Skip to comments.San Diego School Showdown
Posted on 11/05/2002 8:08:18 AM PST by spald
San Diego School Showdown
You think the fight for control of the Senate has been rancorous? Well, when it comes to a bare-knuckle ballot scuffle whose outcome will have national implications, the battle for two of the five seats on the San Diego School Board leaves the rest of today's elections looking like a Sunday ice-cream social.
Though Schools Superintendent Alan Bersin is not on this ballot, all San Diego knows this election is a make-or-break referendum on his "Blueprint for Student Success." A lifelong Democrat, Mr. Bersin is betting that America's urban school systems can be reformed from within, without vouchers or privatization. His Blueprint stresses the basics -- reading and math -- along with extensive testing.
Nobody understands the challenge better than California's teachers unions, which resent Mr. Bersin's control over the curriculum. Which is why they've poured more than $500,000 into the two races. If their candidates win, they would reverse the 3-to-2 school board majority that has thus far backed Mr. Bersin.
The union offensive comes amid new reports of undeniable reform progress. Though problems in the high schools remain, in the lower levels, where the Blueprint's impact has been heaviest, statewide test scores are up for every grade, racial and ethnic group. As one study found, "the gap has narrowed between white students and students of color."
You might think that it would dawn on the unions that instead of fighting these results they ought to be heralding them as evidence that public schools can deliver. Yet a look at their candidates suggests the problem. Incumbent John de Beck recently said he shouldn't be held responsible for any declining scores under his 12-year tenure because the "demographics" had changed, leaving fewer white students. And the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the other union-backed candidate, former naval officer Jeff Lee, was stripped of command of his ship following a Navy investigation into charges of "assault and abuse."
The race certainly features some interesting bedfellows. "Here we have the Urban League, the Chamber of Commerce, the university presidents and a popular Republican mayor all on one side of this reform and the teachers unions on the other," says Sam Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego who served on the Clinton and Gore campaigns. "It perfectly illustrates how the NEA is fast becoming the political albatross around the Democratic Party neck." He's referring to the National Education Association.
That's a lesson bound to reverberate beyond California. Whichever way San Diego votes today, it tells us something about the priorities of teachers unions that when it came time to choose their battle, they didn't pick a failing school system but one beginning to succeed.
Updated November 5, 2002
Let's get out the vote! Here's a tool...
Click here to download the California Republican Liberty Caucus' tri-fold pamphlet on the governor's race!
It's a .pdf file, so you'll need Acrobat Reader... it's free, and chances are good you already have it on your computer. Try the link and see.
Print it using the printer-icon button in the Acrobat toolbar in your browser (not File|Print in your browser's menu). It's intended for double-sided printing using single pieces of paper-- no stapling needed if you do it that way, and saves trees! ;-) Print one side, then invert the paper and feed it through a second time for the second side. Fold, and sally forth to get out the vote!
Give this to friends, walk your neighborhood, take it to stores, give a wad of 'em to your school, hand some out at your house of worship, at clubs, at stores and small businesses...
Let's retire Gray Davis!
Let's show the media and RINOs that "It's the base, stupid!"
Let's show Gray Davis that money can't buy him love ...or re-election!
Freepers and RLC activists can claim considerable credit for nominating Bill Simon, so now let's elect him!
That's one hell of a thing to say.
Bersin only impacts results in the San Diego Unified School district. Statewide improvements are more likely a long term consequence of ditching the "bi-lingual" programs in favor of teaching the kids English. Ron Unz gets the credit for that.
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