BY MIKE FUHRMAN
There were a couple of very telling moments at Monday’s Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education meeting, including one in which a board member claimed he could run Statesville High School.
In those moments, board members Brian Sloan and Mike Kubiniec showed just how little they value the opinions, education and professional experience of the district’s professional administrators.
In the process, Sloan and Kubiniec, who were elected in November, came across as ill-informed and arrogant. That’s a bad combination that should alarm all I-SS stakeholders, including parents, business and civic leaders and voters.
In preparation for the district’s upcoming budget presentation, I-SS administrators and teachers gave an in-depth presentation Monday about the unique challenges in three of the district’s “low-performing” schools. A high percentage of students who attend these schools lives in poverty and many have experienced “severe trauma” in their lives, district officials explained.
Superintendent Jeff James, central office administrators and principals at N.B. Mills Elementary, Third Creek Middle and Statesville High provided an array of student performance data and outlined the work the district is doing to support students and close learning gaps in these schools. Despite receiving low marks on state report cards, these schools are outperforming many of their peers in N.C. in a number of key metrics, James said, even though I-SS receives less state and local funding.
Sloan and Kubiniec demonstrated that they have very little grasp of the magnitude of the challenges that thousands of I-SS students face as well as the daily efforts of district employees. Many students from low-income households are unprepared for kindergarten when they begin school, and too many have witnessed or experienced violence while growing up in food-insecure homes.
Kubiniec, a retired Navy captain who was chosen by the board to serve as vice chair, suggested Monday that student performance would improve if teachers regularly visited students’ homes and told their parents to make sure their kids go to school, demonstrating for all to see that his hubris is surpassed only by his myopia and naivete.
“I am tired of poverty being used as a reason schools don’t perform,” he said. “There are plenty of high poverty schools that are As or Bs.”
Forty years of national data collected and analyzed by Stanford University, which the superintendent summarized Monday, clearly illustrates the link between poverty and low student performance.
Kubiniec’s response to being told that the research did not support his opinions provides some insight into the type of leadership he brings to the school district.
“I am tired of comparisons,” he said. “They mean nothing.”
Previously, Kubiniec has stated publicly that he opposes providing free meals for students who come to school without lunch or money to buy a school lunch. He also suggested that the best way to deal with discipline problems is to expel students who have ongoing behavioral issues.
Sloan, a poultry farmer and contractor, also proved Monday night how little he understands these challenges.
He actually bragged during a break in the meeting that he could do the job of the principal of Statesville High School.
“I think I could do it. I think I could do it at Statesville High … be a principal,” Sloan said.
His comments are ludicrous — and they were not well received by the staff at Statesville High School.
“It was hurtful. It was kind of a slap in the face, to be honest, and not warranted,” said Denise Hayes, a Statesville High graduate and current teacher at the school. “It was not well timed for sure.”
Hayes, who has taught at West Iredell, Lake Norman and Statesville high schools during her 28-year career as an educator, said teaching at Statesville High does have unique challenges associated with the students’ socio-economic backgrounds. But the staff, which includes 14 SHS grads, is dedicated to helping the students be successful. Hearing a school board member diminish the work of Principal Chad Parker by suggesting anyone can do his job — as Sloan did — does nothing to aid their effort, she said.
“Teaching is definitely a calling,” Hayes said. “I think the majority of our teachers here have been called, and feel compelled to be here.”
Sloan’s comments are an affront to every principal, assistant principal and teacher in the district. To publicly assert that he has acquired the knowledge and experience of professionals who have countless of hours of education and training and real-life experience is absolutely absurd.
But his comments should surprise no one. During his campaign, Sloan showed his limited view of the school district’s role in the lives of children in the 21st century.
“If a man want (sic) to heat his house with wood, then he needs to cut and split wood before it get (sic) cold,” he wrote on his campaign page. “It is hard work, but it is a necessary chore. I am running for school board to protect our children from ungodly agendas and mandates being forced in our investments of the future. It is time for us to take a stand that reading, writing, science, history and math should be the agenda we need to push for the kids of the future.”
These two board members would do the district’s 20,000-plus students, 2,000-plus employees and taxpayers a real service by spending more time listening to people who have dedicated their professional lives to educating young people and less time to playing politics.
They are either listening to the wrong people, have a political agenda that is contrary to the district’s important mission, or both.
That Kubiniec and Sloan would show themselves to be ill-equipped for their new positions is hardly shocking. During the past few months, these board members have embarked on a victory tour of sorts with the man who claimed he controlled their votes even before the general election.
