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I alluded in a blog post earlier this week to an explosive school board meeting on Tuesday at San Diego Unified. I wasn’t kidding.

School board President Shelia Jackson angrily told four administrators that they should be laid off during a confusing discussion about cutting jobs for special education aides; board member Katherine Nakamura apologized to the administrators, saying they didn’t deserve it, then argued that other board members were “pandering to the audience” during budget talks.

Teachers union President Camille Zombro started crying when arguing that smaller classes at a dozen schools weren’t going to make the difference that schools need. She mentioned a child who had passed away. “They’re dying. None of you get that,” she said. Superintendent Terry Grier later fumed about how frustrating the whole system is.

I’ve got my pet theories, but I thought I’d pose the question to my readers: Why is San Diego Unified such a contentious place? A former superintendent once said it thrived on conflict. Is it the history? The personalities? Or is it the unusual makeup of San Diego Unified itself — a hybrid of an urban and a suburban school district?

Send me your thoughts — as civilly as you can – at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org. Bonus points to anyone who suggests realistic ways that the school district could move beyond the rancor. I’ll post the most compelling and well reasoned responses on the blog.

EMILY ALPERT

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