Sat, Jan 21 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski
If I learned anything in 35 years as a working cop, it was to hear both sides of a story before taking action.
Recently I wrote about the Sweetwater Union School District's policy of not allowing charter middle school students access to the district’s Compact for Success program that guarantees admission to San Diego State University.
I also wrote the school district wasn’t allowing charter middle schoolers to participate in the YMCA’s intramural sports programs.
I referred to Superintendent Ed Brand as a bully and an extortionist. He called, wanting to meet with me. I told him
I’d meet, but I wouldn’t be writing anything more about the issues because I mostly write about police stuff unless something makes me angry, and the district’s policy on those two issues made me angry.
Brand said, “I just want to meet you to let you know I’m not such a bad guy.” I met with him.
Dr. Brand explained the other side of why the Sweetwater district wanted kids to go to their middle schools instead of the charter schools.
He admitted that money was the prime factor. Millions of dollars are at stake, and are given to the Sweetwater district if kids go to Sweetwater schools.
Brand explained why he initially cut off the charter kids from the program, and it made sense.
Sweetwater was in a bit of a tiff with the Chula Vista Elementary School District in that the elementary politicos wouldn’t grant access to the Sweetwater guys in giving presentations about the advantages of going to Sweetwater schools. Chula Vista elementary wouldn’t let Brand and his cohorts have access to the kids or their parents.
In essence, the elementary district was denying Sweetwater the chance to tout the advantages of going to a Sweetwater middle school.
Brand’s response was understandable. “If we couldn’t have the opportunity to let the kids and their parents know what we were all about, we weren’t going to let them into the Compact for Success.”
I wrote the column without hearing the rest of the story. No other side had been presented in the local daily paper.
But, all was not lost. Just before meeting with me, Brand had hammered out an agreement with Dr. Francisco Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary District.
The agreement specified that the parents and students in the 6th grade would be informed of events about educational options regarding choices of schools.
And the Sweetwater folks would be allowed to present videos highlighting Sweetwater’s programs and other things that would allow the parents to make an informed choice.
I was happy to see that Sweetwater would agree to continue to provide the 7th and 8th graders access to the intramural sports programs at the South Bay YMCA.
Just to make sure, I contacted Lisa Johnson, the associate executive director of the South Bay “Y.” She confirmed that all systems are “go” again, and she added the “Y” is “very happy with this agreement.”
So, it’s too bad it had to come to drawing lines in the sand and posturing and chest thumping. But, at least things are fine now. However, unless you live under an overpass, you know that Sweetwater school politicians are having yet another set of problems.
I hope I don’t ever shoot my mouth off again without knowing the entire story. My wife says that’s unlikely.
• • •
I am happy to be overpaying what I do for Caller ID on my telephone. With the elections coming up, I’m inundated with calls from pollsters.
When I see “Research Center” on the ID I don’t answer. The call goes to voice mail and the cowards never leave a message.
I don’t want to wish that November comes too soon. But, I will be happy when the elections are over.
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