Edmund Burke and others who care about PAUSD -
Original post made by village fool on Mar 11, 2013
Short time ago, after the OCR report was published, a parent chose to post a comment under "Too Scared to speak out". I asked, "Too Scared to speak out" response was pretty compelling. No way to check anything, of course. Web Link
Trying to ask now -
1. What holds you from commenting, even anonymously?
2. Do you think that anyone will come forward with any unresolved concern?
This thread is open, now - no need to sign in.
I'm totally aware I'm posting anonymously here. I am not proud of that.
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm
To the first question, many people do not post under their own names because they fear retaliation against their children. That has been expressed on these forums many times. Parents legitimately worry about their childrens' privacy. Special education is still stigmatized in this community and they don't want to bring further humiliation or bullying on their child by "outing" them as a special ed student or as a target. Others may be insiders and employees who fear retaliation either at work or in district support roles.
Many parents fear that making a complaint will lead to them losing whatever hope they have of gaining the help of a principal or teacher. Because the district's lack of appropriate or legally compliant policies have forced people to "work it out" at the school level and there is has been little or no help from the district as the OCR report details, these families fear alienating the person who has day to day control over their child. Many would like to help but they don't want to make waves where their own child's happiness is at stake.
Others may simply fear social retribution from community members including those in school support organizations who have been quite harsh in their judgment of district critics. Such individuals have little moral compass and simply want to "protect the PAUSD brand" at all costs. Even as they agree privately that district staff have made errors of judgment and action they feel the most important thing is to secure bond votes and donations for gymnasiums and PIE. They retaliate against those who complain publicly about the discrimination by whispering, snubbing, and other methods.
This is not a new problem in the civil rights struggle by any means. It is an old problem.
The people who are dispensing this social retribution claim, like earlier moderate opponents of civil rights struggle, to be "people of good will." They may claim that they agree with the idea that disabled or gay or minority students should not be bullied, but just think that the "tactics" of exposing to view the reality faced by the disabled students in our district will be counterproductive. They claim that public protest of civil rights violations hurts the 'brand" and hurting the "brand" will somehow hurt the disabled students by starving the district of resources that would otherwise be used to help them.
To quote Dr. King's famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail, the "people of good will" of Palo Alto are the "great stumbling block" in the struggle of disabled students to receive equal treatment. These people who attack those who are trying to attain equal rights for the disabled, and gay, and minority students who face a hostile educational environment may say "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action." They would like advocates against disability bullying to wait for a "more convenient season." As Dr. King said, "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
To your second question, there are many other families who have similar problems. They are watching the public treatment that the community is giving this case. They see that Dr. Skelly did not reveal it, that the district did not respond appropriately, that Barbara Mitchell implied in the Weekly that there were private facts about the family that justified the district's response. They are fearful of being treated this way. It is certain that some are going to come forward but equally certain that others will be deterred.
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm
Here are my reasons
My kids are in elementary school in PAUSD. I have volunteered a huge amount. At our elementary school the rules are simple - if you disagree, no matter how calmly, you child will be assigned the lousy teacher. There aren't many, but there are a few and they are spread across grades, one of them in 5th. If you get on the wrong side of the administration, your child will pay.
If you want to get your kid into private school - and by the way the number of kids applying to get out of our school is shockingly high considering PAUSD is supposed to be so great (about a quarter or the grade) - you must tow the line - completely. There are a few teachers who actually extort parents into "volunteering" - with the understanding that in return, their child will receive a glowing recommendation.
If you look at the most recent PTA presidents, Site Council Chairs, etc. - 90% have something in common - they put their kids in private school immediately after elementary. Most of them started out wanting to help, but as they acquire a deeper understanding of the District, they become very discouraged and then turn their game plan into ensuring their kid gets into private.
Because I've been around so long, and because I'm friendly and don't make waves, a few teachers and other admin in our school office feel they can speak more "freely" to me - and what they say is shocking. They trash other parents and one teacher said explicitly that if she doesn't like a parent, she has ways of "getting even."
I think there are A LOT of parents who would love to speak out, but feel they can't. Our principal encourages people to come forward with ideas and respectful criticism, and then punishes them when they do. I have watched very thoughtful, good-hearted people make the mistake of asking about a certain situation, or coming forward with an idea that isn't in line with the principal, and I have watched them be crushed.
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:54 pm
sour grapes and a lot of paranoia.