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With 13 more days until the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) single 90 minute community outreach scam meeting to “interview” the the 2 unqualified predetermined Superintendent candidates we highlighted in Sunday Reads January 30th, , we found a highly relevant article related to how school districts can “redeem themselves” for the educational blunders related to the Covid 19 pandemic and beyond.

Today’s Sunday Reads profiles an article from The High Flyer at Fordham Institute that explores how many school districts, even after almost two years of practice and billions of dollars, are STILL unready and unable to enter into an educational recovery phase in k-12.

We have featured the complete High Flyer Fordham Institute article (and graphics) today in Sunday Reads with our synopsis and analysis and we strongly urge our readers to click on the title (in red) and read the full article for themselves.

The long road to education recovery: Three ways for districts to redeem themselves

By Dale Chu – 12.16.2021

This school year was supposed to be the one when things returned back to normal. If only that were true. Instead, many districts have been wrestling with what one educator recently described to me as the “most challenging in twenty-five years of education.” That’s because schools across the country got off to a rocky start this fall when public health imperatives collided with severe staff shortages, wreaking havoc on school systems and sending into a tailspin many grand plans to get students back on track. To wit, one superintendent called the current state of play not one of education recovery, but of “survival.”

It’s time to accept that many districts are simply unready to enter the recovery phase, despite nearly two years of ongoing disruptions and sporadic school shutdowns. This is a bitter pill to swallow, to be sure. But as schools reel, there’s little capacity or appetite for taking on new initiatives, never mind doing them well.

Even as we see a dismal outlook for schooling for the rest of this academic year, districts need to be doing some planning so they can start the recovery effort in earnest soon, certainly by next fall. Here are three ideas worth considering:

1. Adopt a “split-screen” approach to improving traditional schools. Considered by many to be the godfather of the charter school movement, Ted Kolderie has been advocating a “split-screen strategy” for years, including writing a book on the topic. I first learned of Kolderie’s idea from my friend and former Dallas superintendent Mike Miles. What it calls for is districts hedging their bets and innovating with teaching and learning while continuing to improve existing schools. Think of it as running improvement and innovation side by side.

A superintendent might pursue this strategy by carving out a subset of schools—say one or two feeder patterns—and completely rethink it. Given today’s staffing problems and the underwhelming results of remote learning, this should include more asynchronous days for teachers and fewer for kids. As it stands, there’s little flexibility in how school days are organized. There are better ways to do scheduling, and we need a few savvy districts to boldly lead the way on transforming the profession into something more manageable for mere mortals.

2. Invest in high-quality charter schools. Besides rethinking teaching and learning within the existing system, the best way to do “split-screen” reform is to create new schools through chartering. This could be an especially appealing approach for those who want to try things that district schools aren’t permitted to do under state law, but charters are. It could also be a shrewd maneuver as the public school population continues to plummet amid a boom in charter school enrollment, which is to say it’s a way of altering the school supply to pace with changing demand.

In a bit of unvarnished good news, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg earlier this month announced a $750 million effort to create 150,000 more high-quality seats in charters over the next five years. It’s a huge investment for the philanthropic sector, though long-term recovery will require not only the generosity of astute benefactors, but also the sustained commitment of district authorizers who are interested less in ideology and more in creating the robust infrastructure needed to help all students thrive.

3. Listen to parents and their pleas for better options. While districts struggle and stumble to catch their students up, the timetable upon which this happens will not be fast enough for parents who watched their local public schools stay closed last year while many private schools opened safely. This doesn’t diminish the time and space required by school officials to effectuate change, but it should also create newfound urgency around providing reforms that parents actually want.

From hybrid homeschooling and open enrollment to homeschool enrichment and microschools, districts—in recognizing their limitations—should seize upon every opportunity in the next few years to expand the choice palette and become more flexible and creative about what schooling entails. School leaders need to ask themselves: What do the communities we serve need their schools to do? And how do we ensure these options are viable for students and families?

In hindsight, the tumult of staffing shortages and the resulting toll should come as little surprise. Reaching back into the history vault, it’s as if Kolderie foresaw in 1990 the chaotic problems that schools are mired in right now:

It is time to say this: Our system of public education is a bad system. It is terribly inequitable. It does not meet the nation’s needs. It exploits teachers’ altruism. It hurts kids.

We ought to change it. It is unproductive and unfair to put people under incentives that are not aligned with the mission they have been given to perform. That leads to blaming the people for failures that are the fault of the system…and we are now deeply into blaming people for the failures of public education. Parents blame teachers and administrators. Educators in response blame parents, and kids.

It is all wrong. We should stop blaming people. We should fix the system.

Hear, hear! The best time to begin addressing these issues would have been in March 2020 when schools first shut down. The second best time would have been last summer in anticipation of the difficulties educators would face with students returning to in-person learning after more than a year out of school. The third best time is now.  

District Deeds Synopsis

This “High Flyer” article from almost 2 months ago does a great job of fortelling the “dismal outlook for schooling for the rest of this academic year”.  Unfortunately this comes as no suprise to us as an SDUSD Stakeholder who has been chronicling the ongoing corruption and incompetence of the SDUSD leadership since June, 2014.

