Sunday, May 14, 2006

Who Was Francis E. Willard....And Why Do The Kids Get A Day Off?

If you were watching the School Board Workshop on Monday night May 1, 2006. (When, Diane Dozier no showed) There arose a discussion and there is still unhappy parents in the community that this school board had an in service day on Friday May 5, 2006, but had school in session during the election 3 day before on Tuesday May 2, 2006. Kids should have been home on Tuesday and in school on Friday. But, I digress.

Donna Wright, the one that runs the school system, especially when the Superintendent is interviewing elsewhere. Dr. Wright's predecessor Ms. Sarah Simpson, (whom I admired and loved) ran the school system for the years before her retirement, she simply let the men (Superintendent's) think they were running it. It was quite funny. I am digressing again.

Dr. Wright when questioned about the inservice dates, made the comment "well, we always take Francis E. Willard day." I started saying who is Francis Willard? The 8 board members present, all got puzzled looks on their faces and moved on to the next item on the agenda. In my 4 years on the school board Francis E. Willard's name never came up, had it been brought up, I would have asked, Who is Francis E. Willard and why are we (Knox County School System) honoring her? I was on the calendar committee for 2 years and her name never came up.

Here is her photo and what my internet search found on her.

Making the journey in a covered wagon, 7 year-old Frances Willard arrived in the Wisconsin Territory in 1846. Her parents established a farmstead along the Rock River near Janesville. As a young girl Willard disliked housework, preferring outdoor activities such as hunting and horseback riding. Many adults at the time considered such activities inappropriate for girls, but Frances refused to conform. She also trimmed her hair short and requested that people call her Frank. Taught at home by her mother, Willard became an avid reader. She moved to northern Illinois at age 18.

In the 1870s Frances Willard emerged as a national leader within the temperance movement, which was an effort to limit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The temperance movement had been growing stronger in the United States for several decades and, in 1879, Willard was elected president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Her leadership quickly made the WCTU an influential organization. A popular speaker, Willard delivered a speech in every state and territory in the United States in 1883.

Temperance supporters pointed to the financial and family problems often linked to the abuse of alcohol. Frances Willard also viewed temperance as part of a large social reform movement that could improve living conditions for women and make the United States a better place to live. Through her writings she introduced thousands of women to other important social concerns: voting rights for women, safer conditions for American workers, world peace, and methods of improving the nation's schools. Using the slogan "Home Protection" as her rallying cry, Willard showed how these urgent social problems affected women and their children. Willard died before many of the social reforms that she promoted became law, yet she inspired the generation of reformers who followed her.

Wisconsin schools celebrate Frances E. Willard Day on September 28th.

She was the President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union from 1879 - 1898.

I searched the State of Tennessee's website and did not find a Francis E. Willard Day. I searched the National archive and did not locate a recognized Francis E. Willard Day. The State of Wisconsin is the only state that I could find that has an official observance of Francis E. Willard Day.

In my internet search, I did find that her statue is the only female statue in Statuary Hall. So, now you know who Francis E. Willard is and why you have to make special arrangements for your kids on September 28th, if they are enrolled in public education in Knox County, TN.


Steve Mule said...

Mr. Hornback,
You wrote " board had an in service day on Friday May 5, 2006, but had school in session during the election ... " So?
If you have to have a day off why not do it in conjunction with a weekend? Two days off good - three days better.
"... Kids should have been home on Tuesday and in school on Friday ..." Why? Having kids home in the middle of week would be even more desruptive to family schedules than it would be on a Friday. It may even have been disruptive to actaully voting - not that the kids would have torn up the polling statiion or anything like that - altho, my sister did accidently turn the lights off where my parents were voting during the '64 Presidential election :-).
I am not necessarily disagreeing with you, I just don't see your point ... yet, and I hope that you can elaborate a little more.
That said, kudo's for the reasearch on Francis Willard - first class job on that!


Brian Hornback said...


The point is this:

1) With election day being conducted while students are present, the school building is unsecure. A sexual predator could easily slip through the doors a sthe school is unable to keep the facility in its normal secure fashion.

2) The school day was and is disrupted. When the gymnasium is used, no gymnasium activities are allowed, thus the P.E. class is not held and the students daily activities are disrupted.

At a local high school the election was held in the cafeteria. Thus disrupting the lunchroom activities of the students. Again, at the same time opening the high school students toward potential threatening people.

It is all about the safety and security for our students. If your not a parent, you probably haven't given it much thought. That's not your fault. It's just reality.

Check out the website of Missing and Exploited Children, for safety tips.

Steve Mule said...

Mr. Hornback,
OK, thanks. It makes enough sense to me to be reasonable.