The Chronicles of Edumacation

Doug Porter keeps you informed on San Diego education issues. Written from a progressive standpoint and with Doug’s trademark snark!

The Ignominious Ignorance Behind Bonnie Dumanis’ Education Plan for San Diego

January 7, 2012 by Doug Porter
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In a move that qualifies as one of the most ignorant and opportunist positions ever taken by a local politician; the Dumanis Mayoral Campaign announced its “Bold” educational initiative this past Thursday at a press conference. The details of the effort—expanding the school board, creating oversight committees and establishing a bureaucracy within the City government to oversee “liaison” efforts were widely reported in the local news media. Candidate Dumanis got lots of face time on local tv news as her plan was uncritically rolled out to the electorate.

The local press failed to notice that Carmel Valley, where the Dumanis presser was held isn’t even in the San Diego Unified School District.

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Catfight At The School Board Despite Gov. Brown’s Funding Pledge

May 23, 2011 by Doug Porter
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After months of warning the public about the impact that an “all-cuts” California budget would have on San Diego City Schools, you’d think that the SDUSD Board of Trustees would be at least “not sad” over news that Governor Brown’s “May Revise” version of the state’s spending plan for next year actually restores about 40% of the anticipated shortfalls. Forty (or Fifty, depending on which version of California Accounting 101 you use) extra million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. Even the GOP’s Darth Vader (R-Death Valley) 2011-12 budget, pledges a similar level of funding for K-12 public schools.

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Down The Rabbit Hole: Education Funding Meltdown

April 4, 2011 by Doug Porter
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Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to put the future of California’s budget in the hands of the voters has failed; failed to persuade just any four Republicans in the legislature to let the voters have a say; failed to find a legal loophole that would get the measure on the ballot without a super-majority vote in either house of the legislature; and failed despite extensive negotiations.

You can’t negotiate with the new American Taliban. Not on education funding. Not on healthcare. And not on any program that does not fit into their narrowly defined agenda, which, at its core, is more about destroying the mechanisms of governance that it is about adapting them to the changing realities of the 21st century economy.

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Tweets Twisting in the Night: Did a Desperate “Reform” Group “O’Keefe” the School Board President?

March 26, 2011 by Doug Porter
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For the past eighteen months or so, a shadowy group that claims to be pushing for education reform has waged a relentless campaign aimed at the current members of the San Diego Unified School Board. Their goal, so they claim, is to reform the current method of ‘governance’ in the local school system to allow unspecified changes in education policy to occur. San Diegans for Great Schools main idea boils down to getting voters to approve an initiative that will add four unelected members to the school board.

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School Budget Bingo, San Diego Style

February 14, 2011 by Doug Porter
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It’s mid-February again, and there are  three things that are true harbingers of this season; no more football, the media gushing over Valentines Day, and the SDUSD School Board  confronting the realities of yet another budget shortfall.  Andy Cohen covers football around here and City Beat did a great job with their conveniently timed “Sex […]

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School “Reform” Group 99% Funded By Fat Cats

January 28, 2011 by Doug Porter
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According to documents filed with the City of San Diego this week, the secretive group behind the campaign for appointed school board officials is 99.75% funded by just two individuals: Chicago financier Ron Dammeyer ($300,000 via CAC Advisory Services LLC) and billionaire Irwin Jacobs ($150,000).

The story broke late Wednesday, Jan. 26th in the Voice of San Diego, which went on to report:

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Don’t sign that petition for so-called “school reform”!

January 14, 2011 by Doug Porter
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Say No to Astro-Turfed Education Reform! Perhaps you’ve seen the folks with the petitions on the streets of OB, promising to “Save Our Schools”. They’re being paid to collect those signatures by a private group, based at the University of San Diego, that reportedly has a $1,000,000 war chest at their disposal. They’ve hired a […]

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Beyond the False Promises and Premises – Analysis of the “Great Schools” Ballot Initiative

January 4, 2011 by Doug Porter
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Last spring an education “reform” group emerged from behind closed doors after meeting in secret for several months. Working without input from many of the organizations that are actually engaged in local schools, they set about to implement a plan they developed to change the face of public schools in San Diego. In this article we’ll examine that actual language of the proposal that will most likely be presented to voters this spring.

