The new school year is beginning at San Diego Unified campuses, and the district is facing challenges and opportunities. In a new story, we take a look at the big issues that we’ll be following over the next nine months.

Among other things, the district will need to continue figuring out what to do about English learners now that it’s turned many English-learning specialists into full-fledged teachers. Also, teachers and students will soon need to adjust to new, stricter graduation requirements. Other issues on the school-year agenda: school discipline, the Common Core standards and transparency.

• The U-T checks in with San Diego’s long-troubled Lincoln High, which is trying for a new start yet again.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris are appealing the judge’s ruling that would dramatically weaken the tenure rules that make it extremely difficult for districts to fire bad teachers. The New York Times notes that while teachers unions hate the ruling, the U.S. education secretary is a fan.

Mayor’s Big Choice on Fighting Climate Change

San Diego has a tradition of moderate-ish Republican mayors, including the current one, so it’s not surprising that Mayor Kevin Faulconer accepts that something has to be done about climate change. When city leaders debate a Climate Action Plan to drastically cut greenhouse gases, there shouldn’t be any serious discussion about whether global warming exists.

But there’s still plenty of room for the business-friendly Republican mayor to maneuver against Democrats. Faulconer will soon release his draft plan. As we report, the biggest decision will be “whether its targets for emissions reductions will be strict, legally enforceable mandates or aspirational guideposts. And that call will mostly come down to whatever Faulconer releases this month.”

In other words, will the mayor carry a big stick or just speak softly?

• “San Diego’s bike sharing program was supposed to start between January and March of this year,” KPBS reports. “Then it was delayed to May, then delayed again to the end of the summer.”

Guess what: It’s been delayed again.

• The U-T reports on the state of plans to fix up downtown’s long-struggling C Street.

Startups Banned in SD? Nope.

The rumor falls into the category of “shocking if true”: The scuttlebutt in some parts of the business community says San Diego bans startups. This would be news to the many startups that continue to pop up around town. We looked into it and report that the rumor is, of course, false.

But the city does severely limit the ability of people to start businesses at their homes and hire an employee who works there. However, so do plenty of other cities, even the startup mecca of San Francisco.

VOSD Radio: Voters, Activate!

Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research, is the guest on the latest edition of the VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast. He thinks voters should ultimately decide how much they want to pay for a football stadium/expanded convention center project.

Also, the show includes discussion of the jeremiad by VOSD’s Scott Lewis against junk mail. (You can read it here). The issue is in the news because of a Post Office reform bill in Congress.

There are actually a few handy and free ways to cut way down on junk mail. Click here to find an FTC guide to eliminating yourself from credit card and insurance offers. Dmachoice.org and catalogchoice.org will get you off mailing lists too.

Our story about the death of the Convention Center expansion — at least in its pre-mortem form — was the most popular on our site last week. Here’s the full Top 10 list.

Costumed Avengers Fail to Comfort

• The recent series of at least six attacks on women in North Park has sparked the Xtreme Justice League into action. Three masked and costumed crime-fighters attended a community meeting the other day, the Reader reports, and were met with skepticism. One woman asked: “How do I know who you are — how do I know you’re not the bad guy?”

A police captain gave the crowd this stunning advice: Don’t walk alone.

SD Ranks High in Afterlife Aficionados

The latest edition of Time magazine looks at local obsessions around the country and finds that San Diego is big on ghosts, with 1,107 spirit-seeking members of a Meetup group. “The Presidio and Pioneer Park are said to be haunted,” Time says. “Hundreds gather regularly to explore.”

Indeed, Pioneer Park in Mission Hills is prime ghostly territory. As we’ve noted, the popular park used to be a graveyard, and the bodies are still there. San Diego is also home to ghostly tales at the Hotel Del Coronado, where a woman was found in 1892 with a bullet in her head. And we even have an actual tombstone graveyard with quite a story behind it.

Meanwhile, New York Magazine has a new story about the belief that ghosts engage in, well, carnal pursuits with mortals. It’s a “long-standing, cross-cultural phenomenon,” the magazine says.

Huh. Sure gives new meaning to that ever-present personal-ad lingo: “spiritual but not religious.”

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and 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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