Letters to the Editor

There is no comparison whatsoever between the qualifications of these two candidates – one who has had a lifetime of achievement and the other a young man with little to recommend him for the position he is seeking. Dr. Staiger has been attending School Board meetings regularly, has met with most of the county’s senior educators and staff in preparation for serving on the School Board, has visited all our public schools and attended Parent Teacher Association meetings. She obviously is taking the job of representing the people of the Columbia District seriously. I do not believe her opponent, Mr. Andrew Pullen, can claim the same serious work to understand our public schools and the complex issues involved in ensuring that we continue to have the best public schools in this region.

We have an opportunity in November to elect a superbly qualified School Board member in Dr. Linda Staiger. It is easy to write in her name , Linda Staiger, on the ballot, and I hope the voters from the Columbia District will join me and many others in this worthwhile effort.

Marvin Moss

Perseverance pays off
Some actions of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors can seem relatively minor, such as the placement of a historical monument. However, these decisions are not always so easy. In September 2015 after soliciting name changes for the Confederate Park located in beautiful Palmyra, driven in part over the shooting of churchgoers in South Carolina and the subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from the State House, the Board voted to rename the park Civil War Park per my motion.

Marvin Moss, Mozell Booker and the Fluvanna Historical Society led the charge to have a new monument placed at the park, stirred by Governor McAuliffe’s proclamation recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Debate ensued over the past year as to whether the monument could be placed at Civil War Park due to a state code prohibiting the placement of Union memorials on Confederate memorials. The Board sought, but did not receive, an opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring. In the meantime, Charlottesville happened.

Finally on Sept. 20 the vote was called, led by Mrs. Booker, and the Board voted 4-0-1 to place the monument in theCivil War Park. At our recent breakfast meeting with all of Fluvanna’s state legislators, Mrs. Booker highlighted this accomplishment and asked them to review the applicable state code. State Sen. Mark Peake, and I paraphrase his words, said, “I think you did the right thing.” 

I know we did, and I believe that rather than erase history, we added to the dialogue and the spirit of reconciliation and civility by honoring Mr. Lincoln’s hope so eloquently stated in his second inaugural address: “to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle.” His legacy will now be recognized, along with the statue honoring the fallen Fluvanna soldiers of the Confederacy, under an old oak tree which is also said to have been the site of lynchings.    

Tony O’Brien
Rivanna District supervisor

Shirley Stewart does her homework
Reading a recent article including comments by School Board candidate Tyler Pieron caused me concern.

Quoting parents’ worries over too many tests, and the perception that teachers simply teach to the test, Pieron stated that Fluvanna “lost 400 students who chose to go elsewhere rather than Fluvanna schools.” When questioned about his assertion, Mr. Pieron offered no background for this figure, stating that he heard it from a variety of sources, and “couldn’t say for sure if the students who ‘left’ had started in Fluvanna schools.”

Mr. Pieron stressed market solutions for education. However, market-driven approaches include the very high-stakes testing and teaching practices that Mr. Pieron decries. Market solutions exacerbate inequalities in education, favoring students who require no differentiated curriculum over gifted or other-special needs students who are costlier to educate.

Mr. Pieron offered no indication that he reached out to families to understand decisions to “leave” Fluvanna schools. I, for one, would welcome an opportunity to dialogue with Mr. Pieron and share the reasons behind my family’s decision to homeschool.

Shirley Stewart, Mr. Pieron’s opponent, did just that. Mrs. Stewart inquired about my experiences and discussed her collaboration with homeschoolers, parents, and community members as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.
Being an effective leader requires willingness to listen and engage the community. Far too often, candidates and elected officials are only willing to engage political allies.

Citing statistics is simply not enough. Leaders must do their homework. What trends underlie the numbers? What are the experiences of families whose children attend local schools, and those whose children do not? What is truly meant by market solutions to education?

Slogans and political catchphrases make for good campaign ads, but we deserve experienced, engaged, and community-focused leaders. Schools need leaders who do their homework.

Shirley Stewart brings knowledge, experience, and a willingness to work with everyone in our community to strengthen our schools.

Regardless of where or how we educate our children, we all benefit from well-funded schools able to meet the full range of needs of all its students. If we want a bright future, we must focus efforts on quality public education.

Sharon Harris
Lake Monticello

Elect Andrew Pullen
First, let me thank those School Board members that have served in Fluvanna County Public Schools (FCPS) these past few years. They all deserve our thanks in making sure all the FCPS are accredited. Well done!
Every two years we have qualified candidates running for the School Board. Instead of ridiculing these candidates, let us focus on what they can do, not what they wish they could do for FCPS students. In my opinion, a School Board member is elected to do what is in the best interest for the students, parents, teachers and support staff.

As the past chairperson for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee and the vice-chairperson for Virginia Career Education Foundation, I know Andrew Pullen, Columbia District School Board candidate, is an easy choice. Andrew is energetic, smart and deeply committed to the children, parents, and schools in Fluvanna County. He is a team player and a good listener. “Every student matters” is not an empty campaign slogan but, rather, Andrew’s sincere promise that, if elected, he will work diligently for every student in the school system. Andrew takes care to research, study, listen and engage regarding all aspects of pre-K-12 education. He has left no stone unturned in developing strategies that move FCPS toward its goal of giving every child an educational foundation.

Andrew has promised to improve the FCPS special education program. These children need general education support, as well as mental health services, and individualized attention to reach their highest potential. I have directly seen the negative impact on these students when there are limited resources provided, crippling our ability to serve these students. Special education students should be included in the FCPS STEAM and CTE programs as part of the free and appropriate public education.

I enthusiastically support Andrew Pullen for Fluvanna County School Board. I ask you to vote for Andrew on Tuesday, Nov. 7!   

Robert Mayfield

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