Secret tapings drives deeper wedge between families and teachers


Elyssa Lieu

Even as social distancing rules remain in place, Pleasanton prepares to return to in-person learning.

Elyssa Lieu, Senior Editor

On Tuesday, February 22, secret footage of a Pleasanton teacher discussing what in-person learning will be like received backlash from parents for being unnecessarily negative. After an official school board meeting a week earlier announcing that students will be returning to school in March, responses have varied from both deep joy and deep disappointment.

Among those particularly active in voicing their opinions are the members of Open Pleasanton Schools, a Facebook group that has gained traction over the last couple weeks and now boasts 806 members.

It’s teachers like [the one in the recording], that worry me. Are we going to be not the nicest and make this even more difficult for those kids coming onto campus?,” said Pleasanton parent Sara Campbell in Open Pleasanton Schools.

The main concern the recording has sparked is that if teachers talk negatively about going back, students may choose to stay remote out of fear of becoming an outlier. This would consequently shut down the benefits classroom learning could offer, which the group’s members have been campaigning for weeks now. 

The goal of the group remains focused on what will best benefit students.

“I was fortunate enough to speak to two PUSD high school teachers yesterday who are both cautiously optimistic, if not downright excited to be back. (Excited to be back, cautiously optimistic to hear more as they receive the training and resources needed.)… One of my senior’s teachers zoomed with us at 6:15 pm last night. His generosity with his time was so appreciated,” said Pleasanton parent Marilyn Weinstein in Open Pleasanton Schools.

In addition to releasing a Q+A doc, Amador and Foothill principals Josh Butterfield and Sebastian Bull held a Zoom meeting on February 23 to assure parents that concurrent learning would not be negatively presented in classrooms.

“One of the things I want to emphasize, is that whether you’re in Group A (hybrid), Group B (hybrid), or remote learning, your weekly schedule will have the same cadence that students have been used to… Even if you select remote, we’re not going to shortchange those students in comparison to hybrid learners,” said Amador principal Josh Butterfield.

Yet even amidst the backlash, there remains a steadfast belief in PUSD’s administrators and educators. 

“I’ve heard so many negative stories about teachers this year, but thankfully none of that has been my personal experience. All of my children’s teachers and my teacher friends could not be anymore awesome and have not disappointed… We love you guys!,” said Pleasanton parent Sarah Mankowski in Open Pleasanton Schools.

In the district as a whole, students can often feel left out.

“As a student, I think parent’s opinions are quite significant, due to their presence in the PTA [Parents Teacher Association]… teachers also have a significant amount of influence, with the presence of teacher unions and their staunch opposition of hasty reopening… but [w]hile the school does seek their input fairly often, it seems to be the case that ASB [Associated Student Body] does not have much influence in guiding the district’s decisions, and they are largely cut out of the process until the vote to make their own personal decision,” said Sri Kondapalli (‘21).

However, the consensus remains that going forward, it will take everyone to make the education system work.

“Teachers, parents and students should be more closely intertwined in the decision making process with each other to ensure everyone is on the same page at the end of the day,” said Kondapalli (‘21).


*The deadline to submit decisions on whether a student will be in hybrid or remote learning has been moved to 5 PM on Wednesday, February 24.