Last year, as San Diego Unified scrambled to meet a budget deadline, Superintendent Cindy Marten made a big move: She took special support teachers for students learning English and turned them into traditional classroom teachers.

That’s just one way students learning English can get the short end of the stick. The entire way they usually learn — in separate classes removed from their English-speaking peers — are often derided as ESL ghettos. Those classes “might help explain why more than 6,000 students in San Diego Unified have been in district schools for six or more years and still aren’t proficient in English,” writes VOSD’s Mario Koran.

But at Kearny High School, English-learners seem to be thriving — and most importantly, learning English as well as academic content. Koran examines the structures Kearny has put in place, and the challenges to making the system work district-wide.

Donna Frye: Fix Mission Valley

In a VOSD commentary, former Councilwoman Donna Frye looks at early plans for cramming more people, offices, tourists and businesses into Mission Valley. “Instead of creating one more boring development project typical of Mission Valley,” she writes, “we could recognize the potential that now exists and do something really great for the public by creating a massive river park that everyone could enjoy.”

It’s not a new idea: “A San Diego River Park has been contemplated for years, and is already supported in existing planning documents, including the San Diego River Park Master Plan.”

VOSD Podcast: How Water Works

The guest on the weekly VOSD podcast is our reporter Ry Rivard, who’s on the water beat and busily learning how the region’s water infrastructure works. He talks about how a third of the city’s drinking water could come from treated sewage by 2035. (Keep in mind that we’re already drinking water that was once filled with all sorts of icky things. What’s different is how gunky the water will be before it’s treated.)

Water: Is Bigger Better?

Hundreds of public schools and dozens of school districts serve kids in our county of more than 3 million people, and even more provide education to adults. Water isn’t much different when it comes to the divided approach to government: The U-T finds that at least 26 local water districts keep taps flowing.

The problem: That’s a lot of bosses making big money, a lot of district offices, a lot of employees doing the exact same thing — all on the dime of water users. In North County, two water districts in regions with lots of farms (Fallbrook and Rainbow) talked a merger that could save $2 million a year until talks broke down and tensions erupted. A U-T story looks at the big issue of “whether ratepayers are best served by small water districts or bigger agencies that potentially can save money through economy of scale.”

Here’s an Idea: Sell the Stadium

Local officials and the Chargers are busy sniping at each other over the prospects for a new stadium. So now what? The U-T’s Dan McSwain examines the prospects and offers an idea that will warm the hearts of those who don’t care about football: “One approach is to throw a going-away party, perhaps during an open house … Selling the city-owned Q — either for an SDSU expansion or commercial development — offers far more to the local economy than a new NFL stadium.”

• Former Chargers player Hank Bauer is out as a radio game color commentator. (NBC 7)

• The most popular story on our site last week was the article about the Chargers torpedoing negotiations with the city with a bunch of insults. Check the full Top 10 list here.

Point Lomans Demand Action on Crosswalk

A crosswalk in Point Loma is getting a new traffic signal and re-striping, but neighbors want more in the wake of the death of an infant in the spring in a crash. The crosswalk is at Canon Street and Catalina Boulevard.

NBC 7 says its mapping of accidents shows at least eight “in that exact same area in the past few years. There have been 78 other accidents in the general vicinity of that intersection. None of those were fatal, according to police data, though 96 people have been injured.”

It’s Bright. Will it Also Be Blight?

Years ago, critics took aim that San Diego State’s plans for a digital billboard facing I-8. Oh, those were the days. Now, giant, flashing digital signs blare at drivers in cities like Escondido, making us look like Orange Couny and Los Angeles.

Oceanside is thinking about allowing a digital sign of its own that “would have two 14 foot by 48 foot screens — one facing west and the other east — displaying illuminated digital ads that rotate every few seconds, from sunrise to midnight.” The U-T says the city’s poised to make $180,000 a year or more off the thing.

Quick News Hits: Iceberg, (Not) Dead Ahead!

• The U-T has an update on a proposed huge housing project near the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Meanwhile, the paper says construction of new schools is on a recession-delayed roll in North County.

• Ouch. Bill Maher, the progressive icon whose attack-dog style aggravates his own allies, has a new target: A San Diego State student who is, according to Maher, a “little shit.” The Huffington Post explains — the student’s crime was an open letter criticizing Jerry Seinfeld.

• Could icebergs be the solution to the drought? Someone actually asked that question of newspaper answer guy Cecil “The Straight Dope” Adams, wondering whether icebergs could be transported here to produce fresh water.

As politely as he can, Adams offers a big pile of reasons why this is a dumb idea. Wow. I haven’t seen a reception this frigid since the last 45 times I asked someone out on a date.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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