Over the past year, the Sweetwater Union High School District school board has been highlighted on the news for no so favorable actions. Four of five school board members, were found guilty of accepting gifts from district contractors that exceeded state limits, thus being removed from their seats on the school board.
In addition to the removal of the school board members, both the teachers union, Sweetwater Education Association (SEA), and the counselor union, Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association (SCGA), were on the verge of strike due to district violations of the respective union contracts.
Being a member of the Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association Executive Board, a few of us spoke at the school board meetings to share our concerns with the actions of the school board members to whom we entrusted our schools, our communities, and our livelihood.
Here is the text of my address to the school board. Although speakers are allowed 3 minutes, I (along with all the other speakers that particular evening) was cut off after only one minute:
I am a product of the SUHSD. I attended Granger Junior High School, graduated from Sweetwater High, worked as an AVID tutor at Granger and National City MIddle throughout college, taught English at Castle Park High School for 7 years, and now a counselor back at my alma mater for 6 years now. Because of all the teachers and counselors who mentored me, I’m able to give back to my community all these years. Because of the individual attention they gave me, they set an example of how I should build relationships with my students.This November 4th election, both SEA and SCGA are hoping to #CleanUpSweetwater since all 5 seats on the school board are up for election. Two of the former board members found guilty for accepting gifts over the allowed limit are running for Sweetwater Union High School District school board seats again. Both are not endorsed by the SEA or SCGA.
There was a time when I would encourage any aspiring educator to join me in this district. I was proud of the work we did and the people I worked with. But now, my trust in the district leadership has weaned. Our board members have betrayed our trust. Our superintendent doesn’t value the work we do. In the new year, I’ll be taking what is equivalent to a 10% pay decrease to provide for my family’s health care needs.
I’m afraid with no improvements in teacher class size and no reductions in counselor caseload, your team of teachers and counselors will be unable to meet the individual needs of ALL students. With the new common core standards and expectations being put on ALL of us, we are spread thin. Teachers still have an average of 35 students in every classroom. Each counselor still has an average caseload of 400 students.
We want our students to be college ready and meet the expectations of common core. Meeting this goal is not just about students completing courses, earning grades, and getting the best test scores. It is about nurturing a student. Building confidence in their capabilities. Giving them meaningful experiences in and out of the classroom to build character and leadership in our students. It’s important to help students establish meaningful relationships with counselors and teachers to really make them college ready. With no decreases in teacher classroom size or counselor caseload, this will be very challenging.
Board members, please regain the trust of the constituents who voted for you! Dr. Brand and Board Members, please recognize the hard work of your employees and encourage your team to be fair in our contract negotiations. Let’s make the best choices to provide the best educational experience for the students of the SUHSD!
Both the Sweetwater Education Association and the Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association endorse:
Each seat corresponds to a particular area serviced by the Sweetwater Union High School District.
All the candidates endorsed have strong ties to the community and have a background in education. I encourage the communities of National City, Chula Vista, and San Ysidro make an informed choice for the future of their children in the leadership for the Sweetwater Union High School District. Please share, like, and/or post our endorsed candidates to your friends and family. It will be a really close call and every little bit helps!
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