Superintendent Cindy Marten and the San Diego Unified School Board billed Tuesday night’s State of the District address as an invitation to “dream big” about the future of the district.

We were surprised at times by how literal that invitation was.

Amid promises to put a quality school in every neighborhood, Marten and School Board President John Lee Evans drew the audience into a gauzy dream sequence that featured on-screen rainbows, a choir of children singing “Imagine” and cute childhood pics of school administrators.

By the end of the night, Marten’s invitation to return home from the Land of Oz (she even donned a pair of high-heel ruby “slippers”) seemed perfectly sensible.

We’ll be dissecting the substance of the more serious moments from Marten’s address in more detail. But here is a look at some unusual moments from Marten’s big speech.

The Wayback Machine

School board members showed off their street cred with adorable class photos from their youth.  The photos were meant to punctuate the message that public education made them what they are today.

Bonus fact: We learned that School Board President John Lee Evans went to Rainier Elementary School in Oregon.

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be …

Evans asked 15 “future hall of famers” from district schools what they wanted to be when they grow up. Answers included a musician, a scientist and, believe it or not, a journalist.

Imagine All the People

San Diego Unified’s choir performed a beautiful rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that would’ve moved the most hardened of cynics.

As we saw with a dance performance in City Council chambers by students from Central Elementary, where Marten was principal at the time dance performance in City Council chambers, Marten is fond of mashing public policy up with performance art.

Lots of Pictures of Smiling Kids

Screens on both sides of the stage played a slideshow of smiling students and teachers as Marten wrapped up her address. The message: San Diego Unified is, well, unified behind Marten’s vision.

There was even a gratuitous rainbow photo mixed in there — a nod to what lies somewhere over it for the district, Marten said.

Marten Clicks Her Heels

In the oddest moment of the night, Marten put on a pair of ruby red heels and told us there’s no place like home when it comes to public education.

The solutions to all of the district’s woes are right in its own back yard, she said.

If only it were so simple as clicking a pair of shoes together.

Joel Hoffmann

Joel Hoffmann was formerly an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego, focusing on county government, the San Diego Unified School District and the...

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