It’s hard to fit Cindy Marten’s thoughts into a sound bite. She’s the first to admit that, and she’s working on it. But when you examine all that she’s said and done as superintendent over the last six months, it’s clear that she’s been bringing her dreams down to earth for the San Diego Unified School District.

“I know it sounds like a lot of slogans and so forth, but she really is making it happen,” said school board member John Lee Evans.

Grading Cindy MartenMarten told us that she wants to usher in nothing short of a fundamental shift in the way the district educates children. And for this shift to work, she said, everyone has to be on board — from area superintendents to bus drivers, teachers and cafeteria staff.

“That was a big challenge for me to figure out,” Marten said. “How do I speak directly to 14,000 people?”

Cindy Marten Grade BMarten said she’s been trying to do that since July. She’s been meeting with as many district employees as she can to communicate her vision in terms they can understand. So far, Marten has earned praise from many people who are watching her closely, and we took that into consideration when we gave Marten a B grade on her first Voice of San Diego report card.

Grading Cindy Marten is an effort to hold Marten and the San Diego Unified School District accountable for their pledge to put a quality school in every neighborhood by the year 2020.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

For Marten’s first report card, covering July 2013 to December 2013, we interviewed people with intimate knowledge of Marten’s plans and judged what we heard about Marten’s progress against public records and other facts that we could verify.

We talked to more than a dozen people — inside and outside of the district — and heard a lot of enthusiasm for Marten’s plan, but we also heard concerns about the tradeoffs that come with it. Like Marten spreading herself too thin and substitute teachers filling in during the district’s increasing professional development sessions.

Marten’s plan boils down to this: She wants San Diego Unified students to be critical thinkers who can solve problems in the real world and work collaboratively in teams. She wants everyone in the district to be kind to one another, even when others aren’t kind to them.

There is concern that Marten will burn out because she’s doing so much so fast and taking on tasks that she could delegate to other high-level administrators. But her long-term plan isn’t to be everywhere all the time. She wanted to come out of the gate sprinting to inspire others’ to do their jobs as well as they can, and she said she’s identifying teaching and leadership practices that work and figuring out how to apply them across the district.

Still, some people said that Marten’s big ideas might come with unanticipated consequences that she needs to be prepared for.

“She has good theories and ideas, but sometimes we have to look at the practical application of those theories and ideas,” said Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association, the district’s union for teachers. “Sometimes things look better on paper than they do in practice.”

Marten and others said the district has been developing benchmarks for success slowly because Marten wants to get it right instead of defaulting to a system of student assessment that may not gel with the district’s long-term goals.

By spring 2015, when California schools will take the first assessment tests under the new Common Core system, Marten expects the plan to come to fruition. But over the next six months, she’ll have to start pulling back and letting it develop so she can focus on the overarching goal of putting a quality school in every neighborhood.

The Nexus of Leadership and Professional Development

All of the goals that Marten has emphasized for this year are intertwined, but she started by focusing on quality leadership and professional development for all. That’s what we’ve focused on in our assessment of Marten.

Marten has resisted handing down commandments from the top. She’s been examining the district at ground level so she can see what the principals and teachers and students are seeing. But she’s not just looking at what’s happening in the classroom. She’s been visiting schools for a few hours at a clip.

“I’ve been a principal 12 years, and it was the longest visit I ever had,” said E. Jay Derwae, principal of Marvin Elementary in Allied Gardens.

In the past, he said superintendents had popped into his office – maybe visited one classroom – and left. Marten visited Derwae’s school in October with her chief of staff, Stacy Monreal, and stayed for more than four hours. They took a full tour of the facility, including classrooms, the cafeteria and the kitchen.

Derwae’s school was honored last year by the state as a distinguished school.

During the tour, Derwae pointed out what he thought was in need of improvement — inside the classroom and out. Marten told him to focus on the things that are working.

“It’s a refreshing approach to be acknowledged for the things that never get out there,” Derwae said. Like the theater productions his students are working on. It’s teaching them how to write scripts and present their ideas to the public, he said.

Investment in Professional Development

Derwae and others said Marten’s push for professional development is rallying district staff behind her. The state gave San Diego Unified $20 million to help with the transition to Common Core — an educational doctrine that emphasizes problem-solving over memorization — and Marten has earmarked more than $12 million from that windfall for professional development.

