HendersonvilleLetters to the editor

Response to Bill O’Connor: School System Watchdog


The Henderson County Public School System now has a watchdog in former County Commissioner, Bill O’Conner. The TRIBUNE has him listed as a Henderson County Special Correspondent. He has written a weekly column for the paper on the school system the last several weeks.

While I welcome the interest by Mr. O’Conner, or for that matter any citizen, in what goes on at school board meetings, it seems to me that his primary reason for covering the meetings and writing the stories is to find fault with the Superintendent and the School Board. Any school system has areas in which it needs to improve and there is nothing wrong in pointing them out, but when you find things that are worthy of praise, point that out as well.

Mr. O’Conner has made several requests for information from the school system, which he has every right to do. There is a lot of information on the school system website and I hope he will search that first. When requests for information that involve a lot of research are made, some school system employee has to spend hours working on the request.

The latest article for the February 14-20th edition of the TRIBUNE is titled: “The Henderson County Teachers Union.” Apparently he is labeling the Henderson County Association of Educators as a teachers’ union. I think that is a stretch, since North Carolina is a state that does not allow collective bargaining. I salute any professional who chooses to be a member of their professional organization. Mr. O’Conner seems to feel that HCAE and its state affiliate NCAE are some subversive organizations that teachers should not join and that we should be concerned about their influence on our county school system.

Mr. O’Conner, as he wrote in his most recent column, even came up to each of us after the February 11th board meeting and asked us if we were members of NEA/NCAE. First of all, I don’t think anyone on the board would qualify to be a member because we are not active school employees. As a retired teacher, I qualify to be a member of the Henderson County Retired School Personnel organization, for which I have been a proud member since I retired from teaching. Our state organization is the North Carolina Retired School Personnel and yes, it is affiliated with the NEA. While I certainly don’t agree with everything the NEA does or says, I can’t see where they have any influence over our local Henderson County Retired School Personnel unit. Our unit meets six times a year for business meetings and socials. We also support our schools in many ways such as volunteering, supporting Johnson Farm, co-sponsoring the banquet for school system retirees and many others. We even raise money to provide a scholarship to a student that is attending Blue Ridge Community College. Our state organization, NCRSP has two paid lobbyists which focus on three things: Protecting the State Health Plan; Keeping the Teachers and State Employees Retirement System secure; and Enabling volunteerism in public schools by our members.

I feel we are very fortunate to have an outstanding school system here in Henderson County and I am grateful to the voters of the county for giving me the opportunity to serve on its school board. I believe that, in the future, as Mr. O’Conner covers the school board meetings and learns more and more about our school system, he too will realize how fortunate we are and that will be reflected in his columns.

Rick Wood
Henderson County School Board Member

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