Gunn Counseling: The Inside Story
Original post made by Ken Dauber, Barron Park, on Jun 11, 2012
As reported in the Weekly (Web Link) on April 26, Camille Townsend, president of the PAUSD Board of Education, wrote to Superintendent Kevin Skelly about Gunn's response to teacher advisory that "It feels like stubbornness coming through and not much more. Yes, folks need time to move in a direction ... but the conversation is starting to feel more obstructionist then not. I personally have put forth the counseling issue for years now .... comes up at every dinner we have with the high school students at Gunn. It's really time to feel some movement on this .... While patience may be a virtue and thoughtful planning, yes, that too, but this has gone far beyond that time frame."
Understanding how Townsend came to this conclusion is crucial to understanding the right next steps on counseling at Gunn, as Gunn's own proposal to the school board essentially leaves the current failed process in place and leaves Gunn students without a clear path to more effective and equitable services. It also leaves Gunn teachers who want to learn about and explore advisory in an atmosphere free of obstructionism without support.
We have prepared a chronology of events at Gunn and the district, using information gleaned from public records requests, to reconstruct how we came to the end that Townsend complains of. It can be seen here: Web Link.
+ Gunn Principal Katya Villalobos, following Superintendent Kevin Skelly's lead, repeatedly voiced her opposition in email communications to the entire Gunn staff to bringing teacher advisory to Gunn before any guidance review process had even begun at Gunn.
+ The "Guidance Review Committee" (GRC), formed to respond to the school board's directive, didn't consider teacher advisory and didn't compare the Gunn and Paly's survey results before deciding to oppose teacher advisory at Gunn. + There is no evidence that the GRC has ever, at any time up to the present date, considered implementing TA at Gunn.
+ PAUSD Superintendent Skelly and Principal Villalobos apparently privately told teachers that they were opposed to TA at Gunn and that TA would not be implemented at Gunn, leading a few teachers to press them to make their opposition public. "Why won't Kevin [Skelly] say what he's been saying to us? Why won't Katya [Villalobos] say what she's been saying to us?" Another told Villalobos, "Teachers feel empowered to fight this and work on it because we have heard from you and Kevin that it is not going to happen."
+ Principal Villalobos and the Guidance Review Committee discussed extensively how to lobby the school board against TA, including mobilizing parents, pressuring Kevin Skelly to take a public position against TA, bringing teachers down to speak at multiple board meetings against TA, and organizing a petition drive against TA to the board.
+ The Guidance Review Committee rewrote a letter sent to the entire Gunn parent community on May 5 to make TA seem as if it would undermine college counseling and curriculum in order to dissuade "the average parent" who might learn about TA from the PA Weekly or the We Can Do Better parent education event.
+ Camille Townsend repeatedly pushed Skelly to ensure that Gunn would consider teacher advisory, but to no avail. Skelly did not even reply to her repeated emails.
For more information about this issue, and for a link to email the school board your views, see Web Link.