The coalition of businessmen, philanthropists and others calling for changes to San Diego Unified brought their message to a Tierrasanta community meeting last night. The problem was, the Tierrasantans didn’t seem to understand just what their message was.

“What is your mission statement? … We have no idea where you’re coming from,” said Tracy Conroy, a member of the Tierrasanta Community Council.

Scott Himelstein, the leader of the newly named San Diegans 4 Great Schools, explained that his group was disappointed with test scores in the local schools and believed “governance” — a buzzword that translates into “how the school board works” — was a big part of the problem. Dramatic changes in the school board have caused superintendent churn, he said, causing wild swings in direction.

Several at the meeting agreed that the schools needed help. Community Council President Scott Hasson said he believed the schools were “in a shambles.” Conroy said he was aggravated that so few graduates seemed to know the basics for science careers.

But the idea of “governance” seemed vague to several people who spoke up. One asked what Himelstein meant by it. Another asked if the group wants to add appointed members to the school board, one idea that San Diegans 4 Great Schools has discussed. Himelstein dodged the question, saying that “there are many different proposals.”

“If we come out with a specific proposal right now it kind of limits public input,” Himelstein said.

The lack of specifics, however, was exactly what seemed to worry some of the Tierrasantans. “We don’t know what you’re asking for,” said Alan Campbell, another community member.

Himelstein said he’s planning to visit dozens of meetings like this to seek public input and get the group’s message out.


Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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