San Diego Unified schools have put new Common Core standards for math into place this school year — English is next year — and the early news isn’t promising.

In two high school-level math classes, formerly known as algebra and geometry, a whopping 27 percent of students district-wide are failing. That’s up from a year ago. In some schools, half or more of kids taking the classes are getting a D or F.

VOSD contributor Christie Ritter looks over the details and notes that “there are plenty of reasons why more students are flunking the Common Core-aligned math classes. This year’s students have to play guinea pigs as teaching strategies are refined.” It has, she writes, been “a rough and expensive transition.”

Politics Roundup: Not So Taxing

• San Diego’s new taxi rules go into effect today, allowing more cabs on the streets. The goal is to help taxi drivers make a living, but the people who own taxis and lease them out are unhappy. San Diego has long had some of the highest taxi rates in the country, although the rise of services like Uber and Lyft has given riders a cheaper and more convenient alternative. (KPBS)

• The mayor has a do-gooder nonprofit, sort of, which sounds nice. But, as we’ve reported, it’s a bit of a fuzzy deal. The Reader looks over recent donations and finds some major names like SDG&E, Wells Fargo, the Padres and developers. The amounts they donated are now public.

• Monday, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria demanded the city halt any travel of employees to Indiana. Monday night, Mayor Kevin Faulconer mostly agreed. Tuesday Faulconer backed off after Indiana lawmakers rushed to amend a controversial religious freedom law. Here’s the Indianapolis Star’s powerful front-page editorial demanding the law get fixed. Here’s a view that the whole thing is not what it’s being played as.

• No fooling: The sales tax in El Cajon drops to 8.5 percent from 9 percent today, lower than National City (9 percent) and La Mesa (8.75 percent) but higher than San Diego (8 percent), reports local journalist Jeremy Ogul.

• Politicians can’t figure out how to legally fund a giant expansion of the convention center, but a neighboring hotel, the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, is expanding from “47 meeting rooms with 80,000 square feet of total event space, the Downtown San Diego hotel will be expanding to nearly 240,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event venues, scheduled for completion summer of 2016.”

A “Swarovski crystal ceiling installation… will mesmerize guests, attendees and art lovers alike.” Yes, all this information comes from a press release. How’d you guess? In other news, “every event is both mouthwatering and magical.”

SeaWorld Fights Back

SeaWorld is “personally attacking the character of a former trainer who has authored a book critical of the theme parks’ treatment of its killer whales,” the U-T reports, and it has quite a piece of ammunition: a nasty 5-year-old video of the former San Diego SeaWorld trainer using a racial slur.

The video is meant to damage his credibility and it’s having an impact. Operators of Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla cancelled his signing there.

Tri-City Hospital Can’t Escape Drama

The former CEO of North County’s long-troubled Tri-City Medical Center is suing over his sacking. He says he was fired “without notice, without hearing, or the constitutionally required due process or procedure,” the Reader reports.

“Board members accused Anderson of pressuring the hospital’s former finance officer to misstate financial reserves, and inappropriately investigating Carlsbad’s mayor,” we reported in 2013. “After bonuses and other compensation, Anderson earned about $700,000 in 2012.”

Normally people can be fired without the right to drag the Constitution into the matter. The former CEO, Larry Anderson, may be referring to the fact that the hospital is run by a local government agency. One, by the way, that’s been subject to plenty of weirdness over the past few years.

Culture Report: Play’s the Thing for Prisoners

The Culture Report, VOSD’s weekly look at local cultural and art news, leads with a look at the Playwrights Project, which works with a variety of groups to help them create original plays about their lives. Among the groups: prisoners, military veterans and kids in the juvenile detention system.

Also in the Culture Report: R-rated embroidery, the return of ArtWalk, big money for the La Jolla Playhouse, and the tiny houses fad.

Quick News Hits: No Hiding from CNN

• A video has been released in a lawsuit against the Border Patrol over the death of a man in 2012 when a taser ignited gas fumes and set a car ablaze. The incident happened in the East County town of Pine Valley.

“The blast was so strong it blew agents backwards, leaving them to regroup before they moved their cars away from the burning small car without attempting to help” the man, the Guardian reports. The Border Patrol isn’t commenting, but an agent says the man was driving the wrong way on I-8; agents reportedly chased the man and stopped his car using spike strips.

• The owner of the St. Louis Rams is planning to build a stadium in Los Angeles but he’ll have to get out of St. Louis first, if he wants his Rams to move. Unlike here, Missouri’s governor is the politician on the spot, not the mayor. And that governor just lost hope that St. Louis County would contribute financially to a new stadium. Seems the county leaders are reluctant to start paying off a new stadium while they remain on the hook for the old one until 2021.

• “The farmworker strike that has crippled Baja California agricultural exports appears to be easing, but labor leaders and industry officials remain at odds,” the L.A. Times reports.

• Oh. Goodie. Lindbergh Field will get 25 TV monitors to bring the CNN Airport Network to passengers who can’t escape.

Dupes Galore (Like Me) in S.D.’s History

Many years ago, I was a mild-mannered rookie reporter working for a little weekly paper in La Jolla when I got a call from the L.A. Times asking me to come in for an interview. I excitedly told everyone in sight (boss, co-workers, random people on the street), and got ready to call back and confirm the time. Then the phone rang and someone said those horrible words: “April Fool’s.”

I still owe a few people for that. (You know who you are. I’ll get you, my pretties!) It turns out San Diego has a long history of bogus schemes and outright frauds, and not just on this date. We exposed a few of them in a history flashback: the fake replacement for the late Mr. Rogers (that’s a humdinger of a tale), a sneaky local newspaper columnist who got national attention when she “found” Abe Lincoln love letters in 1928, and the April 1, 1993, radio hoax that convinced thousands of San Diegans that the space shuttle would land here.

Another tall tale: “Munchkin houses” for short “Wizard of Oz” actors in La Jolla. Sorry, they don’t exist. Hey, would I fool you? Don’t answer that.

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 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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