OpEd: A little pep talk on saving our schools

By Kelly Franti, ETUSD parent

I just finished reading part one of the article about the ETUSD consultants and the meeting that took place on August 20 [“Parents meet ETUSD consultants about future of schools—but superintendent tells Bakersfield TV false ‘facts’,” The Mountain Enterprise, August 24, page 1].

It seems as though the “school secretary” quoted in the article has her head buried in the sand regarding some of the things that are happening in our district.

Had she attended any of several board meetings over the last year or so, she would be aware that her statement about the decline in enrollment being mostly due to people moving off the hill is inaccurate. It has been discussed at several of the past meetings that many of the transferred students are still living here. John Fleming has been attempting for months to find out who these students are and how to persuade them to return to our schools.

Regarding her assertion that none of the district teachers or employees are intimidated by this board and superintendent I again, must say that she is misinformed. I know this, because each time I meet a teacher or district employee I ask them to speak out, as I have been trying to figure out where the disconnect is between them and the board, why the teachers don’t have a contract and why they are not more of a presence at the board meetings.

I feel that their voices (and all of our voices) are crucial to helping solve the problems that we have. Almost every single ETUSD teacher and district employee that I have encountered over the past 2.5 years that I’ve lived here has told me that they do not speak up for fear of retaliation or recrimination. How sad.

Teachers’ fear of speaking out has led to them being misrepresented by the board, misunderstood by the public and misquoted by even their own school secretary.

Please, ETUSD teachers and employees: We need to hear from you—the people who are actually “in the trenches,” working in the buildings being discussed, teaching the students we all love and absolutely experiencing some of the worst effects of all these budget cuts.

You are undeniably important to us all. I understand that the past few years have been exhausting and intimidating. I get that you have been regularly treated with appalling disrespect by many. How can we all help to make things better?

Our superintendent promised last spring that she was going to schedule three Town Hall meetings, so teachers, parents and community members could be heard. When will those take place?

At the rate things are going, all of us who are sitting on our hands, being spectators and armchair critics, are not going to have any school district problems to even talk about within the next few years, because our district will sink—unless people wake up and participate at any level that they can. The time to get involved is now. Our schools need us.

Please, ETUSD board, superintendent and members of the Mountain Communities, arguing back-and-forth is distracting our attention from real priorities.

Let’s put the animosity and pettiness aside, and get down to the business of getting our schools back on track, whether we like each other or not.

This is part of the August 31, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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