Education

Shedding Tears of Hope and Joy as Children Make America Great

March 29, 2018 by Ernie McCray

I’ve lived a life
among children,
as a child initially, obviously,
and who knows how many
young ones there are
with whom I’ve had the honor
of being in their company
as their teacher
or their vice-principal
or their principal

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The National School Walkout: Welcome to the Future

March 19, 2018 by Jim Miller

Sometimes just the act of standing up against injustice starts to make things right. Speaking the truth to power can be redemptive. That’s how it felt last week as I watched my own family and my students (who I love like family) take part in the National School Walkout Day. If you are middle-aged like me and have participated in too many protests and political activities to count, it’s easy to start to see activism as work, a job that needs to be done but takes its toll– particularly in these grim times. You get tired, weary of the endless fight.

Then, once in a while, something happens that gives you renewed life, helps you see the world again with fresh eyes.

That’s what watching my kid get ready for the Roosevelt Middle School Walkout did for me.

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Marshall Tuck’s Dirty Secret: How Right-Wing Money Infiltrates Democratic Politics

March 5, 2018 by Jim Miller

Recently in the lead up to the Janus vs. AFSCME case that hit the Supreme Court last week, I wrote several columns focusing on the impact of the Koch brothers’ network’s attack on the union movement, the Democratic Party, and public education. Thus, I was cheered to learn that the California Democratic Party overwhelmingly endorsed the stalwart progressive Tony Thurmond over Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

While this is a low-profile affair as statewide races go, it is important because lots of moneyed interests see it as a way to push their agenda under the radar here in super blue California.

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Oh, I Love Those Children

March 2, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Crowd of young protestors holding signs protesting gun violence

Oh, I love those children.

Those beautiful bright young
high school Floridians,
boldly taking
the leadership
so needed to dampen
our warped relations with guns,
standing steadfastly
as one,
in the faces of the NRA’s,
ne’er-do-well whores
who masquerade unconvincingly
as well meaning politicians,
demanding that they
simply do something
about the situation
or face their votes
in future elections.

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Students, Moms, and San Diego Officials Make Actions Against Gun Violence a Priority

March 1, 2018 by Doug Porter

By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

Students in more than a dozen local high schools have announced plans to participate in a nationwide walkout organized by the Women’s March to protest gun violence on March 14th. The 17-minute walkout at 10 a.m. in each time zone is meant to honor the 17 lives lost in Parkland, Florida.

The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for federal background checks for gun and ammo purchases, a ban on semi-automatic firearms, high capacity magazines and bump stocks. It also called for the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban.

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Teachers, Guns, and Money

February 26, 2018 by Jim Miller

The generalized rage and indiscriminate, spectacular violence that characterized the first year of the Trump era shows no sign of abating. In the wake of yet another horrifying mass murder at a school in Florida, the President’s response is to meet senseless violence with the threat of more violence.

Speaking to justify his breathtakingly stupid proposal to arm teachers as a defense against school shootings, Trump opined that if the educators at Stoneman Douglas High School had weapons they would have stopped the attack, “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”

The logic of Trump’s cartoon Western version of the world is chilling.

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Two Bad Ideas for California Higher Education in Governor Brown’s Budget Proposal

January 29, 2018 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

It’s the first week of classes in the San Diego Community College District where I teach, and, as has become almost an annual ritual, the new year comes with a number of suspect education reforms from Sacramento.

Jerry Brown released his budget proposal recently, and unfortunately, there are two big, bad ideas that the Governor would like to be part of his higher education legacy: a new fully online college and performance-based funding. What unites these initiatives is that they are both driven more by corporate education reform ideology than sound pedagogy or evidence that they will be effective in reaching their stated aim.

I’ll start with the online college.

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Will 2018 Be the Year of the Education War Inside the California Democratic Party?

November 29, 2017 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

One would think that in the midst of the Trump era, with so many threats not just to essential government policies and programs but to democracy itself, Democrats would have a pretty clear idea of who their enemy is.

A reasonable observer might also conclude that the Democratic Party in California which has, in many ways, been the vanguard of resistance nationwide would be laser-focused on not only maintaining the blue wall but on working to oust California Republicans from the House of Representatives.

