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.
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch