Respect for power of press, Parker
Response from last week's editorial in The Advance entitled "BOE makes good hire, bad decisions" has given us a newfound respect for the power of the press.
Many from Brewton, Flomaton and Atmore responded to our editorial and shared their feelings, both positive and negative, about what we had to say.
After reading your letters, taking your phone calls and hearing your opinions, two things have become very clear to us.
The first is that problems within our school system go much deeper than any one person can repair and our thoughts only touch the surface of what people within the system know but can't say.
The second is the depth and genuine respect and affection among many in our community for the previous school superintendent, Mr. Curtis Ray Parker.
To those people and to Mr. Parker, we did not mean to offend you in any way. If we have, you have our sincere apology. Our intention was to take a stand, not to offend or discredit. We stand by the core message in our editorial. Our school system has major problems and getting them resolved will be difficult and not pretty.
We also think it is appropriate after our comments regarding Mr. Parker to reflect upon what he has done for our school system and upon the personal commitment he made to making our schools successful.
Mr. Parker retired as Escambia County's superintendent of education two years ago after working in education for 39 years, 38 of them in Escambia County. He left a school system in good standing fiscally.
Harry Weaver, superintendent from 1957-1981, gave Mr. Parker his first job in education.
At one point in his career he served as a teacher at W.S. Neal High School. He served as superintendent from 1993-1998.
Those who know Mr. Parker best speak highly of his reputation. They describe his reputation as being one of respect not only in our county but throughout the state. One person said no one could question his dedication during his 38 years of service to our county.
We certainly don't.
As a matter of fact, many of us here at The Advance haven't even been in this world that long. Anyone who can commit to one system for 38 years, deserves respect and admiration.
Mr. Parker has a new challenge in his life.
Cancer has touched us all. It has taken our family, our friends and our neighbors. When we wrote our editorial last week, we were unaware of his fight against cancer.
Our prayer is that this is one fight he wins.
Mr. Parker said a few years ago that he hoped he had made a difference in some of the lives he touched during his 39 years in service to the community.
If the public reaction to our comments regarding you, Mr. Parker, is any indication of the lives you've touched, you did your job very well.