- Letters to the Editor
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Set the way-back machine to 1960; I must return to warn my classmates that we will no longer be known as the East Knights. We will become the Doty Dinosaurs! Or Doty Dobermans! Or the Fighting Doty’s!
Seriously, I thought we already honored Superintendent Doty by paying her a generous six-figure annual salary with health benefits. In retirement, Doty will not be spending her golden years trying to make ends meet on a paltry Social Security pension. We taxpayers are further honoring her with a lavish lifetime six-figure annual pension from STRS (State Teachers Retirement System).
I attended Rio San Gabriel Elementary, East Junior High and Downey High. They are a part of my history. My record. My DNA. They were named after a nearby river, a neighborhood and a proud city. For those of us who were students there, these are important geographic and historic places.
But members of the Board of Education are politicians, and like politicians everywhere, they indulge in self-aggrandizement. They spend the taxpayer dime “honoring” each other with plaques, petitions and proclamations. They rename streets, playgrounds, parks and schools in “honor” of each other. They defend the practice by saying, “Well, we’ve done it before! It’s a tradition!”
Did they do a cost-benefit analysis? What will the changeover cost? More importantly, did they consult the many of us who attended East and still live in Downey?
I know compromise is a dirty word lately but can’t we compromise here by perhaps naming a library or cafeteria in honor of Doty?
I never paid much attention to school board elections but I am looking forward to the next one.
Downey is a city of approximately 100,000 people, but curiously enough, just seven of those people have the power to change the name of a school.
I speak, of course, of our illustrious seven-person school board who took it upon themselves to arbitrarily change the name of East Middle School to Wendy Lopour Doty Middle School. (“School Board Renames East Middle School After Doty,” 3/21/13)
According to Donald LaPlante, president of the DUSD board of education, East Middle School doesn’t actually have a name. To quote Mr. LaPlante, “we wouldn’t think of naming schools with names, but East and West, those are directions.”
I don’t know what dictionary Mr. LaPlante uses, but my edition of Webster’s defines the word “name” thusly: “a word or phrase by which a person place or thing is known, called or spoken.” East Middle School is a name; a nice geographical name, which students and alumni have been proudly using for close to 60 years.
When compared to the total population, the teachers and administrators of the DUSD actually represent a rather small coterie of people, almost a clique you might say, but do they have the bonafide and/or cachet to, in self-congratulatory fashion, name public facilities after themselves?
East Middle School is a public school, consequently it would seem sensible that the general public should have a say in whether the school name is changed or not.
In the final analysis, this was a decision of the school board, by the school board and primarily for the school board.
It probably isn’t the greatest example of the democratic process at work.
As an alumnus of East Middle School, it is an honor to be able to help put in place its new name of Wendy Lopour Doty Middle School for this coming September.
Our retiring superintendent, Dr. Doty, began her career in education here at East. She has served the Downey Unified School District for over 30 years, the last 10 as superintendent.
Dr. Doty’s leadership has been pivotal in successfully guiding the district through some of the toughest times for public education these past four years, and we are most grateful.
Through these difficult years of recession, I am not aware of any other school district in California where both students and employees have experienced the continued stability and success that Downey has enjoyed under Dr. Doty’s prudent direction. Our cutbacks have been minimal by comparison, the district remains financially solvent and student achievement continues to improve.
It is fitting and appropriate that a school with such a strong, longstanding reputation should finally bear the noteworthy name of someone most worthy of the honor. Watch for changes to be taking place soon as we begin to transition.
By the way, we will still be the Knights; still be red, black and white; and still be providing our students with the very best education to prepare them for high school, college and life.
East Middle School
Published: March 28, 2013 – Volume 11 – Issue 50