Comment written by Renee Webster-Hawkins
The following comment was submitted June 10, 2021, to the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education. Item 3.1.
Dear President Pritchett and Board of Trustees:
A respected educator/parent in our District community routinely reminds us that the ethical oath of teachers is to first and foremost “do no harm”. Sadly (and with outrage) the Coalition for Students with Disabilities is once again shining a bright, searing light on the repeated tactics and divisive bargaining tactics by the Sacramento City Teachers Association that do substantial harm to students with disabilities, Black and Brown students, and those that need a rigorous education to prepare them for life.
The no-confidence “vote” by SCTA is based on a number of outrageous claims and gaslighting, all to the detriment of students with disabilities. The Coalition condemns this no-confidence “vote” as just another gimmick and chapter out of the same predictable SCTA playbook, that goes something like this:
1) Create some noise or drama to distract everyone's view of the good things that the District is doing -- like making it possible for students to really enjoy being back on campus even in the waning days of this pandemic academic year,
2) Using misinformation, name-calling and gaslighting, sow seeds of doubt and distrust and cynicism and even get allies to start fighting with each other,
3) Threaten or actually call for a strike, and
4) When the pitch of the drama becomes too feverish, use surrogates to advocate for a path to peace to end the fake drama that SCTA instigated by pressuring the District to give in, in ways that shortchanges the students, just for “labor peace”. Until the next chapter of the playbook is played.
Trustees, does it feel uncomfortable, the sinking feeling that this is being carefully scripted? That Lucy is holding the football for Charlie Brown once again?
The Coalition predicts: This no-confidence “vote” is Stage 1. SCTA will use the rest of this fiscal year and this summer to rev up Stage 2 resorting to the baseless "fake numbers" script and other re-treads. In late August the SCTA will launch Stage 3 and will call for a strike to disrupt the beginning of the "back to school better" 21-22 school year and blame it all on the District..... How will the chapter end? Will the Board be pro-student or anti-student?
One of the gaslights for this “vote” is the laughable contention that Superintendent Aguilar is responsible for the District’s failure to teach students with disabilities and honor their civil rights to a quality education. When Superintendent Aguilar arrived, the Council of Great City Schools had just published its 2017 Audit documenting years of disproportionately inadequate teaching and discipline of students with disabilities, including BIPOC and ELL students with disabilities. The audit referenced the fact that, back in the 1990s, the SCTA negotiated Appendix D which unlawfully gave teachers the option of whether to teach these students and support the IEP educational plans mandated by federal civil rights law.
The community needs to know that SCTA vigorously defended that "right" for teachers to opt out of teaching students with disabilities until 2017 when Aguilar and his team insisted that the illegal and immoral "right" be dropped from the collective bargaining agreement.
It was Aguilar and his team who in Fall 2017 committed to supporting the Community Advisory Committee with translators to help more families access the CAC presentations and engage with other parents of students with disabilities.
It was Aguilar who hired as his Chief Academic Officer a longtime classroom educator and principal and effective special education leader and advocate with a proven track record of improving students’ lives and outcomes.
It is Aguilar and his team who designed and launched the Dyslexia Intervention Pilot Program -- despite SCTA's resistance to its members participating in a district wide intervention program that would reach all students.
It has been Aguilar and his team who have implemented a district wide early literacy and math assessment program to reverse the documented failure of general education teachers -- when left to their own discretion -- to adequately identify students with learning disabilities in their classrooms.
It has been Aguilar and his team to design the Multi-Tiered System of Supports that will support all students and better serve students with disabilities.
In Spring 2020, the general membership of the Community Advisory Committee approved a letter which documents all of these advancements by the Superintendent and the District on behalf of students with disabilities, only to have them repeatedly thwarted by SCTA filing grievances or lodging other threats. Lest we forget, the SCTA insisted on a clause in the recent Special Education Evaluations MOU to make it entirely, unconditionally voluntary for its members including school psychologists and resource teachers to serve special education students during the pandemic. Unconscionable.
So just stop it, SCTA. Stop it.
And to the Board of Trustees: Please demonstrate that you are pro-student and support Superintendent Aguilar and his educational and organizational leadership that truly puts students first.
The Coalition for Students with Disabilities