Plans to Fix Schools Rankle Some Voters

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 11 Comments


Politics & Media Mashup: A look at this week’s local political coverage

San Diego’s broken school system has been a campaign issue in the mayor’s race since Day 1, but the feedback I’ve seen lately from voters suggests some people are hardly impressed with what they’re hearing.

Two letter writers, including a teacher, rip the candidates in today’s U-T San Diego. Earlier in the week, the paper led with a letter that said:

“I’d like to know how she (Bonnie Dumanis) thinks she would “fix the schools” when she showed how poorly informed she is about the issues they face. She did not know “last in, first out” is the rule in teacher layoffs, where the newest teachers are the first to be given pink slips.”

Speaking of Dumanis, Voice of San Diego reported this week that she was asked on CW6 “if the rumors are true that she’s going to drop out of the mayor’s race? No, she said.”

Nathan Fletcher would benefit the most from a Dumanis exit but I don’t see it happening. Way back when there were no official candidates neither she nor Fletcher had any luck getting the other to bow out. I heard Dumanis offered Fletcher a deal back then: Serve as her chief of staff and she would step down after one term and support him for mayor.

If you haven’t read Craig Gustafson’s piece on Carl DeMaio’s troubled youth you’re missing out. Instead of trying to do A to Z profiles of the mayoral candidates Gustafson is writing about the turning point in each of their lives. For DeMaio, it was the loss of his mother and abusive father and watching his mother fight cancer for years. The four-part series led with DeMaio.

Gustafson tweeted Friday: “The Turning Point series on the SD mayor’s race continues Sunday. How the intensely private Bonnie Dumanis became a very public figure.”

The U-T’s Jen Kuhney wrote an interesting story this week about a conversation she had with City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who is running for reelection. From Kuhney’s story:

“Though the pension reform measure has been in the local political spotlight for six months, Lightner had yet to publicly state her position on it until talking to a reporter on Tuesday.

“The announcement led to criticism on both sides of the local political spectrum.

Ray Ellis, who is running against Lightner, “and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez dismissed her support as a political tactic to gain support in a district that will be one of the more hotly contested races in the June primary.”

Lightner told Kuhney she supports it “but the devil is in the details.” I’m not sure what that means.

Ellis said in a statement: “Sherri Lightner has opposed pension reform every step of the way. I led the way for reform on the Pension Board and worked with my colleagues to bring transparency and accountability to city government. One of the reasons I am running for Council is Sherri’s failure to support reform efforts, and today is no different. District 1 voters want, and deserve, someone who will tackle our fiscal issues, not talk about them in an election year.”

Lastly, have you seen Gene Cubbison’s “Politically Speaking” show on NBC San Diego? As expected, Cubbison has done a nice job mixing in commentary, news and dueling opinions from guests.

The show airs at 9 a.m. on Sundays. It won’t air on the 15th and 22nd of this month and on a Sunday in May due to commitments the network has with the NHL. By the time the June primary rolls around I expect “Politically Speaking” will be must see TV for a lot of folks.

DISCLOSURE: I am doing some video production work for the Ray Ellis campaign.


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Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Friday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.

Comments 11

  1. I agree with this headline – the comments made by the candidates – rankled me as well.
    It appears that the candidates are tiptoeing around this box we call our failing education system and only coming up with ways to improve the edges of this box.
    One teacher mentioned to me that they were not allowed any creativity in their school curriculum – but had to follow the very strict guidelines. That is what we need to change.
    How about if we blow up this box – mandated by our federal Dept of Education and really innovate in San Diego – to be an example for all other cities.
    And yes, the Mayor would be instrumental in making that happen.
    I live within the city of San Diego and am running as a Republican for Central Committee – 78th Assembly District.)

  2. The only problem with the San Diego Unified School District and public education in general is the ridiculous attitude about paying for our children’s education. Too many Conservatives who want to bring a political and religious agenda into the schools, undermine the education of children and then claim their is a crises in the schools. Pay your fair share of taxes, repeal Proposition 13, and start recognizing that is you want a first class society, it begins with a first class public education system from Kindergarten through college.

