Thursday, September 18, 2014

Net Neutrality: Why You Should Fear The Tier

Net Neutrality: Why You Should Fear The Tier
Christopher Stark
Information Week

The end of Net neutrality would hobble today's businesses, increase costs for customers, and stifle the potential for future innovation.

Scientists tell us not to worry about ebola in Africa, yet many Americans are panicking. Many technologists warn that the FCC's Net neutrality ruling could be detrimental to our lives, yet -- aside from one comic's directive that briefly overwhelmed the FCC website -- Americans are largely blasé. We seem to have a tendency to blow the benign out of proportion while viewing catastrophic forecasts skeptically, even when it's in our best interest to heed the warnings.

So let me be clear: It's not just large technology companies that will suffer from the proposed "fast-lane" Internet, but every single person using the Internet -- for work or leisure, on a computer or a mobile device.

With a fast-lane option, Internet service providers (ISPs) are incentivized to throttle Internet speeds and then demand more fees for uninterrupted access. Fast lanes create opportunities for manipulation that will serve only those with the deepest pockets. It is a policy that is intentionally worded for ultimate confusion...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stanford's Jennifer Eberhardt wins MacArthur 'genius' grant

Stanford's Jennifer Eberhardt wins MacArthur 'genius' grant 
Sept. 16, 2014 

Jennifer Eberhardt is fascinated with objects. It may seem an incongruous fixation for a social psychologist, but it helped the Stanford University associate professor land a spot among the creative and academic elite Wednesday, when the MacArthur Foundation awarded her its "genius" fellowship.
Eberhardt, 49, was cited for her efforts to examine how subtle, ingrained racial biases influence not just how we view people, but the objects of our daily world — and how those perceptions skew institutions such as the criminal justice system. She has transferred that work from laboratories filled with brain-scanning machines to police precincts, where she has advised cops about the ways their own minds can lead them onto perilous ground.

"Most people know that African Americans are associated with crime and that they're stereotyped as criminal — in fact it's one of the strongest stereotypes of blacks in American society," Eberhardt said. "My work focuses on how that association might matter at different points in the criminal justice system and how this association can then affect us in surprising ways."

It matters because people can transfer associations from people to objects and places.

Eberhardt likes to use the example of the watch her late father, Harlan Eberhardt, gave her when his mother died. That watch had been her grandmother's prized possession. As she put it on her wrist, Jennifer Eberhardt was overwhelmed by the power of her own associations, now invested in the old timepiece. "I could see my grandmother alive again," she recalled in one of her lectures.

But the apparent ease with which the human mind shifts associations from people to objects and back can lead to trouble, Eberhardt's research has shown. White people who viewed fleeting images of black faces, for instance, were able to recognize the fuzzy outline of a gun more quickly than their peers who were exposed to white faces.

When Eberhardt reversed the experiment, the association between blacks and crime moved the other way. She subliminally exposed subjects to crime-related objects, followed by a longer-lasting screen showing a black face and a white face. Afterward, subjects were asked to quickly identify where a dot flashed on a blank screen. Their reactions were much quicker when the dot appeared on the side where the black face had been. The same held true when police officers took the test and saw crime-related words such as "capture" or "pursue" instead of images of weapons.

Eberhardt believes these free-flowing associations can infect the judicial system with bias. Her statistical studies have shown, for example, that having stereotypically black facial features correlates with tougher jury verdicts, longer prison terms, more death sentences and erroneous identifications by police.

Sometimes, her lessons come home. When her oldest son was in the first grade, he wondered whether blacks might have an invisible force field around them. After all, he told her, white people shied away when a black man came into the local Safeway.

The same son (she has three), now in high school, was pulled over recently in an affluent neighborhood for allegedly speeding on his bicycle. Eberhardt and her husband, Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, have had to have "the talk" that African American parents routinely have with sons, about how interactions with police can quickly escalate to force, sometimes with deadly consequences...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?

Busy week at Sweetwater school district
Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Sept. 6, 2014

On September 5, the U-T reported that former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara was released from jail on August 26. Gandara was sentenced to seven months in the county jail on June 27 for felony conspiracy and accepting gifts of travel meals and event tickets in excess of $4000.

Additionally, the U-T reported that although Gandara was released from jail, he remains in custody in an undisclosed South Bay residence. Gandara will also “forfeit more than $65,000 in retirement benefits.”

In other Sweetwater news, on September 4, at a monthly board meeting, the district’s troubled land deals got some costly relief.

The district contracted with a consultant group, E2ManageTech, to entitle three pieces of district property for high-density development. The board voted on September 4 to dissolve the relationship and pay E2ManageTech $750,000.

The Reader queried the Sweetwater’s attorney, Randall Winet, via email, if this was a buy-out. Winet responded, “The District performed an analysis of their work performed and agreed to a payment commensurate with industry standard wages and the parties agreed to a mutual release.”

E2ManageTech was paid $82,500 for three consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013) to move the three district properties through design reviews, zone changes, environmental studies, and a general plan amendment.

To date, only one piece of property, located on Third Avenue, was entitled. When the property was put on the market for $7 million, there were no bids...

Rubio also indicated that the district would not solicit a new proposal for consultants until an independent analysis of the “asset property utilization plan” has been performed. The plan is the district’s proposal to dispose of district properties and purchase a new district office.

Also this week, on September 3, an announcement was sent out to all Sweetwater trustee candidates by the California Trust for Public Schools. The trust holds the title to the district’s L Street property in a complicated agreement that binds all the district’s “asset” properties together.

Because all five Sweetwater trustee seats are up for grabs in the November election, the trust will be holding an October candidate forum. Marc Litchman, the CEO of the trust, said in a September 4 interview that one of his goals in holding the forum is to acquaint the public with the trust’s soccer academy concept for the district’s L Street property...

[Maura Larkins' comment: It's sad that Mr. Lichtman is only interested in promoting democracy when he's involved in a real estate deal.]

To that end, he announced: “In conjunction with local, state, and national soccer organizations, the nonprofit California Trust for Public Schools is developing a proposal to build a state-of-the-art soccer training and development academy with conference facilities and a charter school on surplus property owned by the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista.”

