George Santayana wrote “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
My concern is that unless current board members endeavor to retain the experiences of the past — not to be bound by the past but to remember the past — the sort of perpetual infancy Santayana warned about may come to define school leadership in the years ahead. — something I am sure none of you want as your legacy as a member of the New Rochelle Board of Education.
In 2020, the Superintendent’s cabinet has a single member with more than a year in New Rochelle. The school board has just one member in their second term and a year from now the average tenure will be less than two years. There is a striking absence of institutional knowledge among school leadership.
To address this as regards the Campus School I wrote an article “A History of New Rochelle Alternative High School 1970 to 2020” which is based on interviews with a dozen current and former senior-level employees and school board members many of whose careers span more than 5 decades.
The origin of the Campus School emanates from a variety of programs – PROP, PREP or Sister Helen’s, Homebound — cobbled together over the past 50 years, none of which originated at New Rochelle High School, but rather from programs intended to support youngsters with different levels of mental health needs, special education needs, and behavioral needs — and after 1992 New Rochelle High School students considered “fragile” for various reasons.
I appreciate Mr. Ianuzzi acknowledging the work that went into that article and I hope before making any decisions about the Campus School all board members will have read it and learned the history of what is today called the Campus School.
There is a lot I do not know about the history of our district. I believe that applies to each of you as board members as well. The difference is that unlike me, you are each asked to decide on the future of the District without the benefit of a commonly shared understanding of the history of our schools.
In researching my series of articles, I collected a list of resources which I appended to the article.
One use of such a list of historical resources would be to develop board training so that all board members have a common baseline understanding of how the District came to be what it was prior to their arrival to the board which might, in turn, lead to more thoughtful, better informed board decisions while on the board and a greater sense of each board member’s place in a continuum of a legacy that goes back a century.
SPECIAL 8 PART SERIES: deceptions behind proposed move of Campus School from St Gabes to Bethesda by New Rochelle Board of Education
8 Part Series on deceptions behind proposed move of Campus School from St Gabes to Bethesda
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