  3. Ernie Barrera presents the tired old straw man argument that conservatives want to turn public schools into Christian versions of the Muslim brainwashing propaganda mills.

    This assertion is complete nonsense, but liberals KNOW it is true because that’s what other liberals tell them. Uh huh.

    Barrera sounds like he’s never been in a high school civics class. I have. I’ve SEEN religion (and liberal propaganda politics) taught in public schools — it just doesn’t include a deity (except Gaia, of course).

    Over the last 30 years I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of high school civics and economics classes in over 3 dozen public and private high schools across San Diego County. I think I have a fair understanding of what the kids learn — and don’t learn.

    Of all the groups I speak to — friendly and hostile — my most difficult-to-reach demographic is a public high school senior.

    Essentially as part-time wards of the state, these students have spend 12+ years in government schools, with government teachers and government-approved curriculum and textbooks.

    For 12 years these kids are taught that government (and usually ONLY government) is the solution to the world’s problems. ALL the world’s problems.

    Then I come in and for a half hour present the limited government viewpoint. As I point out to the students, it’s quite likely that this is the ONLY time they will hear that viewpoint presented. And THAT’s how “public education” works.

    Still, it’s good to hear the Barrera “shut up and pay (always more) taxes” viewpoint. Pay more to get a “first class education” — as defined by liberals and public employees who profit mightily from this con job.

    And, BTW, according to liberals, the one way you DON’T define “first class education” is to test for the RESULTS. Liberals just intuitively KNOW what works best — we don’t need no stinkin’ accountability.

    Education is indeed critically important, but giving more money to education is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys (to quote P.J. O’Rourke on paying higher taxes).

    IF we ever decide to really help our kids, we’ll move to a competitive school choice system as found in many other countries in the world including — oddly enough — Sweden. And, BTW, school choice can be a lot less expensive than public school monopolies.

  4. Post


    You must have missed the part where I said — way back when there were no official candidates. Just people — a lot of people — talking about possibly running for mayor.

    Also, I am staying neutral in this race at least through the primary. And, I think you know this but it seems worth repeating, I am registered as an independent. Have been for a while.


  5. Tony, what you actually wrote was: “Way back when there were no official candidates …… I heard Dumanis offered Fletcher a deal back then: Serve as her chief of staff and she would step down after one term and support him for mayor.”

    This was a bit like what David Ogul wrote here on March 12th:

    “San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio tried to pressure 7th District City Council candidate Rik Hauptfeld into ditching his campaign in an apparent effort at improving fellow Republican Scott Sherman’s chances of winning the seat, Hauptfeld said today in an exclusive interview with San Diego Rostra.”

    I would simply repeat the point I made re Ogul: that ex-U-T reporters should hold themselves to the same standards as imposed by their former editors.

    I doubt that either of the above passages would have passed U-T editorial scrutiny, even in its wild-west years before we the readers had the ability to talk back on the Internet.

    Anyway, glad to hear that you are DTS like myself.

  6. Post

    Hi, Pat:

    We do tend to take more liberties at Rostra bc this is a blog and not a news site. That said, I promise to be more judicious, and please know that I don’t pass on most of what I hear.


  7. Tony,

    Oh dear, you said the wrong thing again: “this is a blog and not a news site”.

    I fervently believe that as a blogger I was more careful than any “news site” in checking and double-checking the accuracy and reliability of my sources. Main stream media’s often blatant disregard for truth and accuracy was what drove me to blogging.

    Welcome to the world of blogging where, to paraphrase a certain news site, “truth matters”. It is why blogging exists. In fact I believe more and more people trust blogs more than they do professional media.

    So, Tony, you have been promoted.


  8. Post

    In some cases you’re right, Pat. I don’t see blogs as replacing news sites. I see them as adding to the conversations we’re already having. I also prefer bloggers who don’t take themselves too seriously.

  9. Post

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