Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quiet Coalition Floats Idea of Expanded School Board

Quiet Coalition Floats Idea of Expanded School Board

July 14, 2010
Voice of San Diego

..."Obviously if this group liked what the school board was doing, they wouldn't try to change it," said Bruce McGirr, who directs the union for principals and other administrators. Himelstein met with him to talk about the idea. "He and his group seem to feel that this school board is influenced by a certain group within the city -- and I'm sure he's talking about unions."

Critics blame those board members for driving away former Superintendent Terry Grier, who favored reforms disliked by unions. It has taken a decentralized, grassroots tack on school reform that skeptics say isn't really reform at all. And like school boards before it, it has been criticized for meddling too much in the day-to-day management of the schools.

"They micromanage. They can't hang on to a good superintendent. They all seem to be pawns of the teachers union," said Bill Lynch, who started a foundation for children. He went to one of the early meetings but has not been involved with the group recently. "It's pretty disappointing."

The coalition first gathered at the University of San Diego after Grier announced he would leave last year. It urged the school board to woo him back. When that failed, the group stuck together. Its members, who range from Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs to parent leader David Page to Price Charities Executive Vice President Tad Parzen, are united by a sense that something needs to change in the school district...

School board member John de Beck called it "another downtown grab," likening it to battles between business interests and unions during the thorny and deeply controversial superintendency of Alan Bersin. Though the group includes Bersin foes and people far from business, it may struggle to shed that label. It has met for months behind closed doors and been tight-lipped about its plans, even as pollsters air them to voters and Himelstein floats the idea with the principals union and other groups.

No comments: