Cajon Valley Union School District meeting in El Cajon on Feb. 14, 2023.
Cajon Valley Union School District meeting in El Cajon on Feb. 14, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Kids’ lives, and their educational experience, have become increasingly intertwined with the internet. When schools went virtual during the pandemic, it accelerated the digitalization in education. It also increased districts’ hunger for the ability to monitor students’ activities on those devices. 

But the Cajon Valley Union Elementary School District, a K-8 district in El Cajon, was ahead of the curve. They gave each student a laptop all the way back in 2014. When they did, they sought out ways to keep an eye on their students in an effort to safeguard kids on the wild west of the internet. 

Enter Gaggle – a company whose software combs through all activity on not only district-issued devices, but also the suite of Google applications available to students. It flags content that features a battery of safewords related to violence and sexual assault, drug use and even depression and flags occurrences to district leaders and, if need be, to police. 

Districts like Cajon Valley view the software as an important resource and a proven tool in its efforts to keep kids safe. But privacy advocates, students and even U.S. senators, have sounded the alarm over what they view as invasive, error-prone surveillance technology with the potential to harm students in the long term. 

Read the story here. 

A River Cleaning Project Now Helps the People Who Call it Home 

The San Diego River Park Foundation's Chief Operating Officer Sarah Hutmacher (second to right), Program Manager Rachel Downing (far left), and interns Lena Munoz (center), and Miranda Stormer during a survey in Mission Valley's riverbed on Aug. 22, 2023.

Organizations have worked for years to preserve the ecological health of the San Diego River. But a few years ago when a pair of scientists with the San Diego River Park Foundation started collecting data about the river’s cleanliness, they found something they didn’t expect: people. 

Voice of San Diego intern Kathryn Gray joined the group on a recent tour of the river. She explains in a new story how the scientists are helping the communities that exist in the river area. 

On the tour, the group came across a woman who was ready to give up on everything. Gray followed what happened when the scientists offered her help. 

Read the full story here.

Related: The Union-Tribune reports that San Diego’s new homeless camping ban might push even more people into the riverbed

Song of the Week 

Beejay Buduan has been producing dreamy, jangly pop under the moniker Shindigs for nine years, with his first couple albums dropping while he taught English in Korea in the mid 2010s. In that time, he’s released 11 EP’s and full-lengths – an impressive feat. It’s even more impressive when you take into account just how damn good they all are. 

Shindigs, “After It All”: The five songs on Buduan’s 2021 EP “How’s It Goin’” are filled with the enchanting and introverted DIY aesthetic he’s long excelled at. But one of the best things about Shindigs is the project’s ability to distill abstract whisps of feeling into musical form. “After It All,” featuring vocals from Anna Jeter of Portland’s Ancient Pools, is a prime example. The rich, glittery synth number conjures a wistfulness, like time is slipping through your fingers and all you can do is watch it go. 

Like what you hear? Check out Shindigs on September 16.  

Do you have a “Song of the Week” suggestion? Shoot us an email and a sentence or two about why you’ve been bumping this song lately. Friendly reminder: all songs should be by local artists! 

We Still Have Tickets! 

Don’t forget your favorite podcast crew is going to record live at North Park’s Original 40 Brewing today. 

Our podcast hosts and special guest San Diego City Councilman Kent Lee will dish on local politics, chisme and more. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Get your ticket now before we sell out.  

Click here to purchase your ticket.

In Other News 

  • As pickleball’s star continues to rise, some locals are taking the racket to court. (KPBS) 
  • In response to a lack of student housing, UCSD is considering building a village with space for 6,000 students. If the university goes through with it, the project would be the largest housing expansion by an American university in years. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego Central Jail has been hit with another lawsuit from a family of a man who died in its custody. (ABC 10)

The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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