Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kids in Political Play


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.
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  1. Where the children of politicans go to school should be off limits.

  2. Nicholas E. TerryMay 4, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Anonymous has a point...family is off limits, however, calling out someones hypocrisy is just fine. In this case, she was praising for the effectiveness of the school district...yet, complains that her kid is in a private school because he was bullied and the school did nothing.

    Was the kid bullied? Who knows. But it can be suggested that that's just a way to say going to a private school made sense.

    No one is exploiting her kids...assuming the parent isn't using the child being bullied as an excuse to say why they are in private school.

    If Mrs. Starosciak didn't make the comment that the public schools are effective, perhaps the Mayor wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

  3. It's one thing to go directly after a politician's children and their own personal actions, like the media has done to Chelsea Clinton, George Bush' daughters and Bristol Palin. That's horrendous and inexcusable; though interestingly enough most people are only offended when it happens to children of the politician they support.

    These criticisms are aimed squarely at San Leandro's hypocrtie politicians themselves. As parents of minor children, it was ultimately their decision to put their children in private school.

    I'm sure all local politicians had good reason to put their children in private schools - but it only goes to prove the argument that they don't have any skin in the game to fixing San Leandro's public schools, because *they* get to enjoy private alternatives. When the schools are in bad shape and city officials have no impetus to fix them, that's bad for the whole town.

    I've heard that bullying is commonplace in San Leandro public schools; part of the reason we moved away was we heard about an incident where a student at Washington Elementary was stabbed in the testicles by a fellow student; and the administration refused to act.

    Unfortunately, the East Bay and California as a whole are so caught up in political correctness, that school districts are more worried more about discrimination lawsuits than ensuring the physical safety of children. But again, public school bullying just goes to show why local politicians need to have skin in the game. For instance, if Joyce's child was in public school and being bullied, then maybe Joyce wouldn't vote to cut police protection and programs for San Leandro public schools.

    Frank Lynn

  4. "Where the children of politicians go to school should be off limits."

    How much you want to bet this "anonymous" is Cassidy. I hear he tried to get his daughter into Assumption so she could bully Joyce's kid.

  5. Starociak lives in the San Lorenzo School District.

  6. How did this all happen, the schools used to be good here. How can a school board elected by the people and made up of people in the community allow this to happen? It is a crime. What is wrong with this once proud city? This city, along with its schools is in a pathetic state and condition. It is very sad and frankly embarrasing.

  7. Well, when you have some fat, greasy, long haired nut like Mike Katz donating a book called "The God Delusion" to the High School Library you know that the schools are screwed. That waste of oxygen has no place on the School Board.

  8. Katz' leadership has been an embarassment.

  9. In a city with so many immigrants and therefore likely religious folks, how did a Christoper Hitchens wannabe like Katz get elected spouting anti-religious garbage. Your school board president does not have the same values as you and he's influencing how your kids learn! Wake up, San Leandro!

  10. Katz is a fat pig slob. I'll tell you how that babooze got elected....All those overeducated jackasses in Estudillo and Broadmoor came out en masse to put that greasy slime on the School Board. The problems with San Leandro stem from that crowd near the Oakland Border.