If you’re a parent trying to figure out how send your child to the best school,  you’ve got tough decisions to make. Mario Koran set out to understand the top reasons why a parent might send a child to a specific school, especially in light of new school district numbers showing residents are avoiding certain neighborhood schools.

The top factor for parents, according to San Diego Unified: test scores. Parents also judged a school sharply based on the quality of its facilities.

But it’s not only hard numbers and concrete buildings parents care about. Also high on the list is the school leadership’s engagement with parents. Changing how school leaders interact with parents could “require philosophical buy-in from school staff and could pose some practical challenges,” Koran notes.

• Conspicuously absent from the list of factors parents consider when choosing a school is the quality of its teachers. In his most recent installment of The Learning Curve, Koran fields a question about exactly which school qualities lead to that most nebulous goal: student success. One expert doesn’t mince words: Student success is tied to teacher quality. “First and foremost, teachers matter. Give a school all high-quality teachers, and I’ll guarantee there will be lots of learning taking place,” says USD’s Paula Cordeiro.

• Great teachers? San Diego Unified has some of those, and the district recently awarded their best. (U-T)

• One Alpine art teacher is still honing his skills after parents complained their fifth-graders were asked to paint wine glasses and beer steins. (NBC 7)

• A bunch of parents in La Jolla have a different problem on their mind: They want their kids’ school to stop confiscating cell phones. (NBC 7)

Gonzalez Touts Opinion on Civic San Diego

Civic San Diego is a nonprofit with a unique relationship to San Diego. The city’s government has turned over some limited permitting powers to Civic. Developers are happy with that arrangement, and Civic wants to expand its powers into other neighborhoods.

But Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wants Civic San Diego to have less power, not more. She asked the state’s legislative counsel “to determine whether cities are allowed to contract with nonprofit groups to make land use decisions,” Andrew Keatts writes. “They aren’t, according to the legal opinion.”

There’s still plenty of gray area though — in fact, the city attorney’s office responded to the opinion later in the day Thursday and said the opinion Gonzalez touted actually shows Civic is on solid legal footing.

Civic San Diego Board Member Mike Jenkins defends the nonprofit in a new op-ed, arguing that not only should people keep their paws off Civic’s current powers, but that its work should be expanded into other neighborhoods. “The city needs resources to help neglected neighborhoods, and Civic San Diego is a good candidate for the job,” Jenkins writes.

Minds Came, Minds Met

Our eighth Meeting of the Minds event was held Wednesday, and this time we invited artists and architects to show us their favorite and most inspiring places around San Diego. Their fascinating responses ranged from a cramped attic high above the Balboa Theatre, to the open meadows of Mount Laguna, to the streets of the affluent neighborhood of Rancho Sante Fe and beyond. Catherine Green recaps highlights and video from each presentation. Now go watch, and dream of turning part of Cesar Chavez Parkway into a flower garden.

Fall of Saigon Remembered

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which marked the end of the Vietnam war, KPBS writes about the 1,600 military service members who remain “missing in action” from that war, and how their families are still seeking closure. “After the war ended, the U.S. government set up a command to investigate MIA cases,” KPBS reports. “Since then, the remains of nearly 900 service members have been recovered.” On Friday, KPBS will host a special show on the USS Midway talking with Vietnamese-Americans who were on board the American helicopters airlifting people to safety in the closing minutes of the war, and who now call San Diego home.

Stadium Eye-Candy

The NFL stadium being imagined in Carson to house the Chargers and the Raiders keeps looking more and more futuristic. The L.A. Times revealed Thursday that the newest design would feature a giant glass tower over the concourse, where simulated lightning would pulse during Chargers games. “If the team were to score a touchdown, a bolt would shoot out of the top,” according to the Times. NBC 7 has a gallery of the new drawings.

News Nibbles

• Remember that La Jolla High football player who was severely injured after what his father says was pressure from a coach to keep playing? Pacific Standard Magazine writes that researchers have confirmed athletes often feel pressure to keep playing when injured, but not just from their coaches.

• If you want to cut 30,000 party-hard adults loose in the new water park at the County Administration building, expect to cough up around $65,000 in damages. (U-T)

• This year’s count of the local homeless population found 8,700 homeless in San Diego County, 15.4 percent of them military veterans. (KPBS)

• A Syrian-American man was arrested in Rancho Bernado for lying to federal officials about his connections with extremist military fighters. (L.A. Times)

• Endorsement season is here extra early this cycle. With the elections more than a year off, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce issued endorsements for two City Council incumbents, plus Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Greg Cox on Thursday. (Times of San Diego)

• County Supervisor Dave Roberts has been facing a mass exodus of his staff, some of whom have accused him of creating a hostile work environment. (NBC 7)

• San Diego researchers may be able to modify the building blocks of life to eliminate some diseases, if we can agree it’s ethical to do so. (KPBS)

The Internet Was Always About Animals

Ten years ago, the first video posted on a newly created website called YouTube was posted, featuring one of the site’s co-founders standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo. “Within a year, YouTube was sold to Google for $1.5 billion,” Fox 5 reports.

YouTube would go on to last almost a month before someone thought to post a video of their cat playing with a rope, thus forever changing the point of the internet.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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