Submitted by Deberie Gomez-Grobe, Ph.D.
Let’s End the Divisiveness
I seek community, with an emphasis on community, discussion, and overall transparency of discussions regarding social justice issues in CUSD over clandestine committees with very few participants. I have repeatedly advocated publicly to the CUSD administration and the Board of Education that we all work together as Coronado residents have over many Coronado issues in the past, through town-hall meetings and/or smaller group forums to have the “uncomfortable discussions” that are actually not so uncomfortable if we face them. I do not believe that school board meetings with 3-minues time limits for dozens of people nor social media where people can say terrible things and call names is the way this can assuage the divisiveness that everyone, including the Superintendent, regrets.
I spent over 32 years in public education. My job included being in the forefront of post civil rights/desegregation era, and made me the Desegregation Monitor for the U.S. Federal District Court-Ordered Desegregation of the Dallas Independent School District beginning in 1977 reporting directly to the Court. The entire school district and the whole of the City of Dallas were engaged in a struggle for 40 years. While bussing and desegregation were a part of the struggle, it always went much deeper than that with well-meaning participants throughout the district and City trying to change minds not just improve academics. In the District, I was tasked with chairing a Tri-Ethnic Committee. How many uncomfortable conversations happened there? The City had its own version of the same called the Dallas Alliance Task Force with major leaders from throughout the City. How many uncomfortable conversations happened there? I was also tasked with evaluating the state’s first bilingual education program and then, later, with systemically changing teacher hiring practices for the Dallas Schools to ensure that there were teachers sensitive to the needs of all students. In Fresno, California, I was tasked with a multi-ethnic committee designed to address the unusual needs of migrant students that were part of that farm region of our state. I recruited the brightest and best of Mexico’s high school teachers through an agreement with the Mexican government to teach our migrant students math and science. Through all of that, the number one goal for everyone was always academics and achievement. If there was one thing that all of us could agree upon, it was that success in educational academics was every student’s path to ultimate success no matter where they came from or where they intended to go.
I am no stranger to uncomfortable conversations and have found myself begging CUSD for exactly that in Coronado. Those conversations happen when people can talk face to face and share their different points of view. They happen when people don’t just listen but HEAR what the other person is saying. I have sat and listened and led such conversations in my past, and they are always uncomfortable, but I know that it can happen. It takes huge commitment and bravery unlike what a small clandestine committee lead by a County Office’s canned programs could even begin to comprehend. If we end up relegated to letters to editors and 3-minue comments to a Board of Trustees, we will lose and our kids will lose.
I may not convince you and you may not convince me, but, as devoted and caring parents and citizens, we will find our way. Please CUSD, lead us to total community conversation.
Deberie Gomez-Grobe, Ph.D.