Editorial: Nancy Magee for San Mateo County school superintendent

Nancy Magee
Nancy Magee


In the race for superintendent of the San Mateo County Office of Education, Nancy Magee is the clear choice.

Both candidates are employees in the Redwood City-based Office of Education, headed by Superintendent Anne Campbell, who is retiring. Gary Waddell is the deputy superintendent of instructional services and Nancy Magee is the associate superintendent of student services.

Waddell strikes us as a typical education bureaucrat, who is big on getting groups of educators together to discuss things but hasn’t accomplished much. He started a program called “Zap the Gap” 10 years ago that was intended to reduce the achievement disparity between students of different racial groups. But a decade after the program started, he admits there hasn’t been much change in that gap.

On the other hand, Nancy Magee is a hands-on problem solver. Maybe that’s because she was a classroom teacher for 20 years, so she knows the challenges educators face first hand.

In her time with the Office of Education, her accomplishments have been much more impressive than those of her opponent. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, she led a program called “The Big Five,” a set of emergency procedures every school in the county follows when they get a bomb threat or a mass shooter.

She also developed a department in the county office that gives schools guidance and expertise in providing mental health support for students including a suicide prevention tool kit.

On the issue of charter schools, both said in an interview that they would be fair when dealing with disputes between school districts and charters. The county office often arbitrates such disputes.

But we found Magee much more open to the concept of charters, bringing in Redwood City’s Summit Preparatory to run the school the county board operates for children in the criminal justice system. Waddell seemed much less receptive to charters, maybe because he’s endorsed by the state’s major teacher union, CTA, which fights charters at every turn.

In our view, charters are giving parents in poor-performing school districts a valuable and essential option. We want a county Office of Education that’s receptive to charter applications.

We think Magee is the obvious choice for county superintendent of schools.
— Editor Dave Price

Other recommendations for the June 5 primary:
Vote “no” on recalling Judge Persky
Cindy Hendrickson for Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge
Re-elect Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith
Carlos Bolanos for San Mateo County Sheriff
Re-elect San Mateo County Judge Gerald Buchwald
Re-elect Mark Church as San Mateo County assessor, clerk, recorder and elections officer
Re-elect San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley
Vote “no” on the toll hike, Regional Measure 3
Our recommendations on the five state ballot propositions