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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

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Comments

joepublic Nov. 3, 2011 @ 2:05 p.m.

You wouldn't know Mr. Brand was hired as an interim superintendent by the way he's promoting his "Sweetwater University" idea. It makes you think his stay is far from temporary, at least in his wishful thinking. In another Reader article Mr. Brand says that Sweetwater is in his DNA, making his "cradle to the grave" idea sound more related to his job than education. How dare Mr. Brand charge the media with excessively requesting knowledge from the district. There is no such thing as excessive public knowledge except maybe to someone trying to hide something. The public relies on the media as it plays a crucial role in a democracy. Hopefully the press keeps pressing no matter how paranoid it makes district administrators.

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anniejhamner Nov. 3, 2011 @ 3:55 p.m.

Joepublic:

i have a simple question, since the district is B R O K E and F A I L E D to spend the prop o monies in a legitimate manner - what makes the sweetwater district think that the voters would ever consider giving them another penny via a bond measure????????

do they really believe we are that gullible????????????

it is NOT going to happen.

there is already a movement in place that will present the facts to the south bay voters. the districts own numbers will prove they are incapable of managing our tax dollars.

and the timing of all of this,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, a new bond issue,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, more money from more contractors for all of those incumbents who plan on running - lets see we have quinones and lopez in 2012 and we have ricasa, cartmill, and mccann next time around.

the ONLY board member that has served the south bay in an honest reputible manner is ms. bertha lopez. yes, it is fact that lopez did take monies from some of the same contractors - HOWEVER, the proof of who ms. lopez is is in the voting history. i challenge all to go onto the districts board docs, listen to some of the meetings - pay CLOSE ATTENTION to the voting history.

there it is.

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anniejhamner Nov. 3, 2011 @ 3:45 p.m.

i am not quite understanding something here - since when does any entity in the land of the United States of America attempt to manipulate the news?

exactly WHAT article, reported on by the union tribune, presented untruths? NOT A ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if the sweetwater union high school district believes it is going to manipulate the taxpaying voters of the south bay with the nonsense they are presenting on the district website, A WEBSITE THAT OUR TAX DOLLARS PAY FOR, they had better think again. we are not dumb and we were not born yesterday.

the question that should be asked by ALL is this - where were the FACTS regarding 'the gandara' and board members lunches? where were the FACTS regarding castle park high schools principle and asb ap? where were the FACTS regarding prop o? where were the FACTS regarding the food services administrator? where were the FACTS regarding the FEW few service workers using foods, that we paid for, selling them and keeping the monies? where were the FACTS regarding the subsidized lunches that the state investigated us on? where were the FACTS regarding the woman who brought the suit against board member lopez, loosing, costing us thousands, and then going out on disability? WHERE ARE THE FACTS regarding the tens of thousands of dollars that contractors, hired for prop o business, poured into the board members campaigns - not to mention the company who was entrusted with the job of managing prop o dollars WHO IS NOW REPORTING - we are out of freakin money??????????????

the article regarding the ut on the districts website has done more to stoke the embers of fury amongst the taxpaying community - it has enlightened us more than the district will EVER REALIZE.

WILL MS. SUSAN LUZARRO BE THE NEXT MEMBER OF THE MEDIA CALLED IN BEFORE THE SWEETWATER GRAND JURY?????????

and can someone please explain the comment regarding the 'the 40 teacher meeting that was held'? were they too complaining over the media coverage, or was it sweetwater district leadership only? my money is on sweetwaters' district leadership.

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justateacher Nov. 3, 2011 @ 4:03 p.m.

Just a quick response about the teacher meeting. The meetings purpose was to share our continuing frustrations with many aspects of the district especially the curriculum department. There was no focus on the media other than wishing that our district was not so corrupt so we wouldn't keep being in the media!

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anniejhamner Nov. 3, 2011 @ 4:16 p.m.

thank you for that clarification, the way it was presented on the district website it appeared as though the teachers believed that the stories presented in the union tribune were false -

you know 'justateacher' we THOUGHT we were all looking to a new future under the new leadership, sadly it appears it is more of the same. soooooooooooooooo, we will just have to regroup and begin the fight for integrity, honesty, the best education for our students, fair treatment of ALL district employees, and responsible, uncorrupt TAX DOLLAR expenditures - ALL OVER AGAIN.

fyi - there is NO SUCH THING AS 'justateacher' - ALL OF YOU are the very mentors we entrust the care of our children to. employees such as the teachers are the saving grace of this district. the majority of the employees are the ONLY thing our district and board has done right. and yes, sadly i have been told you all are now on notice of potential pink notices. i can not imagine how you all live under the stress, and still manage to teach.

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Visduh Nov. 3, 2011 @ 7:34 p.m.

The plot is thickening. Brand is now defending the actions of his discredited predecessor. He thinks that the U-T (of all the improbable actors) is presenting an unfair and negative picture of that district. I find it almost unbelievable that the editor of the Light News was willing to sit down with this jerk. Birds of a feather . . . ?

If anyone has paid the slightest attention to the goings-on in the district, he/she will never vote for another bond issue. Oh, and Brand claims that "borrowing" from the bond funds for general fund (operating expenses) is done elsewhere. If that is done elsewhere, it is illegal, no matter how small. One thing those educrats will always remind the kids is "I don't care if 'everyone' is doing it. It's still wrong and you know it!" Brand never learned the thing he's told two generations of high schoolers.

Any voter who thought that Brand was the solution and not part of the ongoing problem should now see they had it wrong. Not only does he need to go, the board that hired him to "turn the district around" needs to go, and as soon as possible. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 3, 2011 @ 8:16 p.m.

