The Star-News


Brand of change is damaging

Fri, Jan 24 2014 02:00 PM Posted By: Nancy Yamagata

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.


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