A Modest Proposal for Ramona Unified School District & the Citizens of Ramona

By Dr. Jane Tanaka and Greg Chick

Loyal and Forthright Ramonans

Given the current state of hopelessness and despair, since the demise of Proposition R in the November 2012 election;  Ramona Unified School District with its leaking roofs ready to collapse; its school buildings being held together by tenacious termites linking arms; its tattered textbooks it cannot afford to replace; with certain citizens ready to throw moldy melons at our district superintendent’s  back; with its teachers’ union president  forewarning that Ramona will turn into a “town of only old people” if its teachers are forced to take a 10 percent pay cut; and given that even the most patriotic “teatotalers” of  Ramona are ready to toss the school district to the school czars of State of California due to impending insolvency from its $34 million mortgage debt, we most humbly and modestly propose the following:


We are told by a most respected despot of a third world nation, who shall remain anonymous, that children in his country are doing very well without an education. Of course, it keeps the poor working class in their place, especially if they are unable to read or write and unable to organize to overthrow the government. More importantly,  children  of  Ramona would also be able to fulfill their original filial purpose on Earth, to support their parents and grandparents by going to work at the age of 5 or 6 years. This is all is made possible if they don’t go to school.

If they cannot find jobs in industry, sales or other traditional trades, they can become young soldiers, trained by drug militia, as they do in certain other countries, and serve us  proudly in this way. There is certainly enough heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and cannabis in Ramona to protect, so it is certain that our children will not want for employment.

Ramona, protected from the  DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) by its young militia, would become a mecca not only for all in San Diego who have medical marijuana cards, but also those San Diegans who do not wish to risk traveling to Tijuana,  or find it distasteful to carry balloons of heroin in their anal cavities across the U.S.-Mexico border. The former administrators, teachers and staff of Ramona Unified School District could become officers in this militia, and would have much more generous salaries, benefits and pensions than they have now.

The RUSD administration buildings and school campuses, no longer needed as schools for children, could be bought by the nouveau-riche of Ramona; and this would aid the ailing real estate industry of our town. The football and softball fields of Ramona, which require too much water to irrigate in our Valley of the Sun, could instead grow cannabis, a much more drought-tolerant crop than turf grass.   Ramona could then honor its $34 million debt via profits from sales from these crops in a year or two, with less interest accrued than if  the 55% of voters of Ramona had approved Proposition R.

The newest former schools, which are still in excellent condition, could then be refashioned into Drug Depot Centers, which could employ the parents, who would no longer have to travel so many miles to work down the hill. These savings in petroleum and time will then further benefit the now happy and content families of Ramona who no longer have financial strife.  Families in Ramona could spend more quality time together, and also parents could retire early.

Ramona could then finally be financially self-sufficient enough to secede from the county, state and union, and have its own government, make its own laws. Most importantly, we the citizens of Ramona could finally snub our noses at our poorer cousins who live in Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, and La Jolla.

We have thoroughly researched the plausibility of this proposal, and are fairly certain that no Ramonan has a better solution to RUSD’s hopeless plight. We are certain that Ramonans will support this proposal because it does not increase their property taxes by even a mere dollar per day, for the next 20 years; nor does this proposal coerce  Ramona adults into volunteering at their children’s or grandchildren’s classrooms.

It will most certainly not violate any union rules or risk liability by having community volunteers come in to repair school structures either. After all, it is far more important that we Ramonans stand by our principles! Above all, we Ramonans MUST  NOT enable the school district administrators and board members, who UNFORGIVABLY built two new elementary schools during a time of declining enrollment, by giving them any of our hard-earned Ramona dollars, in response to their pathetic pleas for another school bond measure, even if they should ask for $34 million instead of $66 million.

(A Modest Proposal for RUSD and the Citizens of Ramona is the opinion  of the writers, who are Ramona residents. Any resemblance in content to A Modest Proposal by Mr. Jonathan Swift are purely plagiarized and purposeful.)

Related posts:

  1. School district to start negotiations for 2012-13
  2. School district proposes to reduce employee benefits or cut pay by 7%
  3. School District and Teachers Association Need to Work Together
  4. School district calls back five teachers
  5. School district heads toward fiscal precipice, county warns

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=20382

Posted by Karen Brainard on Jan 15 2013. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Comments for “A Modest Proposal for Ramona Unified School District & the Citizens of Ramona”

  1. Jess

    Wow. You two really need attention. Ridiculous. Shame on in the Sentinel for printing such nonsense.

