My Turn: Why we want the recall
In response to Roger Kahn, Buff Wendt and the Sierra Sun editorial staff, we would like to set the record straight on why so many of us are against the lakeside reconfigurations and for the recall of the three board members who voted for them.
This is about taking back our schools, our school district, and our communities that have been torn apart by the decisions of these three board members. The recall is not dividing the community; that has already been done by the rash vote and short time frame for implementation by the school board.
The recall is to remove the three members who have had a personal agenda and replace them with members who really want to serve our communities fairly and effectively ” for all students and not just a specialized program on the lakeside.
How wonderful will it be with new board members who understand the importance of creating a well-balanced task force for decision making, who would not allow for major reconfiguration options to be presented to the community only 24 hours before they vote, who would be willing to create new bi-laws which would help make negotiations with teachers easier and longer standing … so many ways and opportunities to make positive changes that could bring all of us back to the table and working together again.
The idea for a recall germinated with the previous school board’s conduct and attitude when negotiating with the educators of our school district and the school board’s selection of members to serve on the TTRAC committee (which only represented a portion of our lakeside schools and Tahoe Lake Elementary had zero representation in any of the recommendations presented to the board).
As we all know, an election was held since then, and two of the school board members who were up for re-election were handily replaced. There was an initial candidate interested in running against the third incumbent member, but after meeting with the incumbent, that candidate decided not run. So, the third incumbent ran unopposed.
This is the first part of our country’s political process and we had hoped that the new board members might better represent the families of the school district, which we believe they have. They seem to be the only two on the board asking why so many changes and why at such speed to implement the changes? Unfortunately, the three members being recalled stuck with their agenda (please note that two of these members have children in an educational model on the lakeside that remains completely untouched by these reconfigurations … no new school site, no forced busing for their children), ignored the majority of public opinion, pontificated to the public during board meetings, and proceeded under the guises of budget crisis to force changes to the lakeside community.
So, the logical, and politically correct, next step to take when an elected official is serving his or her own agenda and not that of the public is a recall. This is the democratic grass roots effort by our community to improve education for everyone at the lakeside, including Kings Beach Elementary students and parents.
Our district has a school district next door (that is facing similar challenges as we are) that appears to run smoothly and welcomes a well-balanced representation from the schools and its community when making important decisions about its educational models and reconfiguration ideas.
They put together a task force that worked well together. Our future new school board could do well to follow their impressive example.
The current reconfiguration is not the one and only way to help educate all students on an equitable basis as the three board members claim (additional support for English Learner students’ families is just one simple and effective idea of many … lower teacher/student ratios, additional aides in the classroom, etc).
In fact, since Kings Beach Elementary has been in Program Improvement for close to five years, why was there never a district promoted campaign to the parents of English Mainstream students in Kings Beach to offer a choice to attend a non-PI school such as Tahoe Lake Elementary?
Is that because the majority of Kings Beach parents do not want their children to attend a school so far away from home? Or because, as Mr. Wendt states, the district feels that the solution of “English role models” is the only answer and the Kings Beach families disagree?
If the board feels so strongly about “role models,” why don’t they dismantle the TWI program and place those students within the English Mainstream program?
While we, too, believe that all students should be given a fair chance at an equal education, we know there are many more better alternatives than force-busing students away from their neighborhood schools, which has been historically unsuccessful.
These “outdated practices” that Board Member Kraus both supports (forced busing) and yet claims the proponents of the recall are holding onto, do not best serve the young students of Kings Beach Elementary. Young elementary children need to be close to home for many reasons, but most importantly to improve confidence, calm anxiety, assure them their parents are nearby, and in case of emergencies. The Kings Beach community deserves a neighborhood school just like Tahoe Lake Elementary and have the same equal opportunity to walk or ride their bikes to school.
We also do not understand how dismantling a high performance school such as Tahoe Lake “enhances the academic success” of students as Kraus claims is important for all children. We also do not understand why they would take a decorated “Distinguished California High School” such as North Tahoe High School and change its obviously successful format to match the Truckee High’s schedule which has not earned such an honor. Shouldn’t that be the other way around? And Glenshire Elementary, wouldn’t you like to have your hard-earned aides back in the classroom? And Donner Trail Elementary, as the smallest school in our district which is looking for cuts everywhere, do you think your school is safe to stay open? And Truckee Elementary, do you really want your bilingual students forced to bus over 267 to attend Kings Beach, or would you prefer to stay at your neighborhood school too?
This is not about “some Tahoe Lake parents” being extremely upset, as Mr. Wendt claims in her letter. This is not about “cultural and racial fears” which offends so many people in our community to no end. We live in and embrace our multicultural community which is way above and beyond an English or Spanish speaking one … on any day you can hear German, French, Russian, Italian, and Japanese spoken in our streets and in our schools.
In conclusion, we believe there are two honorable ways for the recall members to act: rescind the changes they have proposed for the lakeside school for one year as requested by Roger Kahn in his My Turn letter or step down from your positions so that a recall and its expense is not necessary.
And if you choose to do neither (which is your right), then we ask that all members of our community to make sure you are very well informed about all the past actions of the school board members before you make the decision to sign or not. Please remember that this recall is not about whether you like someone or not, it is about whether you like the actions that they have taken and the decisions they have made during their term.
Editor’s note: This was written by the following parents and voters: Stacy Bordes, Kelly Dietz, Steve Covello, Debbie Covello, Colleen McDevitt, Stan Scott, Barbara Morgan, Dennis Morgan, Emily Fralick, Thom Fralick, Diane Austin, Bill Austin, Lanay LaFerriere, Bryant LaFerriere, Tom Kalange, Laurel Kalange, Stephanie Schwartz, Heather Mosher, Annette Burkhart, Marcus Burkhart, Paul Joslin, Colleen Joslin, Damon Gold and Trina Collosa Camerena Diez Gold.
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