The current asset utilization plan put forward by Sweetwater for the L Street property is the development of 869 residential mid-rise units.

Here's a look back at another story about Gandara from June 2014. I share the concern of some commenters that while a few scapegoats were prosecuted in the South Bay Indictments scandal, the underlying problems in San Diego County school districts continue to be ignored by the media and the justice system. Ed Brand's problems, for example, were not limited to South Bay. He had some unknown problems in San Marcos School Unified from which he resigned after only a year as superintendent.

Paula Meyer · University of California, San Diego
Well, these are the ones who got caught. We're not seeing the every-day mis-appropriation of funds and general incompetence within the administrative workings of the district. And, granted that Gándara was criminally corrupt and ineffective as at his job, a big question remains, and that is, Why, considering his past performance, was Ed Brand brought back to further degrade the district?

Gloria Smestad · Top Commenter · Creative Arts, San Francisco State University
Excellent question that many find themselves asking. It has been said that he already knew the playbook.

Jaime Mercado · San Diego State University
Gloria, Brand WROTE the playbook. When I was summoned to testify, I told the Court, the DA, and the Grand Jury that I ran for the SUHSD Board in 2004 to try to stop the corruption that was well underway. I had limited success when as Brand told the Grand Jury that I ran him out of the district. Unfortunately, the dark side proved to be too strong and they banded together and defeated me in the 2008 election. I tried to warn John McCann, Board President, about bringing back Brand. I prepared folders for him and the board regarding Brand's past actions, but he gave instructions not to distribute the folders. It appears that he and Cartmill had been planning to bring back Brand all along.

Matias Garcia
The new Sweetwater High cost $56 million and should have cost half of that. The bonds were in the range of $700 Million. The amount lost to this corruption, just at this one construction project, was in the tens of millions.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A fair bargain for Chula Vista teachers as well as the kids

I'd like to see Chula Vista teachers get all the money they're asking for. But I'd also like to see them agree to an effective teacher evaluation system.

Why won't they do that?

The current evaluation system is a joke. Most principals rarely, if ever, observe classrooms. Just about everybody gets a good evaluation. If someone gets something worse or better than that, it's usually due to politics, not to actual performance.

Unfortunately, the teachers union is hostile to using student test scores to evaluate teachers.

They want pay without any guarantee of performance.

Why won't the teachers union offer an evaluation process of their own if they think that standardized tests are unreliable indicators of teacher performance? If the district had a good system of unbiased observations, by people from outside the school, and, preferably, from outside the district, then teachers would have something to balance any unfair ratings that result from student test scores.

Here's why you don't want principals to evaluate their own staff:

"The local administrators know who they are evaluating and are often influenced by personal bias," Danielson said. "What it also means is that they might have set the standards too low."...

In Scarsdale, regarded as one of the best school systems in the country, no teacher has been rated "highly effective" in classroom observations. It is the only district in the Lower Hudson Valley with that strict an evaluation. In Pleasantville, 99 percent of the teachers are rated as "highly effective" in the same category... --Teacher evaluations: Subjective data skew state results Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy
September 13, 2014

Why don't teachers want effective evaluations? I think it's because if everyone knew which teachers were really performing, it might undermine the authority of powerful teachers who actually aren't that good at their jobs.

Chula Vista Educators should agree to effective teacher evaluations at the same time that they demand more pay.

See all posts on evaluating teachers. Update Sept. 16, 2014:


You might have thought that the teachers union would champion the right of teachers to be flexible in designing lessons. You'd be wrong, at least regarding CVESD since Manuel Yvellez and his pals took over Chula Vista Educators.

Lots of CVESD teachers have been demanding that they be provided specific lessons to teach because they don't know how to teach the concepts that Common Core requires them to teach. They don't want to make their own lesson plans?

I know for a fact that there are lots of manipulatives available in CVESD classrooms, unless teachers have stuffed them into storage closets. I was always amazed that my fellow teachers at CVESD tended to eschew the use of expensive math and science materials provided for hands-on learning. These materials are exactly what teachers need to use to teach Common Core.

I found this interesting passage in a story by Mario Koran in today's Voice of San Diego:

To a certain degree, teachers at traditional public schools can tailor their lessons to their class or school. But compared with charters, theirs is more of a top-down model.

Tom Donahue, executive director of Old Town Academy, told me last year that he doesn’t have any problem recruiting talented teachers.

“Good teachers want to write their own scripts,” he said.

Remember that mean, unbalanced teacher? What if there had been a gun in his/her desk? And what about the klutz on the faculty?

If the klutz accidentally shoots your kid, she'll probably want to apologize. If the hostile, unhinged teacher shoots your kid, there might not be any apology. In fact, the school's lawyers would probably instruct both teachers not to apologize.

I've been harping on the need for meaningful teacher evaluations just because we need to empower effective teachers and help weak teachers.

But if teachers are going to be carrying guns, we're really going to have to get serious about evaluating teachers. Mentally-unhinged teachers won't just be a joke anymore.

Do guns belong in the hands of teachers? The debate is renewed
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Sept. 11 2014

...Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. A teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg, while alone in a faculty bathroom, shortly before school started.

SALT LAKE CITY — On Thursday, a Westbrook Elementary School teacher with a concealed carry permit became an accidental victim of her own handgun, rekindling the debate over guns in schools.

While the teacher, who was in the faculty restroom of the Taylorsville school when the gun went off, recovers from a wound to the leg, community members weighed in on the merits of armed educators...

Beh said a four- or eight-hour training class isn't enough for a teacher to know how to react in an active shooter situation. He said military personnel or police officers are the only ones he could imagine handling a crisis with a gun, and even they can make mistakes...

Utah is unique among states in that school districts and charter schools must allow employees, including teachers, to carry guns under the state's concealed weapons permit law. The firearms must remain hidden and in their possession.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll for the Exoro Group in January 2013 found 59 percent of Utahns favor allowing full-time school employees to carry guns...

The Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah has long been concerned about accidental shootings and lack of training among concealed weapons permit holders, who aren't required to show proficiency with a gun to get the license.

"I think you have to balance the danger to the school and individuals against the likelihood that the guns might be used to protect innocent people. I think when you apply that balancing act, you conclude that bringing guns into schools is simply not justifiable," said Steve Gunn, who serves on the center's board of directors...

The 2013 Jones poll showed 82 percent of Utahns believed parents have a right to know if the child's teacher is carrying a concealed weapon. But state law prohibits that. A bill in the Utah Legislature last year to allow parents to get that information didn't go anywhere...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Julian High School District starts a non-classroom-based elementary charter school in National City

Lesson in paperwork
Robert Moreno
Chula Vista Star-News
Aug 09 2014

Two school districts are heading to court over the legal status of a new charter school in National City.

Attorney Gretchen Shipley filed a writ of mandate July 25 on behalf of the National School District alleging that the Julian Union School District illegally placed a charter school at 2400 Euclid Ave.

Shipley cites in court records that the Julian school district is in violation of section 47605 of the California Education Code for its yet-to-open charter school, Beacon Classical Academy Elementary.

Chris Carson, assistant superintendent of business for the National School District, said that the school district was supposed to be given notice of Beacon’s intent to locate within the National School District’s boundaries.

He also said Beacon was supposed to attempt to locate a facility within Julian’s boundaries, which he said they never did and therefore are in violation of an education code.

He said since the National School District was not notified about the charter, the Julian Union School District is also in violation of California Education code.

Code 47605 (a) states: “A petition for the establishment of a charter school shall identify a single charter that will operate within the geographic boundaries of that charter.”

Shipley wrote in court documents that the Julian Union School District did not identify a single charter school that will operate within the geographic boundaries of the Julian Union School District.

Instead Julian Union School District authorized the charter to operate outside its boundaries and within the National School District’s boundaries.

Shipley turned down an interview request because the case is in litigation.

Dr. Alma Van Nice, founder and executive director of the classical academy, said the education code does not apply to Beacon because it is not a school site.

“Beacon Classical Academy is an independent study charter school that was authorized by Julian Union School District,” Van Nice said.

“An independent study charter program is also referred to as a non-classroom-based program because the instruction can take place in the child’s home, the community and at the resource center.”

Van Nice said independent funding for the charter school is not based on attendance but rather on performance.

Carson said the National School District is not against charter schools, but against charter schools that don’t follow the proper rules.

“We want them to adhere to the same rules as any district,” Carson said. “We ask that the Julian school district revoke their charter on the grounds that they are violating the education code in the charter petition.”

In court documents, Shipley said that the Julian school district continues to ignore the laws of the California Education Code despite a cease and desist notice.

“Julian Union School District and Beacon have and are continuing to willfully ignore and violate the Charter Schools Act, when Beacon decided to open its school in the jurisdictional boundaries of petitioner without any notice or effort to comply with the geographic restrictions of the CSA and this action is necessary to compel their compliance with it,” she states.

“Both entities have failed and refused to comply with the law, despite notice of violations and a request for remedy by any or all of them.”

The charter school is set to open Aug. 8.

- See more at:

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ex-San Ysidro district superintendent Manuel Paul admits squeezing contractor for donations

If we look at the extremely high percentage of women and people of color among the officials indicted by the District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit over the years, we are forced to conclude one of two things:

1) either women and people of color are more corrupt than white males; or

2) the people who are targeted for prosecution do not enjoy the same protections and immunities that white male public officials in San Diego tend to enjoy.

I'm not saying that the DA is racist.  I don't think that's it.  I think the explanation for the gender and color imbalance is simply that the public officials with the most power tend NOT to be women or people of color.  The truly powerful public officials are mostly white males, and the DA wouldn't dare go after them.

And the big money isn't in parking lots in San Ysidro.  It isn't even in $20 million solar panel deals.

A few years ago the FBI was investigating kickbacks to public entities in San Diego from insurance companies. Nothing ever came of that. My guess is that they couldn't find an ideal defendant to indict: someone without connections in the high ranks of the San Diego political establishment.

Here is a link to my page about the County of Santa Clara vs. Driver Alliant Insurance Services, Inc., et al lawsuit.  These are the types of transactions that involve significant amounts of money.  The really big deals are not as much fun for the political establishment to talk about as a small cash envelope in a parking lot--so you don't read about them much in the paper. The big players almost always avoid criminal court. Note the lack of prosecutions in the 2009 Financial Crisis that was caused by the greed of the wealthy and powerful.

The big guys generally don't see the inside of a criminal court, and their civil cases get settled, not tried, where the public might get wind of what actually happened. (Of course, the Manuel Paul case wasn't tried in court, either. Why no trials? Who knows what information might come out in a trial that might expose a big fish?)

Here's a sample of a school district deal worth $1 billion: Superintendent John Deasy of Los Angeles Unified school district (LAUSD) probably isn't worried. I suspect that you need a lot better political connections to become superintendent of LAUSD than you do to get the top spot in San Ysidro School District.

Given that we live in a system in which huge corporation and billionaires believe they can buy elections, it's sort of embarrassing that the FBI is chasing down such small-time players.

Clearly, Bonnie Dumanis and the FBI aren't going to be able to stop campaign finance corruption.

But wouldn't it be nice if the public--and Bonnie Dumanis--started looking a little closer at some of the well-heeled districts on the north side of town?

In CVESD we also had a superintendent using his power to affect the school board election.

See all posts on white chalk crime.

Ex-San Ysidro district superintendent Manuel Paul admits squeezing contractor for donations
Channel 10 News
Aug 20, 2014

SAN DIEGO - A former San Ysidro School District superintendent pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to extracting political contributions from a prospective contractor by threatening to withhold work on future building contracts.

Manuel Paul, 63, faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced Nov. 18.

According to his plea agreement, Paul admitted he asked a contractor to contribute $3,600 to three political candidates for the 2010 School Board election...

Read more.

A list of names appears in the labels column, followed by the alphabetical list of labels.

