SANDAG, Water Agencies Faith Based Planning


By Doug Porter

Two incredulous tales about the agencies entrusted to look out for the public good opting for short-sighted policies grabbed my attention this morning. Apparently climate change is a mere bureaucratic hurdle and the drought is soon to be forgotten. I guess we just gotta have faith, baby.

Our regional transportation planners are set to approve a proposal no better than the one already rejected by the courts for failing to meet state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to the group that took them to court in the first place.

Ten local water agencies are, according to a story in Voice of San Diego, questioning state regulators about the need to continue restrictions on water use. They’re banking on a return to normalcy with the advent of El Nino conditions this winter, and are apparently ignorant of long term trends due to climate change.   [Read more…]

Why Free College Tuition Makes Sense for America

free college now

By Bernie Rhinerson / FreeCollegeNow.Org

Ever since President Obama announced Americas College Promise, his plan to make community colleges tuition free, the debate and conversation about making colleges free has been building with many productive ideas coming forward.

This month, the San Diego Community College District may have become the first community college district in the country to approve an endorsement resolution supporting these efforts to make a community college education more affordable.  That is just one step of many that we need to take down the road to a future where a college education is expected, accessible and affordable for all young people in our country.

More than 100 years ago, America began to acknowledge that to be successful, our younger citizens needed more education.  During the “high school movement” from 1910 to 1940, high schools were established to expand educational opportunities for students.  In 1910, only 9% of 18-year-olds graduated from a secondary school.  By 1940, 73% of high school age Americans were enrolled in a secondary school.  That educational explosion has been credited with the success achieved by our country in the 20th century in the growth of the middle class, and scientific and technological achievements.   [Read more…]

Do All “Black Lives Matter?”

Two Moms

By Ernie McCray

Damn. One day I’m writing a piece concerning discrimination against lesbians and gays, making a pitch for us to let the now proverbial Adam and Steve or Alanna and Eve feel at ease in just being themselves.

And the very next day, to my dismay, I hear of a little 5-year-old black girl who is kicked out of a school, the Mt. Erie Christian Academy, because she has two moms.

Whoa, right back where I started from. Another story about “beliefs.” Christian beliefs. But I just have to say I can’t see Christ turning some child away from a school with some lame excuse like “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin,” making that little girl, in essence, a victim of her mothers’ sins.   [Read more…]

Diary of a Refugee: Finding Hope In Art and Education


By Vanessa Ceceña

Burma is a country in Southeast Asia that has been torn by civil war, unrest and a regime that instills fear in its people. After nearly 50 years of military rule, the country is currently in a process of renovation, but there are still accounts continued human rights violations.

Like in many countries that have experienced unrest and a level of genocide, many in Burma fled their country and entered refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Here is the story of Eh De Gray.

De Gray identifies as Karen, one of the ethnic groups in Burma. He is the oldest of 5 and at the young age of 11, he decided to leave his home country and family to enter a refugee camp on the Burmese-Thai border. He wanted an education, an opportunity, something that he would not get if he remained in Burma.   [Read more…]

Are Charter School Directors Bending Pension Rules?


By Rick Mercurio / Alianza North County

Teachers and administrators in California’s public schools earn pensions based on several factors. For some, like Dennis Snyder, the founder of three charter schools in Escondido CA, it adds up to a healthy lifetime benefit, even though his final employer was not a public school district, and even though he found an apparent loophole in the regulations.

Snyder’s situation

Dennis Snyder worked as a teacher and football coach at Escondido High School starting in about 1965. In 1986 the principal fired Snyder as coach, citing the reason that he was not cooperative with the parent booster organization. Snyder appealed the firing to both the superintendent and the school board, and he lost both appeals.

Although he was let go as head football coach, he retained his teaching position. However, in the early ‘90s Snyder switched jobs, becoming executive director of the Escondido Charter High School, which he founded. Heritage K-8 Charter School and Heritage Digital Academy were later founded by Snyder as well.

