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RCS Board Introduction

From the introduction of Rutherford Students First at the Rutherford County Schools (RCS) Board meeting and letter to the board on 8.12.21, announcing our new organization.

Hello Board members and Director Spurlock,

These were my prepared comments from the board meeting this evening. We won’t agree on every single thing, but this is our first step in changing the board, school and parent relationship dynamics in Rutherford County. We’ll be in touch. – Chris

Welcome to a new school year!

The last couple times I’ve spoken to the board, I shared community survey results with wide support across party lines for parent choice on masks. At that time, I was joined by some parents who had recently met at my house and decided to let our voices be heard on the issue of mask requirements in schools.

During our brief experience last Spring, it became crystal clear that individual parents didn’t have much of a voice in our school system. Special interests, like the teacher’s union, had become the dominant voice and driver of the Board’s talking points, and therefore the Board’s policies. Individual parents could be easily dismissed and ignored. We’ve watched repeatedly as the union talking points and form emails are repeated verbatim, and how local political parties have helped to make this happen. This is special interest driven politics at its worst.

After those frustrating interactions, the small original set of parents has formed a group through my non-profit, and we want to start this year off on the right foot.

I come before you today to formally introduce the existence of Rutherford Students First, and want to ensure the lines of communications are open between this organization and the board. We don’t want a repeat of last year or even the escalation we saw in Williamson County this week. We were asked by many people to escalate a pressure campaign just this week, but that’s not how we want to start this school year.

Based on the policies discussed in this week’s work session, it’s clear the Board is trying to do the right thing for students to start the year, and you see how the policies that inhibited communication and learning last year harmed each student’s education and outcomes. To start the year, yes – parents are nervous and very anxious, but I believe every productive relationship begins with at least a friendly introduction–not yelling, screaming or demanding, but starting a dialogue that we hope continues–so here we are.

Over the coming months and years, Rutherford Students First will identify like-minded parents at every school in Rutherford County, appoint representatives for each school and even have designated representatives to each school board member to facilitate communication and feedback throughout Rutherford County parents.

We formed this group for parents who want nothing more than to put our students first in all the decision making for schools in Rutherford County. We are fervently non-partisan and not connected to any political entity of any kind. Our special interest is our children–nothing more.

Hundreds of parents have signed up with us already, and at our current pace we hope to have just over a thousand parents on board very soon. I’m not referring to our Facebook Page, though we are pleased it has been growing at a solid pace. I am referring to parents signing our petition to put students first in schools, who want to be engaged with this newly forming group led by parents–not special interests.

As our parent representatives are identified, we will facilitate introductions and very much look forward to working with you this school year.

Looking forward to a great school year!

Chris Littleton

Co-Founder, Rutherford Students First