Beyond Chron published my article,
"JROTC Bills Stall in Sacramento; Dirty Tricks in San Francisco"
on Thursday, April 23.
Beyond Chron published a letter
from Rachel Norton, Chair of the San Francisco school board's
Rules Committee, in response to my report on the machinations of that committee, on Monday, April 27.
Beyond Chron published my response to Commissioner Norton
on Tuesday, April 28.
Both letters are reproduced below.
To the Editor:
Just to clarify, it has been a longstanding custom of the School Board 's Rules, Policy and Legislation committee to take positions on behalf of the full Board for legislation. I have asked our staff to research when this practice began, and though we have not isolated the exact date, we believe it originated sometime in the mid-1990s.
When Commissioners voiced a desire to bring our AB 223 position to the full board, I was happy to do so. As Marc Norton (no relation) was present at the Rules Committee meeting of March 31, he should remember that I proposed a rules change to Ms. Maufas which would allow any member to request in writing that a specific bill be considered by the full Board -- a change that would codify in writing our longstanding practice and give members a way of bringing any legislation they wish in front of the full board. As I recollect the proceedings, Ms. Maufas was pleased with the suggestion and agreed that the proposed rules change should move forward.
SF School Board member
School board member Rachel Norton, in her letter of Monday, April 27, can try to hide behind her after-the-barn-door-is-open request for "staff to research" the rules for the Rules Committee which she chairs -- but the fact remains that her committee has absolutely no authority to substitute itself for the full board on controversial legislative issues -- as she and Jill Wynns attempted to do at the March 31 committee meeting.
The proof, as always, is in the pudding. The instructions Norton and Wynns gave to the district's lobbyist to support AB 351 (the bill aimed at restoring PE credit for JROTC)
were ignored the next day at the Assembly Education Committee hearing. As I understand it, this was the result of the direct intervention of Superintendent Carlos Garcia.
Norton (no relation to yours truly) is correct that I attended the Rules Committee meeting in question. Perhaps she also remembers that Wynns, seeing me in attendance, told me that neither AB 351 nor AB 223 (Assemblywoman Fiona Ma's bill to mandate JROTC in San Francisco) would be discussed at the meeting. Fortunately, I ignored this attempt to induce me to leave, as both bills were discussed at some length at the meeting. This kind of dishonesty and manipulation seems to be par for the course with this committee.
Norton further makes reference to her exchange with President Kim-Shree Maufas at the committee meeting. The main item of discussion I recall was a request from Ms. Maufas to see the written policy Norton and Wynns claimed exists allowing the two of them to substitute themselves for the entire board on controversial legislative matters. Apparently her "research" has not produced that policy directive, because it does not exist, and never has existed.
Norton's attempt to turn the tables, and require other school board members "to request in writing that a specific bill be considered by the full Board" in order to prevent her and Wynns from being the beginning and the end on all legislative matters is almost as silly as her continued denial that JROTC is a military recruitment program.
As Assemblywoman Ma said, although in a different context, "renegade school board members are playing games with the lives of our students."