California Ranks Second Worst in U.S. on Economic Freedom Index

The old and confused Guv Brown and his Sacramento Democrat buddies have worked hard to assure for the second year in a row, California is the second worst State for economic freedom in the nation.  To be this “successful” you need to raise taxes, create a minimum wage that stops business from hiring humans, and instead buy computers and robots.  It is possible that in a few years cap and trade will transfer $8 billion from families and businesses to government—think government is really willing to save the planet?  If so, why do they allow conditions to create more intense and larger forest fires?

““California’s lack of economic freedom helped motivate more than 10,000 businesses to leave the Golden State, reduce operations, or expand elsewhere during the past seven years,” said Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan, Senior Fellow and Director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation. Census data show that 3.5 million people left California for greener pastures from 2010 to 2015.

While California ranks second worst in economic freedom (only New York was lower), New Hampshire ranked highest for the third year in a row, scoring 8.3 out of 10 in measures of government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions based on 2015 data, the most recent year available. Rounding out the top five freest states are Florida and Texas (tied for 2nd), South Dakota (4th), and Tennessee (5th).

What do Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Florida have in common—those States do not force workers to pay blackmail to unions—and they have no income tax.  Freedom creates economic growth.  In California, outside of the Silicon Valley, the State is in a recession.

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California Ranks Second Worst in U.S. on Economic Freedom Index
High Taxes, Overregulation Causing Exodus of Workers and Employers to Other States

Independent Institute,  12/13/17

OAKLAND—As Congress considers overhauling the U.S. tax code in the hope of easing the financial burden on households and making the nation more competitive globally, California’s policymakers have enacted policies more harmful to economic freedom and opportunity than those of almost any other state, according to the 2017 Economic Freedom of North America report, released today by the Independent Institute in conjunction with Canada’s Fraser Institute.

Not only does California rank 49th out of all 50 U.S. states, but its burdensome combination of high taxes and regulatory overreach is so toxic for economic opportunity that it is causing a major out-migration of both workers and enterprises to other states.

“California’s lack of economic freedom helped motivate more than 10,000 businesses to leave the Golden State, reduce operations, or expand elsewhere during the past seven years,” said Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan, Senior Fellow and Director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation. Census data show that 3.5 million people left California for greener pastures from 2010 to 2015.

While California ranks second worst in economic freedom (only New York was lower), New Hampshire ranked highest for the third year in a row, scoring 8.3 out of 10 in measures of government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions based on 2015 data, the most recent year available. Rounding out the top five freest states are Florida and Texas (tied for 2nd), South Dakota (4th), and Tennessee (5th).

“The freest economies operate with comparatively less government interference, relying more on personal choice and markets to decide what’s produced, how it’s produced, and how much is produced,” said Fred McMahon, who co-authored the report with economists Dean Stansel of Southern Methodist University and José Torra of the Mexico City–based Caminos de la Liberta.

“The 2017 report shows the public, news media, and policymakers in Sacramento what changes need to be made to make California competitive in the future,” said David J. Theroux, Founder and President of Independent.

The Independent Institute is a non-profit, research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity.

Prop. 14 to Ensure Feinstein Wins Re-Election—Over Objection of Democrats!

Thanks to Prop. 14, the November 2018 election will probably have only Democrats on the ballot for Senator and Governor.  The GOP voter will have little choice, so why vote.  Add to that at least 24 legislative seats will only have Democrats on the Fall ballot, and it is no wonder Decline to State is only 260,000 registrants behind the GOP in California.  Why be a registered Republican if you have no one to vote for?

“The Democratic left, which came within a hair of taking over the party’s state apparatus last fall, excoriates Feinstein because she once urged patience with President Trump, because she’s had Wall Street ties and has not been as shrill in opposing Trump as some younger senators, including California’s other senator, fellow Democrat Kamala Harris. (Harris endorsed Feinstein the day she announced for reelection.)

No one yet knows how wide the appeal of a so-called progressive candidate like de Leon or activist billionaire Tom Steyer might be among baseline Democratic voters, so it’s impossible yet to determine whether Feinstein might need Republican votes to win reelection. But that is a definite possibility, and if it happens, it would fulfill the purpose of the jungle primary, backed when it began by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, both moderate Republicans. They wanted their sort of candidates to have a chance to win and their sort of voters to be able to influence election outcomes in places where they previously could not.

Yup, Feinstein can beat her opposition with Republican votes.  That is why I will not vote for any Democrat—if given no choice I have no reason to vote.  Will you vote for the Socialist Feinstein or the Socialist De Leon?  Or will you be principled and not vote for those that hate capitalism and freedom?

Dianne Feinstein

Will top two ‘Jungle Primary’ aid Feinstein?

Tom Elias, Hanford Sentinel,  12/5/17

 

Strong irony is in the air as California heads into the hot political year of 2018, with an initiative to end the state’s “top two” primary election system in play just as top two, also known as the “jungle primary,” may be about to accomplish its central purpose.

That aim was to allow voters in the minority party to influence elections and elect more moderate members of the larger party when their own party either has no candidate in a race or fields a sure loser.

So it is today as moderate Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein bids for another six years in Washington, D.C. amid opposition from state Senate President Kevin de Leon and possibly others from the Democrats’ left wing.

So far, no Republican has entered the race, and in past reelection efforts, Feinstein has trampled GOP opponents anyhow. This leads to two key questions to be answered in the next 11 months: Will, the ‘jungle primary’ system so detested by Republicans and fringe party members help save Feinstein’s long career? And will she be the last to benefit from that system, which pits the top two primary election vote-getters for any office below the presidency against each other in the November runoff, regardless of party?

Most likely, Feinstein, next fall will share the ballot with the initiative seeking to return California to its previous primary system based on parties, with each party participating in the primary entitled to have a candidate in the runoff. Candidates and parties now must earn runoff slots with strong primary election performances.

If top two is even partly responsible for a Feinstein win, she would be the most prominent case of that system fulfilling its aim.

The Democratic left, which came within a hair of taking over the party’s state apparatus last fall, excoriates Feinstein because she once urged patience with President Trump, because she’s had Wall Street ties and has not been as shrill in opposing Trump as some younger senators, including California’s other senator, fellow Democrat Kamala Harris. (Harris endorsed Feinstein the day she announced for reelection.)

No one yet knows how wide the appeal of a so-called progressive candidate like de Leon or activist billionaire Tom Steyer might be among baseline Democratic voters, so it’s impossible yet to determine whether Feinstein might need Republican votes to win reelection. But that is a definite possibility, and if it happens, it would fulfill the purpose of the jungle primary, backed when it began by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, both moderate Republicans. They wanted their sort of candidates to have a chance to win and their sort of voters to be able to influence election outcomes in places where they previously could not.

