Michelle Richardson Bailey calls out blatant misstatements and purposive divisiveness in Pat Amsbry’s recent mailer to PUSD School Board voters.
By Kate Bartlett
Bailey cites her experience as a sitting PUSD Board Member from the community with five years of experience on the PUSD Board and 20 years of experience working in public education. She is a product of PUSD schools, as are her three children. Amsbry has sent his children to private schools and his sole experience in public schools is working through Friends of Madison Elementary.
The “failures” Amsbry attributes to Bailey in his mailer (see below) “include outright false claims and a misleading claim,” according to PUSD Board member, Scott Phelps, who is currently not seeking reelection. He says:
- The claims that the PUSD superintendent got an ‘excessive raise’ and makes ‘more than the LAUSD superintendent’ are outright false on both claims. The Superintendent has never, in his long tenure, gotten a raise that was different than that provided to the general group of all PUSD administrators. The LAUSD superintendent makes $440,000 a year, about $170,000 more than the PUSD superintendent. Comparables prepared last spring during decisions about compensation for PUSD administrators showed that Dr. McDonald’s salary is below the median and average for superintendents in the comparison group of districts.
- Vice-President Bailey has voted to support countless expanded educational opportunities for PUSD students. On the issue of the outdoor learning, she did vote against the resolution in a July 29, 2021 board meeting, but she explained that she wanted to leave it up to the school sites to decide because their respective bond funds were going to be used for those projects. The board passed that resolution in support of the concept of outdoor learning, so the claim’s language that implies that if she had voted for it, it would have provided outdoor learning classes, is not true. The resolution was passed, so there is no barrier to outdoor learning happening if the school sites want to do it with their bond funds.
- Contrary to Ambry’s suggestion, Bailey edited the gun resolution and it passed the PUSD Board, with Bailey’s ‘yes’ vote.
It is difficult to describe in detail the divisiveness promoted by the mailer without describing stereotypes in the photos. The mailer speaks for itself in this regard.
In a statement to Colorado Boulevard, Bailey said:
Based on the optics in the mailer, and the fact that the photo of me has been altered from its original state to give the imagery of a mug shot, represents the opposite of everything I’ve been working to address within the culture of PUSD when it comes to children of color.
It [the mailer] lacks cultural sensitivity. My leadership on the school board has been anchored in creating a culturally responsive educational environment where all students are affirmed, valued, and equipped to be successful in an ever-evolving world.
Bailey has received endorsements from many organizations, as well as from Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Senator Anthony Portantino and State Assemblymember Chris Holden. Since the mailer, community groups, educators, elected officials and neighborhood advocates have condemned the attack on Bailey.
Elizabeth Pomeroy, President of PUSD Board, stated, “I strongly object to the arrogant and divisive mailer sent by candidate Pat Amsbry, running for School Board in District 3. His attack on Board member Bailey has many distortions and shows no respect for the values of equity, fairness and compassion which must sustain our school district.”
Pomeroy went on to say:
Mr. Amsbry has little knowledge of public education and no sense of the unity needed to make positive progress in a complex enterprise. Michelle has worked for several decades in our schools, always seeking a high quality education for every student. Let’s unite behind the positive energy she has long shown for her diverse District 3. Our students need her leadership.
[This article has been updated to clarify a statement of Mr. Phelps. Oct. 16, 2022. 6:27 pm]
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