Reporting and public records....

I know that it can be cumbersome and costly for districts or cities to respond to public record requests. But we can't begin to quantify what the press/public has been able to learn from this important right. Getting the Dan Hom/Focuscom public relations contract with Southwestern's administration which charged the p.r. group to isolate and expose extremists was an important key to what was going on at the time.

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anniejhamner Nov. 3, 2011 @ 10:07 p.m.

do the words 'VEGA REPORT' ring a bell to anyone? you know the report that john mccann, president of the sweetwater board so 'proudly' announced that HE was calling for. like everything else our board president is famous for 'all talk no action'.

think of it this way, if the Community had trust in the District there would be no need for those ((((((cumbersome and costly public records requests)))))

this is 2011, it is not like we are asking a secretary to sit down, with her pencil and eraser, with her plugged in adding machine, and calculate/gather this data by hand. computers????????????????? plug in the program, highlight what you want, hit print. botta bum, boota bang - within minutes there it is.

have not heard about San Diego City Schools holding an inquisition with the Union Tribune - Oh, but that is right, this is sweetwater district and the sweetwater board we are dealing with. what are those famous words being spoken around all districts water coolers these days ----- 'ONLY AT SWEETWATER do you find an attempt at stopping freedom of the press'.

sad but true

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 3, 2011 @ 11:33 p.m.

One story Brand criticized dealt with Proposition O, a $644 construction bond. " ==

I think the bond was for more than $644, which would not even cover a veteran teachers compensation for a single day.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 4, 2011 @ 8:49 a.m.

Thanks for bringing that to my attention Surf Puppy. My mind/eyes are so used to seeing the million after those numbers --$644 million :-)

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 6, 2011 @ 8:58 a.m.

From a recent speech made by Bill Moyers found on Huffington Post:

"...it is important to cover the new, it is more important to uncover the news. As one of my mentors said, "News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity."

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Visduh Nov. 11, 2011 @ 4 p.m.

It would appear that Brand is already getting better U-T coverage. Today, 11/11/11, the rag printed a story about a plan of his to get a four-year university in So County. The reporter wrote the story with no editorialization to point out the absurdity of the proposal.

Oh, what does he want to do? He wants to have the school district get a bond issue passed that would be used to build a campus on some land set aside by the city of Chula Vista for such a purpose. He would then "pursue partnerships" with various public or private universities. He's even managed to get some idiotic professor at USD to laud the idea.

Let's all remember that the mission of that school district is to run high schools and adult education. It has been doing that poorly for many years, and state budget cuts have made it even harder to do the basic job. The district has no legal mission or role to promote or assist in the operation of a college or university. Yet here comes Brand, out of his den, ready to put yet another bond issue on the ballot, and start some empire-building.

As an aside, perhaps the energies of So County should be put into getting Southwestern College (its two year college) back on the rails long before there is any more talk about a four year institution.

As I mentioned above, Brand and his board of bozos need replacing now. Back to basics first, and for many years to come.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 11, 2011 @ 8:04 p.m.

Visduh, you make some points worth pondering. I read the article with interest--how the definition of university expands.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 13, 2011 @ 8:56 a.m.

Tomorrow night the Sweetwater board will be asked to support the concept of "Sweetwater U." Brand says he doesn't know how much it will cost or what private or public universities he might get there.

A Uunion Tribune editorial yesterday asked a good question--about sustainability. "Is it a risk for sweetwater to set up a significant new demand on its resources when state funding is increasingly stingy for the district's core mission of educating 42,000 students in grades 7-12?

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anniejhamner Nov. 13, 2011 @ 5:08 p.m.

i am not quite understanding why the suhsd is getting into the business of university when they have not managed to get middle and high school down?

our district, not simply one or two schools, but the entire is district is under program improvement -

perhaps they could focus on the here and now - get that right and then move on.

sweetwater u for future teachers - isn't the district preparing to send out rifs?

there is more to this than meets the eye - history has proven nothing about sweetwater is transparent.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 13, 2011 @ 8 p.m.

An interesting point AJ, when I listened to the tape with Brand and the UT, Brand mentioned a college for nurses and one for teachers--but Sweetwater is on the cusp of letting teachers go.

Also, I have heard that several eastside schools are now underenrolled....

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Visduh Nov. 13, 2011 @ 9:58 p.m.

If Brand or any other educrat wants to take the heat off performance issues, such as program improvement status, the best way is a diversion. Let the public and the board argue about how to get into some new venture. While they are doing that, and generating newspaper headlines, they are not paying attention to the matters at hand.

The odious Kenny Noonan, late of Oceanside USD fame, was constantly promoting himself and dissembling. He would tout the schools that had improved test scores in self-serving press releases, while totally neglecting to talk of the schools whose test scores had dropped. The papers would just print the managed stats as fact, and dig no deeper. At one point a few years ago, in response to reform pressures, he moved the majority of the teachers at Oceanside High to other campuses and restaffed that school. But when that was going on, you never read anything about it in the press. No, his smokescreen was the handful of schools where scores were up.

Brand has undoubtedly taken his guidance from the Noonan playbook. But he's gone farther. Don't manage the news--create news that pushes the real news off front page and off the page entirely. This proposal is worth several years of obfuscation before anyone pays attention to those schools the district now operates and asks any penetrating questions about them.

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cvres Nov. 14, 2011 @ 11:34 a.m.

Question: How can the Sweetwater board be about to vote on the university when the INTERIM superintendent already announced to the U-T that Sweetwater U is going forward?

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