    • big bird

      yesterday i posted in agreement with you, but i guess my critique hit too close to home with the moderator. a pox on the authors and the paper. disgusting!

      • Thank you for your critique, Big Bird. I'm sorry your original comments did not get published.

        A common misunterstanding in sattire is confusing the persona of the sattire with the author. ( Like mistaking Steven Colbert's character on tv with him personally.)

        You are SUPPOSED to be offended..infact outraged by this writing. .
        The intent of this sattire is to atack the APATHY of some Ramonans ( not all by any means) toward this issue, in which the children/students of our community are sold out, for the sake of not forgiving the board and administration of RUSD for their mistakes, and for placing their own finances and idealistic principles over the education of Ramona's children.

    • I respect your opinion Jess. You're not supposed to like what the writer of this says… it is supposed to come off as ridiculous and shameful.. to point out the shamefulness of the current problem.. and its supposed to get you mad enough to want to come up with your own ideas and motivations hopefully to help solve this mess with RUSD's debt. As for attention, we were not allowed to submit this anonymously or under a pseudonym or just first name etc.. and we knew we would have to take flack as some would be offended . Thank you for reading and commenting, even if its to find fault.

  2. Linda Marquez

    Bravo Dr. Tanaka and Mr. Chick. Hope this will wake up the citizens of Ramona.
    Linda Marquez

  3. CA Smith

    I totally agree with Jess that the entire commentary was drivel and nonsense. It did not seriously answer any of the serious issues related to the school district, it's proposed financing, or it's past fiscal misbehavior. The authors owe everyone including Mr. Swift an abject apology.

  4. I apologize for the cryptic satire and to Mr Swift and to all of you. Let me be more concrete and direct.
    If we dont put the education of Ramona's children ahead of our pocket books, the outcome will not be good. If teachers do not compromise and give a little in the negotiations;if the voters are not willing to sacrifice $1 a day per household for the next 20 yearsfor the school district; if volunteers do not comeforth to donate time/energy to help repair our schools, if the school district doesnt accept the help of volunteers due to union laws and liability concerns, then our community's kids will be in dire trouble.

  5. Part 2:The district has already cut out funding for its honors programs, new text books, building repairs, and administration and non-teacher employees have already agreed to cuts in benefits and salaries. Time can not go backwards, and we cannot afford to hold a grudge against the school district admistration and board for building two new schools when enrollment was declining. If we do not pass a bond measure atleast to pay off the 34 million dollars owed, then RUSD will be insolvent and the State will take over, and appoint a school czar. This means that the state can close schools like Montecito or Ramona Community or Ramona Elementary , cut athletic/vocational/art/music programs, lay off more teachers, and the school board will be mute. Of course it means the administrators will be gone too.

  6. part3:The intent of this kind of writing is to get you the public riled up and talking… because if you care, and discuss potential solutions and take action, these problems may be resolved in time prior to the State overtaking our school district. BTW, Mr Swift's Modest Proposal was published anonymously, as a satire to get people upset intentionally with the writer whose priorities in the proposal are obviously derrierstic.. We could not submit this under a pseudonym or anonymously… hence I understand that you all are upset at me… but its a hit to the gut I'm willing to take if it gets the public to care about these issues. Respectfully, Jane Tanaka MD

  7. Finally,… BTW, shortly after Porp R failed,, I recommended that a 501c3 nonprofit organization be set up for donations to help repair the school district, pay off the debt , etc. . I pledged that I would donate $250 a month for the next 11 years until I retire. If 2000 other Ramonans would be willing to that , then 66,000,000 dollars would acrue, and ahead of schedule for repaying the current RUSD "mortgage." People who know me know that when I pledge to help, I will stick to my word. Anyone else willing to set up the nonprofit organization and get this going? Dont just find fault…. lets do something!

  8. Lezlie

    I enjoyed your satire very much. As a teacher I have so much on my mind If the district imposes the proposed cuts on the teachers will cause me to lose over $7,000 each year for three years. I am the sole wage earner for our family. There is a good possibility that my family will be selling or renting out my home because after those cuts and the increases in the cost of living, my family won't be able to make it. We have two aging cars we could sell. It's tough This is my 25th year of educating students in Ramona. I would give up most anything for my students. In good years I spend over $1000 in supplies and goodies for them. I spend my personal time planning for them, answering parents emails and calls, and grading papers. In the event there was an intruder in my class I would give my all to protect them. Yes I have a lot on my mind. Thank you for the humor. I hope people will realize how much the teachers/schools contribute to our town. The Ramona community really is not to blame, but they can be the solution.

