By Carolyn McNulty
Who do you trust? That question occupies our attention, whether it’s a small choice between which brand of pasta sauce is truly best or a larger choice between political parties.
Lately, Ramona residents have been trying to decide whether the school district is right in saying that it must take a sizable chunk of money from its teachers or whether the teachers are correct in saying that the cut doesn’t need to be so large.
Who’s right? Both sound compelling. For me, it comes down to history and trust.
I am a Ramona teacher and have been for about 20 years. Each year, the district makes a budget presentation to each school’s teachers.
After listening to these for a number of years, I began to see the pattern. The presentation would be full of gloom and doom, but the final numbers at the end of the year would be well in the black.
I stopped worrying about the gloom and doom. I lost trust in the district’s numbers presentations.
For years, I’ve carefully chosen candidates to elect to the school board. Each seemed to remain the person purported to be during the election. This year, I’ve attended most board meetings. I’ve spent hours watching those people that I helped elect.
I’m frustrated to see the change: one perpetually looks angry, one ignores teacher speakers while shuffling papers, one loses patience with teacher and parent speakers, and one avoids all eye contact.
I’m frustrated by their habit of calling on the public speakers in an order carefully chosen to minimize teacher impact (community speakers on non-controversial topics first, teachers and their supporters next, and finally, when available, a speaker known to be pro-board).
That order was derailed only at the meeting held at the high school at which a pro-teacher speaker was able to speak last only because his request-to-be-heard card had been mislaid. I’ve lost trust in the school board.
Over 20 years ago, I attended a multi-week teacher training on Montessori methods. One of the other attenders was Grant McNiff, now the chair of the teachers’ association negotiating team. Since then, I’ve seen him most years at teacher trainings and grade level meetings.
He’s always been the same: honest, open, direct, and excited about teaching. I trust him.
Since 1994, I’ve taught at Ramona Community School with Donna Braye-Romero. After teaching next door to her for years, attending the same meetings, and seeing her on a number of Wednesday nights with her AWANA group, I feel I know her well.
She’s remained the same: outspoken, direct, and passionate about her students. I trust her.
For me, trusting one side over the other has been easy due to the relationships built up over the last 20 years.
I trust my teachers’ association because I trust its leaders.
Ramona, who do you trust?
Carolyn McNulty, a Ramona resident, teaches at Ramona Community School.