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The San Diego Unified teachers union has a new president-to-be: Bill Freeman, who teaches third grade at Porter Elementary in Lincoln Park and now serves as union treasurer.

Freeman has taught for 12 years in San Diego Unified; he chose to teach in elementary school because he mentored middle and high schoolers while serving in the military and decided that he needed to intervene earlier. He was Elementary School Teacher of the Year in San Diego Unified last year.

Freeman will replace provocative teachers union leader Camille Zombro, who is termed out this August; Zombro will become vice president of the union and return to teaching full time. Both were elected through an online vote that Zombro said was unfortunately low in turnout, though she didn’t have exact numbers available this morning.

Like Zombro, Freeman isn’t a fan of No Child Left Behind, which he said “will totally eradicate public schools” unless it is seriously revised. But he said he would differ from Zombro by making the teachers union more visible in the community, to improve the public perception of teachers.

And while Zombro has at times been alienated from her opponents, most notably former Superintendent Terry Grier, Freeman added, “I do believe in getting close to your friends and closer to your enemies. Camille and I differ there.”

— EMILY ALPERT

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