It’s not just development for development’s sake, Evans said. Right now, the emphasis is on the district’s 200 principals, who will have to carry out Marten’s vision.

“The key function that I’ve put in place are monthly principals’ conferences,” Marten said. “We teach concepts and expect what we teach to show up during walkthroughs over the next four weeks.”

Marten has seen a lot of leadership practices she likes during the school visits. (As you might expect, Marten wouldn’t share criticisms of individuals.) She’s working with her six area superintendents to tweak and refine the language of the benchmarks for success so there is no confusion about what is expected of everyone.

“This hasn’t been done before,” Marten said. “Every large school district’s superintendent is trying to figure this out, and there are all kinds of approaches.”

Marten doesn’t want success to be the byproduct of “a workaround.” She wants there to be clear, district-wide solutions. The principals and the superintendents will provide a feedback loop for best practices, Marten said, and she expects those practices and expectations to flow down into the classrooms.

Freeman said Marten is able to zero in on improvements that need to be made for students because of her experience as a teacher and a principal.

“It takes an educator to understand the difficulties of education, the bends and curves in the system,” he said.

Next year, the district will turn those practices into measures of student performance. Marten gave us a glimpse at the range — beginning, developing, accomplishing — but we won’t know exactly what those terms mean until district leaders fill in the blanks during an 18-school pilot program.

“We’re coming close to a common language,” Marten said.

The Trade-offs

Freeman and Lisa Berlanga of the school-reform group UPforEd don’t often see eye to eye. But they agree on this when it comes to Marten: There are trade-offs to consider with what she’s doing.

Both Freeman and Berlanga expressed concerned about teachers leaving the classroom for professional development. One class period might not make a difference, but hundreds across the district might.

They’ve been impressed by Marten’s ability to inspire the San Diego Unified community, but the district’s finances are still in bad shape — even with a $500 million influx of Proposition Z funds over the next two years. This means Marten can only plug so many gaps in the dam.

“Of course, Cindy inherited all this,” said school board member Scott Barnett. “It’s the result of the district pledging money it doesn’t have.”

That means Marten will have tough choices to make down the road, especially when it comes to employee contracts, but Barnett said Marten is serious about accountability.

“Changes will be made at end of school year if people are not up to the job,” he said. “I’m confident that, unlike in the past, Cindy will make those changes for those reasons instead of waiting for an explosion.”

    This article relates to: Education, News, School Finances, School Leadership, School Performance, Share

    Written by Joel Hoffmann

    Joel Hoffmann is an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego, focusing on county government, the San Diego Unified School District and the Unified Port of San Diego. You can reach him directly at joel.hoffmann@voiceofsandiego.org.

    34 comments
    Sally Smith
    Sally Smith

    VOSD grading criteria should have a separate column for Student Safety in San Diego Unified School District, The same conditions that allowed LAUSD Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt to feed his semen by the spoonful and on cookies in a “tasting game” to children as well as putting cockroaches on their faces exist in San Diego Unified School District. Parents are not notified of incidents of abuse, staff has inadequate training in Mandated Reporter Laws, and school police continue to investigate reported abuse - a conflict of interest and prohibited by Penal Code 11165.9. Superintendent Marten has established a focus group on Child Abuse Reporting for San Diego Unified School District but there a long way to go to establish an education system in which the safety of children is first and foremost. The Antioch school district will pay $8 million to the families of eight kindergarten special education students over a teacher child abuse case and the failure of administrators to report abuse suspicions to the proper authorities.Children spend 7 to 10 hours of their day in the public school system so stronger child protection measures need to be put in place ASAP, not after a lawsuit.

