S.E. Williams |
“Do not fear when your enemies criticize you. Beware when they applaud.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was direct, it was piercing, it was intentional, and clearly organized. At the same time, it was also scattered which made it appear personal and to a large extent, lacked integrity.
These were my first reactions as I watched via video, members of the community spoke openly and brazenly in opposition to newly appointed San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools Harry “Doc” Ervin.
The scathing comments were made during a closed meeting on September 21of the San Bernardino City School District Board of Education. Had they not mentioned Ervin’s title several times early in the session, I might have assumed their frustration and criticism was directed toward someone else.
After all, Ervin just assumed his position in June, and students did not return to the classroom until September 3. He has been on the job barely four months and it has only been a month since the students’ first day of school.
But in that short period, Ervin was accused during the meeting of a laundry list of nefarious deeds that included everything from destroying all the district’s past progress in any area, of creating an atmosphere of insecurity, of being conceited, of being responsible for dirty schools full of dust, of telling lies in town hall meetings, of acting as if he is “god of the universe,” of defrauding parents, and the list of grievances continued. Among the wayward criticisms, what was exceedingly concerning was that one after another, those who spoke, called for his removal.
To me it appeared the rambling list of disparate concerns circled around one central theme—their disdain for Ervin and their agreement that he was inept and not the right man for the job—yet, not a thread of concrete evidence was presented against him.
There was also a serious undercurrent to the attacks. The one thread I was able to grab that may have fueled the discontent is the fact Superintendent Ervin is from outside the area. I landed on this when my heart and mind were whispering otherwise, that maybe it was more about a push for representation by members of the Hispanic community—I pulled back from this thought however, because I know Ervin was appointed with the full approval of the board which is a model representation of the demographics of the city.
Whatever the impetus for this railroading adventure, one thing is certain, Ervin deserves an opportunity to succeed—four months, only two with students and staff in place—is not enough time to make a decision about his removal one way or the other, especially when he is seeking to establish a new normal in the wake of schools being closed to in-person learning for nearly a year, and while the demands of COVID remain ever present. For parents, whose students attend school in SBCUSD, take time to view the September 21 board meeting.
Ervin comes to San Bernardino with stellar credentials and words of appreciation for a job well done from the Bakersfield City School District where he previously served.
Ervin beat out other competitive candidates in a nationwide search. He met the criteria established by the board and is also bilingual.
Ervin is described by the SBCUSD school board as a “transformational leader,” with a passionate commitment to equity and excellence. Transformation by its very definition is change. Is it possible these critics are upset because Ervin is shaking up the status quo? It is difficult to know. But if Ervin proves to be the transformational leader he was selected to be, then it is easy to see how it can make people feel that they have lost control over their territory.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.