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Drain: The Little Engine That Could
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

In reference to the column “Manteca Unified ‘train’ wreck” I would be happy to accompany the editor on a trip to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Having commuted by rail to and from Sacramento/Manteca (actually by rail, bus and bicycle) I think it would be helpful to invite Manteca Unified School District Trustee Ashley Drain as well. There are many lessons from the museum that we could study together. 

One is the use of the sand of criticism. Sand is for traction and needs to be applied sparingly in the right places not indiscriminately placing the entire engine at risk. Trustee Drain is trying to apply this lesson. The Bulletin might consider following her lead. Bringing up comments made early in Trustee Drain’s tenure is not helping with avoiding a ‘train’ wreck. How about recalling the ‘oil’ she added at the time: “These situations overshadow the good teachers and administration (personnel) that should be praised for their hard work and dedication.” — Dec. 17, 2014 

At the last board meeting I observed Trustee Drain thank her harsher critics for helping her grow. She expressed this affirmation with graciousness. It is unclear to me why the editor choses to continue to hammer away at her. This does not seem to be the way to improve the train ride. 

From my perspective she is trying to modify her style to better fit the role of trustee. She is very positive in her social media and focused more on policy. Our school board is a team effort with each member adding different skills to the whole board. Trustee Drain represents concerns of parts of our community and better listening to those concerns might help our district’s continued improvement. 

Additional training for both individual and the whole board is a worthwhile investment from my perspective. MUSD has invested significantly in technology. It could be time to invest in our trustees. The most transparent and cost effective way might be by bringing the training here to Manteca as evening or weekend workshops. 

As the Bulletin has affirmed the entire community needs to be involved with MUSD. The CSBA states that the central importance of ” the consensus of the entire board, the superintendent and district staff, and the community as to what the students need in order to achieve their highest potential.” Perhaps our editor could take the lead for positive change by sponsoring a workshop to better explore the degree of consensus in MUSD.   

I have had the blessing to observe Trustee Drain as she educates her own three young children as well as the numerous teenagers she mentors. The image that comes to mind is the Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can” find the best in each of us feels like the right track to try for this school year. 

Léo Bennett-Cauchon