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Serving children is a major reason one becomes a teacher or runs for political offices that address children. One runs for the school board to make sure that the educational environment and learning atmosphere are such that children's educational needs are being met. Children always go first. Board vice-president Beth Nolan made a recent decision to vote against free lunches for all students. That vote seems to be diametrically opposed to what school board members are elected to do.

Nolan and her slate ran on a platform of openness, transparency, parental involvement and making Decatur Public Schools a destination district. It is staggering to think a board officer could or would vote against what is best for children to achieve a campaign pledge.

Children can not learn if they are hungry and school meals are often the best and only meals some children have each day. How can a board member be more concerned about image than she is meeting children's needs? Personal agenda?

The Illinois State Report Card lists Decatur as having a 66.2 percent poverty rate, and a 62.6 percent minority representation. We have a 74 percent four-year graduation rate, a 67 percent teacher retention rate, 12.8 percent mobility rate and as many as 92 percent of the students not ready for the next grade level. We have heard the classroom management and discipline are out of control but are not addressed in the strategic plan.

Why isn't Nolan concerning herself with relevant educational issues rather than district image? It appears Nolan is not in touch with classroom realities or adept at addressing student achievement.

I guess Nolan is more determined to make this district a destination district than she is meeting the personal and academic needs of children.

 B. A. Buttz, Decatur

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