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Schools in the United States are not the great equalizers they’ve been promoted as.
Will Huntsberry explains why in the latest Learning Curve. Standardized test scores have long been used as the only measure of quality for schools. But research shows that test scores do a better job measuring a child’s socioeconomic status than if they had a good teacher.
Back when Cindy Marten became superintendent of San Diego Unified schools she questioned that measure and promised to find a new standard because, after all, taxpayers should have a way to measure how schools are doing.
But despite promises, we’re not any closer to having “a good way to measure” quality, Huntsberry writes. Marten didn’t carve out a more responsible way to measure quality, and instead began pretending all schools were great.
She focused on making statements about how a student’s ZIP code is not their destiny. But, as Huntsberry has documented time and time again, San Diego Unified isn’t living up to that.
Finally, Poo Flows Freely to Cross-Border Treatment Plant
Twenty five days and just under a billion gallons of watery Tijuana sewage later, the federal agency responsible for treating that sludge before it reaches San Diego announced the cross-border spills have stopped — for now.
Officials from the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, which operates a wastewater treatment plant at the U.S.-Mexico border, are still assessing the system before they can officially say how millions of gallons of untreated municipal Tijuana sewage escaped a system of pipes designed to carry it to the plant. Engineers on both sides of the border prodded sewage control gates with sticks and sent cameras down into the mire searching for a block, but discovered nothing.
This latest uncontrolled spill in this decades-long environmental crisis actually leaked from Mexico into the U.S. from two places: raw, untreated sewage from a border drain and the northerly-flowing Tijuana River. That’s because there’s a key pump, called PB-CILA, on the Mexican side of the border officials kept turning on and off to try and solve the problem.
That pump, when it’s working properly, takes water out of the Tijuana River, preventing some amount of polluted river water and garbage from flowing into the U.S. It sends some of that water into another pipe that carries Tijuana sewage to the international treatment plant.
When officials shut that pump down, that means more water flows into the U.S. from the river. It’s polluted with some sewage, but it’s more diluted because the river also carries some treated water from other Mexican plants as well as groundwater.
But shutting that pump down also alleviated the amount of pure sewage that would otherwise go to the plant but was spilling through the border drain, officials noted in their reports.
IBWC also brought in a crane to open a long-stuck valve that controls the raw sewage flow to the plant. At least one of the gates that controls the flow of wastewater from Mexico into the U.S. had been stuck partially closed, so IBWC raised it a bit. Once that was done, officials fired up PB-CILA (that Mexican pump) again and wastewater started to flow normally again to the plant.
Now, officials are praying no more raw sewage shoots into the border drain during the next few afternoons as Tijuanans come home from work and start flushing toilets.
Photo of the Week
From Adriana Heldiz: On a recent Tuesday afternoon, I met Essie Mae Horne outside her former home in southeastern San Diego. She wanted to meet in front of the apartment where her husband, Andre Mahan, was murdered in 2006. Horne watched as a gunman shot her husband to death, but despite the horror, she preaches compassion and argues that there’s trauma on both sides.
In his latest column, Jesse Marx recently wrote about why some victims of horrific crimes are pushing for compassion in the growing public safety debate.
Marx explains that crime rates in San Diego are relatively low nowadays, but there’s plenty of anxiety driving the public discourse to more tough-on-crime policies. And this moment presents an opportunity for people to take a step back and listen to lessons learned by one group: victims.
Horne mentioned to me that it would be the first time she visited their former home in 16 years. I took photos of her while she shared some of her favorite memories of him. When we were done, she exhaled with a big smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She said she was happy to finally overcome the fear she had of visiting the scene of the crime.
In Other News
- The San Diego Police Department released a draft of its procedure for acquiring military equipment like armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and explosive battering rams as directed by a new state law.
- Thanks to a double-whammy weather phenomenon (desert-derived Santa Ana winds and a huge dome of high pressure air) San Diego is in a rare winter heat advisory. (Fox 5)
- Beware of hazardous rip currents hitting San Diego beaches through Friday as well. (Union-Tribune)
- Remember that sea lion who likes to wander onto San Diego freeways? Sea World returned him to the ocean again after a month-long rehabilitation. (ABC 10)
- Barrio Logan residents and others living in areas blighted by poor air quality, which are generally situated along San Diego’s industrial port, can get a free air purifier and indoor air monitor from the San Diego Air Pollution Control District. (NBC 7)
- A teacher at High Tech High charter school was placed on paid administrative leave after she said the n-word in class while reading a poem. (Union-Tribune)
- A new national survey shows a higher number of Black and Latino teachers are retiring earlier than ever due to stressors of the pandemic, a trend the San Diego Union-Tribune found prevalent locally.
This Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, MacKenzie Elmer and Adriana Heldiz. It was edited by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts.