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Greater transparency urged on ELL spending at school board meeting

Article by: Stefanie Knowlton of The Statesman Journal 1.23.2013


About 100 people filled the Salem-Keizer School Board meeting Tuesday for issues ranging from Planned Parenthood in schools to funding for English language learners.

More than a half-dozen people testified for greater transparency in how the district spends the $21 million it gets for ELL students. Others pressed for greater diversity in the teaching staff.

Ranfis Villatoro said the district needs to be more open about how it spends those dollars, and it needs to make sure ELL students get the best education to not just graduate but succeed in life.


OPINION BY:  Miguel A. Salinas Retired from Education, Advocate and Historian

In addition to the presentation made by the various people who went to testify, it’s interesting that in an evening when the mercury was in the low 30’s and no space in the house to accommodate a few families who showed up early and many with children in their arms.  The old traditional courtesy which is practiced by Mejicanos and Latinos around the world “Mi casa es tu casa” was not reciprocated by those in charge.  This lack of courtesy adds to the wound regarding the 20 year old argument about the ELL funds that Salem-Keizer receives; it’s kind of the old …  “Where is the beef?” question.  It would seem to me that for ALL the additional MILLIONS of ELL funds that the district receives that modest accommodations could be made to welcome the patrons of the community.  It’s not like the district is been invaded daily with patron participation; in fact that is part of the problem.   PARENTS need to be there as often as possible.   From my view point, this lack of sensitivity tells a big part of the 20 year old story.  As an administrator, I would have been ashamed to have my patrons/community face a 34 degree temperature with children in their arms, outside my school; TIME FOR A BIT OF SOUL SEARCHING.  PARENTS/FAMILIES/RESIDENTS need to understand that the people with the suits and Titles/Prefixes in front on their names work for them; no need to bow to them. 

I am a bit offended that the author- Knowlton did not include my remarks.  While she states that she asked the legislators about the spending parameters of the funding. Did she ask a brown face?  Were there any minority representatives involved in the discussion during the discussions in 1990-91; or were the principals only part of the political machine and the employee organizations?  Maybe she should listen to the tape testimony and get a feel for the INTENT for the money and the RESULTS it has produced.  Oh let me remind you that the institutions are saying they are doing what is legal…one can argue if it is ETHICAL!   I am sending author Knowlton my written presentation.

SOLUTION TO THE ACCOMMODATION OBSERVATION Does the district have a welcoming committee to accommodate the patrons/families/residents when there is a Board Meeting.  If short on funds?  Could the Chamber of Commerce be approached to sponsor an accommodating environment; after all there is no business in tow that does not depend on minorities either to produce, serve or buy a product.  Whatever happened to the IDEA…that it takes a village?

TRANSLATION is a one way street.  Using today’s technology the system should be arranged so that the parents can express themselves in their own language; planning protocols could be followed of course. 

A GAME FOR THE LEADERSHIP   Every month at the meeting introduce three people whom you have personally invited to be part of the process.  Sometime a community has to be lead by the hand. 

TAKE A LESSON FROM YOUR FRIENDLY FREDDIE’S STORE How about meeting in a building where better accommodations can be made and child care can be provided.  OK be ready this will cost a few dollars, but I think its worth they try.  In real money this should take about 1/100,000 of what the children generate for their supplemental education which does not even count the BASE. 


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Thank you ConAMISTAD!(with friendship) “soymiguel” (my pen-name) and I call them as I see them!