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Monday, Dec. 8, 2008 | Electing a school board president from five members in the first session following November elections guarantees factionalism. Rather than begin board work in December with a sense of common purpose and gravity of the task, there is in-fighting, horse-trading and an extension of the election campaign winners-and-losers’ mentality. Elections distracts board members’ focus and fractures any united purpose they might share at the outset of their work together and, as a body, the Board of Education is weakened — at the very moment it should be at least as strong as the school district’s strong teachers’ union and strong-minded superintendent, Terry Grier. There is absolutely no reason (other than egos and political agendas) that the task of Board of Education president could not be rotated among its five members, each of whom is elected to office by district and citywide votes.
After Monday’s election, tomorrow, a partisan troika of board members Shelia Jackson, Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans may end up running the school board show: all three are beholden to the San Diego Education Association, the teachers union, for their elections, and incumbent Jackson long has been hostile to Superintendent Terry Grier, who has only been on the job since last spring. In addition to the tremendous challenge of educating our children, San Diego public schools face huge budget cuts and labor unrest in the coming year. Electing a board president will contribute to that instability.