The San Diego school district has been sending out layoff notices to teachers who might lose their jobs by the fall, and many of them are among the most honored educators in the city. They’ve sent us photos of themselves with layoff notices.

One of them caught our eye: Johnathan Winn from Crawford High. He’s the ebullient calculus teacher we profiled in 2009, the one who screams “GOOD MORNING CALCULUS!” to his students like a sportscaster calling a goal. Kids at this struggling school flock to his classes.

Our report put it this way: “This is a different way of teaching math, deeply personal and tailored to English learners who struggle with problems loaded with words. Winn calls it a pathway to adulthood through mathematics.”

Others with pink slips include all five of the last several teachers of the year at Lincoln High School’s Center for Social Justice and more who have been honored.

Why are so many good teachers on the cutting board? Because they lack the seniority needed to keep their jobs. In San Diego schools, tenure matters and “last hired, first fired” is the name of the game. 

• We recently noticed that San Francisco decided not to send layoff notices to teachers at certain struggling schools. How did they ignore the seniority rules? A former administrator with San Diego schools, Arun Ramanathan, explains what happened. Ramanathan is now the director of Education Trust-West.

A Carl DeMaio College Writing

We’ve been examining the careers of the major mayoral candidates with a fine-toothed comb. How fine-toothed? Well, we managed to convince a Georgetown University student newspaper editor to dip into the archives in search of writings by Councilman Carl DeMaio, who graduated in 1996.

And he found something — a commentary bashing Georgetown University’s student government.

• This week’s posts about DeMaio have sparked a lot of discussion on the site. We gathered four of the letters we received here. Gary Crist hopes DeMaio can keep doing what he’s doing. Others? Not so much. 

The Big Savings in Pension Reform Plan, Explained

There are two big parts of what’s now known as Proposition B, the pension reform initiative that will face voters in June. People often describe it as a measure that will switch new city employees from a guaranteed pension to a 401(k)-style savings plan.

But the much of the projected savings from the plan comes from another part. For San Diego Explained this week, we froze some currency to illustrate a freeze on workers’ “pensionable pay,” part of the measure’s widely debated plan to take pressure off the city budget.  

Fighting for Congress: The 52nd

KPBS hosted a debate between the three top contenders for the newly redrawn 52nd Congressional District. Incumbent Brian Bilbray has a less conservative district now and Port Commissioner Scott Peters along with former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña think they can oust him. KPBS also broke the whole debate up if you’d like to watch it only for certain questions. Nice idea.

• One of Bilbray’s former top aides, Steve Danon, has been running for Supervisor Pam Slater-Price’s seat at the county for some time. After getting into tense volleys with Danon, Slater-Price decided not to run against him for re-election after all.

Now, the Republican Slater Price has endorsed a Democrat to take her place. Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Roberts got a boost from her announcement, writes North County Times.

Get Up Offa that Thing and Dance

We’ve got a preview for you of the upcoming Young Choreographer’s Showcase, in which local dance gurus will compete for a $3,000 prize.

“Dancers have been working for weeks, rehearsing and choosing costumes and lining up their movements to music,” our Kelly Bennett reports. “And because many of them are involved in other dances around town, they’ve been fitting in these rehearsals whenever they can, on weekends and late nights sometimes.”

Quick News Hits

• Local GOP lawmakers are pushing against a $150 state fee on rural residents that’s designed to pay for fire protection, the U-T reports. “Unfair, unconstitutional and unnecessary,” says North County legislator Kevin Jeffries, who’s pushing a bill that may not go anywhere thanks to Democratic control of the Assembly.

The fee may end up in court.

• Port commissioners rejected a recommendation from its advisory public arts committee and accepted a bronze replica of the waterfront’s “Unconditional Surrender” statue, the giant depiction of the famous Times Square nurse-sailor photo from V-J Day.

Now, the committee members are upset that their advice wasn’t accepted, KPBS reports, and two have quit in disgust.

• KPBS profiles one of two “hospice homes” operated by Sharp HealthCare that offer care to terminally ill people in regular neighborhood houses. For more about hospice care, check our 2010 interview with Dr. Charles F. von Gunten, provost at The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice.

• If you’d like look at the Doonesbury cartoons about a Texas abortion law that the U-T deemed too hot to publish this week, you can follow them here.

• Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times, a longtime exposer of wrongdoing around the world, has come out in favor of the viral video — now with more than 100 million views — that attempts to expose an African warlord.

Kristof attacked the “sneering scorn of do-nothing armchair cynics,” a reference to critics of the video, created by a San Diego-based organization.

Now They’ve Done It

A writer for the online magazine Slate notes that every person in the United States could fit into San Diego County if we had the same population density as Manhattan.

Oh great. Now everybody’s going to want to come here and live on top of each other in giant skyscrapers.

On the bright side, maybe we’ll be able to get good bagels in this town for once.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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