Letter to the Editor: Deciding to vote on VUSD candidates

Dear Editor, 

If there are no consequences for failure – you are going to have a lot of failure. It is a hard lesson often learned by parents and by voters. So how should we now treat admitted failure by two members of the Visalia Unified School Board who are now seeking reelection?

The top 2 leaders of the current Visalia Unified School Board recently admitted to a group of voters that they had deliberately misled us, and you, for nearly 2 years by falsely claiming the old Superintendent had appointed a committee to review the controversial textbook they had approved for their new Ethnic Studies class. Board President, Mr. Guererro, and Board Clerk, Mrs. Gamoian, also personally acknowledged they had deliberately ignored their own written policy/process for selection of textbooks.

They tried to justify their actions due to the pressure of local protests after the death of George Floyd. They acknowledged they were also intimidated into approving the textbook, that they had not read, by the posters hanging on the fence at El Diamante high school.

Several community members who actually read the Ethnic Studies textbook reacted with editorials and sent protest letters to the Board in January, 2021. This book introduced Critical Race Theory into Visalia Unified. The core message is that the 17% of VUSD students who are white are the oppressors of the 83% who are not.

America cannot erase a history of slavery and exploitation of mostly non white immigrants. But this textbook fails to tell a balanced history and specifically ignores the societal changes since Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy used the military to force integration in schools and universities in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Students should also be taught how the Civil Rights act of 1964 really changed America.

Voters should also remember the false 2018 promise by Superintendent Oto and the Board who promised to build a new high school if we passed Measure A.

Mr.Oto, and 6 of those 7 Board members, have since resigned, retired or lost re-election. Current Board President Guererro is the sole survivor.

After the repeated lies perhaps all board candidates should be forced to swear to obey the honor code for military officer candidates – “I will not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do.”

Voters now get to decide whether they will tolerate those two Board members and former superintendent who deliberately misled us.

Jerrold H. Jensen

Visalia resident

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