Now comes Feinstein, who could be the rare California incumbent getting less than half her own party’s primary election vote. Republicans, with barely over a quarter of California’s total voter registration, would be unlikely to place a candidate on the ballot this year, just as they failed in the 2016 Senate contest.

But if they vote in decent numbers, they are more than sufficient to combine with moderate Democrats to keep a far-leftist candidate from winning. That only works if Republicans actually vote for Feinstein, even if they would much prefer voting for a fellow Republican.

Returns from 2016 show that almost exactly 1 million fewer Californians voted for a U.S. Senate candidate than for president, indicating many Republicans didn’t bother to vote in a race between two liberal Democratic women, Harris and then-Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

If most of those in the vote dropoff were Republicans and there is less dropoff this fall, they could assure that California gets the moderate Feinstein and not someone substantially to her left and less patient or willing to compromise.

Such an outcome would represent the explicit purpose of top two, and it’s just possible that it might also be the last gasp of that system. For if voters opt to go back to party-driven primaries, the extreme wings of both major parties will once again provide almost all candidates.

This would assure plenty of November choices, but would essentially disenfranchise Democrats in Republican-dominated legislative districts and Republicans statewide, as well as those living in the many Democratic-dominated districts.

 

Less Work for Illegal Aliens: Vineyards Using Machines to Pick Grapes

Thanks to the minimum wage increases, teen unemployment is going up.  Fast food joints are using computers rather than human.  Earlier this week I went to a sit down place, upscale—that used a computer to take the order, get me extra drinks and pay the bill—only the food server and clean up person were real.  Now we find the famed California wine industry is getting rid of illegal aliens and using robots to harvest the grapes.

“Williams has been managing Paragon for more than a decade, and he’s noticed the changes that have taken place in that time—both in the harvesting process he manages and in the wine country that surrounds him.

“I would say 80 to 85 percent of the grapes that come into this winery for our estate brands are handpicked. About 15 to 20 percent are machine picked, but there’s a lot to that,” he said.

That is a good start.  Even illegal aliens hired at minimum wage for security guards—an oxymoron—are being replaced with cheaper robots!  The world is changing, maybe the illegal aliens, if businesses stop hiring them, might be forced to go honest—and return home?  That was Mitt Romneys suggestion.

Photo courtesy photogism, flickr

From vine to wine: Local wineries shift their harvest from handpicked to machine 

By Karen Garcia, New Times SLO, 12/14/17

Darkened by the evening sky, rows of grapevines are lit up by large light towers. They provide just the right amount of light for men and women to pick the fruit that’s been growing for about eight months.

Pick, cut, toss, repeat.

The tail end of harvest season for vineyards was just a couple of months ago. August through October are crucial for picking the grapes that will be blended, fermented, and ultimately corked into 750 ml bottles.

This year’s harvest was a little bit different than previous ones, with some vineyards choosing a different path for picking grapes. Machines are taking the place of some laborers. And although it’s not a drastic change, yet, it’s a method popping up at vineyards throughout San Luis Obispo County.

That’s the case for Scott Williams, the wine manager for Niven Family Wine Estates, a company that grows and produces wines for the Baileyana, Tangent, Trenza, Cadre, and Zocker labels.

“Those five brands are the brands you see out there on the shelves or in our tasting rooms,” Williams said.

Choosing how to pick the fruit during harvest isn’t a simple task for Williams. He uses both handpicked and machine harvesting methods to create his end product. But that decision was dictated by the design of the vineyards he runs and the changes that were made to it in order to accommodate for a machine harvester.

The choice for vineyard managers comes down to the design of their vineyard, the type of grape variety being picked, cost, and the labor that’s available. While winemakers like Niven Family are splitting the difference between machine and man as sort of an insurance policy against labor shortages, others are sticking to traditional harvesting methods because of the end product that it creates.

Designed for hands

Niven Family wines are produced at Orcutt Road Cellars, but the most important part of the winemaking process is in the care and growth of the grapes at Paragon Vineyards in the green hills of Edna Valley.

Williams has been managing Paragon for more than a decade, and he’s noticed the changes that have taken place in that time—both in the harvesting process he manages and in the wine country that surrounds him.

“I would say 80 to 85 percent of the grapes that come into this winery for our estate brands are handpicked. About 15 to 20 percent are machine picked, but there’s a lot to that,” he said.

Paragon Vineyards was planted in 1973, and the vines were planted with enough room for a person and a bin to work in.

“There was not as much foresight for mechanization at the time when vineyards were developed and planted,” he said.

One obstacle for a machine is the trellis system, the hardware that holds up the vines.

“You can’t even get a machine in because of the way that it’s set up, or the vines are so old that if you use a machine, it’s kind of more sensitive,” Williams said. “It’s like an older person’s bones.”

But that’s changing for a lot of vineyards. Williams said the vines that were planted in the vineyard years ago eventually become unproductive and no longer economically viable. When the vine no longer produces grapes, it is removed and replaced with a new one. And when the new vines are planted, wine managers have the option to put them in the ground with enough space for a machine to get between the vines and pick the fruit.

“We like to have that option moving forward, to be able to machine pick if that’s something we wanted to get into,” he said.

A majority of the fruit that Paragon grows is chardonnay and pinot noir, although in terms of acreage, there is more chardonnay in the ground. Pinot noir grapes have a thin skin and need more of a gentle handling, so Williams said they bring in crews to handpick them. Chardonnay grapes have a thicker skin, so a machine can pick them from the vines.

“The machine drives over the vines, straddling the vine and uses plastic bars to whip the fruit off the vine,” he said. “It has to be done in a way that it takes the fruit off but it doesn’t hurt the vine.”

Williams said that since the early 2000s, Niven Family Wine Estates has rented machines for harvesting depending on the harvest season. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Niven purchased its own machine.

Although the vineyard uses both laborers and a machine harvester, a machine is cheaper to use.

“One of the reasons wine is so expensive is the process. The more labor inputs into the product, it’s going to be an expensive bottle,” Williams said.

In the end, what the resulting product will taste like is the biggest factor a wine manager takes into consideration when deciding the harvesting method that will work best. Williams said handpicking creates a certain taste for some grape varieties. He argues that to some degree certain types that are picked via machine have a similar taste when they’re handpicked.

For Williams, he and his team have found that if a machine picks their chardonnay it results in the same taste as it would if it were handpicked. If needed, Williams said he would focus machine-work on the chardonnay and save the manpower for the more delicate pinot noir.

The better bottle

Niner Wine Estates prides itself on handpicking their grapes.

