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Take a look at what readers are saying about pensions, the new San Diego Unified chief’s record as a principal, progress on street repairs and how homeless folks stay connected with technology.
My reading of The New York Times story was somewhat different. My impression is that the city sold some bonds to cover some of its pension obligations and bought insurance for those bonds. My understanding is that the city cannot cover the bond payments and the insurers are suggesting that a reason they cannot cover the bond payments is that they are paying their obligations to CALPERS in full. Essentially it sounds like the insurers don’t want to have to pay for the city’s inability to cover its costs, which I presume is why the bond insurance was taken out in the first place. Perhaps more intriguingly, CALPERS is essentially a government vendor of pensions. That is, the city in this case doesn’t provide the pensions, but pays CALPERS to do so. If the city can’t pay, or can’t pay the full obligation, does CALPERS still pay the full pensions? In this case, it seems that the other creditors are not suggesting that CALPERS reduce pension benefits. They are suggesting that the city should not pay CALPERS in full if they are not being paid in full.
It might be better to sell unneeded city-owned properties (like the school plan) and shrink government operations (if necessary) to raise money for street maintenance. This would also help in funding pension obligations (peak in 2025?) since there would be no additional rental expense.
“That’s the question: How do you measure that silent curriculum?” Marten said. “How do you measure love, hope, passion, respect, resilience, tolerance, confidence?”
It’s not a direct measurement but one way to quantify this might be to see how the Central Elementary parent organizations have or have not expanded parent participation during her time at Central. The entire reason for arguing for small classrooms at the elementary school level is about individual attention. By all accounts, Ms. Marten has implemented a holistic approach to individual attention, recognizing that the real stability for attention needs to come first from within the home, where budgetary impacts on class-size, curriculum, etc., can be mitigated by the continuity of parental attention to schooling. That attention is the driver of gains in the “silent curriculum.” If she’s succeeded in this, it might bear out in the number of people actively joining and participating in parental organizations.
As to the test scores, if she’s succeeded in establishing the foundation for a lasting institutional change in the relationship between Central and its students’ parents, while maintaining successive gains in scores, and in the face of Title I pressures no less — it’s hard to see that as anything but a total success both in the short- and long-term.
As all educators will tell you, test scores are not the sole determiner of anything. Test scores show how well particular students did on this particular test on this particular day they took it. Can they be useful? Yes, to a point. API, test scores, none of this should be the only thing looked at when determining effectiveness of a school. The one true accomplishment that Cindy Marten achieved — and I think the one of the most important ones — opening a health clinic at the school. Too many of our students and their families do not have access to quality health care. When families have access, the children are more able to learn. Every school should be taking the community approach, as Cindy Marten has clearly done with Central. Let’s stop relying so heavily on test scores and look at schools, and students, as a whole.
I think it’s very positive that some of the homeless are still able to connect in society. The web allows them to maintain some semblance of relationships to friends and family and to the job market. The other big benefit is that it allow them to more quickly accomplish daily tasks rather than running around town. It’s a major headache having to run around town on the bus trying to get things done. More importantly it gives them the chance to retrain and learn and become productive members of society. We should develop online training programs so that the homeless and others can develop job skills.
Personally I would like to see an institution like UCSD become involved with this. There is an awful lot of money wasted in continuing education by teachers who are simply interested in keeping their jobs and not learning new skills. So why not let UCSD extension take over this and help the homeless and others?
Comments have been lightly edited for typos, spelling and style.
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Dagny Salas is the web editor at Voice of San Diego. You can contact her directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5669.
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