Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume VIII

June 2003

Number VI


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Forest Service Hopes to Begin Salvage Project on Borrego Mesa This Summer By Kay Matthews  

GAO Report on Fuels Reduction Appeals Increases the Debate By Mark Schiller



Editorial: Oglebay Norton Puts on a False Face By Mark Schiller

Editorial: Show Me the Water By Kay Matthews

Where Have All the Superintendents Gone? By Kay Matthews

Forest Service Hopes to Begin Salvage Project on Borrego Mesa This Summer

By Kay Matthews

The Borrego Fire burned through the forests above the villages of Córdova and Truchas exactly a year ago. Over 12,700 acres were scorched by the out-of-control flames that began in the ponderosa-pine foothills and burned into the mixed conifer of the Pecos Wilderness. Unexpected rain showers slowed the march of the fire, which the Forest Service initially thought had the potential of burning until the "monsoon" season of July and August.

The Española Ranger District of Santa Fe National Forest released the Borrego Salvage Project Environmental Assessment (EA) this spring and would like to begin its sawtimber and forest products sale by July. Alternative B, the Proposed Action, would harvest 9.2 million board feet (mmbf) of fire-killed trees for sawtimber and up to 3,770 cords (1.9 mmbf) of other wood products on approximately 1,208 acres. The 13 proposed harvest units are accessible from existing roads, have moderate to high intensity burned areas, and lie on slopes of less than 40%. A contract for the sawtimber (14-inch dbh and larger) would be open for bidding, while the 3,770 cords of wood would be available by permit for public wood gathering (8-13 inch diameter). Trees with visible green foliage would not be harvested, except those that pose a hazard for worker and public safety.

The other alternatives listed in the EA include: No Action Alternative A (required by law); Alternative C, Public Wood Cutting by Permit, which would make fire killed trees available only for wood gathering (approximately 12,324 cords of wood on 808 acres); and Alternative D, Mitigated Harvest and Extra Safety, which would offer 8.1 mmbf for sawtimber on slopes of less than 20% and approximately 400 cords for public wood gathering from loading decks established by the logging contractor.

The EA states that the main Purpose of and Need for Action of the project is to "recover as much value as possible from fire-killed trees while protecting other resources" by making wood products available to the citizens of rural northern New Mexico and supporting its sawtimber economy. Through its public scoping process, the Forest Service also identified key issues with regard to the project:

1. The proposed sawtimber harvest may not leave enough wood products to meet public woodcutting demand.

2. Logging trucks driving on FR 306 and through the village of Córdova may be a safety hazard.

3. Working among and harvesting hazard trees may be dangerous for loggers and wood gatherers.

4. Logging and wood gathering associated with the proposed actions could cause soil damage.

5. The increased use of roads could allow sediments to enter stream channels potentially damaging water resources.

Letters submitted to the Forest Service during the public comment period, which ended May 19, address several of these issues. A letter signed by Sam Hitt for Forest Guardians, Wild Watershed, and Santa Fe Forest Watch claims the project fails to meet the mandate of the Clean Water Act and the State of New Mexico's Water Quality Standards by increasing sediment delivery and turbidity to the Rio Quemado and Rio Medio. The letter also claims that the project violates the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Executive Order because songbirds will be killed when thousands of snags are cut.

In a letter submitted by Forest Conservation Council, John Talberth raises the issue of damage to site productivity, which he states is a "well-known consequence of commercial salvage logging operations." He also raises the issue of management of indicator species, claiming that the Forest Service has no up-to-date population data describing population numbers, locations, and trends for these species. This concern has been raised in the appeals of both the Santa Fe Watershed Project (see GAO article on page 1) and the Agua/Caballos Project, where in the former, the appeal was dismissed, and in the latter, it was upheld. According to Sandy Hurlocker of the Española Ranger District, the Forest Service used a strategy for this EA that was devised for the Viveash Salvage sale in the Pecos and relies on updated analysis of management indicator species.

Max Córdova, of La Montaña de Truchas, while supporting Proposed Alternative B, addresses the issue of equitable economic development, proposing that logging units be broken up so small logging companies can be given the opportunity to work the area. Management of Borrego Mesa has a contentious history with locals because of bad logging practices and lack of access to firewood. Córdova stresses that this salvage sale should set a pattern for a better working relationship between the Forest Service and the communities.

