A message to another concerned parent

Hi,

Thank you for taking time to write to me with your thoughts about the district and what I am trying to do. I am sure there are many parents with similar concerns. I will take this opportunity to address some of the issues you and others may have regarding my methods and motives. I hope you don’t mind if I post this on my blog, I think it is important to encourage discussion.

It is important to me that you understand I have the highest respect for the teachers, classified employees and the principals in BUSD and I don’t question the character and efforts of the employees at the district office. If you review all my comments on my website and my blog, I don’t believe you will find anywhere that I have criticized or complained about anything other than the lack of leadership and direction provided by our board of trustees and the superintendent’s administration.

I don’t believe the people in the district don’t care or that they are incompetent and I know that parents are proud of our schools and everyone wants to support our kids. I also know not everyone has the time to volunteer during school hours because of work responsibilities and family realities but, as you have indicated, there are many ways to volunteer and show support for our district outside of the schools and outside of the regular school hours. I don’t think many parents are aware of all the ways they can volunteer. I have never said any parent “doesn’t care” because they “can’t attend School Site Council meetings”.

Federal law requires the district to develop written parent involvement plans for the district and each school site. The law requires parent involvement with developing, annually reviewing and updating these plans. The plan the district has posted on their website is a boiler plate template provided by the California School Boards Association and was last approved by the board in 2006. It is word for word what the CSBA recommends as a template. It hasn’t been customized for Beaumont and there is no evidence of parent input.

I agree with you that “No matter how pretty a policy is, it won't make parents that don't care [or just have life realities that keep them disconnected] get involved. “

I’ve heard the board of trustees and the superintendent express the importance of involving more parents but their actions don’t back up their words. The fact that they don’t have organized written plans about how they are going to work to increase parent involvement indicates to me that they don’t really believe how much parents can help. It is because of these difficult times that it is so important the district makes an effort to earn the support and work with parents to develop a plan together.

Not working with parents to develop a plan; not using the tools they have to communicate effectively about what is happening in the board meetings; and leaving it up to parents not attending board meetings to find out on their own about transportation cuts and increased class sizes, are all missed opportunities to involve parents. In my opinion these are examples of poor leadership and a lack of direction.

I agree with you that Beaumont Schools are doing a great job for my children and I know they will be fine. I am concerned about the kids whose parents are not as involved in their children’s education.

I think we all saw the budget crisis developing a long time ago. I know from my experience as a member of the district’s budget review committee, that almost two years ago the administration knew they were going to cut spending. Despite knowing cuts were going to be needed, they continued to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology and training.  Other districts facing the same budget crisis were proactive two years ago and didn’t have to cut the number of services BUSD has.

I too would like to hear more positive comments about dealing with the budget cuts but I think it comes back to leadership. If the board of trustees would direct the administration to eliminate all non-critical spending (I think we could do without new technology hardware and take off a year of training) and instruct them to find a way to restore transportation and limited class sizes, parents and teachers would have a more positive outlook. But what I hear in board meetings is talk about cutting elementary transportation and how kindergarten isn’t a mandated service and one day they may need to eliminate it all together. I have a 4 year old son and it is difficult to be positive hearing these comments.

I am happy to hear you are regularly attending board meetings; I thought I was alone. Next time, please say “hi”, it will be nice to have some company. My goal is to educate parents about the importance of becoming involved in their kid’s education and how their involvement increases the educational opportunities for their kids. I believe that a good education leads to a better life.  I want to thank you as well, for taking the time to do so much to help our kids.

Thank you,

Lloyd White