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Some Republicans want to abolish the federal Department of Education and distance Congress from the business of worrying about how kids are taught tin public schools. But congressional candidate Carl DeMaio has developed a plan to improve education by coaxing them to not only review the performance of teachers online but post the results each year.This approach fits in with DeMaio’s long-standing opposition to labor; teacher unions have long resisted greater accountability. But a recent DeMaio statement doesn’t fit in with the truth.
“I asked the school district for their policy on teacher performance evaluations and I thought, well, maybe they evaluate once a year, maybe once a quarter. No, once every five years,” he told a radio host recently. He repeats the five-year claim on his website.
Lisa Halverstadt at VOSD’s San Diego Fact Check finds his statement is misleading. DeMaio’s spokesman is not impressed by a verdict he dismisses as nitpicking.
Tenure Protections Have Roots in Witch Hunt
It seems like just about every education critic loves to pounce on teacher tenure. And no wonder: At its most powerful, the teacher tenure system makes it extremely difficult for school districts to fire even the worst teachers. The system is so wretched and its effects on students so bad, declared a judge earlier this year, that it “shocks the conscience.”
A century ago, San Diego teachers didn’t have tenure, and they could be fired for any reason. Then a witch hunt erupted in our midst.
As I write in a history flashback, the San Diego school board in 1918 fired more than a dozen teachers teachers in part because they feared — apparently without evidence — that they were German sympathizers. Voters used newfound powers to recall the school board, and teachers soon gained tenure.
• Another lawsuit is threatening to make life difficult for teachers and the powerful California Teachers Association union: EdSource says it strikes “at the core of the CTA’s power: its authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members.”
Mayor Takes Aim at Bureaucracy
As VOSD’s Andrew Keatts explains, the city doesn’t zip through development permit applications. It takes its sweet time, needing as much as a month to let applicants know that they have their papers in order.
Keatts reports: “This is the first piece of the proverbial red tape Mayor Kevin Faulconer promised to cut, to get homes and offices built faster in hopes of lowering rents and providing for the city’s growing population.”
There’s more to come. But while reform may sound great to developers, critics think the city already bends over backward to make builders happy. Chiropractor, anyone?
• If you run a small business, it may be hard to figure out exactly what the city does for you besides make you pay for a business license even if you’re not doing much actual business and pay for much more if you need things like permits. But what do small businesses want, actually?
In a new commentary for VOSD, we hear from Jon Lieber, chief economist at Thumbtack.com, which connects people to professionals.
The company’s survey of a couple hundred local business types suggests that the city could do much better in areas of licensing and regulations and be more friendly overall. The city’s grade in that area, according to these businesspeople: F.
Gee, where’s some grade inflation when you need it?
Drought Goes On and On
• We’re nearly reached a thousand days of drought, KPBS says. Well, at least those trees that fell around town during Tuesday’s storm won’t be sucking up water.
• A new warning system “gauges the potentiality and probable intensity of wildfire events by examining offshore wind flows and other factors, relying on three decades of Southern California weather data to pattern forecasts.” (City News Service)
Quick News Hits: Scaling New Heights
• This headline from the Onion is fake, but it’s not a bad idea, actually: “More Cities Using Text-Based Alert System To Warn Americans If They Are In Range Of NFL Players.”
• Headline of the Day, via City News Service and KPBS: “San Diego City Council Takes Up Open Meeting Suit In Closed Session.”
• Cops arrested a pedicab driver on suspicion of drunken bicycling the other day, and they took his friend — a non-threatening python that was wrapped around his neck — to an animal shelter, the U-T reports.
A photo provided by the city’s Department of Animal Services shows the python posing on a newspaper that appears to be The Wall Street Journal.
No, I won’t make a joke about a snake curling up with the business pages. But I won’t object if you do.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.