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Governor-elect Brown’s Budgetary Shock Doctrine Blows Up School Board Planning

December 15, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Over the past few weeks education advocates have been getting some unexpected signals coming out of Sacramento. The word “No” is being bandied about in ways that could result in shocking cuts to education State-wide for the next school year. Faced with yet another budget shortfall—this one to the tune of $28 billion over the […]

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A Trojan Horse Measure Posing as School Reform

November 29, 2010 by Doug Porter
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The battle for the hearts and minds of young people in San Diego’s public schools continues unabated as yet another year draws to a close. The shadowy group, San Diegans for Great Schools, a spin-off of the USD private think tank Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL) is now paying a company to gather […]

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Public School Races : Proposition J, School Board Seats

October 20, 2010 by Doug Porter
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OB RAG Local Elections Coverage – Part 3

I mailed in my ballot yesterday. As part of my research in this series (we’ll publish a summary next week) on the election, I’ve been paying close attention to all the issues and advertising. I’ve also—full disclosure—been working with a group (California Alliance) that focuses on increasing voter turnout amongst infrequent voters in economically challenged communities in San Diego.

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Education Reform Part 4: The San Diego Education Reform Plan – Keeping It Local and Working Together

September 15, 2010 by Doug Porter
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In previous installments of this series, we’ve discussed the history of education reform, examined school testing, looked at a high performing system in Finland and examined the latest federal plans for reforming our schools. This time around we’ll take a look at what’s on the boards for students in the San Diego Unified School District and tell you about ways you can become involved in this process. As much of this plan exists only on the drawing boards, it’s hard to make any judgments at this point. The plan is, on its face, very different from what we hear coming out of Washington DC, so it’s bound to be getting national scrutiny in the coming years.

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‘Back To School Special’ Part 3— Why Reforms Don’t Work

September 13, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Coming soon to a theater near you will be Davis Guggenheim’s (Director of An Inconvenient Truth) latest documentary entitled Waiting for Superman. The picture, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is a moving and compelling account (I viewed a copy over the internet) of a handful of kids and their parents who simply want to go to a decent school.

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Back To School Special Part Two: Testing, Testing….Is You As Dumb As We Says You Is?

September 8, 2010 by Doug Porter
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A few weeks back the Los Angeles Times began publishing a series of articles on value-added testing in public schools. In a value-added system, a student’s past performance on tests is used to project his or her future results. The divergence between that prediction and the student’s actual performance after a year is the “value” that the educator added or subtracted. The series made available the evaluations of 6,000 elementary school teachers, profiled some of those teachers and generally stirred the pot regarding the ongoing national debate about the value and use of standardized testing in schools.

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Back To School Special Part One: A Short History of Education Reform

September 6, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Back in 1635, shortly after the first “free school” in Virginia opened, there is no doubt in my mind that a “reform-minded” group came together for the purpose of critiquing whatever program of study that was being offered. For as long as there have been schools, there have been people out there willing to argue over what was the best approach to take.

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Shadowy “Great Schools” Group To Address OB Town Council Meeting – Wed July 28th

July 28, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Scott Himelstein, the spokesman of the newly named “San Diegans 4 Great Schools”, has been visiting various civic groups around the city spreading the word that his group is disappointed with test scores in San Diego Unified schools and that “governance” is the problem. Tonight, Wednesday, July 28th, at 7 pm, he is slated to address the OB Town Council in a meeting to be held at the OB Masonic Temple (1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd).

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City Schools, Services Face Cuts As City Hall Fiddles.

July 27, 2010 by Doug Porter
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The slippery slope of San Diego politics got a little slicker this week, and when the dust settled around City Hall, both the proposed sales tax increase and the schools’ parcel tax were burning hulks, sitting on the side of the Sanders’ feel-good expressway. The battle arena over increasing revenues for local city services and/or public education has now shifted from the voters in November to the back rooms of Sacramento, where, rumor has it, a pending deal between Republican and Democratic legislators will delay upcoming corporate tax breaks granted in past years’ budget negotiations and allow the legislature to ease the budget cut backs for next year that are threatening local finances.

