Letter – School Board is way off base 

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

This School Board continues its political culture wars and is ignoring long-range plans that would benefit the students of Isle of Wight County Schools.

Where are their long-range planning goals for the following?

  • Recruiting, retaining and respecting quality teachers.   
  • What is the plan to ensure that there are enough substitute teachers so that classes don’t have to be divided and teachers lose their planning periods?
  • What is the plan to support student needs with additional counselors in every school?
  • What is the plan to lower class sizes at all levels and to provide instructional assistants to every K-3 teacher. K-3 teachers are the foundation for the future success of our students and classes are too large to address the needs of today’s students.
  • How are you going to address absenteeism?   

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Parents and teachers asked the School Board to form a committee before making a final decision on Policy INB. Chairman John Collick replied in an email to a citizen that it was only a suggestion. It was not a suggestion, it was a request, and he as the chair did not advance this request. 

I asked the board members for research-based data to support their policy that there is no systemic racism. None was provided, and when I gave documented evidence, no response.

On Mr. Collick’s Facebook page someone accused me of not being neutral. That person is correct. History should be taught as it is: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Board member Jason Maresh says he won the majority vote because he ran on the elimination of divisive material. He needs to name exactly what he doesn’t want taught, standard by standard. Does he not want to acknowledge that Isle of Wight was a Jim Crow county where so-called “good people” accepted Jim Crow as the proper way of life? Many of those same people left the public schools in large numbers to form a segregation academy. As a result, the public schools in Isle of Wight were funded at a minimum level for many years.

Perhaps there should be a committee, formed with stakeholders of different views, who could attempt to find a common ground, where factual information matters and decency abounds.


Rebecca M. Mercer