On October 29, Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand dressed down the Union-Tribune.
The district’s website tells it this way: “In an ongoing effort to bring balanced media coverage, [Brand] met with San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board….” Nine editors and reporters from the paper were in attendance.
Sweetwater continues to make headlines even though former superintendent Jesus Gandara is gone. Brand gave the assembled news team examples of what he perceives as biased coverage of recent incidents. Each lesson ended with: “Now, in my mind the story should have been about…”
Brand also objected to articles generated by anonymous tipsters and excessive public record requests. He stated that, as a result of the media’s focus, policy was being driven by “paranoia.”
One story Brand criticized dealt with Proposition O, a $644 construction bond. Although proposition language limits bond money use to construction, the U-T reported that Sweetwater borrowed from the account for general fund purposes. Brand asserted that many districts did the same.
Brand later floated the idea of a new bond for a “cradle-to-the-grave” educational system: “We’re gonna be asking as we think about another bond, ‘Will the residents support us building our own university?’” Brand calls this idea “Sweetwater U.”
U-T editor Jeff Light asked Brand: “What could we do (a) to meet our obligation to ask our questions and not take things at face value? and, (b), create a climate where the achievement inside schools is supported?”
Photo of Ed Brand by Alan Decker