Brawley: Vote M for Mistake


letter to the editor 612x674



The garish flash of the electric blue bulbs of the Old Playhouse Theatre is hard to miss on an evening drive down Brawley’s Main Street. A few years ago, the centenarian movie house received a mild facelift, yet a peek through the glass doors betrays the true nature of the structure; a decrepit and decayed interior uninhabitable only but to pigeons and rats.

Such is the case with Brawley’s Measure M scheduled as a ballot measure for November elections. Measure M calls for a brand new $14,000,000 bond to build a new school with support from some in the community who “want education to thrive”, achieved with additional burden to already “very giving” taxpayers. The bond measure serves only to provide the illusion of a so-called thriving education, without any of the work, study, or careful thinking required to produce what should be the community-wide desired product of Brawley schools: curious, questioning, and well-read youths, exposed to a wide range of classical and contemporary studies, that develop into moral, productive, participatory citizens.

Rather, it is much easier to borrow and spend $14 million to build the glittering facade of a new school without the effort and toil of confronting the real problems and doomed fates of many Brawley students.

Much simpler it is to spend a several hundred thousand dollars of borrowed money to build out “STEM Labs” and “increas[e] student access to computers and modern technology” than it is to educate and train muscled readers of books versed in all genres and subjects capable of writing, reading, and speaking skillfully.

To some in positions of influence, it seems somehow possible that Barbara Worth 2.0 would be able to educate young iPad-wielding engineers and mathematicians, all the while many are unable to read or speak English proficiently, let alone the multitudes more incapable of even reading or writing at grade level.

It’s also much more appealing for a self-styled bigwig to have their name cast on a bronze plaque of a six-figure multipurpose room and get a picture taken cutting a thick red ribbon, than it is to instill discipline and drive in students, ensuring they are qualified to advance a grade before being passed off like a hot potato for the rest of their K-12 education.

Without question, Measure M will pass, likely with resounding support in the 65-70% range.

Fundamentally, Brawley’s citizens and parents have two choices. One, challenge, likely single-handedly, the accepted practice of therapeutic spending, administrative and Board apathy regarding rampant illiteracy, and elect not to choose the lesser of evils in future elections and run yourself. Or, two, sit back, stay home, remain quiet, and watch beige, stuccoed, fenced in cell blocks be built on borrowed money, meanwhile new generations are less capable than the last, preparing your pocketbook for the rollout of the next twenty to thirty million dollar piece in the never ending queue of ever more “vital” and extortionate projects.

Ultimately if this course of action, community culture, and attitude remain unchanged, BESD’s motto “Lighting the Way to the Future” predicts a pretty dim next few decades for Brawley.


Brooks Hamby

Palo Alto, CA.


  1. I served on the BUHS school board for four years and I can tell you that the boards of BESD and BUHS,its superintendants,teachers and parents are very complacent. Many parents feel that the schools should be responsible for every aspect of their child’s life. I understand that most parents are stressed over the economy and other life issues. However, the true facts are that the parents are a child’s first teacher and guiding spirit throughout life. Why have we given up this responsibility? Building a new school has been in the plans for many years. How will the school be filled? With bright shiny things and flashy gadgets? If you have no one to help you be strong mentally and physically, how are you to take advantage of them? I think that if we are going to provide an excellent education then we need to have healthy minds and healthy bodies to have the energy and stamina to follow rigorous paths of study. This cannot be handed out on a silver platter. This will always be a problem in a community where there is much poverty. I agree that we need more people to step forward and serve our community. I know how difficult it can be, having experienced it. I hope enough people read these comments and think on them. Even volunteering in a school for an hour or two could see a child advance their reading skills by leaps and bounds. If you have a skill or special knowledge, a teacher would be so happy to have you come and talk to their class. This would also show the children that their community is invested in their education. High standards are needed so we do not fall more and more behind. A new building will not do that, only we can.

  2. Dear Llort,

    There absolutely can be both, and Brawley would be much better served for it. Unfortunately, the proposed improvement to education for students in Brawley seems to merely be the appearance of a solid education, rather than endeavoring the difficult task of making up for an inadequate education from the home and schoolroom.

    In all candor, I most certainly am privileged. I am privileged to have been reared in an intact family that valued education, from reading with me nightly when I was young to the support of my college education.

    The same cannot be said for many children in Brawley. It is my contention that the responsibility falls on the schools to make up for what students lack at home, a tall task that can only be solved by identifying and tackling core problems, not through spending alone. By choosing to spend rather than to bring the bottom up and raise standards, the schools abdicate their responsibility.

    Tools such as computers are supplemental to a strong education. Yet, it seems the flash and allure of tech trends seem to obscure the dire need for at least proficiency in reading; a problem which is especially pronounced in our local schools.

    As a student at an institution that is in many ways the epicenter of the technological economy in the 21st century, I recognize that in order for students to take part they must be able to possess what are fundamental skills: the ability to read and speak English proficiently.

    Millions spent for “STEM Labs” are rendered useless if students lack these basic skills and teaching staff are unable to teach at a level to make a return on this investment.

    What Brawley needs is a community-wide concerted effort that values an excellent education through long and continuous improvement and engagement, rather than a perceived $14 million dollar silver bullet that fails to solve the core problems facing our students.

    If we value Brawley’s next generations, they can only be served if we address the core problems, not masking them with large spending projects.

  3. The problem is few kids have desire ,they feel they are entitled to the best, and the greatest, hard work is how you prevail, if you desire.
    A new school doesn’t change anything it’s your “DESIRE”

  4. Can there not be both? Is it not possible for a new school to be built and raise our standards of education?

    A young man who, let’s be honest, has been privileged his entire life is telling us what is “right” for us all the way from Palo Alto. Mr. Hamby has had access to technology and educational tools his entire life, whereas there is a large portion of low-income children in Brawley who do not have basic access to a computer in their own homes. Building STEM Labs and increasing access to computers and modern technology will allow those children to keep up with the modern trends today. The reality is, today’s job market is geared to those in the sciences. Whether it be healthcare or engineering, those are the jobs in demand and we must prepare our children to better their chances of getting educated and prepared to enter the workforce.

    Of course, I am willing to bet that a majority of those that are voting No send their children to Magnolia or have no children that attend the current overcrowded schools;so really, what do they care?

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