A list of names appears in the labels column, followed by the alphabetical list of labels.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Grading Teachers, With Data From Class

Grading Teachers, With Data From Class

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Are some Chula Vista teachers sacrificing the well-being of students to their own political goals--and careers?

KPBS has published a story (first story below) about a highly political issue--standardized testing--without mentioning the fact that the featured teacher, Carla Kriss, has been on the Chula Vista Educators' bargaining team since 2008.   I'm guessing that Ms. Kriss failed to mention this fact to the reporter. 

It sounds to me like Ms. Kriss and some of her fellow teachers are intentionally causing students like Abby Eten to become stressed during standardized tests. Why wouldn't the teacher simply smile and tell the child that there's no need for the child to worry, but just to do the best he (or she) can do?

One reason might be to get parents upset so they'll generate a stories favorable to the teachers' goals.

The teachers union is currently threatening to strike in Chula Vista Elementary School District.  One of the big issues for CVE is its opposition to Common Core and standardized testing.

Union politics is a family affair for Carla Kriss.  Her  husband Tim is a former vice-president of the Chula Vista Educators.

Shame on those who make children suffer needlessly to advance the cause of teachers who want to avoid responsibility for student test scores.  Abby Eten reports that she feels like a rubber band that is about to snap.  If the teacher won't ease up on Abby, then Abby's mother should tell her not to worry.

My students always enjoyed standardized tests; kids love a challenge when fear is not involved.  It's abusive to make children suffer so CVE can gain  political power.

Interestingly, the San Diego Union-Tribune has written a story that seems to say that teachers should have no right at all to demand changes from their employers (see second story below).  It's pretty hard to find unbiased reporting in San Diego!


Chula Vista School District Failed To Accommodate Students With Learning Disabilities
by Matthew Bowler
September 2, 2014

...Last spring, Chula Vista Elementary School District gave two big tests to its students, and they might have violated state mandates to make testing modifications for students with disabilities.

Testing dominates the school year now. Students like fourth grader Abby Eten feel the stress. Abby said she feels like a rubber band.

“If I keep on stretching it and stretching it, it's going to break,” she said.

Abby has more challenges than other fourth graders: She’s dyslexic. Abby’s mother, Justina Eten, said she’s always surprised by how smart her daughter is...



So Ms. Larkins and folks like her are so intent on looking down on and demonizing school teachers (why??) that she is willing to automatically blame one, some, any (??) for the byproducts of the testing cartels (fraud, illegal maneuvering, secrecy, FAILURE) and their lackeys in Congress. What a jerk!


Dear "skoolteacher":

What a knee-jerk reacation! Certain teachers are fighting standardized tests because they don't want to be evaluated based on their students' progress.

So why don't they come up with an alternative evaluation system for teachers?

Because it would interfere with school politics and the current evaluation system, which is a joke. Most principals don't even both to do classroom observations.

Weak teachers need to be identified and helped. Change is needed, but some teachers are terrified of change.

I am blaming those teachers who intentionally make testing stressful for children in order to achieve political goals.

I don't doubt that there is fraud, illegal maneuvering and secrecy among testing companies, since those things exist in just about every human institution, including school districts and teacher unions.

Of course, I also blame teacher unions for refusing to accept any and all attempts to evaluate teachers effectively.

I don't think weak teachers should be fired, but they do need to be helped. It would be a lot cheaper and more effective if highly-competent teachers were given responsibility for that. The current custom is to pay obscenely-expensive outside vendors to come in and rule the roost for a few years with their supposedly magnificent education programs until everyone realizes they aren't making real improvements.  Here's a recent example of that phenomenon:

Politics plays too big a role in selecting teacher leaders. It would be nice if we had a good evaluation system so that teachers who really know what they're doing in the classroom  could be given leadership roles more often. SECOND STORY:

Here's the San Diego Union-Tribune story:

Teachers using students as pawns in Chula Vista

Some teachers in the Chula Vista Elementary School District evidently believe that the best way to get a better contract offer from district management is to punish their young students. The tactic should be unacceptable to parents of all 29,000 students at the 45 schools in the district.

Teachers at an unknown number of Chula Vista schools last month began sending letters to parents saying the teachers would not offer any extracurricular or after-school activities until they receive “a new and fair contract.” Rather, the teachers say they will only do what they are specifically contracted to do — seven hours per day — and nothing more...


Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

How else are teachers going to pressure the district? The slowdown is actually a way to avoid a strike, to avoid hurting kids.

Learning about economics and politics firsthand might benefit kids more than a field trip. Most of these kids will be struggling for their own economic survival someday.

That said, I do have a problem with teachers who intentionally inflict pain and stress on their students just because the teachers don't like the new standardized tests.

Some teachers make kids miserable so the parents will oppose standardized tests.

The motivation? These teachers don't want to be evaluated based on student test scores.

In fact, these teachers don't want to be effectively evaluated at all. Why? It would undermine school politics, the lifeblood of the teachers union.

The current system of principal evaluations is a joke. Most principals don't even bother to do classroom observations. The evaluations are usually political. I don't think weak teachers should be fired, but they should be helped.

The current fight in CVESD is just as much about teacher evaluations as it is about money.

Why don’t Manuel Yvellez and his cronies come up with an effective teacher evaluation system, and then use that as a bargaining chip?

Manuel Yvellez
It is rather the District and their spokesperson the UT that is hiding behind children in this dispute. I don't see the Superintendent or his UT supporters volunteering their time to coach a team after school or run a dance class or one the many other after school programs. It is teachers that give of themselves selflessly in this way because of their love of children. Now, feeling unappreciated, they temporarily take away their free volunteer efforts, and they are set upon by the UT as if such voluntary efforts are expected as a mandatory requirement from teachers. And where is the UT Board with their professed great love of children? Why aren't they saying that they will step in with this voluntary effort for a few weeks, to do what teachers do for free year after year?

The suggestion that any teacher in our district is ... See More
Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA
Hey, CVESD, give the teachers more money--BUT DON'T BACK DOWN ON COMMON CORE.

Pay the teachers for effective performance, and then make sure they're delivering.

