A needed lesson in tapping the potential of parents

Jose Hernandez, in his recent paean to his mentor Bob Bravo,
accuses three Dispatch columnists of maligning the Gilroy High
School principal. I won’t answer for the other two columnists, but
I did take a look back at my columns for the past two years, and
found his charge against me totally baseless.
Jose Hernandez, in his recent paean to his mentor Bob Bravo, accuses three Dispatch columnists of maligning the Gilroy High School principal. I won’t answer for the other two columnists, but I did take a look back at my columns for the past two years, and found his charge against me totally baseless. I applauded the principal more often than I chastised him, so I don’t know what words of mine Mr. Hernandez is using as his reference material.

I applauded Mr. Bravo when he took a bold stand on discipline. I applauded his strong stance against the raunchy skits performed by some of the theater students. I made a negative charge against Mr. Bravo in the past year, derailing his inconsistent statements regarding Alex Williams and her protest against the decision not to rehire Kim Lemos. I was at the meeting where Mr. Bravo made these statements, and Mr. Hernandez was not. I stand by them.

I am glad that Mr. Bravo is supportive of the Latinas program. He appears to be supportive of the choir and band as well as the many other extra-curricular activities that Gilroy High students are involved in. This is certainly heartfelt on his part.

However, I had occasion to be at many meetings with Bob Bravo over the past year. I attended all the Parent Club meetings and most of the AP/Honors parent meetings. Bob Bravo is not my friend, my boss, my mentor, or even my daughter’s teacher, so my relationship with him should always be strictly professional. Here is where it gets complicated.

Mr. Bravo strikes me as an intelligent man. He may indeed be an analytical thinker. He chooses his words carefully, even though I don’t always agree with him. Where I find him lacking is in his ability to deal with parents.

Being the principal of a school makes effective communication with parents a top priority. There is no “learning curve” allowed. As the chief administrator at the site, the principal will need to be available to and answerable to the parents of the students at their school.

I have worked with five principals in Gilroy and two in Texas. All of them were effective administrators and all were comfortable dealing with parents. In my opinion, this is Bob Bravo’s Achilles heel.

When Mr. Bravo is at a meeting with parents, he looks like he would rather be anywhere else. He is clearly uncomfortable. I am not maligning him as a person. Parent interaction is something that he must work on in order to be an effective leader.

At a school the size of Gilroy High, he is the leader. Not just the lead administrator of the staff and students, but of the whole Gilroy High community.

The Gilroy High community only succeeds when parents are valued. I don’t get the feeing that I am valued by Mr. Bravo, even though I am co-president of the Parent Club.

I truly believe that he would rather not have to deal with parents like me. In choosing to alienate himself from parents, Mr. Bravo is failing to capitalize on the greatest force for change which is available to him at no cost – an active parent community.

The district has called parent involvement its top priority. The district is realizing that academic achievement goes hand in hand with parent involvement.

The availability of honors classes at the high school, the introduction of English textbooks and the summer reading list all happened because parents willed it.

This district only improves when parents demand more for their children. Bob Bravo must learn to step outside his comfort zone and sit at the table with parents, the real catalysts for educational change in Gilroy.

My youngest will not graduate Gilroy High until 2011. This parent is not going away.

Avoidance is not an option.

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