By Doug Porter
Since the voters spoke back in November and handed the proponents of darkness and austerity a resounding defeat, the forces of reaction throughout the State of California have been seeking to throw a monkey wrench into the process.
At San Diego’s UT, this process is blatant, with factually challenged front page articles suggesting that businesses are fleeing California followed by editorials citing the suppositions minted earlier as gospel truth.
With San Diego’s ‘independent’ news source, aka The Voice of San Diego, the propagation of the reactionary agenda is accomplished via mindless contrarianism. The need to push controversy overwhelms any need for fact checking; it’s okay to let public officials yell ‘fire’ in the schoolhouses of our city.
So it was with this sense of ‘newsworthiness’ that the VOSD published an interview on Friday with Stan “Data” Dobbs, the newly hired Chief Financial Officer for the San Diego School Unified School District.
After telling interviewer Will Carless that “I get bored quickly if I don’t have enough problems to solve”, Dobbs proceeds to create a whole lot of problems for the School District and, most likely, his future employment prospects.
I have no issue with the publication of the interview. But common sense would dictate a word or two in the introduction for the story that some of the assertions presented were worth a follow-up or might be controversial.
And I’m sure if the subject was race, as opposed to education, a broad and controversial statement along the lines of “[insert race here] are shiftless and lazy” would have at least raised a journalistic warning flag. Those kinds of statements are apparently okay if the subject is education.
**The average pay of a teacher at SDUSD is $92,000 annually.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the correct number is $65,367. That’s three thousand less than the statewide average. He also made comments about benefits which I know were inaccurate. It wasn’t possible to succinctly explain a rather complicated contract with a lot of moving parts.
**There is ‘not one piece of literature published to prove’ increased class size has a negative impact on learning.
Except, of course, the most comprehensive study ever done on the subject. Or this one. Or this one. From the official abstract: “The 4-year study assessed the performance of over 6,500 students who attended K-3 classrooms having differing numbers of students and found evidence of short- and long-term benefits from smaller class sizes.” To be truthful, there is conflicting evidence on the subject. But to say nothing has ever been published is just w.r.o.n.g.
Then there were the assumptions that aren’t so easily checked with a Google search. But they sure dovetail nicely with the foundational arguments used by the anti-public education crowd on the right.
** “I’ve got hundreds of extra people, laying around. Literally, laying around. Maybe not even benefiting kids.”
We’re issuing a public call (I’ll email this to him) for John Oliver of the crack Daily Show news team to come to San Diego to document all this “literally, laying around”. It should make for good television.
**Then there’s the SDUSD Board of Trustees, “Placed, strategically, by the labor unions.”
I’m sure that Trustee Richard Barrera, whose home was picketed by the union, will be glad to know he’s a toady. The fact is that the majority of Board are Democrats. But their relationship with the SDEA -the teacher’s union- can hardly be described as subservient. It’s complicated. But the right-wingers are pissed because the Board won’t play along with their union-busting agenda.
Lest there be any doubt about the impact of this ‘journalism’ on the ‘conversation’ about education, let’s go to the comments, where the interview has truly stirred the local tea party hive:
I LOVE this guy!
I hope he’s bored in 4 years so he can replace Filner as Mayor!
The first thing I thought was that I hope he has a contract. The second is that people who think what he is saying is important NEED TO BE THERE FOR HIM — not just sit on the sidelines as observers.
Who woulda imagined? A bloated bureaucracy in California? Shocked. SHOCKED!
Got bad news for the School Board: he’s taking you to the woodshed.
Maybe he could fix the sidewalks and streets next. I LOVE enigmatic South Carolinians.
..I realize that you’re all for stirring up the masses with controversial topics. But, really – this level of un-investigative reporting is really beneath your talents. Mr. (and I use the term loosely) Dobbs walked all over that interview, and left a few items laying the grass for others to pick up. You’ve interviewed enough school employees to realize that his so-called facts weren’t worth the air he was breathing.
My sister left this gem on the VOSD FB page in support of teachers (being one herself). Perhaps Dobbs would take some time from his teacher-bashing schedule and actually check out the research she mentions: [repost begins]
I think the journalist- Will Careless was not prepared for anything. He let Dobbs speak without questioning any of his statements. If Careless wishes to keep that “investigative” term in front of his reporter, then he should actually do his job.