Neither the district nor the union seems to want reliable evaluations of teachers.

Neither side is asking for more classroom observations.

Both sides are way too fond of school politics.

Maura Larkins
The Union-Tribune has at times been quite rabid in its support of teachers.

The paper practically hemorrhaged ink for weeks in support of the "Castle Park Five". The school district took quite a beating from the UT in those stories.

Bizarrely, one of the Castle Park Five, teacher Peg Myers, went on to become CVE President before she clambered across the bargaining table in the middle of her term to became a district administrator. It's amazing how enemies can become such good friends. How did Human Resources director Sandra Villegas-Zuniga orchestrate such a reversal? Did Peg, who now calls herself Margaret, suddenly wake up one morning and decide to switch sides for no reason? Obviously, there's more to that story, but I doubt that any news outlet in San Diego will tell it.

I got some information from Anthony Millican about the current bargaining situation. Mr. Millican states:

One of the more misleading slides by CVE at its ongoing parent presentations at schools in our community states that teachers have not had a raise in seven years while the Superintendent’s salary has gone up 11%. Dr. Escobedo’s salary as Superintendent has gone up once, by 4%, since he began serving in the position.

The union is counting restored furlough days as a salary “increase” in alleging that the Superintendent’s salary has gone up 11%. He began in the position with 7 furlough days.

The overwhelming majority of Chula Vista teachers make more in 2014 than in 2007.
That’s because the District paid automatic “step and column” raises (including anniversary increments) annually that ranged from 0% to 4.79% annually; the District-wide average was 2% annually, even during the Great Recession.

Out of 1,225 FTE teachers, approximately 11 give or take can truly claim to have not received a raise in seven years because their years of service put them at the top of the pay schedule for the seven year period. (That’s about 1% who can make a claim of not having had a raise in seven years.)

The union wants an upset populace to influence bargaining about primary pay increases that teachers historically received through “Salary Schedule.” That raise is contractually negotiated, and has not been provided to teachers in nearly seven years. Parents and community members react with surprise when they learn teachers earn two kinds of pay increases. Some would probably be ok with that if the union simply told them the truth.

As it stands, the District has included a 6% salary schedule increase in its latest proposal, part of a wide-ranging package the union’s leadership rejected. The proposed 6% raise is on top of the 2% average automatic raises that went into effect this past July 1. CVE, however, says teachers are entitled to a 10% salary schedule increase, and that the 2% “step and column” automatic raises “don’t count.”

It turns out that the teacher salary of CVE President Manuel Yvellez has increased 17% since 2007, thanks to "step, column, anniversary increments."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Los Angeles Unified halts $1 billion contract for iPads after revelations about shenanigans in the bidding process

I often advise cutting the flow of school dollars to high-priced outside vendors as a way of finding money to pay teachers. Here's a story that seems to support my suggestion.

Los Angeles Unified has just halted its $1 billion contract for iPads due to revelations about shenanigans in the bidding process and a worrisome relationship between Apple and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.

L.A. Unified school police recently decided to citing students for minor offenses. Maybe they should investigate the possibility of major offenses by top officials.

L.A. Unified halts contract for iPads
LA Times
Aug. 25, 2014

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation's second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort.

The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices.

And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation...

But Deasy, who has been the main proponent of providing the iPads throughout the district and who has defended the project repeatedly, was coming under mounting criticism for his handling of the contract and for the implementation of the program.

Last week, a draft report of a district technology committee, obtained by The Times, was strongly critical of the bidding process.

Among the findings was that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to demonstrated district needs. The report found that key changes to the bidding rules were made after most of the competition had been eliminated under the original specifications.

In addition, the report said that past comments or associations with vendors, including Deasy, created an appearance of conflict even if no ethics rules were violated...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early

Administrators and teachers frequently benefit themselves at the cost of students. Doctors and researchers have found that too-early start times are harming the health--and the test scores--of middle and high school students. Why don't parents demand a change? It should be an issue in school board elections.

Long-term deprivation has also been shown to be a factor in lower test scores, decreased attention span, tardiness, concentration, and overall academic achievement...
--The Atlantic

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says delaying the day may help teens get more rest.
..The median school start time in this country is 8 a.m. But this fall, some schools, including a handful of elementary schools in New York City, will ring their first bell up to 40 minutes earlier than they did last year in order to accommodate curricular demands.
These early school start times result in sleepy kids and frustrated parents. But, as of Monday, those kids and parents have the formidable weight of the American Academy of Pediatrics on their side.

The organization released a new policy statement saying that “insufficient sleep in adolescents [is] an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students.”

“The empirical evidence [of] the negative repercussions of chronic sleep loss on health, safety and performance in adolescents … has been steadily mounting for over the past decade,” wrote Judith Owens, a pediatrician and the lead author of the report, in an email. “For example, an important recent study published this spring by Dr. Kayla Wahlstrom documented the positive effects of school start time delay in over 9000 students from eight high schools in three states, including improved grades and standardized test scores and up to a 65 to 70 percent reduction in teen car accidents.”

According to the Academy, the solution is to delay school start times. “In most districts, middle and high-schools should aim for a starting time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m. However, individual school districts also need to take average commuting times and other exigencies into account in setting a start time that allows for adequate sleep opportunity for students,” it said in a statement.
The organization also published a report that summarizes the current research on teen sleep trends, health consequences of chronic sleep deficits, factors that contribute to lost sleep, and ways to promote healthy rest in adolescents. The main take-away is that American teens are not getting enough sleep, which damages their mental and physical health, education, and even ability to drive safely.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need at least nine and a half hours of sleep every night. However, the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep in America Poll reports that less than half of American children get at least nine hours of sleep each night, and 58 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds regularly sleep fewer than seven hours each night. Since poll respondents tend to overestimate the number of hours they sleep, actual nightly sleep totals are likely lower than these self-reported averages.

