Morning Report: Kick-Starting the Evaluation of Schools - Voice of San Diego

Morning Report

Morning Report: Kick-Starting the Evaluation of Schools

The city’s budget, the blogger’s poem, the Padres’ brawl, the Time Warner war and an L.A. story.

 

The San Diego Unified School District has been trying to figure out how to define a high-quality school. The district’s new superintendent agrees, and she wants to kick-start what she sees as a sluggish effort.

But figuring out what makes a top-notch school (or a poor school) isn’t as easy as figuring out if a student deserves an A or a D+. As our story explains, there are plenty of hurdles to ranking schools.

For one, it’s taken the district years to just figure out some goals that schools should try to reach. They haven’t figured out how to measure progress yet.

The teachers union is another potential obstacle, since it’s hard to evaluate education without grading teachers. And that is one sticky wicket. Finally, what happens when a new system says one school is great and another stinks? Will it send the stinky school into a shame spiral?

Ready, Set, Budget

The fiscal year is coming near, and it’s budget time for governments across the land.

Here’s something you’ll hear people telling leaders on the city front: Fund my department/project/cause/workers! Here’s something you won’t hear nearly as much: Let me explain how you can balance the budget while giving me what I want and not aggravating everybody else!  

And people say politicians make too much money.

We’re getting ready to devote intense coverage to the impending budget debate. Our Lisa Halverstadt wants to hear your thoughts. Check her post here and give her a piece of your mind. 

Our Arts Blogger Is, Um, Well-Versed

When I think of poetry, it’s mainly when I’m seeking a word to rhyme with “Nantucket.” There’s a lot more to poetry than limericks, of course. Our arts blogger Libby Weber reminds us that it’s National Poetry Month by writing a poem of her own.

Weber’s poem parodies famous poets from around the world, mentions where you can watch poetry in action and name-drops some verse-atile local stars.

The latter includes a Pulitzer Prize winner (profiled in our pages not too long ago) whose recent critical words about our fair city suggest that her poetic license deserves to be revoked.

Padres Are a Hit (to the Collarbone)

This season is already looking like a horrifically terrible one for the Padres. To add injury to insult, last week brought a brawl between  Carlos Quentin of the Padres and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

The Washington Post has a good overview of what happened and the history of scuffles between pitchers and batters. Generally, pitchers get the heck out of the way when a batter’s in a snit. After all, pitchers have valuable arms to protect and often aren’t as strongly built as those who play other positions.

This time, Greinke, a pitcher, got right into it with Quentin, who was furious after being hit by a pitched ball. The scuffle between the men cost Greinke a broken collarbone.

Turns out that Quentin gets hit by pitches a lot. In fact, he’s been hit more than any other player in the majors since 2008. A blog devoted to baseball statistics runs the numbers (read the post here) and finds his “rate of being hit by pitches within six inches of the inside corner is 20 times higher than the Major League average. It is, at the minimum, a little hard to have sympathy for the guy.”

The major leagues aren’t thrilled with Quentin either: He’s agreed to serve an eight-game suspension as punishment for starting the brawl.

• Local residents who subscribe to Time Warner Cable remain furious about the cable system’s refusal to air Padres games. But now, it appears that they’ll just have to live with it, switch to another TV provider or move: U-T San Diego reports that negotiations have halted between Time Warner and Fox Sports, which owns the rights to the broadcasts.

Quick News Hits

• “Did you hear the one about the guy from San Diego who told the Internet he killed his sister’s abusive boyfriend with his own drugs while he was unconscious and ‘they ruled it as an overdose’?” reads the first sentence of a story in the U-T. “No, San Diego Police don’t find the joke funny, either. If a joke is what it was.”

At stake: whether a young man with local ties was fooling around in a confessional post on the website Reddit or telling some version of the truth.

• I’m a big fan of car pool lanes and trains, buses and trolleys. In the minds of some environmentalists, this is a contradiction in terms. As San Diego plots its transportation future, these folks say mass transit deserves more attention than wider freeways.

Well, I might rethink my position after going to L.A. via train this weekend. The other night, I got stuck for 10 minutes between floors in a crowded subway elevator in Hollywood.

At three minutes, emotions were high among the 12 of us. At six minutes, “Lord of the Flies” flashed into my mind. 

Finally, the doors opened, and I understood why so many minds are closed about public transportation. For all its benefits, mass transit brings you closer to the masses. But I know just where to turn for some alone time: a Padres game.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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