Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Bring us back to the table

To the editor:

In my 32 years of teaching I have to admit I have never witnessed an ending like this! Taking our bus ride home from Maxwelton Beach yesterday was just unbelievable.

So many of our sixth-graders crying. At least half dozen are moving. Not all of them off the island, some because their parents jobs are taking them away, some because they will now join a private school.

Why? Nobody needs to ask. How many meetings have you attended this year with faculty in tears? Never ever have I seen that, only in meetings where it was announced someone had died or has cancer or is leaving us.

We have no plan for our future in this district that makes sense to kids and their families. The only thing parents know is that we have no future that is secure for their child so they will relocate until we can prove to them that kids are first.

I can never remember a situation like this and I do believe it is unique to the South Whidbey School District. I worked in Northshore before I came to South Whidbey and I can assure you they do not operate like this.

I didn’t go to the board meeting the other night because both of my kids happened to be home from California. So we grabbed sandwiches from Pickles, got in the car and drove to West Beach. We climbed up and saw the beautiful place we live at its best. The kids took off running the entire loop and aware that they grew up in a very cool place. A few hours later we went home and I flicked on the TV. There was South Whidbey High School.

Steve Scoles' son! I thought wow everyone is sitting in a board meeting right now instead of watching this. What is wrong with us? Nobody even put it out on e-mail (I realized it was an older taping) but the community was very involved. Our community has always been involved and is very special in that way. It feels like right now South Whidbey School District is being sold down the tube much as our entire country.

I want to leave you with a little scenario (true story!).

My daughter Karla is a professional actress thanks to the school district. She had music, jazz band in sixth-12th grade, choir, band, drama and numerous opportunities to perform. She went to a wonderful hometown college and got a degree in musical theater.

After graduation she moved to San Diego to live with her brother and try to launch her career. He too can give his success to the school district. He had the greatest math teachers and science teachers and they sparked a bug for physics. He has a degree in physics and works as a business intelligence consultant. He helps support his sister’s dream. He too was in band and jazz band through school. His tech career was launched in this district.

Anyway, back to the story, one of her first calls was to be an extra in a Tatum O’Neal pilot. She was so excited. She was on the set for 14 hours in a beautiful mansion in the area. They all were working hard and on their feet.

When you get extra work you are also fed. It was time for dinner and the cast and crew sat down to eat. When they were finished the “extras” were allowed to eat.

Karla was appalled. She had never witnessed anything like that on Whidbey Island or in her college years. Everyone that ever worked together ate together. She promised she would never do extra work again and I might add she has not.

I am telling you this story because we have gone from all eating at the same table to feeling like the extras. We are not “together we can” any longer.

I feel the parents and the kids along with us teachers are the extras and it doesn’t feel comfortable. In fact it is hurtful because we are in our home. We have a cast and crew working against our values and lifestyles to support interests that are not in favor of the extras.

I also believe that if the school district doesn’t get its act together and bring us all to the same table adults like Karla, will vow to never accept that kind of treatment again. I wish for every parent to raise their kids on this island and have them leave with the values my kids have gained from the school district.

I will leave with a quote from a former sixth-grader when asked to stop talking. “My dad told me if God wanted you to talk more than you listen, he would have given you two mouths and one ear.”

Please bring us back to the table. There is only one motto for us, "Together We Can."

Sandy Gilbert


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