The Forest Service hopes to have reviewed and responded to these comments by the beginning of June either by clarification of the EA, or if more analysis is deemed necessary, by redoing the document. There is a 45 day appeal period once the Record of Decision is released; if an appeal is filed, the earliest the project could proceed would be September.

GAO Report on Fuels Reduction Appeals Increases the Debate

By Mark Schiller

A report recently released by the federal government's General Accounting Office (GAO) has substantially escalated the level of rhetoric surrounding the congressional debate over "streamlining" the environmental analysis process for projects aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire on national forests. Opponents of streamlining claim the report demonstrates conclusively that the appeals process does not significantly delay fire reduction efforts, while advocates claim just the opposite. What are the facts?

The report tracks 762 projects to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire on national forest land during the 2001 and 2002 fiscal years. Of those 762 projects only 305 were subject to appeal, meaning that 60% of all proposed projects were done under exclusions from the appeals process. Of the 305 projects that were subject to appeal, 180, or 59%, were appealed and 23 were litigated. In Region Three, which comprises all the national forests in New Mexico and Arizona, there were 82 proposed projects considering 1.3 million acres of thinning. Eighteen of those projects were subject to appeal, and seven of them, or 40%, were appealed but none were litigated. So what does all this mean?

Proponents of streamlining the analysis process claim that the projects that were appealable encompass the majority of the acreage proposed for treatment and the majority of those projects were appealed and delayed. Opponents of the streamlining process look at the overall statistics and claim less than 25% of all the projects inventoried were appealed and the vast majority of those were not litigated. This means, they claim, that even those projects which were delayed by appeals were usually subject to delays of no more than 90 days. They furthermore claim that the Forest Service is a top-heavy, politically driven institution which has historically allowed timber corporations to rape public lands and the appeals process is the only means the public has of demanding accountability. Streamlining proponent Josh Perry, staff director of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health counters: " If a project is appealed in April or May and a fire lays waste to the landscape in July, that 90 day delay meant all the difference in the world." New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, on the other hand, believes this administration's failure to provide enough funding for fuels reduction projects is a much bigger factor than appeals. All of this contradictory information and political posturing is confusing the public. In order to understand what's really going on, the data must be contextualized by looking closely at individual projects. Let's take a closer look at one project in New Mexico that the GAO report tracked.

The highest profile fuels reduction project in Region Three is the Santa Fe Watershed. This project proposes to treat 7,270 acres in the mountains above Santa Fe to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire that could devastate both the city and the reservoirs which account for 40% of Santa Fe's water supply. In November of 2001 a coalition of environmental groups including Wild Watershed Alliance, Forest Conservation Council, and Santa Fe Forest Watch appealed the record of decision. In July of 2002, amidst the public hysteria which resulted from one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, Bryan Bird, who represented Forest Conservation Council on the Santa Fe Watershed appeal, wrote a letter to the The Santa Fe New Mexican claiming: "It is not the sensible fuel-reduction projects in the 'wildland-urban interface' that are the target of [environmentalists'] appeals and litigation; rather it is the deceptive 'restoration' or 'fuels reduction' projects tied to large commercial timber sales." The Santa Fe Municipal Watershed Project, however, clearly targeted fuels reduction in the wildland-urban interface, had no commercial component, proposed no new road building, and limited cutting to small diameter trees. Another appellant, Sam Hitt, founder of Wild Watershed Alliance and former director of Forest Guardians, responding to criticism from the mayor of Santa Fe that the appeal would delay work critical to the safety of the city, seemed genuinely unconcerned when he told a reporter: "Even if this thing [the appeal] drags out through another fire season, they're [the Forest Service] very well equipped to deal with fires in the watershed." Moreover, the environmental coalition's primary appeal point, that indicator species assessments were inadequate, is a device that Forest Conservation Council and Forest Guardians, who together filed 143 appeals in Region 3 between 1997 and 2002, have employed generically in many of their appeals.

