It’s a perennial issue in public education: Should seniority matter more than work performance when it comes to the right of teachers to keep their jobs? In a landmark ruling, a Los Angeles judge ruled Tuesday that tenure protections for teachers violate children’s right to an equal education.

The evidence that districts have trouble firing ineffective teachers “shocks the conscience,” the judge wrote. Keep in mind, though, that this is a Superior Court judge, and supporters of his ruling will face legal hurdles as they move forward.

VOSD reporter Mario Koran summarizes what this all means in a new story.

As he explains, “the plaintiffs said such policies have the most disparate impact on schools that serve poor and minority students, as bottom-rung teachers are more likely to end up at high-poverty schools.” That’s an issue here.

Our Scott Lewis provides more perspective in a new column. He explores the most stunning parts of judge’s ruling and explains what it says about the persistence of bad — “grossly ineffective” — teachers in public schools.

Here’s a fact that you may not have heard: “California is one of only 10 states that consider only seniority in layoff decisions.”

Politics Roundup: Alvarez Swings and Misses

• VOSD reporter Liam Dillon criticizes Councilman David Alvarez used a too-simple approach to bash the city’s new budget for seemingly not devoting enough money to the southernmost parts of the city, which he represents.

• An attorney says federal investigators used at least one wiretap to develop charges in its local campaign finance investigation. (NBC 7)

For more about the campaign finance mess, check our story here.

• More smart parking meters are on their way here. I shall resent being dumber than the machines I stick quarters in. (U-T)

• Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor, is Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s No. 1 fan. We track the instances of praise in a new story. It could have something to with Faulconer’s rising star in a party that’s been in the doldrums in this state.

• Companies adding jobs here are slated to lower their tax bills by $5 million. Local company Petco is due for a bundle. (U-T)

• Next City, a news outlet devoted to urban policy, maps growth here and says “if San Diego is ever going to become a truly urban place, all of these high-demand coastal neighborhoods will have to be built out more densely, not just the small swath of land downtown where there aren’t many existing residents to upset.”

VOSD Chat on Tap with U-T Head Honcho

• Hey local media watchers! (Wow, I just got my own attention.) We’ll be holding a “One Voice at a Time” discussion with U-T CEO John Lynch on June 24.

There will be booze beforehand. You may need it.

Tickets are free for members and $10 for everybody else. RSVP here!

• Corrections: Speaking of the U-T: Yesterday’s Morning Report said our Scott Lewis talked to the U-T’s John Lynch about the newspaper’s plans for an acquisition. In fact, he talked to U-T publisher Doug Manchester.

Also, an item about a “Progress of Man” walking tour offered by the San Diego History Center misstated when it’s offered. The tour is held weekly on Wednesdays. Sorry about the errors.

Culture Report: Artistic Visions Behind Bars

This week’s Culture Report examines art in various forms: in California prisons, via a China-Mexico artistic connection and through mid-century-modern architecture. But wait, there’s more: a “cool, kind of weird timelapse video,” “Topsider-sporting dads” (is it the ’80s again?) and “a Navajo print explosion.”

San Diego’s Furry Favorite, 1890s-Style

Slate is out with an intriguing story about how American cities were overrun with unleashed canines back around the turn of the 20th century: “By 1908, with industrialization in full swing, dogs had become a focal point for cultural anxieties about urban existence — its filth, disease, brutality, madness, and unpredictability.”

In San Diego, however, a stray pooch is embedded (endog-ened?) in our history. Bum, a ship stowaway who arrived here in 1886. “The people of ‘New Town’ San Diego took excellent care of their half-St. Bernard & half-spaniel mascot, so much so that when San Diego issued its first dog license, an image of Bum was smack on top,” says the Gaslamp Museum.

Click here for a nifty photo of Bum with his fans. And there’s more: A 300-pound bronze statue of Bum sits in a downtown park.

If anyone else would like to erect a statue of a hairy San Diegan who drools and has an endless need for attention … Well, just drop me a line. Happy to provide my measurements.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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