Chronic sleep loss contributes to higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and obesity. Long-term deprivation has also been shown to be a factor in lower test scores, decreased attention span, tardiness, concentration, and overall academic achievement...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

UW-Whitewater professor sues former student over online comments

See update below regarding Vogl-Bauer v. Llewellyn case.  Another voice about what goes on in schools seems to have been silenced WITHOUT A TRIAL.  

The public pays the salaries of public employees like college professors, and is legally liable for the actions of public employees acting within the course and scope of their employment.  

Public employees have less right to privacy regarding their work behavior than private employees do.

 UW-Whitewater professor sues former student over online comments
Andrea Anderson
May 22, 2014

A [University of Wisconsin] UW-Whitewater professor is suing her former graduate student, saying the student's comments on websites are defamatory.

“When you make false statements of fact repeatedly about another person with the intent of harming them, that's over the line,” said Tim Edwards, attorney for UW-Whitewater communications professor Sally Vogl-Bauer.

“If you truthfully say, 'In my experience, this isn't a good teacher, I didn't have a good experience, she was late' and that's your opinion, that's fair," Edwards said.

Vogl-Bauer is suing Anthony Llewellyn for defamation.

The lawsuit alleges Llewellyn “engaged in an intentional, malicious and unprivileged campaign to defame Dr. Vogl-Bauer, resulting in substantial economic, reputational and emotional injuries.”

Websites dedicated to students reviewing their instructors have proliferated. The Whitewater case raises the question of when online comments become defamation.

Llewellyn posted videos on YouTube and wrote comments on and describing what he said Vogl-Bauer did to him while he was in her communication theories class in spring 2013.

A few of Llewellyn's claims are Vogl-Bauer:

-- Said he didn't belong in college

-- Labeled him as a horrible student

-- Docked him points on assignments

-- Caused him to fail out of school

Llewellyn said he spoke with Vogl-Bauer in April about her behavior before he was notified in June that he failed her class.

After trying to communicate with UW-Whitewater Department of Communication faculty and staff and university administration, Llewellyn sent emails to the Eastern Communication Association, Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission describing Vogl-Bauer's behavior as “degrading, demeaning, verbally attacking,” according to court documents...

Read more here: UW-Whitewater professor sues former student over online comments

UPDATE AUG. 24, 2014
I received the following information:


Anthony Llewellyn now has three lawyers, Andrew Price, Kate E. Maternowski, and Laura Brenner . Jury trial is still scheduled for SEP 15 - SEP 17, 2014, in the Walworth County Judicial Center Courtroom of the Honorable Phillip A Koss; however, it is hard to find any of Anthony Llewellyn's videos online. IS HE TAKING THE VIDEOS DOWN?

Sally Vogl-Bauer apparently had her pre-trial hearing AUG 20, 2014. It is no longer listed on the pending court docket.

Visit . Click agree.

On next page enter name = Llewellyn,

County = Walworth,

Case Number = 2013CV001140.

You'll see suit history and public data about Sally Vogl-Bauer and Anthony Llewellyn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Remittitur issued in Stutz v. Larkins on Aug. 20, 2014--but Judge Judith Hayes issued new default judgment TWO WEEKS EARLIER

See all posts regarding this case.

On August 20, 2014 the Court of Appeal issued a remittitur in Stutz v. Larkins. 

But Judge Judge Hayes issued a new judgment two weeks earlier--on August 6, 2014--in San Diego Superior Court!  [In typical fashion, Judge Hayes didn't bother to have her clerk serve me with the judgment.  I didn't know about it until I was served with a copy by plaintiff on August 19, 2014.]

I have no idea why the Court of Appeal bothered to issue the remittitur.  Judge Hayes certainly wasn't waiting for it.

Click image to enlarge.

UPDATE: It turns out that there's case law that says that Judge Hayes did not have jurisdiction on August 6, 2014 to issue a new judgment:

‘Until remittitur issues, the lower court cannot act upon the reviewing court’s decision; remittitur ensures in part that only one court has jurisdiction over the case at any one time.”  (People v. Saunoa (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 870, 872.) 

So why did she do it?

Don't ask me.  I still don't understand why she felt it was in the interest of justice to throw out my opposition to summary judgment because I made a small mistake in format.  For good measure, she also threw out my evidence (which seems sort of redundant, right?) and then granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.


Why didn't Judge Hayes want to weigh the evidence?

And then why did she rant and rave about defamation ever since, as if the evidence had been weighed and there had been a factual finding of defamation?

There was no justification for outrage or anger when the decision was based on a pure technicality.  And there was no justification for denying me a jury trial regarding damages for four years.

Judge Hayes granted default four years after granting summary judgment.  She then awarded nominal damages of $30,000 based on the fact that there were TWO (yes, 2!!!) Internet searches for Plaintiff in a certain month. 

Here's what I wrote in my Opening Brief regarding the $30,000 in "nominal" damages:

The calculation for the $30,000 is based on a ludicrous,
unreasonable and illogical conclusion drawn from Exhibits D and E...

If the trial court had looked at Exhibit E of the prove-up, it would
have seen that visitors to Defendant’s site were looking for CVESD, CTA,
MEA, Fagen Friedman Fulfrost, Emily Shieh, Voice of San Diego Education,
Procopio, Kaiser Permanente, Vickie Gilbreath, medical records,
insurance, the new teacher project, Cornell, Bonifacio Bonny Garcia, CTA
lawyer, and Councilman Castaneda.

It isn’t until page AA 2510 that we see the
two (2!) total queries...referring to Plaintiff. 
These two queries would appear to
justify damages of $.86...

It was unreasonable for the trial court to order Defendant to pay Plaintiff
$.43 every single hit on the site, when almost all of the hits were by
Defendant herself; search robots; visitors who only stayed on the site a
second or two; people looking for health and insurance information--
particularly Kaiser Permanente; visitors wanting information about
schools, education and San Diego politics; or non-Plaintiff lawyers.

The Court of Appeal backed-up Judge Hayes, also based mostly on technicalities.

Erasing information on my websites

I've been working hard erasing web pages and blog posts that could be considered violations of  Judge Judith Hayes' injunction.