Molly Bohlman is a winemaker for Niner, which is made up of three vineyards Heart Hill Vineyard, Bootjack Ranch, and Jespersen Ranch. Bohlman oversees the newest vineyard in the Niner family, Jespersen Ranch. Unlike the other locations in the northern part of the county, Jespersen lies in the northwest corner of Edna Valley.

The vineyard was purchased in 2011 with 46 acres of vines. In 2012, Niner Wine Estates planted an additional 31 acres. The ranch produces pinot noir and chardonnay.

Bolhman believes that hand-harvested fruit is delivered to the winery with consistently better quality than machine-harvested fruit.

“There is less chance of leaves and other material getting into the bins, and fruit integrity is maintained,” she said.

Handpicking the fruit also allows Bohlman and her team to whole-cluster press the white grapes. Whole-cluster pressing is a gentle process that reduces mechanical action on the grapes and utilizes stems as a natural filter, yielding clearer and cleaner juice. For red grapes, handpicking allows for whole-cluster fermentation, which is the process of keeping the grapes intact, hooked together, and connected to the stems when picked from the vine.

If the grapes were machine-harvested, these processes wouldn’t be possible, because when fruit is picked with a machine, it detaches the grapes from the stem as they get picked.

“Starting out with undamaged fruit is a huge benefit right from the start. It allows me to do high-end winemaking techniques,” she said.

The Jespersen Ranch, similar to the other vineyards, doesn’t lend itself to machine work anyway, because the acreage that the vineyard lies on is too steep. Plus the winery that produces the wine just wasn’t built for it.

“Our winery is not designed to receive machine-harvested fruit so we’d have to make some capital investments in order to retrofit our receiving line,” Bohlman said.

Although Bolhman and her crew haven’t used and aren’t currently using machines, the option isn’t totally off the table. It’s something to consider when it comes to the labor shortage.

“Labor is a huge issue and is getting more problematic each year. We are fortunate that we work year-round with a labor contractor that provides us with consistent employees who know our vineyard,” Bohlman said.

This past harvest season endured record heat, which caused most wineries to harvest at a faster pace than usual. The unexpected heat makes the fruit mature faster, but it can only be picked at night. It’s a safety hazard for crews to pick during the day, and a machine can’t pick during the day because the fruit tends to be juicier and it doesn’t come off the vine as cleanly.

“This year was more difficult because we needed to harvest more fruit each day due to the hot weather, but luckily our contractor was able to find additional workers when we needed them,” she said.

Williams of Niven Family Estates agrees with Bohlman that labor is getting harder to come by. That was a big factor in Niven Family Estates’ decision to invest in a machine.

“One of the biggest reasons we got the machine is because of the inevitable writing on the wall that labor is harder to get,” Williams said. “We still are fortunate enough that we have been able to get labor as needed to pick our fruit, but the machine is kind of a two-fold. It’s insurance.”

Out in the fields

People who work in the fields during the harvest season have one characteristic in common: They return for work every year. Individuals who have worked season after season for Pacific Vineyard Company have been doing so for more than 30 years. It’s a generational pattern that Violet Silva has seen in her eight years of working in the industry.

Silva is the safety coordinator for Pacific Vineyard Company, a business that assists vineyards with everything from the beginning stages of creating a vineyard to the day-to-day operations of production. The company manages 1,525 acres of vineyards in Edna Valley and about 250 acres in other areas—Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, and Santa Ynez. The company assists vineyards with pre-plant investigation, vineyard development, management of vineyard operations, and arrangement for future wine production.

A huge part of helping with these operations is recruiting workers for full-time and seasonal positions.

“It’s really an amazing thing to see these people come in and pick the fruit and toss it into the bins. Because we couldn’t do this without them,” Silva said.

There are two kinds of workers Pacific Vineyard Company employs, seasonal and full-time. Seasonal workers come out for the three seasons of wine production—pruning, canopy management, and harvest. Pruning takes place in January and February and involves trimming vines to optimize their fruit production potential. Canopy management is in late March to early April and involves maintaining the trellis or training system for the vines as well as the trimming, positioning, and stripping off of unwanted leaves and vines. These techniques help manage the exposure of the vine’s leaves and fruit to the sun. Harvest season is from August to October. Seasonal workers come back each time to fulfill what the duties are for that season.

“We are very fortunate to have a core group of people come and work for us every year, so that has helped us,” Silva said.

She said that often, individuals who come for the seasonal positions tend to bring other applicants with them.

“There’s a lot of family members that work together. You get one new family member, you can almost count on them bringing someone with them,” she said.

Full-time workers are usually tasked with tractor work, cultivation, pesticide application, and floor management. The job description typically includes anything it takes to care for the actual property. The seasonal employees work with the plants.

Silva said that Pacific Vineyards tends to seek full-time employees from their seasonal workers.

“If there is someone who is interested in full-time or has shown some kind of skill set that we think would work well with the job that’s needed, we seek them first,” she said.

Over the many years she’s worked with the company, Silva said Pacific Vineyard hasn’t seen a decline in applicants for its seasonal work. But Silva said she has to take into consideration that many vineyards are starting to machine pick.

“We may not be feeling that so much, because our work is starting to go in a different way,” she said. “If we don’t have the same number of applicants or the same flow of people coming in it’s because we’re following the demand.” Δ

 

California’s new ‘sanctuary’ law will aid some immigrants, but not all

Good news, if you are a mass murderer that is also an illegal alien, some California cities might turn you over to ICE.  But, first you have to commit the crime—even though being an illegal alien is a crime.  In other words—you can be a lawbreaker in California as long as you don’t get too violent.

“The measure erects a barrier between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies. It doesn’t completely prohibit cooperation or the transfer of certain felons to federal custody. It creates a framework for when state agencies may cooperate with federal agencies, and that is only when required by federal law. Previously, state and local authorities could use their discretion in many circumstances.

For people convicted of certain crimes—as many as 800, identified in a 2013 law called the Trust Act—there is little protection. Those infractions range from violent crimes and other serious offenses to felony drunk driving. State and local police agencies will still be allowed to let federal immigration authorities know when individuals are to be released and to hand them over to those agents. However, individuals cannot be held beyond their release dates even if they have committed serious crimes.

But first, the lawbreakers have to hurt someone.  California government prefers to protect criminals from foreign countries rather than honest American citizens.

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California’s new ‘sanctuary’ law will aid some immigrants, but not all

By Elizabeth Aguilera, CalMatters,  12/11/17

 

One of the most controversial issues in Sacramento this year has been widely referred to as the “sanctuary state” law, which will take effect Jan. 1. It is intended to protect law-abiding immigrants from being set on a path to deportation after interactions with local police. But in immigrant communities and elsewhere, there is confusion about how the law will work and exactly what protection it provides. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure, named the California Values Act, into law after negotiations made it more palatable to law enforcers, who had protested it initially.

