Families behind new school are burning bridges

This letter is in regards to the recent article “Core Issues” published in the Marietta Times on March 4, regarding the Veritas Academy. While I understand the desire for better educational opportunities and applaud the founding group for taking action in their children’s education, I cannot rightly stand by and listen to the constant degradation of the school that most of the founding families currently send their children to, St. Mary Elementary.

The recent article by The Times, in my opinion, focuses more on what the Veritas founders disliked about St. Mary, the Common Core, and public schools than providing information on what Veritas will actually provide in the educational process. Blaming and criticizing others in an effort to make the new option superior does nothing to prove it can stand on its own as an educational opportunity. Further, showing an actual photograph of my child’s classroom (he was directly behind the teacher and therefore not in the photo) is ridiculous and of no value to the virtues of Veritas other than to slander the educational processes of St. Mary and the hardworking, dedicated educators on staff. Instead, the article would have best served the community by sharing the virtues of each of the several educational alternatives throughout the community to provide insight to parents.

As an administrator in higher education, the spouse of a public school educator and a friend to many teachers and administrators in public schools, higher education and job training organizations, I disagree with the educational premises proposed by Veritas Academy and will not be sending my sons there. I do not believe that classical literature and memorization are the only option in education and instead want my children to focus on proactive, creative learning programs that teach my sons to think critically and evaluatively, and invoke a love of learning in all fields of study including science, technology and mathematics. Regardless of the constant misinformation (based often on politics rather than those based in sound best-practices by educational experts), the Common Core requirements provide for and encourage the development of such skills. That being said, I do not spend my time talking poorly about the families that have decided to do so, many of whom I have built relationships with either through the school or outside organizations and will maintain those friendships with. It is their right to do what they feel best for their children, and I respect that.

While I am not a member of St. Mary Church, I still believe that St. Mary Elementary is the best educational option for my children, having moved them out of public education two years ago. I am frustrated that a member of the church, Steve Parlin (whom I admit I do not know), a teacher in Marietta City Schools who homeschools his children states that he decided to join the Veritas’ advisory board “as a response to St. Mary’s adopting the Common Core.” If his children are homeschooled, and he himself works for the public school system, he has no business bringing his voice to this matter as it being against St. Mary Elementary. He has no vested interest as it is with our elementary school and I feel it is a direct shot at our school brought on by the other Veritas’ founding members. The St. Mary Local Educational Advisory Council disagreed with you on your concerns regarding Common Core. After many hours spent researching the Common Core Standards by the members of the Council and looking into the concerns brought to them by the group of parents, the Council decided to support the Diocese of Steubenville (the school district in charge) decision to adopt the Common Core Standards. You were not happy with this decision and you have every right to take your ball and go home, but don’t verbally abuse the rest of the players involved on your way out the door.

In conclusion, Veritas needs to stand on its own merits and allow St. Mary to stand on theirs; there is no reason for this to be Veritas against St. Mary, or Veritas against public schools. It should be about what you feel Veritas Academy can provide, not what you feel was wronged. I, for one, don’t agree that it is a better option for my children and they will be staying at St. Mary Elementary. I encourage parents to look at all available options for your children. I wish all of you well in your endeavors and will definitely take up the Ritters’ invite to “stop in and let us show you what we’ve accomplished in a couple years.” I know several of the families that will be sending their children there. I’m sure I can speak for many families at St. Mary Elementary that bridges have been unnecessarily burnt.

W. Larry Sloter lives in Devola.