  9. Lezlie

    I enjoyed your satire very much. As a Ramona teacher I have so much on my mind. If the RUSD administration imposes its proposed cuts on the teachers, I will lose over $7,000 each year for three years. I am the sole wage earner for our family. There is a good possibility that my family will be selling or renting out our home because after those cuts and with the increased cost of living, my family won't be able to make it. We have two aging cars we could sell. It's tough This is my 25th year of educating students in Ramona. I would give up most anything for my students. In good years I spend over $1000 in supplies and goodies for them. I spend my personal time planning lessons for them, answering parents emails and calls, and grading papers. I go in to school to work on the weekends. In the event there was an intruder in my class I would give my all to protect them. Yes, I have a lot on my mind. Thank you for the humor. I hope people will realize how much the teachers/schools contribute to our town. The Ramona community really is not to blame, but they can be the solution.

    • I agree, Lezlie, that yes the people of Ramona can be the solution.. we all need to come together.
      When so many of my pts in Ramona lost their jobs and their houses, I reduced my fees for Ramona patients in need by 50% or more, and gladly accepted chicken eggs, zuchinni and kittens as payment from some., and have had to give out food from my freezer and pantry to others.
      You, like I , spend a lot of "overtime" beyond what we are paid for.
      I have the flexibility of taking on new pts from down the hill who are not in financial dire straights, to make up the income I lost by reducing my Ramona fees. I know that teachers are not able to do this. Your loss of 7K per year could be avoided if each family in Ramona sacrifices $1 a day and approves a Bond measure of $66 million or about 50 cents a day for $34 million. I also dont know why RUSD isnt considered worthy of charitable donations from KMart or Walmart or Target like the other school districts locally! You shouldnt have to pay for supplies yourself… but am sure you'd provide the goodies anyway.
      Jane Tanaka MD

  10. Mattyg

    Dr. Tanaka, the reason that companies like Target don't donate to RUSD is because there are too many "small towners" that don't want business in Ramona. Those people are just as much to blame. The demographics of Ramona have changed and yet some people want to keep the good ol'e days around.

    Another issue is that many people are tired of the teachers union, prison guard union and "elected" individuals who don't live within the means of the government. Give aways and free lunches have to stop and the voters in Ramona rejected prop R.

    Bring business into Ramona and let the town grow as Poway and Santee have done and there could be very positive changes for Ramona that your tongue in cheek essay didn't address.

    • My tongue in cheek essay very much addressed the issue of lack of jobs and business in Ramona… but in an absurd ass backwards way (sorry for the gross mixed metaphor)
      I completely agree with you!
      Thank you, Mattyg.

    • Addendum… to be fair , Mattyg… not all of Ramona rejected Prop R. Little over 50% voted for it and they were 600 or so votes away from the 55% needed. What is sad however, is that voter turn out in our town was so low.

      I appreciate your input. Thank you.

    • Ok… then our small town businesses ( attention Ramona Chamer of Commerce) could pich in… and of course KMART , Stater Bros, Albertsons, Big 5, Savon, CVS, Riteaid….. could give us additional reasons to doing our weekend shopping up here instead of on Scripps Poway Parkway , Carmel Mtn Ranch or Escondido North County Fair.

  11. Lezlie

    If we don't pass another bond measure to pay off the loan, the idea of a nonprofit is a very good one. If this community can raise money to pay for fireworks every July, why not put up a sign in the town somewhere boasting our progress towards paying off the loans? That way the people who value eduaction can pledge $10, $25, $50, $100 a month…whatever they choose. They could use it as a tax right off. The people of this town are good hearted and creative. Let's do it Ramona!

    Oh and by the way, with the new money the district will see coming in as the result of Prop 30, will most likely make the District fiscally sovent, having money for books, repairs and programs, with the exception of the loan payments. The loan payments will be the only thing standing in the way.

    • Yes, thank goodness to Prop 30… but a few weeks ago, it was rumored that the Prop 30 money would not be as much as hoped, due to corporations/wealthiest people moving out of California in response to its passing?

