Keashonna Christopher is a counselor at Porter Elementary School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Trying to understand the inner workings of a school can be shockingly difficult.

Despite the strongest job protections of just about any working group in California, school employees rarely speak openly about what’s working – and what’s not – in their schools.

That’s what makes Keashonna Christopher an exception worthy of Voice of the Year status.

Christopher, a counselor at Porter Elementary School in Lincoln Park, blew the whistle on conditions that – if they’d existed in places like La Jolla – would have caused an uprising.

School leaders were not dealing with persistent safety problems effectively – whole classrooms needed to be cleared of students; parents had to break up fights on the schools grounds.

Students with special needs were not getting the services they needed. Leaders within the school systematically delayed and denied students their legal rights, Christopher said.

Several parents backed up her account.

“What I’m showing students, what I’m showing parents, what I’m showing fellow community members is that we all have a voice,” Christopher said on our Good Schools for All podcast. “We can collectively or individually speak our truth.”

Christopher’s bravery has produced results. The NAACP lodged an official complaint about the school. The school district held two community forums with parents and district leaders also spent an hour talking about the problems at Porter during a public Board of Education meeting.

Christopher’s actions have also had a cost. This year, her hours were cut at Porter and she is isolated from much of the workings of the school. But she has no plans of allowing herself to be pushed out. Christopher grew up in the neighborhood and working at Porter is her way of investing completely in the success of the community.

This is part of our Voice of the Year package, highlighting the people who played a major role in shaping civic discussion in 2019.

Will Huntsberry is a senior investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego. He can be reached by email or phone at or 619-693-6249.

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