While this highlights some of the contradictions inherent in the environmentalist position, it does not account for the snail's pace at which this project has proceeded (the appeal was overruled). The reasons for this seem to be twofold. First, this project was woefully underfunded by Congress. After identifying the Santa Fe Watershed as one of the highest priority wildland-urban interface fuels reduction projects in the country, Congress initially allocated only $400,000 for the first year's work. Senator Bingaman was subsequently able to obtain an additional $400,000, but even that is not enough to keep pace with the accumulation of hazardous fuels in the watershed. Second, the Forest Service plan to accomplish the necessary work is inadequate in many respects. Proposing to do the work over a period of 7-10 years does not address the immediate threat of catastrophic wildfire nor the future threat that will be compounded by further accumulation of fuels during the course of the project. If this project cannot be completed more quickly (the Forest Service, according to its own accounting, has thinned only 500 acres and prescribed burned less than 20 acres since the record of decision was issued in September of 2001), critics of the plan claim by the time the contractor has finished the final units the initial units will once again be choked with dog-hair thickets. The contractor himself has also become an issue for the agency. After the Forest Service acknowledged that it did not have the capacity to accomplish the amount of thinning that must be done throughout the region, it got some pretty good PR by saying it would engage local foresters to help do the work and, as a by-product, stimulate local rural economies. The agency then proceeded to award the watershed contract to a company from Montana, which should have begun work last summer but didn't because of a prior commitment in Colorado. Additionally, the Forest Service plan capitulated to pressure from rich locals who did not want trucks carrying wood traveling in and out of their neighborhood. That meant that the vast majority of the wood harvested from this project must be burned within the watershed, raising the potential for a prescribed burn to grow out of control and also creating health hazards due to smoke inhalation. An initial prescribed burn of 15 acres previously treated by the Forest Service did not result in thorough consumption of the slash and potentially elevated the risk of fire.

So from the evidence of this project, it seems that all parties involved in the controversy have some legitimate complaints. Ironically, this whole debate may be peripheral to the real issue at hand: Is the Bush Administration simply using it as a smoke screen to hide its real intent to allow the big timber corporations to reap enormous profits by once again raping national forests under the guise of fuels reduction? It should also be noted that the people who are most directly impacted by these decisions, the residents of forest adjacent rural communities, have had little or no voice in the debate because they are unorganized, and in most cases, unable to afford legal representation.


Dear La Jicarita:

I am writing in regard to Representative Dennis Kucinich and the speech he gave recently in Santa Fe. I was there, and, to say the very least, I was impressed by this kind, gentle, brave, and peaceful man.

National health care for all, free kindergarten, demilitarizing space, repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement . . . these are just a few of Dennis' promises. But most important of all is the bill he introduced into the Senate for a Department of Peace. Dennis Kucinich states that all war should be considered archaic and completely abolished. The Peace Department will do basically the same thing as the Department of Defense, except working for peace, not war!

Dennis must have twenty million dollars in the bank by June (this is true for any presidential candidate) to be taken seriously. Because of his alternative views, Kucinich isn't supported by major corporations, so he relies on the people to support his campaign.

Imagine the kind of America he could give us . . . an America of peace and justice, which could lead the whole world into the light.

Thank you,

Aspen Meleski


Editor's note: You can contribute to Kucinich's campaign at www.kucinich.us/contribute.php or contact his campaign office toll free at 1-866-413-3664.


• A teacher and student training session sponsored by Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM will be held on Wednesday, June 25, from 10 am to 4 pm at the Taos High School Library, 134 Cervantes, Taos, NM. The workshop is free and open to all K-12 teachers and middle and high school students in New Mexico. The ZERI Educational Initiative was developed by Gunter Pauli, director and founder of ZERI, a network of scientists, community leaders, business people, government officials, and educators that employ systems-thinking inspired by nature. The Educational Initiative is based on telling, experiencing and inventing stories that integrate academic knowledge, emotional intelligence, the arts, and ecoliteracy so that children learn to see, dream, envision, and eventually design in systems. For more information or to register for the workshop contact: SCI/ZERI-NM, P.O. Box 8017, Santa Fe, NM 87504; 505-986-6019(fx); 1454 (ph); taylor@zeri.org.

• Diné be' iiná, Navajo Lifeway, is sponsoring The Sheep is Life Celebration with free public events on Friday and Saturday, June 27 & 28 and workshops on Monday-Friday at Diné College, Tsaile, Arizona. This seventh annual festival celebrates sheep, wool, and weaving and honors the central role that sheep play in Navajo life. For a schedule of all the events go to the website www.navajolifeway.org or call Joan Delgai at 928-755-6448 or email joan.delgai@ganado.k12.az.us

• A free presentation, Marketing for Artists, Craftsmen & Woodworkers, will be offered by TRADE, a non-profit corporation dedicated to economic development in northern New Mexico, on Saturday, May 31 from 1-5 pm at the Chamisal Senior Citizen Center and Saturday, June 7 from 1-5 pm at the El Rito Public Library on Road 215. Featured speaker Julianna Barbee of the Española Business Development Center will provide information on topics such as: art marketing with a web site; media relations and publicity; pricing, contracts, and copyrights; creating a professional image; photographing your work; and graphic design. For more information contact James Gould, Project Coordinator, 505-989-1638, taxiday@yahoo.com, or Julia Martinez, Administrative Assistant, 505-986-8906, trade@nm.net.

