We asked readers “If the state put you in charge of San Diego Unified School District, how would you fix things?”

Get Creative (and More Money), By James C. Wilson

I have several ideas about the local school system. First, the high school dropout rate is unacceptable. My book, “Disposable Youth: Education or Incarceration?” details how career academies reduce the dropout rate and create an employable workforce saving our kids from jail.

Second, the board must close schools. It is unacceptable for school board member Scott Barnett to shy away from doing the right thing in order to run for a higher office. The district needs the money and it is a poor business practice to leave small schools open.

Third, the superintendent is a finance guy and that is not helpful to a large urban school district that needs creative educational solutions. How can he innovate or support innovation or support innovators when he is not an educator?

Fourth, why hasn’t the board been more vocal in getting other state elected officials to raise revenue to help them? Since Proposition 13, we all know school districts are dependent on the state for revenue, where is the leadership to encourage local Republicans to support the governor?

James C. Wilson, Ed.D. lives in Scripps Ranch.

Get to Them Early, By Frances Venn

Early childhood education has been proven by research:

1) to reduce high school drop outs, the number of young people who are unable to get a job because of low skills in basic reading and math.

2) to reduce the number of illiterates in prison and/or in drug rehabilitation. Our city and state lose tax dollars because these people are unable to be productive workers. Instead they cost taxpayers to provide for them. It costs much more to pay for a prisoner than it does to pay for a young child in preschool.

More than 62 other languages than English are the home language of San Diego City Schools students. Oral language skills are best learned at the age of 3-4. These young learners need to be in qualified pre-schools where they can become proficient in English.

Providing quality early childhood education has long-term value to our city and state. We only seem interested in band-aid solutions to the funding problems facing public education, not those that can really make a difference in our future.

Frances Venn lives in University City.

Empower Parents, By JJ Andre

Short Term:

• Eliminate proposed wage increases/benefits from last contract

• Reduce administration (offer early retirements before layoffs)

• Reduce overall payroll to meet budgeted expenses

• Zero based budgeting not dependent upon state revenues

• Freeze on all unfunded projects

• Eliminate school board. They are unable to make tough decisions.

• Return control to parents and teachers (local)

• Eliminate busing program or any unfunded non-essential program

• Encourage parents to volunteer/participate in their student’s success

• Cut unnecessary programs/prioritize needs

• No new taxes. No new bonds.  Make due with current funding/source.

Long Term:

• Explore or initiate voucher system

• Eliminate dependence on state hand-outs or funds restructure wages, benefits, and responsibilities

• Parents pay for any extra programs outside the basic model of reading, writing and arithmetic.

• Reduce costs to the point where you fund core services only.

• Local control only

• Vision: Students first.

• Set high standards. No pass. No advancement. No passing along a problem.

• No more taxes. Parents pay for student.

• Consolidate schools if necessary. Make into business model (or like universities)/privatize teachers have no tenure. You are a teacher one year at a time. If you fail perform or meet standards, you’re no longer a teacher.

• Pay high performing teachers more money.

JJ Andre lives in San Diego.

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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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