The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since I started covering education, I’ve been hearing a lot about school board elections. At nearly every meeting or forum I’ve attended, someone has raised questions of how school board elections impact districts and specifically, there’s been a lot of talk about a May San Diego County Grand Jury report recommending that San Diego Unified change the way its trustees are elected.
We last wrote about school board elections, there’s been a couple of attempts to reform the process.
This week the City Council’s rules committee took up the matter for a second time this year.
Under existing rules, school board hopefuls first face off in the sub-district they would represent. Then the top two vote-getters, regardless of whether either got a majority of the vote, advance to a districtwide election. Board members don’t currently have term limits.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
I am so confused - if both the Grand Jury and members of the community at large are in favor of having voters determine these issues, why wouldn't the City Council agree? Of course they have something to do with elections, it's in the City Charter, so, by doing nothing, they are actually doing something. That choice is taking away the voter choice to decide which seems contradictory to their obligations to the community.
I for one, have first hand experience, having run in 2010. I had to spend a ton of money to come out of the primaries since there were 3 running and only 2 moved on. Then, to try and spend for a city-wide election after all the expenses associated with the primary along with no special interest funding to my campaign was impossible. Special interests actually funded cable commercials for the other candidate - I couldn't compete with that at all. I was outspent about 5 to 1.
The idea here, as it is already reflected in many other California school districts and city council elections, is to represent our children and community. Turning a blind eye to those priorities will undoubtable provide fuel for fodder when the next election time arrives as I know there is a ground swelling of support for the issues of keeping elections local and term limits. If nothing else, to show support of the community and our kids, the City Council should let the actual community decide and NOT play GOD by doing nothing, thereby doing something negative and unhelpful and as a result, actually unsupported by their very own constituency.
Simple. The City Charter must be amended to delete any electoral responsibility within the purview of San Diego Unified School District. Although, precedence has been met, logically the procedural electoral issues of City Schools are, in fact, irrelevant to the proceedings of the City.
I wonder why Councilmember Bry is so afraid of trying to help our children? She seems to not be listening to parents of the students at SDUSD who have been saying for years that the SDUSD board is broken and needs to be fixed. Is it the San Diego city councils job to fix it, no. But it is the San Diego city councils job to address charter revisions. And since the SDUSD is governed under the city charter the council has to move it forward to the citizens. When council member Bry took office she also took responsibility for the city charter.
So, Councilmember Cate has asked for the 3 changes to be placed on the ballot for the citizens to vote on for the SDUSD board. Why is Bry stonewalling the process? Is she trying to thwart the potential improvements to the education system that these changes will make? Is she bought and paid for by the teachers union also? What on earth could make her not want to protect and improve the education of children???
The Grand Jury had three recommendations:
• Consider placing a measure on a future ballot allowing voters to decide if they want to amend the city charter to change the elections to sub-district only in both the primary and general elections;
• Consider placing a measure on the ballot to allow voters to decide if a candidate who receives a majority of the vote in the primary election be elected outright; and
• Allow voters to decide if trustees should have term limits, which would be another amendment to the city charter.
So, let's get the council to move this to the Nov 2018 ballot and let the parents and citizens decide how the SDUSD should be governed. The recommendations of these changes were done by the county grand jury. So Councilmember Bry, stop stonewalling and move this to full council and then let the citizens decide.