Why do people call it the “sanctuary state” law, when the senator who wrote it says that phrase is a misnomer?

The author, state Senate leader Kevin de Léon, a Los Angeles Democrat, and others say the label is confusing because the term “sanctuary” has become political—a flashpoint in the immigration debate. The phrase originated with people who took sanctuary in churches. Undocumented immigrants continue to do this, and so far immigration officials have not gone to places of worship to arrest them. However, just being in California does not mean blanket protection from federal authorities. The state law sets up guidelines for California law enforcement agencies’ interaction with federal immigration authorities. Undocumented immigrants may still face deportation if they have committed crimes or are swept up in raids by federal agents at workplaces, in neighborhoods or other venues or are arrested individually.

The Values Act has been called a tool for public safety, put in place to ensure that immigrants continue to feel safe cooperating with local police as reporters of crimes and witnesses in court. Some police officials, including the chief of police in Los Angeles, endorsed the law for this reason.

What does the new law actually do?

The measure erects a barrier between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies. It doesn’t completely prohibit cooperation or the transfer of certain felons to federal custody. It creates a framework for when state agencies may cooperate with federal agencies, and that is only when required by federal law. Previously, state and local authorities could use their discretion in many circumstances.

For people convicted of certain crimes—as many as 800, identified in a 2013 law called the Trust Act—there is little protection. Those infractions range from violent crimes and other serious offenses to felony drunk driving. State and local police agencies will still be allowed to let federal immigration authorities know when individuals are to be released and to hand them over to those agents. However, individuals cannot be held beyond their release dates even if they have committed serious crimes.

The law does allow state corrections officials to continue to work with federal immigration agencies for those who are incarcerated and who face deportation after serving their sentences. They will continue to communicate with federal authorities about who is in prison and their expected release dates and to hand those individuals over to federal agents upon release.

But it prohibits new or expanded contracts between the federal government and local facilities to be used as detention centers. Existing contracts are allowed to continue. The law also designates all courts, schools, libraries and hospitals as safe zones, immune to immigration enforcement as long as federal law does not require arrests there.

Police and sheriffs will not be allowed to act as immigration authorities, inquire about a person’s immigration status, detain someone based only on a federal hold request, participate in arrests based on immigration status, assist immigration authorities in arrests or transfer people to federal custody without a warrant or certain other criteria.

Does the Values Act mean immigration agents can’t deport people in California?

No. No one can claim that living in California makes them exempt from deportation. Federal authorities can conduct raids, arrest suspected undocumented immigrants and do other work separately from state and local law enforcement. In addition, they can continue to communicate with local agencies about arrestees who have committed certain crimes and will be able to take custody of those individuals from local lockups when they are released. Agencies will not honor “hold requests” from federal immigration agencies that previously could last up to 48 hours.

Does it mean undocumented immigrants won’t be deported if they commit violent crimes?

No. Immigrants—those here both legally and illegally—are not safe from deportation under the new law. Undocumented immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes will continue to be reported to federal immigration officials for deportation. The list of relevant crimes was not included when the Values Act was originally proposed. However, Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated with de León to ensure that those who commit serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault and theft, will not be allowed to stay, but those arrested for a minor offense will not be held for deportation.

What will happen if a county or city does not follow the new law and allows its jail authorities to cooperate with immigration agents?

Local agencies that do not follow the new law could face lawsuits by advocacy groups or others for failing to uphold it or for constitutional claims such as wrongful detention. They could also face action from the state attorney general. Some law enforcement groups that had criticized the measure dropped their opposition when the list of excluded crimes was increased from 60 to 800.

 

Oakland Unified to Cut $9 Million Despite Protests From Students

Oakland is a dying city.  The unions that run the city have been on strike for more than a week—the good news is that no one has noticed and almost no one has been inconvenienced.  They could solve the problem by firing the strikers on the grounds they abandoned their job.  No show, no work.  But they won’t—government officials need the campaign donations from the unions.

“The Oakland Unified School District is chopping $9 million from its budget in a move that will hit the district’s more than 36,000 students midyear. The school board approved the budget cuts Wednesday night in a 6-1 vote, in an effort to correct years of overspending and a growing deficit.

School sites will shoulder $3.8 million in budget reductions, while the rest of the cuts will come from the district’s central office as early as January. Dozens of support, management and administrative positions will be affected through reduced hours or layoffs.

The schools are in the same position—they are blackmailed into unsustainable contracts—and now the children are paying for the corruption of the system,  What is left of a crumbling government education system is going to get worse.  Racism?  The majority affected students are minorities.  In 2013, the population of white students was approximately 13%

Walton_High_School_New_Classroom

Oakland Unified to Cut $9 Million Despite Protests From Students

By Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED,  12/14/17

 

The Oakland Unified School District is chopping $9 million from its budget in a move that will hit the district’s more than 36,000 students midyear. The school board approved the budget cuts Wednesday night in a 6-1 vote, in an effort to correct years of overspending and a growing deficit.

School sites will shoulder $3.8 million in budget reductions, while the rest of the cuts will come from the district’s central office as early as January. Dozens of support, management and administrative positions will be affected through reduced hours or layoffs.

During the long and raucous board meeting Wednesday night, hundreds of students, parents and teachers loudly objected to the cuts, saying schools are already struggling with a lack of basic resources.

Teachers regularly have to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets at Piedmont Elementary School, said OUSD parent Geneva Nicherie.

“It breaks my heart. My child’s school is so underfunded it’s disgusting,” said Nicherie, after witnessing the board’s vote with her son, Edward, a second-grader. “It’s going to get worse for our school.”

Oakland Unified is grappling with sharp increases in retirement costs and in special education, while state funding has flattened, said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, a former OUSD teacher and administrator on her first year leading the district.

“I have inherited this fiscal challenge and I have a responsibility to right this ship,” said Johnson-Trammell during a public meeting on the budget last month. “I would like to say how deeply sorry I am for the current financial position we find ourselves in.”

But the district, with a budget of nearly $800 million, also has struggled to spend within its means. Ineffective checks and balances and internal controls remain a key problem, according to several sources, including a state team that analyzed OUSD’s finances.

“A lot of the frustration in the community, which is very well understood, is we need to do a better job of budget monitoring, budget planning, forecasting … to address issues that have been in our district for a decade,” said Johnson-Trammell during the Wednesday night meeting at La Escuelita Education Center.

Oakland Unified struggled with similar fiscal problems when it was taken over by the state in 2003 and administered by the California Department of Education for six years.

“Severe financial difficulties forced the District into state receivership in exchange for a sizable state loan,” says the OUSD website.

