Sonia Delgadillo: How it is supposed to be
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little. The lesson we learned from this children’s story is that being afraid of something doesn’t make it true and repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it true.
The group Protecting American Ideals has attempted to conflate critical race theory with other ideas, courses, and strategies of student support, and, without evidence, assert that it is being taught at Nevada Joint Union High School District schools and expressed fear that it is a danger to students.
Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. It is a way to describe how the socially constructed concept of race intersects with the law in the United States. This is one concept, among many, that would typically be covered in a graduate or upper division-level college course in history, political science, economics or law.
The superintendent has answered the concerns of this group clearly: Critical race theory is not taught and will not be taught at the public high schools.
It is unfortunate that so many, including The Union Editorial Board, are unfamiliar with the workings of our education system, board meetings, or governmental agency purview.
The First Amendment does guarantee freedom of speech. It does not, however, guarantee that anyone is entitled to time on a public agency agenda.
Board meetings are meetings in which boards conduct the business of the agency. They are open to the public where people can make comments both before the meeting or on agenda items.
Interested and concerned citizens are free to review the agendas and board packet and attend board meetings on a regular basis. Doing so after weeks, months, and years, one will learn that there is a regular process the board follows to conduct its business.
Open comments at the start of the meeting are limited to three minutes, and it is regular practice to limit both the time and number of commenters on agenda items so that the board and district personnel may proceed with the important business of running its schools.
As indicated by the policy of most school districts, a member of the public may request to be placed on the agenda on a topic that is related to district business.
However, simply believing something is district business doesn’t make it so.
The recent presenters did not include proof that any teacher, class, course, or school in this district is teaching critical race theory. Cutting and pasting quotes from newspaper columns, book jackets, and miscellaneous policies is not evidence that would hold up in a courtroom or a college freshman composition class.
Board meetings are long and can be tedious, but they are a place of business. As an educational institution, the high school district should make decisions based on evidence.
To give platform to unfounded and unsupported fears is a disservice to the hardworking district professionals who are trying mightily to focus on providing and improving the education of our local students.
To those who are interested in and want to support and improve education, there are many ways to do so. The California Education Code establishes a minimum set of requirements for graduation from California high schools. Any citizen can lobby their state senator, state assembly person, state superintendent of public instruction, or even the governor.
Courses, curriculum, and textbooks are routinely reviewed at the local level and are identified on school board meeting agendas at which public comment is welcome.
Budgeting and priorities for programs and services are identified through the Local Control Accountability Plan. The high school district has routinely sought public feedback through town hall meetings and surveys for this.
Each school has a site council, which provides input into their school plans for student achievement. An independent citizens oversight committee actively reviews and reports on the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money for school construction.
Any parent who is concerned about something happening in their student’s class can speak with the teacher or principal.
I encourage my fellow citizens to participate and support local schools in an informed and constructive way.
And I encourage The Union and its editorial board to familiarize itself with the process so they can educate our community and promote civic and civil engagement.
Sonia Delgadillo lives in Grass Valley.
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“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that ain’t so.” — Will Rogers and others