Catching heat for turning away from Obama’s education plan and facing a challenge at the ballot box, the San Diego Unified school board last year set about creating its own reform push.

The district rejected using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. It instead wanted to decentralize, empowering individual teachers to solve problems. So how are things going? “Many of its reform ideas have been just that — ideas — so far,” says education reporter Emily Alpert.

The school board took steps Tuesday to begin to define what exactly it expects from schools and how it will measure those expectations. For example, students would have to by the end of eighth grade be able to “deliver a clear, organized oral presentation with relevant evidence and sound, valid reasoning.”

At least one school board member sounds skeptical of how it will all play out. “These are all fine ideas,” said John Lee Evans. “But how are we going to have a report that shows all these goals for student achievement are being met?”

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• The reform push hit a bump in the road earlier this year when the teachers union got angry at the school board for laying off teachers — the two groups were supposed to be hammering out the plan in harmony.

Now, one teacher is speaking up about the union’s unwillingness to renegotiate its contract in order to spare layoffs. “[T]he unspoken but clear message being sent to me from SDEA is that you are a union that wants to prioritize the interests of the senior, not junior, members,” the appropriately named Sarah Mathy wrote to union prez Bill Freeman.

The school board has asked teachers to come back to the table and unwind the back-loaded pay increases it granted teachers just one year ago.

Case Against Ex-TJ Mayor Rhon Takes Another Dramatic Turn

It seems like something that only would’ve happened a century ago: The gambling mogul and ex-mayor, who drinks exotic virility potions and has his own private zoo, is trailed for years by allegations of murderous criminal activity.

It’s all unfolding right now in Tijuana, and the drama drove higher yesterday when in the early morning a judge ordered Rhon to be freed from federal prison, where he’d been held on weapons charges. The racetrack owner was then whisked to state custody in a separate investigation.

The Baja California attorney general said he was examining former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon’s role in the murder of his son’s 24-year-old girlfriend.

Still, Rhon ended the day a free man after a judge again ordered his release from custody later in the day. The Los Angeles Times cites analysts who believe the case is falling apart as a result of bad police work and Rhon’s tremendous influence.

“This is the clearest indication that, instead of conducting a serious investigation, they are flailing about trying to find justification for keeping this guy in jail,” a law professor told the paper.

Former SDPD Cop to Stand Trial in Rape Case

A judge decided there is enough evidence to bring the case against Daniel Dana, the former SDPD cop accused of rape under the color authority, to trial. (Union-Tribune)

Dana’s is one of the most dramatic cases in the recent string of serious allegations against San Diego Police Department officers. For more, check out our video explainer for the back story, our profile of how the police chief manages crisis, and our look at how SDPD decisions allow more latitude for misconduct.

More Newsroom Layoffs at Union-Tribune

The Union-Tribune has laid off more newsroom employees in the wake of budget cuts, the Republican political site is reporting. The site named editorial writer Don Sevrens and three editors — David Ogul, Catherine Snapp and Nancy Wyld — as having been excused.

This is the eighth round of newsroom cuts at the newspaper in the last five years; it has cut more than half of its staff since 2006. The last round of newsroom layoffs came one year ago this week, when the paper cut about 35 as part of new Editor Jeff Light’s reorganization.

Don Bauder at the Reader has named a couple more people who are affected by the most recent layoffs. In related news, in the comments he mentions a Wall Street Journal article that says the owners of the U-T “could have strategic interest” in the Orange County Register now that a buyout deal involving the Register’s publisher and another media company fell apart.

Solving Arts Mysteries of All Kinds

VOSD arts editor Kelly Bennett and NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro solved the mystery of a crocheted bicycle with the help of Twitter this weekend.

Reader Lizbeth Persons Price saw Bennett’s post and posted two photos of crocheted handrails on the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge to our arts beat Facebook page. A group called the “Spruce Street Skeinsters” took credit for the newly woolen handrails.

Is crocheting the cool thing to do now? I thought it was needlepoint.

• Another cool arts mystery unraveled over the last week: The artist who concocted the cult-fave Surfing Madonna in Encinitas unmasked himself. That story leads our weekly arts roundup, the Arts Report.

There’s a ton of arts coverage all across this region. Each week we try to filter out the best and put it together into one easy read. (It’s like a hipper cousin to the Morning Report.) Sign up here.

Wild Pigs Wearing Out Welcome

Feral pigs are running wild across the region! OK, maybe it’s not time to panic yet, but local authorities are plotting a way to eradicate the “big, ugly and mean” porkers. They aren’t native here and are causing damage to trees and other wildlife, says the LA Times.

So how’d they get here?

“One rumor — like a lot of information about the feral pigs, it is unconfirmed — is that the feral pigs are descendants of a failed venture to start a game-hunting ranch on Indian property,” the paper says.


The Morning Report has two corrections to make. Tuesday we said Rich Toscano’s analysis of the housing market by price per square foot had shown it going up compared to the year before. This is untrue. It went up compared to the month before.

We also implied that mayoral candidate and member of Congress, Bob Filner, had canceled all of the rest of his congressional fundraising events after the one coming next week. That’s not true. He said he’s only canceled “most” of them.

We sincerely regret the errors.

Please contact Andrew Donohue at or 619.325.0526. Follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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