Para Que Te Sirve

The Inside Scoop

Ray Quiroga



I had the benefit of living through diverse experiences in life and being raised, in part, by my Depression Era grandparents who had, what the “kids” nowadays would say, an antiquated way of doing things. My grandmother, for example, was a stickler for manners. She’d always made sure I’d introduced myself properly, greeted guests and her friends and Lord help me if I ever dreamed of raising my voice to her or my grandfather. I don’t think she understood or cared that being somewhat introverted, it wasn’t easy for me to go out of my way to present myself to strangers. Fourteen years after her death, I still find myself being not only self-conscious when it comes to manners, but downright haunted by her voice when I’m out in public, making sure I do things such as hold the door open for the people behind me. Being the first in my family to have the privilege of graduating with a bachelor’s degree, on the occasions when my etiquette would be lacking, she’d say, “Para que te sirve,” which roughly translates to mean, “What good is it?” as to say, “All that education, and what good is it if you don’t even have basic manners and morals?” Whether she knew it or not, it was a way to keep me grounded.
Several years ago, when I was reporting, I was covering a story involving a dispute between parents and a San Benito school district department head. The district honchos had gathered these parents and the department head in a large room in an effort to hash things out and I had somehow made my way into the meeting. Talks were moving along rather cordially with the parents making their points and the district official making hers. Then, as the meeting was winding down, the veteran educator said something that stunned the crowd into silence. “You wouldn’t question a doctor or lawyer, why would you question me? I went to school. I’m educated.”
Now, forget the fact that many people would — or at least should — question a doctor’s prognosis or lawyer’s strategy when someone’s future could be at stake, the comment didn’t go over well among those in attendance and talks went downhill from that point forward. The entire event, illustrated a certain phenomenon that sometimes occurs between those whom come from relatively humble stock, educate ourselves, only to forge a disconnect with the community wince they came. Take for example extraordinary troubling comments as alleged in the multiple lawsuits filed against the district by former employees (see our lead stories on those suits from the past two weeks). The contents of which, if shown to be true, are just plain horrible and wrong, by any measure, but most of all, they’re just sad. Allegations of sexism, ageism, and most troubling, a detailed account of racism from a current board member against a district employee are some of the most saddening allegations laid against the district in those filings. And to think, they’re coming from some of the most supposedly educated and professional people in our community, folks who are supposed to set the example, “for the rest of us,” and folks who, many times, tend not to pass up the opportunity to remind us just how professional they are. Take, as another example, the social media exchange between current board president Michael Vargas and myself, in which I questioned some $70k in district spending, making it a point to address myself as one of his constituents, a local business person, concerned parent and as a taxpayer. Vargas’ reply was to write, “I don’t need to be lectured on what is kosher spending for the district…I have been a teacher in an inner city school, an assistant principal and finally a district administrator… My point is not to list my resume, but rather to suggest that as board president, along with administration and my fellow board members, I fully understand the need of my staff.” He continued to attack me on a professional and personal level, all the while never addressing the specific questions that I had asked… It all just kind of makes you want to shake your head and say, “Para que te sirve”.

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