BOUSD Zoom. Fanning Boom.

I Zoomed into the school board meeting last Thursday. It’s a far cry from sitting in chambers and participating face-to-face. The little windows leave much to be desired.

First thing you notice is that almost no one but maybe the speaker offers any eye contact, everyone seems distracted with something off camera. Obviously few have given any thought to background or positioning themselves centered in the screen. Okay, sounds petty but this lack of a professional touch bugs me.

Getting down to business.

With few housekeeping matters to address, the meeting jumped straight into Public Comment. Cued up to be read were almost 50 public comments either posted via the district website or submitted via email. A ponderous amount of opinion to bail through. Nicole Colon and Annette Arora took turns and did a very good job with them.

I must say though that the reading was pretty flat and lacked the typical  exuberance one would expect if delivered by the author. Ah well, a sacrifice we’ll have to endure during the new normal.

It was encouraging though to find out that 96 folks zoomed in to watch the meeting. Sure, I’ve seen two or three times that many crammed into an SRO meeting in chambers… but the extra effort and inconvenience of a virtual meeting makes those who watched warriors in my book.

Mostly a fanning of the flames.

Here’s where everything unraveled. Thanks to an amateur wannabe activist and a barely employed yellow journalist, both non-Breans, once again spreading the deception connecting William Fanning to the KKK, all but a couple of the rambling rants was anchored in a nothing burger.

Look, like the blog’s borrowed tagline says, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts.”

Okay, the facts were attested to long ago by Dr. Sarah Doherty, Assistant Professor of U.S. & Public History at North Park University in Chicago, whose area of scholarly expertise is the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Dr. Doherty concludes, “Anyone who chooses to use [these documents] outside a proper historical context without establishing clear provenance is acting recklessly.”

Naysayers can continue in their misguided beliefs or take a moment to actually get the truth. Click this: Dougherty Statement – and I’ll move on.

The American Spring.

One month ago, in eight minutes and forty-six seconds, George Floyd was murdered and a new era of civil rights activism was launched. You’ve all watched the memorial services, protests both violent and peaceful and marches right up to the White House. I won’t linger on any more description than that.

Black Lives Matter has evolved into a multicolor phenomenon that is turning white privilege inside out and, I hope and pray, will lead us into the realization of “the dream” voiced at the March on Washington in 1963.

We have bigger fish to fry than the fraudulently contested name of an elementary school.

We need to create the curriculum, programs and policies that will, “…transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” (MLKJr.)

Final Thoughts.

Members of the BOUSD Board of Directors, Dr. Mason, district staff, teachers, parents and students… it is within you all to rise to the occasion, to discard the conspiracy theories and those who obstinately attempt to perpetuate them.

The time to finally, after 400 years, do the right thing is now and you’re the ones to do it.

The Importance Of Measure G.

I felt compelled to publish a final word on Measure G before Super Tuesday but I figured everyone has had enough of me and my blizzard of facts that have been circulating in recent weeks.

So I invited to Kelly Kennedy to do a guest blog. For the few of you who may not know Kelly, she has lived in Brea for over 40 years, graduated BOHS (2 years at the old high school and 2 years at new). Kelly taught at Arovista for 6 years, was Principal at Olinda Elementary School for 13 years and has been the Principal at Brea Junior High for the past 6 years.

Kelly Kennedy’s Views on Measure G.

Brea is my hometown, my heart, and my hope for the future! I am truly proud to say that I grew up here in Brea, attended Brea schools, raised my son here in Brea, and have proudly served as an educator in our schools for over 24 years. This town has truly captured my heart, and each and every day, I am honored to serve and give back to this incredible community!

As the current principal of Brea Junior High School, I have the privilege of working with teachers and students every day, and I see firsthand the passion and dedication in providing our students with every opportunity to explore, learn, and reach their full potential.

Sadly, as the principal of a school that is over 104 years old, I also witness the limitations and struggles our lacking and aging facilities have on truly providing those 21st century learning opportunities for our kids.

A simple explanation of a complex problem.

How can we inspire our students to become scientists, when we don’t have science labs to conduct experiments, or become marine biologists when they don’t have lab space to properly dissect fish and sharks in our marine biology classes?

How can we inspire our students to become future engineers, architects, or programmers when we don’t have classrooms equipped to build machines, systems, or structures to solve real world problems?

How can we inspire future musicians when we don’t have a stage big enough for them to showcase their talents?

