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Gregg Robinson Focuses on Inequality and Access to Education

by Michael Higham, published

San Diego has instances of success in its education system, but also faces problems with achievement gaps. Low-income neighborhoods face challenges that are often times out of the hands of teachers. Dr. Gregg Robinson is a candidate for the San Diego County Board of Education who sees inequality and access to education as the primary issue.

Dr. Gregg Robinson has never attempted a run for an elected office. So, why is the long-time teacher and activist giving it a shot this time? He states:

I've set my life in education at nearly all levels. Now I feel it's time to give something back. My biggest concern however is inequality and access to education. Take a look at almost any study right now. University of California, Los Angeles does an annual report on conditions of education in the state of California. For the last four or five years they've been horrified by what's been happening with access to education in our state.

Dr. Gregg Robinson likens running for an elected office to, "running around like chicken with its head cut off!" He finds himself juggling roles as an educator and education researcher. "I go anywhere and people listen to me, but I'm also incredibly busy. I feel like I haven't devoted enough time to campaigning."

While Dr. Robinson may be busy now, his role on the county board of education would merge with his research.

Because I am a researcher and know the other research on various areas of education, I am comfortable looking at proposals that may look good on the surface but might not be very effective in serving students, particularly low-income and vulnerable students, who are my greatest concern.

While devoting his skill in research to create sound policy, he also wants to watch over expenditures:

I see myself as a watchdog on the board making sure monies are spent wisely and particularly prioritizing students who are in most need of educational spending. We know the best predictor of how well students perform is what happens at their home, but after that, it's the quality of the teacher in the classroom. I want to make sure that every single student, especially vulnerable students have the highest quality teacher possible.

Voting is a civic duty in the eyes of Dr. Gregg Robinson. He says eligible voters who choose not to vote are failing democracy. Potential voters might not have the time or means to vote on election day. However, Dr. Robinson says, "when you stay home, you give somebody else your vote and that's failing democracy. We all have to vote, we all have to take responsibility for our government."

Dr. Gregg Robinson speaking at a student rally in Spring 2010

Dr. Gregg Robinson is currently an instructor of sociology at Grossmont Community College. His students can testify for the amount of energy Dr. Robinson displays when teaching. A past students recalls that in his Introduction to Sociology class, Dr. Robinson, "took time every now and then to stress the importance of education and opportunities."

Former colleague Mel Freilicher reflects on working with Dr. Robinson in the past:

He never manifested any kind of egotistical or self-aggrandizing behavior. What he said was consistently well thought out, pointed, and highly rational. And Gregg was always there on the follow through. He’s smart, responsible, straightforward, hard working, perseverant, and very passionate about social justice.

As an activist, Dr. Robinson served as Vice Chairman of the Peninsula Community Planning Board and The Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego.

Dr. Gregg Robinson earned his Ph.D in Sociology of Education from the University of California, San Diego. He has taught at the University of Texas, San Antonio and University of Maryland. Dr. Robinson spent time in the San Diego Unified School District as a substitute teacher.

During Grossmont College's Political Economy Week, Dr. Robinson discusses government and market solutions to health care. He hasn't let up on his passion for education in his 22 years at Grossmont College.

Dr. Gregg Robinson is running for San Diego County Board of Education against incumbent trustee John Witt. The seat will represent district one which covers most of the San Diego Unified School District.

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