This afternoon, Mark Belling highlighted an e-mail from Flamond Hightower, a paraprofessional at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Milwaukee.
Hightower is a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools - North Division High School, Class of 1984.
According to the e-mail, he's at the end of his rope. He expresses his extreme frustration and concern to his MPS colleagues.
Belling has posted a link to the e-mail on his website.
NOTE: Belling removed the link from his website, but the webpage remains online. If Belling intended to take down the e-mail because it's a fraud or the author requested that it be removed or for some other reason, he did a poor job because it's still accessible.
Belling devoted a significant portion of his Friday program to the e-mail. The fact that the link has disappeared so quickly makes me wonder what's up. An explanation from Belling is in order.
(Scroll down for updates.)
Subject: Our School of Chaos
These comments are meant for all who work at Phillis Wheatly School. I don't feel that our school has a learning environment anymore. I find it as a place of chaos, unruliness, and a place that I now dislike coming to.
We have to find some way of getting things back on track. About 75% of our 5th - 8th grade students don't listen to anyone, that includes the Administrators. There seems to be no support of any kind. Children are allowed to call the shots (that's what it seems like). I've worked for MPS for almost 20 years now and I've never seen things so bad. All the Fighting, Cursing, Disrespect and Threats towards staff and other students has to/ and needs to stop ASAP; children are allowed to walk around with their underwear showing even after being warned over and over. They walk out of class whenever they want, running up and down the hallways. Students don't care if you write up a referral anymore because they no that most of the time they wont get suspended; they will be counseled and warned. A warning that doesn't seem to matter anymore, because they come right back to class doing the same thing.
Our schools have become all business and not education anymore. Ours schools have become places of budgeting rather than places of higher learning. Staff members are at each others necks because no one seems to know what to do. Getting as many kids in the school by the third Friday is more important than getting children in the school who want to learn. Getting parents support needs to be enriched and changes have to be made Parents or guardians need to be more responsible and some students need to find other schools for their education.
What would others say if they saw all of the chaos we go through on a daily basis. I know I yell and fuss at the bad behaviors, but thats after i've tried the best I can to stop it from happening. It would be nice to come to work just one day ONE and it not seem like a day of doom.
Answer this Question: Would you allow your 5th to 8th grade child to go to our school right now?????!!!!! Do you think that your child would get the best education that they need from this institution? I know what my answer would be!!!!
What ever happened to the old fashioned way. What ever happened to reading groups where we heard the children read rather than cursing and playing around. What's happened to math challenges among classrooms rather than whose going to kick whose butt on the playground, hallway or classroom. Someone needs to step up their game as the kids say it and that someone is EVERYONE of us.
Remember the Movie LEAN ON ME, WHO CAN I/YOU LEAN ON AT THIS TIME???????? hmmmmmmm
Please reply to this chaotic message because thats what our school is like; CHAOS
From Mr. Flamond F.E. Hightower
if anyone needs to contact me call me at ***-**** or ***-***-****
These are not just my opinions they are the facts.
God Bless US All
I'd like Mayor Tom Barrett to comment.
I'd like MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton to respond.
This isn't an internal matter. This is a community matter.
The problems at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School are problems for the city of Milwaukee.
The school is accountable to the taxpayers of Milwaukee.
The citizens deserve answers.
UPDATE, November 22, 2010: MPS school staffer's e-mail rant goes viral
I think "viral" is an exaggeration. That term is used too loosely, kind of like "genius."
Nonetheless, Erin Richards, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, dubs Hightower's e-mail rant as going viral.
Flamond Hightower, a paraprofessional at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, 2442 N. 20th St., thought he was composing an e-mail to colleagues late Thursday when he expressed his frustration about students' behavior at the school.
But instead of sending the message to school staff, Flamond accidentally sent his message to the entire Milwaukee Public Schools e-mail list, he said Monday.
...Hightower, who said he's worked in MPS for 20 years, added that the district put him on leave this week. He said he assumed it was a result of the e-mail, but that he was also pulled out of class on Friday to answer questions from a police officer about an incident in which he had written up a student for beating up another student.
"I had sent in a referral for a student who was acting up, and they're trying to charge me with assault," Hightower said.
MPS officials have not returned calls for comment on the matter. Hightower said he's meeting with his lawyer tomorrow.
In the meantime, Hightower said he's received e-mails and Facebook messages from teachers and staff all over the district sympathizing with what he'd written. Hightower said he also got a call from a principal in Colorado who received the forwarded message.
"My thing is that I'm just trying to keep my job," said Hightower. "It's sad because it was just meant for the people at my school."
The fact that Hightower is being harassed by his employer and his job may be in jeopardy may account for the sudden disappearance of the direct link from Belling's website.
Again, if Belling wanted to make it go away, he should have seen to it that the webpage (content.clearchannel) was removed. At present, 2:45 PM, November 22, 2010, it's still active.
If MPS is taking revenge on Hightower because of his e-mail, he should take legal action against MPS. Such thug tactics by MPS are unacceptable.
I think the fact that Hightower inadvertently sent his message to the entire MPS e-mail list is a positive. He's a whistleblower, albeit accidental; and we know that the Left exalts whisteblowers.
It's time for transparency now.
What goes on in the public schools is the taxpayers' business. If you pay taxes, you have a stake in how those dollars are being spent. You have a right to know what's happening at Phillis Wheatley School because it's your money.
The Milwaukee Public School System is accountable to the people subsidizing the operation.
Richards elaborates on her November 22, 2010, post here.
This version includes comments from MPS officials.
On Monday, MPS officials confirmed they received the e-mail and were investigating whether it violates the district's acceptable-use policy for e-mail.
Hightower said he's been put on administrative leave. The district would not comment on whether that was for sending the e-mail or some other misconduct.
I hope MPS officials put as much effort into addressing the chaos at the schools as they do in investigating the school district's e-mail policy.
Why punish Hightower? Why not comment on the reason for putting an employee on administrative leave? Why the secrecy?
Hightower's e-mail describes a highly dysfunctional situation and MPS responds to his e-mail in a seemingly dysfunctional manner.
Note: On his Tuesday, November 23, program, Belling revisited the topic of Hightower's e-mail.
He clarified that he wrongly assumed Hightower was a teacher at Phillis Wheatley. In fact, Hightower is employed at the school as a paraprofessional.
So why did Belling remove the link to Hightower's e-mail from his website last week?
Belling said he removed the link to the e-mail because he was concerned that MPS would take action against Hightower, and that is what happened.
According to Belling, "I didn't want to be in a situation where this thing would be up over the weekend when I couldn't control what was going on. I took it down after the show on Friday."
Belling posted the link on his site again on Tuesday.
That doesn't make much sense. He discussed the e-mail at length on Friday and said it was available at Belling.com. He shared it with thousands and thousands of people listening on the radio and online. Furthermore, the podcast was available over the weekend. People could simply listen to Belling read Hightower's e-mail.
At that point, removing the link from his site for three days was pointless. Belling didn't have control.