MAYOR CALLS OUT OPPONENT FOR SENDING KIDS TO PRIVATE SCHOOL
SAN LEANDRO There is a treacherous line to navigate between malicious politicking and a cogent point when a politician's family is involved. It gets even more iffy when it involves children.
During a joint meeting of the San Leandro City Council and School Board last week, Mayor Tony Santos called out his mayoral opponent Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak for praising for the effectiveness of the school district when she, in fact, sends her two children to parochial school.
Starosciak barely flinched as Santos levied the hammer of hypocrisy, but the whispers of her children's enrollment outside of the school district has attracted much derision. Starosciak told The Citizen back in October, her children were not enrolled in the school district and said her son was repeatedly bullied by students at his elementary school in the Manor neighborhood. After repeatedly complaining to the principal to no avail, she said, they enrolled her son in a local Catholic school.
While the San Leandro Unified School District has suffered of late with declining test scores and debilitating budget cuts, other district's in the area, notably Oakland and Hayward are far worse. There is an increasing sense, though, that many of the more affluent among San Leandro residents, along with local officials who praise the public schools while sending their children to private schools, is causing a economic and social divisions in a city still beset by racial disharmony entrenched in the its DNA for many decades.
For Starosciak's campaign, nothing can hurt more than for her to be perceived by the city's predominantly working-class voters as elitist. Yet, the mantra of "the public schools are good enough for me, but not good enough for Joyce?" could sting all the way to November, especially when coupled with comments earlier this year the city was in a state of "decay". As contributor Frank Lynn points out in his commentary following this post, the number of San Leandro pols enrolling their progeny in private schools is somewhat pervasive and problematic.
Scoring political points at the expense of your opponents children is inherently risky, but in this case, it may illustrate exactly what Starosciak and others on the city council really think of the city they represent. It's kind of like the old Michael Kinsley line, "a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth." In the case of an education in San Leandro public schools, its where they choose to send their kids to school.
-STEVEN TAVARESJOIN THE REVOLUTION! www.eastbaycitizen.com