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Voice: No need for class warfare in school district with a big bank account

January 29, 2002

The letter written by Elydia Gonzalez attacking the Imperial Teachers Association was a good example of class warfare disguised as constructive criticism. What exactly does this woman have against teachers, besides their legitimate interest in securing a fair contract resolution for themselves and their families?

At a time when government at virtually every level has agreed that education is our No. 1 goal and dollars must be expended to increase standards and elevate teacher pay, here is a woman who argues that teachers ought to just take their lumps — and the more the better. It isn't that she's for the other side necessarily, only that she's against teachers (in Imperial, and presumably around the world).

But Elydia Gonzalez isn't just another bitter letter-writer. No, she simply wants to keep teachers in their place, which is firmly under the thumb of a detached administration and a disengaged school board. This is a school district, remember, that spends $599 less per student than the average unified district in California, even as it sits on reserves that total $651 more per student than the same statewide average. What Imperial teachers want to know is why?

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I think most reasonable people (leaving Ms. Gonzalez out of it, for the moment) would agree that any local school district with a reserve fund balance six times greater than the amount recommended by the state isn't just being prudent with the public's money. It is, instead, playing a transparent shell game with its teachers and the community. This advances the quality of education in Imperial not at all, but it has led to great resentment among the people who teach your children.

The fact that teachers are resentful of the district's offer is what angers Elydia Gonzalez the most (although it is clear there is much that angers this woman), but her view of the profession is distorted by her emotional bias against the people who practice it. There can be no question who she is against, but what is she actually for?

Certainly not the community of Imperial.

CHRISTINA SANTOS

Imperial Teachers Association crisis committee chairperson

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