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San Diegans 4 Great Schools: Secret Group‘s Hypocrisy Exposed

July 22, 2010 by Doug Porter
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A group calling itself ‘San Diegans 4 Great Schools’ has finally surfaced after months of shadowy meetings to issue a critical report on the San Diego Unified School District. At a press conference held at the University of San Diego on Tuesday, group leaders emerged publicly for the first time, calling the local public schools a “failing school district”.

The report ignored the most recent test scores (which revealed modest gains in student achievement) and failed to mention an earlier effort by many of its participants that hailed the progress made at SDUSD under Superintendent Terry Grier. (2006-2008)

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No More Cuts To Public Education – The Case for The Parcel Tax

July 12, 2010 by Doug Porter
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The San Diego Unified District Board of Education will be voting Tuesday, July 13th, at 5pm in the evening to place a temporary parcel tax up for voter approval on the November ballot. While this move on the surface is a response to the “funding cliff” that public education systems state-wide are facing as Federal stimulus dollars expire next year, the reality is that much larger stakes are in play here.

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California Primary – Part 6: the School Board Races – Secret Societies, Oxymorons and the ‘Evil’ Teachers Union

May 24, 2010 by Doug Porter
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School board races are often overlooked and belittled. Not everybody has kids, the local press usually portrays school board members without nuance and the positions just aren’t as glamorous enough to warrant the kind of train-wreck television advertising that Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are running. And it only pays $18 grand a year, even though most board members will tell you that it’s more than a full-time job.

The position of school board member is so far down on the totem pole that a secretive group of local residents, supposedly showing their “concern” for education have been floating a proposal to expand the Board by bypassing the electorate and expanding it with a “committee” that will select new Board members.

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No More Cuts! Make Your Voice Heard – Rally for Education, Saturday, May 8th

May 7, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Thousands of parents, teachers and students will be gathering in Balboa Park near 6th & Laurel on Saturday, May 8th at 10 am to raise their voices in support of public education.

Over the last two years education funding has taken the brunt of budget cuts. Politicians in Sacramento have cut billions of dollars from education and it would seem that there is no end in sight for this downward spiral. Schools throughout the region are dealing with larger class sizes, teachers laid off by the thousands, fewer nurses and counselors, cutbacks in science, music, arts and sports. This week San Diego Unified announced yet another round of pink-slips, with the school board voting 4-1 to send teachers packing.

This rally has been called to say ‘Enough is enough!’ California politicians will stop cutting education only when enough people stand up and make their voices heard: ‘No more cuts.’

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‘Stop the Budget Cuts’ Rally Takes Shape for May 8th

April 28, 2010 by Doug Porter
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If you think California’s budget crisis has somehow been resolved for this year just because there haven’t been many stories about it in the news media lately, think again.

And here’s the really bad part: those programs that weren’t axed in this year’s proposed budget for San Diego’s schools, will most likely be eliminated next year as the State careens towards a funding cliff caused by the cessation of stimulus funding. For San Diego Unified, that’s another $50 million whack that’s just around the corner.

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Group Seeks To ‘Modernize’ School Board – Democracy Be Dammed

April 7, 2010 by Doug Porter
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A by-invitation-only committee has been holding closed door meetings in recent months at the University of San Diego campus to discuss concerns with the future of the San Diego Unified School District. Attempts by the news media to report on the meetings have been blocked. According to a spokesperson with the District, sitting Board of Education members have also been excluded. In other words, it’s hush-hush.

A crack in the veil of secrecy emerged last week by way of a report in Voice of San Diego:

“A private group of educators, philanthropists, business leaders and others are polling San Diegans about whether they want to see appointed members added to the San Diego Unified school board, according to parents who have gotten phone calls about the new proposal.

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Protest the Budget Cuts In Balboa Park on March 4th

March 2, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Tens of thousands of Californians will join protests all around the country on Thursday, March 4th to protest budget cuts in education and social services.