By taking Micah Phelps — a convicted drug offender who calls himself the “puppet master” — on tours of Northview Academy and Statesville High and a visit to North Iredell High, they have put several district principals in a difficult position. On the visits to Northview and North Iredell, Phelps violated district policy by not properly signing into the schools. Kubiniec helped facilitate those security breaches. His fellow board members should publicly sanction the vice chair for that conduct.
Phelps’ visits to these schools — or any schools for that matter — serve no public good and jeopardize the district’s ability to comply with federal laws requiring schools to protect students’ educational records. If you are a parent of students who attend these schools, you should be troubled by the actions of these elected officials.
Sloan and Kubiniec are rapidly becoming exhibits No. 1 and No. 2 in the case against partisan school board elections. Having an “R” next to your name on the ballot might ensure that you get elected in Iredell County, but it is certainly not evidence that you are suited to serve on the school board.
Mike Fuhrman is editor of Iredell Free News.
47 thoughts on “Viewpoint: Two new I-SS Board members display arrogance, insult professional educators”
Even if I agreed with alot of what this article says, I can’t agree with the biased leanings written within it. It is written like a bad opinion, not actual journalism.
The world needs more honest journalists, not more crybabies like Don Lemon.
Having a “D” beside your name…and all.
They should both resign
Agreed!!! Now they are publicly connected with a known political agitator who had no reason to be given access that the general public is denied.
Quotes from the morons don’t give you a clear picture of what these idiots want?
@Jason, I agree. This is not proper journalism. I don’t need to be swayed one way or the other by the writer’s opinions. Whether or not those men are qualified for the jobs, I can figure it out on my own if given the facts.
Kubinec is so arrogant and I hope he is pleased when he runs off all our professional educators. Sloan is just ignorant. (No relation)
MAGATs. ALL OF THEM.
These idiots are a direct reflection of the morons that voted for them.
Question for the chicken farming moron…your quote, “ I am running for school board to protect our children from ungodly agendas and mandates being forced in our investments of the future.” What “godly” agenda do you plan on enacting? Specifically, which “god” are you referring to? I’d like to know so that I make sure my children know which one they are to bow their heads and pray to in your vision of our local schools.
Board members such as these two make me grateful that: a) I am no longer an ISS student myself, my children are too old to be ISS students, and my grandchildren are either too old or do not live in the area.
Shame on these men; the author of this piece hit it on the head with this statement: “They are either listening to the wrong people, have a political agenda that is contrary to the district’s important mission, or both.”
Imagine being a grown man and being completely fine with someone going around saying you are their puppet. Yikes.
The School system always uses the same excuses and nothing gets done. About time we got some new blood in the system.
I am grateful for IFN’s reporting and analysis of ISS board meetings, district news, and school activities. Our dedicated educators deserve our thanks and much greater support. Their challenge is to ensure that all children succeed, even those without essential early learning experiences. Even if we don’t care about all children for their own sake as persons to be valued (and we should), our collective future depends on their success and well-being. I hope that our newer board members will find the humility to learn more about the students, families, educators, and community they were elected to serve.
The fact that KUBINIEC is taking a drug offender around to each of our schools is a disgrace!! How dare you!!! This man has NO ties to our schools, no kids, nothing. ALL parents and staff members should be concerned about this board member. In fact, KUBINIEC needs to step down.
Here is a challenge for ALL board members. Come to ALL of our schools and spend a week at each of them. You think you could come in to our schools and make a difference? Until you experience the day to day duties that teachers and staff go through, don’t make assumptions that you know what and how the schools function.
I would invite both the Clucker and the “puppet master’s agent” to invest in the education and certifications required to be a teacher/administrator. I would also propose that they live on a teacher’s salary, with no other income, for the duration of their tenure as elected officials. I have worked in chicken houses and I have taught school for 30 years. Hands down I know which is the most challenging. Venture to guess?
Toni Bostian: Exactly!!!!!
The author is obviously a follower of the NCAE and the policy of “throw money at it and all will get better”. For years the liberal education institutions have only called for one thing…..$! Now that the citizens have voted in a representative that has the same views and beliefs as them the liberals are aghast.
The liberals have had decades and BILLIONS of dollars to fix the education system. Not only have they shown NO overall improvement, but their policies have shown continuous declines in the education of our children.
