Here are some more issues I didn’t get a chance to explore in my article on how legal challenges across the state could prompt San Diego County school districts to revamp their elections:
- Race isn’t the only fault line when it comes to how people are represented on the school board. Many school districts also have a mismatch between where the children are and where the voters are. There are more than twice as many public school students who live in the southeastern areas of San Diego Unified that Shelia Jackson represents, for instance, than on the coast represented by John de Beck.
Yet de Beck has more than twice as many registered voters in his area. Richard Barrera, who leads the San Diego Unified board, said he wished electoral districts could be drawn around students, not adults, to better reflect their interests. But the law doesn’t allow for that.
- I am still trying to figure out the racial makeup of the Vista Unified School Board. The school board has been criticized by parents for not reflecting the diversity of Vista, but I still don’t know whether that’s true — or how true it is.
Two school board members, Steve Lilly and Carol Weise Herrera, told me they’re white in response to an e-mail request. (Herrera married a Latino man.) Another, Angela Chunka, is of mixed Spanish, German and Filipina descent and says she marks ‘Hispanic’ on forms that ask for her ethnicity.
But I didn’t get any response from the other two board members, Jim Gibson and R. Elizabeth Jaka, about their racial background. It’s dicey to assume someone’s race — even from a photo or a surname — so I’m still waiting. Jaka, Gibson, please call!
- John Stump, a local attorney who has pushed to elect the San Diego Unified board the same way as the City Council, believes localized elections would result in more diversity on the school board. He also wants the school board members to be paid as highly — and have as many seats — as the City Council.
I only mentioned his proposal briefly in my article, but Stump took the time to explain it and tried to sell me on the idea this way: “We should treat our children with the same importance and dignity as the running of tourism and water and sewer and trash collection.”
- And finally, yesterday was the day that I learned that I’m Hispanic. Sort of. Madera Unified School District spokesman Jake Bragonier said the Madera board has long been “predominantly white,” but the exact numbers are debated because Maderans disagree on whether Portuguese Americans are Hispanic.
My family is part Portuguese, but I’d never heard that before. It just goes to show you how slippery of a category race is. But does having a Portuguese American on the school board mean that the Hispanic community in Madera is represented?
— EMILY ALPERT