Two sitting school board members who have frequently been at odds with the teachers union are up for re-election this year. But if anyone thought John de Beck or Katherine Nakamura was going to try to reconcile with the union before they face the ballot box, think again.
Both have come out swinging against the agreement that the teachers union is poised to strike with San Diego Unified to take unpaid days off to help save money in a budget crunch. And they’re not arguing that teachers should have been spared.
De Beck wrote a critical op-ed in the San Diego News Network today, arguing that the teachers union sacrificed its youngest, least senior members to minimize the pain for more senior teachers. His argument stems from the fact that even though the union agreed to furloughs and other cuts, layoffs are still on the table.
The school board is scheduled to vote on an unspecified number of teacher layoff warnings next Tuesday. Layoffs would most severely impact the least senior members of the union, who are laid off first. The union maintains that layoff warnings aren’t necessary and ordinary attrition will solve the problem.
Meanwhile, Nakamura sent out a press release this week saying that furloughs will hurt families who rely on schools for free meals. She also said the agreement was unsustainable because it gives teachers an eventual salary increase. Nakamura said a deeper salary cut, rather than furloughs, would have been better. Teachers rejected the idea of a salary cut during bargaining earlier this year.
“With this agreement today, San Diego children from all walks of life are not being put first, they are last,” Nakamura concluded. In the education world, them’s fightin’ words.
Teachers union President Camille Zombro said both school board members were unnecessarily upsetting people instead of working constructively to help close the deficit, as the union had done. When it comes to Nakamura and de Beck, there isn’t much love lost on her end, either.
“It’s stirring up animosity that doesn’t help anyone,” she said of their statements, adding, “The one person who’s been wrong more than anyone else in San Diego Unified is John de Beck.”
— EMILY ALPERT