To Help Get the School Board Back on Track
Some years ago, the Journal called for a one hundred man march to the Pasadena Unified School Board meeting. The purpose was to support the School Board members, Elbie Hickambottom and Dr. Jackie Jacobs in their fight to secure equality of opportunity for African American students. Elbie has gone on but has left a legacy of fighting for the rights of all students. Dr. Jacobs continues the struggle in her own way by serving as Vice President at Pasadena City College. However, the struggle for equality of opportunity for black students continues.
Currently, the School Board has only one African American Board member, Renatta Cooper, and a number of detractors who seem to have forgotten that the District is there to serve all students equally. Recent events surrounding Muir High School Coach Ken Howard, open disrespect for the Black Board member, and treatment of certain unnamed Black students serve as a reminder that if the powers that be don't hear and see evidence that someone is watching them, we can return to a time when the needs of Black students, staff and the Black community can be pushed aside.
The One Hundred Man March on PUSD of the past was designed after the 1995 One Hundred Man March to Washington, conceived and organized by Minister Louis Farrrakhan. It seems that the time is ripe for another show of strength to this city of Roses. Coach Howard was attacked by a student after being ordered to take certain actions by the administration at Muir High School. He has been on suspension for over a month and now he is facing termination.
He has sat by respectfully and quietly while one particular Board Member, Ramon Miramontes, has been openly and publicly promoting his punishment even to the point of trying to get him prosecuted for some criminal action. At the end of the day, Miramontes expects to have a vote with the other Board members in what is to happen with this incident. In short, such open and obvious CONFLICT OF INTEREST should not be tolerated. Miramontes has reportedly shown open disrespect for staff. He is said to often scream at staff in the halls. He has demanded privileged treatment for Latinos at the expense of all other students and their parents like holding meetings in Spanish-only language, while others have to sit by and wait until after the meeting for a translation. This week his arrogance spilled over as he verbally attacked Pasadena's beloved mayor in a public meeting, again demanding something for Latinos only.
Miramontes' actions jeopardize the attempts at uniting the ethnic and racial diversity that make up this community. Elbie Hickambottom, Dr. Jacobs and other past Board members, who loved and served on the Pasadena Unified School District Board such as Marge Wyatt, Esteban Torres, former board member and mayor Katie Nack, and others who worked hard to build up the District. But it only takes one destructive person to tear down what years of work has done. One destructive voice can do more harm and damage in one week than one hundred can repair in ten years. This week seems to be one of those weeks.
Let those of us who love this community and our children join together to repair the damage seeking to be done by the detractors. All Pasadenans should resist actions by anyone who, seeking the spotlight, would destroy everything that has been built over the years. Let us work to get the District back on track.
The march is called to join me at the next School Board meeting on Tuesday, November 2, 2011 at the Board of Education. I am requesting that all join me to make our voices heard in expressing our concerns about the direction of and support for a United School Board. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the Elbie Hickambottom Board Room.