Palacio’s low expectations and soft racism are hurting SAUSD students

I ran into SAUSD Trustee John Palacio a couple of this this week, at an SAUSD School Board forum and at today’s State of the District breakfast, at Godinez High School. Both times Palacio repeated what has become his mantra – the SAUSD is setting records for graduations despite the fact that the district is majority Latino.

I heard SAUSD Superintendent Stefanie Phillips say the same thing today and Palacio’s colleague on the SAUSD School Board, Valerie Amezcua, often spins the same tale. All of them are engaging in what amounts to soft racism.

What I mean is that Palacio and company are assuming that our local students won’t succeed, just because most of our residents are Latino and most of them are not wealthy.

This is of course a lie. What Palacio and company are doing is setting a very low bar – with very low expectations.

There are plenty of successful Latinos in Santa Ana who managed to do well in life despite their start in life. In fact Palacio himself is an orphan whose parents died when he was a little boy. And Amezcua told the audience at yesterday’s forum that her father, well-known gangbanger defense attorney Alfredo Amezcua, impregnated her mom when Alfredo was 17 and her mom was only 14 years old. Alfred abandoned his family in fact and Valerie and her mother ended up on welfare. But all of these folks ended up doing well in life.

You can exceed your initial standing in life. And we should not assume that Latino students are too dumb to do well in school. Yet that is exactly what Palacio and company are doing.

BTW the only reason we have a higher graduation rate today is because in 2015 the California State Legislature did away with the High School Exit Exams. Now all students are eligible to graduate because of social promotion. But only 40% of the graduating seniors have passed their A-G requirements with a C or better. 60% of the SAUSD’s students are passing with a D letter grade. This is all public record.

Palacio and company are not doing these students any favors. Manual labor is quickly going away. Robots are ascending in the workplace. How are SAUSD grads who cannot read and write and cannot understand math going to succeed in today’s digital world?

By the way there are immigrants in Orange County who have come here from a war-torn country, with nothing but the shirts on their backs. Our Vietnamese American students for the most part do very well in school. Yet they come from very humble beginnings and their parents and grandparents often speak very little English. Why are these students succeeding when so many Latinos are not?

It is all about low expectations. That is what is holding back our Latino students. The Asian students have parents who do not expect or tolerate failure. But Palacio and company have established from the onset that they don’t think Latino students can do well in school. And folks appear to be buying into this, regrettably.

There was a lot of talk at today’s SAUSD breakfast meeting about how students need to experience the world, and how doing so is just as important as being able to read and write and do math.

The irony is that if these students continue on a path of low educational achievement they will never get to see the world. They will be trapped here in Santa Ana wondering why the rest of the world is doing so well and they are not.

I believe any student can succeed. I believe in raising, not lowering, the bar. And if a student needs help we need to get them that help, not advance them to the next grade when they are floundering and gasping for air.

Don’t fall for Palacio and company’s soft racism and low expectations. We can do better. We must stop failing our children. Remember that they are somehow going to have to pay back the almost one billion dollars in taxes that Palacio and company racked up with two and possibly three school bond measures. Not to mention the huge unfunded debt that the district may well drown the SAUSD in years to come as they struggle to pay for their retired employee’s health benefits and pensions.

On Nov. 6 please vote for change. Vote for Art Pedroza and Angie Cano for the SAUSD School Board.

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