Mercury News Editorial staff goes after San Jose Community member Brett Bymaster, with inappropriate name calling and false claims
Please support Latino public education in the Washington community by doing one (or all) of the following:
- Posting a comment on the editorial page asking for an apology
- Join us in asking for an apology from the editor: @mercnews
The Mercury News went on the attack today in a staff editorial. The editorial attacked Brett Bymaster for his role in supporting his Latino community members and neighbors. Bymaster lives in the downtown San Jose Washington community, a low income community comprised primarily of Spanish speaking Latinos. Bymaster and his wife Angela are two of a small number of English speaking college educated parents at Washington Elementary, a school that is 97% Latino and 95% socioeconomically disadvantaged. Their adopted son attended Washington and is currently a successful student at Willow Glen High School. Their 3 year old son hopes to attend Washington in the coming years.
Washington Elementary has a fantastic leadership program that has home-grown Spanish speaking leaders. Those leaders have proven to be eloquent speakers in community meetings, expressing their independent views. The Mercury News attack on Bymaster discounts the strong voice and independent leadership at Washington (it should be noted that Bymaster has never served in a leadership position at Washington).
We are deeply worried about the editorial board’s attack on Bymaster. The San Jose Mercury News operates in a city that demographically splits roughly in thirds evenly between Latinos, Asians, and Whites. You can see the Mercury News Editorial staff’s pictures below. We question their commitment to meaningful grassroots educational change, when they appear unwilling to interview and include the views of the majority of the Latino parents at Washington who were against the DCP plan.
Bymaster’s wife, a local family medicine physician, had the following to say in a posting responding to the editorial:
More than simply defaming Brett Bymaster, both this article and the recent Sharon Noguchi article regarding the Washington neighborhood’s opposition to hosting DCP on their campus grossly disrespect our Latino Washington community. It is appalling to me that in America in 2014, Mercury News writers assume that the one white man in a sea of Mexican voices opposing a charter school must be their leader. Washington has an extensive, organized parent leadership structure which meets regularly to make plans and discuss issues. This assertion that the white man must be in charge of them is degrading to the intelligent, thoughtful Mexican parents who met repeatedly over months with multiple parties and came to their own decisions. Their subtle, complex decisions were expressed in eloquent Spanish at public meetings. They discussed their valid concerns about creating a unified culture with two schools with separate administrations on the same campus. They discussed the fact that the cafeteria and library are already at capacity with the current students, and that it would be difficult to add a large number of students to the campus. They asked DCP leadership how many students they would be adding, and that is where they got the 420 number. They considered all types of middle schools, thought about advantages and disadvantages of each type, and decided to ask San Jose Unified School District for a dependent district charter middle school. The overwhelming majority of Washington parents at community and board meetings politely but firmly asked the leadership for this. It is clear that no one at the Mercury News thought it would be beneficial to talk to any of them.
It is lazy journalism, even juvenile, to call a person an insulting name because one disagrees with his point of view. It would be convenient for the writers of the Mercury News if Brett Bymaster were simply a crazy conspiracy theorist who riles up a bunch of thoughtless Latinos. But unfortunately he is perfectly sane and our Mexican neighbors are wise and conscientious individuals who make their own decisions.
San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board
|Ed Clendaniel||Mercury News Editorial Writer|
|Barbara J Marshman||Editorial Page Editor|
|Sharon Ryan||President & Publisher|
|David J Butler||BANG Editor in Chief|
Bymaster’s reply to the claims in the editorial
- Bymaster is a conspiracy Theorist
Before Reed Hastings’ call to end school boards, this might have been justified. But the fact is that very rich people like Hastings are overtly trying to end democratically controlled education. They’ve made the claim publicly and privately, and have put huge sums into political action committees. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s just a fact. We have to be honest with ourselves.
- Bymaster misled the community into believing the DCP school would have 420 students.
Direct quote from the SJUSD DCP charter petition, page 16,
“Over the term of the charter, the [DCP] School will enroll approximately 420 students in grades 6-8. Students will come from all neighborhoods within the geographic boundaries of San Jose Unified School.” Note that the intent to enroll 420 students was confirmed by DCP officials. Changing the figure would require a material charter revision, such a revision was never proposed to the Washington community. DCP and SJUSD officials had the opportunity to present a plan for a material charter revision at public meetings, but never did so.
- Bymaster’s biggest complaint is they skim the best students
Simply not true. Bymaster’s biggest complaint is bad governance and lack of oversight that comes along with the privatization of education. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Mercury News were looking into that?