Snyder’s salary as executive director eventually rose to almost $111,000.   [Read more…]

To Cut Costs, College Students Are Buying Less Food and Even Going Hungry

Students in classroom

By Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katharine Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison / The Conversation

Studies have long shown that a college student’s odds of achieving financial security and a better quality of life improve when he or she earns a degree.

But what are some of the obstacles that prevent degree attainment?

At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, we study the challenges that students from low- and moderate-income households face in attaining a college degree. Chief among these are the many hurdles created by the high price of college. Paying the price of attending college, we find, changes who attends and for how long, as well as the college experience itself – what classes students take, the grades they earn, the activities in which they engage and even with whom they interact.

Our recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students tell us that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they can’t afford enough of life’s basic necessity – food.   [Read more…]

School Board Trustee Praised, Defended and Investigated, All in a Day at San Diego Unified


By Doug Porter

School Board Trustee Marne Foster is at the center of several controversies in the San Diego Unified School District. A meeting of the trustees yesterday featured numerous TV trucks lined up outside, partisans and opponents inside, along with three distinct actions and enough drama for a cable mini-series.

Documents released by the district answered many questions raised concerning the School of Creative and Performing Arts, at the center of the current controversy. Responding to charges that Trustee Foster had intervened in school affairs on behalf of her son, the district’s documents amounted to a master class in how to respond to a political controversy: hit’em [critics] hard and hit ‘em long. This situation is far from resolved, however.

Also, the school board authorized an investigation into Trustee Foster’s involvement in a fundraiser on behalf of her son’s college fund and a claim filed against the district allegedly by the child’s father. And they passed a resolution praising Foster for her work promoting equity in the district.  Confused yet? It is complicated, to be sure.   [Read more…]

Lively Hoods


Why are we asking for jobs?

Most jobs are a lopsided trade agreement
where we relinquish the majority of our waking hours,
and our labor and talent
to make someone else
wealthy – wealthier!
in exchange for just enough money to survive.
Sometimes it’s not even enough
…used to be.

What we all really want
and need
is a means of living
that makes being alive meaningful.   [Read more…]

Jade Helm 15 Ends and #IStandWithAhmed Begins, Deep in the Heart of Texas


By Doug Porter

Today, two examples from the Lone Star State strike me as indicative of a sort of mass paranoia that has become all too commonplace. I’m mindful of these stories in thinking about the CNN Republican Presidential debate, with unhinged ideas likely to be touted as reality.

Example #1 is a revisiting of an older baloney sandwich. The Jade Helm 15 training exercise, alleged to be cover for a military takeover has ended. This delusion was used for political gain by three of the Republican candidates for president and a plethora of right-wing acolytes. Nothing happened.

Example #2 is a heartbreaking story about a 14 year kid in Irving, Texas who wanted to show off his science skills. He ended up being arrested, fingerprinted, and held incommunicado after he brought a home made clock to school. Oh, and he has brown skin. And his name is Ahmed Mohamed.   [Read more…]

In ‘Win for Public Schools,’ Washington Supreme Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Stop sign on school bus

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

Public education advocates are welcoming the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling late Friday that the state’s charter school law is unconstitutional.

The Seattle Times reports that “The ruling — believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country — overturns the law [I-1240] voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.”   [Read more…]

Why Teach? In Defense of the Public Good

harpers cover

By Jim Miller

These days it seems a new school year can’t start without being greeted by yet another pronouncement that my profession and/or higher education itself is heading for the dustbin of history. Last year around this time, I pondered the proclaimed death of the English major and this year the front page of the most recent issue of Harper’s is bemoaning “The Neoliberal Arts: How College Sold Its Soul.”

In this insightful piece William Deresiewicz hits on themes familiar to anyone who has been around higher education for the last few decades. Neoliberal education is a product of “market fundamentalism,” an “ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of a thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of a person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace—in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.”   [Read more…]

Dump the Trump? GOP Freaking Out as Their Frankenstein Runs Amok


By Doug Porter

By now ‘everybody knows’ that billionaire blowhard Donald John Trump is out of control.

