Earlier this week Alan Bersin, superintendent of schools in San Diego, convened a group of national experts to evaluate the progress of reforms undertaken under his watch. It was a top-down review of major facets of the schools there. The papers, some positive, some critical are a remarkable look at the workings of a major district. Bersin, and the San Diego Public Schools, deserve a lot of credit for submitting themselves to this sort of scrutiny and evaluation.
Unfortunately, not everyone in San Diego seems to care all that much about serious evaluation or policymaking. Part of Bersin’s program is to bring in new management in a handful of the city’s lowest-performing schools. It’s an issue that reasonable people can disagree about, but when San Diego school board member (and teachers’ union water carrier) Frances O’Neill Zimmerman likened supporters of Bersin’s plan to “Jews who herded their own people onto trains headed for gas chambers” she gave a candid glimpse into the ideological ferocity that too often characterizes debates such as this.
Update: The Greater San Diego Anti-Defamation League is demanding an apology or resignation. From the local teachers’ union…silence…although they seem to have plenty of time to gripe about other things…(Incidentally, Eduwonk was in the room for this and they had plenty of chance to respond and blew it on petty little process questions rather than substance. Rather telling, no?)