Jeff Tech Director Dr. Barry Fillman testifies in Harrisburg before the Senate Education Committee
Jeff Tech Director Dr. Barry Fillman testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee on in Harrisburg September 23 concerning the impacts of PA Department of Health orders on children and schools.
In his remarks, Dr. Fillman called for state leaders to work together
“I did not come here today to take sides on the efficacy of masks,” he said. “I came here today with hope in my heart and my honest plea for all of us.”
Dr. Fillman outlined the situation at his school and the results of health orders that place schools in a difficult situation.
“Trapped between political ideals and a policy war, there’s been a deluge of anger. Here’s where that anger comes from—families still believe they matter and they do.”
Dr. Fillman said he and his staff are doing the best they can to deal with the situation, but what he called “threats from the government” have made things much more difficult.
“Great great people, great people, are being pushed to a breaking point,” he testified. “The only thing that can solve this is for people from both sides to get together, actually work together, and figure out a way to involve families instead of driving them out.”
Chiding the the state government for leaving parents out of the decisions and producing “a poorly written, ill-timed mandate,” Dr. Fillman said, “We have now had two years to get it right, and this is really the best we could do?”
Dr. Fillman asked for clear direction from the state where all stakeholders have been heard.
“We as school administrators have been put into a position to absorb everything that politics creates, and it’s breaking the will of decent, loving people,” he said, and he added, “I long for the opportunity for teachers to teach and leaders to talk about and to support education with their efforts instead of playing a game set up by people who do not understand the ramifications of their decisions…”
In his closing comments, Dr. Fillman said, “Tomorrow, I will return to the greatest job I will ever have in the place that I came from.” He then paused a moment in what appeared to be an effort to control his emotions, before adding, “I will continue to meet with parents, show love and compassion to students and cheer on my staff. These are under my control. We can’t remain fixed in this situation year after year. At some point I hope compromise, true leadership and love will bring this entire discussion to a close with a reasonable , localized, long-term solution for students, their families, and all of us in the trenches of education.”
When asked by Reynlow Community News about his testimony, Dr. Fillman responded, “I agonized over what to say with the opportunity to speak and decided to empty my heart.”
As far as the experience of testifying before a State Senate Committee he said, “It was an incredible experience to walk in those halls and have conversations with people who are there to represent us. It was a really supportive environment and I felt at ease.” He also added, “I really hope someone in attendance or watching somewhere will feel called to lead.”
Dr. Fillman’s testimony lasted about seven minutes. You can watch it here. It begins at about the 30 minute mark.