As an administrator, I question how can we expect our students to see their education as a priority when they are learning in aging classrooms? I question how we can successfully teach our students 21st century skills when they are learning in classrooms built in the early 1900’s?

Yes, it is true that teachers are the foundation behind a great education, but it’s also true that because the state no longer funds maintenance, repairs or infrastructure… it leaves us on our own to figure out how to find the money to do these things.

Without help from the community, sadly, the current conditions of the learning spaces and facilities in our schools is hindering their abilities to truly set the tone for developing the creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills in all of our students.

Our kids deserve every opportunity to learn in an environment that challenges them to want to design, build, innovate, and create a better future for our society and our world.

Our kids deserve safe, secure environments that allow them to discover their strengths and what they are truly passionate about in life.

Today is the day we must invest in the future of our kids and our schools!

Today is the day that we revive a strategically planned and sustainable infrastructure for the next 100 years.

Today is the day we invest in Brea!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to openly share my hopes for our kids, our schools, and their future, knowing that as a united community, we will stand together to Vote YES on Measure G.

chamber

Brea First Follow Up – Natalia Todorov

A good friend and active local mom, Natalia Todorov, attended last night’s Brea First Forum about Measure G. Early this morning she posted her reaction to the discussion on social media and I thought it would be a great “guest blog” here.

Brea First Follow-up – Natalia Todorov

I am a Brea resident of 18 years. I am a working mom who has two children going to Brea schools. I went last night to the Measure G community discussion at the Brea Museum & Historical Society.

Why did I go? Because I am a parent who knows what good education is and what good education can do for my kids’ future. I went because, to be frank with you, as a working mom I didn’t know very much about the proposed Measure G and I honestly didn’t know if I should vote Yes or No.

I went because I wanted to hear the pros and cons of Measure G from the two top supporters of both sides (Dwight Manley – For, Glenn Vodhanel – Against) and then make a choice about the future of my family. Should we sacrifice and give part of our hard-earned money for the Brea schools?

Frankly, I was surprised to see there were not a lot of Brea parents like me there. Oh, I should not be surprised because we’re super busy and even though we do care for the future of our children, it is hard to juggle everything when it comes to raising a child (including taking them to private lessons or teaching the kids themselves on the dining table at home).

The opposition’s point-of-view.

Glenn Vodhanel, the opposing leader, expressed his opinion why I should vote NO. In short, what I gathered from his speech was that in the past such measures have never worked because the funds were usually mismanaged and the Brea Olinda Unified School District (BOUSD) should not be trusted with money. The second argument was that good education doesn’t come from nice school buildings but from good teachers.

Yes, of course, these two opinions make a lot of sense … at first glance.

Some well known facts:

  • Are Brea schools aging, especially Brea Junior High being 104? YES
  • Do Brea schools need much needed repairs and improvements? YES
  • Does the BOUSD have limited funds given to them? YES
  • Does the BOUSD pay the most competitive teacher salaries in Orange County? Sadly, NO
  • Can BOUSD do better by paying teachers more and attracting better educators for our kids? YES
  • If the Brea community helps financially to alleviate the continuous spending of BOUSD funds for just ‘bandaging’ our aging schools, will that help us to attract and hire even better teachers? YES
  • Is PROGRESS a forward movement for a better future? YES
  • Can progress be achieved by doing the same thing over and over? NO
  • Knowing that school bond initiatives have not been passed for 21 years, can that be the answer to our school’s education not progressing as it should? YES
  • Can progress in our Brea education system be achieved by passing the proposed Measure G? YES

Oh, wait! I got my answer! YES!

So the two arguments the opposing side to Measure G were what?

Buildings don’t teach students, teachers do. Yes, I agree! Measure G will bring to our BOUSD better teachers because the district will be able to provide them with better modern facilities. Build it and they will come!!!

We can’t afford to repeat the past.

School measures in the past did not work because the funds were mismanaged and we can’t trust the BOUSD. OK, I see how that can be a very big concern. In fact, yes, that is a very big concern! What history has shown is that there is no progress if we keep on doing things the same way.

If we keep on saying NO to such measures, then nothing will change! And that is unacceptable!

If the school bond initiatives keep on being the same type, like Measure K, nothing will change.

But Measure G is different!

There will be a rigorous Citizens’ Oversight Committee and there are provisions ensuring compliance with the OC Taxpayer bond guidelines.

So Measure G is different! Measure G can lead to progress and improvement of our kids’ education and the overall Brea community stability!

What do you think?