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Roger Gitlin: I like Joe Messina for Hart board

Posted: June 1, 2009 10:03 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Some weeks back The Signal published a local columnist's commentary on Joe Messina, an announced candidate for the Hart District School Board in the November 2009 election.

The commentary was somewhat disparaging, slighting and very misrepresentative of Messina and all the fine work he has done for the Hart board.

Joe Messina would make a great Hart board member for the following reasons:

n He believes in financial transparency. Messina has questioned the passing of highly suspect Measure SA, the $300 million Hart school bond passed late last year by better than the 55 percent of the needed votes.

The bond passed on top of the 2001 $157 million Measure V. And the board still has no firm plans for a high school in Castaic.

Let me do the math for you. That's almost a half of billion dollars of your money in new property taxes and there is still no clear picture on the future Castaic high school site or other costs overruns associated with Measure SA.

The Hart board paradoxically votes almost 100 percent of the time 5-0 on issues that affect your pocketbook. You bet the Hart board can use some serious oversight. Joe Messina would bring that to the table on Day One.

n Messina is a strong suporter of vocational education. Not every student should go to college. I know that is not a popular statement to make, but it's just plain unreasonable to think that every student should aspire to an academic degree program. The districts that ignore the needs of non-academic students are missing the boat big time.

Messina has strongly advocated for a three-way relationship between the Hart district, College of the Canyons and Santa Clarita‘s Auto Row, in an effort to train Hart students in all aspects of the automobile industry.

Messina believes in an expanded vocational education program that prepares students to go out into the community as skilled individuals (such as plumbers and electricians) and start making a living on their first day of employment.

That factor is sadly waning as school districts such as the Hart district promote a one-size-fits-all academic answer.

n Messina is a true conservative with a strong moral base. The Hart board, like all school boards, has very limited powers.

The State Department of Education dictates word, line and verse in our K-12 classrooms. However, school districts have a very strong say in which textbooks are utilized.

Recently, the Alameda Unified School District approved the controversial children's textbook "And Tango Makes Three" for its second- and third-graders.

Parents in that district are justifiably upset their children will be reading about two gay penguins raising a baby penguin. This curriculum is designed to teach children about tolerance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Alameda School Board voted 3-2 in favor of introducing this highly controversial textbook. I am certain Messina would never consider approving this text as I am quite certain the majority of the Hart board would similarly reject this curriculum.

Board member Pat Hanrion is the only candidate who has publicly stated she will not run for the Hart board again.

The status of Hart members Paul Strickland and Dennis King remains unclear. Candidates have until July to file appropriate candidacy papers for the November election.

One thing is certain: Joe Messina is running for the Hart Board, and I am going to support him.

Roger Gitlin is a Santa Clarita Valley teacher and resident of Newhall. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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