I was watching TV with my family on a Saturday night in 1971. “All in the Family” was on and I was baffled.
How could my open-hearted family all be laughing at that racist, misogynist Archie Bunker? Even at age 10, I knew his ideas were disgusting; it wasn’t funny.
Eventually, I learned about sarcasm and satire. Thank goodness, since that often helps me as I read Tommy Wayne Kramer’s column. But sometimes I still can’t tell when he’s being satirical and when he just doesn’t have the facts. In case you’re in that boat too, here’s the truth about UUSD.
1. Mendocino County Construction Corps (MCCC) is training young construction workers to address the labor crisis in our local economy. MCCC is a collaborative program started by local educators and business owners in cooperation with the North Coast Builders Exchange in response to the need for entry-level construction workers. Ukiah High School students earn up to 2 college credits, learn how to use a forklift, scissor lift, first aid, CPR, and they receive scaffold building certifications. https://sites.google.com/uusd.net/mcccwebsite/home
At the end of a four-month training program, students take part in a two-week "boot camp" where they practice the skills they have learned. Then they’re invited to a hiring day where contractors interview candidates and hire new employees.
2. We not only have a marching band, but they performed recently at a Sacramento Kings game. We also have wonderful music, choir, theater, and art programs in our middle schools and high school! We have four full-time music teachers who instruct over 400 students every day. Our UHS choral groups received a Gold Rating at their state-wide competition last year, placing them among the best choirs in the state. Our Ukiah High School trumpeter, Blake Phillips, was selected to play at Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the nation-wide Honors Performance Series program.
3. We have 16 different vocational pathways that serve over 900 UHS students a year, which is over half of the student body. At least two courses are offered in each specialty, including Automotive Technology, Animal Science, Automotive Mechanics, Child Development, Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD), Computer Science, Construction Trades, Digital Media, Fashion, Health Occupations, Horticulture, Machine Shop, Photography, Sustainable Agriculture, Welding, and Residential and Commercial Construction.
4. The District Office on Orchard Avenue in Ukiah was built using state-designated redevelopment funds that otherwise would have gone back to Sacramento instead of staying in our community. Palatial? Not so much. You’re welcome to step inside, make a public comment at a board meeting, and see the modest interior.
5. Yes, UUSD plans for the future. That’s why we developed a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan with community members, staff, and facilities experts to determine what the needs of the district are. This plan is available at www.uusd.net
6. Yes, we feed our students. We recently took advantage of new state anti-hunger laws and now have universal free meal service for all students. This means we are able to bill the State and Feds for our food to leverage even more funding. We serve over 1.1 million meals at 17 different school sites at a cost to the district of just $112,600. Teachers will tell you there are few better investments in our students than making sure they aren’t hungry and distracted in the classroom.
7. Yes, UUSD provides a basic laptop to every student beginning in 3rd grade. We are living in the Information Age. Pretending that a student can become employed or be successful in further education without being computer-literate is naïve. These programs are just as important as vocational training programs because they ensure that every child will have the opportunity to pursue a career in any field. Car mechanics use computers every day, even if TWK drives classic cars that aren’t computerized.
8. I believe in public schools because I believe in democracy – that means offering education to all students. Kids who do not meet TWK’s definition of “motivated, ambitious kids who are the best targets for society to invest in” still deserve an education. TWK’s motivated students can be one of 607 students currently enrolled in one of Ukiah High School’s 17 Honors and Advanced Placement classes. Our students compete and are involved in advanced programs like VEX Robotics, US Navy SeaPerch Robotics, Escape Room Design, Digital Media, Science Fairs, STEM, Cybersecurity, Science Olympiad, and a whole lot more.
I believe in public schools because I believe in democracy and a thriving middle class. Our residents remember well when they could graduate from UHS and go straight into a job that would support them and, with the help of the local infrastructure, allow them to raise a family. In order to bring back those glory days of successful education and fulfilling local careers, we need to teach our students new skills such as modern construction techniques, and yes, some fancy computer skills too.
We ask for your support to help students locally by working together. Not sure how to help? Call us at 707.472.5005. We have positive, effective ways to contribute based on your interests (none of which involve tossing cynical Molotov cocktails from your email).