You've heard the line so much that it starts to sound like a cliche: It takes a village to raise a child.
Educators like using the phrase.
But when they talk about how they have developed a partnership they boast about how they have teachers, students, and parents on board. They seem to forget the community.
Most adults — and that runs the gamut from a 22-year-old to a 90-year-old and beyond — don't have a school-aged child. And as such they are banned, in a sense, from the village. The mindset was reflected in the Measure G bond measure campaign. Not only were the campaign signs were purposely concentrated around school campuses but the district only provided parents via mandatory take home information sheets handed to students the Friday before the election with their answers to bond concerns. The community — those excluded from the education village —only got the mailed out equivalent of slick sound bites.
You didn't even see school board members hit the rubber chicken circuit and talk up the school bond among community-based groups. Why would they? The community isn't part of the country club.
That said when the community is actively included good things become better.
And how that happens is through the school board.
Remember the last Manteca Unified School District upheaval of any consequence? It was over the direction the agricultural program was being taken. There were those educators who believed such programs were taking away from academics and therefore justified less attention.
The flap started over the status of an ag teacher. But by the time the dust had settled board members Nancy Teicheira and Ed Fichnter along with community members such as Janet Dyk working with the school district forged stronger community-based support for agricultural education.
It obviously wasn't the handiwork simply of two "renegade" board members who rubbed the administration and board majority the wrong way. The role of the two board members was key to pushing to prevent ag cuts and to provide the program with more resources.
There was a consensus among a number of Manteca educators at the time that agriculture wasn't a career path of any consequence. Such a stance flew in the face of the fact that agricultural is — and continues to be —California’s largest employer. It is also the source of a significant number of well paying jobs.
Too many educators believe what the late Bill Honing did when he served as California's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Honing said a number of times his goal was to make sure every California high school graduate was ready for college.
Manuel Medeiros — a current trustee who was voted out of office Nov. 4 and will end his service in the coming weeks — has harped on the need for the district to move back toward vocational education from the first day he was sworn-in.
The district has moved in that direction with be.tech.
Armed with cold statistics that show a minority of students go on to secure four-year degrees, the administration sought out community input and partnerships to launch the be.tech academies.
The community partnerships that should be groomed and valued isn't with vendors such as Microsoft and Panasonic that are walking away with $30 million paydays. It should be partnerships not just with the communities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch but sub-groups such as agriculture, material handling and movement, retail, professionals, and others.
At the end of the day the handiwork of Manteca Unified educating kids will have a greater impact on them than Microsoft although Bill Gates' company does get the added bonus of having 22,000 young consumers getting weaned on his software products.
Not making a community connection is what led to the sound defeat of two incumbents in the Nov. 4 election. The board does no one favors when they have a cozy relationship with the top brass in the Manteca Unified district. In some cases the lack of tough public questioning and the adoring accolades showered down on district initiatives without asking about nitty gritty details often doesn’t sell well outside the board room. It never helps that trustees at times acts not as if the administration walks on water but acts like the administration created water.
There was a time not too long ago that some school honchos were keeping their fingers crossed that Teicheira would meet her Waterloo at the ballot box.
Some 12 years later the semi-adversarial role that Teicheira assumed has paid dividends in a number of ways not the least of which is the school farm.
Keeping the community out of the mix of teachers, support staff, students, parents, and administration is short-sighted.
The community as a whole has a lot at stake in public education yet they are often viewed as an afterthought.
The corporations that fare the best don't simply have directors that collect a stipend for attending board members supposedly as guardians and advisors of the stockholders' interests but instead smooge with the corporate suite occupants.
They look out for the stockholders' interests and the long-range feasibility of the company.
At the end of the day the people of Manteca, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch founded and built the school system that exist today. It is their money invested in it. They should not be ignored and treated like outcasts of the education village.
It's little wonder two essentially unknown candidates who had little or no presence in Manteca specifically could vacuum up so many votes.