Who Is The Collective?

Recently, I established a link from OurFocusOurKids.com to a Facebook page and a Twitter page. This allows me to reach more people and provides an easier way for me to share news articles. Even though I develop web applications for a living, this is the first time I’ve tried to integrate social sites with a website and I have a lot to learn. I have figured out how to push my blog post and comments from the website to the Facebook and Twitter pages but I don’t have comments from Facebook and Twitter being shared back to the website yet, but I hope to. Until then, if I respond to a comment on Facebook, unless you are following me on Facebook, you won’t see my response. Until I have full integration, if I receive a comment that I believe will lead to an important discussion, I will respond to it here on OurFocusOurKids.com.

Today, on Facebook, I received such a comment from Sheri Davis. I have never met Sheri but she has been a regular commenter on my site and has been supporting what I have been doing since the beginning. There are times when I get so frustrated with what is happening in our schools that I struggle with how to present my position. I don’t want to lose focus on what I am trying to accomplish and lose support because I’m not able to objectively react to the misguided actions of those in the administration and on the board. I have only been at this for about 5 years and my kids still have many years left in Beaumont Unified. I know if I had to put up with what Sheri has, for as long as she has, and if my kids were out of the district or about to leave, as hers are, I know I would have given up a long time ago. I wouldn’t have the passion she still has and I admire her for that. She and I agree more than we disagree but sometimes we do disagree and it is one of these disagreements that lead me to write this post.

You can click on the Facebook link on this page to see Sheri’s complete comments on my Facebook page.

Following is my response to her comments:

Sheri,

In my opinion, there are three board members that always support Dr. Kayrell and his administration and never question his decisions, at least not publically. They are Mrs. Lara, Mr. Hackney and Mrs. De Longchamp. He recently referred to them as the “collective will” of the board. This reminded me of the Borg Collective from Star Trek, so from this point on I will refer to them as “The Collective”. Someone recently told me that the superintendent only needs to count to three because once he has three votes, all the others are irrelevant. I think this is what Dr. Kayrell meant by the collective but I like my image better.

I don’t think they really understand the relationship the board should have with the administration. The board should be establishing the mission and the guidelines and holding the administration accountable for following their directions. I understand why board members will defer to an experienced administrator like Dr. Kayrell for help in understanding the details of running a school district. I know I will if am elected to the board; I believe all five of our board members already do. Unlike The Collective, I think board members need to ask the difficult questions to confirm their understanding before authorizing actions by the administration. They shouldn’t take at face value what they are being told. I believe that after doing their due diligence, that they will most often agree with the administration and support the administration’s position, I am sure I will. However, if they are doing their due diligence, there will be some times when they vote against the position of the superintendent.

I don’t remember ever hearing Mr. Hackney or Mrs. De Longchamp ask the difficult questions and I don’t believe they have ever voted against Dr. Kayrell, I’m sure they must have but I don’t remember it. Mrs. Lara, on the other hand, used to regularly question the administration and would occasionally disagree with the administration’s position but I haven’t seen this from her ever since she became board president two years ago.

I understand you have problems with Mr. Orozco, I do too. Last month when I asked him to be a leader and help me get the information I needed, he failed to show the leadership we need. This was especially disappointing since he wants to become our representative in the state assembly. I believe if he had taken the opportunity I provided him, he would have won support from independents and many Republicans who would cross party lines to vote for someone willing to take a stand on principle for parents. I believe early on in his tenure on the board he was too willing to “go along” in order, as he once told me, “To live to fight another day.” This is the attitude I would expect from an aspiring politician but I voted for him because I thought he was a parent interested in putting parents first, and not a politician. I don’t think I will be able vote for him in the future.

It should be clear from Dr. Kayrell’s recent treatment of Mr. Orozco and Mrs. Poulter, when he accused them of holding a gun to his head, that he doesn’t consider either of them to be part of The Collective. This confirms my own observation of Mr. Orozco behavior, at least over the last couple years. I am sure he has been planning to run for the state assembly and this may have accounted for the change in behavior I have noticed. Over the last couple years, he has often asked the tough questions of Dr. Kayrell and his cabinet. He doesn’t regularly vote in opposition but I believe he is making an effort to hold the administration accountable for their actions, something members of The Collective don’t.

You and I both come to this discussion with a personal history with Mr. Orozco. This, I believe is the primary reason we disagree. Mr. Orozco supported my appointment to fill a vacant spot on the board. This is something a “puppet” would never have done when the “puppet master” was lobbying the other board members hard to appoint someone other than me as Dr. Kayrell was. Mr. Orozco has regularly supported my efforts to make a difference and has always been willing to respond to my emails and phone calls. When we have had a difference of opinion he has reached out to me to make his case. I don’t believe he has ever won me over, however, I appreciate his effort to try and his overall support for what I am doing. Because of my personal experience, I completely disagree with your assessment of him as a puppet.

What really interests me about your comment is your exclusion of Mrs. De Longchamp in your list of puppets. Do you know something I don’t? Do you have a personal history with her that leads you to believe she isn’t in Dr. Kayrell’s camp? I am interested to know what you think.

Sheri, this isn’t the first time we disagree and I am sure it won’t be the last. I appreciate your passion and your long time support of my efforts. I hope in the future I will be in a position to restore your faith in a school board that is responsive to the needs of parents and our kids. This won’t be possible until we replace The Collective and that is probably going to take more than a single election cycle.