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San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial: A Spurious Attack on Teachers and Public Education

September 7, 2017 by Source

Banner on ground reading "WE ARE STUDENTS NOT CUSTOMERS"

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican

An editorial in The San Diego Union Tribune says that Democrats in the Trump era see themselves as protecting the disadvantaged but that’s not true when it comes to schools. The editorial claims, “When it comes to public education, however, there’s fresh evidence that state Democratic leaders are the ones siding with the powerful forces over the disadvantaged.”

Those powerful forces – in an era when billionaires like Carrie Walton Penner, Reed Hastings and Eli Broad flex their financial muscle to privatize schools – are teachers and their unions. The evidence presented is bogus and the conclusions reached are based on willful ignorance.

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False Narratives Drive Charter School Advocacy in San Diego UT Op-Ed

August 23, 2017 by Source

Thomas Ultican / Tultican

Another editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune attacks teachers and the California public education system. The author has a personal work history of harming California’s public schools by scheming to privatize them. The editorial was written by Rae Belisle. She is identified as a former member of California’s State Board of Education, but she is so much more than that.

Ms. Belise opened her attack,

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Higher Education and the American Political Imagination

August 21, 2017 by Jim Miller

As I enter my thirtieth year as a professor at a public college of one kind or another, I’m used to the constant political fray that comes with being in the middle of funding battles, debates about education reform, and the culture wars, but this may be the first time in my long career that I have begun a new semester with the knowledge that a large number of Americans no longer see higher education as a public good.

Over the summer, the Pew Research Center released an interesting poll that helps explain where we are at this political and cultural moment in America. The survey revealed that most Republicans now believe that institutions of higher education have an adverse effect on the United States.

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A Tale of Two Very Different School Board Meetings

August 8, 2017 by Source

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican

It’s not always pretty when the public gets a chance to voice its opinion, but it is democratic. Recently, I attended the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) and the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) school board meetings. It was reminiscent of Dicken’s depiction of Paris and London.

Sweetwater, which has been living a nightmare for most of the previous decade, was like being at camp sitting around a bonfire singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” It wasn’t quite “Kumbaya,” but it was close.

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San Diego Schools Embrace Untested ‘De-personalized’ Learning

June 29, 2017 by Source

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican

San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) is spending lavishly on technology despite their budgets being decimated by California’s unaccountable charter school industry. During the 2016-17 school year, SDUSD bought digital badging and 16,000 new Chromebooks.

“The district is struggling with a projected $124 million shortfall in its $1.4 billion budget, and have issued in the neighborhood of 1,500 layoff notices to full and part-time employees” reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Are We Witnessing the End of Public Education as We Know It? — Part One

June 26, 2017 by Jim Miller

Public Education

By Jim Miller / Kelly Mayhew

These are dire times for public education. With Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education leading the charge for big budget cuts, charter schools, and a radical privatization agenda, the possibility that free quality public education for all in America could soon be a thing of the past is real.

One would think that such clear and present danger to a cornerstone of our democracy coming from the right would unite Democrats behind the mantle of defending public education.

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Mad as Hell That I Was Indoctrinated In School and Not Educated

June 8, 2017 by Source

Indoctrinated

By Anne Haule / San Diego Free Press

I’d like to go on a bit of a rant about how naïve I have been for so long and even though I am an educated person, my education was more akin to indoctrination. Now that I am finally waking up, I wish to share a few examples of what I was taught and what I now believe.

Christopher Columbus

I was taught he was a hero for proving the world was not flat and discovering and bringing Christianity to the new world. In fact, he was a really a “bad hombre” and he was not the first explorer to reach the Americas; he was preceded by its indigenous people who came from Asia and later, the Vikings.

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Plant the Seeds for a Progressive Future in San Diego: Support Students for Economic Justice

April 17, 2017 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

In the age of Trump I have heard many a progressive ponder: “What went so wrong?” How in 2017 can we be fighting and, in many cases, refighting battles over basic economic rights and civil liberties? Whatever happened to women’s rights? How can we still be arguing about whether or not climate change exists? How did things get this bad?

In the political realm, as I have written here many times, a big part of the problem is that the Democrats have no bench of talented, young candidates. Indeed, rather than appealing to young voters and activists, it sometimes seems like the party is bent on alienating them. We saw this with the disdain heaped upon the idealism of millennial Sanders supporters in some quarters, and we can still see it in the national party’s frustrating inability to reinvent itself by bringing in new energy.