Oakland Unified is still paying interest on the $100 million bailout loan it took out then, and is required to host a state-assigned fiscal trustee until the district repays the loan in full.

Parents who witnessed that history are incensed the district has not resolved those problems — even after being administered by the state.

“These cuts are absolutely ridiculous,” said OUSD mom Che Phinnessee, adding that her kids’ schools don’t have enough basics, such as paper and pens. “It’s a problem of mismanagement and there needs to be a total systems change. We do not need to be under state receivership again.”

School board member Roseann Torres, who cast the only dissenting vote on the budget cuts, said the board didn’t have a dedicated group of directors taking a “deep dive” on the district’s finances until recently.

“There is my sense of responsibility and regret for not pushing harder,” said Torres, who joined the board in 2013. “But we didn’t have the structures like a budget committee that could push harder on staff and say ‘What’s really going on? Why are we spending from categories inappropriately instead of spending within our means?’ ”

Some of the district’s overspending ran in the millions of dollars during the tenure of the last superintendent, Antwan Wilson, who left the district earlier this year to run the public schools in Washington, D.C.

For example, during fiscal year 2015-2016, the district budgeted $20 million for professional and consulting services, but spent a whopping $29.3 million. That same year, the district spent more than $10 million over its budgeted amount in classified supervisors and administrators, but significantly less for books and supplies.

Oakland Unified planned to spend $18 million on those materials, but spent only $12 million, according to district data.

The school board signed off on those expenses, and the state trustee at the time, Carlene Naylor, had veto power over financial decisions but didn’t use it, said Carmelita Reyes, a principal at Oakland International High School.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” said Reyes, who is planning to cut about $84,000 from her school’s budget. “Antwan Wilson was absolutely irresponsible. The state trustee was asleep on the job. The school board didn’t have enough internal resources to make sure that what staff was telling them was timely, accurate and complete. And historically we’ve haven’t had the budget controls we needed as an organization. And all these things came together at once.”

Last month, Johnson-Trammell asked principals like Reyes to prepare for cuts of a specific amount, depending on the number of students and grade span of each school.

While some schools decided to abstain from filling teacher positions and other vacancies, others are making do with fewer support staff, like custodians and instructional assistants. Classrooms are already feeling those effects, said Stephanie Hironaka, a math teacher at Edna Brewer Middle School.

“For us, it’s mainly canceling field trips, cutting supplies and subscriptions to some technology that we have to renew on an annual basis. Things that enhance the classroom experience are no longer going to be available,” said Hironaka.

Several students at the meeting said they felt like they were paying the price for past decisions by administrators and others who were supposed to manage and oversee the district’s finances.

“I feel like my education isn’t being valued,” said Delaney Kreber-Mapp, 15, a student at Oakland Technical High School. “I feel like there are so many other things that this district is putting ahead of my own education.”

 

Community Choice Aggregation: Scam for Electric Vehicle Industry

Now I better understand the push to socialize the control of energy in California by local cities.  It is not about savings consumers money—in the long run socialism raises prices.  No, this is about using the government mandate as a cover to create electric charging stations, with the public, not private investors financing the effort.

“In early 2017, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) contributed $25,000 to the City of Lancaster’s partnership with eBee Smart Technologies, a provider of electric vehicle charging solutions. Five eBee electric charging units were installed on streetlights on Lancaster Boulevard. Electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles at these charging stations at no cost. LCE received a reimbursement for equipment and installation costs from Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District’s Plug-in Infrastructure Incentive Program Grant.”

Why can’t government agencies be honest with us?  This is a tax to put privately owned gas stations out of business.  That is the real bottom line.

440px-Electric_car_charging_Amsterdam

Community Choice Aggregation and the Future of Electric Vehicles

Posted by :PublicCEO, 12/14/17

 

Per a study by ChargePoint, Inc., there were 540,000 electric vehicles on the road in the United States in November 2016. A study by Navigant reports that 2017 electric vehicle sales are on track to increase by 50 percent this year. California, the largest electric vehicle market in the country, is home to nearly 50 percent of operating electric vehicles in the United States according to EV Volumes. The automotive industry continues to introduce new electric models, and numerous companies have plans to shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. General Motors, for example, announced its plan for an all-electric, zero-emissions future in October 2017. The company says it will introduce two new electric models in 2018 and at least 18 more by 2023.

Despite this robust market growth, electric vehicles face challenges in being accepted broadly until they can be charged quickly and efficiently. Facilitating the charging of electric vehicles is vital to widespread adoption of this new technology, and many cities remain unequipped to accommodate residents who invest in electric vehicles.

As of November 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy reports there are 3,970 public electric vehicle charging stations with 13,801 charging outlets in California. Charging station infrastructure is highly concentrated in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area. There are far more charging stations available now than in past years, but the state has a long way to go. According to a report by the UC Berkley School of Law and UCLA School of Law, analysts estimate that California will need between 125,000 and 220,000 public electric vehicle charging outlets by 2020.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program benefits can help empower cities to accommodate for the rapid proliferation of electric vehicles.

“As local government leaders, it is our goal and responsibility to ensure our cities are prepared to accommodate for electric vehicles,” says California Choice Energy Authority (CCEA) Board Member R. Rex Parris. “CCEA encourages our associate members and all operating CCAs to consider investing ratepayer revenues in electric vehicle programs.”

CCA programs empower local governments to reinvest in their communities through energy-related initiatives such as energy-efficiency retrofits, solar photovoltaic systems and electric vehicle programs. Operating CCAs such as Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) are among the first to take advantage of CCA benefits to implement electric vehicle charging programs in their communities.

In early 2017, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) contributed $25,000 to the City of Lancaster’s partnership with eBee Smart Technologies, a provider of electric vehicle charging solutions. Five eBee electric charging units were installed on streetlights on Lancaster Boulevard. Electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles at these charging stations at no cost. LCE received a reimbursement for equipment and installation costs from Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District’s Plug-in Infrastructure Incentive Program Grant.

“CCEA Associate Member LCE has helped accelerate the City of Lancaster’s goals to expand electric vehicle charging options for their residents. The City is host to a variety of electrical vehicle charging stations and intends to continue using LCE benefits to develop programs that will accommodate for the increase in electric vehicles,” says Mark Bozigian, Lancaster’s City Manager.

LCE also has contributed $50,000 to Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), the transit agency serving the City of Lancaster, for a partnership with Green Commuter, an all-electric vanpool provider. AVTA will work with Green Commuter to procure and operate an all-electric vanpool and car sharing program. The program will add four new charging stations with the capacity to charge 12 vehicles at a time. Green Commuter will provide LCE full reimbursement when the project is complete.