While not convinced these new school board members are going to be able to fix our schools I am in hopes they can at least trend water and keep things from getting worse. Which is all that has occurred with the liberals running things.
I am not remembering us having a liberal school board here since they made the school board elections partisan. The last board was most certainly almost all Republicans just like this one.
What was the purpose of bringing a known political agitator and riot encourager into our schools? Did they not know what his agenda was?
Insulting educators who are on the front lines is not the way to fix anything, especially when they have not been in their shoes.
The following is what Mr. Kubenick wrote when seeking your votes.
I am a retired Navy Captain and served in the Navy for 30 years in our Submarine Force. Then I worked in 2 high technology industries. I have held senior level leadership roles in both the Navy and business. Now, I want to serve our country and community again on our Iredell-Statesville School Board.
My priorities as your board member will be:
Serve the needs of students, parents and families FIRST!
Deliver academic excellence for every student.
Return to the basics, which I call “Brilliant on the Basics.” Focus more on: mathematics, reading, writing, science, history and developing critical thinking skills.
“Normalcy” must return to our schools. Eliminate all distractions found in the school day.
Demand accountability for producing the highest quality academic achievement for ALL students from the Superintendent, Principals, teachers and school staffs.
Work tirelessly with state and local officials to increase pay for all instructional staff members.
Every decision I will make will be in the context of “what is best for the student.” No other factors will ever sway my decision-making process. You have this commitment from me.
Two issues to address from his proclamation:
He proclaimed that students and families came first. Yet he would have our children go hungry when it has been proven, leaning is impacted by having good nutrition. Instead of complaining of children throwing away food go to the schools, sit down and have a meal with them. Open a dialogue to find out the source of displeasure and then work on solutions to combat the issues, real or perceived.
Behavior – Schools are not the military. You cannot just issue an order and expect it to be followed (nor should that be something we want). Children from Pre K through Graduation should be growing, learning and yes even testing boundaries. It is parents job to instill good behavior in children; however, if the parents don’t know how to behave the how can they teach their children. (Look at parents behavior at past school board meetings as an example.). I think I-SS schools do a pretty good job with the challenges they are presented. Maybe our school board members should spend some time in the class rooms to gain knowledge and experience our teachers and administration face on a daily basis.
“Captain K” proclaims he has worked in high level senior jobs in both industry and the Navy. He never said he knew anything about education and IT SHOWS.
His arrogance is only superceed by his political agenda. “Captain K is all about himself and does not care about our students who are OUR FUTURE.
We can overcome the poverty levels (yes it is a real problem and not an excuse). Good education is a major component to the solution.
Listen, let Mr. Parker have an extended weekend away from Senior High and let Mr. Sloan do his thing since he can run the school. Let him put his money where his mouth is for just one day. Give him ONE DAY in Mr. Parker’s shoes and let’s see how he feels at the end of that day.
Apparently the voters wanted this circus, so they voted for the clowns.
It is so very sad. We had some amazing candidates. With tons of experience and knowledge in education plus intelligence and compassion and a love for our community and our kids. It is a darn shame that you cannot get elected in Iredell County without an R beside your name. Our kids deserve so much better than these people who seem to not even be familiar with the basics of how education works at all. One school board meeting Captain Krunch said that the North Iredell area may as well be 3,000 miles away from him. Then at the February meeting Sloan suggested expelling 400 students right then and there. Thank God we have a lawyer present to quell the stupidity.
This is just sad all around! As an educator, you can’t have views like these that are culturally biased and racially influenced. See how you fare if you go to work and didn’t have coffee, breakfast, or an adequate lunch! You wouldn’t make it…. the same applies to children!
I grew up in Iredell County in the forties and fifties. Grew up poor and hungry when I went to school. One thing for sure, never was the excuse that hunger kept us from learning.
Definition of viewpoint:
“a way of looking at or thinking about something” “perspective” “opinion”
It IS an opinion piece. It is intended to be the editor’s “VIEWPOINT” hence the title. However, unbiased journalism is included with regard to research connecting poverty to academic performance, the dedication and expertise of educational professionals, and the disregard for school security/ breach of protocol when board and non board member visited schools.
I believe they need to ride some bus routes from EVERY school and see where and how some of these children live. I have been a bus driver for almost 26 years. I welcome any of the board members to ride one week with me.
Is this an editorial? It’s very hard to tell.
Either way, this is supposed to be for news and updates. It’s hard to read anything someone writes with such biased information. If they were elected, let the ppl know the facts. Then they can change their votes, if they think they should. No editorializing and commentary needed. Unless this is an editorial.