    Sally Smith
    Sally Smith subscriber

    VOSD grading criteria should have a separate column for Student Safety in San Diego Unified School District, The same conditions that allowed LAUSD Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt to feed his semen by the spoonful and on cookies in a “tasting game” to children as well as putting cockroaches on their faces exist in San Diego Unified School District. Parents are not notified of incidents of abuse, staff has inadequate training in Mandated Reporter Laws, and school police continue to investigate reported abuse - a conflict of interest and prohibited by Penal Code 11165.9. Superintendent Marten has established a focus group on Child Abuse Reporting for San Diego Unified School District but there a long way to go to establish an education system in which the safety of children is first and foremost. The Antioch school district will pay $8 million to the families of eight kindergarten special education students over a teacher child abuse case and the failure of administrators to report abuse suspicions to the proper authorities.Children spend 7 to 10 hours of their day in the public school system so stronger child protection measures need to be put in place ASAP, not after a lawsuit.

    whlapinel
    whlapinel

    Speaking as a bureaucrat myself, it is ludicrous to think that a single person in a huge hierarchy can fundamentally change a system merely by exercising their functional powers of office. Even if there were someone who could single-handedly turn a turd into gold, they would never get appointed to such a high position because of their political views. I'm no fan of anyone who was affiliated with charter school front-group UPforEd, but that aside. All this abstract talk about leadership and vision and results... who cares? What are the conditions on the ground? How many kids enjoy school? What's the student/teacher ratio and how is it trending? What is the PURPOSE of education? People are always saying "to prepare them for a job" - $%^& that, I want children developed into good and well-rounded world citizens who are courteous and compassionate, who understand the ways of the world, want to make it a better place, not just how to do a math problem and obey authority! We treat children as means to an end and not ends in themselves... they should be nurtured and cared for, not given obedience training! Why are we measuring "student performance?" We bring kids in the world, we stick them in a room and lecture them and then measure how well they perform? WTF? We shouldn't be grading kids, we shouldn't be grading teachers, we should be grading the system! Education is for the children, not for the people who will try to enslave them when they are heartlessly thrown into the collection of savage institutions we mistakenly call society. Kids should want to learn, and if they don't it's a failure of the system. The political climate of "holding teachers accountable" and "measurable progress" is so authoritarian it's smells fascist. Garbage in, garbage out. In many cases the same kids who were failed by the education system are going on to teach the next generation, and yet we blame the teachers. If you want good teachers, pay them more for god's sake - isn't that one of the mantras of capitalism?? Incentivize good work? The same Reaganite, John Wayne-quoting people who are blaming teachers today were blaming parents yesterday for not raising their kids right. If you want kids to be in an emotional and mental state that allows them to receive a good education, pay their parents more so they don't have to work 2 to 3 jobs per household. The anti-union freedom-touting right-wing "libertarians" trolling the pages of VOSD should take a look at the best school systems in the US, and compare them to union power in those areas. You will find that lo and behold, the more say teachers have in decisions, the better the schools are. Rhode Island, Hawaii, Oregon, to name a few. That goes with any industry. If you care about your children and the children of poor working families, you will be wary of the free-marketeer's charter school movement and all the paid ideologues who point the finger at teachers while salivating over the precious funds we have for education. Charter schools will result in a lower-quality, two tier school system, better schools for the haves, worse schools for the have-nots, and "equal opportunity" becoming even more of a myth than it already is.


    "Keep stressing morals and personal decisions - tell me what's moral about these conditions?" - Brother Ali

    James Wilson
    James Wilson

    Joel and Lisa, you have put together an intelligent report on Cindy. She has only been on the job a minute so evaluating her is premature. The most significant problem in education is leadership, particularly at the site level. Cindy is addressing this issue and deserves credit for her efforts. Directing a large school district is a very difficult job and Cindy must make certain that the principals and Assistant Superintendents are highly trained professionals.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    "The most significant problem in education is leadership"

    That made me laugh. The only problem with public education is that it is a union run monopoly that has no incentive or desire to get out of crisis management or to perform well, since the bigger the crisis the more power they have, provided they can stay a monopoly, which is what Cindy Martin represents. Her job is simply to give the appearance of progress so alternatives that would help kids and hurt unions never get considered.

    She's doing a really good job of keeping unions fat and kids poorly educated.