In Northern California, MCE is also using the benefits of CCA to sponsor electric vehicle charging stations in San Rafael, Belvedere and San Anselmo. MCE offers electric vehicle owners a cost-effective way of charging their cars by providing residential electric vehicle rate options that do not increase as monthly usage goes up. MCE electric vehicle charging rates are flat and do not have tiers like most residential rates. SCP’s Drive EverGreen program has partnered with seven local car dealerships to provide purchase credits for electric vehicles, and offers qualified customers with free electric vehicle charging equipment for their homes.

“With an additional revenue stream that can fund community programs and low electricity rates, CCA programs can help shape the success of electric vehicles in our cities,” adds Bozigian.

CCEA is a pioneering Community Choice Aggregation solution for cities in California. Formed in 2014, the joint powers authority provides an innovative model that retains local control of utility services for cities who partner with CCEA while alleviating operational risk and administrative overhead associated with the implementation of CCA. CCEA’s joint power authority model is quickly becoming the gold standard for implementation of CCA by California cities.

Earning right to hold pot sales permit won’t come easy in Thousand Oaks

Another conservative city is opening up for the sale of marijuana.  The Thousand Oaks City Council, Ventura County, voted 5-0 to allow three medical marijuana dispensaries in their town.  This will eb the only facilities in the East County—so the city, with a growing deficit, will now be able to be lots of tax revenues from the sale of these products.

“In the case of the dispensary, because bans are still in place in neighboring Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Moorpark and Simi Valley, the permit holder would be operating the only business selling medical cannabis in the Conejo Valley and east Ventura County.

A staff report said a 2,000-square-foot dispensary could bring in as much as $2 million per year, or about $38,000 per week.

All applications must be submitted between Feb. 13 and March 8, with a public meeting planned for sometime in February when the city and its consultant will answer questions from those seeking to apply.

At a 5% marijuana tax rate, the three stores will create $300,000 a month in new taxes—and $3.6 million a year in total.  For a city facing economic disaster thanks to CalPERS, this may be the only way out!

marijuana

Earning right to hold pot sales permit won’t come easy

Four-step process will decide city’s first dispensary operator

 

By Kyle Jorrey, Thousand Oaks ACORN,  12/14/17
Applications will be available in mid-January for Thousand Oaks’ first cannabis business license, and the city expects competition to be fierce.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted 5-0 to approve a four-phase process that will require applicants to put up thousands of dollars in fees (see info box) with no guarantee of being selected for the permit. It also requires all parties interested to submit to an FBI-grade fingerprint scan.

In light of the passage of Prop. 64 last November, city representatives decided in June to end Thousand Oaks’ longstanding ban on the cannabis industry and grant a single permit for a medical marijuana dispensary and a single permit for a marijuana testing facility.

The council’s slow-go approach to legalized pot (Ojai and Port Hueneme, much smaller cities, have said they will allow at least three dispensaries each) also means the first individuals to obtain the two licenses will have a decided advantage.

In the case of the dispensary, because bans are still in place in neighboring Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Moorpark and Simi Valley, the permit holder would be operating the only business selling medical cannabis in the Conejo Valley and east Ventura County.

A staff report said a 2,000-square-foot dispensary could bring in as much as $2 million per year, or about $38,000 per week.

All applications must be submitted between Feb. 13 and March 8, with a public meeting planned for sometime in February when the city and its consultant will answer questions from those seeking to apply.

Phase one is an initial sweep to weed out any applicants who don’t properly complete the necessary paperwork, have a criminal record or haven’t secured a site within an allowable zone—aka an industrial zone at least 600 feet from a residential property, schools, day-care center or youth centers.

Phases two and three involve a detailed scoring system that assign points based on several categories, including business plan, neighborhood compatibility, safety/security plan and qualifications.

Those with a high enough score in phase two move on to phase three, where applicants will have to submit to an in-person interview with a yet-to-be determined selection committee and provide a tour of their proposed location.

A staff report suggested the committee could include the city’s police chief and head of community development.

Between phases three and four, notice will be sent to any property owner or business within 500 feet of the permit finalists, and a public meeting will be held, potentially sometime in late June.

In the fourth and final phase, scores will be totaled up from phases two and three, and the finalists in both categories (dispensary and testing facility) will be presented before the City Council by City Manager Andrew Powers. The council will have the ability to ask questions of all the finalists before rendering their decision.

Initially staff suggested that Powers would make a final recommendation, but council members led by Al Adam said they’d rather vote without the endorsement of the city manager.

“I have a feeling this is going to be a very competitive process and there’s going to be a lot of money at stake here for a lot of people, and I just don’t want to get our city manager caught in a position where he’s “recommending” to us certain parties,” Adam said.

Cannabis tax

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted to instruct staff to begin putting together language for a ballot measure that would ask residents next fall whether they would be in favor of enacting a special tax on cannabis businesses.

Such levies have already been passed by municipalities up and down the state.

The city’s marijuana consultant, HDL Companies, suggested the rate would be between 4 and 6 percent and that would be charged on top of local sales tax and the 15-percent state excise tax coming Jan. 1.

Because Thousand Oaks is allowing only a medical dispensary and not a recreational one, Adam questioned how much tax revenue the future pot shop would earn for city coffers

He said that, as he understands it, medical users are exempt from sales tax and none of the excise tax stays local.

HDL’s David McPherson said only those medicinal cannabis users with an official medical marijuana identification card granted by the county via the state are exempt from sales tax.

He estimated that only 1 percent of medicinal users buy their pot using an ID card. The rest go with a doctor’s recommendation, he said, which requires less scrutiny than getting the card and doesn’t require entering a government database.

According to the city’s provided timeline, it expects to complete phase three in June, with the City Council voting in July to grant the two permits.

A webpage on toaks.org dedicated to the topic of the cannabis business permitting process will be posted soon, according to city staff.

 

Forget Intersectionality: At UCSB, feminist and LGBTQ factions at war

I love it when friends fight.  They know the vulnerabilities of the other, they know the good, bad and ugly.  Now the LGBTQ community is fighting among itself at UC Santa Barbara—proof you can never be radical or irrational enough for the Left.  But, instead of it costing them—it is costing you, to finance unneeded buildings, classes and employees.

“Forget intersectionality. At UC Santa Barbara, members of its women and gender studies department appear engaged in some sort of battle with the university’s LGBTQ leaders as a turf war ensues and accusations of “perpetuating violence” and “white supremacy” fly.

The intersectional strife is so hot that UCSB administrators reportedly have capitulated to the demands of activists from its LGBTQ Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, agreeing to construct the group a new building and double its budget after students protested the firing of a resource center employee, according to a report from the school’s newspaper.”

Could it be this is a phony fight—meant to force the Administration to finance the scams of the gender schemers to build their empire?  That is what this really looks like to me.  Too bad there are any adults in the UC system making decisions.

Claremont College

Forget Intersectionality: At UCSB, feminist and LGBTQ factions at war

Matthew Stein, The College Fix,   12/13/17    

LGBTQ leaders accuse women and gender studies officials of ‘perpetuating violence’ and ‘white supremacy’

Forget intersectionality. At UC Santa Barbara, members of its women and gender studies department appear engaged in some sort of battle with the university’s LGBTQ leaders as a turf war ensues and accusations of “perpetuating violence” and “white supremacy” fly.

The intersectional strife is so hot that UCSB administrators reportedly have capitulated to the demands of activists from its LGBTQ Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, agreeing to construct the group a new building and double its budget after students protested the firing of a resource center employee, according to a report from the school’s newspaper.

As reported by The Daily Nexus, the controversy began November 10, when the now-former associate director of the resource center, Ale Muro, was dismissed from her position and allegedly escorted out by a police officer.

It is unclear why Muro was fired. Campus spokeswoman Andrea Estrada told The College Fix via email that the university’s policies “prohibit us from discussing personnel matters.”

Estrada also disputed the claim that Muro was escorted out by law enforcement “The incident reported did not involve a police escort of any employee,” she told The Fix.

Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead also told The Daily Nexus that a police officer was present in the building at the time of Muro’s dismissal but that Muro was not escorted out.

In a subsequent meeting with campus officials on November 17, activists issued numerous demands to the university administration, according to The Nexus. Those demands included the center’s “removal from the Women, Gender, & Sexual Equity Department … a new building for the center, a doubling of [the center’s] program budget and emergency funding for the queer and trans health advocate position.”

The administration granted all of those demands and also agreed to “reevaluate Muro’s termination by Nov. 30,” The Nexus reported.

According to The Nexus, the Resource Center’s “trans taskforce advocacy coordinator,” Hikaru Ezra Mernin, reportedly read a statement at the Nov. 17 meeting calling for the immediate reinstatement of both Muro along with the resignations of both Christine Dolan, the director of the Resource Center, and Kim Equinoa, assistant dean of the Women, Gender & Sexual Equity Department.

The statement accused Dolan and Equinoa of “perpetuating violence against queer, transgender people and marginalized communities” and “perpetuating the systems of white supremacy” at the university.

The College Fix reached out to Mernin multiple times via email to learn what evidence exists to substantiate the accusations against Dolan and Equinoa. Mernin did not respond.

Dolan herself also did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Fix.

Spokeswoman Andrea Estrada disputed The Nexus’s characterization of the meeting, telling The Fix that the report “did not provide the context that the items the students requested had been in discussion for some time, including increasing a very minimal budget for programming and changing the reporting structure of the Center so that it is no longer part of the Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity Center.”

“We agreed to work with the students, faculty, and staff to address issues of office and programming space for the Center which currently consists of only one open room and 2 small offices in our Student Resource Building,” Estrada told The Fix. “Many campuses have dedicated spaces or buildings that house these kinds of programs, and it is something for which students have been advocating over the last several years.”

It is unclear the number and extent of the demands to which university officials agreed. Multiple attempts by The College Fix to clarify what was agreed to were ignored.

The activists’ request for a new building originated in demands issued by campus activists nearly 20 years ago, in 1998, according to The Nexus.

The resource center plans to staff the new building with numerous positions, including “a director, associate director, programming coordinator, office manager, graphic designer, education and outreach coordinator, funding coordinator, associated students liaisons, student staff and volunteer staff.” These staff members would provide services such as “counseling, programming, mentoring, referrals and a 24-hour help line.”

“Plans also included a front office, private offices for permanent personnel, gender-inclusive restrooms, a study space, organization meeting rooms, a lounge, a kitchen, a library, a clothing closet and an art gallery. A proposed list of furniture and equipment was included in the plans,” according to The Nexus. The group also has plans to include a “community garden and emergency housing rooms complete with a bed, closet and drawers.”

 

Committee offers budget tips to San Luis Coastal as Diablo shutdown looms

Great news for the Leftist radicals that demanded Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant be shut down!!  Thanks to you, class sizes are larger, school budgets are down, schools are being closed and teacher salaries will have to be cut.  That is the result of your actions—but you now say, “we must all bear the burden”.  Why, you broke it, you pay for it!

“”This budget gap is not anyone’s fault, but it will be everyone’s burden,” read the report.

According to the committee, cost reductions could come from increasing class sizes by four to five students per class (for a $2.5 million annual savings); closing an elementary school campus (a $500,000 annual savings); curtailing the district’s share of health care costs ($2 million to $3 million); and reviewing employee salary schedules.

Revenue enhancers identified include pursuing a parcel tax between $80 and $160 per year to generate between $3 million and $6 million—which would need two-thirds voter approval; sell, rent, or develop surplus property; setting policy to make inter-district student transfers bring funding with them (a $400,000 annual boost); and starting an endowment.

It is the fault of those that called for the close of this power plant—and the people in the area will now be paying higher energy bills thanks to your actions.  Why is California, except for Silicon Valley, in a recession?  Actions like this.

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Committee offers budget tips to San Luis Coastal as Diablo shutdown looms 

By Peter Johnson, New Times SLO,  12/14/17  

Increased class sizes, a school closure, employee benefit cuts, and a new parcel tax were just a few of a Blue Ribbon Committee’s long-term suggestions for how the San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD) can address an $8 million budget shortfall when Diablo Canyon Power Plant closes.

  • CONUNDRUM A Blue Ribbon Committee submitted recommendations to the San Luis Coastal Unified School District board on how to address an $8 million shortfall when Diablo Canyon closes.

The 10-member committee, assembled by SLCUSD Superintendent Eric Prater in the spring, presented its final report to the board of trustees on Dec. 12. The committee included County Superintendent Jim Brescia and Cuesta College President Gil Stork.

The report outlined a mix of approaches to both reduce costs and increase revenues to the SLCUSD.

“This budget gap is not anyone’s fault, but it will be everyone’s burden,” read the report.

According to the committee, cost reductions could come from increasing class sizes by four to five students per class (for a $2.5 million annual savings); closing an elementary school campus (a $500,000 annual savings); curtailing the district’s share of health care costs ($2 million to $3 million); and reviewing employee salary schedules.

Revenue enhancers identified include pursuing a parcel tax between $80 and $160 per year to generate between $3 million and $6 million—which would need two-thirds voter approval; sell, rent, or develop surplus property; setting policy to make inter-district student transfers bring funding with them (a $400,000 annual boost); and starting an endowment.

“We recognize none of these steps will be easy to execute,” the report stated. “We strongly encourage the board to provide every opportunity for all stakeholders to engage in a process that helps the board reach fair and workable decisions.”

