Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mary Salas proposes unifying Chula Vista Elementary and Sweetwater Union High school districts

Mary Salas with Hillary Clinton

I'm pleased that Mary Salas and others want to clean up Sweetwater Union High School district, but simply turning the place over to Chula Vista Elementary School District isn't going to accomplish that. CVESD has ethics and performance problems, too.

Voters need to take responsibility for the way their schools are run. CVESD isn't as bad as Sweetwater, but it's performance is nowhere near what it should be. Voters don't like to think that the policemen who guard them or the educators who teach their kids are less than completely trustworthy, but citizens should screw up their courage and demand transparency from public agencies. Once problems are exposed, they can be solved, or at least prevented from becoming more serious.

Schools have too much secrecy. Wrongdoing thrives in darkness; sunshine alone will go a long way to preventing future abuses of the public trust. If CVESD and SUHSD do combine, transparency must be required of the new district.

But what if exposing CVESD and SUHSD secrets would result in too many people being exposed as corrupt? How will you run the new district if too many people must resign or be fired? Where would you find trustworthy people to take their places? Will you go to districts that are carefully guarding their secrets? That doesn't make much sense, does it? You won't have any real basis to think that those people would be any better.

It's sort of like the war in Iraq: Bush's big mistake was disbanding the Iraqi army. Instead of getting rid of everyone with a history, you keep them on board to keep doing the job, and watch them carefully. The US should have followed the advice of its own experts and kept the Iraqi army intact. Give amnesty, then keep discussions and documents out in the open, not behind closed doors.

Corruption is widespread, and most of it is in schools whose officials have NOT been indicted. There's no reason that the people of San Diego County should have to foot the bill for a slew of prosecutions. The new district should tell the voters the truth, release information and documents--perhaps redacting names--and then make sure that bad acts are not repeated.

Voters need to know exactly what went wrong when they weren't looking, so they'll know what to watch out for in the future.

Proposal: Combine Chula Vista School Districts
The proposal would place elementary schools and Sweetwater high schools in Chula Vista under one district
By Rory Devine
NBC San Diego
Jan 29, 2014

Students in Chula Vista go to schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District for grades K through 8, then high schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District. A city councilwoman is proposing the two districts combine amid the Sweetwater scandal. NBC 7’s education reporter Rory Devine has more.

A Chula Vista City Councilmember has presented an idea that would change the way school districts in the city look.

Students in Chula Vista go to schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District for grades K through 8, then high schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Councilmember Mary Salas wants to unify elementary schools and those Sweetwater high schools located in the city of Chula Vista under one district.

“A lot of parents have expressed extreme satisfaction with the elementary school district. Yet by the time they get to middle school, then they start shopping around for different options,” Salas said.

“The continuing of education is the number one priority,” she said.

The idea of merging the school districts has come up before, but has taken on renewed importance in light of a corruption scandal brewing in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison says the shuffling would impact schools in surrounding areas.

“That’s going to be my biggest concern, how the finances are going to work out on this,” Morrison said.

On Tuesday, Salas told the council that details of a potential merger would be worked out by the San Diego County Office of Education. But she says the process must begin, especially given the ongoing scandal in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

“I don’t think it should be looked at as a complete answer, but certainly if the high school district has been mired in conflict and dysfunction for years and years, it does affect a lot of things,” she said.

Sweetwater board member John McCann supports this idea.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District says this is a complicated process and more research is needed.

If the proposal does move forward, Salas says she thinks it could be done in a year.

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