It says viewpoint in the headline. Viewpoint = editorial
Having an “R” next to your name 🤦🏻♀️
Glad these goobers aren’t in charge of MGSD. The teachers are welcome to transfer over here.
What’s missing in education is parental accountability. It shouldn’t be the teachers job to babysit or give major punishments. If a student is a discipline issue, make mandatory times where the parent(s) have to come to school with their kid. Have options for evening classes. Discipline has to start at home. I see too many kids from homes where drugs are acceptable (mainly MJ). I see homes where it’s acceptable for kids to vape in front of or with their parents. That’s a gateway to other bad behaviors. The root causes of most discipline issues begin at home. Having a child is a huge responsibility and a blessing. Hold the parents accountable.
It’s sad but not surprising that these two idiots were elected to the school board. When such a large percentage of voters are ignorant, poorly educated right-wing Neanderthals, this is going to be the result. Iredell County has become ground zero for backward-thinking, closed-minded, ignorant right-wing voters. It’s pathetic. We are an embarrassment to the rest of the state.
The best thing to happen to education would be to run off all the “professional educators” and replace them with some good old fashioned teachers.
Our schools already have “good old-fashioned teachers” but it seems the loud screamers at school board meetings combined with commissioners with political agendas are keeping them from actually teaching. Our teachers are NOT babysitters, nor are they responsible for teaching your children how to behave. They are teachers, and are our “first responders” in education. Treat them with respect, pay them commensurately, and LET THEM TEACH.
It’s an opinion piece hence the word viewpoint in the heading.
29 year veteran teacher here. I know Mr. Parker to be an outstanding educator and administrator. Those who talk the biggest game usually have none. Let these two “gentlemen” and I use that term loosely, stand in front of a high school classroom any day of the week, much less SHS, then talk to us about their expertise. It is amazing to me those who have all these lofty goals and ideas for education are seldom willing to put forth the sweat equity, much less any other form of equity to help students succeed. It is not the fault of the students. It is the fault of adults…you and me, society as a whole. We have allowed our society to devolve into this wasteland of insecurity, entitlement, arrogance and depravity, mostly fueled by greed and our dependence on technology. As adults, we have shoved our kids in front of devices for so long as a babysitter so we could have “Me Time” and now we can’t understand why we can’t get them off of it. We, as a society, neglect the basic needs of our children — interaction and attention, which they seek online and in inappropriate ways. We neglect our elderly, our veterans and our special needs, all because we do not have time. We did not get here overnight, and cannot get out of it overnight. It takes a culture shift. What it does not take is people like these two blaming those in the trenches who are trying. Shut up, roll up your sleeves, be the example and elected role model you should be and get to work .. put feet and hands to your words. We teachers, administrators and students would appreciate it!
Those who criticized the article for being “biased” seem to be ignorant that it’s clearly labeled under “Perspectives” as an opinion piece. The article writer did refer to established data on poverty’s effects on education and school performance if these same critics will take the time to read it, but they won’t because they would rather embrace ignorance than face facts that challenge their world view. Also, the so-called I-SS Board’s “puppet master,” drug offender, and amateur podcaster should not be allowed near a school!
Keep that clown puppet master out of our schools.
Kubiniec and the other puppets should resign!
To be fair, it is in the opinion section and titled viewpoint so it is an editorial and not a news article.
I would also like to see how Brian Sloan does at SHS. I have seen him in action for over 20 years now and I do not think it will go like he thinks it will. He has almost zero control over his emotions over even little things. $10 says he cries by 10 am or pops off to a teacher, student or parent.
Good idea. And while he is there, Cpt Krunch can try out his idea of simply stopping by people’s houses and telling them to send their kids to school cause quite obviously that would solve all the problems. /s
Hello? The title of the article clearly states it is a viewpoint or an opinion piece.
Dana Cope: That’s exactly wHY someone of the Republican party endorsed a Democrat and risked political demise. It Is NOT always the party; it is the PERSON that is qualified for the position.
Generally, employers look to fill their open positions with qualified candidates. Obviously, it’s different with elected positions, where the voters have the burden of verifying candidate qualifications. It is a shame that the voters put party in front of competence, and it appears that the children of Iredell County will suffer for it. I suppose it would be one thing if Brian Sloan and Mike Kubiniec would reduce their ignorance by listening to the research, educators, and constituents, but they seem to be the worst type of Dunning-Kruger offenders.