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There was plenty about the Year of Grier that I had to skim over in my article today. Here are some other tidbits about the year in San Diego Unified under Terry Grier, who took the job of superintendent a year ago, that didn’t make it into my story:

  • Grier helped shepherd a new facilities bond, Proposition S, to victory at the polls despite a dour economic climate and early skepticism from the county Taxpayers Association. The same bond later became a political hot potato when the school board voted to start negotiating a labor agreement with unionized builders. Grier then faced angry donors from the local chapter of the Associated General Contractors, whose executive vice president reportedly said the superintendent led them to believe that there would be no labor agreement on the bond as is now planned; Grier said he made no promises. Despite that dustup, the campaign against the labor agreement today is largely directed at the school board members who voted for it, not at Grier or the campaign leaders.
  • School board member Katherine Nakamura said that one of her favorite moments in the Year of Grier was during a slideshow about state test scores. “We’re going over the same dismal scores,” she said. “And we move on to the next thing and he says, ‘Excuse me, can we come back? Show me that slide again. Don’t you want us to do something about that?’ He brings you back again and again and again to what’s happening with the student.”
  • There was widespread speculation that Grier would be booted by the new school board majority of Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans and Shelia Jackson when they were elected this November. That, of course, hasn’t happened. “It’s not even something we’ve talked about,” Barrera said. Barrera spoke a little bit more with me about why, despite some of his misgivings about Grier’s leadership style, he would not want to see Grier leave:

    We inherited him and he inherited us. And we’re in the middle of a financial crisis and I think either if he decides on his own to leave or we somehow decided to remove him, I worry a lot about what that would mean about the stability of the district.

    He added:

    I do think that there is a problem with school systems in general that is created by superintendents coming and going. Superintendents come in, change the structure of a district, hire new people, stick around for two or three years and move on and … the result of that is that school districts don’t follow five and 10 year plans and make steady progress.

  • Grier said his single biggest surprise in San Diego Unified is “the lack of involvement of the business community in the schools here” compared to in Greensboro, where he was superintendent before. “I go to them and say, ‘Look, I need you to get more involved.’ And they say, ‘We tried that before. We got burned,’” Grier said. The “before” was during the controversial tenure of former Superintendent Alan Bersin.

    “If we used the same logic in listening to music that we do in educating kids here, we couldn’t listen to a song that was played during the Bersin era,” Grier added.

Check back for more on the Year of Grier throughout the day.

EMILY ALPERT

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