What I learned this summer

summer

1. The board meetings are usually held on Tuesdays at 6 in the evening.
2. The board meetings are not very thrilling. Admittedly, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the board members seem to do much of their discussing in closed session. Either that or they don’t discuss much at all. They all seem to agree when they sit formally in open session.
3. Board members are rather difficult to talk to. If you look like a rebellious, angry teenager, the security guard(s) may stop you. He’s pretty friendly but it’s frustrating when older adults are able to directly approach the board members after meetings. Also, if you send an email to request a meeting, you will probably be told that the attorney has advised board members not to meet people who want to talk about Mr. Andrew Nguyen or the First Amendment violations.
4. The attorney is probably being really intelligent because the board occasionally says things that make me wonder about their intellect. For example, there was that moment when Ms. Andrade-Stadler asked if The Matador had been censored, after 5 board meetings and one investigation that concluded that Mr. Jim Schofield had “good intentions.” Seriously, the least you could do is pay attention to your own investigation that acknowledges that he censored the school newspaper.
5. This was not the first time that the district has had problems with acknowledging people’s rights to the First Amendment. Maia Wu spoke about it and they retaliated. Speaking of which, I heard her parents are pressing a lawsuit. Bless them for standing against the district.
6. There is a rather important budget called the LCAP that no one really understands. I still have no idea why I hadn’t heard about it before the board meetings. I wish I’d cared about it sooner because I’ve graduated and can’t barge in next year to demand that the school provide lockers or give more funds for extracurriculars and the arts.
7. Board members do not care. They say they do, but let’s be real.
a.) They fired a first-year teacher without giving him a reason. Granted, they don’t have to, but I’m pretty sure that any decent human being would have the decency to tell another person why they no longer have financial security. And you can’t say it’s because the contract ended. There were other first year teachers who were on similar contracts. And this was a teacher who was also busy coaching a very successful debate team. This was a man who spent his money buying things from students’ fundraisers and then sharing that food. What the hell did he do wrong? Exist as a gay Asian man who went to UCLA?
b.) They apologized to the wrong people. If you’re going to apologize, you speak to the person you have wronged. You DO NOT call the students’ parents, and in this neighborhood, you especially do not hunt down parents without having a translator on hand to clear up any miscommunications. And why parents? When someone speaks at a board meeting, they have to give contact info, and I’m pretty sure the contact info given on those forms did not include parents’ phone numbers.
8. There are many amazing, incredible adults out there who also dislike the district for all the wrongs it has done. And this gives me hope that not every adult is terrible. It’s just the ones that are currently in charge of the district.
9. I am impatient. I think I’ve always known this, but my summer experiences have highlighted it. I look forward to the end of 2016, not only to vote on our next president, but also to replace the incompetent, uncommunicative board members that we currently have to put up with. I’ve become rather cynical when it comes to AUSD and it seems unlikely that they’ll do anything to restore my faith. So now I will wait and keep a careful eye on the district, hoping that nothing else goes wrong.

Written by Emily Quach
Emily Quach is a ’15 San Gabriel High School graduate and is currently attending University of California, Berkeley.

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