Open 40th Letter- Drain the TUSD Swamp- RID TUSD Board of the Dangers of Kristel Foster
From: Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers (welcoming new teachers!), Retired Administrators and Teachers, Parents, Grandparents- Growing with Each and Every Letter
While this is a letter from the Whistleblowers, it is written from the eyes of a few of our members who are all TUSD principals, however, it is written in the first person point of view.
I received a call from Kristel Foster’s campaign asking that I vote for her. I explained that no one in our home would vote for her, nor would relatives, friends or neighbors. I thanked the campaign worked and hung up. The call alerted me to the fact that Foster is running a pretty good ground game and that more people need to become aware of just how inept she really is as a governing board member. More than inept, I believe Foster is dangerous. For four years Foster has woven herself into the Democratic Party befriending and convincing elected officials that she is near the savior of TUSD students. She is patronizing in her stand but few recognize it. What she has done is save Sanchez—over and over again.
The kids who attend TUSD are not even in Foster’s equation of serving on the Board. Although I remain a staunch Democrat, I have distanced myself from the Party’s leadership for its lack of vetting candidates, such as Foster and Cam Juarez, and its constant concessions to the Grijalvas. Many of the Party’s endorsements are dictated by Raul Grijalva. Insiders have shared this fact with many and are questioning the wisdom in giving him such power. His consistent drunken state of functioning, it seems, has reached a very high level of attention in “D.C.” politics and even those in his own Hispanic Caucus have begun to chant, “enough is enough!” Pima County politics will change greatly over the next two years but for now Foster is enjoying the endorsements of many who do not really give a damn about TUSD, its students, its instructional leaders, its teachers or its community.
What we ask of you is that you begin the change NOW by eradicating the TUSD Board of Foster, not for one or two valid reasons but for many, many reasons.
Foster brags about her first bid for the Board and says that it was inspired out of the MAS issues that faced the District four years ago. She does this only while in front of a Latino audiences while she attempts to convince the group that she is one of them. This is just more of her privileged patronage. It is obnoxiously offensive. Most of the political ploys she has learned have been from imitating HT Sanchez’ behavior. As she has supported his every move, she has learned his style of politics which is to demean and punish any who stand in his way while at the same time deflecting any responsibility for his own actions. The Sanchez administration, along with his bloc of 3 (Juarez, Foster and Grijalva), have become best known for blaming, deflecting, and retaliating. Aside from the obvious problem that this type of leadership accomplishes little, this style of non-leadership also has cost tax payers millions of dollars in wasteful legal battles against the desegregation parties; in changing desegregation legal counsel three times in the course of three years; and in the extremely high turn-over rates at the top level of Sanchez’ cabinet and at the principal and teacher level. Millions of dollars in training has virtually walked out of the door due to the incompetent manner in which TUSD is managed. People leave due to the work environment. There is no central support for school principals and teachers. The environment is permeated with fear and everyone, including parents, are scared to expose problems or offer remedies due to the obvious overt or/and covert Sanchez retaliation. Foster and her cohorts gave Sanchez a 25% salary increase which has put him at about half a million dollars per year. This is a ridiculous amount of our tax money to pay for someone who walked into this District with about 3 months of interim superintendent experience.
Anyone who has watched the Board since HT Sanchez was hired has likely seen Foster develop into a rude, mean, sarcastic, underhanded Board member. Many of her comments are “jabs” at Mike Hicks or Mark Stegeman, although her jabs have been directed to many. Stegeman has particularly been the subject of one nasty jab after another at the various candidate forums. She even took jabs at him during the NAACP dinner last weekend. Foster and Grijalava whisper incessantly during Board meetings forgetting that they can be heard by those tuned in via video stream. This is just more of Foster’s privileged mind-set being acted out. It is though she is saying, “I can say and do anything I please…and then convince you that it is good for you.”
Communication from the District is all “spin” and there is a Sanchez regime-code that no one is to say a word that would make TUSD look bad in the media. This results in gagging most of us or punishing us when the truth is exposed. Foster fosters this behavior. Look at what happened to Chuck Bermudez. Look at what happened to Ms. Aho.
Principals suffer from discipline-policy whip lash. Principals have been given one contradictory Sanchez directive after another and then are blamed for the end-result, which is a District that has failed in keeping our schools safe based on its top leader telling principals to essentially cheat for the sake of getting out of the court order. In response to the crisis that Sanchez has created, he is now going to the other extreme and we are being told to suspend for the first fight and long-term suspend for the second fight. The inconsistent policy has confused everyone!