• EcoVersity is offering summer continuing education courses and workshops which include: Soaring Crane Qigong, Harmonizing Yin & Yang, by Mark Turner; Applied Permaculture in the High Desert or What Do I Do Now?; The Summer Garden; Getting Clear on Gray Water &emdash; New Mexico Gray Water Use, by Melissa McDonald & Steve Wyner; Environmental Educator's Outdoor Experience, by Priscilla Logan; Community and Sustainable Forestry, by Eric Shultz; ZERI &emdash; Imagine No Landfills, No Pollution . . . Business Instead, by Lynda Taylor & Faculty; Drought Gardening, by Priscilla Logan; Backyard Bees & Top-Bar Hives, by Les Crowder; Goats &emdash; Self-Propelled Recyclers, by Lonnie Malmberg, and many others. For further details visit www.ecoversity.org or call 505-424-9797.

Editorial: Oglebay Norton Puts on a False Face

By Mark Schiller

Oglebay Norton Specialty Minerals is trying to put a new face on its controversial mining and milling operations in Taos and Rio Arriba Counties. Spokesperson Steve Herron did an impressive job of spin doctoring his way through a public hearing held to consider the company's new closeout plan by the state's Mining and Minerals Division in the Peñasco High School gym on May 6. Claiming "You've spoken to us and we have listened", Herron attempted to demonstrate that the company's new plan "is a progressive and uncommon step" to address the concerns of its "shareholders", as he referred to community members from Vadito to Velarde.

Picuris Pueblo Tribal Governor Gerald Nailor, foreground, with other community members

Oglebay Norton spokesperson Steve Herron

The company's new proposal calls for it to backfill exhausted portions of its 90 foot deep open pit mine with tailings from its mining and milling operations and cover it with 18 inches of "growing medium" excavated from land within its patented claim. In an effort to maximize good public relations, Herron pointed out that his company was no longer seeking to expand its mining operations and that the new proposal was an unprecedented action in state mining history and one that Oglebay Norton undertook voluntarily to demonstrate that it intends to be a good neighbor. (the fact that no mining operation in the state has ever been required to backfill its pit gives you some idea of how poorly regulated mining is in New Mexico) However, his comments failed to acknowledge that Oglebay Norton has exhausted space at its milling operation, where its tailings piles have been cited for clean air violations. He also failed to acknowledge that the mining operation had recently been cited for failure to construct and maintain stockpiles for its tailings that minimize mass movement and to reclaim disturbed lands in a manner that controls erosion. He furthermore failed to acknowledge that only last year the company proposed modifying its permit to allow it to clearcut steeply sloped areas adjacent to the mine to store its "overburden" (tailings) in large heaps right next to the highway, which is the main thoroughfare between Taos, Peñasco, and Mora, without any mitigation measures to prevent the heaps from eroding on to the highway. So, in essence, Herron would like community members who have been negatively impacted by his company's operations to change their minds about Oglebay Norton when it is, in fact, only proposing to undertake actions that finally put it in compliance with regulations it's been in violation of and keep the company in business.

