Opinion/Letters to the Editor August, September 2021


Aug. 27 issue:

COVID safety concerns need to be addressed by SDUHSD

Now that teachers and students are back in classes, COVID safety concerns must be addressed. These are six key areas that need to be tackled comprehensively and immediately by SDUHSD.

Inadequate Ventilation/Filtration

The CDC, CDPH, and County say it is critical there is air flow in rooms for the safety of students and staff. Students and teachers are reporting that HVAC and HEPA systems aren’t working and requests to fix them are ineffective. This creates unsafe learning environments. All classrooms must have at least 5 air exchanges per hour, the minimum number to maintain healthy air.

Masking Specifics/Enforcement

The August 19 proposed masking policy weakened the existing, board-adopted policy. It doesn’t include a definition of a proper face covering. It removes consequences for unmasking and puts enforcement on teachers rather than administrators. The policy adopted by the board on December 15, 2020 should be reinstated and strengthened.

COVID Notifications

Currently, the district will only notify families when there is a COVID case on campus or if a person is determined to be a close contact. Notifications are not being sent in a timely manner. Families should be notified when there is a positive case in a child’s classroom.

Symptom Considerations

SDUHSD is overwhelmed by contact tracing, and cases will continue to increase. There is no symptom check in place. In at least one case, a COVID+ student came to campus for two days thinking symptoms were allergies. Not acceptable. Some districts, not SDUHSD, sent clear instructions and a mandatory agreement to sign as a condition to learn on campus. SDUHSD must do a better job of communicating with families about symptoms and testing.

Surveillance COVID Testing

For testing to be most effective, it should be required and regular for everyone. Tests are free to schools. LA Unified, Culver City, and Santa Monica have implemented required surveillance testing and have found many asymptomatic positives. Other districts are working toward surveillance testing. Even with universal masking, without surveillance testing, around 20-35% of susceptible students would get infected by the end of the first semester. SDUHSD needs to implement a required surveillance testing program immediately.

COVID Prevention Staff

SDUHSD has not made additional hires related to COVID and has lost health techs. Contact tracing is falling to the assistant principals, who should be working on other issues. Building maintenance related to COVID is being piled onto a stretched-thin maintenance staff. No staff have been hired to administer testing or to ensure necessary training is taking place.

We call on SDUHSD to address these issues immediately to keep our community safe. Thank you.

Shannon Kearns

Holly Butte

On behalf of many SDUHSD parents. To see a full list, visit Open San Dieguito Safely on Facebook and Instagram

Sept. 24 issue:

The SDUHSD superintendent search must be thoughtful

More than 375 members of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) community have already signed on to the petition of key points regarding SDUHSD’s new superintendent search –

Given the very short timeline to locate and vet candidates and to obtain meaningful community feedback, we the stakeholders of the SDUHSD community – parents, students, SDUHSD employees, and community members – want to provide clear community feedback to the SDUHSD Board of Trustees and its search firm:

1. Please ensure that SDUHSD only hires a new superintendent who has meaningful public education experience as an administrator, preferably from California, so that this person can hit the ground running with knowledge and experience about California guidance and legal compliance, public education, and superior school district governance.

2. SDUHSD must only hire a new superintendent who meets the requirements of CA Education Code section 35028 that says a district superintendent must have valid school administration certificate and a valid teacher’s certificate and not try to waive this minimum statutory requirement. Given the complexities of keeping our schools open during a pandemic, we cannot afford to hire someone without proper certification and training, and significant public education experience.

3. We need more time. SDUHSD has set a hasty timeline to hire a permanent superintendent and announce the new hire by October 14, 2021, meaning that in just four weeks SDUHSD intends to: obtain stakeholder feedback regarding candidate characteristics and qualifications, advertise the position, review resumes, obtain meaningful community input, interview, and conduct background checks of candidates, and negotiate an employment agreement with a new superintendent. Parents, students, administrators, district staff, classified and certificated representatives have valuable insight. Neighboring San Diego Unified has an 11-month timeline to hire their superintendent. Why the rush on this critical decision? Four weeks is far too short to competently screen and evaluate candidates and obtain any real feedback from the SDUHSD community. Don’t make a quick and reckless hire. The SDUHSD board needs to significantly increase the hiring timeline to follow best practices, including a responsible, considered selection process, allow time for valuable SDUHSD community input, and promote a thoughtful, successful hire.

4. The superintendent hiring decision is too critical to be made with only a partial board. SDUHSD must wait until after the new board member, elected on November 2, 2021, can participate so that the new superintendent has the backing of all SDUHSD trustees and all constituents are represented. There is no legitimate reason to make this decision two weeks before a full board is elected or to pick a candidate that then may not have full trustee support.

Thank you,

Evan R. Sorem,

parent, SDUHSD

Jennifer Daniel-Duckering,

parent, SDUHSD

CRT is the wrong way to go

In the opinion column Education Matters, Sept. 10, 2021, “Why is Critical Race Theory so divisive?”, Marsha Sutton uses material from Beverly Daniel Tatum to write informatively about CRT. Every feature she includes helps answer her title question. For example, she swipes at “.. the myth of meritocracy, that anyone can be successful if they work hard enough.” Wrong! There never was a guarantee. Luck plays a part, and so does prejudice, but the U.S. has moved, imperfectly, but moved to achieve this real American value, and has progressed.

Per our foundational racism, another pillar of CRT, the thousands of people who try to get into the U.S. every month with their children, in the face of legal and actual fences, fail to understand how awful their lives would be here. I resent her inference that they are intellectually impaired. I think they have it right. Life in the U.S. can be difficult, but the potential for all of our children persists. Further, she proclaims that CRT . . .“is not an evil plot to pit minorities against whites.” What else could it be when CRT paints our history with just two brushes, one white and one black?

The high (no, the low) point of the piece, comes with Ms. Tatum’s observation that Black Americans have suffered at the hands of people who are born white, which is true, but which we are remedying. And then comes the blockbuster with her blatantly racist assertion that all whites are innately prejudiced, followed by the pietistic, “We are all one race. The human race.” This is a great notion, but totally at odds with the anti-white prejudice of CRT.

I argue that promoting CRT, rooted on the proposition that all whites suffer from the original sin of racial prejudice, is no way to improve our society. My vote goes to Reverend Martin Luther King and his 1963 statement, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character.”

Nobody can tell me that the U.S. is a fatally flawed country needing the kinds of racial reprogramming advocated by CRT. We are imperfect, but we are working to improve, and we shall continue.

Whatever combination of efforts by men, yes, and women too, and blessing by God, has brought about improving conditions of life in the USA, I trust them to continue.

Full disclosure: I am an 88-year-old grandson of uneducated immigrants from Russia, who arrived around 1909. My undergraduate degree is from a big deal Ivy League university, and I retired from a lab at another. The USA has been one of the few places throughout our multi-thousand-year history while splattered around the world, where Jews have been able to live in relative security. I love it for myself, for my children, and for all mankind.

Stephen N. Miller