What We Learned This Week - Voice of San Diego

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What We Learned This Week

Porter Elementary / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

I guess I’ve been at this job long enough that I can say things like, “I remember back when Cindy Marten was named superintendent …”

But I do remember. It was a shock at the time, because Marten had never had a job more senior than principal. There was no nationwide search. The San Diego Unified school board selected Marten unanimously.

Marten might not have had many administrative roles on her resume, but she had something big going for her.

“She oversaw a dramatic increase in test scores at Central, a school that serves a community where 99 percent of families are low income and 85 percent of students are English learners. School board members have long steered reporters to her school to showcase the district’s success,” as Will Carless reported in 2013.

That last part – that the district would actually invite reporters into a school to see its inner workings – is why I bring up how Marten came to be superintendent of California’s second-largest school district.

One of our reporters on Friday was barred from photographing a meeting of parents at Porter Elementary School, where we’re reported on ongoing safety and special education issues at the school. Recently a group from the local chapter of the NAACP was also barred from the campus when they arrived to discuss concerns.

During Marten’s tenure, she’s encountered many hurdles that her resume didn’t necessarily make her the best-suited to address: budget challenges, the Marne Foster scandal.

But the crisis at Porter Elementary is not one of those.

Marten was plucked out of obscurity for the sole reason that she turned around an elementary school full of poor families who deal with a number of unique challenges. That is precisely the problem before her now.

I hope she treats this one as seriously and urgently as she did when she was leading Central Elementary. And I hope she succeeds this time too.

What VOSD Learned This Week

The number of homeless San Diegans who have died on the street has doubled over the last decade.

Progressives had hoped the City Council would soon force developers to include affordable units in every project, but it looks like that’s not gonna happen.

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The state has found major flaws with the ways San Diego Unified educates and reclassifies students who aren’t fluent in English, known as English-learners.

The district, meanwhile, acknowledged separate concerns about the state of Porter Elementary School – but many were surprised by the disconnect between the picture painted by the district and the reality of what’s happening at the school.

Will Huntsberry joined us on the podcast this week to talk about the plan for Porter.

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Way back in the day, SANDAG officials bristled at the fact we dared to point out a group of politicians from different parties and vastly different areas somehow always came together to vote in lockstep. Now the new director of SANDAG has come out and said that longtime unity we pointed out was based on a lie all along.

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It was suspense file day in the Capitol this week, and I wrote up a snapshot of some of the notable bills from San Diego lawmakers that are moving forward. The list includes AB 5, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s measure that would codify a Supreme Court decision limiting what kind of workers can be classified as independent contractors. The Coast News, one of the few remaining news outlets in North County, said the bill is a major threat to its survival.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Wrapped in teen-rebel labeling, complete with skull imagery and heavy blackletter type, Liquid Death comes in 16.9-ounce tallboy cans, each printed with a detailed explanation of the brand’s ‘proprietary thirst murdering process.’” – To be clear, Liquid Death sells … water.

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