Ketchem Is Happy? What Does That Teach Us?



According to a recent Roundup article by Alexis Bechman, Kathe Ketchem stands behind the decision to fire Stephanie Shields and is “happy with the direction the school is going.” What direction is that, Ms. Ketchem, other than administratively downhill?

I recall that one of the fundamental tasks of public school curriculum is to teach manners, morals and citizenship to our youth. Let us examine what the current board, Casey O’Brien and Ketchem have taught students, staff and Payson residents by example.

First, it is moral to fire employees without any warnings or opportunity to improve. In fact, Ketchem told Shields that there was no need to tell her why she was being fired. Surprise.

The identical form was used to fire Roy Sandoval, Tim Fruth and Jason Lobik, so I will surmise that Ketchem’s behavior has been learned and is approved by the board and O’Brien.

It seems that hard work, loyalty, a record of good works, a decent disposition and a commitment to the community are of no value. A person’s feelings and morale are of little value and can be trampled upon when those in power wish. One cannot trust employers. Good lesson?

Second, one can take on a position of public trust and then ignore accepted protocols and good practices in favor of personal vendettas. It would seem that Richard Meyer made that perfectly clear. Apparently those in power can do as they wish. Morality is for others. Good lesson?

Third, those who are supposed to be stewards of the public good sometimes are more interested in personal agendas. Others are interested in just “going along” because of some weakness in terms of knowing what is good and decent behavior toward other persons. The district administrators and board have served to teach that power can be used to achieve ends, even if it is used mercilessly and malevolently. Good lesson?

Fourth, paint a nice face on the current situation and the people will buy it. Ketchem seems to brag about “new safety policies.”

Does it matter that most of the actions or concepts were started under the leadership of Sandoval, who was constantly fighting for improved school safety, control of students leaving campus, better dress and behavior codes, and improved teaching and learning? It seems that one should ignore the work of others and brag about what you do even if it is putting lipstick on a pig. Good lesson?

The lessons shown are not what need to be learned. Compassion, kindness, loyalty, honesty, careful use of power and good stewardship of the public trust are lessons that the board, O’Brien, and Ketchem need to add to their learning. Sadly, it appears that it is too late. Bad lesson.

John Lemon

PHS Site Council Community Rep.,

2008-09, 2009-10


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