Dear 300 (the Pecos Independent Schools District’s bond question was defeated 300-263): We live in a democracy, and as a taxpaying American, I understand and respect the democratic process. That means that the 300 sheep who followed their shepherds and voted against the bond have now labeled Pecos, Ilfeld, Rowe, and San Juan as communities that don’t value education, communities that aren’t willing to invest in their most valuable resource — their children.
I argue that the only way for any community to ensure that it not just survives, but grows and thrives while keeping it’s values, culture, and traditions, is its capacity and willingness to educate its own children.
For those of you 300 whose vote was influenced by information given to you by your leaders, you were hoodwinked. You were bamboozled. A few points: Total enrollment at PISD has never been 1,200. Over the last five years, the largest the enrollment has ever been was 869 total students for school year 2003-04. Don’t take my word for it, please visit the Public Education Department’s website (http://sde.state.nm.us) and download the information for yourself, or call them at 827-4296. Mr. Eddie R. Duran filed a complaint with this very organization alleging corruption, wrongful hiring practices, and other nefarious goings on. He brought his complaints directly to the Secretary of Education, Dr. Veronica Garcia, and they were investigated by bureau chief Julia Rosa Emslie (her direct contact information is available from the PED website). After the PED’s investigation was completed, no wrong doings or improprieties were found.
Mr. Duran and others stated they’re going to send their children and grandchildren to Santa Fe and that the community should demand PISD improve its schools that aren’t meeting AYP without bond funding. Interesting. Of the 31 public schools in Santa Fe, three met AYP. Two of those three are elementary schools, and one is a career academy. Three of Santa Fe’s four middle schools are designated as either corrective action or restructuring while none made AYP. All of Santa Fe’s high schools are designated as restructuring. Again, don’t take my word for these facts, please contact the Public Education Department and see for yourselves.
The grass isn’t greener on the other side, the class sizes are just bigger; however I do give the community of Santa Fe credit as they respect and value public education and are willing to help their schools improve, as evidenced by the overwhelming passage of their bond.
We’re all aware of the current economic conditions and we all are affected by these conditions. Some of you may have voted against the bond simply because you don’t want any increase in taxes. Some of you may be “land rich and cash poor.” As Mr. Duran so eloquently put it in one of the school board bond discussions, “There are sad stories everywhere.”
(I give Mr. Duran credit and respect the fact that he had/has the courage to express his point of view on public record. ...) We live in America, and nothing in this country is free. Even in the darkest of economic times, our children still need to be educated and deserve a quality education from our public schools. Even if you don’t have any children or grandchildren in school, you still live in the community and enjoy all it has to offer. I argue that you have a moral obligation to support the only school system, public or private, that our communities have to educate our most precious resource.
If your concern is how PISD is being run, show up. Show up and make your opinion known and let your voice be heard. This country is run by people who show up. I’ve participated in 40-plus school board meetings over the past four-plus years, and public turnout and public comments have been sparse at best. Now that your 300 votes have defeated the bond, use that same voice and show up to help guide the educational future of our communities’ children.
To the 263 people who voted to support our children’s education — thank you. Keep fighting the good fight. Please continue to value and put a high priority on our communities’ future.