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VOSD Podcast: Back to … Schoolnastics?

Magnolia Elementary is one of several schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District to offer child care for families during the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

For more than a week now (and at several other points [1] throughout her tenure), City Attorney Mara Elliott is at the center of multiple disputes around transparency.

Last week, NBC 7 investigative reporter Dorian Hargrove shared a letter from City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office threatening to prosecute him if he didn’t reveal who leaked him documents from the city’s investigations of the 101 Ash St. building debacle [2].

Just days later, the San Diego City Council boycotted its own closed session hearing because Elliott declined to provide relevant legal reports available to them. She said she’d provide the material verbally or allow them to inspect them under her supervision in her office. This was an attempt, seemingly, to plug any more leaks [1].

Podcast hosts Andrew Keatts, Scott Lewis and Sara Libby discuss Elliott’s history of trying to keep certain documents out of public view, and how things might play out going forward if she makes enemies of the entire Council.

Policing Potty Mouths

This week, VOSD’s Kate Nucci revealed San Diego Police are still enforcing an antiquated and unconstitutional law [3]. You can get ticketed for what’s called “seditious language.”

In her reporting, Nucci found one person who got a ticket downtown for singing rap lyrics. Since 2013, SDPD officers have issued 83 tickets to residents for seditious language. Seditious language is generally defined as speech that aims to overthrow the government. But it appears police are simply ticketing people who say things that offend them.

The Rise of School-Like Not-Schools

A new kind of school privatization is exploding — and threatens to widen already sizable achievement gaps.

For families who can pay for such programs, their kids can effectively go to school buildings and do school work with adult supervision. So, they’re doing school-like things but not actually, technically attending school. Other programs, like a day camp hosted by a gymnastics facility called Schoolnastics, and programs from the YMCA, also aim to keep kids supervised during the day. Meanwhile, actual public schools remain online only for the foreseeable future.

In this week’s final segment, Lewis spoke with a scientist hoping to open things up with open air solutions. Kim Prather is an atmospheric chemist who’s working with schools around the country, and with San Diego Unified, to develop plans to reopen schools safely. There are some viable solutions for making the air safe, she says. But first, we have to buckle down and obey public health orders.

Here’s a recap of the interview [4] as it originally aired on our livestream series, Voice of San Diego at Home [5].

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