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Monday, January 30, 2006 | Jan. 1 is one of those arbitrary dates when everyone becomes obsessed with bettering themselves. It’s an occasion when we resolve to be different, to change, to make amends – to be thinner, nicer, more relaxed, more considerate, make more money, spend more time with the kids, buy that boat, sell the house, eat more carrots, study harder, work less, join a gym. Or do whatever else it is we haven’t had enough willpower, time, control, energy or money to do.

I’ve been thinking all this month about New Year’s resolutions – how people always make them and then break them. And now, the end of January, is about the time when the resolve dissolves.

Sometimes resolutions are simply wishes, like my son’s New Year’s resolution one year to get more candy. I like that one, even if it does slightly violate the spirit of the custom.

My usual New Year’s resolutions – to get more exercise and lose weight – are merely impractical wishes framed in traditional clichés that I soon abandon.

Since chances are slim that I’ll keep my own pie-in-the-sky promises (if history is any indication), this year I decided to skip the whole thing and instead put a new twist on the ritual: Why not impose my resolutions on other people?

So, in the new tradition, here are just a few of my education resolutions for others for 2006 –

– President George Bush: I resolve to build more schools in America than in Iraq.

– U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings: I resolve to stop imposing my federal testing program onto each state, thereby slightly untangling already monstrously complicated state accountability systems.

– Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: I resolve to put real muscle behind my pledge to improve education in California, and give schools at least enough money to buy Kleenex so students don’t have to use their sleeves.

– Jack O’Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction: I resolve to resist all pressure to delay or water down the California High School Exit Exam.

– Alan Bersin, California Secretary for Education: I resolve to get along better with the teachers unions.

– Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association: I resolve to get along better with Alan Bersin.

– Robin Whitlow, executive director of the San Diego Education Association teachers union: I resolve not to laugh at those two preposterous ideas.

– Rudy Castruita, County Schools Superintendent: I resolve to abandon my polite neutrality and take aggressive action to fix serious problems in the county’s school districts, before I retire this June.

– John de Beck, trustee for the San Diego Unified School District: I resolve to continue speaking my mind in candid, delicious sound bites.

– Luis Acle, SDUSD trustee: I resolve to reveal how I really feel about the issues facing my district.

– Shelia Jackson, SDUSD trustee: I resolve to decide how I really feel about those issues.

– Carl Cohn, SDUSD Superintendent: I resolve to conclude my information-gathering stage at long last and start taking decisive action to improve the quality of education in my schools.

– Terry Pesta, president of the San Diego Education Association: I resolve to smile more.

– San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders: I resolve to put the need for libraries ahead of sports stadiums.

– Teenage boys: I resolve to talk more.

– Teenage girls: I resolve to talk less.

– Parents: I resolve to realize that a teacher’s support for a policy or person is not always the best thing for my child.

– Holt Rinehart, McGraw Hill, Prentice Hall and all other textbook manufacturers: I resolve to stop publishing school textbooks thicker and heavier than the average laptop computer.

– Don Phillips, Poway Superintendent: I resolve to teach other districts how we have been able to achieve relative harmony with labor.

– Terry Ryan, Grossmont Superintendent: I resolve to figure out why my district is coming unglued.

– California students: I resolve to opt out of all STAR testing programs, thereby throwing the entire bloated system into chaos.

– Sue Hartley, president of the San Diego County Board of Education: I resolve to push school districts to change high school start times to 9 a.m., based on convincing studies that prove the prevalence and ill effects of teenage sleep deprivation.

– Joan Borucki, Director of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles: I resolve to risk widespread unpopularity and instead save lives, by raising the driving age from 16 to 18.

– E. Neville Isdell, Chief Executive Officer of the Coca-Cola Company: I resolve never to allow my company to bribe schools with huge piles of money in exchange for exclusive deals to distribute sugary soft drinks on high school campuses.

– Steven S. Reinemund, Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo: I resolve to do the same as my competitor, to counter the rising tide of obesity and unhealthy eating habits among today’s youth.

– School district business managers: I resolve to refuse tempting offers from companies that ask me to compromise the health of our children for a buck – especially manufacturers of junk food, soft drinks and wireless cellular phone antennas.

Next year I resolve again to forget about my own unrealistic resolutions and concentrate instead on resolutions for others. It’s much more fun, far more entertaining and just as likely to come to pass.

Marsha Sutton writes about education. She can be reached at

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