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Open Letter to the New Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent

Black news from Pasadena - Commentary from the editor - an open letter to the new PUSD Superintendent, Jon GundryDear Sir, welcome to the hot seat. Today begins a new day in the history of the Pasadena Unified School District. What will be recorded  as your legacy depends on what you do in developing a partnership with the quiet majority of what will be known as your District. That majority will not be at your School Board meetings. They are the parents you will only hear from when there is a problem. This is unfortunate but always remember that “heavy is the head that wears the crown.” You chose the job and as Superintendent so you wear the crown.

A few suggestions are in order here. We know that you will be forced into the paper box  labeled  “no child left behind”  and, accordingly, your performance will be judged on how well your school district performs in that box. However, your true legacy and reputation will be measured by how the “least” of your children perform.  Many of the least of your children are those African American children who always seem to be found on the “bottom of the well.”  You already know that if you keep on doing only what your predecessors have done, you will not distinguish yourself, and the bottom of the well will still be dark.

You will also be forced into a box labeled "race matters" because the progress of those at the bottom will be used to measure your progress. That will also be difficult to deal with especially with some of your Board members openly wishing you are here for Latino’s first, last, and foremost.  If you develop a core group of retired African American  educators to collaborate with, from the beginning of your tenure, yours will be a model to be followed. The Black sororities like the AKA’s and Deltas, among others, are good sources for these  educators.  Further, your name will be  mentioned and revered as an innovator who cares about the children first  like Michelle Rhee.

I suggest that you also address the Ministerial Alliance and advise them that you see them as partners who will use their church facility as Saturday Schools to fill in the educational gap that the public schools can no longer afford to fill. With the utilization of community facilities and community educators, you will have created a marriage that like those historically created by over 100 Black Colleges and Universities. 

Add into the mix classes that embrace the needs of the children, such as the need for ALL students to learn Spanish by bringing groups like El Centro to the Black Saturday Schools as a method of effecting unity while teaching Spanish. Encourage enhanced computer training along with math and science, music, literature, drama  and performance training at the

Saturday School, and yours will be a train that will set edication back on track.

I have mentioned educational sources outside the Public School system for one reason only. That reason points out an uncomfortable truth. Many Black students have never done best when faced with so-called classroom learning  only. Their education has always been best when augmented by church events and activities such as Sunday School and other organized activities.  

Dear Sir, please don’t run from the labeled boxes, because “you can run but (as the proverb goes) you can’t hide.”  Since you can’t hide from them, embrace them and put the focus and signal they give out with special programs controlled by groups some of these outside groups which the District cannot handle and the budget you struggle with. Be smart. Remember that there are things you can’t change, so  you'll have to accept them.  Concurrently, change the things you can, and you will win. Then at the end of the day we'll all be looking at and what you're responsible - for a room full of winners.  As you begin your new journey you must ask yourself are you in it just to make more money for yourself or to make a difference It’s your legacy you choose.

 

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