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Brand of change is damaging Nancy Yamagata | Fri, Jan 24 2014 02:00 PM

According to Ed Brand, the superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD), change is necessary in education. Unfortunately, he did not mention in his article the changes he is making in the district that have a direct and terrible effect on our kids and their education.

I write this as a person who is a graduate of SUHSD (Hilltop, 1979), a parent of two students who graduated from this district (most recently June, 2013) and, now, as a teacher in this district.  I’m hoping that after reading this you, the reader, will pick up your phone or go to your computer and personally contact Ed Brand to let him know that what he is doing is nothing short of undermining the education of every student in this district.

A quick history:

1. Three board members have been accused of multiple corruption charges.  So far, one has resigned and Ed Brand will have a significant influence on appointing the replacement board members.  This may happen two more times and Ed Brand will get to “stack” the school board with people that will support all his policies.

2. Due to the unprecedented recession teachers have agreed to many concessions in order to minimize the effect of the loss in funding on our students.  Namely, no raise for the last seven years, furlough days, increased head count of students in the classroom (in many cases teachers currently have 40 or more students in their classroom).  My daughter that graduated last year had 51 students in her math class.

3. Ed Brand returned to the superintendent position after the previous superintendent was fired and then indicted on bribery charges as well.

4. At the end of the school year, June 2013 the contract with teachers had negotiated the medical insurance benefit.  My personal payment for Kaiser for me and my family (husband plus 2 kids) was about $450/month.
Now, Ed Brand is on a mission to continue to demand concessions from teachers even though funding from the state has increased significantly.  These demands include:
1. Close to double our healthcare cost (my personal bill has gone up to $823/month).

2. Give a pay raise that literally amounts to LESS than 1% (.75%) per year for the next 3 years.

3. Increase student head count again.  This is by far will have the most detrimental effect on our kids; and parents, in most cases, are completely unaware of this change.

I’m at a loss for what to do.   Teachers are the greatest advocates for your kids.  Having raised two kids (not quite finished) I speak from experience when I say, “Raising teenagers in this era is extremely difficult.”  There are two teachers that come to mind that supported my kids at school and helped them academically as well as personally.  I have done the same with my students.  When a student is crying in my classroom I don’t ignore it.  I either take them outside at that moment or find them on my prep period to see how they are doing.  Every time I speak to a student, especially when it is a personal issue, I always reflect and think, “What would their parents want me to say?”  I advocate for the parents because I know that many issues that come up for kids at school are not always shared with the parents.

Increasing class size makes it that much harder for teachers to connect with their students to support their academic achievement and monitor their emotional well-being too.  That may not be my “job” but, as a teacher and a parent, I take that on too.

Things are changing in the district and teachers are expected to do more with less time and more students.  Ed Brand is damaging our district and the well-being of our kids.  Please take a few minutes right now to call or email the superintendent.  Then do it again tomorrow and onward until Ed Brand negotiates a fair and reasonable contract with the teachers.  His office’s number is (619) 691-5555 or email at Edward.Brand@sweetwaterschools.org.  Thank you for supporting your child’s education and our teachers.

Rate This Article 9 vote(s)
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Ausberto Cisneros Says:

Sat, Feb 01 2014 04:14 PM

Let us continue to put on the spot all the misuse of tax dollars, the corruption and other nonsense. The best was Ms. Yamagata's story. I sent it already to many of my contacts. United we stand.

JD Says:

Wed, Jan 29 2014 08:59 PM

I moved to Chula Vista when Istarted teaching here. I believed in the Sweetwater Union High school district. I am a resident of the district and I am pissed. Not only do I get zapped at work with this BS, but I have to be taxed and look at these idiots abusing my tax dollars. And what really pisses me off is that most of the residents of this city, sit silently as the SUHSD pisses their tax dollars away. Where are the parents, the residents and the activists. Where the hell is our Mayor and council? Is the city of Chula Vista willing to sit back and watch this go on. I voted for who? Mayor Cox- Where the hell are you?

frustrated Says:

Wed, Jan 29 2014 08:38 PM

Thank you for your letter. I support your thoughts and feelings on this district's down hill plunge.

sherpeace Says:

Wed, Jan 29 2014 02:33 PM

If what Jerry says is true (that they are building apartments), isn't that illegal? What do appts. have to do with educating the teens of the South Bay?
The more I hear, the worse it gets.

sosocal Says:

Sun, Jan 26 2014 09:52 AM

What is going on with Sweetwater's District leadership?

Why does Ed Brand continue to maintain a course of action that is in direct opposition to what the community wants, that is in direct opposition to what is best for the students and the teachers, and that is also in direct opposition to what the taxpayers know is reasonable?

He must have some sort of motivation. The phrase "empire building" has been used, but that doesn't even cover it.

Yes, there is massive corruption in Sweetwater, but it is starting to look like the corruption does not stop there. The web of corruption appears to transcend all sorts of boundaries, including legal boundaries.

The public needs to get all the financial information now, before it is too late, and the district is bankrupt, Ed Brand has skipped (again) and Cartmill and McCann just continue shrugging their shoulders, ineffectual as always.

Jerry Thomas Says:

Sat, Jan 25 2014 06:35 PM

The Property at 435 Third Ave, in downtown Chula Vista north of H St., is owned by Sweetwater Union High School District. The School District wants to build a 162 residential housing on a third of an acre and call it the COLONY. It is a case of crony- socialism and does not make economic sense. The Sweetwater Union High School District should stop with the corporate welfare and real estate financial disasters that lack transparency. The COLONY development will make life more unpleasant and congested for the people and visitors of Chula Vista. It will diminish its surroundings with its overwhelming bulk and bland proposed initial design. By putting a large number of apartments in the limited space available SUHS District has allocated too little space for parking and traffic. The district wants to achieve maximum financial gain and the community, local business and general public are stuck with the parking and traffic problems. Why is the Sweetwater Union High School District focusing on real estate and not focusing on educating its students, providing a safe environment, necessary resources and conditions for its students, staff and teachers. Who is involved in this project either as investors, corporate welfare benefactors and ultimate developers? Where is the educational value, financial accountability and oversight control?

anniej Says:

Fri, Jan 24 2014 04:40 PM

Ms. Yamagata: I would like to begin by thanking you for taking the time to write your opinion. Correction, 4 current SUHSD Board members were indicted.

Ed brand left the first time under a Grand Jury investigation into the expe dithers of Prop BB.

Today, two buses were seen in Eastlake at the 'proposed' new District office location. Who paid for that junket, we did our tax dollars did. Yet, no decision has been made - or has it? Tom Calhoun takes two bus loads of District employees on a tour of a building that he is allegedly touting to be their new home, yet NO final vote has been taken in public view.

I am embarrassed that a district I too graduated from, Hilltop, class of 67, has abandoned the very personnel we entrust our children's education to. You all deserve soooo much better.

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