The Sacramento Bee editorial regarding Supt. Jonathon Raymond's resignation is full of praises for Raymond's work while it chastises "the community" for not supporting Raymond's accomplishments. He certainly has done a great job of pursuing Broad Academy and Gates Foundation initiatives. But everything that the Bee praises Raymond for came at the expensive of the Sacramento City Unified community.
Raymond worked unceasingly to undermine the teacher's union. He tried unsuccessfully to bring in Teach for America interns at a time when the district was laying off experienced teachers. He painted the union as the villain in budget negotiations. When teacher's made budget concessions, as they did several years ago-giving up $95 a month to keep class size reduction in the district for two years, he reneged on the deal the second year and the money was spent elsewhere. The "Priority" schools, Raymond's pet projects, benefited from a redistribution of Title 1 funds. Other schools with low income, high risk kids had to do without so these schools could have more. On top of that, he and the board violated state Ed Code by ignoring seniority rights for layoffs at the Priority Schools, then wasted funds legal fees to fight the union in court and lost anyway. The CORE waiver from No Child Left Behind that SCUSD is part of comes with the requirement that teachers be evaluated by children's test scores--something Sacramento City Teachers Association did not agree to.
The charter school compact has as yet an unknown impact on the district's operation. It promises a more speedy closure of underperforming charters in exchange for the rewards for cooperation with the district. These include bridge loans for financially struggling charters and use of district services to benefit from economies of scale, such as for school lunches. This is probably what's behind the plans for a $36 million centralized kitchen. These would appear to be important changes in district policy, yet the school board never voted on the charter school compact. They simply turned their authority over to the Superintendent.
The reason the community still bemoans the loss of Sacramento High and the latest closure of seven elementary schools is the obvious rushed and trumped up process behind them. San Juan used a district wide process and involved parents and community before it selected schools for closure. Their process was not viewed as a "done deal". Keep in mind the fact that in 2009, Sac City Unified did use a open and transparent process that involved the community. Three schools were closed--Jefferson, Birney and Lisbon--but there are no lingering resentments over those closures because the process was done the right way. The community knows when the process is rigged. As one parent at a school board meeting said, "We're poor we're not stupid". As for Measures Q & R, that may have been the biggest betrayal of all. Parents were enlisted to phone bank and write letters in support of the bond measures, while at the same time plans were being made to close campuses. Parents at Fruitridge, who worked tirelessly to get the measures passed, found out within weeks of the election that their school was on a closure list.
Yes, the district and community could use a different approach to improving our schools. True collaboration would indeed benefit our students. The district hasn't seen any of that since Raymond arrived in Sacramento. A superintendent who actually knows what it's like to be in a classroom, who knows how to work with students and parents, would be able to bring about that collaboration. The Bee is right about one thing. This should be a wakeup call. The SCUSD board should seek out a real educator--not a businessman with a few months training --to run the district.