High Tech High’s North County campus / Photo by Ryan Gardiner
High Tech High’s North County campus / Photo by Ryan Gardiner

High Tech High has made a name for itself with its unique, project-based learning approach to education. And its influence has drawn teachers to the school from across the country.

But two decades after its founding, teachers at its 16 locations unionized, complaining of low pay, arbitrary firings and a revolving door of teachers. The network’s schools have some of the lowest levels of teacher experience of any schools in San Diego County, and educators say that’s especially damaging because of the broad autonomy given to teachers when creating their project-based curriculum.

Now, a year after forming their union, negotiations with High Tech High management have stalled out, leading its board of governors to declare an impasse in November. A final sticking point in negotiations is who should have the final say if a teacher fired for cause were to appeal their firing. 

The yearlong bargaining process has left some teachers and parents questioning the charter school network they once admired.

Read the full story here. 

Former Felony-Murder Defendant to Get Second Chance

A man who, until only a few weeks ago, was serving life without parole could soon be released from prison thanks to a statewide criminal justice reform.

Brian Mason agreed in San Diego County Superior Court on Tuesday to a new 35-year sentence, after a judge in October vacated his decades-old felony-murder charge. The new sentence is for other crimes he was still liable for, including robbery. 

Mason was just out of high school, in 1999, when prosecutors accused him of taking part in a National City motel room robbery that ended with the death of another man, Henry Mabry. Though Mason didn’t pull the trigger, the district attorney argued at trial that he was no less culpable for the homicide and a jury agreed.

Mason was able to seek relief because of a 2018 law, SB 1437, which scaled back the definition of felony murder. Advocates believe Mason is the first person in San Diego County serving life without parole to successfully petition for relief.

It’s not yet clear how much longer Mason will be in prison. His supporters said they’re still waiting for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to calculate his time served and credit for good conduct. He has already served more than 20 years.  

“Now we’re just counting days,” his wife said.

Read the full story here. 

Key Scientific Climate Change-Measuring Instrument at Risk from Hawaiian Volcano Eruption

Aerial photograph of the dominant fissure 3 erupting on the Northeast Rift Zone of Mauna Loa, taken at approximately 8 a.m. HST Nov. 29, 2022. / USGS photo by M. Patrick.

For weeks, the possibility of an eruption at the world’s largest volcano has been threatening the most famous climate change dataset on the planet, as our MacKenzie Elmer previously reported.  

Well, that volcano blew its top over the weekend, shutting down power to instrumentation that’s been tracking carbon dioxide concentrations virtually uninterrupted since 1958. The dataset is called the Keeling Curve, named for Charles David Keeling who developed it, and there’s a notable and growing gap in that record as of 6:30 p.m. Monday evening. 

“The longer interruption, the bigger its impact,” said Ralph Keeling, a Scripps geoscientist and son of the record’s founder. 

Scientists prize the dataset for the level of detail it provides on how much planet-warming carbon dioxide humans have added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels as opposed to how much plants and natural ecosystems circulate. 

The Keeling Curve is being used, among other things, to determine whether countries of the world are meeting their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made under the 2016 Paris Agreement. 

Read the full story here. 

Gloria Issues Executive Order to Combat Illicit Fentanyl

Mayor Todd Gloria on Tuesday signed an executive order to “strengthen and prioritize enforcement” of illicit fentanyl sales and urge state legislation to address the crisis. The resolution also calls the city to develop a strategy to spend an expected $30 million in opioid settlement funds.

In case you missed it: Our Lisa Halverstadt recently documented how fentanyl is devastating San Diego’s unhoused community.  

In Other News

  • Passenger rail service between San Diego and Orange counties has been halted since September and the Union-Tribune revealed that freight rail service also temporarily stopped last week.
  • Wednesday is the deadline for vacation rental hosts to apply for a city license ahead of a lottery process associated with the city’s new rental rules, KPBS reports.
  • Home prices in San Diego continue to fall at rates not seen in years. (Don’t get too excited. Prices are still up nearly ten percent over the past 12 months, even with the declines.) San Diego tied with Dallas for fourth fastest falling home prices between August and September. (U-T)
  • Multiple cops shot a woman, who was found inside of an allegedly stolen van. The two officers who fired shots were part of a multi-agency auto theft task force. One was a San Diego Sheriff sergeant and the other a Chula Vista police officer. Cops said the woman appeared to be holding a gun. Investigators say they recovered a replica firearm on the scene. (10 News)

The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney, Jesse Marx, MacKenzie Elmer, Lisa Halverstadt and Will Huntsberry. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.