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 / Inequality.org

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…]

“The Way” Won’t Cut It

The Old and the New Way

By Ernie McCray

I ran across a graphic on Facebook the other day that broke down “32-take-away-12=20” in two different ways: the “old fashion” way and the “new” way.

The “new” way was seen as “Satanic” and, with a click onto a website, I read that Louis C.K., one of my favorite comedians, was ticked off that his daughters had gone from loving math to crying about it.

I thought, as I looked at the math visual before me and contemplated whatever it was that was going on with an incredibly funny man’s daughters at school, that both the “old fashion” way and the “new” way got to the correct answer rather nicely. They’re simply ways. And all the ways work. For somebody.   [Read more…]

From the TPP to the Death of Tenure: Neoliberalism Hurts Us All

No neoliberalism

Depending on how things line up, this week may be when we learn whether or not the House of Representatives delivers Obama a win on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a bipartisan effort that will more thoroughly enshrine a neoliberal structure in U.S. law in the service of bolstering corporate control of our democracy.

Of course this only provides more depressing evidence in support of recent research on the state of American democracy by scholars James N. Druckman from Northwestern University and University of Minnesota’s Jacob R. Lawrence showing that “presidents from both Republican and Democratic parties mainly serve and are guided by the wishes of the wealthy and political elites and exploit public opinion in order to serve those ends.”   [Read more…]

‘Empty the Tanks’ Campaign to Hit San Diego’s SeaWorld This Weekend

Orca Corky banner

Animal rights activists from throughout Southern California will gather in San Diego this weekend in a kick-off for a world-wide campaign called “Empty the Tanks” with demonstrations against SeaWorld.

The main demonstration is on Saturday, June 6th outside SeaWorld from 10am to 1pm, at the intersection of SeaWorld Drive and SeaWorld Way. The goal is to advocate for marine mammals held captive worldwide for entertainment and profit.   [Read more…]

Use of Public Funds without Oversight Mars Escondido Charter Schools

escondido charter

By Nina Deerfield and Rebecca Nutile

Editor Note: This is part three of the series about charter schools in Escondido. Part one here and part two here.

Public education advocates around the country are taking a closer look at charter schools, their finances, their admission and expulsion policies, as well as their questionable academic results. These schools, while privately run, receive millions of taxpayer dollars annually, yet oversight is difficult because charter schools are exempt from much of the Education Code that governs traditional public schools.

Public dollars with little public oversight have created environments in which irregularities and questionable practices–both academic and financial—are thriving. At Alianza North County, we’re taking a closer look at these taxpayer-funded schools in Escondido. One such unusual practice is occurring at the city’s most popular and controversial charter school.   [Read more…]

C.H.E. Cafe Makes SOHO “10 Most Endangered List” for 2015


By Monty Kroopkin

The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) has announced its 10 Most Endangered List for local historic sites for 2015. The C.H.E. Café is on the list. The list was revealed at SOHO’s annual People In Preservation (PIP) dinner on May 21, 2015.

According to SOHO President Jaye MacAskill, it was explained during the PIP Awards dinner that “Ché Café is one of those beloved, old hangouts at UCSD that devoted students and alumni will always want to revisit. It may be the last remnant of 1960s counterculture on this campus, and a symbol of free speech served up with an earthy menu. Which is to say, Ché Café is beloved not at all by the university. SOHO supports students and others who argue that history, ‘even history rooted in revolutionary ideas and discourse’ deserves a place at the increasingly crowded UCSD table.”   [Read more…]

Dems Back Debt-Free College as Issue Moves Into Election Spotlight

Legislation aimed at reducing the burden of student debt takes gains support as Democrats court millennial voters. (Photo: thisisbossi/flickr/cc)

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

Nine additional Democratic senators on Wednesday came out in support of a resolution calling for debt-free public college, bringing to 20 the total number of Senate Dems who support the measure, introduced only a month ago by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The resolution (pdf) calls on federal and state governments, along with higher education institutions, to work in concert to lower tuition costs, increase financial aid, and reduce the burden of existing student debt.   [Read more…]

Religion Permeates Escondido’s Charter Schools

jesus constitution

By Rick Mercurio/ Alianza North County

Escondido’s largest charter schools embrace—some would say, promote–Christianity, despite their status as taxpayer-funded public schools. Reported practices at Classical Academy and Dennis Snyder’s charter schools run counter to the Bill of Rights, which is a sad twist of irony, since Snyder espouses his patriotism and love for American values.

Examples of religion in those charter schools abound, though parents and students who are bothered are reluctant to speak up for fear of retribution. And of course, the vast majority of charter parents do not complain. Many send their kids to charters for that very reason: they want religion in their students’ education, but they want taxpayers to foot the bill rather than having to pay tuition at private religious schools.   [Read more…]

Small-s Socialist Bernie Sanders Runs for President


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders formally entered the 2016 presidential contest yesterday.

Sanders’ entry into the race changes the dynamic on the left side of the political aisle. Up until now, coverage of the Democratic prospects for 2016 has consisted of a tape loop of Republican scandal mongering.  On some levels you might consider him Democrats’ answer to Ron Paul: an outsider with an agenda feared by party insiders and a wave of social media support.

There are other candidates jumping into the fray soon, including Democrat Martin O’Malley (Maryland) and Republicans George Pataki (New York), Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), and Rick Perry (Texas). Today I’ll focus on coverage and analysis of Sanders.   [Read more…]

Partisan Politics Go Unchecked in Escondido’s Publicly Funded Charter Schools

escondido charter

By Rebecca Nutile / Alianza North County

In today’s world of education “reform,” the charter school sector has grown beyond its original intent of being a laboratory for public schools, into networks of poorly-regulated schools of varying quality with a quasi-public status. In these publicly-funded/privately managed schools, subtle and not-so-subtle partisan politics often go unchecked. And while charter schools are not required by law to adhere to many parts of the education code, they are supposed to be held to the same standards as traditional public schools in the areas of political partisanship and the separation of church and state.

In Escondido, Escondido Charter High School, Heritage Elementary and Heritage Digital Academy have become points of controversy and division in the community. Most know them as the controversial school with strong ties to conservatives in Escondido City government that took over a heavily-used library branch.   [Read more…]

Sweet Memories of Perry Elementary

Perry Elementary

By Ernie McCray

There’s a school that means the world to me: Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary. It’s the first school to which I was assigned after earning a teaching degree.

It was a place of colorful personalities: a teacher who sang opera beautifully and wore a hairpiece that could be identified as a wig immediately; a school nurse with a drawl as southern as any character’s on Hee Haw; a lovely and entertaining secretary who made the school office as funny and lively as The Carol Burnett Show…

It was a place of uncommon camaraderie where we: put potlucks together practically every other week; dined together monthly at fine places to eat; played volleyball after school; partied wildly at the drop of a hat, with lampshades on the head and stuff like that…   [Read more…]