For SDUSD Stakeholders, the grossly inadequate SDUSD educational response to the Covid 19 Pandemic has become just the status quo SDUSD mismanagement on steroids.  When an SDUSD Stakeholder thinks that an SDUSD education can’t get any worse,  Tricky Dickl Barrerra and the rest of the SDUSD leadership gang prove that it CAN get worse.

A couple things caught our eye about this article.

First was the compelling title that there are “Three Ways for Districts to Redeem Themselves”.  We are always looking for new ways to improve our school district.

Second, surprisingly, was the following picture used to symboloize the road ahead towards the mountain of change:

Ahat caught our eye was that the mountain range in the distance was strikingly similar to a mountain range we used  in District Deeds to symbolize the SDUSD Coronavirus Education Mirage of items from the first days of the Covid Pandemic that continue to this day:

It appears that, in the SDUSD, the three High Flyer suggestion mountains are actually just foothills at the base of the District Deeds SDUSD education mirage.

Given all of these facts, we decided to analyze the three suggestions to see if they could somehow be integrated into a complete SDUSD overhaul.

1. Adopt a “split-screen” approach to improving traditional schools.


2. Invest in high-quality charter schools

This has actually been attempted in the SDUSD.

Gompers Preparatory Academy forged a new way to educate students in one of the most economically fragile and diverse communities in San Diego.  Here is a revew about Gompers Prep from a parent posted on the Great Schools website:

Gompers appears to be succeeding but the response from SDUSD Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera in a Gompers article in the San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT) undermines that success with Teachers Union pandering and attempting to renege on an  financial committment to the Charter School :

“I also hope that the Gompers board has heard loudly and clearly that, as this board moves forward to honor the ability of four of your employees to continue … with full union representation and union-negotiated benefits, that we are not unaware of the fact that you have been found by the Public Employee Relations Board to have committed labor practices in your own negotiations with your own employees,” Barrera said.

The Tricky Dick Barrera selective memory of groveling to the Teachers Union by stating that Gompers Prep has had Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) complaints while forgetting the HUNDREDS of PERB complaints against the SDUSD over decades shows that the “split-screen” approach and having to be legally forced to “Invest in high-quality charter schools”  has no way of being successful in the SDUSD as long as the current corrupt SDUSD leadership is compromised by union political endorsments and buy offs.

3. Listen to parents and their pleas for better options.

We have already described the situation with Gompers Prep.  Here is a picture from that same SDUT article:

SDUSD Parents and Students have been making suggestions to the SDUSD for years in public comments at board meetings, protests at schools and the SDUSD Education Center and in town hall meetings but the corrupt senior SDUSD leadership has only made it worse by ignoring and lying to Parents and Students…day after day…month after month…year after year.

They did not listen and lied to the Lincoln High Parents and Students:

They did not listen and lied to Kearny Cluster Parents and Students:

They did not listen and lied to Hoover High Parents and Students:

They did not listen and lied to Scripps Ranch Parents and Students:

They did not listen and lied to the San Diego Chapter of the NAACP:

This is just a small sampling of SDUSD ignoring and lying to Parents, Students, Teachers, Staff and ALL SDUSD Stakeholders.

This is not even counting fake graduation rates and Diploma Mill Scams, sexual abuse coverups, gross financial mismanagment, and betrayal of English Language Learners along with scores of other examples of corruption, abuse and lies.

After reviewing all this evidence of blatant disregard of SDUSD Stakeholder opinion, we have to change our original assessment of the Fordham High Flyer road to the mountains of SDUSD redemption…

The “Three ways for districts to redeem themselves” listed are NOT foothills…

They are actually molehill solutions compared to the MOUNTAIN of SDUSD corruption and dysfuntion caused by senior SDUSD leadership.

There may be some level of redemption IF the SDUSD senior leadership immediately changed its ways and became honest, transparent and accountable from this point forward…which we all know will never happen.

As the author of the article quoted Kolderie, the creator of the “split screen” approach, from over 30 years ago, so will we:

That leads to blaming the people for failures that are the fault of the system…and we are now deeply into blaming people for the failures of public education. Parents blame teachers and administrators. Educators in response blame parents, and kids.

It is all wrong. We should stop blaming people. We should fix the system.

Do we follow the advice of Kolderie and “stop blaming people”?

But what redemption, or retribution, is there for former Supt. Marter, Tricky Dick Barrera and all the Trustees and senior SDUSD managment that have destroyed the future of hundreds of thousands of Students and Families over the past 8 years by this massive amount of lies, coverups and dishonesty?

Do we just “stop blaming” them and somehow “fix the system” against a $1.4 billion monolith with unlimited legal and political power?  Do we allow them and their propaganda machine and legal department to make molehills out these mountains of corruption, dysfunction and lies?

With no money and no power, District Deeds has chosen to hold accountable the SDUSD leadership, the perpetrators of our massive educational destruction for their own political, financial and career gain.

We insist on NOT allowing them to make molehills out of our mountains.

We have decided to vociferously and overtly BLAME THEM until they change.

Until they fulfill the trust we have already provided them with our children, our votes and our tax dollars.

And until they fulfill their educational promise to ALL our children in EVERY school.

That is OUR mountain.  That is where we stand.

Where do YOU stand?

Now for our quote of the week dedicated to ALL SDUSD Stakeholders who know the difference between an ethical mountain and a corrupt molehill:

Men do not stumble over mountains, but over molehills.” — Confucius  


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