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Tactical error on Bullis
Original post made
on Jan 7, 2008
Looking back, the Los Altos School District can't be happy with its decision to close Bullis-Purissima Elementary School four years ago. The move, made due to declining enrollment and the desire to cut costs, has had the opposite effect and continues to exact a high price from the district.
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posted Friday, January 4, 2008, 12:00 AM
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Posted by Retired History Professor
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2008 at 8:37 am
Many believe that the lessons of history are buried in the distant past, frozen in time and incapable of speaking to a modern audience that is so technologically advanced. We as a democratic people, despite Santayana's admonishment (Those who cannot learn history are doomed to repeat it.) as well as Lord Acton (Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely) are locked in a vicious cycle of repeating the mistakes of history over and over. The struggle is always the same, albeit with differing circumstances: representatives elected by the people who lose their moral or political compass, and through their own misjudgment, spite, or hubris, stop representing and serving the people/community that they ought to.
Such is the case with the LASD board. Rather than pursuing a course of action that seeks the greatest good for the greatest number of people, this group of five soldiers is marching under the flag of an old crusade (seek the charter school's demise at all costs) championed by a former superintendent. Essentially, the cost of that crusade comes at the expense of the taxpayers, and is fundamentally at odds with the school board's mission to serve (rather than divide and punish) its community. Pursuing a "scorched earth" (or more accurately, scorched charter school) policy, at any cost, amounts to fiscal mismanagement, abuse of authority, and ultimately the greatest sin in American history: taxation without representation. This board is wasting taxpayer dollars on a war (keep the charter school out of the old Bullis site, and damage the charter school in any way) that does not serve several communities, not to mention the fact that it directly hurts parents and students needlessly (one only needs to read the threads on websites to see how upset and frustrated parents feel about this quagmire). It is now apparent to many that the system of checks and balances for LASD is horribly broken, perhaps nonexistent.
Let us not forget the challenges that the founders of this country once faced: a foreign sovereign who abused his power and taxed the colonists and refused to listen to their concerns. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense and galvanized his fellow colonists to condemn the actions of their King in the eloquent Declaration of Independence. The brave and courageous actions of the colonists who strongly objected to the injustices to which they were subjected to, set forth in motion a revolution that would give birth to a new nation governed by and for the people. The foundation of this country rests on democracy: the power is not in the representatives, but in the voice and will of the people.
Sadly, over the decades, millions of Americans have fought bravely and sacrificed their lives in the name of democracy. More often than not, I am afraid, we take democracy for granted. I shall be so bold as to suggest that the citizens of these communities (LAH, LA, MV), rather than bicker incessantly among one another ("full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" in the words of Hamlet), band together, embracing the full strength and power of democracy: the voice of the people. Collaborate as fellow men and women, as our country's colonists once did, and take aim against the tyranny of the LASD board. Their arrogance in the face of bad decision after bad decision is an indication that they are incapable of a mea culpa and reversal of policies, that left unaltered, will cost taxpayers millions of dollars over the next decade. The effect on this board is directly proportional to the collective strength of the effort: be it picketing, speaking en masse at board meetings, distributing literature condemning the boards decisions, a steady stream of letters to the editor, placing posters around town criticizing the board, etc. All of this should culminate in a recall effort that will result in a more responsive and responsible school board. This will be a watershed moment for this community, never again will a citizen run for school board to pursue a private, misguided agenda.
The legacy of Watergate, a watershed moment in both journalism and history, taught this country two important lessons: first, that individuals in power have a tendency to abuse that power (Lord Acton's observation, mentioned earlier), and second, an objective and vigilant press is the best protection against the abuse of individuals in power. Articles like this one, in the Mountain View Voice, are a step in the right direction. I urge editors of all newspapers, blogs, newsletters to focus on the bad decisions, fiscal mismanagement, and the drastic financial impacts that their decisions will have on our communities. Short of a recall of this board, nothing will change the dire situation. If the journalists are not willing to protect these communities and if the citizens of these communities do not rise against this board, then we all are condemned to repeat history, needlessly by our own choices and inaction. A tragic lesson for our children.