Can Our Children Learn to Study War No More from Mice?

November 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Mural of two young girls writing "PLEASE NO MORE WAR" "LOVE" on a wall (Photo: txindoki/Flickr/cc)

By Ernie McCray

As we opened our hearts, this past Veteran’s Day, to our nation’s warriors with hearty “Thank you for your service” like cliches, alongside heaping praise on them for being strong heroic and brave – I kept thinking of two young men I met a little over a decade ago.

They were among the first to die in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I met them at career fairs at their schools, while I was sitting at a table letting kids know that they …

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OB Town Council, Round Two – Where Have All the Students Gone?

October 30, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for OB Town Council, Round Two – Where Have All the Students Gone?

By Freak Gormlie

This is Round 2 of my Halloween eve report of the town council meeting of last Wednesday, Oct. 28th. (Here’s my gonzo-type account of Round One.)

It is scary to think what OB would be like without a town council to – in a sense – keep it all together. And this current board is luckily still headed up by Gretchen Newsom as she moves into her third term. Probably the OBTC’s most liberal president in its history, Newsom, as most know by now, is also a candidate for the mayor’s seat in this here town of San Diego.

Where Have All the Students Gone?

The big monster item on the night’s agenda was framed by the question: “OB Elementary – Where have the Children Gone?” The issue had surfaced recently – in response to the transfer of 2 teachers – when parents and students staged a picket in front of the school back on October 5th.

Tonight, three from the school and school district were on hand to answer questions: Principal Marco Drapeau, a trustee from the school district Dr. Mike McQuery and Roy – with just a hint of a true Irish accent – one of the 2 people in the district demographics department.

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Inequality for All in America’s Higher Education System

October 26, 2015 by Jim Miller

equity logoBy Jim Miller with Ian Duckles

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Thomas Piketty speak on economic inequality at UCSD.

In his talk, Piketty hit on the central themes of his seminal work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century: how our current level of economic inequality is now back to where it was before the “great compression” of the mid-twentieth century when union density, progressive taxation, and educational policies helped produce the high point of the American middle class.

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“Express Yourself”

October 14, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Acknowledging the Playwright Project’s
“Deborah Salzer Excellence in Arts Education Award”

IMG_0458By Ernie McCray

Being recognized
for any contribution
I’ve made to the arts
is like being recognized
for breathing
a breath,
like being identified
for being myself –
as I was raised by a mother
and a grandfather
and a great-aunt
and cousins
and a church
and more than a handful of neighbors …

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OBceans at the San Diego School Board

October 7, 2015 by Staff
Thumbnail image for OBceans at the San Diego School Board

Here are the OBceans who attended the San Diego Unified School Board meeting yesterday, Tuesday, Oct. 6th.

They were there to protest the transfer of 2 teachers from OB Elementary.

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Tuesday, October 6th: OB and Point Loma Mobilize – OB Against Teacher Transfers and PL Against Flight Path Changes

October 6, 2015 by Frank Gormlie

Can you hear it? Or feel it?

The entire Peninsula is mobilizing today, Tuesday, October 6th. Both residents in Ocean Beach and residents in Point Loma are mobilizing – for different reasons.

OB residents upset about the transfer of 2 teachers from OB Elementary are planning on attending tonight’s school board meeting. And Point Loma residents upset with the flight path changes proposed by the FAA are planning on attending tonight’s Liberty Station meeting on the issue.

OB Residents to Attend School Board Meeting – 5pm

As OB Rag writer Matt Wood explained yesterday:

Kindergarten teachers Amie Frank and Katy Amberg will be reassigned to different schools in the San Diego Unified School District.

Wood also wrote:

A number of parents are planning to attend Tuesday’s School Board meeting …

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OB Elementary Parents and Students Protest Loss of Two Teachers

October 5, 2015 by Matthew Wood
Thumbnail image for OB Elementary Parents and Students Protest Loss of Two Teachers

By Matthew Wood

Dozens of teachers, students and parents braved the rain this morning – Monday, Oct. 5th – to protest the loss of two teachers at Ocean Beach Elementary School.

Kindergarten teachers Amie Frank and Katy Amberg will be reassigned to different schools in the San Diego Unified School District.

“We’ve taken such a large, unexpected drop in enrollment,” OB Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau explained.

“After five years of growth, this caught us by surprise. The numbers don’t support the staff by the math.”

The teachers were chosen because they have the least amount of seniority at the school, per the teacher’s union contract. They will still have jobs, just not at OB Elementary. And they are not guaranteed teaching positions, wherever they may be sent.

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Picket Line at OB Elementary Monday Morning – Oct. 5th – to Protest Loss of 2 Teachers

October 4, 2015 by Staff

Teachers at OB Elementary are reported to be organizing a picket line at the school, Monday morning, October 5th, to protest the loss of two teachers from the school. Many parents with kids at OB are upset. They feel the loss of the teachers will translate into larger class sizes in the kindergarten level and […]

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Why Teach? In Defense of the Public Good

August 24, 2015 by Jim Miller


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.”

