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There’s a national debate under way about government-mandated tests for students and San Diego Unified school board trustee Kevin Beiser just got caught in its crosshairs.

Our Mario Koran reports that Beiser, a teacher at Castle Park Middle School in Chula Vista, last month told parents and students in his class they should skip a federally mandated state test.

“As a teacher, I encourage parents to Opt their children out of state testing which begins on Monday, April 11,”  Beiser wrote. “There are several reasons why tests are bad for children, in my opinion.”

Problem is, the state Education Code bars teachers from explicitly encouraging students not to take the tests when they’re speaking as school employees.

It’s not clear whether Beiser was disciplined but as Koran writes, the situation offers a window into a complicated and controversial national discussion.

Koran recently wrote about Beiser’s fellow San Diego Unified school board member Richard Barrera’s dual allegiances to the district and the labor movement.

In a new op-ed, the chair of the bond oversight committee for Sweetwater Unified argues trustees should have laser focus on students rather than unrelated career goals or politics.

“The focus has to be on education and making sure student, teachers and employees have the best supportive environment possible,” Nick Marinovich writes.

The Law & Order of Politics

This week’s San Diego Decides podcast focuses on the legal races on the ballot: those for city attorney and Superior Court judge.

Hosts Sara Libby and Ry Rivard talked to fellow VOSDer Andrew Keatts about the city attorney’s race and lawyer Johanna Schiavoni, who’s worked on judicial endorsements, about what voters should know in those low-information contests and how they can get more details.

In his regular politics column, Keatts explains why Republicans seem to be propping up Democratic city attorney candidate Rafael Castellanos and checks on what Crowdpac, a group that gauges candidates’ ideologies based on their donors, can tell us about the candidates.

Another Republican propped up a Democrat on Monday. District 3 City Council candidate Anthony Bernal, a Democrat, scored an endorsement from Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Bernal’s challenger, fellow Dem Chris Ward, was quick to attack him for the endorsements from Faulconer and from developers.

• A slew of politicos and local leaders have come out against potential Chargers stadium funding measures. Yet, in the city attorney’s race, Mara Elliott is the only one to oppose them. Meanwhile, the Union-Tribune reports, fellow candidates Gil Cabrera, Castellanos and Robert Hickey have yet to take a definitive stance. And contender Bryan Pease – perhaps best known as the seal guy – actually praised both measures at a recent debate.

Gannett Doubles Down on Tribune Offer

News publishing giant Gannett really, really wants to buy the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and other Tribune publications.

Despite a recent rebuffed offer, Gannett made another one public Monday morning – and it’s offering 22 percent more than its initial bid. Gannett, which owns a slew of newspapers across the nation, said its additional fact-finding gave it more confidence it can deliver “additional operating improvements.”

The Tribune board promised to thoroughly review the proposal.

The Times rounded up the basics of the new offer while media reporting guru Ken Doctor gathered some takeaways.

Meanwhile, Union-Tribune staffers settled into their new downtown digs. The paper finished moving out of its longtime Mission Valley home over the weekend and many workers reported duty at the new office for the first time Monday.

Welcome downtown, U-Ters! VOSD moved downtown in January and we’re happy to share taco and coffee recommendations.

In Other News

Coronado’s pressing the reset button on its bike plan after residents’ infamous backlash against a previous plan to add more bike lanes. (KPBS)

First 5, a county commission that hands out tobacco tax dollars to support early education efforts, awarded two grants to groups with ties to two First 5 board members. (Union-Tribune)

Chargers fan groups pushing for a new convadium are now also pushing a boycott of certain San Diego hotels. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Get ready to do lotsa research this fall. California voters could have as many as 18 ballot props to consider in November. (Los Angeles Times)

Senioritis. It’s a thing. The Hechinger Report examines how San Diego’s High Tech High is making senior year more meaningful with courses that teach life skills or offer college-level credits.

San Diego reached tentative labor deals with three of its unions that come with 3.3 percent pay raises and increased benefits. (KPBS)

So a baby possum showed up in Pacific Beach woman’s toilet a couple weeks ago – and I must say, it was much less terrifying than the boa constrictor and python discovered in bathrooms in recent history. I’m still recovering from those stories. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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