Knee-jerk defensiveness part of the problem

I want to thank Jeremy Borgia for informing readers of The
Dispatch that Day on the Green was reinstated due to a petition
submitted by Jeremy, hundreds of other Gilory High School students,
and some staff.
I want to thank Jeremy Borgia for informing readers of The Dispatch that Day on the Green was reinstated due to a petition submitted by Jeremy, hundreds of other Gilory High School students, and some staff. That was very interesting, and heartwarming, too. I always enjoy hearing stories of successful political action, particularly when initiated by young people.

The joys of public education as described in his letter were equally interesting and encouraging. To be sure, I would have enjoyed his letter much more if he had managed to write of these joys without putting me down for being a condescending braggart.

In short, I found his tone rude and unpleasant. (Also, Mr. Borgia, two minor points: I never mentioned Great America, and when you include “blah blah blah” in quotation marks, you erroneously attribute the phrase to me.)

But the name Jeremy Borgia particularly piqued my interest. Once upon a time, I knew a Jeremy Borgia who lived in Morgan Hill and was a member of the LDS church. He was about the same age as my son Oliver, who is now 18. That Jeremy Borgia was a polite little boy, a homeschooler and a member in good standing of the South Valley Homeschoolers Association chess club.

Quite a coincidence for there to be two Jeremy Borgias of the same age, town, and religious affiliation! It is too awful to contemplate the possibility that such a civil child could grow up to be a young man who would – I will not say brag – list his academic achievements without crediting his mother for laying the groundwork for his success.

In any case, Jeremy, congratulations, and good luck next year at BYU.

I would also like to thank Stephanie and Gregg Chisholm for informing us that the teacher in-service days are not included in the 180 instructional days of the school year.

Unfortunately, the Chisholms’s letter betrays the same defensiveness as Jeremy Borgia’s, without his excuse of youth. The Chisholms’s letter attributes to me words I never said and accuses me of insults I never made. It asks me to acknowledge truisms I feel no need to acknowledge. I may hold on to this letter in case I run out of column fodder in the future.

At present, I just want to make the point that knee-jerk defensiveness coupled with an attack is symptomatic of GUSD in general, and GHS in particular. One might almost say that a persecution complex is what constitutes a “good fit” at GUSD.

A gang fight erupts at GHS. The Dispatch prints an editorial calling for corrective action. Does Principal Bob Bravo say, “Hmm, maybe I better consult with El Portal about what they are doing right?” No, he fires off a letter to the editor detailing all the gang prevention programs they have on campus: the ones that failed to prevent this particular gang fight.

GUSD decides to implement all-day kindergarten district wide. The Dispatch criticizes the haste of this decision in an editorial. District officials Olivia Schaad and Jackie Horejs respond criticizing the editorial. They cite the year-long Kindergarten Redesign Committee’s recommendation; they fail to mention that the Committee did not recommend that all-day K be implemented.

Gilroy High School has one superlative program: Phil Robb’s music program. It has a decent sports program. But the test scores are pitiful, particularly the 11th and 12th grade math scores. How is it that in any given year, 11 percent of our students are identified as gifted or talented, yet when these students reach 11th grade, only 8.1 percent of them manage to score even proficient in math?

And speaking of test scores, why were the AP scores for 2004, which the school district has known since August, never released to the public? I would dearly love to know in great detail how many students took the biology AP, and, of those, how many scored a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. How many took the calculus AP, and of those, how many scored a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, and so forth.

Gilroy Unified needs to focus on three things: academics, academics, and academics. Instructional time must be jealously guarded. Being defensive will not solve any problems.

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