We CAN, we MUST, and we WILL open our schools in the fall

May 31, 2020

San Diego Unified Board of Education
John Lee Evans, President
Kevin Beiser, Member
Michael McQuary, Member
Richard Barrera, Vice President
Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, Member

Dear Members of the San Diego Unified School Board,

It seems unfathomable that the leaders of the San Diego Unified School District cannot find any way at all to open up our schools in the fall.   One needs to seriously take a step back and look at who sits on the school board.  Not one of you has a student in the district or even a school-age student.  Do you really comprehend the ramifications of not having students actually in school learning?  Your most recent claims of having 95% of the students on-line during the school day only means students have logged in—it doesn’t mean they are doing actual schoolwork or educational learning.

In a recent Voice of San Diego article, Board Member Barrera argues that schools cannot and will not open without more money.   This seems to be his message from him for everything that happens in the school district.  However, when it comes to salary raises for all employees, he has no problem finding funds to accommodate their requests.  Granted, teachers work very hard for our students and deserve to be paid at a competitive salary to maintain the best and brightest educators.  But to grant such large increases during a time when the district was already $72 million dollars short for the 2020-21 school year just makes no sense. Perhaps the district needs to investigate where you are spending excess money and find ways to cut that spending? A glaring example of this includes the countless number of legal firms the district pays BIG money for to constantly “right their wrongs” to either students, parents and/or teachers.

The continued lack of transparency from this school board for the past six years is reason enough to doubt why you need more money to begin school in the fall.  Will it take countless lawsuits for the board to decide that you can find a way to begin school?  This seems to be the trend during Superintendent Marten’s tenure.   If one sues the district, you believe you can just pay them to “go away” and the problem is solved.   An outside investigation would show the staggering amounts of money that were “won” by parents, students and employees because of this school district’s lack of ethics and morals.  Is this why you need more money?

Other districts in the state and country are strategizing ways to get students back to school in the fall without excess funding.   Some of these examples include staggering start times, smaller class sizes, hybrid models where students attend school certain days and continue on-line learning the other days and having high school seniors on a different schedule with perhaps fewer requirements for graduation but having more dual enrollment classes at the college level.   You could utilize the resources that are already available at the alternative schools within the district (IHigh, Charter, Twain) so that instructional material is readily available for all teachers.  These are just a few ideas where adults are working together to ensure that students ARE a priority.  

The district has cried wolf for far too long. It is time for communities to step up and say NO to their constant demands for more money.  This crisis has hit us all very hard.  We have had to find ways to do more with less.  And we did!  We can and will make it work.  Our school district needs to do the same.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Westview High, Slavery, and Racism

May 25, 2020

Last week, Westview High students expressed their wish that the Confederate States of America had won the war to preserve slavery, so that they would have personal slaves to do their work.  Here is the text of an exchange on social media:

god i really f – – – – – – wish the south won the civil war. i wish i had a f – – – – – – slave to do my work for me.
same.

We know about this thanks to Westview senior Nena Lockhart, who has had enough of the racism that persists in our society.  She took to social media to say: “This is not funny and age is not an excuse for this kind of behavior.  We cannot go around believing that racism doesn’t exist or only exists in the Deep South, because it still exists everywhere.”

We cannot agree with Ms Lockhart more, and want her to know that we support her wholeheartedly.

Such comments display an utter indifference to the practice of kidnapping, torture, rape, imprisonment and murder that has been the lot of African-Americans.  That injustice continues today in the form of segregated neighborhoods and schools, racial health and wealth disparities, racially biased policing and racially disparate outcomes of our “justice” system; not to mention the continued presence in our communities of racial hatred, such as the Klan hood and swastikas recently on display in Santee.

These are not problems with one-time solutions..  They require sustained, focused efforts to make our students understand the true nature and horror of racism, recognize its continued danger to human beings and society, and speak and act with compassion.

African-American students have suffered long enough from their uneducated and ill informed peers.  We call on Westview High School and the Poway Unified School District to show the same courage and initiative Ms Lockhart did in bringing this matter into the open.  We call on them to take this matter every bit as seriously as it deserves.  We call on them to do their duty to educate students properly regarding issues of race, and to:

  • Institute an ongoing program of implicit bias training to students, teachers and staff.
  • Teach history according to a curriculum that gives proper weight to both the contributions and the suffering of the African-Americans who laid the foundations of a prosperity they were not allowed to enjoy.

Should they fail in this, we call on the Poway community to make their school board members pay a heavy price in the November elections.  It’s time to truly heal our racial divide, so we can move forward together to address the problems our nation faces.

We stand ready to aid the school and district, if it stands ready to take meaningful action, and root out the ugliness, not just paper it over with soothing words.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Brown v Board of Education: 66 Years Ago Today

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, and helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all.

