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Distance learning not working for his kid

Editor, Ceres Courier,

On August 19, the Ceres Courier published an article on Facebook titled, “Challenging year ahead for students, teachers.” After reading the article, I, like many other Ceres Unified School District (CUSD) parents, shook my head with disgust. I posted a comment on the article regarding the same amount of money is going in and we are getting an hour a day Zoom calls for my sixth-grader and alluded to CUSD being a joke with their current education regiment and called out what every taxpayer should, “we need hold our school districts accountable.”

Early Monday morning, after a search of their database for a student with a last name the same as mine, I received a voice mail from a Jay Simmonds telling me how it “had come to his attention” that I had “some concerns about what was going on with distant learning.” After playing phone tag, Jay and I finally connected on August 22. We discussed my disappointment with March – June 2020 Distant Learning and that August 2020 Distant Learning was off to the same failure as March – June. Jay promised he would investigate and get back to me the next day.

The next day came and went, followed by another article on CUSD by the Ceres Courier noting the Board of Trustees as well as the Superintendent were more concerned with making political statements than addressing the job they are elected and hired to do. Naturally, I made a facetious comment on the post and wrote a letter to Scott Siegel as well as the current Board of Trustees copying Jay Simmonds asking for a public forum to discuss the failures of CUSD Distant Learning. Which I refer to Distant Zooming because there is little learning going on. As normal, Scott Siegel responded quickly, and after an interchange I was pushed off on the principal and vice principal of Carroll Fowler Elementary School. Scott told me at the next board meeting they will address my email and concerns. The next board meeting is September 17, three weeks away.

Later in the day, I was contacted by the principal and vice principal of Carroll Fowler. After a long conversation they finally agreed that the one hour a day of Zoom my daughter is receiving for sixth grade, although not sufficient to learn, it is sufficient for the school to receive their taxpayer money. They like their leader, Scott Siegel, pushed me to take it up with the teacher, who really has no say in this matter at all. They confirmed the one hour a day is a CUSD guideline agreed to with the teacher’s union, overseen by Supt. Scott Siegel and the Board of Trustees (the majority retired or current teacher’s union members).

I, like most of the parents of children stuck in CUSD, are very disappointed with last year’s distance learning. I fully understand that COVID was unexpected and there were wrinkles to work out between March and June. I also am well aware that the highest paid people in Ceres are employed as superintendents at CUSD, their responsibility is to ensure our children receive a proper education, not to ensure their pockets are lined off our children by performing to the minimums set by the government to get paid. Scott Siegel earlier this month announced his retirement from his $305,301/ year job as he likes to call it “CEO of CUSD,” his Deputy Superintendent Denise Wickman at $249,084 per year and Jay Simmonds Assistant Superintendent Staff Support at $230,763 per year. Surely one of them would be able to provide some direction to this sinking ship that is CUSD distance learning. They have not taken a salary cut despite their five hour a week schooling when the rest of us are forced to work full-time or take pay cuts based on our work schedule.

We, as a community, need to hold our elected officials and employees responsible to the people not their friends at the teacher’s union. The money directed to our schools is to educate our children; we should not manipulate the rules to keep money flowing when we know we are not educating the children. CUSD could easily postpone school or implement more teacher student interaction if they put some thought behind it. We have the fox guarding the henhouse in the Board of Trustees at CUSD as well as our “CEO” Scott Siegel, and staff. We need public involvement to correct this sinking ship. Addressing the issue three weeks later is not the answer. My child is one of hundreds being neglected by Scott Siegel and the board and my issue is with the district not addressing these issues, not the teachers or staff of CUSD.

Jeremy Sasser,