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Re: “Guest Commentary

To Mr. Jacobs
I will begin this retort with a mention of thanks in sarcastic prose, for the attempted War Mongering you have set between two schools and their students. I hope, for your sake that you do not resemble the weasley character from either The Princess Bride or Lord Of War. Thank you for single handedly causing an emotionally competitive uproar between two schools or districts that before today had no issues other than friendly competition , if even that.
In the spirit of gentlemen’s competition I offer you a challenge. Come visit my classroom and walk with me through the neighborhoods surrounding Chaparral. It will only take you about a mile to understand and we have several pairs of shoes from which to choose. Come watch a Soccer game and shake the rough, strong hands of the supportive community around us. And watch as our kids DON’T cry as they slide tackle on gravel.
I then challenge you to obtain a teaching certificate from any of our local Community Colleges and a contract with the Sunnyside District. Since you seem to have a passion for the written word you may Intern with me if you like. Although we may have to change your name to protect you from the repercussions of crowning us as the Worst School. After celebrating your success at obtaining a contract , spend 1 full school year developing the necessary relationships to inspire, reach and teach our tenacious, unpredictable, under resourced and underappreciated, rumor bound Cougars how to read and write. If at the end of that year you wish to re-write this article and perpetuate the propaganda you under support, I will hand you the pen, or a # 2 pencil ( do they still have those in other districts?) I would say you could use my log in but I would imagine you would rather use a Macbook.


Mark K Berry
7th Grade Language Arts
Chaparral Middle School
Sunnyside Unified School District

5 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by johnb on 11/18/2011 at 1:27 PM

Re: “Guest Commentary

I would challenge any teacher to come and walk the streets of our neighborhoods and see where many our children come from and how they live. When students are deprived of their basic needs; food, shelter, hot water, security, and sadly sometimes love, the academic focus takes a distant back seat. Many of our students face adversities and challenges that no teenagers should have to endure. I believe our students are privy to their parent's (guardian's) financial hardships, their plight to make ends meet and their mere struggle to make it from one day to the next. Many of our students are robbed of a childhood. While kids should play happily and simply enjoy life, our students are selling tamales, working at the SWAP meet, or cleaning yards to help out at home. This is not to say CF students don't have family responsibilities or don't work, but I'll bet my paycheck that their earnings don't pay their rent or electric bill.

Secondly, many of our students are not exposed to the experiences, places, and ideas that their wealthy counterparts often take for granted. Many of our students live very sheltered and one-dimensional lives. What percentage of our students have ever been to the U of A campus, to Phoenix, or north of Irvington for that matter? I think we'd all be unpleasantly surprised to see just how deprived our children are.

This is a sad testimonial of how economic status effects education, facilities, and opportunities for our children. As an educator of 31 years, 21 of them in the Sunnyside District as a teacher and counselor, I have seen failures; but I have also seen many students who were able to rise above their environment and go on to do great things with their lives and their careers. Moreover, Sunnyside is changing the culture of education and I believe Chaparral has some of the most phenomenal teachers that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I invite any educator or substitute to come and visit Chaparral and observe what our teachers are doing in the classroom and how they relate to this population of very resilient children.

Barb Mathers
School Counselor/JAG Coordinator
Chaparral Middle School

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by johnb on 11/18/2011 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Guest Commentary

Mr. Jacobs,
I am the proud principal of Chaparral Middle School and I take great offense that you labled my school as the worst of Tucson's schools. I am aware that you were a guest teacher in one of our classrooms, and I am aware now that the behavior of the students was not what we expect from our kids. But, again, I am very offended that you threw this label at our kids in the manner that you did.

I appreciate the other points that you made in your article and it is always a struggle to understand the inequities of school funding. That is a whole other discussion for another time. Our school is 30 years old and but it is one of, if not the most well-kept schools in our district. We are very proud of how clean and orderly our building is.

Your article has given us the opportunity to challenge our students’ behaviors and how they treat our guest teachers. This type of behavior is unacceptable to our staff, community and students and we must own the fact that we didn’t represent Chaparral in the manner that is expected of them. In a strange twist, the students’ behaviors on that particular day actually show how effective our teachers are. Our kids come from some tough environments and they displayed behaviors, though completely unacceptable, that they are capable of showing. These behaviors are kept to a minimum when the teacher is present. Again, to me this shows the quality of teachers that I have on my staff. In the 4 years that I have been principal here, not once have I had to go into the classroom of the teacher that you covered for that day to deal with unruly behavior. Our students have the ability to be very rude and unruly, but when the teacher is present, they are some of the most respectful and well-behaved students around. To repeat, their behaviors on the day you were a guest teacher were unacceptable and we have had long talks with our students about this.

Your article, in all honesty, angered many of my students. In reaction, our teachers have held class discussions, some in the form of Socratic Seminars, to talk about why somebody feels that students from a specific part of town will not succeed. I will not go into all the challenges that our students face day in and day out in their lives because I am not making excuses for their behavior. I will post other comments by teachers here at Chaparral that may refer to these challenges, but we don’t use them as excuses for not succeeding. Our students here at Chaparral and in the Sunnyside Unified School District are given an excellent opportunity at a quality education and they must be held responsible for putting in their part. But, please remember that they are kids and they will make mistakes.

In closing, I invite you to come down and spend a day with me and see all the good that is happening at Chaparral. We are very proud that we have obtained the label of “Performing Plus” and that we are making the academic and social gains that we strive for. We are not content with where we are, but we are proud of how far we have come. I have some of the hardest working and caring teachers that I have ever seen in my nearly 20 years in education. Our teachers work hard for our kids and our kids work hard for our teachers. We did not behave to our expectations, and we are addressing that, but please come by and see the quality of student that attends Chaparral Middle School.
John Benavidez
Chaparral Middle School

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by johnb on 11/18/2011 at 1:19 PM

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