Dear Tuscaloosa City Schools students, parents, teachers and administration and the entire Tuscaloosa community:

On behalf of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, I would like to address you about the recently released state report cards for our school system and our schools.

First, there is good, bad and ugly on these reports and there is no way to sugarcoat the results. Although we could bemoan the methodologies of the state and blame the results on certain intrinsic hurdles we face, we refuse to play victim. Instead, we will take full ownership -- as a board and as a system -- of these grades and use it as motivation to work even harder to make our schools and our system among the best in the country. And while we will not allow a somewhat arbitrary grade to define who we are as a school system, we will take these results to heart and use them as a tool to increase our intensity at the many things we already have in place system-wide to make much needed improvements.

Second, Rome was not built in a day and the re-vamping of our city’s public educational system will not happen overnight. I have said it many times: We have an absolute dynamic superintendent of education in Mike Daria, who is working tirelessly to make our system great. Notice I said great and not better. Through my many discussions with Dr. Daria, I have no doubt that we have the right leader in place and that he and his staff are implementing many exciting and challenging programs to make the necessary change. Dr. Daria is surrounded by a talented staff whose singular purpose is to advance and promote our system. The teachers in this system are some of the best and brightest around and each of these fine women and men are working every day to educate our children. Our schools are being re-zoned and re-built and re-purposed and I have no doubt that every school in our system will soon hit their stride.

Finally, this system has a board of education that supports our students and superintendent and all of our teachers 100 percent. These grades will be an important motivating force to double our efforts for our students. We will not be discouraged by these grades and we will rally as system to reach onward and upward. We as a board will be extremely active in the individual schools making sure progress is made.

To the schools that received A’s, we say congratulations on a job well done. You earned it! But don't get complacent; keep progressing.

To the schools that did not get A's, we say use this as a motivator to work even harder to make yourself and others better. Don’t let the grade define you as a person or school but do allow the grade to make positive change. We have confidence that you can do this.

We as a board, a system, a team and a community can make Tuscaloosa City Schools the best in the state if we all work together. This system, these schools and these students are truly ours and we as an entire community will only win if we all do our part to volunteer, give time, give money, give resources and most of all care about our schools and our children. Let’s use these grades to shape our community vision for education in a positive way. Who is ready to help?

 

Eric Wilson is chairman of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.