In an election year that has been notable more for wild hyperbole than substantive discussion, even our local races have not been immune from the kind of irresponsible and baseless rhetoric that has plagued those on the national stage.
One case in point. Last week an opinion article written under the byline Selina Button was posted by Mike Burkholder on his East County Today blog, and posted as a letter to the editor on the Antioch Herald news website. The article included false, defamatory, and possibly libelous statements about me, my wife, Argentina Davila-Luevano, and my friend, John Crowder.
The reason for her unwarranted attack? We were quoted in a press release by Rocketship Education as being in favor of their building a brand new, high-performing, elementary school in Antioch. Ms. Button characterized our positive comments as, “an effort to support their own personal financial gain.” She went on to ask, “Were they possibly promised a job by Rocketship?”
For the record, we have absolutely no gain, financial or otherwise, coming our way from Rocketship. Neither have we been offered jobs or anything else. In fact, the only thing we were promised was that people who want to maintain the failed status quo would likely try to smear anyone supporting their efforts…something I didn’t want to believe at the time.
Regardless, we stand by our support of Rocketship. As those who know us are aware, Argentina and I are long-time advocates for children, and particularly for children of color and/or those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. We see the addition of a Rocketship school as an important step in solving the problem of the horrifically underperforming schools in our city.
Unfortunately, It is clear that those who stand in the way of much-needed education reform in Antioch are willing to make false statements, to bully, and to try to mislead the public about a good organization, Rocketship, that truly has the best interests of our children at heart. They have shown that they are willing to use such unseemly tactics against Rocketship’s supporters, as well.
We’re not going to back down, though. We’ve fought for years for the rights of children. The right to a good education for all is too important for us to cave in. We urge everyone who realizes we need change to get the facts about Rocketship. Their model is working for students around the country. Let’s make sure they have the chance to bring this same success to Antioch’s students, as well.
Angel G. Luevano