In the past couple of months I've depublished hundreds of blog posts and erased or edited several web pages.  I'm starting to erase web pages with public records:

Deposition page plus six additional pages

Motion to compel

Zero tolerance in Los Angeles, affluenza teen in Texas: maybe we have been screwing up both rich and poor kids

Affluenza teen is back in the news, and poor kids in Los Angeles are finally going to catch a break.

1st story:

Detention, not jail: LA public schools drop 'zero tolerance' policies
Starting this school year, conferences with parents, drug counseling, or interventions at off-site counseling centers will replace court or probation for minor offenses
By Matt Hamilton
Associated Press
August 19, 2014

 LOS ANGELES — Students caught misbehaving in the nation's second largest school district will be sent to the principal's office rather than the courthouse as part of sweeping disciplinary reforms announced Tuesday by Los Angeles schools. Under the new policy, police officers at Los Angeles Unified School District won't arrest or cite students for low-level offenses like possessing alcohol or marijuana but will instead refer students to administrators or counselors — a shift that educators and justice officials say will prevent students from becoming mired in the criminal justice system. The decriminalization of student discipline marks the latest rollback to "zero tolerance" policies that were instituted in the 1970s and 1980...

2nd story:

Father of 'Affluenza' teen arrested for impersonating an officer
August 20, 2014

Affluenza A mental condition so maddening that I can barely contain my hatred for it, used by the defense for Tarrant County teen Ethan Couch, who killed four people while drunk driving in June. If you are rich and do something really bad, just complain that it's because the money has rotted your morals. Example: "I didn't know that you had to tip at restaurants. I blame my Affluenza."
The father of a Texas teen who garnered national attention for being afflicted with "affluenza" has been arrested on accusations he impersonated a police officer, according to Dallas media outlets...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

From the defamation archives: Dentist claims he lost $300,000 due to an online review that was up for three weeks

Our health is at risk when doctors and dentists can silence patients who have been harmed. All a doctor has to do to silence criticism is to threaten expensive litigation even when the patient would win in court if he had the resources to go to trial. How many patients have the resources to pay for years of litigation?

A Portland dentist is suing a former patient for what the dentist claims are defamatory reviews in online forums
By Sam Stites
Willamette Week
September 3, 2012

Dr. Mo Saleh, of Dental Dynamics, originally filed suit against Spencer Bailey in Multnomah Circuit Court on June 26 seeking $300,000 after Bailey wrote about Saleh’s dental skills on Yelp, and Google. In his lawsuit, Saleh says Bailey posts caused damage to his reputation, loss of profits and emotional distress.

The reviews cited in the complaint include statements saying Bailey implied ”improper and insufficient dental services by Dr. Saleh.” The complaint further alleges that Bailey wrote, “if Dr. Saleh tells you that you have a cavity — GET A SECOND OPINION.”

According to the complaint. Bailey said he had never had a cavity in 32 years until Saleh found several. Bailey’s lawyers have responded by stating that Bailey went to Saleh for dental work and then went to another dentist after experiencing pain. They claim that the other dentist advised Bailey that some of the fillings were unnecessary and some were poorly put in.

Bailey’s attorneys, Jeremiah Ross and Linda Williams, also claimed that Saleh contacted Bailey after he reviewed the dentist on various web sites, threatening him to remove them. They say Bailey removed the postings out of concern for his and his family’s safety. Even though Bailey removed the postings, Saleh is proceeding with his suit. (Saleh’s lawyer declined to comment.)

As online commentary about all manner of topics has exploded, so too has the number of lawsuits unhappy targets have filed about such commentary. Saleh’s suit falls under what lawyers call a practice of Strategic Law Against Public Participation or SLAPP. SLAPP cases take aim at people making statements or publishing information that could be damaging to the plaintiff. Critics say these suits are sometimes little more than attempt to censor, silence and in intimidate the defendant.

In a similar case, a Washington County pastor sued a former parishioner in June, claiming an online review of his church was defamatory. The defendant’s attorney, Linda Williams—who is also representing Bailey, the dental patient—employed an Oregon anti-SLAPP statute passed in 2001 aimed at frivolous SLAPP lawsuits. The judge ruled in favor of the Washington County defendant and said that the statements were made “in a public forum and concern an issue of public interest,” according to KATU.

Earlier this month Bailey’s attorneys filed a motion to strike Saleh’s lawsuit under the anti-SLAPP statute, declaring that Bailey’s online reviews are free speech in a public forum. "Spencer's review was a protected opinion and the Plaintiff cannot prove their allegations," Ross, Bailey’s co-counsel tells WW via email. "Nor can they prove $300,000 in damages for a post that was up for three weeks."

A judge will hear the anti-SLAPP motion on Sept. 5.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mario Koran gets to the heart of the punitive culture at poor schools

Voice of San Diego's Mario Koran wrote yesterday in Oops: San Diego Unified Might Have Just Unwittingly Validated ‘Vergara’ that blacks and Latinos at poor schools in San Diego are disproportionately suspended and expelled.

This jibes with my experience. I remember how the teacher clique leaders at Castle Park Elementary used to go nuts because Superintendent Libby Gil wouldn't let them suspend students. I, on the other hand, thought that this was the best policy Libia Gil ever instituted. It may have been the only good policy that Gil ever instituted.

One day our special education teacher ran into the lounge, speechless with fury at the principal. The teacher leaned against a wall, fuming, as her loyal brigade of teacher followers fluttered around her asking questions.

It turned out that one of her students had run away from school. Apparently, he just couldn't bear it any more.

She was mad at the kid for leaving, but she was even madder that the principal was going to let him come back.

Ironic, right? She didn't want the kid in her class, but she didn't want him to leave--at least, not voluntarily. She was basically saying, "He can't quit! He has to be fired!"

But here's my larger point: it's not necessarily the least experienced teachers at poor schools who are most responsible for the suspensions and expulsions. There seems to be a culture among many veteran teachers that holds that teachers don't have to do their jobs for students who do not meet all their requirements.

In general, kids are given more chances to measure up if the teacher holds them in high regard. They are allowed more mistakes.