    James Wilson
    James Wilson subscriber

    Joel and Lisa, you have put together an intelligent report on Cindy. She has only been on the job a minute so evaluating her is premature. The most significant problem in education is leadership, particularly at the site level. Cindy is addressing this issue and deserves credit for her efforts. Directing a large school district is a very difficult job and Cindy must make certain that the principals and Assistant Superintendents are highly trained professionals.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    "The most significant problem in education is leadership"

    That made me laugh. The only problem with public education is that it is a union run monopoly that has no incentive or desire to get out of crisis management or to perform well, since the bigger the crisis the more power they have, provided they can stay a monopoly, which is what Cindy Martin represents. Her job is simply to give the appearance of progress so alternatives that would help kids and hurt unions never get considered.

    She's doing a really good job of keeping unions fat and kids poorly educated.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson

    It's stunning to me how VOSD forgets about the schools with a dismal 30% graduation rate and gives into the politics of it all.

    They play along with the charade of faux-reform, yet we all know the system is rigged. The administration is supposed to look out for the kids, but they don't. They care first and foremost about the unionized teachers and with Ms Marten they have a compliant leader who will do nothing to upset the status quo.

    The reality is that Ms Marten is a politician - she has mastered the art of saying words that sound good but are all vacuous. Quality teaching and quality leadership? You think none of the past leaders wanted that? There's simply no substance here.

    As far as I can tell the 1 specific she provides is more training for teachers. Huh? They have bachelor's degrees, plus education training. In addition many have Master's degrees. They get time for professional training every year yet Ms Marten concludes that what the system needs is MORE teacher training? That would be comical if kids lives weren't getting trashed by the inaction.

    Oh, she did pledge to put "a quality school in every neighborhood by the year 2020". *A* SINGLE quality school in each neighborhood 7 years from now? Talk about setting the bar low.

    We all know what needs to be done: fire the bad teachers and administrators and close the bad schools. Everything else is just a paint job over the crumbling rusty body.

    We also know that to fire the bad teachers/administrators requires using some metric of performance which Ms Marten will never allow because the union doesn't want it. Talks of "accountability" are just lip service. Everyone already knows who the bad teachers are already. They're the ones that cluster in the inner city schools. They're the ones that teachers pull their own kids out of.

    A more accurate scoring of Ms Marten would be Inc - as in complete for missing more than half of her assignments. It's theoretically possible that she does make up work, but highly unlikely.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    It's stunning to me how VOSD forgets about the schools with a dismal 30% graduation rate and gives into the politics of it all.

    They play along with the charade of faux-reform, yet we all know the system is rigged. The administration is supposed to look out for the kids, but they don't. They care first and foremost about the unionized teachers and with Ms Marten they have a compliant leader who will do nothing to upset the status quo.

    The reality is that Ms Marten is a politician - she has mastered the art of saying words that sound good but are all vacuous. Quality teaching and quality leadership? You think none of the past leaders wanted that? There's simply no substance here.

    As far as I can tell the 1 specific she provides is more training for teachers. Huh? They have bachelor's degrees, plus education training. In addition many have Master's degrees. They get time for professional training every year yet Ms Marten concludes that what the system needs is MORE teacher training? That would be comical if kids lives weren't getting trashed by the inaction.

    Oh, she did pledge to put "a quality school in every neighborhood by the year 2020". *A* SINGLE quality school in each neighborhood 7 years from now? Talk about setting the bar low.

    We all know what needs to be done: fire the bad teachers and administrators and close the bad schools. Everything else is just a paint job over the crumbling rusty body.

    We also know that to fire the bad teachers/administrators requires using some metric of performance which Ms Marten will never allow because the union doesn't want it. Talks of "accountability" are just lip service. Everyone already knows who the bad teachers are already. They're the ones that cluster in the inner city schools. They're the ones that teachers pull their own kids out of.

    A more accurate scoring of Ms Marten would be Inc - as in complete for missing more than half of her assignments. It's theoretically possible that she does make up work, but highly unlikely.

    Scott Barnett
    Scott Barnett subscriber

    Having the VOS staff grade Cindy Marten on education is like having the cast of The Big Bang Theory grade Stephen Hawkings on physics.

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga memberauthor

    Seems like Scott is purely tweaking VOSD here, not anyone else. Or is his comment more meta than it looks?

    Anyway, if anyone would like to grade me, I'll be in detention.

