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School board member John de Beck is not up for re-election, but he has jumped into the campaign fray, arguing against the teachers union endorsements of incumbent Shelia Jackson and challenger John Lee Evans, who is vying to replace incumbent Mitz Lee.

Jackson and Evans have sworn off teacher layoffs as a way to cut budgets, winning the support of the teachers union, which is airing television and radio ads that slam Lee for voting for teacher layoffs last spring and other budget decisions. (Here is a dissection of some of the claims in those ads.) Lee has argued that notifying more than 900 teachers of potential layoffs was the only prudent response when San Diego Unified was faced with a nearly $80 million cut. Actual layoffs were dramatically reduced after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger revised the state budget to lessen cuts to schools, and many teachers were later rehired, but the district is likely to face cuts again this year.

De Beck voted with Lee to ultimately cut roughly 200 teachers during the last budget crisis and recently sent a letter to teachers union President Camille Zombro criticizing the union endorsements of Jackson and Evans:

Anyone anticipating the State budget shortfall that proposes spending anyway, just can’t be defined as “Fiscally Responsible!”

That is why I cannot support SDEA’s recommendations.   I am not able to agree that Evans and Jackson, are actually “Fiscally Responsible!”

Mitz Lee fully understands the situation, and she freely voted to restore all laid off permanent teachers as well as placing many probationary teachers back in small classes in school that have performance difficulties.  She deserves all of our support.  I think those who are really fiscally responsible, and those who oppose spending down our funds beyond actual income deserve support.  There will not be a bailout for districts that overspend this year!

De Beck, a former classroom teacher, has served on the school board since 1990. He has repeatedly been endorsed by the teachers union in the past and formerly served on the teachers union board.

EMILY ALPERT

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