By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
The years 1992 to 1995 were important to me. It was a time when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and U2—three of my favorite bands—dominated the charts, ruled the airwaves and were in heavy rotation on MTV; the Dallas Cowboys were winning Super Bowls and Sega Genesis gamers everywhere were in full geek mode over the enabling of blood in Mortal Kombat.
Oh how times have changed.
Perhaps the best part of the era was sharing the enthusiasm of the times with my friends at Miller Jordan Middle School, many of whom I’ve written about in this space. I’d even say that my experiences at Miller Jordan topped everything else going on at the time; after all, I had great teachers like Joe Ruiz, Natalia Guetzow and Nedia Lee Espinoza.
In fact, I can still recall the excitement over starting sixth grade and having more than one teacher, trying out for football, joining the band, acting tough in front of the elementary school kids over at Dr. Cash and, of course, hitting on girls. It wasn’t until my late teens that the girls actually responded, but enough about me.
Miller Jordan, for those who are unaware, was considered at that time the elite campus of the two middle schools. Sorry, Greypups, but Berta Cabaza didn’t have half the class or swag that Cougars were naturally endowed. (Yeah, I said it!)
In all seriousness though, Miller Jordan students, teachers and administrators—for the most part—nurtured a productive relationship built on respect, school operations appeared to jell, scores were excellent and the campus was without controversy.
Oh how times have changed.
It’s no secret that, in recent years, Miller Jordan has been embroiled in scandal. Consider that the school’s former principal was accused of sexual harassment, a teacher was arrested on campus and three students were charged with a state jail felony for pulling a fire alarm as a prank. Take into further consideration the fact that the campus has gone through seven different principals in six years, the most recent of which occurred Thursday evening when Mary Alice Leal of Fred Booth was transferred to Miller Jordan. She’ll be replacing Teresa Servellon, who served as principal in a temporary capacity following the departure of Mary Alice Martinez.
I’m not 100 percent sure what exactly transpired with Martinez that led to her sudden “transfer” to the Gateway to Graduation Academy, although board member Oscar Medrano has pointed to a number of controversial issues that remain unresolved, or why it was necessary for these changes to occur leading up to and right in the middle of the first week of school, but what I know for certain is that it was all done—whether directly or indirectly—at the expense of Miller Jordan’s students and staff.
As a former student of Miller Jordan whose family and friends attended the school, I’m offended by the treatment its students and faculty have incurred over the years and I’m equally appalled by our decision makers’ lack of vision for the campus. Miller Jordan, its educators and students deserve better.
That’s why I’ve decided to issue a challenge to the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees, interim superintendent Alfonso Obregón and any department heads responsible for the school’s progress, including Principal Leal. Turn Miller Jordan around before the end of the school year or explain your failure to the public in the form of a guest column in the San Benito News. The community will judge Miller Jordan’s progress in the form of an online poll, which we’ll post at sbnewspaper.com on May 1, 2014 until graduation on June 6.
Should you fail, you’ll be asked to collaborate on a guest column identifying your shortcomings. And judging by your late start, I suggest you do the following:
Spare no expense;
Make no excuses;
Hold yourselves accountable;
And, as we said in the early 90s, just do it.