Letters to the Editor, Jan. 3, 2002
Suit Undermines District's Students
Evil thrives when good people do nothing. Commonly heard, not often heeded truism
Evil soars when good people serve as accomplices, unwittingly or otherwise.
RE: DISCRIMINATION SUIT filed against Los Lunas schools:
Los Lunas High School is about students. There are so many wonderful things going on at our high school. One only has to attend a choir concert, drama production, athletic event, science fair, dance competition, band concert, talent show, etc., to see the hard work and dedication of both our students and teachers. It is sad that a handful of teachers constantly drag our school through the mud with smear campaigns on the television news and in the newspaper. Students need to feel good about the school that they attend if they are going to value what is taught there. When a tiny minority of teachers does nothing but complain and threaten, it is not good for the students, the school or the community. These teachers do not have the students' best interest at heart. Perhaps this is the very reason they had so many run-ins with the administration.
Los Lunas High School teachers and staff:
Lisa Durkin, Rick Cole, Michele Candelaria, John Gabaldon, Jodie Merriman, Alan Spencer, Barbara Sanchez, Janell Chavez, Lorenz Krassnitzer, Craig Washnok, Ken Noel, Noelle Cartier, Henry Estrada, Tony Flores, Avilio Chavez, Spensar Allen, Doris A. Vialpando, Carolyn A. Trueba, Chris Pape, Eric Nicolitz, Linda Gabaldon, Pat Powers, Mox Montoya, Daniel Matthews, Chris Flanagan, Todd Pilgrim, Mike Lloyd, Luvin Contreras, Charles Boyle, Paul Sanchez, Adela Thompson, Jonelle Thompson-Armijo
Declaring a tactic "part of the game" may delude the conscience, but it doesn't justify vicious, disrespectful or dishonorable conduct -- no matter how many people are doing it. Life is not a game. Michael Josephson, Character Counts
Seeing that long list of teachers viciously attempting to snuff out Goodman's rights, saddens us. Hopefully NAPTA will help them to see the error of their ways so they can begin to operate from their spirits and not their egos. We still believe in teachers, even these because, "Never in this world can hatred be stilled by hatred." Buddha
"Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat." Harry Fosdick
Letter to the Editor (January 3, 2002)
Accusations in Letter Ludicrous
Although the issues at Los Lunas High School must be resolved in the courts to ensure fairness to everyone involved, I am compelled to respond to the ludicrous accusations against me in the (Jan. 3) letter written to Journal South by my fellow educators.
While I fight as ferociously for their Constitutional right to speak as I am for my own, I am surprised and deeply disappointed that educators would discuss publicly a topic about which they now so little. Doing so is to take a shaky stand on shaky ground. Of those who signed the letter, seven I do not even know. I have never discussed my situation with any of them. One name that I did recognize was that of a coworker who himself settled a suit with the district a few years ago.
Another name that I recognized was that of a former student of mine, a sweet young lady who has worked hard to fulfill her goals. I will never forget her because of an incident that occurred when she was a sophomore in my English class several years ago. My students and I were taking turns reading aloud the parts of the characters in "The Diary of Anne Frank." Reading as Anne, I spoke the line, "Despite everything, I still believe that people are good at heart." To my horror, and the amazement of my students, I burst into tears. This young lady quickly took over my part, continuing to read aloud until I composed myself. I was touched by her thoughtfulness.
As the letter declared, there are wonderful things going on at Los Lunas High, and I have never said otherwise. I am awestruck by the talent, ingenuity and intelligence of our students and by the equally talented, ingenious and intelligent teachers who foster and encourage these qualities. I believe passionately in art and music in schools and know that our students are blessed to have Carolyn Treba, Doris Viapenda, Henry Estrada and Adele Thompson to enrich their lives in music, dance and drama. These teachers are appreciated and loved by their students. Business teachers Barbara Sanchez and Janelle Chavez to an excellent job of preparing our young people for the work world. The tech classes taught by Mox Montoya are some of the most impressive at our school. The accomplishments of the students in this class are remarkable. I have never had a visitor to LLHS that I have not taken to see Mr. Montoya's tech lab. Major Lloyd, who heads ROTC, instills in our students discipline and values important to all of us. I have worked closely with him regarding students we have shared.Many of the 23 members of the faculty and and staff that we have lost at Los Lunas High in the last few months were also excellent educators. It is because of our students and teachers that learning continues, despite the many obstacles placed in the path of educators.
Teaching is the most important profession in the world, and I take it very seriously. It is not just a job but a way of life. It is because of my love for my subject areas (English, history, anthropology, and American studies) and my delight in working with young adults that I am a secondary teacher. I enjoy my students and I miss them.