Foster condones all Sanchez does, even if it means the total destruction of magnet schools, especially magnet schools on the south and west side. Many of these schools had their budgets cut by the administration last year (reinstated only due to the court order), have been riddled with substitutes and long-term substitutes, and this year Ochoa and Utterback Magnet Schools have both been impacted by the absence of a site administrator. Each school has had interim principals since the beginning of the school year. Foster has a hell of a lot of nerve in trying to sell stability as the key reason for wanting to re-seat herself on the Board. There is no stability in TUSD right now and this must change. Getting rid of those who have created havoc is essential.
And the budget. Well, it is all a mystery. Principals do not build their own budgets. Our budgets are drawn up by Karla Soto who is a Sanchez loyalist and a non-educator. Each allocated teacher is budgeted at a pretty high level inclusive of benefits ($55-65,000). But when schools have numerous substitutes the unspent portion of the padded budget winds up in back in the 1010 budget. I would like to know what this adds up to at the end of the fiscal year. The money that should have been spent on the schools is not what it appears in the budget. Schools are getting cheated (again).
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It is a mistake to mix either Foster and/or Juarez in with anyone else who is running for the Board through your vote. If either of these incumbents are elected, they will assume the role of continuing to protect Sanchez and every action they have taken over their first depressing term. There will be constant tension on the Board. Foster has professed to be the only educator on the Board but as a so-called educator, she has ignored the support that is needed directly at our schools, the support that teachers must have (not TEA) and critical curriculum issues.
One example of her neglect or ignorance is the horrific audit results on dual language programs within the District. Let me remind you that at Sunnyside Foster is a language acquisition specialist which implies that she should know that dual language teachers should be assessing their students in both English and Spanish as well as using research based strategies in their instruction. Wrong! What has actually happened is that the dual language audit which was issued last spring was immediately buried. (I got a bootlegged copy from someone within the Language Acquisition Department and had to swear never to disclose who gave it to me because s/he would lose their job. It is a public document for God’s sake!) The audit was never provided to the Board to discuss during a public meeting and the recommendations provided in the audit have been ignored. At a recent forum, Foster said that the recommendations in the audit could not be implemented based on state law. She is wrong. Again. Any school that has a dual language program could implement most of the recommendations. The article that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on June 6th elaborates more on the audit.
How could a so-called specialist in the area of dual language not have known that TUSD dual language programs are so very weak? And after she officially found out about the program’s weaknesses, why has she done NOTHING to remedy the situation? Why hasn’t the audit been discussed during a public meeting? These are all, of course, rhetorical questions. We know that the audit has been hidden (at least until after the election) because TUSD suppresses anything that is “bad news.” We also know that Foster put herself before the needs of students by helping to suppress the audit. And finally, it is obvious that Foster is not an expert in the area of dual language instruction. If she were, she would have red-flagged the problems long before the audit was issued.
You have three votes to seat those seeking to serve us on the TUSD Board. Foster has been irresponsible. She has been a rubber stamp. She has been an elitist. A vote for Foster is a vote for more confusion; more submerging of the facts; less support to school principals and teachers; less support for the implementation of the court order; more retaliation; more fear; and a sure way for TUSD to crumble before our eyes. Your three votes are critical in beginning to change the culture of TUSD. Do you really want more of the same? The Whistleblowers have endorsed three candidates which you can read about at:
However, it is important for every voter to realize the importance of NOT voting for Kristel Foster. She has been a toxic, self-serving Board member.
David Safier, a blogger with the Tucson Weekly recently endorsed her and Cam Juarez arguing that they each have done a great job. His rationale for his support has to do with stability of the District, his support for his friend HT Sanchez, along with stating that TUSD is no better or worse than most large inner city school districts. All of his rationale is despicable, insulting and racist.
Do not let Safier, TEA, or elected officials that do not live the TUSD life and who have freely given their endorsement to Foster away, fool you. It is time to drain this TUSD Board swamp; dry it up and bring in those who will actually serve our students!
Thanks to Three Sonorans for publishing every single one of our letters! We appreciate greatly that the Arizona Daily Independent publishes many of our letters and/or references them within their own posts, from time to time. Additionally, continue to acknowledge an organization that is also working very hard to expose the facts about TUSD: TUSDKidsFirst, which also has made reference to our letters, which we appreciate. Check the organization out at: http://tusdkidsfirst.org/