      I also did hear through the grapvine that the company that did the research an PR for the Prop R bond measure last year did predict that a 34 million or 40 million dollar bond measure would pass in Ramona. Unfortunately the district asked for 66 million which was a little too steep.

  12. BTW, do you know how Julian's school district is staying afloat? Their Charter School attracts students from down the hill.. even from Poway, and so they get additional funding to help their other programs in their school district.

    • Ramona Local

      Funny, RUSD always complained that Sun Valley Charter School drained money from our district.

      • I know, that is ironic isnt it, Ramona Local….. if Sun Valley Charter had stayed afloat a few more years AND if they had an online/home study component as the charter schools in Julian and Escondito do… then family from down the hill would sign up and RUSD would have benefitted. As a a child and adolscent psychiatirst, I see this happen all the time with families from Ramona and Poway enrolling in High Tech High or Julian Charter or Escondido Charter. As of a month and a half ago our district superintendent mentioned in passing but pubically. that all we would need is for a charter school to start up and take money from our coffers, and we'd be done for.
        Thank you for reading and commenting.

  13. For those who don't "get" the inference that our school district is going "third world," please take a look at your kids or grandkids text books ( tattered, torn bindings, testosterongenic anatomical illustrations that cannot be covered with white-out anymore) . I should have modestly proposed that RUSD beg PUSD for their hand me down text books for our students. (ooohhh.. below the belt blow…)
    Take a look at the photos published in the SD Union Tribune of our oldest school buildings. Ask your high schooler about hard working security staff being unable to keep the non- matriculated drug dealers off campuses.
    Fifty cents to a dollar a day per household for a revised bond proposal…. less than a soda fountain drink or cup of coffee from the drive through… would help all of this greatly. Its a sacrifice… its putting education over our pocketbooks or pride.

  14. Parent

    For Pete’s sake!

    The short term solution is painfully simple. Just do it RUSD!

    Close RE and montecito hs and redistribute students. Then sell real estate including RE, Montecito HS and old RCS campus.

  15. Lisa

    I agree with Pete that RUSD should be having a fire sale on surplus property and I don't buy the argument that its more expensive to close & raze those old buildings and bus kids from RE to other sites. I see partially filled school busses driving around every day. If the teachers union would agree to some form of temporary concession tied to a promise by RUSD to liquidate their assets and consolidate schools I think voters might be convinced to pass a smaller bond to keep the district solvent. Sadly it seems neither side wants to budge and were going to have teachers strike. If we do it will rip this community apart

    • lisa

      If you know the facts, you know that teachers have offered concessions. The district is the one who is not making any movement. They are out for blood. If the teachers go on strike I am sure it is because they are protecting their family income. I don't blame them. I am sure they don't want to go on strike. I would do the same thing to protect my family if I was pushed against wall.
      The district should try a smaller bond so Ramona can pay for the two unpaid for schools. That's only right and compared to what the teachers stand to loose. I think we can handle the less than a $1.00 a day to pay for the schools. Its only right.

      • Lisa

        Out for blood? Really? Clearly RUSD has made mistakes and they need to consolidate schools and offload their surplus property whether they "want to" or not. Their bond idea has been turned down by the taxpayers FIVE TIMES already. I don't believe they are out for blood so much as they are desperate. The teachers union really shot themselves in the foot by insisting the district was hiding money and then counting on the voters to pass a bond and I would not count on that Prop 30 money until the check clears the bank.

        • Parent

          You are right the board and the administration are desparate. Either that or they don't value the teachers, Why else would the board and administration be willing to make such a devasting hit on the reachers' salaries? The gain they get from the proposed reduction in teachers' salaries won't even come close to paying off the loan Anyone with a brain can figure out the simple math. Why penalize the teachers so heavily if it won't solve the problem (paying for the 2 new schools).

          • big bird

            "The gain they get from the proposed reduction in teachers' salaries won't even come close to paying off the loan Anyone with a brain can figure out the simple math."
            yes, it will. the 12/13 budget spends $41 million (of $42 million projected income) on district salaries and benefits. the loan servicing is $1.6 million per year, rising annually to $3.4 million in (i forget when, 2032 or so?). an 8-9% reduction in salaries and benefits will easily cover that, not to mention covering maintenance and new books. fact is, the loan only amounts to about 4% of income for years and years. that just doesn't seem as unreasonable as spending 99% on payroll. it's really that simple.