Moreover, his comments failed to address his company's and its predecessor's long and substantial history of violating clean air regulations, clean water regulations, cultural and historic properties regulations and state and federal mining regulations. Employing a kind of tunnel vision that is all too familiar to community members who have attended meetings held to consider the impacts of projects on rural communities by the Forest Service and other land management and regulatory agencies, Herron proceeded to disassociate the proposal under consideration from all previous proposals to expand the milling and mining operations and claim that Oglebay Norton's responsibility is limited to legal compliance with individual laws and regulations rather than a holistic assessment of the cumulative impacts his company's operations have on our communities. In answer to the question "Did this mining operation destroy the ancestral micaceous clay pits used by Picuris Pueblo potters since time immemorial?" for instance, Herron, rather than directly answering the question, responded that Oglebay Norton had underwritten a third party professional assessment of the mine's impacts on cultural properties, and that assessment found that the operation was in full compliance with state and federal regulations. What he failed to say, however, is that the company making this assessment inexcusably failed to consult Picuris tribal members during the process. In response to repeated accusations by community members that ore trucks exceed speed regulations and are untarped or inadequately tarped, thereby spreading mica dust from the mine to the milling site, Herron urged community members to call the police to report violations rather than acknowledging that Oglebay Norton should take responsibility for regulating its trucking subcontractor. Or again, in response to a question raised concerning the health hazards related to long term exposure to mica dust, Herron responded: "I can't speculate on certain events that I have no knowledge of." Herron also claimed he had "no knowledge of" the destruction of the Pueblo's clay pit, even as the current tribal governor, the previous tribal governor, and other tribal members testified to the fact that the mining operation had destroyed it

Finally, I thought it was crass of Herron to repeatedly refer to the approximately 300 acre mine site as private property. Let's remember that this land was misappropriated by the federal government from the Picuris Pueblo Land Grant (which the government swore to honor and protect with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) and was then subsequently sold by the government and patented under the completely outdated 1872 Mining Act for somewhere between $2.50 and $5.00 an acre.

Picuris Pueblo correctly maintains that Oglebay Norton continues to pose a threat to its cultural integrity and the health and safety of all our watershed communities. It furthers maintains that we have no assurance that the company will not try to expand its operations once again in the future. Community members and environmental groups should support the Pueblo's lead and not be taken in by the company's attempts to cosmetically alter its image.

Editorial: Show Me the Water

By Kay Matthews

Here in El Norte we've been given a temporary reprieve from the drought, as the March and April rain and snows filled the acequias and pushed fire season back to June. We can be forgiven a little complacency as our houses stay safe from out-of-control forest fires and our fields, orchards, and gardens can feed our families and provide a little extra cash.

But the complacency evident in the larger community, particularly the city and county of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, is alarming. There, the powers that be seem to think that with proper "management" of our water resources, i.e., conservation, new diversion projects, the purchase of water rights, new technology, and conjunctive use (combined surface and ground water), they will forever be able to supply water to unlimited residential and commercial development.

While researching an article on the conflict between urban and rural communities over the transfer of water rights, I spoke with a Santa Fe County official responsible for water management. It was like having two conversations about the same issue that somehow never converged. He kept talking about the importance of meeting the county's water needs through conjunctive use, using ground water and surface water together via various sources like the Buckman Well Field, the proposed Buckman diversion project to access San Juan/Chama water, aquifer recharge, and the infiltration gallery at San Ildefonso. I, on the other hand, kept asking, but isn't water a limited resource and doesn't the county have to, at some point, limit growth to a sustainable level? He kept insisting that land use planning will be tied to supplying water, while I kept saying, but shouldn't the lack of water determine limits to land use? When I questioned the legitimacy of the the county's search for water to transfer for future growth, particularly agricultural water, he responded: "If we don't pursue those water rights someone else will."

I don't mean to single out Santa Fe County as "the axis of evil." As I reported in the January 2003 issue of La Jicarita News, the county did draft a progressive ordinance that would prohibit the transfer of water rights from an acequia without the acequia commission's approval. The truly unrepentant water guzzler is none other than Mayor Martin Chávez of Albuquerque, cheerleader for unbridled growth and development &emdash; he calls the smart growth nonprofit organization 1000 Friends of New Mexico "1000 Enemies". Chávez articulates the belief that governs policy all over the state (and the country and the developed world) that we must "grow or die". He rejects any argument that this neoliberal policy will eventually result in environmental and social collapse, because, for the present, the rich and powerful continue to benefit from unregulated economic development.

Last year, during the height of the drought, Chávez failed to implement any water restrictions to address the depleted aquifer that supplies Albuquerque's citizens. The city now proposes to build the largest diversion dam ever in the Rio Grande to divert its San Juan/Chama water, which will potentially dry up many miles of the river and deliver treated effluent to downstream users. A broad coalition of groups is protesting this transfer, including Amigos Bravos, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the Socorro Soil and Water Conservation District, the New Mexico Public Interest Research Group, the Sierra Club, and others.