“He’s tapped into citizen anger” is Republi-speak for “we never thought all our lies would come back to bite us in the ass,” and “please spare us your wrath.”

Others in the party are seeking to portray The Donald as aberrant, only to draw angry responses from the man and his minions.  When everyday misogynist Erick Erickson dis-invited Trump from a conservative conference, the blowback was so bad he moved his family to another hotel, fearing for their safety.

So here’s the deal: if Donald Trump had made the same comments about MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the Fox News crew and the other GOP candidates would have said ‘no big deal.’ They’d still be snickering in the green room.   [Read more…]

What If Teachers Got Million-Dollar Deals Instead of Athletes? In Key and Peele’s World, They Do

Key and Peele : Teaching Central

The comedy duo’s SportsCenter spoof is the most exciting look yet at how awesome things would be if we made teaching a priority.

By Christopher Zumski Finke / Yes! Magazine

Just for kicks, let’s imagine that teachers were treated like professional athletes. The media celebrates and scrutinizes athletes, while teachers toil away in classrooms in relative anonymity. What would it look like if those roles were reversed?   [Read more…]

As California Expands Eligibility, the Voting Rights Act Becomes a Proxy War


By Doug Porter

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla did the right thing on Tuesday, withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated championed by his predecessor.

On Thursday, the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, President Obama along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), will call for upon Congress for restoration of provisions struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Twenty one Republican-controlled states have enacted laws making it more difficult to register or vote since the 2010 election.

These three examples are all aspects of the same phenomena: the act of voting is a proxy war for issues of class and race facing our society.   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future


By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

How America Is Failing Its Schools

think outside the box

America’s schools are not failing; America is failing its schools

By Salvatore Babones /

The 1983 blue-ribbon panel report A Nation At Risk exposed the dire state of America’s schools. The report was commissioned by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell to address “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.”

The commission included 12 administrators, 1 businessperson, 1 chemist, 1 physicist, 1 politician, 1 conservative activist, 1 teacher — and not a single expert on America’s educational system.

The report concluded that “declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted.” It advocated an expansion of standardized testing to ensure better performance.   [Read more…]

The Calamity of the Disappearing School Libraries

Ryeish Green School Library

Debra Kachel / The Conversation

From coast to coast, elementary and high school libraries are being neglected, defunded, repurposed, abandoned and closed.

The kindest thing that can be said about this is that it’s curious; the more accurate explanation is that it’s just wrong and very foolish.

A 2011 survey conducted with my graduate students of 25 separate statewide studies shows that students who attend schools with libraries that are staffed by certified librarians score better on reading and writing tests than students in schools without library services. And it is lower-income students who benefit the most.   [Read more…]

ALEC Gets a Raucous Reception in San Diego


This is California. We fight for workers’ rights. We fight for affordable healthcare”  
-Labor Leader Mickey Kasparian

By Doug Porter

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2015 annual meeting in San Diego drew more protesters than it did delegates. And (for few moments, anyway) the issue of what ALEC actually does to took precedence over the appearances of GOP aspirants to the presidency.

A united front of labor and activist organizations staged a rally in the Embarcadero Park North, located behind the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, where legislators and lobbyists were gathered.

Buses came from Los Angeles. Things were well organized. There was plenty of food and water to be had. There was also plenty of intense sunshine, symbolizing in a way, the purpose of the protest: to make the public aware that ALEC is not the virtuous organization it claims to be.

Today we’ll take a look around at some coverage of the protest. And there are plenty of pictures….   [Read more…]

ALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Austerity

alec cardboard sign

By Jonas Persson and and Mary Bottari / Center for Media and Democracy

The right-wing push to amend the U.S. Constitution by requiring a balanced federal budget is gaining momentum. In January, GOP Governor John Kasich of Ohio went on a six-state tour to rally support, and so far this year, New Jersey, Utah and North Dakota have passed resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. By some counts, 27 states have passed such resolutions; 34 are needed to trigger a convention.

