Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I’m responding to a letter by Karen Pearsall.
She claims I mislead and manipulate.
Karen, anyone is entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to their own facts. You used opinion. I used facts.
Fact #1. Manteca Unified School District has nearly $100 million in savings yet is required by law to keep only $7 million.
Fact #2. The district budget increased by 51% in last four years.
Fact #3. Six years ago, teacher salaries used to be 44% of the district budget. Now they are 36% of the budget.
Fact #4. The district received an increase of 14% this year. We asked for 5% pay increases. The district offered us 1%.
She claims I lied when I said “teachers proposed smaller class sizes, more nurses, counselors at our elementary schools, and pay that will keep our teachers here. And the district rejected all of it.”
I was President of your local teachers when that proposal was made. In fact, I was President for over nine years. Our proposal was e-mailed to all teachers this school year so Karen please ask any of our local teachers for a copy. If the district hadn’t rejected it, we wouldn’t be here.
The district has tentatively approved an elementary counseling program but that’s not what teachers wanted. We wanted the current practice of hiring counseling interns halted, and use that $800,000 so the district could hire permanent state licensed PPS counselors just like the high schools have. Aren’t elementary students equally as important as high school students? Research shows that 1 out of every 3 elementary students come to school every day with some sort of trauma in their life. Parents, if your child needs a counselor in 2nd grade, do you wait until they are in high school? Parents, would you rather have an intern or an experienced counselor talking to your child? And these interns leave after a year so your child will see a different counselor the next year. Parents, do you want your child to see a different counselor every year? Is any of this manipulative Karen? Or wrong?
We have pushed the district for 5 years to lower class sizes. We have the highest class sizes in Stanislaus or San Joaquin County for k-3 kids. When the district lowered kindergarten class sizes by one, they were pressured by our kindergarten teachers after I formed a committee to do so. And Superintendent Messer told me in a private one-on-one meeting that class size doesn’t make a difference in a child’s academic success.
The district has spent $50 million and counting on Going Digital. I encouraged the superintendent to go slow and pilot it. I encouraged him to not let students take devices home. But he disagreed. Going Digital is an abysmal failure. Who makes a $50 million mistake, receives a 5% raise and keeps their job? Our district superintendent.
You claim these facts damage the morale of the district. So, when children are being hurt in any way, it is up to responsible adults to report it, which is what I did in my letter.
As you can see, district big wigs take advantage of their teachers, but also of students and taxpayers. You claim I defame the reputations of others but if the Bulletin publishes a story about a person making poor choices, is it the Bulletin’s fault? Please don’t use a “blame the victim” narrative. It isn’t my fault for bringing to light the actions of a few district big wigs.
We tried being calm and patient as you said: Fourteen percent for the district and 1% for teachers. We are done being calm and patient. We want five percent for teachers, lower class sizes, and permanent elementary counselors. Good education policy isn’t just for district big wigs. Teachers know what kids really need.