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Thursday, April 30, 2009 | I am the parent of three elementary school children who attend Torrey Pines Elementary School. I have also been a teacher in the SDUSD for fifteen years. I am very much in favor of decentralizing the schools in the San Diego City Schools. In this time of budget deficit, this idea makes the most sense. I have seen an incredible amount of waste in the last fifteen years and I am tired of a district that hinders the teaching and learning in the classroom. The district offices should be scaled back to a bare bones operation and employ only those people that are absolutely necessary to do paperwork, etc.
I was a teacher when Bersin’s people told the elementary schools to put away the brand new literacy adoption and forbade its use in the classroom. I was a teacher that piloted math programs for upper elementary school students in the late 90’s. I cannot tell you the shock that the math teachers experienced when the district adopted the Quest math series. I could not find one person who gave this math book a positive evaluation. All of the teachers thought that somebody was paid in a back room deal. Quest was so bad, that my school spent its own money on a program to teach math in its stead.
Now we have a district that spends millions and millions on more testing. We don’t have any idea how much the benchmark tests, reading tests, and data directory are really costing this district. There is an entire department devoted to testing. There are people in the math, science and literacy departments writing more tests. My fourth grade students spend more than a month of school on testing! The literacy department wrote units of instruction and benchmark tests that are a joke. There are multiple errors and the units are completely ridiculous. Why are we spending this much money rewriting literacy units and math units when the teacher’s editions have been purchased? Why are we spending so much money employing people to write these tests and units? Teachers spend hours in meetings analyzing data from the benchmark tests and filling out paperwork. How much did the data directory cost? Teachers have access to the current information on students that they have not had in their classroom for five or six years! As the parent of three students in this district, I am shocked by the disregard for student privacy. I have no reason to know the test scores, class schedule, and address of students that I haven’t had in six years. Why haven’t parents been informed about all of the personal information that is on data directory?
The district mandates that all of the teachers must attend certain trainings. These trainings are a horrible waste of time and cost millions of dollars in visiting teachers and lost instruction time. The district mandated a new report card, but nobody can figure out how to enter grades for a two year class that loops science and social studies curriculum.
Mr. Barrera is correct in saying that decentralizing the power to individual school sites would save money and benefit schools. Schools already have a governance team made up of parents, teachers, community members, and site administrators. Currently, the governance team does not make significant decisions regarding curriculum, text books and tests. The governance team is voluntary and would not be likely to adopt inappropriate texts, teacher training, and tests. The governance team would most likely have the children’s best interest in mind when making decisions because the students are their own children.
I believe that Mr. DeBeck is correct in saying that the district is broken. I am hoping that instead of attempting to secede from the district, he votes to decentralize power now and give individual schools the ability to truly govern and make decisions that are best for the students. All schools are not alike and all students are not alike. Please give the individual school sites the power that charter schools enjoy without requiring that the schools go charter.