Our school board members should read this!!!!
In Saturday's Sun, Colton school board member Marge Mendoza-Ware discussed the lessons she learned from the crisis in Colton. We are impressed. Her words should be required reading for all school board members, especially ours.
Here's her letter:
If we learn from our mistakes, then our mistakes may very well be worth the pain. If we share with others the lessons we learn and they take heed of those lessons, then we can see the fruit of our labor.
As a school board member for the Colton Joint Unified School District, I recently made some mistakes. It is my hope that school board members and administrators in other school districts will benefit from what I have learned..
• Lesson No. 1: Play fair. Do not insult your teachers by making a ridiculously low first offer.
• Lesson No. 2: Listen to your teachers. They are not trying to break the bank–they understand that if the bank is broken, they won't have a job.
• Lesson No. 3: Listen to your parents. Parents in the CJUSD wanted the district to dig deep and compensate the teachers with as much as we could.
• Lesson No. 4: Communicate openly, honestly and frequently with all stakeholders: teachers, parents, administrators and classified staff. Above all, be absolutely sure you are making your best possible offer.
• Lesson No. 5: Broken relationships are much harder to mend than those that remained honest and respectful. Do not let negotiations become a battle of us vs. them. If you do, your students will lose.
• Lesson No. 6: Your students are aware, and they are watching. They love their teachers and want the to be in the classroom, undistracted and ready to teach.
• Lesson No. 7: Visit your schools as frequently as possible.
• Lesson No 8: Remember your job is to facilitate the best possible education for your students. Having happy, well-compensated teachers and classified staff who feel you support their efforst is the quickest way to happy, well-educated students.
County Schools Superintendent Herb Fischer once told me about a time in his career when he thought he was absolutely correct in a position he had taken until one day he heard another side of the issue he had not considered. The argument was so compelling that he changed his position. I have always respected him for sharing that story.
I hope somewhere in my lesson you, too, will listen with an open mind, and if you have heard a compelling argument, you will change your position.
Jim, Patty, Sue, and Joyella - SHE'S SPEAKING TO YOU!!!!