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The Cult of A

On Tuesday March 26th, I attended Tamalpais Union High School District’s (“TUHSD”) first Board Meeting since the defeat of Measure A. Still visibly shell-shocked by the loss, all Trustees, Superintendent Taupier, and the District entire apparatchik of administrators, principals, assorted consultants, and supporters were present for what turned out to be more of a therapeutic session than proper School Board business.

Clearly considering themselves the anointed, the only ones who care about education, the Trustees repeated to each other the same arguments and explanations, over and over: the opponents to Measure A were mean-spirited lairs, voters were lazy and uninformed, senior citizens are selfish, only the Bond’s supporters have integrity and true understanding, the secret knowledge.

The two volunteer chairs of the Measure A committee, formally recognized by the Board for their commitment to the cause, diligently listed all the reasons why voters should have supported A, and doing so, like the Board, lost the opportunity to show fairness by also recognizing the many reasons why so many voted NO.

Talking of which: COST, the volunteer organization that opposed the Bond (to which I do not belong but that I have supported for this specific campaign) clearly understood the voters’ sentiments better. The District should listen to them - if they really want to know “the why” so many voted NO - and accept COST’s invitation to meet to share their suggestions and proposal for a new Bond that better reflects residents' expectations and makes financial sense for all stakeholders.

The wrong kind of institutional envy transpired from Superintendent Taupier’s comments, who claimed that other schools in Marin County have much better facilities. Instead of worrying about which campus has the fanciest and biggest cafeteria, what about some academic envy for the many public high schools that now deliver better education than ours and for the many districts that are more financially savvy than TUHSD?

Predictably, with Measure A’s corpse still warm, the Trustees committed to put a new, practically identical Measure back on the ballot, possibly this coming November. Equally predictable, not a single word was spent on ways to save money, starting, for example, with stopping the endless hiring of redundant positions in administration: it is time for the District to convene a task force to study how to reallocate unnecessary current expenses to some of the more urgent projects so badly needed in the Administration’s own warnings.

The Cult of the Bond continues at the TUHSD, more time and more money and energies will be wasted to try to force a new, equally irresponsible measure upon the community, while neglecting again and again the one and only goal the District should focus on: excellence in academics, that only great teachers and coaches can deliver.