Benton Harbor leadership has been negligent

Editor,

A simple definition of leadership is the art of motivating a group of people or organizations to act toward achieving a common goal. Without a doubt one of the top leadership skills required in the public sector is the ability to build and maintain a strong and collaborative team of individuals, business and community organizations. Good public leaders are also skilled at problem solving, which when in crisis requires, they stay calm, identify and communicate a step-by-step solution and motivating others toward these goals even under stressful situations. Finally, good public and internal communication skills are essential when in crisis mode.

Conversely, there are obvious signs of a bad leadership. For instance, one who attempts to intimidate or makes idle threats to the very groups or organizations needed during crisis mode. This creates a negative or even a hostile environment. This behavior prevents effective solutions as it destroys the very cooperation needed to address critical issues. Negativity is yet another sign of poor leadership: Making negative statements that focus only on problems or individuals rather than solutions. It leads to inaction and alienates those who can have a positive impact on a solution. Some leaders are control freaks who when a crisis occurs must at all cost revert to victim mode. They are the victim and blame anyone and everyone. Why? To admit that a crisis occurred under their watch, would be to admit that they lost control of the situation or that their past actions and decisions have resulted in the crisis.

Benton Harbor Schools is just now seeking a solution. Sadly, it had the solution in their hands and let it slip away. The most recent superintendent/CEO was that solution. Since coming to the school district, he has implemented changes that were desperately needed and results were already being seen. Instead of fighting the state partnership agreement every step of the way, they should have embraced it. With the recent changes to the partnership law, Benton Harbor knew change must and will occur. Instead of brainstorming solutions, they did nothing. They should have immediately begun negotiations with the superintendent/CEO in hopes of retaining the first real leader they have had in many years.

But they let the real leader slip through their hands. Now they are in crisis mode. Like many with poor leadership skills, they have assumed victimhood status, by attacking innocent parties, blaming the boogeyman for their problems and focused on blaming others instead of seeking solutions. The boogeyman did not create this debt, or the current problem. Years of poor leadership, mismanagement and infighting has. For years Benton Harbor has been receiving much higher state funding per student than surrounding districts. It is not former Gov. Rick Snyder’s fault or Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fault. The fault lies at the feet of the current and past school boards, who are alone responsible.

Dennis Barnes

Baroda

Threat to golf tournament was very foolish

Editor,

Really, Mayor Muhammad, what does the Senior PGA have to do with Benton Harbor schools? – zero, nothing, not a thing.

And then, as usual, he brings race into it. Really? Not surprised that had to surface and rear its ugly head. As a mayor, it was very foolish to threaten something that has so helped Benton Harbor and other communities. 

He needs to step down after that statement.

Lonna Johnson

Berrien Springs

BHHS has a great sports history

Editor,

I miss not being able to invite some of my school days buddies to the Benton Harbor-Muskegon football game. That game kept the AM radio stations across West Michigan open. Benton Harbor could come into town with three losses and it was still packed because anyone could win. Big colleges from all over the country had scouts with scholarships and celebrity friends.

Bringing back Benton Harbor High again is a pretty good bet. Make friends, not enemies.

Mark Spaniola

Benton Harbor

Outside funding could save BH Area Schools

Editor,

What to do to save Benton Harbor High School is pretty simple: Put enough money into it to make it the best school in the land.

There are billionaires who would be glad to do this. The government of Michigan has ruined Detroit schools. Betsy DeVos is interested in business (that is good for her). Desegregation here went from about 10 percent minority to around 90 percent minority, so government is no good here!

Our leaders are not providing acceptable funding for the conditions of the present situation. I expect there are programs in the land that are made for conditions such as ours. Turn it over to Silicon Valley. They would not allow the conditions our present leaders have used and keep using. Our goal should be to give children what they need, not to turn education over to businesses that are in it for the money!

Milt Zoschke

St. Joseph