Say No to Astro-Turfed Education Reform!
Perhaps you’ve seen the folks with the petitions on the streets of OB, promising to “Save Our Schools”. They’re being paid to collect those signatures by a private group, based at the University of San Diego, that reportedly has a $1,000,000 war chest at their disposal. They’ve hired a public relations company and a well-known GOP political consultant (Tom Shepard) to craft a campaign that will appear to be driven by well-meaning citizens concerned with performance of our local schools. The reality of what they are doing is something else as I’ve written about on numerous occasions.
This petition drive is the precursor to what promises to be one of the biggest political battles of the year in San Diego: Will the citizens of our fair city cede the right to vote for representation on the City’s school board in the face of a well funded campaign to convince them that a crisis exists that’s so extreme that only appoiunted “experts can solve it? This is at the core of the campaign, and any other measures that are incoprorated into the petition are merely there because they “polled well”. It’s astro-turf democracy at its finest.
“San Diegans for Great Schools” is collecting signatures city-wide in support of a ballot initiative that will amend the City charter to allow an un-elected group of people the power to appoint an additional four members to the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees.
Other cities (Washington, New York) that have adopted new governance plans for their school system have left in place voter accountability by empowering elected officials to participate in selecting trustees. The ballot measure that the “Great Schools” group is pushing completely leaves voters out the equation.
There are other measures included in the “Great Schools” group’s proposal that may or may not make sense. One thing is for sure though: yielding decision making powers over taxpayer concerns to an appointed board without any means of voter recourse is undemocratic and offers no actual means of fixing the dilemmas that our children face in the schools.
Our civilization has been defined over the centuries by the progress that has been made to making governance responsible to ordinary citizens. Moving backwards in the face of crisis only serves the interests of a favored few. Please say no to this flawed initiative being pushed by the “Great Schools” group.