The Valley Reporter recently made public records requests to the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board and central office seeking comments from the public on proficiency-based learning and district redesign.
The board is concerned that printing public comments might discourage participation. Our interest in those public comments is not voyeuristic. It is in being able to accurately report to our community on the tenor, volume and content of those comments. The Valley Reporter is more interested in the substance than who sent it. Major changes are underway in our communities around our schools and it is vital that all voices are heard in this process.
In the past – in the pre-digital era – all comments were either made in public, at board hearings and forums or town meetings or by letter. In the digital era, public comments come in via email or social media or online surveys, hence The Valley Reporter’s interest in those digital public comments.
It is important not just that The Valley Reporter has a way to assess the comments, but it's also important for people in our community to know what their friends and neighbors think. There is great value in public discourse when people can hear their neighbors' reasoning and concerns and respond in real time. Making digital comments available to the public would help stimulate more discussion – not less.
And that should be a good thing for our communities and our six-town school district. It’s important to hear the reasoning of the parents, taxpayers, educators and students that this will impact when we’re considering changes like this.
In seeking the public comments we’re seeking to ensure that all of the public (or at least all of our readers) can know what others think, so that the logic or concerns of others can shape our own opinions on this critical process.
How can we listen to our neighbors and understand their concerns if we don’t know what they are? How can parents in Duxbury understand the concerns of parents in Warren or Moretown if they don’t have access to those?
We think it’s critically important that this dialogue is as open as possible and we appreciate the efforts of the school district central office to make those comments available going forward.