Civics Teacher Joanne Fawley Tries to Break Through the Entrenched Fullerton Joint Union High School Board

Joanne Fawley

Joanne Fawley wants to bring the perspective of a working teacher to the School Board.

Four of the five current members of the Fullerton Joint Union High School Governing Board — including the three incumbents now running for reelection — have served together for 30 years.

Continuity has its benefits — but also its drawbacks.  A longtime slate of Board Members — and yes, incumbents Marilyn Buchi, Robert Hathaway, and Robert Singer are running on a slate — can become stagnant, out-of-touch — especially with the ever-changing rush of new social issues, new technologies, and new political trends.  The incumbents are being challenged by Joanne FawleyZina Gleason, MJ Noor, and Ho Jeong Lim.

I heard Joanne Fawley speak a couple of months ago when we were on the same panel — and I was very impressed with her.  Her father was a high school teacher (while her mother prepared meals in a central cafeteria for several schools).  He husband is a teacher.  And she is a teacher as well — teaching government at Cypress High School.

She’s thoroughly a Cal State Fullerton product, Bachelor’s and Masters — and seems to be well-versed in educational policy.  One of the things that she told me is that she is an advocate of public education, which I initially thought shouldn’t need saying — and then I realized that these days, unfortunately, it does.  She’d bring an educator’s values and perspective to the classroom.

Fawley says that the voters she’s spoken to “want a smooth pathway between the elementary districts, the high schools and the colleges and universities including effective, consistent communication and community involvement.  People also want to ensure that all students throughout the District have access to quality career and technical education and college readiness programs.”

In terms of her formal qualifications, she had this to say:

I have the current, relevant experience needed since I am a classroom teacher who has taught grades seven through twelve enabling me to guide policy on the crucial transitions from junior high to high school and high school to college as well as a thorough understanding of the complexity of high schools.

For six years, I served on a monthly school district budget committee and health insurance committee as well as a superintendent’s advisory committee.  I have first-hand experience with the recent changes in school finance and budget preparation and the practical knowledge needed by school board members.  I have been attending the School Board meetings since February.

I am a proven collaborative leader, which is why I am supported by a broad coalition including business owners, teachers, classified staff people, community leaders, college professors, elected officials and parents.

In terms of policy, she seemed open, aware of the issues that might reach the school board, and — unlike some school board candidates I could name — thoroughly within the mainstream.  She also seemed sharp enough to ask good questions of Staff — again, not like some OC elected officials — and press them to come up with good explanations of and rationales for what they propose.  I’d feel a lot more positive towards the district’s bond proposal, Measure I, which I’ve given only lukewarm support, if I knew that someone who has current experience and a little distrance from those making the proposal would be in a position to oversee its implementation.  I hope that she doesn’t think that the term “policy wonk” isn’t a compliment, because that’s what I get from her — and it’s a good background for a school board member.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)