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A Call to Action for an Activist Kind of Thinking at San Diego City College

March 29, 2017 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Some places in our lives resonate with us in special ways. San Diego City College is one of those places for me, a place that always seems to be about creating a better world. My kind of place.

Along these lines, I heard City College’s Interim President, Denise Whisenhunt, say to an overflow audience at the school’s Saville Theatre that the campus was “at the forefront of the social justice movement.”

Those words in her short welcoming speech seemed evident as I looked around me at all the attendees at the school’s “3rd Annual Social Justice & Education Conference,” a gathering that just gets better and bigger every year.

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Hungry and Homeless in College

March 27, 2017 by Jim Miller

homeless college

By Jim Miller

Over the more than two decades I have spent teaching at the college level, the vast majority of that time at San Diego City College, I have seen a little bit of everything. From the homeless student sleeping in Balboa Park who ended up at USC to the single mother living in her car with her kids who still got every assignment in on time before transferring to SDSU, there have been far too many stories of triumphs against all odds for me to recount.

Along with those stories come sadder tales like the cab driver supporting his family who almost finished but got knocked out of the game by an unexpected financial challenge

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Thank You UC Berkeley Students and Community for Confronting Racist

February 3, 2017 by Frank Gormlie

This Is Not an Issue of “Free Speech” for a White Nationalist with Connections to the White House

Risking becoming the lone voice in today’s wilderness, we say today that somebody has to say “thank you” to the UC Berkeley students and community members who demonstrated against the white nationalist Breitbart News senior editor back on Wednesday, February 1st, and helped cause the campus to cancel the talk by Milo Yiannopoulo.

So, thank you.

The whole incident has now blown up, with claims the protesters violated free speech, with Trump threatening to cut off funds to UC Berkeley – which he cannot do unilaterally – and the subsequent push-back against him from school and California officials.

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With Betsy DeVos the Final Assault on Public Education Is On

January 23, 2017 by Jim Miller

public education

By Jim Miller

During the halcyon days of the Trump transition period, the Education Committee confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos stood out as perhaps the most jarring example of the craven cynicism that defines the new regime.

The headlines said it all, with nearly every major media outlet noting DeVos’s scant qualifications and terrible performance with extreme skepticism. The New York Times expressed “Big Worries About Betsy DeVoswhile the New Yorker outlined “Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools.”

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren Denounces Trump’s “Horrifying” Education Pick

January 11, 2017 by Source

Betsy DeVos

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

In a scathing memo sent Monday to Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined a growing chorus of opposition to the nominee, probing her past support for “privatizing and defunding K-12 education” as well as her “paper-thin record on higher education and student debt.”

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The Hip School Where the Arts Rule

January 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Arts classroom scene with handful of young children and an adult

By Ernie McCray

I had moments not too long ago when I thought that I just might not be around in 2017 – based on the complete lack of energy I was enduring day after day, with my belly under siege by some bacteria that just didn’t want to leave.

But I’m still here on the scene, happy as a lark, slowly getting back to my routines. Wanting to write something regarding my making it to 2017, I checked a writing prompt website and chose number 17 of the choices, as a symbol for 2017, and it read: “In 400 words create your ideal place.”

That put me in a nice place because the prompt could have been something like “Write a 150 word profile on somebody named ‘Margaret Mallory’” or write about “something wrapped” which would have called on more creativity than I wanted to own. I just wanted to kick the new year off in a nice tone.

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Air Politics (Or Is It Just Gas?)

December 16, 2016 by Source

By Bob Dorn /San Diego Free Press

Because America fell to a fascist coup d’etat only a few weeks ago it’s not too early to talk about how it happened.

First and above all others, the Democratic Party was a necessary player in this debacle. Loyalists will be outraged seeing that in print. After all, they’ll say, we need now more than ever to grow more united, to bond again as Democrats because… stronger together.

But that mother-loving phrase failed, didn’t it? It was empty of substance, like so many others the Dems put up. No one bought it.

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500 San Diego Students Stage Anti-Trump Marches on Downtown San Diego – As Part of 8 Days of Nation-Wide Protests

November 17, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for 500 San Diego Students Stage Anti-Trump Marches on Downtown San Diego – As Part of 8 Days of Nation-Wide Protests

Students From 3 Campuses Converge at Federal Building

On Wednesday, Nov. 16th, upwards of 500 San Diego high school and college students staged walk-outs at their campuses in protests against the election of Donald Trump. They marched and blocked intersections, and then converged from their different schools in downtown San Diego.

