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San Diego Unified expects enrollment to decline by about 1,400 students according to an article by Keegan Kyle from the Voice of San Diego, yet the district will still employ the same number of teachers. Class size was used to pressure teachers to make concession in the recent teacher deal with the district, which claimed if concessions were not made, class sizes would increase at all grade levels making the teaching job even more challenging.
Kyle’s article is not so much about student-to-teacher ratio, declining enrollment or funding, it is more about the lack of leadership and the destruction of trust. If parents, teachers and taxpayers felt that the current school board and its leadership provided transparency in their communications, there would be less unease about the board’s decisions regarding teachers, funding or resources.
The fact is we no longer [and should no longer] trust the trustees, and we have no confidence in their ability to deliver a quality education to our children. The San Diego Unified School Board leadership must be replaced. The voters in District A sent out a loud message in the June primary and declared they prefer Mark Powell, who beat the current incumbent and board president, John Evans. In fact, six out of ten voters in the very district John Evans represents voted to replace him.
The current Board of Trustees has encouraged a system that withholds and controls information. Take a look at the district’s website. Trying to find information on that website is like trying to find a contact lens on a glass floor. No wonder, so many parents and teachers feel the board is playing a shell game with the budget and staffing.
And, over again, the taxpayers, parents and teachers are shilled into gambling with our children’s education and our children’s future, as this district enters its third year of Program Improvement — the status given to districts and schools where students fail to meet achievement goals set by the No Child Left Behind law.
The teacher-to-student ratio is a key factor when it comes to student achievement. But how are we going to teach our student when the district negotiated five unpaid furlough days for the next two years, which equals one week less of school? Under the recently negotiated deal between the school board and the teachers union, if voters don’t pass the two tax proposals in the November ballot, the district will impose yet 14 more days of unpaid furloughs. In these tough economic times, there may be a slim chance that one tax measure will pass, but two, that really stretches the odds. Watch out for the shell game, because this board is once again gambling with our children’s education though misguided leadership and poor decisions.
Our students cannot afford to miss a whole month of school. If the district board cuts the school year by one month, they will create a virtual exodus and drive even more students out of district schools to charter and private schools, which will spin our public schools into a faster downward spiral.
Mark Powell lives in University City and is running for San Diego Unified School Board.
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