John Carangelo, a downstream parciante, wrote in the April 2003 issue of La Jicarita that "The Albuquerque Drinking Water Project [official name of the diversion project] is a temporary remedy for Albuquerque's water problem and does not address the cause of this problem which is the continued depletion of the aquifer and surface waters." All of the water users who look to their San Juan/Chama water to bail them out of depleted aquifers and lowered reservoirs are banking on water that may not materialize. San Juan/Chama water, diverted from the Colorado River Basin in underground tunnels below the continental divide to Heron Reservoir in the Rio Grande Basin, is unpredictable and threatened by issues within the Colorado Basin: Navajo and other Native American water claims as well as instream flow claims for endangered species. Last year during the drought, only 6,000 acre feet of San Juan/Chama water was diverted to the Rio Grande. Albuquerque claims 48,200 acre feet a year while Santa Fe and Española claim 5,605 and 1,000 acre feet respectively.

Several recently released reports predict that severe water shortages will create more conflict and emergency situations if cities and urban areas don't curb growth. Interior Secretary Gale Norton issued a map of areas of conflict that are "highly likely" over the next two decades: The Rio Grande Valley and Albuquerque are both on that map. The Jemez y Sangre Regional Water Plan, recently accepted by the Interstate Stream Commission, predicts that water demand in the area north of Española to south of Galisteo will double by 2060. Unfortunately, the report also suggests that one of six ways to meet urban water needs is to transfer agricultural water from both the north and the south. Unless there is continued pressure to set limits on growth and development in our urban areas, that transfer will no doubt take place.

Where Have All the Superintendents Gone?

By Kay Matthews

After its April retreat, the Peñasco School Board suspended superintendent Andy Torres with pay for the remainder of the school year, barring him from school activities and records. The suspension was apparently a knee-jerk reaction to a newly enacted state law that no longer allows school boards in New Mexico to hire and fire school staff other than the superintendent (who now has that authority). The law was passed to prevent political hiring and firings by the boards. Similar firings or transfers of superintendents took place in the Questa and Mesa Vista school districts. In light of these actions, I think it is appropriate to print the following letter I wrote several years ago when the state legislature addressed the issue of educational reform in our schools.

Senator Cynthia Nava

Education Committee

New Mexico State Legislature

Dear Senator Nava:

As the New Mexico State Legislature begins work on the issue of education reform, I would like to offer these observations and recommendations.

Two of the three educational reform proposals that will come before the legislature call for the abolition or severely curtailed powers of local school boards. As a parent and community activist from northern New Mexico I wholeheartedly endorse these proposals. While there are many committed, well-intentioned, and well-informed people who serve on these boards, the institution itself is one of El Norte's most egregious examples of a system that rules by patronage, not representation. The only thing most school boards represent is the egos of their dominant members, who use the board as the only forum in unincorporated and small-town environments to play out the political games that divide, corrupt, and disenfranchise so many of these villages.

In my own independent school district, which serves an area of unincorporated villages, the school board has managed to hire and fire a series of principals and superintendents on an almost yearly basis that precludes any kind of stability or consistency and has alienated faculty, staff, and parents. The power given the school board to hire and fire is fraught with problems. Administrative staff serve at the discretion of the board, which means there is no job security. If the board votes to discontinue a contract, it is not required to make public its reasons for doing so. In other words, parents and community members are not provided with a reason for the firing: we never know if the judgment was legitimate or was mired in nepotism or personal vendettas. While this policy is supposedly in place to protect the employee, it essentially renders parents, staff, and faculty powerless to hold the board accountable.

The system, I think, is beyond repair. The educational reform proposal that advocates the replacement of local boards with committees of faculty, staff, parents, community participants, and representatives of regional school administrations to provide oversight and advice, is the only answer. If these committees are chosen in an open process, with regional or state oversight, we can hopefully recruit a broad cross section of people who are more interested in our children's well being than their own. At the very least, school boards should be stripped of their powers to hire and fire administrative staff and faculty. If left to set policy, there must be a better way to incorporate input by parents and faculty, our front-line advocates for the children.

I urge legislators to treat the system with major, not cosmetic, surgery. It is a system that continues to divide not only communities but the haves from the have nots: Those who can afford to send their children to private schools do so, while those who cannot, fight a losing battle to gain control of their schools for their children, not the patrons.


La Jicarita News will combine the July and August issues, so look for the next paper around the beginning of August. If you haven't renewed your subscription, please send $5 to the address listed on page 2. It's still the best deal in town.

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