Consider for a moment Pamela Able, superintendent of the Modesto City Schools: 2011 salary $177,498.89.
Now consider her take on Propositions 30 and 38 (Oct. 4, Page A-9). It's very important, she says, that these measures pass.
Why? According to her, if they don't pass, the school system is sunk: sports, class size, counselors, music, you name it. We can write off the educational future for our children.
The question is, are these really the basic facts or is Able spewing the politics of fear?
It does seem a bit like blackmail, doesn't it? Is the person most responsible for the education of Modesto's children telling us she won't be able to do her job?
We know that any reduction in funding will result in some effects we won't like, but why does it seem to fall hardest on the children?
Able's plea for support for Propositions 30 and 38 is a lot of talk about money and it's implied effect on children. Remember, Able is supported by a staff of 3,000, including 95 who in 2011 made more than $100,000 a year, the so-called 100K Club (June 24 Bee story. The list is still available at www.modbee.com/data, under the Education label).
Able tops the 100K Club, with Denise Mayer, a teacher at Elliott Alternative Education Center, just barely making the list at $100,012.68. Elliott, you may remember, had a dropout rate in the 2006-07 school year of 84.6 percent. Between Able and Mayer can be found James Hooker who in 2011 earned $104,578.42. Hooker has since resigned his position.
Money in schools was already a concern prior to the introduction of Propositions 30 and 38.
In April, the district was forced to answer financial questions after teachers accepted furlough-mandated salary cuts while some administrators quietly were adding paid work days. There were some who didn't think the situation could pass the smell test.
Associate Superintendent Randy Fillpot, one of those approved for extra time and extra pay, described part of his job as "putting out fires," when receiving calls from the district's 33 principals. According to the 2011 100K Club list, Fillpot's salary was $141,152.81. Fillpot's "putting out fires" comment doesn't seem at all supportive toward his principals.
Still, Fillpot's possible annoyance is understandable. How can we explain the fact that principals, almost all of whom can be found in the 100K Club, can't answer those questions for themselves, and must rely on Fillpot? Fillpot no longer works for the district.
I want to make one thing clear. This is not about teachers. I have had a lot of experience with schools and it is always the teacher who puts the child first. It is the teacher who takes money out of their own pocket to buy some extra school supplies to benefit a single child. It is the teacher who on a very personal level is concerned about what happens to that child today and in the future.
Propositions 30 and 38 are important and deserve our support, but faced with an uncertain future, it's time the 100K Club, 95 very smart, highly paid people, to turn their experience, knowledge and good intentions toward the education of Modesto's children. If the 100K Club can't find a way to get the job done, perhaps they don't belong in the club.
Bearden is a retired county social worker and current real estate agent who formerly served on the Empire school board. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.