Education Matters: Give new school trustees a chance

By Marsha Sutton

Special to the Light

The defeat and departure of long-time SDUSD board members Katherine Nakamura and John de Beck signal an end to longevity. What we see before us now are five relatively new school board members (Shelia Jackson elected in 2004 becomes the longest-serving board member) with little connection to the past.

Will this finally move the district past the seven-year Alan Bersin era, the Carl Cohn era, (limited as it was), and past even the most recent Terry Grier years (months, actually), and into a time when the district can bury its ghosts and move forward at last?

A new board, placed solidly in the corner of the teachers, has an opportunity to show the nation that “Waiting for Superman” is not worth waiting for, and that charter competition and union-bashing are quaint, faddish notions that will evaporate as quickly as the billions in education money from would-be education reformers like Gates, Broad, et al, that were supposed to make a difference.

Say goodbye to the ideas of privatization in education, as well as performance pay, value-added, school closure, appointed board members and the end of tenure.

Say hello instead to … what? A meaningful partnership between administrators and teachers that can bring about real improvement in student achievement? Will this new board be able to usher in a workable model for other urban school districts in the country by demonstrating what can happen when there’s true collaboration and an interlaced sharing of objectives?

Skeptics, hold your condemnation. To the new board: Hit us with your best shot. The district can’t wait to see what you can do.