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Over the past few days endorsements for San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Board of Education Trustee candidates have been rolling in.  Two days ago, on Friday, May 15, 2022, the San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board (SDUTEB) came out with their endorsements for the SDUSD Trustee positions.

This week in District Deeds Sunday Reads we will analyze those SDUTEB endorsements and provide our insights on this political process.

We have featured the complete SDUTEB editorial today and we strongly urge our readers to click on the title (in red) to read the full editorial for themselves.

Endorsement: Hazan, Higman, Willams for San Diego Unified school board

San Diego Unified needs trustees who are independent thinkers

The editorial board operates independently from the U-T newsroom but holds itself to similar ethical standards. We base our editorials and endorsements on reporting, interviews and rigorous debate, and strive for accuracy, fairness and civility in our section. Disagree? Let us know.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Friday that the overall 2022-23 budget surplus was on track to be $97 billion portends historic new funding levels for K-12 schools, on top of the surge that has seen annual education spending go from $79.3 billion to $102 billion since Newsom took office. Several bold new initiatives — including ones that would extend early education programs to children as young as 2 — are in the works. The view of many California policy makers — that education quality is a function of how much money is spent — faces a telling test.

But as voters consider their options in two San Diego Unified board races in the June 7 primary, they need to grasp the bigger picture of K-12 education in California. Funding is far from the only issue. It’s not widely appreciated that the most potent critiques of state public education over the past generation have been raised by civil rights groups, often backed by the Obama administration, who say the achievement gap seen in some communities of color isn’t just a function of poverty or racism. They say it is fueled by laws that systematically lead to the most able veteran teachers flocking to stable, affluent schools and that lead to the least qualified — and sometimes unqualified — teachers going to schools in the poorest neighborhoods. They also point to the state’s Dashboard program. It was supposed to let parents quickly judge whether schools are improving. Instead, it often obscures such determinations. Some lawmakers also note that the 2013 Local Control Funding Formula that was billed as specifically helping disadvantaged students get additional resources often did nothing of the sort — and that Newsom vetoed an effort to fix this wrong.

This is why San Diego Unified needs trustees who are independent thinkers — ready to challenge ideas from Sacramento or the superintendent’s office.

The district should be proud that test scores are improving. Officials believe district relations with parents and community stakeholders are strong. And the selection of Superintendent Cindy Marten as deputy secretary of education in the Biden administration backs the perception that California’s second-largest school district is doing well.

But the district has issues. Enrollment, as elsewhere, is down. The district’s historic hostility to charter schools remains despite their popularity. And its handling of blowback to the arbitrary, secretive cancellation of honors programs at Patrick Henry High School was appalling. But the biggest gripes are and should be about how officials handled pandemic-related school closures. By spring 2001, there was wide concern locally that officials were not sufficiently alarmed by the academic, emotional and physical toll of learning from home.

Now voters in district Sub-district B, covering the district’s northeastern corner, and Sub-district C, which includes the district’s western, coastal section, must decide which of three candidates in each race will finish first or second on June 7 to reach the Nov. 8 general election. None are incumbents.

In B, it’s early education commissioner Shana Hazan, retired principal/teacher Godwin Higa and vehicle service technician Jose Velazquez. Higa has an impressive resume and breadth of knowledge, and Velazquez’s readiness to challenge what he sees as facile trendiness will resonate with some. But Hazan — a former teacher, longtime community volunteer, nonprofit executive and parent of young daughters — is far more likely to be an effective trustee who can win support for her views if she is not on the same page as Superintendent Lamont Jackson or veteran board members who are allied with the local teachers union. In assessing the district’s pandemic response, she acknowledged the uniqueness and difficulty of the situation. But she also made plain her disappointment that the district “did not swiftly pivot” to constructive efforts to improve grossly inadequate online education. She also warned that the district’s hostility to transparency hurt it badly with the public — not just with journalists frustrated by years of stonewalling.

In C, voters can choose among parent/school advocate Lily Higman, educator/parent Cody Petterson and charter school businesswoman Becca Williams. Petterson is clearly well informed. But his views often suggest a general satisfaction with the district’s performance. In contrast, both Higman and Williams expressed frustration at the district’s pandemic response. Both offered thoughtful views about the value of transparency and the best ways to help students make up for their months of time wasted while distance learning. And refreshingly, both bristled at the idea that the district should be content over its record and responsiveness.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board endorses Hazan in Sub-district B, and Higman and Willams in Sub-district C. All three candidates would bring an outsider perspective that San Diego Unified — and government in general — could use.


