Friday, December 16, 2011

Around Town: A quick resolution, or a debacle?

Last weekend we attended the U.S. Marine Corps 236th Birthday Ball at the Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco. The guest of honor was the former Commandant, General James T. Conway, who gave a rousing and inspirational address.

We were surrounded by men and women of courage.

We had the traditional cake ceremony. The cake is wheeled in after the color guard. A piece is given to the eldest Marine veteran. He shares it with the youngest Marine.

The eldest Marine present that night was born in 1921. The youngest was born in 1991.

Conway told us that it is not about the cake, it is about a tradition where the old teach the young so that the young can step into their shoes.

These are the men and women who risk their lives so that we can live in freedom. One of those freedoms is the 1st Amendment.

We went to San Francisco for a taste of courage. And then we returned home to read, not about courage, but about fear (“Culture of silence grips La CaƱada Unified,” Sunday Valley Sun, Nov. 13). We learned that there are parents of LCHS students who are afraid to speak out, that they are afraid to complain about teachers due to fear of reprisal against their children. We learned that even a PTA president was afraid to complain about a teacher.

Not everyone is afraid. Last week I spoke with a courageous woman. Her name is Debra Archuleta. Archuleta and her daughter read about the Gabrielle Leko issue, outlined both in this column and in the Sunday Valley Sun’s story, in the L.A. Times. They realized that they had made similar complaints about Leko prior to Cindy Wilcox’ June 15th administrative complaint. Archuleta came forward.

And then, there’s Amy Bernhard. She asks, in the Sunday Valley Sun’s story, “Why bother teaching ’To Kill a Mockingbird’ in our ninth-grade English classes if our adults are so unlike the principled Atticus Finch [a central character in the novel]?”

It is heartwarming to discover men and women of courage in our community.

Almost predictably, the school board says that the Leko issue is a private personnel matter governed by the collective bargaining agreement. And then it asks for our silence.

Hypothetically, if I am a 9th-grade boy and the clerk at McDonald’s makes fun of my stammer, or makes an ethnic slur, or tells me to stop playing with my genitals, how many months should it take to resolve my complaint? Would it take four months? Five? Six?

And would I be afraid to complain?

These delays are unconscionable. If Leko is unjustly accused, she deserves a quick resolution, not a five-month debacle.

The insinuation that the press should honor the silence and that the complainers need to leave town is equally unconscionable. Last time I checked, we still lived in the United States of America.

Around Town: A quick resolution, or a debacle?

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