e3: Bending the Tree at Brawley Schools

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by Brooks Hamby

dropcap_old trees that are deeply rooted and well established are strong and resilient. Winds may blow, but the tree will remain upright as the storm subsides. Now, if a gardener were to use a rope to pull back the old tree, it may only move an inch, and the tree would snap upright again if the rope was removed. But if the tree is held under continuous pressure, incrementally and patiently tied down and pulled back, over time the tree will bend the way the rope pulls it. And in time, if the rope is removed, the tree will have permanently bent in incredible ways after persistent time and pressure.

Such is the case with Brawley schools and in many schools across our Valley. Schools when challenged for poor records or questionable actions may sway at the moment, with no meaningful change. Now and again a storm of public opinion may sweep through and shake things up, but ultimately the status quo remains unchanged.

As a socioeconomically disadvantaged area, our schools have a moral obligation to provide education and opportunities that that they do not currently offer. We, as the public, must recognize the chance and opportunity to make meaningful yet tough changes in our schools that can’t be enacted by attending a few Board meetings or with talk alone. We have an obligation to ensure that our public servants bend toward action in their most basic duties to the children of our Valley.

e3 stands for three simple principles: community engagement, enhancing the quality and focus of education, and the empowerment of students, parents, and teachers in the providing of a strong education.

All 12 candidates for Brawley’s two school elections received a packet of information containing a candidate profile and survey and twice were given the opportunity to speak about themselves and their ideas for school improvement and innovation as well as a survey of their positions on a variety of topics pertinent to leadership on school boards.

Each received two opportunities to allow the public to know a little bit more about their views and creative ideas for school improvement, in addition to putting out the most signs.

Zero out of twelve responded.

Luckily for them, their second chance didn’t make any real immediate difference. Unfortunately, the children who are illiterate at our schools do not receive second chances.

It would be easy to criticize the candidates for ignoring basic questions about their positions on such incredibly controversial issues like “spar[ing] no expense in ensuring that students are able to read” and a belief that good board members “strive for input”.

However, the candidates shame themselves quite easily. Six of these twelve candidates have begun their public positions by ignoring public questions. Not to speak is to speak, and everyone of this dozen has spoken volumes about their views toward opening themselves up to the public eye in such a low-stakes participation.

Brawley kids deserve the best. The actions of these future board members reflect poorly on their ability to make and justify tough choices in office if they can’t even publicly disclose their views on pertinent issues so that the voting public has the chance to make educated choices.

That’s why the real campaign doesn’t end on November 3rd; it begins the day after. A campaign of public questions and attention to the facts and disturbing issues surrounding the management of our schools will remind that board members of the most important objective; providing the greatest education possible in the 13 years that students are in our public schools.

This campaign is about bending the tree– the roots run deep, and it is well established. Winds may blow, and it will remain unmoved. This election and the actions of the board members is not about politics and should never be about personalities. This is about slowly and surely bending the tree in the right direction, day after day, month after month.

The first step in making these changes for the benefit of our students is this: make sure you know what the candidates stand for, if anything, before you elect the best of the worst.

This is no longer business as usual. These boards will not be allowed to shrink away from the public and hide behind murky and easily flexible procedure.

This tree will bend to the will of the public, over time and with enough pressure, demands, and questions.

Facts do not lie. Over the coming months facts, personal stories, and information about the disservice our school management is proving to our students will be released to the public to provide a broader and more informed view of the situations occurring in our schools.

The names, phone, numbers and emails of the candidates can be found at the following link:

http://www.co.imperial.ca.us/regvoters/calendar/Nov3CandidateHandbook.pdf

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