Around 10 am, the first demonstration began near San Diego City College, and by 11:15 the crowd – mostly from San Diego High School and the College had swelled to 300 to 500 people, according to police and participant estimates ….

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Holocaust Scholar Suspended from Teaching Job for Comparing Trump to Hitler

November 14, 2016 by Source

By Alexandra Rosenmann / AlterNet / November 14, 2016

Glenn Beck, Louis C.K., Meg Whitman and Cher were all adamantly anti-Trump this election and quickly became some of the most notable to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

But since Trump was elected, Mountain View High School history teacher Frank Navarro was placed on administrative leave for drawing the same parallels in the classroom. The California high school history teacher, also a Holocaust scholar, was asked to leave the school early, two days after election day.

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Big Brother and the Holding Company Hits OB Up for Fund-Raiser

November 3, 2016 by Source

ob-bigbro-mb-2

Janis Joplin’s Old Band at OB’s THC to Raise Funds for Toy and Food Drive

By Mercy Baron

A pretty big fundraising event went down in hippie town on October 22nd. It was the arrival and concert of Janis Joplin’s old band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. With two original members, drummer, Dave Getz and bass player, Peter Albin, holding down a solid rhythm anchor, they rocked out to a sold out audience at the old Gallagher’s on Newport Ave, now called, by some strange coincidence, The Holding Company.

I got to have a meet and greet with the band after their soundcheck and then was invited to dinner with them at Bar 1502. The club and restaurant are both owned by local, Steve Yeng, who also owns OB Noodle House. When I arrived for soundcheck, Steve said, “We’ve sold a lot of tickets in advance and expect to be sold out tonight.”

He further told me –

“The name of the place was inspired by the band and I thought how awesome it would be to have them play here and now here they are!”

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Who’s Behind the Big Money Takeover of San Diego County Schools?

November 2, 2016 by Gregg Robinson

san-diego-county-ofc-of-ed-imageRick Shea versus Walmart and Company

By Gregg Robinson, President, San Diego County Board of Education, and Jim Miller, Vice President, American Federation of Teachers Guild, Local 1931

Somebody is trying to buy control of San Diego’s education system and few in the local media seem to have noticed until Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune finally covered it.

The Voice of San Diego has been quiet on this front, perhaps because, as the SDUT article reports, its co-founder Buzz Woolley is part of the action. He and his fellow corporate education reformers have San Diego in their crosshairs and are spending big money to drive their agenda.

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Measure “I” Pits Balboa Park Advocates Against San Diego High’s Future

October 18, 2016 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for Measure “I” Pits Balboa Park Advocates Against San Diego High’s Future

By Doug Porter

Measure “I” started out as a seemingly non-controversial deal to maintain the status quo with two venerable San Diego institutions.

Now it has split the community between those who want to maintain the current location of the City’s oldest high school and those who say it should no longer occupy dedicated parkland.

The City Council placed Measure I on the ballot along with a package of reforms to the charter. It changes the language found in Section 55 of the foundational document governing the City’s use of dedicated parkland to allow a simple majority public vote to allow the existing use of that site to continue.

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Prop 58 – Righting a Wrong with Local Control of Bilingual Education

October 6, 2016 by Doug Porter

bilingual education

When Prop 227 Passed in 1998, Only Homosexuality Was Less Tolerated Than Bilingualism by Middle-Class Americans

By Doug Porter

California’s Proposition 58, being marketed as the LEARN Initiative, represents yet another step towards righting the wrongs growing out of a wave of anti-multicultural sentiment during the 1990s.

The nativist wing on the Republican Party eventually led that organization into irrelevance in California, and a generation of Latino political activists is now an ascendant force in state politics.

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Prop 51 – Will Schools Get Fixed and Repaired?

September 27, 2016 by Doug Porter

Proposition 51

By Doug Porter

The California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative, better known as Proposition 51, proposes to refill the State of California’s money pot used for school construction and repair.

It has been ten years since the last statewide school bond, and proponents say there is a massive backlog of local school projects.

Everybody loves building and fixing schools, right?

The list of supporters includes both major political parties, the Chamber of Commerce, the California Labor Federation, education groups of all sorts, the League of Women Voters and on and on. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has endorsed Prop. 51. So has Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom.

Supporters have raised over $8.4 million.

Where the bond money would go …

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