MAKING THE GRADE: We can learn much from wise leaders of the past

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:19 am on Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making the Grade | Janet Ralph

In this column last week I introduced information about legislation that is being considered to study how much money schools need to educate the children in their care. I spoke to a few concerns. I would like to add a few more thoughts this week in the hope that I can provide information to help readers form an opinion about this proposal.

Last week I suggested that our system of education is too complex for easy answers about how much money is needed. I said students, families and even communities have unique issues. The kind of resources and the amount can vary from place to place.

While this is very true, there are some also common issues that need to be considered. This week I came across a statement of beliefs that was adopted by the Greenville Board of Education in 1959. I include it below in tribute to the members of that forward thinking board and also as a reference point for us to use today.


This we believe:

1. That as representatives of the people of the Greenville school district, we should provide a program of good education, recommend what these requirements are, and keep the people properly informed of them

2. That education is one of the bulwarks of our society and that our program should develop both mind and body, develop character, and impart knowledge to our young people, and present opportunities to gain wisdom.

3. That our teachers are vitally important and should be prepared to perform their jobs, as well as exemplify the high character that is necessary for the improvement of our community and nation.

4. That teachers would be recognized for their efforts by a good salary schedule, to permit and encourage yearly improvement for the benefit of the youth of our community.

5. That a program of education cannot be static, but must be improved each year or it will slowly stagnate. A dynamic staff is needed, as well as the support of the people of the community.

6. That this kind of education offered in the community helps to determine its growth and well-being.

7. That the people should provide adequate buildings and facilities so that we can instruct all young people in the kind of education that is needed for today’s and tomorrow’s citizens.

8. That our elementary schools and high schools are the feeder systems to our great universities and colleges, and should be supported properly by the community and state, and that this support must increase if we, the Board and its staff , are going to fulfill our obligations of educating our children for living in a changing world.


I am very proud to be part of a school system that has benefitted from the foundation laid by wise and dedicated leaders more 50 years ago. They truly were foresighted and it is on this strong base that we have continued to build.

I also noted in a different set of minutes that the board members passed a motion that the board send a letter to their representatives in Lansing “urging favorable consideration of payment of the full of $190 per child, a figure upon which school budgets are predicated.”

While much has changed, some things remain the same. Even then, some of the funding was locally generated and the state supplemented. But apparently the state had threatened to withhold a portion of their contributions long after a school year budget and programs were in place.

Janet Ralph is president of the Greenville Public Schools Board of Education.

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