Proposition E-ven More Confusing… - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Opinion

Proposition E-ven More Confusing…

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:59 am

As a new high school teacher in a San Diego USD, I thought I‘d be smart enough to sift through the rhetoric, politics, and emotion on Proposition E. I read the pleas, petitions, appeals and minutes from CUSD school board meetings. I downloaded the CUSD budget and reviewed the three available quarters (of four) of CUSD 2013/14 purchase requests. Yet, I remained uncertain on the need for the bond. Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit and discuss the bond measure with a board member.

That conversation left me as frustrated as all my previous efforts combined. My frustration is rooted in the fact that in twenty minutes, I was informed three times in three ways CUSD doesn’t need the bond. To quote, “We’ll be fine without it (the bond).”; “…the bottom line is we don’t ’need’ (emphasized) the bond.”; and “We’ll be okay if it doesn’t pass.” Imagine my surprise, prompting the question, “Then why did you vote for it?” A question never answered to my satisfaction. So I continued with questions about my confusion with other attempts to gain insight.

When I asked about seven figures ($1.1M in three fiscal quarters) in “Consulting & Professional Services” I was told, “That’s something we should look into.” I received the same response to my questions on six figure legal bills ($165k) and why we needed $60K in architectural services. If the board hasn’t examined how they are spending OUR money, can we assume they haven’t thoroughly explored possible savings? 

When asked about expenditures on political consultants (Clifford Moss LLC) specializing in “How to Win a Tax Measure, Even After a Tough Loss.” The response? “We have to spend money to make money.” This didn’t make sense; I was just assured the district didn’t need the bond. Did the board simply play the fear-monger card (“teacher layoffs”, “our children will suffer”, “collapse of our schools”)? I think you can see why I am confused and frustrated.

To avoid being labeled an anti-education pariah, let me explain what I am not confused about. As a teacher, I believe more than money, caring parents and families make successful schools. These two ingredients are abundant in Coronado. I believe money will never improve student performance more than a parent who feeds their kids a healthy breakfast. I believe no bond measure will enhance students’ success as much as parents who restrict video gaming and television in lieu of homework. I believe budgets aren’t a substitute for families that ensure their children get enough sleep and show up for school on time ready to learn. I believe no amount of money can ever promote a school’s success more than parents who believe that public education is the most valuable thing their child will ever receive for free.

I ask you to trust me on those beliefs. I see the converse on a daily basis. Next year we’ll cut the ribbon on a brand new $12M technology center equipped with millions more in student technology. None of that will help my students who are too hungry to focus, or too tired from playing video games, or whose parents didn’t care if an assignment was completed or their child got to school on time or at all.

Coronado will always have excellent schools because our families and parents care, not because we spend as much or more. Parents make the difference between success and failure in public schools, not money. I am no longer confused on Proposition E, I will vote no.

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