Surprise, surprise….another Sunday Reads post profiling a San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board (SDUTEB) position regarding the SDUSD.  We have frequently referred to the positions by the SDUTEB thoughout the past seven years starting with the Trustee Marne Foster scandal in 2015 –  San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board: “Foster Crosses Ethical Lines — Again and Again”  and most recently with a Sunday Reads this past January 30th with San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board Question: How do ANY SDUSD Stakeholders know that the best finalists were chosen?

In this post we conditionally AGREE with the SDUTEB when they said:

All three candidates would bring an outsider perspective that San Diego Unified — and government in general — could use.

It is conditionally true that the three SDUSD Board of Education (BOE) Candidates endorsed by the SDUTEB represent individuals have shown a degree of independence in speaking out against selected SDUSD BOE failures.  The two primary issues emphasized by the endorsed candidates include the horrible handling of the Pandemic in the SDUSD and the total lack of SDUSD transparency.

The SDUTEB is right…they are posing as “outsiders”.

However “having an outsider perspective” is only valuable if the “outsider” maintains their independence from the existing corrupt status quo under the thumb of Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera.  Historically NO elected BOE Trustee, since Scott Barnett left in 2014, has been able to maintain any semblance of independence from Barrera.  The SDUSD Trustees elected since 2014 have ALL continuously groveled to the endorsement power of Barrera and his political connections to get themselves nominated, elected and re-elected (i.e.: Trustee Sharon “Fly by the Seat of Our Pants” Payne).

That is why, in this post, our use of “conditionally” is key:

The “condition” of the SDUSD is an educational disaster and the simple addition of new SDUSD BOE Trustees who show small signs of independence may not make that disaster any better.

The best case scenario for ALL SDUSD Stakeholders is that two of the three SDUTEB endorsed candidates get elected and they form a pact on election day for FULL, UNLIMITED SDUSD Honesty, Transparency and Accountablity.  They then proceed, over the next 4 years, to drive that agenda home for ALL SDUSD Stakeholders despite all opposition within the piggish SDUSD operational senior leadership under Barrera and his sychophant, Supt. Lamont “Lovey Dovey” Jackson.

That is a HUGE ask of the newly elected candidates, but an absolutely necessary one.  They face an entrenched political machine under Barrera that appeals to the piggish characteristics of power and money leaving Students LAST on the list.

We have exposed this piggish SDUSD operational senior leadership recently.

We rolled out the SDUSD Pig back on October 18, 2020 in Racist San Diego Unified Standards Based Grading – Lipstick on the SDUSD Pig!

If the Candidates that the SDUTEB endorsed do NOT get elected, or fold under the political and financial power of Barrera, the SAME SDUSD pig will take over again…

If that happens, the SDUTEB endorsement and the 2022 SDUSD BOE Candidates just ends up being the SDUSD Senior Leadership Pig looking for a new lipstick.

One last item that could not go unnoticed in the editorial was the following passage:

The district should be proud that test scores are improving. Officials believe district relations with parents and community stakeholders are strong. And the selection of Superintendent Cindy Marten as deputy secretary of education in the Biden administration backs the perception that California’s second-largest school district is doing well.

Really SDUTEB?!?

Proud of “improving test scores” that graduate Students who can’t read, write or perform basic math and can’t get a job or pass college classes?!?

Proud of “district relations with parents and community stakeholders that are strong”?!? 

Ask the families that have RUN AWAY from the SDUSD to Charter/Private Schools lowering the SDUSD enrollment to historic LOWS

Ask the thousands of parents and community stakeholders who have protested AGAINST improper and corrupt SDUSD BOE actions over the last 8 years.

Proud of the incompetent, corrupt former Supt. Cindy Marten being promoted to a federal position for purely political reasons that have NOTHING to do with her skills?!?

The SDUTEB is right….that gross propaganda creates a “perception that California’s second-largest school district is doing well.” 

But in reality, those three SDUSD propaganda talking points are just more of the SDUSD pig looking for lipstick.

The fact is that the SDUSD under Barrera is a pig and NO new lipstick can cover that up.

But IF the SDUTEB endorsed candidates WIN both the June and November, 2022 elections and STAND BY their campaign pronouncements, we may on the road to recovery.

The road where NO SDUSD Pig Lipstick is required…even on Barrera.

Now for our quote of the week dedicated to the candidates that the SDUTEB did NOT endorse.  IF you are elected, please DON”T buy your lipstick from Tricky Dick Barrera…former President Obama will NOT be pleased:

You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” — Barack Obama 


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