At this point he is just a mouthpiece, not a journalist. Where was the critical response to those statements?…
I hear they’re ‘fact checking’ this story over at Voice of San Diego. I’ll bet the ‘Taypayers’ groups won’t include that information in their propaganda.
Meanwhile, this interview does raise questions in my mind about SDUSD’s administration and leadership. Like: “Who hired this idiot?” or “What were you thinking?”.
Postscript- I’m well aware of SDUSD’s many shortcomings. I have a kid attending school here. But this sort of individual (and those that gave him an uncritical platform) certainly isn’t going to do anything to improve local schools.
UPDATE: San Diego Unified’s Superintendent Bill Kowba has issued a statement saying he apologizes and regrets the inaccuracies and misstatements in Dobbs’ interview. (via Voice of San Diego)
UPDATE #2: VOSD’s Scott Lewis has responded to this column. Be sure to see the comments.
Teahadist Trutherism on Presidential Shot
The President made a passing statement last week about shooting skeet out at Camp David, sending the tinfoil hats subset amongst gun rights advocates into a frenzy. It wasn’t the first time Obama has talked about shooting guns (He talked skeet shooting with the Women’s US Olympic Team several years back), but given the current hysteria about the ‘government coming to seize yer guns’, any gun talk was newsworthy. From Forbes:
Naturally, there will be no shortage of Republicans in the House of Representatives—or as I like to call it, junior high school—who will take to skeet shooting trutherism like Donald Trump takes to pretending that he would ever actually be allowed to purchase The New York Times.
Already, Tennessee Republican Congresswoman, Marcia Blackburn, has accused the president of bending the truth about his participating in the gun sport, telling Erin Burnett on CNN—
“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why has he not referenced it at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing?”
Now that the White House has released a photo, this new class of trutherists is scrambling to get up to speed. You see, it’s all part of the grand Obama conspiracy. I forgot where I lifted this comment from, but it gives you the gist of what’s going on with the tin foil hat set:
Forget the timestamp crap. It is photoshopped. A)He’s not holding the gun right. B)If he’s shooting skeet, chances are he wouldn’t be shooting horizontally. C)Smoke doesn’t come out of shotguns like that. Obama held the gun (probably the first time he’s ever held one), had Souza take the photo, and photoshop did the rest.
‘As Dark and Bitter as the Future of American Journalism’
North Park Brewing has arrived on the scene, with national publicity on their bottling of “Unemployed Reporter Porter”. From the Nutmeg State on the east coast, via ct.com:
Jon Campbell, who briefly made Hartford a more interesting place with his presence and reporting for the Advocate, has entered the homebrew game with his signature Unemployed Reporter Porter (pictured).
“Porter style beers were first popularized in the nineteenth century by merchant sailors and manual dock laborers,” the label reads. “Unemployed Reporter is crafted in the same tradition, honoring a profession likewise doomed to decline and irrelevance.”
For this new class of “expendables,” the label goes on, “we’ve included chocolate and roasted barley malts that are as dark and bitter as the future of American journalism, and a high alcohol content designed to numb the pain of a slow, inexorable march toward obsolescence. While Unemployed Reporter is especially delicious as a breakfast beer, it’s still smooth enough to be enjoyed all day, every day. And let’s be honest: what else do you have going on?”
URP’s government warning label even manages to squeeze in a few choice digs at the industry: “(1) The Surgeon General says women shouldn’t drink alcohol during pregnancy, but between Gawker and the Huffington Post, hasn’t the act of procreation itself become a moral liability? (2) Drinking alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car, but it’s not like you have to wake up and drive to work tomorrow so fuck it.”
This new product has already drawn interest from as far away as the Dakotas. Witness this Tweet from the unfortunate soul charged with covering that neck of the woods for the Associated Press:
I will buy this. #UnemployedReporterBeer#ReporterProbs i.imgur.com/MFnxd8o.jpg
— Amber Hunt (@ReporterAmber) February 3, 2013
On This Day: 1938 – The play “Our Town”, by Thornton Wilder, opened in New York City. 1955 – James Brown recorded “Please Please Please.” 1974 – Patricia (Patty) Hearst was kidnapped in Berkeley by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego(4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@