeting where Anne McGraw was selected as the District 4 representative. For comparison, non-schools-related County Commission meetings draw well under 50 viewers.
On the Horizon
At the state level, we expect 2016 to bring another school voucher bill, more anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals, and continued discussion of standardized testing.
Locally, the odd-numbered districts and District 4 will be up for election to the Williamson County School Board on August 4. We hope the WCSB will move away from sideshows and focus on things that really matter such as strategies for managing growth, the inevitable district-wide rezoning plan, and an exploration of Dr. Looney’s innovative Six Big Ideas.
Williamson Strong shares information. We research and write original articles. We provide a community forum to make it easier for WCS parents and community members to get engaged to strengthen our schools. We plan to keep on keeping on in 2016 and look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you!