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Retired San Diego State education professor Alberto Ochoa spent decades in academia but never forgot his own brush with public education as a Mexican immigrant student in Los Angeles. Now, he’s one of the advisers to San Diego’s new schools superintendent and continuing to speak out about the need for change.

In a new Q-&-A, Ochoa talks about the costs of varying expectations of students depending on where they live, of racial segregation in schools and of ordering Spanish-speaking students to abandon their first language.

He also points a finger at the blame game. “Parents blame the teachers, teachers blame the parents or they blame principals, principals blame the superintendents, superintendents blame Sacramento. It goes on,” he said. “To a certain degree, we all do this. I do, too. It’s natural. When I notice myself doing it, I try to recognize it. When we blame somebody else, it means it’s not our problem. We’re not responsible for it.”

Detroit Did to Pensions What San Diego Leaders Told Us Was Impossible

We take a bit of a deeper look at a judge’s ruling in the bankruptcy/pension fight in Detroit and the opinions of local leaders here. While much has been made of pension reform for city employees in San Diego in recent years, it still never really touched existing employees’ pensions, which are the bulk of the liabilities we face. Almost all the changes affect future city workers.

Years ago, the city attorney and mayor shut down discussions about bankruptcy saying ideas that a federal judge would treat pensions like any contract subject to renegotiation were misleading. California, they said, had constitutional protections for public employee pensions.

Well, that’s what makes the Detroit decision so big: Michigan also has those protections. The bankruptcy judge didn’t care.

• Turns out San Diego isn’t the only city having trouble finding police recruits: Los Angeles is in a pickle too, while L.A. County’s Sheriff Department has its own hiring mess.

Food Fight!

• CityBeat examines the brewing battle over where food trucks can (and can’t) go in the city.

• Forbes talks to two county health officials about their efforts to improve health here, including work to encourage more nutritious diets.

• Yesterday’s Morning Report mentioned the huge number of -‘bertos Mexican restaurants in town, from Roberto’s to Filiberto’s to Alberto’s. A reader reminded me that the SD Reader has explored this issue.

Quick News Hits

• We asked readers yesterday if ubiquitous reader/commenter Jim Jones should be allowed to continue commenting or told to get lost. They had lots of thoughts about it. Ultimately, the VOSD brass decided to let him stick around. And the reader who said he was gone if Jones stayed changed his mind.

• “The U-T San Diego nutters are at it again,” warns CityBeat in an editorial about an editorial. If you didn’t see the original U-T editorial because you were busy with the holiday, here’s a While You Were Out version: The newspaper believes California should think pretty hard about dividing in two.

No, we’re not making this up.

• City planning guru Bill Fulton is out with a commentary about the challenges of waiting for a redo of urban renewal.

• A new report says 158 street gangs operate in the county, and a few thousand people are members. (City News Service)

• Lots of metro areas around the country are turning away from driving, Atlantic Cities reports, but we’re not one of the leaders.

• Quick: Name a part of the world that has a history of not living up to its promises. No, not the country with the sad string of broken treaties with the Native Americans. Keep going. Oh, let’s quit this game and let local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter tell you: “In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible no matter what it takes — and that includes lying.”

He seemed to catch himself, though, a moment later on C-SPAN: “I would say not necessarily all Middle Eastern countries. I know that’s a big generalization.” Later, his spokesman clarified things further, or at least tried to.

• As a (library) card-carrying bookworm, I’ve been to the new Central Library several times and haven’t seen any of the dreaded homeless menace that a VOSD contributor encountered. If anything, the new facility seems less full of transients than the old one and a much livelier and kid-friendlier place overall.

That’s not to say the place doesn’t have interesting characters walking around. Yesterday, I stood in the elevator with a lady with a walker holding a book titled “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You.”

Yikes! Actually, the topic of the book isn’t what you might assume. Still, that does it. I’m cancelling Mom’s library privileges.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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