Here’s a question for educators and parents to ponder: How far should a school district go to fixing a struggling school? What’s its responsibility? And if it can’t fix things, what’s a well-meaning parent to do?

Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn examine the question in the latest episode of our education podcast, Good Schools for All. You can listen here.

The episode specifically focuses on Lincoln High School and the many efforts over the years to revamp an rebuild it. As Mario Koran notes in a new column, Lincoln has “been the subject of several turnaround efforts in the last 10 years. It’s had a revolving door of principals — all of whom struggled to balance the expectations of the district with the school’s vocal teachers. Each new effort to revive it has ended in disappointment.”

When the district fails to fix things, he writes, “in the case of Lincoln, we know what happens: Students leave and problems continue.”

San Diego Explained: An Imaginary Water Crisis

Our Ry Rivard drops by NBC 7 to help put together the latest edition of San Diego Explained, which explores how San Marcos has created a water shortage that doesn’t really exist. That may seem just weird and not a big deal over here in reality, but the problem is that the fake crisis is having real ramifications.

Middling Secret Rating for S.D. VA

The national VA has a secret rating system based on “dozens and dozens of factors, including mortality rate, infections caused at the hospital, wait times for care and the efficiency of call centers,” the U-T reports, following up on a USA Today report.

Where does the San Diego VA system fit in? It gets a three out of five possible points. At least that’s better than L.A.: It gets a one.

The head of the local system says the ratings rate the VA systems against one another, and he says San Diego ranked higher a few months ago. Then ratings got rejiggered, and down San Diego’s rating went.

What happened? The VA put “more emphasis on how many days patients wait for appointments and the performance of the call center.”

Ambulances Miss Mark on Responses Again

The city’s ambulance service has again missed its goals in regard to emergency response times, reports NBC 7, which says it missed the mark in “six of the eight medical response zones in San Diego for the month of October.” The city’s contract with Rural/Metro says it needs to respond to calls within 12 minutes or less 90 percent of the time.

“It’s shocking how close or how often the ambulance level gets to ‘Level Zero’ or close to ‘Level Zero,’” a former Rural/Metro EMT told the City Council recently. “What this means is there is no ambulances left in the city.”

A while back we explained how the system operates in order to deploy ambulances to emergencies.

Quick News Hits: Freeze!

“San Diego unveiled a proposal on Thursday to allow the city’s 15 permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to also sell marijuana to recreational users when that becomes legal in California in January 2018.” (U-T)

A new report tries to pinpoint the number of community college students whose housing situations aren’t secure. (U-T)

Another new study suggests 12 percent of North County residents live in poverty. (KPBS)

Qualcomm has Intel in its sights. (U-T)

Councilman Mark Kersey has a nifty John Glenn memory.

Mannequin Challenge videos are everywhere, but this one is especially captivating. It’s filmed at Donovan State Prison in Otay Mesa. “About a dozen inmates are featured in the video. It’s unclear who is doing the recording, but at least two of the featured inmates are seen holding cellphones, which aren’t allowed in prison,” the U-T reports.

That’s not good. The state prison system promises it’s going to investigate. “An inmate caught with an illegal cellphone can lose up to 90 days of good time credit,” a spokeswoman says. “There could be other sanctions as well.”

Is a chance at viral stardom worth 90 extra days in the slammer? Well, these guys have already shown that they don’t mind being frozen in one place.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member 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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