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What happens when an ordinary person confronts California’s second-largest school district with a gripe? Think of the following as a case study.

Worried grandma LaRu DeKock e-mailed me, the San Diego Unified school board and Superintendent Terry Grier today to complain about a crowded history class that her granddaughter, a 7th grader at Standley Middle School, has to endure. DeKock wrote that the teachers are great, but there are 40 kids in a “small, windowless classroom” that barely accommodated 25 parents during the school open house:

It is a question of district spending priorities. Think how many classes could have been balanced with, just for starters, all the $ you paid to the Aspen Institute for those three days of special meetings at Liberty Station … (Reporter’s note: The Aspen meetings were to craft new governance policies.) Come on now.  Let’s do something for the students. Like maybe a humane classroom.

I can certainly imagine seventh grade world history classes of 40 in Kabul, or Bagdad, or many other third world cities, but not in San Diego!

She signed her e-mail “Concerned Granma.” Clearly not a granma to mess with. I wrote back DeKock to ask if the board members or superintendent had responded to her complaint. Grier had already fired off a quick response to DeKock from his iPhone: “We’ll look into your concerns.”

And we’ll look into whether they get looked into. Check back for periodic updates on Granmagate to come.

EMILY ALPERT

Begin forwarded message:

Hmm.  Keep hope alive.

From: “Grier Terry”

Date: September 26, 2008 2:17:24 PM PDT

To: “LaRu DeKock”

Subject: Re: Granma, it’s all crowded in there.

We’ll look into your concerns.

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 26, 2008, at 8:50 AM, “LaRu DeKock” wrote:

Dear Dr. Grier, and School Board Trustees, 

Over three weeks into the school year, last Wednesday night, September 24, I attended my granddaughter’s Open House at Standley Middle School.  My overall impression of her teachers was quite positive.  They are “on it”.  To my dismay, however, I discovered that her seventh grade world history class, period 7, has 40 students!  In that small, windowless classroom, tables and chairs were crammed in so tightly that the parents had to bump into everything and one another to be seated.  There were about 25 present.  Imagine what that classroom is like M-F, from 2:56 to 3:50, with 40 high energy twelve year olds.  And their backpacks.  

Sincerely,

LaRu DeKock, 

Concerned Granma

University City

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