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Numbers Game at San Diego Anti-ALEC Protests

July 23, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for Numbers Game at San Diego Anti-ALEC Protests

Looks Like San Diego Union Tribune Is Up to its Old Tricks In Downplaying Dissent

A hell of a lot of people came out to protest ALEC’s convention yesterday in downtown San Diego. Local demonstrators had their numbers bolstered by bus-loads of union members from Los Angeles.

There were the labor locals, the environmentalists, the Democrats, the progressives and social activists – and many people energized to protest ALEC because they’ve been educated in just what it is and what it does.

There were a lot of demonstrators. Just how many is a good question. And now we’re in a numbers game in trying to determine just how many people were protesting against the right-wing lobby and legislative powerhouse – with all its corporate sponsors.

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San Diego Activists Go All Out for Anti-ALEC Protests

July 21, 2015 by Doug Porter

Alec Mtg

Labor, Environmental and Community Groups Plan Multiple Actions

By Doug Porter

A wide range of organizations, some of whom rarely get involved in non-electoral politics, are calling upon San Diegans to put on their protesting shoes during the upcoming annual meeting of the American Legislative Council (ALEC).

Protests, press conferences, teach-ins, rallies and guerrilla theater will be happening throughout the coming week commencing on Tuesday, July 21st as ALEC delegates are checking in. Buses will coming in from the Los Angeles/Long Beach areas on Wednesday for what organizers expect will be the largest events of the week.

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OB Noodle House Owner Gives Back to Ocean Beach Elementary

July 17, 2015 by Matthew Wood
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Bar 1502’s Steve Yeng Donates ‘Barmageddon’ Winnings to OB Elementary

By Matthew Wood
OB Noodle House owner Steve Yeng further cemented his status as a reality television star with his recent appearance on the TruTV show “Barmageddon.”

He also showed off his love for the community when he donated his winnings from the show – $10,000 – to the Ocean Beach Elementary School.

“I love that school and I owe a lot to it,” he said. “I just have my fondest memories from there. It’s where I learned to speak English. It’s where I met my wife. Such a great place.”

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Easing Into University City

July 15, 2015 by Ernie McCray

University CityBy Ernie McCray

I’ve lived in Golden Hill/South Park for 40 years. It’s got to be one of the great neighborhoods in the world.

But one of my daughters needed more time away from her work to give her two young ones the kind of start in life she and her husband want for them. So they moved in with me – and I gradually moved in with my sweetheart in University City who came into my life after my wife passed away six years ago.

I love it that those two little precious beings are living in a house where Nancy and I raised their mother and her sister and brother.

I’m gradually easing into UC. It’s taking some getting used to as it’s a little less energized than my old stomping grounds where people are always moving about, both people who live there and people who come to just enjoy the inviting vibe of that part of town.

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California Should Be a “No ALEC Zone”

July 14, 2015 by Source

ALEC American Legislative Exchange CouncilBy Francine Busby / San Diego Democratic Party

Sometimes we just need a little sunshine. That shouldn’t be too much to ask here in Southern California. Unfortunately, a dark cloud is headed our way in the form of a shadowy lobbying organization that buys loyalty from state legislatures with untraceable corporate dollars and threatens the very fabric of our democracy.

Exaggeration? Not even a little. Concerned yet? You should be.

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Student Loan Default a Growing Trend?

July 1, 2015 by John Lawrence

student loan debtBy 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:

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Poetry at a Budget Meeting of San Diego School Board Members

June 30, 2015 by Ernie McCray


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.
Sure does
make sense to me

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“The Way” Won’t Cut It

June 16, 2015 by Ernie McCray

The Old and the New WayBy 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.

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The Pain of Neoliberalism : Corporate Trade Deals and the Death of Tenure

June 8, 2015 by Jim Miller

Keanu_What_If_Neoliberalism_Is_WrongBy Jim Miller

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.

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Going Homeless to Pay For College

May 20, 2015 by John Lawrence

WSUVBy John Lawrence

My daughter was entering the freshman class at UCSD in 1992 and the plan was for me to move out of our condo where we had lived for 18 years and in with my girlfriend. Renting out the condo would bring in $1000 a month and let me pay for a good share of my daughter’s college expenses.

After about a year when the relationship didn’t work out, I decided that rather than rent an apartment which would cost me what I needed to pay my daughter’s expenses, I would go homeless instead.

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Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

April 15, 2015 by John Lawrence

cab-picBy John Lawrence

In 2009 then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1388 which eliminated prudent controls over how much debt school districts could enter into. Wall Street bankers then swarmed all over the state promoting Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs), the equivalent of payday loans for school districts.

One fantastic advantage of these loans was the “buy now, pay later” aspect. School districts could get their money now and not have to raise taxes on current residents. Easy money. There would not have to be any payments made for 20 years. Current residents would be off the hook. But their children and grandchildren would enter an era of crushing debt when the bill became due.

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.

