San Diego school board elections need an overhaul (Editorial piece from San Diego Union-Tribune)
Taken from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-san-diego-school-board-elections-20180803-story.html
There are always threats of legal action floating around San Diego City Hall. Some are taken seriously. Others are dismissed out of hand because they’ll never go anywhere. At the moment, one doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves.
Bret Caslavka, president of a San Diego school reform group called Community Voices for Education, is threatening to sue the city of San Diego for failing to place district-only elections for the San Diego Unified School District’s board of directors on the November ballot. Approval of such a measure would eliminate at-large elections for school board members and cure what CVE sees as a violation of the California Voting Rights Act that leads to racially polarized voting and minority vote dilution.
School officials have refused to embrace the idea for months. No surprise. They have a good thing going. There are two races on the Nov. 6 ballot that pit labor-friendly incumbents against lesser-known challengers in an election that is likely to keep the status quo on a board that rarely has turnover, in part because of the influence of teachers unions. The system is so stacked against challengers that the only way these two made the ballot is after running as write-in candidates in the June 5 primary election, thereby needing just a single vote — their own — to ensure a November runoff election.
Since its inception, the San Diego Unified School District has had just three Latino board members and a single Asian-American trustee. That’s according to a letter CVE sent the City Council last month before it voted to put school board term limits — but not district-only elections — on the November 2018 ballot. The council has no authority over city schools, but changes to school district elections require voters to amend the City Charter. The council agreed to put this measure on the ballot following school board approval after a series of community meetings, surveys and supposedly honest debate.