2020 SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES DEBATE- SAN DIEGO

We received the following announcement:

The PSRO (Parent-Student-Resident Organization) will be hosting a virtual 2020 debate for the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education candidates. Please find the meet the candidates’ information attached.

The goal of this public debate on Education is to listen to our 2020 Board of Education candidates and have a meaningful and respectful dialogue among parents, students, and residents about who will best represent their voices at the SDUSD Board of Education. The candidates will be answering and discussing Area-specific and District-wide questions.

Friday May 29th, 2020
4 – 6:30PM

Please join us through Zoom, Facebook, or conference call through the link below.

Please RSVP and submit your Area-specific and District-wide questions.  https://bit.ly/psro-debate2020

TRANSLATION WILL BE PROVIDEDRSVP (See languages)

Join through:

1.     ZOOM: Join Zoom Meeting 
https://zoom.us/j/98707717072

Meeting ID: 987 0771 7072 
              One tap mobile 
             +16699006833,,98707717072# US (San Jose) 
            +12532158782,,98707717072# US (Tacoma)

2.     Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/543904169590137

MEET-THE-CANDIDATES

District-Only SDUSD Elections Need to Comply with 2001 CVRA

May 13, 2020

TO: San Diego City Council Rules Committee

Council President Georgette Gomez, Rules Committee Chair
Councilmember Barbara Bry, Rules Committee Vice Chair
Councilmember Chris Ward, District 3
Councilmember Monica Montgomery, District 4

FROM: Brian Bonner, First Vice President, NAACP San Diego Branch

SUBJECT: DISTRICT-ONLY ELECTIONS FOR SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

The NAACP San Diego Branch strongly supports the proposal to ask the voters to amend the City Charter to require district-only elections for members of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. Enactment of this proposal would bring the San Diego Unified School District into compliance with California state law commonly called The California Voter Rights Act. This act requires local elected bodies to hold district elections when certain conditions are met.  Although the city of San Diego is a charter city, a 2017 opinion by the California Attorney General found that “The California Voter Participation Rights Act applies to charter cities, and to local school districts whose elections are governed by city charters.”  

At its core, the NAACP has championed civil rights, especially the right to vote, throughout its history. The NAACP took direct action and participated in legislative and judicial efforts to obtain and protect the right to vote. Congress and President Johnson enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the years of oppression and in response action by the NAACP and its partners in the fight for civil rights. That fight continues as voter suppression efforts continue unabated.

The California Voting Rights Act responded to conditions in California that denied civil and voting rights to protected classes.  As recently as 2017, the NAACP California-Hawaii State/State Area Conference recognized the importance of improving the education system for the African-American community by working with elected officials, policy makers, superintendents, school board members and community leaders.  It adopted a resolution that included the following statement “Resolved that the California NAACP communicates this resolution to the California legislature to urge them to create policy that would make school boards in the state to be a better representation of the students and citizens in the state.

Article VI of the San Diego city charter provides that voters in each of the five sub-districts choose the top two candidates for a runoff that includes all of the voters within SDUSD boundaries. Candidates in sub-districts must reside in those sub-districts. All other matters regarding SDUSD are subject to state law.

Several events and trends have converged to raise the issue of changing the manner in which SDUSD elections are conducted. In May 2017, the San Diego County Grand Jury issued a report recommending that the San Diego City Council place measures on the ballot to amend the City Charter to provide for district-only elections, and make other changes.

In addition, school districts across the state, including school districts in San Diego County, have moved to elect school board trustees in district-only elections in response to the requirements of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA). Rather than go to the expense of defending lawsuits they would likely lose, these districts move forward to change from at-large elections to district elections. For the most part, these school districts are governed by the general laws of the State of California. As noted above, In July 2017, the California Attorney General issued an opinion that CVRA applies to charter cities and school districts whose elections are governed by city charters.

The time has come for elections to the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education to become district-only elections. The NAACP San Diego Branch proudly joins with other organizations seeking to change the City Charter to create district-only elections for school board trustees. Again, we ask you to place this proposal on the ballot in November.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Brian Bonner, First Vice President
NAACP San Diego Branch

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CINDY MARTEN?

May 8, 2020

The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic has given us all time to reflect on life in general.  We have all been required to do things that at times were difficult and out of the ordinary.  However, one area that most families had in common was that of  balancing their budgets to make ends meet.  We had to cut back on non-essentials to feed our families and pay our bills.  And we did just that!

It seems incomprehensible for the SDUSD to send out a memo on April 19 to site leaders stating: “Recently, it was brought to the attention of the Area Superintendents and the district Executive Cabinet that there are some site/district budgets that are not balanced.  This means that some sites/departments have budgets that are over/under budget.  The purpose of this memo is to share a reality of our budgetary process that is impacting our district budget”.  The last comment reads; “If it is determined that a leader has not been responsible in their budgetary leadership possible disciplinary action may be considered.”  

