As Yogi Berra would have it, it looks like deja vu all over again. Seems once again that I can’t escape my sanity being questioned. Ten years ago I contemplated a race for Antioch School Board. I asked the late,great, Mno Grant his opinion on my throwing a hat in the ring. He told me it depended upon how big the hole was in my head.
After all, Antioch had suffered a spate of scandals, including a 9.8 million dollar deficit and entry on the ignominious county Fiscal Watch List. Running for office was like asking to be tarred and feathered.
In the end, I threw abandon to the winds; ran twice; and was deeply honored to win twice. I was fortunate to play a role in summarily getting us off the Watch List, restoring public trust, starting a streak of seven of eight years of API score increase and initiating the linked pathways, career themed model that shined the reform spotlight.
In 2012, I began a two year hiatus from school governance. Again, friends question the size of the hole in my head as I now vie for office. It certainly isn’t for the money that I consider giving up having a real life. Heck, by my calculation, the $400 monthly stipend comes out to about $4.85 hourly compensation. That’s if you don’t deduct the spent gas and the paying functions you attend.
Why then entertain abandoning the return to normalcy and of enjoying time for family, exercise, reading and hobbies? I guess I’m guilty of caring.
I care about the eight million dollar settlement and the six 5-7 year old autistic kids who were physically and emotionally abused. I care about the achievement gap of minority, foster kid and English language learner students. I care about the overwhelming majority of our kids who graduate unqualified for U.C. system entry. I care for twenty six million dollars in deficit spending. I care about having a chair at the table for students of all niches; traditional, alternative. academy, charter, home study, remote and independent, I care about the disconnect between downtown and the grassroots that has spawned teacher dissatisfaction and parental revolts.
And yes, I care to the point of a sick stomach about schools, from elementary upwards, reporting their classrooms and yards riddled with disruption as an admittedly small number of kids terrorize teachers and fellow classmates. That’s outright unacceptable.
Surely, we can do better than denial. Yes, Houston, we have a problem. In fact, an emergency. Transparency, communication, partnerships, common sense and consequences seem shortchanged.
I may not have all the answers, but I promise not to sit and hope that answers somehow drop in my lap; I’ll demand accountability, respectfully disagree when needed, ask questions, civilly poke and prod staff, and stir the pot with dialogue and best practice research. Together, we can start by breaking open the silos and getting all stakeholders to the table; students, parents, teachers and community leaders. We know it all starts at home, so we need engagement.
Simply put, I don’t want to wallow in, and wring hands over, our litany of challenges. I want, instead., to vigorously seek out solutions because our kids and teachers deserve the best education that we can give them and that begins with safety…and, your Honor, yes, if caring translates to a hole in the head, then I am guilty as charged.