January 31, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Open Letter to the San Diego City Teachers Union

Dear Ms. Whitlow and Mr. Pesta:

As an interested former employee of SDCS and concerned educator, I am prompted to write to you regarding the continued chaos in SDCS. I am amazed and perturbed at the lack of action on your part as, sadly enough, was the case with the previous SDEA executive.

While Mr. Knapp was a decent fellow, he really did nothing to promote a more active intervention by SDEA. The only action of some significance SDEA has taken thus far was a demonstration by some teachers walking around the Ed Center. What did that accomplish? Absolutely nothing—conditions in SDCS have not changed, students continue to be shortchanged, and teachers are still harassed and forced to use a program we all know does not work for SDCS students. Independent reports after reports have shown that the Blue print is not for all SD children; even the Univ. of Wisconsin fellow who was hired as a consultant by the district reported that the Blueprint did not work and that the data did not support what Bersin and his cohorts claimed was happening with test scores.  I know his response in detail because I read his actual report, not the one reported by the Union Tribune, which was inaccurate. Other respectable researchers, including Dr. Behnke, former director of the Testing Department in SDCS, have shown the same result: The Blueprint curriculum does not work to the extent the district claims it does. In spite of all these reports, including the fact that teachers overwhelmingly reported their lack of confidence for the program and its administrators, SDEA has continued to be dormant.

Now the news is out that the district is facing enormous budget problems. As expected, the central administration is claiming it all has to do with state budget shortfalls. Nothing could be farther from the truth: reckless spending by them has caused the district to be in the hole by more than $70 million! What are you going to do about all this? Are you still thinking that Bersin is going to sit down with you and “have a friendly, rational, open discussion over these issues”? If you think so, you are more naive than some of your preschoolers. That individual and his followers do not ever intend to negotiate or exchange ideas for the benefit of all. You must keep in mind that your teachers are becoming more and more aware of the fact that while they pay a hefty amount of their monthly checks to the union, SDEA is not doing much, if anything, to protect them from their terrifying experience under the current regime. You must act on their behalf, I urge you!

I have read most of your comments in your posted letters, Ms. Whitlow, and you seem to be a person of integrity and passion. Unfortunately, so far they have been just words, standing alone void of real action—words, like thoughts, must be followed by action in order to impact that we wish to change, otherwise they are wasted energy, empty dreams.

If there is anything I can do, please let me know, and I’ll be more than willing to support any action taken for the purpose of improving the education of all those children.

Dr. Frank Ciriza

Dr. Ciriza is a former Evaluation Dept. Manager for SDCS.  His last assignment was as a Researcher/Evaluator for a special project in the School-to-Career Department, SDCS.  He’s currently a consultant for El Paso School District, and a professor at the University of Texas, El Paso.


U.S. a threat to world peace

In today’s news: U.S. Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on Iraq. What else do we have to know to realize that the Bush madness is leading us to nuclear annihilation? The nightmare has become a reality.

The Congress and the media have failed us. In spite of massive protests the military/industrial juggernaut grinds on. Can there be any doubt that the U.S. has become the greatest threat to world peace? Are there enough sane voices out there to stop the disaster?

Tanja Winter
 La Jolla

Leí el sabado el editorial (Jan. 24) que publicaste en tu periodico. Me parece muy cierto y solo quiero felicitarte por publicar abiertamente lo que algunos se callan.

Lourdes Davis
Via email

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