At the last school board meeting about school closure, they put forward a plan where the school to be closed would be Castro instead of Slater. (The latter being the school that Miranda goes to.) They wanted to give Castro parents time to complain about this, so they’re holding a couple of community forums at Castro, the first of which was Thursday. (Excellent idea – if only they’d done the same thing at Slater…)

Pretty interesting. About 30 minutes into the forum, there was a huge flap set off (mostly) by the fact that the board wouldn’t allow bilingual speakers to do their own translation. They were providing translations of everything into whichever of Spanish and English the speaker didn’t speak in; and they insisted that all speakers go through the provided translators. Which lead to an argument which ended with a five-minute break being called in the meeting. Apparently (I’ve subsequently learned) the genesis was that, in the past, people’s own translations haven’t always been accurate (and, in particular, have contained derogatory comments in the Spanish versions but not in the English versions), but the current policy seems like serious overkill to handle that issue: as it is, they’re guaranteeing that the translations are inaccurate. I would feel that way even if the translators were doing an excellent job; I’m sure they were trying their best, but they left a lot out, explicitly resorting to summarizing much of the time.

Anyways. A few people complaining about us Slater whiners. A lot of people talking about how wonderful Castro is. A lot of people talking about how awful an idea it is to close any school. (The last few weeks have seen the district’s financial officer say that she can’t count on being able to rent out a school next year if they close it, and have seen more projections of increasing student enrollment in a couple of years.) Several charges of discrimination. Right before the end were two very strong speeches by Slater teachers. One of the speeches might not have been the most politic in the world, but was interesting to me: our school district, the Mountain View-Whisman school district, got its ungainly name from the merger of two school districts three or four years ago; according to that teacher, the current behavior, motivated by budget fears and No Child Left Behind fears is much more characteristic of the Whisman school district’s pre-merger behavior than of the Mountain View district’s pre-merger behavior. (And it’s not a coincidence that PACT, the program that we’re part of, came out of the Mountain View district.) The other speaker did a great job of pulling all our points together, switching seamlessly between English and Spanish, and bringing the whole room to their feet with a standing ovation at the end.

One more community forum on Wednesday; a school board meeting the week after that. I think the decision is supposed to happen then, but I could be misremembering, and of course we’ve already seen that decisions don’t happen when scheduled.

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