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Willingness to listen should be a welcome attribute

July 3, 2013
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor in another paper described my intentions as an elected School Board member to be "clever" and "funny, "and questioned my qualifications to serve on the Board. I would like to take this opportunity to respond.

While it's true that I don't have a higher education, I believe that it is not necessary to do so in order to successfully serve on a school board. There are school boards all over the country on which ordinary parents of children in the school district serve, regardless of their education. Parents serve a very useful role on these boards because they have the biggest stake in their local school systems and to disparage them for having less education than some of their peers, is unfortunate. You do not have to have a background in education to appreciate many of the things that go into the workings of a school district. In fact, one of our County Commissioners has no more education than I do and has served for several terms on that commission. Moreover, as a plumber by profession, I understand business, customer service, contracts and negotiations. I understand the need to listen, and not necessarily to other board members, but to all people who have a stake in the system, including other parents, people just like me - people who grind out 10 hour workdays and care about their kids and the schools they attend care about their children's schools and educations, and to our citizens and hardworking taxpayers. I am puzzled by the belief, apparently in the view of the critical letter writer, that I should stop talking, apparently, to the "wrong people" or being "too accessible" to the public or the press. As long as I am an active member of the Lee County School Board, the public's input will continue to provide at least as much, and possibly more value, to the role I fill, than the opinions of other board members.

As a lifetime member of this community, my passion for our schools runs deep. Every question, every statement, every discussion put forward at our public meetings is with the intention of clarifying points so that an informed decision can be made. As a board member, my decisions are not always going to mirror the decisions of other board members and I believe that's a good thing. Board members who merely rubber stamp one another are not always acting in the best interest of their constituents. Contrary to the belief of the critical letter writer, I am not trying to make a show, but to express an opinion that I've arrived at after weighing all of the information presented to me. As different as the School Board members may seem from one another, I find we all share the same passion for our children and schools. I encourage you to continue to reach out to each of us, under any circumstance, to share good news, satisfaction or dissatisfaction for what takes place in our district. I am listening.

Don H. Armstrong, Vice Chairperson

Lee County School Board



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