          • Brian

            Big Bird,
            1) The district pays less than $16,000,000 total each year in salaries to teachers.
            2) It is expected in a labor intensive industry such as education, that a majority of the budget would be spent on salaries.
            3) You are looking at the district's projections not actual figures.

          • big bird

            the budget previously posted on the RUSD website showed almost $41 million for salaries and benefits for the district. it would be great if they broke out individual salary and benefit costs for teachers, staff, and administration, but $16 million may be accurate (i'm guessing i know you, so i tend to trust your figures). can you break out the salary costs for the ALT? must be a few million, right? so 8% of $16 million, and let's shoot for 25% of $3 million (my swag at an appropriate cut to administration) and there's over $2 million in savings. many of the benefit costs (not included in your $16 m or my $3 m) are salary-based, so they'd go down proportionately as well. i know these numbers are very-loose approximations, but i was addressing "Parent" who said it wouldn't come close. i think it does, and moreover, i believe the board/admin is at least heading down the right path.

            on point 2, understood. i think the district should keep salaries at about 85% of projected income. that's more than a majority; i'd describe it as "most." right now it's "almost all" on track to be "everything and more."

            on 3, that's what we've got to go on. as you know, the union's argument is that the district keeps projecting deficits that don't materialize. i don't buy into that. there is a budget problem, and the board and administration are addressing it (except for the ALT, of course, which is a disgrace). they need to target a fiscally sound budget, and where we probably differ is that i don't think it's bad policy or unfair for the teachers (along with the staff and admin) to take a cut and still have the district end the year in the black. years of not doing that is how we got here. keeping a small reserve is prudent, not a crime.

          • Brian

            I don't have those figures. I wsh I did. Maybe later. I will post if I get access to those them.

  16. Thank you, Parent. Logical to close two schools to pay for the two new schools. Will it equal to $34,000,000, even with sales of the properties, I wonder?
    Any alumni or current students or parents of students at Montecito HS wish to comment?
    Any parents of kids at Ramona Elementary wish to comment?
    Any thought about an increased need for 504 plans and possibly IEP plans for students whose needs are met at Montecito HS/Futurebound but not at Ramona HS? .. and then increase in expenditure for nonpublic school placement for some of these students?
    Any board members or administration wish to comment about their attempts to sell three properties for the past several years, and no luck due to zoning restrictions, fairy shrimp etc… and likelihood of buyers for these properties if they were also on the market?
    Jane Tanaka MD

  17. lisa

    The idea of selling off property is a very good one but it seems to me the properties you mentioned would be hard to sell On top of that I heard that the district wants to keep a school open within walking distance for the RE kids. And the Montecito has to be open to give an alternative to RHS for students who aren't successful at the RHS. From what I have heard they are not open to selling/closing those schools..
    As I see it, the easiest and fastest property to sell would be the new RCS. It has a new roof, new plumbing, has easy access/ good parking and its close to Main Street. The right buyer would be very interested. Possible uses might be a medical campus in to augment the new PPH facility, a satalite campus for a community college or Christian Unified, etc. The Montesorri school and MVA could operate within some of the other sites because as I understand it all the other schools have empty classrooms. This would save the salary of one principal, cafeteria staff, secretary, custodian, etc. The beauty of this is the RCS students aren't bussed. All the parents drop of the kids and pick them up so if they were at a different location (s) it really wouldn't matter.

  18. solar1

    Dr. Tanaka, did I see your name on the ballot for the school board last year?

  19. Parent

    Lisa…why would the district close a campus that is NOT in dire need of maintenance/repair and hold on to one that’s falling apart?

    Also for the very few montecito hs students, their needs could be met by either RHS or MVA.

    AGAIN, close RE, Montecito and sell the old RCS campus located on Montecito and salary cuts are unnecessary, the district will be streamlined and much more efficient.

    • lisa

      Because it will sell the fastest and fetch the largest price. Another option would be to put it up for lease and take if back when and if they needed it. I doubt the MVA would like to have some of the MH students there. Better to move MVA to the high school as its own entity…a subdivision if you will. The district should rebuild RE when they get a citizen approved bond passed. That would be a legit reason to pass a bond.
      The land where MH is would be very difficult to sell…if not impossible.

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