You may be familiar with the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, a tale about love and social status, but the story I am referring to is not about the courtship between Darcy and Elizabeth. It is still one riddled with both pride and prejudice, but I am referring to our summer involving the Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD).
It has been a long summer. I have attended five school board meetings and have spoken at three of them. I have watched as many people have stepped up to the podium to speak to the school board, ranging from a Stanford graduate to parents to students, with the sentiments of 300 citizens behind them. During the first few meetings, the board would say how they were proud of the students for speaking up and that this is how democracy looks and other such statements. However, nothing changed. Andrew Nguyen was still not rehired, Principal Jim Schofield still got his promotion, and AUSD continued to turn a blind eye to all of this.
Sure, there was an “investigation,” but it can hardly be called impartial. Oh, the censorship was unintentional even though we previously claimed it never even happened. Oh, we never asked Roz Collier to relay to the teacher that school officials might arrest students if they proceeded with the protest. Oh, we are just going to ignore all these other allegations against Jim Schofield. Oh, we also are not going to interview students for this investigation. Oh, let’s educate those publications students even though we were the ones who violated their rights in the first place. It sounds pretty ridiculous, right?
Their actions are completely unfathomable, and their lies leave a bitter taste in my mouth. What kind of lesson are they trying to teach? It is a sad world we live in when hardworking teachers who dedicate their lives to their students get arbitrarily dismissed, while administrators who violate students’ rights and have a silent history of retaliation get promoted. It is also pretty sad that a school board, whose role includes “ensuring accountability to the local community,” needs a lawsuit threatened against them before even thinking about doing anything.
At least according to school board president Adele Andrade-Stadler, this has all just been one big misunderstanding. However, I do not believe that for a second. If that truly were the case, why are there lawyers instead of a civil discussion between a community and its school board? Why are there voices on one side and silence on the other? If this is really all just because of a lack of communication, then the ones who need to start talking are the board members and administration, since we have stated our grievances loud and clear. We have even gotten creative with our metaphors to demonstrate our points from Kris Kringle hitting grandma with a reindeer to Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing killing Samuel Dubose.
There has been an emphasis on moving on and leaving this all in the past lately with the start of a new school year coming, but that seems like a pretty unreasonable request when nothing has really been satisfactorily addressed. This is not a problem that is just going to disappear. Don’t think that you can silence a community that you don’t even understand. (Community outreach is deplorable, as seen with the last Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) meeting.) Don’t look at us as if we are a bunch of children that you can simply dismiss with a pat on the head. (Yes, your condescension is offensive.) Don’t dare think that you can just pass this all off as an accident. (Because there were bad decisions that you made. It would have been better to admit them earlier and spend your time working with the community to remedy them rather than trying to hide until the storm is over, attempting to cover your tracks along the way.)
You are not thinking about the consequences of your actions and carelessly affecting people’s lives for your own convenience. We are acting for the greater good of education in this community. What are you acting for?