The school board continues to BEG our community for more and more Prop money every single year to balance their over-spent budget.   The Superintendent adds more administrative positions to her budget each year and the school board approves these positions.  These are NOT teaching positions.  They are positions that are created by the Superintendent to do her job for her while she galivants off to Sacramento or wherever to promote herself.   Records requests prove that she is just not on-site doing her job.  Is it any wonder our district continues to run in the RED every year?  Why has there been NO disciplinary action for the superintendent and/or her cabinet?   

 The role of the Area Superintendent has many functions.   One of the prime responsibilities of this group is to ensure that each and every site has a balanced budget.  That budget then goes to the school board for approval.  This happens every year around February/March.  It now becomes apparent from this memo, that the Area Superintendents along with the Superintendent and the school board are not doing their job!   Not only this year, but every year Superintendent Marten has been in “charge” because this district has been financially insolvent.  

As a community we are expected to do our part and budget our homes accordingly.  We expect nothing less from our school district.  

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Closing the Beckworth Library

May 4, 2020

Council President Gómez
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Administration Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: The Beckworth Library

Dear Members of the San Diego City Council,

There is a proposal to close the Beckworth Library, near the Educational Cultural Complex.  We understand why you might close it, as it is not the busiest of our libraries.  

However, that library serves a community that desperately needs access to information, be it printed or online.  Many families in the communities it serves, including Lincoln Park, Mount Hope, Chollas View, Mountain View, Southcrest and Shelton, are under stress in the best of times, let alone during COVID-19 and its aftermath.  They NEED a library to provide the books Internet access, and quiet workspace that a Library provides.

Like so many facilities in Southeastern San Diego, it is small, sited inconveniently, and lacks many of the latest amenities.  Perhaps THAT is why it is under-used.

We call on you to find a way to keep the Beckworth Library open AND to begin to investigate siting a new library to serve the District 4 and District 9 communities.  Once we have a modern, convenient, upgraded library for our communities, you may have our blessing on closing Beckworth.

Perhaps, if funds are tight, the City could unload one or two of its unprofitable golf courses.  We fail to understand why an additional $15M needs to be spent to renovate these courses, when 2020 revenues were already projected flat and costs up by $1M, before the impact of COVID-19.  We realize that the three courses taken together have eked out a meager profit, but all that profit is from Torrey Pines.  Surely one of the two money-losers could go.  Not only would we stop sending good money after bad, but we would receive a new infusion of property tax revenue that could be used to foster learning and working for community residents.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Teachers Needed for Study on Expulsions

PARTICIPANTS FOR RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF EXPULSION ON EDUCATION IN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

I am seeking volunteers to take part in a study as part of a requirement to complete my doctoral program at Walden University.  I am interested in understanding how teachers in the California public school system perceive the impact of expulsion from high school influenced the post-expulsion education decision of minority males of color as compared to their White male counterparts.  

PARTICIPATION:  Voluntary and there will be a $10 gift card for compensation for participation in this study whether you complete or do not complete all or part of the surveys, or you decide to discontinue participation entirely.  You do not have to provide any personal identifying information outside of your email address and phone number and data will only be reported in a consensus aggregate.  Your participation is confidential, and no one will know you participated or be able to connect any response to a specific participant. 

ELIGIBILITY:

Participation Criterion

  • Currently a credentialed teacher in a California Public High School (grades 9-12)
  • 5 years or more experience teaching in one or a combination of those grades
  • Personal experience talking with/counseling expelled students about the pros and cons of not completing their education

As a prospective participant, once you contact me, I will provide additional information on the study, answer any additional questions you may have, verify your eligibility, ask for contact information (i.e., telephone and email), and send you a Consent form to the email provided.  If you elect to participate, please return the Consent form with the words “I Consent” and it will be used to document your voluntary participation and understanding of your meeting the eligibility.  Once the Consent form is received, I will send you the survey link which means that you have been accepted as a participant.   This study will use the Delphi technique and will involve three iterations of surveys. The initial survey of 6 questions, will be followed by two follow-on surveys that you will be asked to complete. The three surveys are estimated to take a combination of approximately 40 minutes each. You may withdraw and not complete the survey(s) at any time. 

 For more information about this study, or to volunteer, please contact: Melvin Shepard (Walden University Doctoral Student in Public Policy and Administration) at 619-942-3448 or Email: [email protected]

COVID-19 and Educational Civil Rights

10am May 7th

Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: COVID-19 and Educational Civil Rights: A Rising Tide of Litigation Issues. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar.

COVID-19 has wreaked unprecedented havoc on families, schools and school districts across the nation. Above all, it has magnified racial and ethnic inequities not just in schools, but also across communities and states. While states and school districts have physically closed many schools, they still have duties to deliver a quality education to every child and to deliver that education in an equitable and meaningful manner.