Today's Bee editorial lauds the SCUSD board of education for "tough but wise" decision" on schools closures because the district needed to close schools because of shrinking enrollment. While it is true that the district has too many schools for its enrollment, the objections many had with these school closures was the process. It was too hasty, used questionable data about school capacity, had no plan in place for student safety and engaged the public after the fact. In short, it did not follow best practices recommended by the California Dept. of Education. All this for a mere $1.2 million dollars a year--a savings that will probably wiped out when the charter schools that will inevitably take over some of these sites enroll SCUSD students and further decrease the district's enrollment.
The district had no real plan, that was evidenced by the removal of schools from the list at the last minute. This demonstrated, not flexibility, but an attempt to buy the votes of reluctant board members Arroyo, Rodriguez and Prichett. All this talk about providing transportation is just that. The district doesn't have money to pay for it. How could it? It doesn't have the money to keep these schools open. Open enrollment isn't an option if you have no means to get your child to a school outside your neighborhood. Choice is a myth for those without means. The district is doing a grave disservice to its most vulnerable students.
Moreover, the attitude of the board members who voted to close these schools was objectionable. It was a paternalistic, top down "we know what's best for you" attitude that dismissed the concerns of the parents and students, the great majority of whom are poor and minorties. "It's our job to make tough decisions" . The only tough thing about the decision for those that voted yes was having to listen to hours of pleading by parents who fear for their children's safety crossing dangerous streets and venturing into neighborhoods of rival gangs. They just had to ignore the arguments about the unused millions of dollars in funds at some of the schools that were being closed. Their children won't suffer the consequences of their decision. The job of school board members is not to make hard decisions, it's to ensure that the children of the district all have an equal opportunity to get a quality education. That's is not what's happening in SCUSD. The four board members, Cuneo, Kennedy, Woo and Hansen, who voted for the closures, did not act in the best interests of those they were elected to serve.