—by Shane Parmely, Twain CR and Candidate for CTA State Council Delegate
The Breakfast Club is launching a petition to DUMP “DATA” DOBBS, the District’s new and extremely fact-challenged CFO:
Why? Read on…
While last Wednesday’s SDEA Board meeting was pretty tame, there was one thing that jumped out: SDEA seems prepared to let the fact that new District CFO Stan “Data” Dobbs gave an interview filled with lies about teachers to the Voice of San Diego simply drop. If you are just catching up, here’s what happened:
- On Feb. 1, the Voice of San Diego published an alarming interview with new SDUSD CFO Stan “Data” Dobbs. In the interview, Dobbs falsely claimed that the average District teacher makes $92,000 before benefits, that class size has no impact on student learning, and that teachers are going to need to give up our healthcare to keep the District afloat. (LINK)
- On Feb. 4, Superintendent Bill Kowba released an apology for Dobbs’ misstatements — but stated he would continue to value working with Dobbs in the future. (LINK)
- On Feb. 6, School Board President John Lee Evans also released a “fact check” of Dobbs’ interview, but also made no indication that steps would be taken to remove Dobbs from his post. (LINK)
Go back and re-read his interview and replace “teacher” with “Area Superintendent” and then consider what Kowba’s reaction would have looked like. Quite frankly, an email from Kowba doesn’t even come close to making amends for this unprovoked attack. One of a few possible scenarios played out with this interview:
- Possibility One: Yes, the District wanted Dobbs to go throw some grenades to let employees know their “place” in the upcoming contract negotiations.
- Possibility Two: Yes, the District let Dobbs do this interview and it wasn’t until someone read the interview that they had any idea that the man they hired as the new CFO is hostile towards educators and doesn’t actually understand the budget.
- Possibility Three: No, the District had no idea Dobbs invited a reporter into his District office so he could be interviewed and photographed while making inaccurate and inflammatory comments about thousands of the District’s employees.
(If you have an alternate explanation, by all means, please add it in the comments section below.)
The new CFO has publicly denigrated the thousands of professionals who have sacrificed financially in order to dedicate their lives to educating the children of San Diego. The bottom line is this: If he can publicly insult us and belittle our profession, he can publicly admit he was wrong and apologize for a lack of professionalism.
And so at last week’s SDEA Board meeting, appropriately, there was extensive discussion about the CFO interview and Kowba’s public apology. SDEA President Bill Freeman said that SDEA emailed Kowba to tell him that the interview “damaged their relationship with us” as well as SDUSD’s relationship with the community, and that they then set to work on a fact check. Freeman described Kowba’s letter of apology as very rare and told everyone that CFO “Data” Dobbs had come to SDEA to apologize to Freeman in person on Monday, Feb. 4.
Happily, many Board members wanted SDEA to take further action. Dennis Schamp shared that members at his school want to know when SDEA will be asking for Dobbs to be fired, and for a public apology to our members. Eleanor Evans shared that at a recent CTA conference, attendees from several different districts had heard about Dobbs’ horrible comments and said that he had to go. Erin Kole thought Dobbs’ comments were intentional and calculated on the District’s part because it would be unlikely for him to give an interview like that without first getting District approval. Scott Mullin pointed out that the comments coming from Dobbs makes him sound like he is part of the reform movement and asked what SDEA knows about Dobbs. The anger of these SDEA Board members is well-founded, and echoes the sentiments I’ve heard teachers all over the District express.
But disappointingly, three of the four SDEA officers spoke against pursuing additional action toward Dobbs. Freeman stated that in his original email he had requested a letter of apology to members, but he did not ask that Dobbs apologize and that he didn’t think it was appropriate to ask. SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham acknowledged that Dobbs’ comments were a slap in the face to many SDEA members, especially because he is the CFO. However, Burningham echoed Freeman’s comments. She said that SDEA can’t control who the District hires (since when?), but suggested we bring this up during the next round of accountability sessions. (I’m not aware of there being a “next round” scheduled at this point…)
SDEA Treasurer Manuel Gomez described Dobbs’ comments as anti-teacher and anti-union. He expressed his frustration that Dobbs and his comments are now being celebrated on local radio with Dobbs being portrayed as a hero. He seemed to agree that Dobbs should be fired… but then he referred back to Freeman and Burningham’s comments about how we can’t influence that. Gomez ended by saying that the next time Dobbs attacks, we should attack back.
After the comments from these top-tier union leaders, the SDEA Board ended with no plan to respond to this most recent attack on teachers, our work, and our pay and benefits.
Instead, Freeman told everyone that when Dobbs had originally been hired, SDEA had called the last local union where Dobbs worked and that he had been highly recommended. He said that the previous union thought their district had gotten rid of Dobbs for being too supportive of the teachers.
When I hear Bill Freeman and Lindsay Burningham’s willingness to let this new hire’s employment status remain unchallenged because they claim we cannot influence who SDUSD hires and fires, I am left wondering if these are the same two people who were very recently celebrating their roles in helping to push out Area Superintendent Brenda Campbell (whom the Board fired on the heels of Freeman’s public testimony encouraging them to do so), and Chief District Attorney Larry Schoenke (who was forced into early retirement after SDEA launched a union-wide campaign targeting him at Rep. Council this past fall).
And then it hit me… This is another example of what SDEA’s new collaborative relationship with the District looks like: an abusive relationship. SDUSD just publically beat us up AGAIN and expects to be able to get off the hook with an I’m-sorry-I-didn’t-mean-it apology. This time, SDEA needs to make clear that an apology won’t be enough.
Why is our union accepting the fact “Data” Dobbs took a fieldtrip to SDEA to sit in Bill Freeman’s office to issue Freeman an apology for his comments as an acceptable resolution? His interview didn’t attack Freeman — it attacked all 7,000 of us! SDUSD needs to actually CHANGE and dump “Data” Dobbs. I am not satisfied with the face-saving out that Dobbs has been extended by our union leadership. Dobbs clearly has no respect for educators and he needs to go.
If you aren’t satisfied with an email apology from Bill Kowba, encourage your SDEA Board Representative to demand an apology from “Data” Dobbs himself, and his termination as our Chief Financial Officer. I would love to see thousands of SDEA members voice their level of satisfaction with the new CFO’s continued employment.
That is why we are launching a “Dump ‘Data’ Dobbs” campaign. Here is a link to our petition:
You can also copy and paste this link to a separate email and send it on to your colleagues:
Let’s do to Dobbs what our union has done before with Superintendents (Alan Bersin, Terry Grier), Area Superintendents (Campbell), and CFOs (Ron Little) in the past: Pressure the School Board to force him out! We don’t need Freeman’s permission… and we hope he (and the other members of the SDEA Board who are as furious as we are!) will join us.
Let’s get SDUSD to Dump “Data” Dobbs!