My Turn: As a teacher, the recall makes sense
June 7, 2009
I am a fifth-grade teacher in the district. I have worked in this district since 2002 and I am no. 82 on the districts published seniority list. I received a pink slip along with more than half of the teachers in our district. Many pink slips remain in force because three members of the School Board voted to retain bilingual teachers out of seniority.
I am for the recall of three board members but my reasons are not personal. I attended board meetings this past fall when the School Board came out in favor of Measure U. I thought the campaign to sell this to the public was odd as this request for
Ninety-three million dollars was being sold as a no-tax tax? I knew we had empty classrooms and two brand new schools. I was inspired by the public campaign to defeat Measure U as well as Measure L (another $93 million) six months prior. If you voted no on Measure U or on Measure L, please join us in recalling these 3 Board members.
Shortly after the defeat of Measure U the School Board began holding and#8220;Budget Workshopsand#8221;. At these workshops members of the public were asked to make budget improvement suggestions. I thought it was odd when no copies of the budget were made public. Odder still that no access to the budget was even available on-line, and still odder when it was clear that the Board members had copies of the budget while a desperate public was kept in ignorance and confusion. If you believe in financial transparency from your public officials I urge you to join in the recall of these board members.
Shortly after failing to pass the and#8220;no-taxand#8221; tax for $93 million dollars, we find out that the districts two newest schools Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee and North Tahoe Middle School in Tahoe City no longer meet the Board’s educational model. To fix this, the Board’s best idea is to bus all the middle school kids from the Lake to Truckee, bus all the High School kids from Truckee to the lake, bus kids from Tahoe Lake Elementary to Kings Beach Elementary and kids from Kings Beach Elementary to Tahoe City Elementary. If you think all this busing was a bad idea, stand up, and replace these three board members.
Where, you may ask, is the board getting all their advice? At the same time teachers were given pink slips so too was every principal and vice principal in the district. Under the heavy weight of the and#8220;pink-slipand#8221; our administrators were told what plans to support and what to say during the public school board meetings.
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Can you imagine the pressure, especially in this economy, to toe the party line? Can you imagine how unlikely, under those circumstances, it was for the school board to be given unfiltered, honest and sound policy advice?
Can you imagine that the only administrator to stand up to them, one with more than 30 years of service has now been removed from his site and publicly humiliated? Can you imagine that? If you can imagine a School Board that is open minded, honest and willing to listen to those who would disagree, sign the petition to recall these Board members.
What is driving all these decisions? Our Board has adopted the and#8220;latest greatestand#8221; educational model known as PLC (Professional Learning Community) The Board is so thrilled with the name and#8220;Professional Learning Communityand#8221; most inquiry stops right there. Nevertheless the basic idea is this: if all the teachers and all the students are in one building then all teachers of one grade level can take their preparation time to meet with other teachers of their grade and and#8220;talkand#8221; (they like the term collaborate) about their students results and share ideas. This is the central idea for which this board is willing to sacrifice community schools, force bussing and fire highly qualified people. If you think the cure is killing the patient, stand up, and sign this petition.
In addition our Board has adopted a policy to teach core subjects in Spanish in the two-way immersion program in Kings Beach. Predictably this decision does not allow access by all district students. (Two Board Members have managed to enroll their kids). The effect of placing this and#8220;school within a schooland#8221; has caused classes outside the two-way immersion to balloon and has left those students without a classroom made up from peers in their community. Of course the Board’s answer isn’t to relocate the and#8220;school within a schooland#8221; rather it is to bus the other kids out of their community. This sends the message that learning takes place away from home and community, and only when they are mixed with kids who are different than they are.
Your taxes make our district one of the richest in the State of California. Next year our district’s income will exceed $50 million. This is approximately $12,500 per child, and it is about 32 percent more money than the State average. Have you ever been told and#8220;We don’t need any more moneyand#8221;.?
Perhaps the most offensive thing of all is that Bill Kraus has publicly stated, and#8220;You could not pay me enough to run again in this district.and#8221; Meaning, his best plan is to cause all this destruction and turmoil and simply walk away!
You can prevent this from happening. Please take back your schools.
This story is a longer version that what was published in print. David Goggin is a Truckee resident.