Community Letter from Kaiser Teachers-4/8/2020
Wed, Apr 8 10:01pm

Dear Kaiser Families, 

 

Tomorrow (Thursday), many of you will be making a major decision on where to send your children to school in 2020-2021. We know this is a difficult time for many, and we want to offer our thoughts. Earlier today, Mr. Guikema sent out a message stating that “the majority of our classroom teachers are expected to be [at Sankofa].” This message was sent out despite a mutual agreement that there would be no such announcement at this time. It was planned to arrive in your in-boxes on the eve of the deadline day for choosing your school for next year. It was highly inappropriate and we are very disappointed it was sent. This is another example of the way in which this merger has been sold from the top rather than built from the bottom.

 

We believe that the closure of Kaiser School is illogical and unjust. We believe in fighting for logic and justice. It is particularly abhorrent to us that OUSD apparently intends to plow on with this merger in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, with schools closed for the remainder of the academic year. Continuing with this plan amidst this pandemic allows no sense of emotional closure for the Kaiser family, and the task of building any kind of successfully merged community at Sankofa would be extremely difficult. There is still hope for stopping school closures across OUSD, and pausing Cohort 2 of the Blueprint for Quality Schools. We intend to continue to struggle in this cause with anyone who is willing to join us. 

 

Our concerns about the success of this merger make us hesitant to offer either encouragement or discouragement as far as your decisions for your families. Although some of us are planning on teaching at Sankofa next year should Kaiser truly close, we do not feel it should be the deciding factor in your decision. We are all moving toward an uncertain future, and we will all have to follow our own hearts and minds.

 

We would love it if a significant proportion of Kaiser families elected to attend Sankofa. Most of us have been a part of the Kaiser community for over a decade, and the thought of keeping our community together is more important to us than just about anything. This is a major reason why Kaiser School has the best teacher retention rate in all of the district. If our community cannot be preserved in its entirety, then keeping it together as much as the circumstances allow is our greatest hope. Therefore, while we hope that many of you from the Kaiser community will be at Sankofa United should this merger move forward, we are not comfortable having a statement made on our behalf that is clearly intended to "sell" you on this. 

 

Thank you,

Misato Araki, Amelia Bailey, Amy Haruyama, Katy Hunter, Rachel Klapperich, Steve Neat, Rebekah Viñas*

* Hello Kaiser Community,

While I agree with the letter above, it is with great sadness, and yet excitement, that I announce my family will be moving to Texas. Sugar’s job is relocating her, and we agreed this was the time to go. I am extremely heartbroken to be leaving Kaiser. Kaiser has been my home for all 12 years that I have been in California. You ARE my family and friends. You accepted me with open arms when I first got to California, and when I became a teacher. I can never put into words how grateful I am for that. Thank you for everything that you have taught me throughout my time here. Though I am sad, I am excited for this new opportunity for my family. Please keep us in your thoughts as we make this transition. I will be back to party with you all, once we are able to congregate again. Please stay safe.     

                                                                              - Rebekah Viñas