The committee recommended that the district board act with haste. On Dec. 14, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will meet to either approve or deny a $36 million mitigation package that PG&E agreed to pay SLCUSD to offset the Diablo Canyon impact. A tentative CPUC ruling has rejected the settlement and other elements of the plant closure plan, leaving the district in a predicament and the timing of the plant closure unclear.

“We recommend the district be prepared for the worst—a denial of mitigation money and a premature closing the plant,” read the Blue Ribbon Committee report. “With that in mind, the district should plan to have identified and implemented measures to completely close this structural gap within the next three fiscal years.”

Superintendent Prater said his plan is to spend most of 2018 conducting public outreach and undergoing union negotiations to arrive at a multi-year budget plan to kick off in 2019-20. But Prater also hopes to “squeeze” $1 million out of next year’s budget. SLCUSD already made $2.1 million in cuts in 2017-18, mainly from the district office and teacher development programs.

“This is the beginning of a very difficult path forward for myself and our school district,” Prater said. Δ

 

The Learning Curve: Eight of the State’s Most Segregated Schools Are in San Diego

While San Diego has eight of the ten most segregated schools in the State, that is not the real story—the story not told in this article.  Santa Ana schools have 3% white students, LAUSD has 9% and San Fran schools clock in with 13% white students—not schools—but whole districts are segregated.

“There hasn’t exactly been a critical mass of parents pushing for more integrated schools. More often, parents who aren’t happy with their assigned neighborhood schools speak with their feet. They seek out district schools outside their neighborhood, or places like High Tech High, which achieves diversity by employing a ZIP code-based lottery system, or any number of other charter schools.

There is, however, a vocal segment of the public who support traditional school systems (those without charter schools) and believe that charter schools make segregation worse. This argument can go two ways, depending on the school (or who’s making the argument): Either that charter schools have practices that discriminate against students of color during admissions, thereby attracting and enrolling more white students, or that charter schools enroll a disproportionate number of students of color.

Parents are not upset about the pigmentation of the skin of the child sitting next to their child—they are concerned about union control of the classroom, failed curriculum and lack of accountability and report cards that are meaningless gobblygook.

classroom

The Learning Curve: Eight of the State’s Most Segregated Schools Are in San Diego

Eight schools in San Diego Unified make the list of the most racially segregated schools in the state. But there hasn’t exactly been a critical mass of parents pushing for more integrated schools. More often, parents who aren’t happy with their assigned neighborhood schools speak with their feet.

 

Mario Koran, Voice of San Diego,  12/14/17

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten attends a 2013 meeting at Burbank Elementary. Burbank is among the most segregated schools in California, according to an analysis of school data by KPCC. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

That San Diego Unified schools are segregated by race and class isn’t news to educators or those familiar with the district. In 1977, a Superior Court judge found 23 schools in the district were racially segregated to the point they demanded intervention. The judge ordered the district to desegregate and allowed it to come up with a plan to do so voluntarily.

When we looked at those schools two years ago, however, nearly all of the ones on the original list – with one possible exception – were still segregated by race and class. And over the past 10 years, the San Diego Unified school board has dramatically scaled back integration efforts.

In 2011, the school board launched a plan to create a quality school in every neighborhood and keep kids in their assigned schools. In the past seven years, the district has nearly halved the number of students who have access to school buses – the mechanism that largely makes integration possible.

The more interesting question, perhaps, is the degree to which any of this matters to the school board or to the public.

There hasn’t exactly been a critical mass of parents pushing for more integrated schools. More often, parents who aren’t happy with their assigned neighborhood schools speak with their feet. They seek out district schools outside their neighborhood, or places like High Tech High, which achieves diversity by employing a ZIP code-based lottery system, or any number of other charter schools.

There is, however, a vocal segment of the public who support traditional school systems (those without charter schools) and believe that charter schools make segregation worse. This argument can go two ways, depending on the school (or who’s making the argument): Either that charter schools have practices that discriminate against students of color during admissions, thereby attracting and enrolling more white students, or that charter schools enroll a disproportionate number of students of color.

Either approach would cut against a broad goal of creating an integrated school that mirrors the demographic makeup of the greater school district or city.

The latest salvo in the argument began earlier this month, with an Associated Press story that makes two main points: Charter school students are more likely to attend segregated schools; and the levels of segregation correspond to low achievement.

The story was roundly criticized by education reformers and policy analysts. Robin Lake, director of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, wrote that the story relies on a flawed analysis that misses the fact that many charter schools are intentionally located in cities and neighborhoods with high concentrations of students of color. Students in those areas may attend segregated schools, but many come from neighborhood schools that are just as segregated.

“If students are simply moving from one all-black school to another, there is no impact on overall segregation of schools,” Lake wrote.

This is generally true in San Diego, too. Most charter schools are located south of Interstate 8 – often used as shorthand for the city’s socioeconomic dividing line. Gompers Preparatory Academy and O’Farrell Charter School, both located in southeastern San Diego, are majority black and Latino. Because the majority of students at both schools come from the surrounding neighborhood, their assigned neighborhood schools are also majority black and Latino.

And the AP story glosses over the biggest drivers of school segregation: poverty and housing patterns.

Alberto Retana, who leads the nonprofit Community Coalition of South Los Angeles, talked to Southern California Radio about the historical and systemic causes of segregation: “Red-lining, [housing] covenants, chronic disinvestment in where development happens, white flight, capital flight — it’s totally not surprising that our schools are an indicator of our society as a whole.”

When KPCC mapped the data the AP relied on for its story, however, the analysis did shed fresh light on where racially homogeneous schools are located. Eight schools in San Diego Unified make the list of the most racially segregated schools in the state. Those eight are evenly split between charters and traditional schools.

One caveat to the data is the fact in San Diego Unified, like many districts in Southern California, Latino students make up the largest subgroup of students, at 46 percent. (White students, the next largest group, make up 23 percent). This complicates efforts to create integrated schools.

This is all an interesting exercise, you might be thinking. But what does it actually mean for students? The reason it matters to many people gets back to the Brown v. Board decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools are fundamentally unequal.

Despite the ruling, schools with high concentrations of students of color or those living in poverty are still more likely to have the least effective teachers, limited access to college-prep classes or stand to lose the most teachers when it comes time for layoffs.

None of these trends are new, and there’s no local movement afoot to change them. Meanwhile, parents unhappy with their assigned neighborhood schools continue find an escape hatch in charter schools.

For that alone, it may be worth considering what might happen if that escape hatch were to close, and parents had no other avenue for change than to organize and pressure the school board to provide the same things they seek in charter schools. Then again, turning away from charter schools in hopes that the school district one day improves neighborhood schools is a gamble many parents would be wary to make with their own children.