Last week, in a story about the major turnover of principals at San Diego Unified, I relayed a story Superintendent Cindy Marten has told several times.
Marten said she rallied parents at recent neighborhood meeting and convinced them that their nearest school, Franklin Elementary, was worthy of their kids. That effort is at the heart of the Vision 2020 plan she and the school board are implementing.
For the plan to work, Marten needs to convince parents these schools offer hope and promise.
At a meeting of school officials, Marten said she even managed to win over a skeptical real estate agent, someone who she said had hurt Franklin Elementary in the past by telling prospective home-buyers to look outside the neighborhood for a quality school.
Here’s what Marten told school district officials:
“There was a real estate agent, who, whenever she sold homes in the Kensington neighborhood would say, ‘Great, buy your house here. But as soon as your kids turn 5, you’ll have to go to another school.’ Like, try to avoid looking at Franklin because she didn’t think it was a great school.”
Marten said that, after the meeting, that real estate agent began sending fliers featuring Franklin’s principal.
After the story ran, I got an email from Franklin’s principal. The real estate agent, he said, was not an enemy of the school and never had been.
The agent’s name is Afton Miller.
I called Miller. She is quite sure she has no idea what the devil Marten is talking about.
“Oh my God, no. I don’t tell parents that,” Miller said. “It’s been sort of on my bucket list to make Franklin an attractive school to parents.”
Franklin’s principal, Don Whisman, confirms this. He said Miller has been one of the school’s biggest supporters.
Miller said she sells car wash vouchers on behalf of Franklin – the proceeds from which benefit the school.
“Let me put it this way,” Miller said. “Not just me, but any real estate agent, if we’re trying to sell houses, we’d have to have rocks in our head to tell them the neighborhood school isn’t good.”
As Marten relates the challenge of convincing neighbors to trust their local schools, she may want to find a different anecdote.
In an email, an assistant to Marten said the superintendent is very appreciative of Miller’s support of Franklin Elementary.