Six regional protests in California are scheduled, including events in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the East Bay, Sacramento and San Diego. Additional actions include walkouts, teach-ins, picketing and rallies at dozens of campuses around the State.

Following rallies at UCSD, SDSU, and City College, area protesters will gather at the east side of Balboa Park …

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Serious Cuts Looming for San Diego Schools

February 10, 2010 by Doug Porter
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Editor: The following is another in a series about budgetary cut-backs at the San Diego Unified School District by our-man-on-the-scene Doug Porter. All the public schools that service Ocean Beach will be affected: OB Elementary, Dana Middle School, Correia Middle School, and Point Loma High. It is incumbent for OB residents to stay on top of this issue, and thanks to Doug, the OB Rag is attempting to do just that.

I attended the School Board meeting last night (February 9th) and listened to the reports given by the district staff about finding ways to fund their priorities for San Diego Unified Schools. These priorities, which emerged through public input, both at Board meetings and through a series of Town Halls held during the final months of 2009 were: ….

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Why I Am a Public Education Activist — a Personal Story

February 5, 2010 by Doug Porter
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by Doug Porter

I am a product of the public school system. I graduated from Point Loma High many moons ago after transferring from another public high school, far, far away. That’s part of being a Navy brat—you get to see the world, two or three years at a time. And you get to try and integrate yourself into the complex social systems that evolve amidst the hormonal surges and angst of being a teenager “forced” to endure public education.

At my old high school it was the “Ivies” (kids that dressed up for school) vs the “Suedos” (kids that had greased back hair & didn’t much care about dressing up). At Point Loma High, neither group existed, but there were “hipsters” and “straights”. I didn’t quite fit in with either group. I was miserable for the first few months.

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School Board Funding Shell Game

January 14, 2010 by Doug Porter
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A Budget Nightmare in the Making

Gov. Schwarzenegger promised to protect education with his budget last week. And, in a sense, he was right: this year’s cut are not as deep and wide as they have been in the past two budgets. So it depends on your definition of “protect”.

The Governor failed to mention the $1.5 billion education funding cut called for next year; nor did he highlight the decreased cost of living adjustment. It’s not that his budget planners failed to tell him about the reductions–the governor earmarked $1.2 billion in administrative costs and $300 million in savings to be had by allowing districts to contract out for services. The problem is that those earmarks are unlikely to survive Legislative hearings. And then there’s the little problem of the cuts—many of which were made to administrative budgets–that have already been made over the past two years.

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School Board Budget Workshop Offers Little Hope For Next Year

December 17, 2009 by Doug Porter
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The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education workshop on the looming budget crisis painted a bleak picture of the future for education in America’s Finest City on Tuesday evening. The auditorium was about one-third filled with concerned parents and two of the five Board members were absent as the district staff presented one report after another outlining options and suggested courses of action for the 2010-2011 budget.

You have to give the Board of Education credit for coming to grips with the problem. They’ve held five “town hall” style forums, …

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Call to Action: Last Minute Budget Meeting Set By School Board

December 14, 2009 by Doug Porter
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Stressed out for the holidays? Running around trying spread all that good cheer while not breaking the budget? Well, if you’ve got kids in school or care about education, you need to revise your schedule for this week. A critical meeting of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education has been called for this week and your child’s school may be on the chopping block.

After parent groups around San Diego had sent out emails & made phone calls alerting parents to a Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday evening, they learned that the budget wasn’t really on that agenda. Another, hastily arraigned, meeting of the Board of Education has been announced for Wednesday, December 16 at 5 pm. The meeting will be held at the Board of Education complex (4100 Normal Street, in University Heights).

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Education Budget Goes Bust – Drastic Cuts Likely in 2010

December 4, 2009 by Doug Porter
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The Town Hall budget forum in San Diego High’s Library drew over 100 concerned parents on Thursday Night. School Board interim Superintendent Bill Kowba and Board member Richard Barrera made a power point presentation that outlined the funding shortfalls faced by local educators with expected State contributions for the 2010 fiscal year.

The bottom line, as presented in this meeting, is that ALL of the cuts in programs that have been bandied about in the news media and various on-line discussions will not cover the expected deficit.

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