Ronald Reagan called for a balanced budget amendment in the 1980s and Newt Gingrich included it in the 1994 Contract With America. A year later, ALEC joined the fray with a model resolution for states. Those who advocate for an amendment often cite “common sense” concerns about “fiscal responsibility.” But as history shows, the rhetoric often masks the outright hostility many proponents of the amendment have for key federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and for the regulatory infrastructure that protects consumers and the environment.   [Read more…]

Anti-LGBT Strategies a Big Part of Skyline Church’s ‘Future Conference’


By Doug Porter

Media Matters for America has posted an insiders account of presentations by the country’s most prominent anti-LGBT activists during a recent conference at San Diego’s Skyline Church.

Organized by Skyline Pastor Jim Garlow, the 2015 Future Conference was called in response to “the thorniest and most challenging issues in the current cultural landscape.”

While the four day gathering featured presentations covering a range of issues, the alleged rise of Christian persecution stemming from the growing acceptance of LGBT people was the unifying theme.   [Read more…]

Chinese Stock Market Crash Could Impact California Real Estate


By Doug Porter

It seems like we’re rushing from one crisis to the next these days on the world’s economic stage. Puerto Rico is flailing, Greece is on the brink and now the Chinese stock market is tanking. The first two are relatively minor in terms of their actual economic impact worldwide, the situation in Asia poses a threat to real estate markets, especially in California.

In just over three weeks Chinese investors have seen $3 trillion (that’s with a “T”) in equity vanish, despite increasingly desperate measures by the government.  That is six times Greece’s entire foreign debt, or 11 years of Greece’s economic output, according to the New York Times.

Hundreds of companies have halted trading, more credit has been made available and the state pension fund’s assets are being tapped, all to no avail. Much of the Chinese market boom has been fueled by stock purchases made on credit. Now that those stocks are worth less than what was paid for them, it’s reasonable to assume investors will be forced to sell off real estate assets to pay off the loans. And they’ve been buying in California in a big way.   [Read more…]

Report: Border Patrol Union Officials Working with Hate Groups


By Doug Porter

A newly released report from the Center for a New Community (CNC) says there is a systemic pattern of behind-the-scenes collusion between officials of unions associated with the Border Patrol and prominent anti-immigrant hate groups.

Last year’s protests in Murrieta, California are cited in “Blurring Borders: Collusion between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents” as an example of Border Patrol agents coordinating with anti-immigrant forces. On July 1st, 2014, anti-immigrant activists used civil disobedience to block federal buses carrying refugee women and children to a Border Patrol processing center.   [Read more…]

Student Loan Default a Growing Trend?

student loan debt

By John Lawrence

With over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, young college graduates are being forced to take jobs they hate in order to pay them back. Their futures consist of debt peonage for as far as the eye can see. Some are opting out of a lifetime of death-in-debtorhood and choosing instead to start over living the life that they foresaw when they enrolled in college in the first place. Such a one is Lee Siegle whose June 6 opinion piece in the New York Times laid out his rational for defaulting on his student loan.

His decision was made based on choosing life over death …   [Read more…]

Poetry at a Budget Meeting


By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets. Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies…   [Read more…]

A Small Restoration Is a Big Deal in Mission Bay

UCSD marsh restoration project overview

By Robert Little / The OB Rag

There is a lot of action at the corner of Pacific Beach Drive and Crown Point Drive in Pacific Beach these days. The visible construction of grading for a small restoration project behind the marsh fence started in May of this year but the preparations started more than two years ago and the covering of the bare sandy soil will take at least six months to complete. The work is restricted to the portion of the marsh owned by the University of California and managed by UCSD.   [Read more…]