Divisiveness among the faculty benefits only those who promte the divisiveness. Problems in local districts are indicative of a nationwide crisis. There are lawsuits pending against Albuquerque schools, Belen schools and Los Lunas schools. The number of charter schools is increasing, and more parents are opting to home school. The teacher shortage worsens daily. Many classes throughout the country are taught by educators teaching out of their subject area or worse, by people on waivers, often with no degrees and no teaching experience. I have heard that schools sometimes have classes not covered by any adult, much less an educator. The American Civil Liberties Union is overwhelmed with complaints regarding zero-tolerance policies. There is a current controversy over the constitutionality of demanding private property from citizens visiting Los Lunas schools.
It is imperative that the problems in education be acknowledged if they are to be solved. Declaring that all is right in education when it is not is to worsen an already intolerable situation. Those with their heads in the sand cannot possibly see clearly. Parents, teachers, students and administrators must work together to reform ur educational system, putting an end to the "I-have-more-power-than-you-do" nonsense. It is not an exaggeration to state that the future of our country is at stake. Without educated citizens, there can be no America. Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to do much soul searching and contemplation and to reflect on the often overwhelming cause I have adopted and my reasons for doing so. I have come to the conclusion that my beliefs regarding ethics, my rights as an American citizen and more importantly, my responsibilities as an American citizen are an amalgamation of the great writings that I love, beginning with the lessons of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule that I learned as a child attending Sunday school in the Methodist Church in Belen, through biographies of many great Americans, the writings of Locke, Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience," Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," Machiavelli's "The Prince," Orwell's "1984," Polonius' speech to Laertes ("Hamlet"), Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath"…These are works I highly recommend, ones that I discuss with my students; they teach important lessons that I cannot, as an educator, present to my students (and) then disregard in my actions. To do so would negate any good I have ever done as a teacher.
It is not surprising that the administrators at Los Lunas were able to get so many signatures on this mean spirited note written against Goodman. The teachers in this district struggle to make a living as does Goodman who supports herself. They cannot afford to lose their jobs, and when asked either overtly or covertly to write such a letter, they are too frightened not to do so. Administrators have their ways of getting the outcomes they want and they all start and end with FEAR and the power to produce it. If the playing field were just, this could not happen. Teacher abuse is a mighty shield in the hands of dubious power brokers. Colman McCarthy, Director of the Center for Peace in Washington DC, stated that it is a fact that no person can stand up to power alone; they must unite. He pointed out that the teachings of heroes such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King made clear that one must not take on a power alone. Yet with teacher abuse, it is almost a certainty that the teacher will be left alone to fend for her rights. Goodman's experience illustrates that teachers will not only not support each other, they will find their vicious, animalistic instincts and attack a teacher for self preservation. Our administrators have seized upon the wisdom in Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's words and made sure there will be no organizing; NAPTA is heeding their words to create a solidarity to protect our children, teachers, and society. We believe uniting for good always supercedes uniting for evil, and in time this game, with teacher abuse providing the power, will have to stop.
Goodman has a letter proving that she was terminated for sitting on a floor at a meeting. Do all these people really think that is fair? Did any bother to ask her the facts before they took the administrations' side? I doubt it. They knew their fates if they stood up against the administration, so there was no choice. Goodman needed to be trashed. One has only to consider.
"The courage to live divided no more, and to face the punishment that may follow, comes from this simple insight: no punishment anyone lays on you could possibly be worse than the punishment you lay on yourself by conspiring in your own diminishment. With that insight comes they to open cell doors that were never locked in the first place and to walk into new possibilities that honor the claims of one's heart." Parker J. Palmer, Courage to Teach
I am sure that during the NAZI regime, people signed similar documents to make sure they were not on the next cattle car. History will continue to repeat itself as long as people refuse to remember it. At the same time, there were many righteous people who stood up to the NAZI's. NAPTA members are people who stand for what is right rather than what is "popular." They know that what is "easy" in this physical world, is often very difficult in the spiritual world and make their decisions balancing both. They would have used this wisdom then; they do now. Unlike typical administrators who think merely what they can do, or opportunistically, people of character think of what they should do, balancing reality and idealism. Reality isn't just succeeding at the time. Do those people who signed the letter against Goodman feel good reading this now? How many people saved themselves from cattle cars only to commit suicide years later overcome with despair from what they had done? We need to find teachers who will stand in their integrity now and build a strong team to force change upon our dishonest schools. Even if they went to the back of the bus before, it is time to stop this submissive conspiracy with darkness. Some would say that this certainly is far easier than standing up to the NAZI's, so it is hard to understand how things got this convoluted. Yet, considering the profile of the average person choosing a teaching career, it is understandable. They are caring souls who chose a low paying career to make a difference; they are not the warriors who chose a career so they could conquer and be on top of the world - the wolf and lamb theory. We now have NAPTA to help reclaim our spirits from this ravaged arena we call education. We can and will do it.
"You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry."
Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 22:22:23
"At the end of the game the king and the pawn go back in the same box."
"You can kill a person only once, but when you humiliate him, you kill him many times over."