Dorothy Smith’s retirement from the San Diego city school board leaves an open seat in District E, which encompasses Southeast San Diego. Running are Gloria Jefferson, a school district employee who counsels parents on special education programs, and Shirley Weber, an associate professor at San Diego State University.
Both candidates would bring energy and enthusiasm to the job, are strong advocates of parent involvement and would probably serve the school district’s 117,057 children well.
But we think Weber is the better choice. Weber’s doctoral degree in communications and her 16 years at SDSU, where she has taught in and chaired the Afro-American Studies Department, make her a particularly articulate advocate of educational and minority issues. This should be especially helpful as the district strives to widen its base of community support, an important goal given the limited resources available to the nation’s eighth-largest school district.
Jefferson’s emphasis on special education and grass-roots participation give her a slightly narrower focus.
Two incumbents on the school board are also seeking reelection. In District A, which covers the northwest tier of the city, John Witt is being challenged by former PTA Council President Ann Armstrong; in District D, which covers much of the Mid-City area, Susan Davis is challenged by recreation therapist Bob Davis.
Witt is seeking his fourth term on the school board. In his last reelection bid, we noted that he seemed to have lost much of his enthusiasm for the job. Witt denied it then and still does, but observers and those who have served with him note little change. He rarely takes an active role in board discussions and sometimes appears to fall asleep. Witt, a community college mathematics instructor, points to his long experience on the board and in the classroom as reasons he should be reelected. He cites the rise in student test scores, his work as a science fair judge and his visits to schools as a fill-in teacher as evidence of his interest and accomplishments.
Experience by itself, however, in not sufficient. It must be matched by effort and energy. Armstrong, an instructional aide and the volunteer program coordinator at Mission Bay High School, seems to have those characteristics. She has been actively involved in local PTA organizations for 25 years and has served on school district committees on integration and parent involvement.
Both candidates are short on specific goals, which is dismaying given the length of time they have been involved in educational issues. But Armstrong seems more likely to give the job the attention it deserves.
Susan Davis, former president of the League of Women Voters, has been a strong addition to the school board in her first term and should be returned to office.
We recommend votes for Armstrong, Susan Davis and Weber.