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Teachers and Students Fight for 15

April 13, 2015 by Jim Miller

faculty forward

By Jim Miller

I have noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

Fight for 15 organizers will be at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

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Bench Dedication and Book Sale by OB Friends of the Library – Sat. Mar 28

March 24, 2015 by Staff
Thumbnail image for Bench Dedication and Book Sale by OB Friends of the Library – Sat. Mar 28

The Ocean Beach Friends of the Library are heralding Spring with a book sale and – importantly – the dedication of the bench the group sponsored and had installed in front of the OB Library. It’s all happening this Saturday, March 28th from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. And of course, it’s all on the lawn in front of the library, at Santa Monica and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

The bench dedication itself will be at 11:00. The Friends will spend a few minutes recognizing the names of the people on the newly installed plaque–Byrna Bicknell, Bryan W. Collier, George Murphy, and the OB Town Council.

Volunteers and Donated Books Still Needed

Volunteers and donated used books are still needed. If you would like to help, volunteers are needed to help set up the canopy at 8:30, to bring books and materials out from the library at 9:00 am, throughout the Book Sale, and clean-up and tear down at 12:30 pm. Volunteers are also needed to sort books on Friday, March 27, from 1:00 pm until finished.

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Show Down at UCSD’s Che Cafe – Rally vs Eviction: Tuesday Morning, March 24

March 23, 2015 by Staff
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The student collective that runs the Che Cafe up at UCSD fears that the university will actually attempt an eviction the morning of Tuesday, March 24th. So, they’re holding a rally before the eviction – all really early in the morning.

The Che Cafe Collective is asking friends, alumni and supporters to show up at 5 a.m. to show solidarity in front of the anticipated eviction action at 6 a.m.

Need a refresher on what’s going on? See this report by Andrea Carter and this from last November.

Here is the text from the Che Cafe Collective statement:

UCSD has vowed to carry out its eviction of the Ché Café Collective on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m.

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The Public Education Reporting Charade

March 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

What if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place?

By Jim Miller

war on educationRecently, with “California’s Public Education Charade,” UT-San Diego shocked no one by publishing yet another anti-union, teacher-bashing editorial that attacks California’s “dominant Democratic Party” for believing that “what’s good for the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers is good for California. And what’s good for students, who cares?”

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Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

March 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray

unnamedBy Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.

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Helping Young People Discover the ‘Truths’ In Life

March 13, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray on stageI love my life, especially my moments with kids. Recently I had the pleasure, along with a teenage Latina friend of mine, of talking to an assembly of young people, most of them Latino, in Chula Vista, about something they’re confronted with regularly: whether to join or not join the military.

We were doing so because we hate to see our children being sucked into the war machine by Uncle Sam who loves to play with their innocence.

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Part-Time Professors Protest Full-Time Screw Job

February 26, 2015 by Staff

Ocean Beach Professor and Reader Writer at Protest at Grossmont College

Part-time professors and lecturers at college campuses get screwed full time. That’s the message of protests held across San Diego and the rest of the nation on Wednesday, February 25 that were called to raise local and national consciousness to the plight of these part-time teachers who do a lot of the teaching at centers of higher learning.

And local writer, Dave Rice, was there and reported on an event held at Grossmont College in El Cajon for the San Diego Reader. Rice wrote how these adjunct professors and part-timers “often find themselves shuttling between two or three campuses in order to pick up enough classes to eke out a living.”

Dave quoted Ian Duckles, a part-time instructor, who spoke to a gathering of more than a 100 people assembled in front of the student services building at Grossmont College.

“The position that I have is defined as a ‘temporary, part-time instructor. A full-time professor is teaching about five classes a semester. I teach seven or eight, and yet somehow I’m classified as a part-time instructor. I don’t think that accurately reflects the amount of time I spend in the classroom.”

Duckles has 4 part-time positions and it takes quite a lot of time driving back and forth between those jobs at Cuyamaca, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges, and USD.

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Judi Curry: Host to 413 Foreign Exchange Students Over 23 Years

February 23, 2015 by Staff
Thumbnail image for Judi Curry: Host to 413 Foreign Exchange Students Over 23 Years

Our own Judi Curry, who writes a column here on the OB Rag as “The Widder Curry” has finally received some attention that’s due her.

As a host to foreign exchange students since 1992, Judi has had 413 of these foreign students in her home.

The local CBS News affiliate found her recently. Their reporter Abbie Alford interviewed Judi …

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A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

February 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

February 25th is National Adjunct Walkout Day

national-adjunct-day-posterBy Jim Miller

As I have noted here recently, the successful assault on public sector unionism has marched hand in hand with the surge of income inequality and the erosion of the American middle class. Of course, central to this is the ongoing war on teachers’ unions and the nationwide trend toward austerity budgets in state capitols across the country.

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A Path Chosen in Black History

February 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for A Path Chosen in Black History

by Ernie McCray

When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity.

I, unknowingly, set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were, seemingly, knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking, Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.

I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.

I would observe goings on in every school I ever attended, thinking of what I might have done differently if I had been the teacher. I’d imagine how I would have made lessons come alive, or more relevant to students’ lives.

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