I made a scene at the CCSD Board meeting the other evening where Mr. Matt Tso and I raised our voices at each other; I don't fault Mr. Tso for calling me down as I did go over my 3-minute time limit to state my concerns. The problematic situation at CCSD is such that it is bound to get tense and even confrontational, it is unfortunate that that is our situation.

The majority of the CCSD Board has always seemed to be of the mindset that the philosophy and practice of the District is proper and that there is no need for in-depth discussion with the community in a candid critique of that philosophy and practice. I feel that the majority of the community people believe there are problems with the District and that it needs to be addressed openly and objectively.

My insistence and "demand" that this candid discussion be allowed to happen at the Chapter House was the point of confrontation. Yes, I pointedly challenged the Board and administration to sit across the table with the community as equal stakeholders to talk about our concerns with the District, whether they are real or misperceived. But, in the end, Mr. Tso agreed to the community level talks to be held at the Shiprock Chapter House on Friday, May 17 at 6 p.m. I sent a message to the board and Mr. Levinsky asking if there would be a better date considering the busy end-of-the-school year schedules, I have not heard back, so the date may change.

The manner of talks I envision is where the community would have full opportunity to talk about the problems and where there would be opportunity for the District to correct misperceptions. I am proud of the fact that the Shiprock community is greatly blessed with accomplished scholars, educated professionals and parents and elders of wisdom who can and will articulate to the board and administration the precise nature of our concerns. This dialogue must happen and it could not happen in a forum that allows only for 3-minute comments.

I know I disappointed some folks with my statement and abrasive action, but I would ask for patience, as I am confident that as we all proceed with meaningful talks my action will be seen as having been necessary. The education of our children is too important and if we see that it is not being done correctly we are obligated to take whatever means to try to correct the problem. I am also confident a community level heart-to-heart dialogue can and will be done in a respectful, constructive, objective and productive manner, if all concerned are committed to a meaningful conclusion where we forge a united front to provide our children the best opportunity to succeed in their education and life.


Duane "Chili" Yazzie

Shiprock, Navajo Nation