Good PR garners community support

By John Rajcic

Next to the family, the school may be the most important organization in our community. The school impacts on the growth and development of the young. The teacher educates. This does not demean the role of the church or any other organization.

Since the failure of our school bond measure, I have been asking people how they voted and why? Right off the bat, some said, “It was none of my business.” So true. That is why we have the Australian ballot.

Many, however, responded, some reluctantly. Comments follow (Even though not answering yes or no on the bond issue, the comments may give a clue):

My daughter at James Dukes has 39 in her class. Voted yes.

They waste money, we give them too much already. Voted no.

Are you kidding? They waste enough money.

Why did they let the roofs leak in the first place?

Did you see what they pay the superintendent? and walked away.

Many said they voted yes because schools are important. No other explanation.

We home school our kids.

I’m not going to give them money for educating illegals. (I said teachers have an obligation to educate all kids that come into the classroom.)

No way, I hated Ramona High, I would never vote to give them money.

They spend way too much on administration already. Why give them more?

Can’t understand why they need more money. Voted no.

Our schools are falling apart, they need the money.

Education is important. I can’t understand why so many people voted no.

My kids need a good education. If I had the money, I would send them to a private school.

I did not vote. No explanation

I voted yes. No explanation.

Four families walking with school age children; three families voted yes. One apparently no.

(As I write this, my mind keeps fleeting back and forth to Sandy Hook and I choke up a whole lot.)

Many people volunteered very positive comments about their children’s education in Ramona.

Some who had unfavorable comments invariably cited a specific instance involving a teacher or other student.

Salaries were an issue with several. Teachers wanting more money and saying, “it was for the kids” was not creditable to a couple of people. I indicated that I was under the impression that teachers just wanted to keep what they have.

My survey covered 70 people. About half were questioned on the golf course.

Apart from the question on the bond issue, I asked people in the past (including my daughter) why they sent their kids to private or church/synagogue- schools. Comments were:

They get a better education.

Because of the bad influence of our public school.

They did not like the secular nature of the public school.

They removed Christ/God from the classroom type responses.

The public school environment is bad.

I think all 70 or so responses were honest and true to some degree and some true in very isolated incidents.

People who drive by the schoolhouse say, “what do they do with all that money?” People in the schoolhouse say, “if we only had more money.”

Now what? Our schools for effectiveness and efficiency must move into the technological/digital learning age. “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

Passage of a bond issue is important, if for nothing else than keeping deteriorating things from deterioration further. I do not believe 50 percent or even 60 percent vote on a bond issue is indicative of strong PR on the part of the school district. Every kid deserves a great school.

“Public opinion is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”

—Abraham Lincoln

Much like Lincoln implied, our community- school relationship is not where it should be.

Our former superintendent told me, “the school district was not in the public relations (PR) business.” I believe this attitude prevails today. Every individual and organization is in the PR business, be it good or bad PR. That’s the way it is. That’s life.

The teacher is the backbone of a school system. The teacher, by respecting and keeping emphasis on the student, makes an enormous difference in the public perception and support of our schools. Teachers by their words and action create a ripple effect of PR that is endless. The schools have the PR advertisers captive for 180 days a year — the students.

Everyone may observe good PR in a kindergarten class. Kindergarten kids and parents are excited about school. Kids dash home, shouting, ”Mom, look what I did in school today.” The kids are anxious for school to start the next day and the teacher is excited to see them back in school. I never met a kindergarten parent that did not think highly of their teacher. Kindergarten teachers focus on and respect the child. This does not mean they neglect the academic aspect of school. In fact it is emphasized more but in a tangential way that is measurable and results oriented.

Now we are at the high school. Kids are lined up in some classrooms at the door, three minutes before the bell rings, waiting to “bust” out. Some can hardly wait to get home or to work to make money for car payments or gas. When asked, ”what did you do in school today,” They say “nothing.” In some classes I believe this is the truth. I do not attribute this to their teenager-nous, because there are teachers at the high school where students do not want to leave their teacher’s class when the bell rings. When they get home their parents engage them in conversation. I have subbed for teachers who really know their subjects, but I think realize their students, “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I would say these “bright” teachers really care. Students tell me that these teachers are great.

Outstanding teachers have different styles and approaches. They know their disciplines. More importantly they know and respect their students. These teachers and their students are the best PR the Ramona schools and community have. Children at all grade levels should feel good about what they “learned” in school and relay those sentiments to their parents. We have 12,000 parents in our school district. If only half came to the polls with a yes vote, the bond issue would pass.

These are solely my views and may or may not be the views of others or impact on the views of others. This article is also written to stress the importance of PR to our schools. Good PR garners strong community support.

A prosperous and joyous New Year to all.

John Rajcic, a Ramona resident, was elected to the Ramona school board in November. He states that this commentary is “written as an individual, not a school board member.”

Related posts:

  1. School district needs community support
  2. In support of $66 million school bond
  3. All-District Concert — ‘our gift to the community’
  4. Students look to community for help with Suicide Walk
  5. Survey shows support for a school bond

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jan 3 2013. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Good PR garners community support”

  1. M.Workman

    Sadly, your poll bolsters a new study just released by the American Political Science Review suggesting voters are not very educated and overly influenced by rhetoric when voting. A similar study was done a while back and local voters were influenced most by roadsigns.

    You left out the reason for voting against the recent bond I heard often. “I don’t want to strap my kids with this bond payment.” Many parents with school aged children voted against this bond.

    I’m in the PR business and I will agree with you 100%, this district has a PR problem. The ONLY way it will be overcome is to have the Board, the Admin AND the teachers working from the same playbook. Three years leading up to a bond measure can’t be filled with vitriolic attacks if you expect a bond to pass.

    • sandra j

      You are correct…the district has a huge PR problem, as in Pay Roll! The district cannot spend its entire income on payroll and that's what it's trying to do. The current income is $42 million and $41 million of it goes to salaries and benefits. Don't forget, none of the Prop R money was supposed to be used for salaries, but every other penny the district can beg, borrow or steal is. The trustees' proposal for the teachers to take a less-than-10% cut in order to prevent a state takeover seems completely fair given the economic climate the district operates in. It should include a multi-year pay freeze, and equal or greater cuts to the administration as well.
      Considering that I didn't see any anti-R roadsigns or even a statement of opposition on the ballot, it's hard to blame the outcome on rhetorical influence. Instead of fretting over falling a few percent short of passing a bond they feel entitled to, the district should do what the vast majority of voters want: commit to spending only what they receive. A payroll of 80-90% of income is what would garner community support. We've told them that 5 times now, and we're the ones labeled uneducated?

  2. M.Workman

    Rhetoric = "why should future generations pay for school board errors?" Because this community's growth and tax base is stagnate. Because our property values will continue to go in to the potty if our schools continue to slide.

    Rhetoric = "why give them more, they aren't doing what I think they should be doing with the money they have."

    " it's hard to blame the outcome on rhetorical influence" not for me it's not. And I wasn't calling you uneducated…a national study suggests voters in general are. I tend to agree and suggest opinions about the local school bond's necessity prove this. "Why pass a bond to fix up our schools? With the resources in this community, we parents can go paint and fix up our schools."

  3. J.R.

    You're in the PR business? Wow! Way to win over those who disagree with you there Mr Workman.

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