To The Editor:
I went to the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Q&A session this week and heard the superintendent talk about numbers and getting in line with the state for an hour. Toward the end she spoke to her experience and to her vision. That felt backward, which is symbolic of how I see this redistricting effort. Had she spoken about vision and experience and then discussed struggles and solutions, it could have been more digestible.
To move forward let’s work on getting the order right. The school board needs to outline and conduct a real engagement process to find out what the community values. Real engagement takes time, effort, patience and thick skin. Real engagement also requires child care at events.
What I understood at last night’s meeting is that there is a top-down mandate to bring the district further into the state box, equity for some means less for others and that local control is slipping away.
Parents are responding to this process and are partially driven by loss of local control. I know I am. Look around the world, at the national level, in a medical facility or on an airplane and show me where your voice actually still counts.
We lose local control when we restrict community access to the schools (abrupt knee-jerk policy on fingerprinting, not allowing Cub Scouts to recruit kids during lunch) and when we create barriers to participation (plan an extra vacation day before Town Meeting Day and don’t have child care at events). Now we are looking to merge schools to increase the population to the point where the principals will no longer be able to have personal relationships with parents and know all of the students.
I don’t think it’s intentional, but add these up and see how far the community will be disconnected from the schools. At this point schools are our biggest connection point in each of these communities. We could lose that.
I support a bottom-up approach to redistricting. I want the savings to be felt by our residents who are at the margins and I also want to maintain a school system that is a recruitment tool. I don’t see either happening and I am calling on the school board to lead in giving the community voice in the most important issue that will shape the future of this community.