    Benjamin Katz
    Benjamin Katz subscribermember

    Scott - I'm going to have to give you a D- for that comment. Your analogy was extremely stretched and therefore added no value to the discussion. I am giving you this grade for four reasons:

    1. Cindy Marten is no Stephen Hawking.

    Hawking's is an internationally recognized and award winning theoretical physicist -- an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

    Marten, on the other hand, has won a few local awards. She shows promise but lacks any wide recognition of her skills.

    2. VOSD staff are not The Big Bang Theory actors.

    TBBT actors are paid to act. They only need to know enough physics to properly read their lines. VOSD is an investigative news organization. One of their primary missions is to review the actions of public officials. As part of that, they do significant research into issues. While reporters can not have the knowledge & experience of people actually in the field, they're clearly doing far more than acting.

    3. This was an "Ad hominem" attack.

    You attacked the speakers rather than addressing the issues raised. In addition to this being a cheap attack, it's also a fallacy. If there is actually a problem with their arguments, I would hope that you, as a school board member, could provide a reasoned response.

    4. Finally, you failed to proof read your submission.

    In 24 words, you made two spelling errors. It is VOSD not VOS and Hawking not Hawkings.

    Clearly this was a rushed submission. Like many teachers did for me, I'm going to encourage you to re-submit this after taking the time to properly consider and put together well written comments.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    "As part of that, they do significant research into issues"

    That gets a D-, VOSD doesn't do deep or significant research, their fact checks are a joke, they constantly miss facts, and they skew the news to match their and their donors agenda quite often.

    Not to say they are not typical of what passes for reporters in this day and age, but they certainly don't have much depth.

    Unless this was supposed to be fiction?

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    Those inside the education cartel believe that they know what is best. And they may. The challenge is they do not seem to be able to quantify it or measure it.

    Many of us in the uneducated masses may not know what to do, but because we live in the world where we are measured every day, we understand measuring results. The board and the administration should too.

    Scott Barnett
    Scott Barnett

    Having the VOS staff grade Cindy Marten on education is like having the cast of The Big Bang Theory grade Stephen Hawkings on physics.

    Benjamin Katz
    Benjamin Katz

    Scott - I'm going to have to give you a D- for that comment. Your analogy was extremely stretched and therefore added no value to the discussion. I am giving you this grade for four reasons:

    1. Cindy Marten is no Stephen Hawking.

    Hawking's is an internationally recognized and award winning theoretical physicist -- an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

    Marten, on the other hand, has won a few local awards. She shows promise but lacks any wide recognition of her skills.

    2. VOSD staff are not The Big Bang Theory actors.

    TBBT actors are paid to act. They only need to know enough physics to properly read their lines. VOSD is an investigative news organization. One of their primary missions is to review the actions of public officials. As part of that, they do significant research into issues. While reporters can not have the knowledge & experience of people actually in the field, they're clearly doing far more than acting.

    3. This was an "Ad hominem" attack.

    You attacked the speakers rather than addressing the issues raised. In addition to this being a cheap attack, it's also a fallacy. If there is actually a problem with their arguments, I would hope that you, as a school board member, could provide a reasoned response.

    4. Finally, you failed to proof read your submission.

    In 24 words, you made two spelling errors. It is VOSD not VOS and Hawking not Hawkings.

    Clearly this was a rushed submission. Like many teachers did for me, I'm going to encourage you to re-submit this after taking the time to properly consider and put together well written comments.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    "As part of that, they do significant research into issues"

    That gets a D-, VOSD doesn't do deep or significant research, their fact checks are a joke, they constantly miss facts, and they skew the news to match their and their donors agenda quite often.

    Not to say they are not typical of what passes for reporters in this day and age, but they certainly don't have much depth.

    Unless this was supposed to be fiction?

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger

    Those inside the education cartel believe that they know what is best. And they may. The challenge is they do not seem to be able to quantify it or measure it.

    Many of us in the uneducated masses may not know what to do, but because we live in the world where we are measured every day, we understand measuring results. The board and the administration should too.

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga

    Seems like Scott is purely tweaking VOSD here, not anyone else. Or is his comment more meta than it looks?

    Anyway, if anyone would like to grade me, I'll be in detention.

    Mario Koran
    Mario Koran

    I admit, Scott. I got a chuckle out of your comparison.

