Shame, shame, shame! I am borrowing this phrase from the great philosopher Gomer Pyle. Yes, shame on you, Coolidge Unified School District. I am a teacher at West Elementary, but I guarantee you the superintendent or the assistant superintendent don’t know me. I have stood in front of them, next to them, but never a word directed to me. At times, they glance at me with a look of, “Who are you?” Yes, I am new here. Granted, I am just hired help. Therefore, I can view my surroundings with new eyes, not with eyes from Facebook, Coolidge Chat, or plain ol’ gossip spread by long-time residents. By the way, I may be the next one on the chopping block. Stay tuned.
On Oct. 3, the day before fall break, West staff was directed to the media center for a mandatory meeting to start at 3:30 p.m. As the hustle and bustle of the preliminaries of most meetings started to die down, Superintendent Charie Wallace stood before West staff and informed us that upon our return from fall break, there would be new school site administrators at the helm who will be replacing Principal Dr. Maribel Lopez, Vice Principal Rita Randall and resource teacher Monica Ramirez.
Surprise! No further explanation was given except who was taking over and where the reassigned administrators were being moved to. Let’s call it what it is: a demotion. These ladies were plain and simply demoted. This is how it was presented to West staff. The superintendent said what she came to say, and then it was time to move on, people, nothing to see here. This action by the district was without a doubt unprofessional and undermining.
To leave a question in everybody’s mind (parents included) — what did they do? What was so atrocious that the district couldn’t have just not renewed their contracts at the end of the year? Here again, if this drastic action was so unnecessary, then fire them. To have all kinds of questions orbiting in everyone’s mind about these ladies is nothing short of slander.
It’s no secret — after all, this is Coolidge — that at the root of all of this were three parents, and perhaps a helping hand or two (or three) from West educators. Not even a handful of people, and they were able to bring down a school district to its knees and help gather the wagons around Dr. Lopez, Mrs. Randall and Mrs. Ramirez. Were these parents really concerned about all students at West Elementary, or just their own?
Unlike their children, most of the students at West don’t have a nice home to go to. These students don’t have a designated area where everything they need to complete homework is set up. They may not even have their own bedroom, and yes, they may not even have a bed. They are not exposed to a varied cultural experience. I think these children were being serviced with knowledge, caring and love by the staff and the now-demoted administrators. I ask those three parents to show me their educational credentials. You three, show me your research as to what are the best educational practices.
Under the direction of Dr. Lopez, West’s grade moved up to a “D,” certainly not by her efforts only, but by ALL staff working together. Yes, there was a lot of extra work to do. We had to focus on our goal of helping the students, which should be the goal of all educators, and of course the district. The prior principal left the school with an “F” grade. He gets promoted. Dr. Lopez, Mrs. Randall and Mrs. Ramirez guide the school site up to a “D” and they get demoted.
I will close this again with a quote from Gomer Pyle: “To avoid criticism, do nothing, be nothing.”