Kids who are disliked by a teacher are behind the figurative eight ball. There's very little chance that they will be able to become one of the fair-haired children, no matter how hard they try.

I taught a bilingual class at Castle Park Elementary, and year after year, my class was assigned to sit in the very back of the auditorium during assemblies. I asked the principal if we could rotate positions. It was starting to feel strange having the brown kids always in the last row. I told the principal that my kids had a greater need to be closer to the front because it was already hard for them to understand English, and it was even harder when they couldn't hear well. But the principal refused to make any changes in our assignment.

I campaigned long and hard to have my students mix with all-English classes for some small part of the day. Finally the other third-grade teachers allowed me to send a few kids to each of their classes for sharing time each morning. "But I don't want them to share, they should just listen," said Teacher A. It's possible that this did them more harm than good. I pointed out, during a grade-level meeting with the principal, that the Civil Rights Act forbids segregation and discrimination. Teacher A laughed out loud. Teacher B bellowed. And the principal let them get away with it. And when Rae Correira came from the district to try to solve the problem, Libby' Gil's right-hand man Richard Werlin transferred Rae to another position and the investigation was dropped. It's ironic that Libia Gil is now in charge of the federal Department of Education's bilingual department.

I think it would be worthwhile for districts to find out which teachers are initiating the suspension process most often, and then to see if those teachers share certain traits, such as being inexperienced.

I suspect that the culture of the school might also have something to do with it.

I know that at some schools teachers spend a lot of time talking about how awful their students are. Other teachers stay away from the lounge so they don’t have to listen to all the complaining by their colleagues about administrators who don’t suspend kids when the teachers demand it.

I think inexperienced teachers might behave very differently depending on the influence of the veteran teachers in their schools. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if it turned out that poor schools not only have the least experienced teachers, but they also have the crankiest veteran teachers? Maybe there’s a perfect storm at poor schools.

I hope you’ll follow up on this, Mario.

The Vergara decision is just a scratch on the surface of what is wrong in poor schools.

But maybe it will help raise the quality of education in poor schools.


Kathy S

"Vergara" or "We can call it structural inequity or we can call it institutional racism."

Fifty years after federal troops escorted nine black students through the doors of an all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark., in a landmark school integration struggle, America's public schools remain as unequal as they have ever been when measured in terms of disciplinary sanctions such as suspensions and expulsions, according to little-noticed data collected by the U.S. Department of Education for the 2004-2005 school year.

Academic researchers have been quietly collecting evidence of such race-based disciplinary disparities for more than 25 years. Yet the phenomenon remains largely obscured from public view by the popular emphasis on "zero tolerance" crackdowns, which are supposed to deliver equally harsh punishments based on a student's infraction, not skin color.

........Race , Class and Gender......

Socioeconomic factors are certainly at play, researchers believe.

"Studies of school suspension have consistently documented disproportionality by socioeconomic status. Students who receive free school lunch are at increased risk for school suspension," according to "The Color of Discipline," a 2000 study by Skiba and other researchers in Indiana and Nebraska. Another study concluded that "students whose fathers did not have a full-time job were significantly more likely to be suspended than students whose fathers were employed full time."

But those studies and others have repeatedly found that racial factors are even more important.

"Poor home environment does carry over into the school environment," said Skiba, who is widely regarded as the nation's foremost authority on school discipline and race. ......."But middle-class and upper-class black students are also being disciplined more often than their white peers. Skin color in itself is a part of this function."....

Maura Larkins

Excellent point, Kathy S. Here's a thought that is chilling, but I have a hunch that it might be true: maybe the cranky veteran teachers who habitually suspend kids of color in poor schools are actually LESS racist than the veteran teachers who have skedaddled to middle and upper class schools. In other words, maybe the horrible situation that we have now, a system that consigns thousand of kids every year to lifelong economic failure, is actually not the worst possible situation. Maybe those cranky teachers just need a little support and guidance to help them cope with difficult students.

I really hope that Mario will keep an eye on how schools handle this issue in the future.

@Maura Larkins  I don't think structural inequity or institutional racism is a "cranky veteran teacher" thing....

Of course, you're right.  At heart, structural inequity goes much deeper than crankiness. 

Where exactly does it come from?  It comes from the human instinct to advance ourselves by putting our neighbors at a disadvantage.  And it is maintained by the human instinct to resist change.  Once a group of people gets themselves into a privileged position, they resist giving up that position.  At that point, it isn't necessarily racism that protects the system.  It's the fear of change.

Some very nice people work hard to maintain structural inequity.  That's the beauty of the system, from the point of view of those who think they benefit from it.The people who enforce it don’t even think they’re doing anything wrong.

Of course, I question whether people are really acting in their own best interest when they grab an obscenely large slice of the pie while their neighbors get crumbs.  Everyone would be safer if our society didn’t generate legions of citizens who have nothing to lose.

My point is this: very few teachers in the classroom actually intend to dispense structural injustice.
The system has left these teachers with inadequate resources to deal with children who have been set up to fail by poverty and past and present inequality.

It’s not accidental that these teachers have inadequate resources.Society intends this to be the case. If we wanted good schools for all kids, we would have them.

So what I’m saying is that at the level of the classroom, the institutional racism is applied to individual children by teachers who are socialized into a culture of crankiness.

They don’t sit around the teacher lounge saying racist things.They rant about specific kids who did specific things.

The teachers have no idea that they are failing to give the kids the chances that they deserve.The teachers really believe they are doing the right thing.

Teachers tend to give white and Asian children more chances because they believe that those kids are more likely to succeed.  This belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because the teachers undermine the black and brown students by too-readily consigning them to failure.
Learning is all about making mistakes and then improving.  Good teaching means deftly guiding a child from ignorance to knowledge.  Instead, lazy teachers just excuse themselves from their obligations by deciding that there's no point in helping some children.
Of course, many white children are also undermined by the rigidity and laziness of their teachers.
It isn't just about race.
The teachers themselves are not receiving adequate training and supervision.
After all, who do you think is supervising them?  Teachers just like themselves who probably got promoted for reasons other than teaching excellence.