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Our Opinion: A win for the kids

June 18, 2001

It is hard to find better news in the Imperial Valley than the settlement last week of the long-running contract dispute between the El Centro Elementary School District school board and the district's teachers.

A strike had loomed and many involved thought it was a serious prospect. That one of the Valley's biggest and best school districts could be taken down by a work stoppage was a scary proposition for many in the community. Both sides claimed the other side wanted a strike. We are convinced neither side really did.

Despite the turmoil, if people act the way they should, the ECESD should remain one of the Valley's best school districts. It's consistently improving standardized test scores are only one indicator of all the good things that have gone on in the district in recent years, despite the contract strife.

There is much good in the ECESD. It has a talented, dedicated group of teachers, it has innovative administrators and it has a school board with some bright, community-minded people. This was a long and bitter contract dispute, however, and both teams played hard ball, if not bean ball, at times. People did get wounded. Some of those wounds will take time to heal, but they won't get better if they are regularly reopened, even by the tiniest cuts.

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Both sides said horrible things about each other. There were no innocent parties and there were no martyrs in this dispute.

Educators must go back to being educators, give up being politicians and do their best to forget the mess. The school board also must bury any lingering hard feelings. Fortunately, most involved have a whole summer to go home and clear their minds and exorcise animosities.

No one should be claiming victory in regard to the settlement. No one wins when things reached the sad level they did.

The only real victors in regard to this contract settlement are the children of the community, who will be in classrooms instead of sitting at home at the start of the next school year.

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