    I like and respect you as a professional, but the sarcasm doesn't really jive with what I've gathered about Cindy Marten's approach. I know the board and superintendent are separate, but if your overall success comes down to how well you all share the same vision, you might be sending the wrong message here.

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    Bill Freeman said “It takes an educator to understand the difficulties of education, the bends and curves in the system”.

    When the system is the problem the system must change or the results from the past with be the results of the future.

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger

    Bill Freeman said “It takes an educator to understand the difficulties of education, the bends and curves in the system”.

    When the system is the problem the system must change or the results from the past with be the results of the future.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Someone's laughing, Lord, kumbaya!
    Paychecks cashing lord, kumbaya,
    Pretend we be teaching lord, kumbaya,
    Till retirement we be reaching lord, kumbaya!

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga

    And tidings of comfort and joy to YOU, good sir.

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson

    I partly agree with Jim, everyone is happy the money is flowing to the unions all fine and good. Cindy gets the benefit of the doubt until July 1 and then we EXPECT to see measurable results. The SDUSD board has to hold the line on all spending outside of the children s needs. Lets see how that goes over with the union.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Lou, who was the last teacher you saw fired for poor performance?

    Lou Dodge
    Lou Dodge

    In my limited experience, I only know of a few though I have seen quite a few moved around. By the same token and on the other side of the coin, I have seen many hired base on salary rank. In other words, the less credentialed, less experienced and the less money they start out at, the more likely they are to get hired. So, if you are going to consider a need to get rid of ineffectual teachers, then you need to consider the hiring end of it as well. This is especially important since that is where it all begins. And if we hire better, the less we need to fire. Have you considered a spot on Donald Trump's 'the Apprentice'?

    Lou Dodge
    Lou Dodge

    good one Jim. you are very creative but I don't know how someone can 'pretend' teach. most teachers go 'by the book' and are accountable to cover the state standards which everyone is now talking about since the 'common core' are now surfacing. and isn't that what you are referring to? accountability? that's right. teachers actually have very little leeway to teach whatever they want though they have some leeway in teaching 'how' they want. To see the issue as only with teachers is myopic. yes, they have some protection from their union but even so, they are very much held accountable by their students, students' parents, administration etc. You yourself have said it is not all about the money. American teachers are not that different from teachers in other parts of the world. They, like them, reflect their society's values.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Someone's laughing, Lord, kumbaya!
    Paychecks cashing lord, kumbaya,
    Pretend we be teaching lord, kumbaya,
    Till retirement we be reaching lord, kumbaya!

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Lou, who was the last teacher you saw fired for poor performance?

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga memberauthor

    And tidings of comfort and joy to YOU, good sir.

    Lou Dodge
    Lou Dodge subscriber

    In my limited experience, I only know of a few though I have seen quite a few moved around. By the same token and on the other side of the coin, I have seen many hired base on salary rank. In other words, the less credentialed, less experienced and the less money they start out at, the more likely they are to get hired. So, if you are going to consider a need to get rid of ineffectual teachers, then you need to consider the hiring end of it as well. This is especially important since that is where it all begins. And if we hire better, the less we need to fire. Have you considered a spot on Donald Trump's 'the Apprentice'?

    Lou Dodge
    Lou Dodge subscriber

    good one Jim. you are very creative but I don't know how someone can 'pretend' teach. most teachers go 'by the book' and are accountable to cover the state standards which everyone is now talking about since the 'common core' are now surfacing. and isn't that what you are referring to? accountability? that's right. teachers actually have very little leeway to teach whatever they want though they have some leeway in teaching 'how' they want. To see the issue as only with teachers is myopic. yes, they have some protection from their union but even so, they are very much held accountable by their students, students' parents, administration etc. You yourself have said it is not all about the money. American teachers are not that different from teachers in other parts of the world. They, like them, reflect their society's values.

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson subscriber

    I partly agree with Jim, everyone is happy the money is flowing to the unions all fine and good. Cindy gets the benefit of the doubt until July 1 and then we EXPECT to see measurable results. The SDUSD board has to hold the line on all spending outside of the children s needs. Lets see how that goes over with the union.