Recommendations for Candidates to San Diego Unified School District Board

by on September 16, 2022 · 5 comments

in Education, Election, San Diego

Godwin Higa

Here are Tom Ultican’s recommendations for the two races for the San Diego Unified School District Board, Area B and Area C.

By Tom Ultican / September 12, 2022

San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD)

Public school students 95,250 – Charter school students 19,217 – Percent charter 16.8%

Area B

Area B represents northeastern San Diego from Scripps Ranch to Normal Heights. SDUSD is one of the few districts to require a primary to earn a spot on the general election ballot.

Godwin Higa is perhaps San Diego’s foremost expert on trauma informed education. Documentary film maker Rita Grant made a 2017 short film about Higa and his work at Cherokee Point Elementary School. He has more than 30 years experience as an educator and administrator. Find Higa’s campaign web page here.

Shana Hazan is a young mother with two elementary school aged daughters attending SDUSD schools. Her campaign web site shares an impressive list of endorsements including the Democratic Party and the San Diego Union Tribune. According to her linked in page, after earning a master’s in education from Northwestern University, she taught elementary school for two years. One year was at a charter school and the other at a Chicago public school. Since returning to San Diego, she has spent the last 12 years working at Jewish Family Services.

Shana Hazan

The amount of money flowing into Hazan’s campaign is concerning. The $93,000 she has already reported dwarfs the sums raised by any other San Diego school board candidate. By comparison, Higa reported $5,685. It is not just the amount but who is contributing that is worrisome. Her campaign reports show $1,500 from Alan Bersin, $1,500 from Scott Peters, $1,500 from Irwin Jacobs, $1,500 from Joan Jacobs, $1,500 from Allison Price, $1,500 from Robert Price and $1,000 from David Wax. Clearly neoliberal money is pouring in.

Recommendation: Godwin Higa

Area C

Rebecca Williams

In Area C, Rebecca Williams is the anti-mask and anti-vaccine mandates candidate endorsed by the Republican Party. She has teaching experience in charter schools. She and her husband founded Valor Education a charter management organization whose classic education is a conservative response to progressive values. Williams has reported the second most money of any county school board candidate, $65,839.

Cody Peterson

Cody Peterson is an anthropology lecturer at University of California San Diego and a well-known environmentalist. He grew up in La Jolla attending public schools there. The Voice of San Diego stated, “[His] history of involvement, his progressive politics and his support of, and membership in local unions led to a cascade of endorsements from Democratic officials and many of San Diego’s most robust unions, like the San Diego Education Association, which represents SDUSD’s teachers.”

Recommendation: Cody Peterson

For Tom’s recommendations for school board races in the rest of San Diego County, go here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric B September 18, 2022 at 7:18 pm

Wow, I’m surprised to see the Rag post this anti-union piece. The San Diego Education Association and teachers fighting for fair pay support Hazan by a wide margin. As a 25 year veteran teacher and an OBecian for 35 years, this piece really pisses me off. Three sentences about Higa? Why run this? It comes across as the Rag fighting against teachers and the union! Due respect, but editor dude Frank, this article reeks.


Frank Gormlie September 19, 2022 at 7:15 am

Wow Eric B, I’m surprised at your comment. Tom recommended two candidates, including Cody Peterson who has endorsements from the San Diego Education Association, which represents SDUSD’s teachers. You don’t mention that, but you take us to task for “fighting against teachers and the union.” What gives, dude?


Eric B September 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Teacher pay always gives, that’s what gives. When will it get? Even with a strong union, teachers are historically underpaid. We need strong union support on the board and this piece only goes half way.


George H September 23, 2022 at 6:34 am

Higa was a long-time SDEA union member as well, District Teacher of the Year, and is 100% in support of teachers, recommending and supporting a 15% plus raises. He was a teacher, principal, and in education for 35 years and knew precisely what teachers go through! Click on the websites indicated in the article. There are more than three lines on Higa.


Dani September 23, 2022 at 3:13 pm

I am not an educator but raised my kids who went to public and private schools. Looking back, I’m embarrassed that I did not pay attention to the school board member requirements or roles in the past. Since then, I learned that a candidate does not have to have any past work in direct hands-on education, which I think is critical to making decisions for our schools. If a person had two years or thirty, I would lean towards the person who had the longest, feet-on-the-ground, experience.
It seems irrelevant if the candidate has children or how much is in their campaign fund. To me, if a candidate has direct experience as an educator in addition, to the length of time they worked in the school shows their commitment to the students. This time also provides a strong working knowledge of the District operations, funding, working with community partners, and most definitely the children. No one goes into teaching for the money
My vote is looking first at the needs of our children, teachers, and schools and how a candidate can improve what they can. If the student has unmet needs, they cannot focus or achieve. In this case, I like starting from the kids up to the District.


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