Why I returned to Iowa

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 09:28 AM.

As I leave Weems Memorial Hospital from the position of CEO, I want to share some of the background for my decision. I am speaking only for myself and neither the hospital board of trustees nor the hospital as an organization.

A little less than two years ago I started at Weems, quickly purchased a house and relocated my family here. At that time, many suggested that due to the historical volatility of the position, it might be better to rent than buy. At the time of our move here, it was to be for the rest of our lives and the purchase was a demonstration of our being vested in the community I served.

Moving here was in part coming back to my roots not only in the South but also the area. While I was not born and raised here, my ancestral roots in the area date back to the 1780s, depending on the branch of the family tree. Ancestral surnames from the area are Taylor, Peacock, Lamb, Hill, Patterson and Barksdale. After starting work, I discovered three distant cousins and another by a distant marriage. Why mention this? To provoke the question of why would someone invested in the community with deep historical ties leave after such a short period? This is even more important considering my love of the hospital, staff and area.

To date, I have expressed my reason for moving to Iowa as the desire to be closer to my 19- and 20-year-old daughters and my 34-year-old son. This is true, but I would be moving in the next couple years even if I had not taken the job back in Iowa . Why? It boils down to the schools and the county commission. These two issues will burden Franklin County for years to come and make it difficult to recruit and retain qualified hospital CEOs. As I share my personal comments, they are not directed at any individual but to the organizations in place.

My wife, Lori, has shared a number of thoughts about the school in an editorial letter. I will add several comments. These are my frustration with the unwillingness of the school to take the steps necessary to provide adequate special educational activities as required by law. They are at great risk of lawsuit for those who are so inclined. Fortunately for them, I am not one of them; others may not be so generous. It seems that not hurting people’s feelings is more important than confronting tough issues. My condemnation is not of the people but of the system that allows for this. The people have been kind and considerate.

Even in regular classes, little real teaching is done. This varies from teacher to teacher, with some good and even great teachers. It seems showing videos has become a common method of filling class time. The videos typically are not based on the curriculum, if there is an established curriculum at all being followed. It seems that established curriculum and learning objectives no longer exist as a standard to teach by and to guide the learning experience.

Substitute teachers are often aides or other school employees rather than actual teachers. Attendance at a three-hour training course does not make someone a “fit” substitute, merely a better option than leaving students on their own. Some substitutes have been known to tell the class to read and then proceed to sleep or occupy themselves on their laptop. This sounds bad enough, but the use of ear buds isolates them even more as they pay little if any attention to students and provide no learning opportunity.

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