Friday, February 22, 2008

My Farewell

This piece was published in the March 2008 issue of “From the Harte,” the community newsletter for my beloved Bret Harte Middle School.

"Dear Parents, Guardians and Community Members,

I am saying goodbye to you because, after seven years, it has become necessary for me to step down from my position as Parent Coordinator. Tasked with the challenge to “increase parent involvement” because of its benefits on academic achievement, I have pursued this goal by trying to give you consistent, high quality school-to-home communication. Hopefully this has enhanced the connection you have had with Bret Harte.

This newsletter is one of those communication forms and, in partnership with the PTA, has been sent to the homes of Bret Harte students nearly every month since October 2001. I know that many of you look forward to its arrival. Just last month, I was contacted by two mothers who asked me when the next issue would be arriving. These types of inquiries have been most gratifying to me.

In addition to the work I’ve done here, I have a strong connection to Bret Harte in other ways. Both of my daughters attended this school (’02 and ’07), my uncle attended in the 1950’s, and my husband and I have lived in the neighborhood since 1988. Many of my older neighbors sent their children here, and some even attended it themselves.

Over the past 8½ years, I have become fascinated with current issues in urban public education and how they play out in a school like Bret Harte, and in a district like OUSD. I have been writing about these topics in my personal time and will continue to do so at my new web site, “The Perimeter Primate” at Please check it out and let me know what you think.

While being on the campus during the school day for so many years, and learning what I have learned while here, I have become deeply concerned about many of Oakland’s kids -- your kids. I know how critical their educations will be to their futures and I worry about them. Far too many of them do not take this one-time school opportunity seriously enough, for enough of the time.

So, my final word of advice is to remind you to be more vigilant for the sake of your children. Monitor them more closely -- their homework, their attendance, their grades, their habits, their friends, their food choices, their backpacks, their pockets, and their bedrooms. Be the adult and don’t back down. If they angrily ask, “Don’t you trust me?” it’s really okay to tell them, “No!” They are just kids with urges and they are driven to explore. They need your steady guidance so they won’t get lost.

I wish you and your children well."

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