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Posted on August 22 at 3:50 p.m.
Dr Dan, trust me, I have nothing against local businesses, safe neighborhoods, or efficient transportation. My problem is that it is very easy for a politician to support these things without really meaning it. The devil is in the details. Most politicians are expert at running their mouths without saying anything of substance. I am sure everyone on the city council is for safe neighborhoods and local businesses, but when you analyze their votes it becomes apparent that (for the majority) their actions contradict their stated intentions.
On Megan Diaz Alley Running for City Council
Posted on August 21 at 10:57 p.m.
"Alley emphasized the importance of efficient transportation, safe neighborhoods, local businesses, and a sustainable environment."
And she is also for motherhood and apple pie. Most of these candidates will say anything to get elected. In other words, how can I discuss the issues without saying anything meaningful and/or offending anyone. I give her an "A" for political pandering. She is well on her way to becoming a sycophantic politician, modeling the people who are endorsing her.
Posted on May 28 at 3:58 p.m.
Ken, I have no clients who have any interest in charter or private schools in Santa Barbara or anywhere else. Although in some instances I think it would be advantageous for parents and their children to have a free choice or competitive school model as an alternative to the current govt school monopoly, I am not an ideologue regarding this issue.
I know it may be hard for you guys to believe, but my only reason for running for the school board was because too many of our children are graduating our schools without the requisite skills to succeed in life. For instance, over 70% of the students who continue their education at SBCC are unprepared for college courses and are required to take remedial courses in math and English. Most of these kids drop out and make up the vast majority of the unemployed or underemployed.
I have many ideas for reforming our schools to improve student outcomes. At the minimum, I would expect that every kid who graduates from our high schools can read, write and perform basic math at a proficient level. If you google me, I am sure you can read a number of articles where I have discussed these reforms. It will require changing the culture, expectations and reforming some of the labor practices and rules which are antithetical to successful student academic performance. Unfortunately, the education labyrinth in Sacramento and its many school districts throughout the state have become a bureaucratic nightmare that are operating under decades-old mandates and archaic rules.
Finally, I wish people could depoliticize this issue. The solutions need not be defined as left or right. It is the interest of everyone, no matter where they stand on the political spectrum, to fix our schools so every kid has a chance to succeed in life. A good education is the best chance to escape poverty for many of our socioeconomic disadvantaged residents.
On Santa Barbara Teachers Association Elects New Union Boss
Posted on May 27 at 10:33 p.m.
Brandon, the fact that your wife is a teacher and a district employee is relevant information which should be routinely disclosed regarding articles relating to collective bargaining or policies impacting district employees. Although she may be on a one-year contract, that does not mean she wouldn't benefit from collective bargaining.
A number of assertions about employee health insurance costs, salaries and class room size were made. It wasn't clear to me if you were quoting Mr. Houchin or these were facts you independently researched. Although I understand you were only reporting his claim that he doesn't want to defend bad teachers, most people familiar with our public educational system know the teacher unions expend a tremendous of money and effort defending poorly performing teachers regardless of the impact it has on our students.
The fact that you told me about your wife or you believe these articles to be entirely objective is beside the point. Your readers deserve to know this important piece of information, so they can decide for themselves if the information is relevant or if you were able to omit any subtle personal bias or editorializing from influencing your reporting.
Posted on May 27 at 5:59 p.m.
Most people don't know that Brandon Fastman's wife is a teacher at SB Junior High School. Last year I had an exchange with him when I suggested he should disclose this information when writing articles regarding policies affecting district employees. He agreed with my suggestion and told me the paper would disclose it in the future.
Obviously, it hasn't happened. I would hope the Independent would understand the necessity of disclosing information that can affect the objectivity of the author. It might be helpful for Mr. Fastman and the Independent to take a refresher course in journalistic ethics.
Posted on November 13 at 12:11 a.m.
Geeber, for the sake of accuracy, probably no more than 60,000 people voted in the district (probably less). Therefore, it is reasonably certain that more than one of every three voters voted for me. The 15% is the percentage of the total votes (each voter had three selections).
I am waiting for the precinct returns to see what effect the UCSB students had on the election. A record number of them voted this time. It is well known the Democratic Party pays them to register students. It is nice to know that many students, who have no intention of staying here after they graduate, are having a disproportionate influence on local elections and levying parcel taxes on property owners in the district.
On Real Americans
Posted on November 12 at 10:06 p.m.
Well Ken, I did get over 20,000 votes but you're probably right about not many of them coming from UCSB or Isla Vista.
Posted on November 12 at 3:59 p.m.
I think John is a UCSB student, which might explain some of these harebrained views. It would be nice if his statistics were at least accurate. Solar accounts for far less than 50% of the electrical grid, although in one weekend last Spring it did get that high. It only accounts for 4% of the country's energy needs.
If you want to know how renewables are affecting their grid, read this:
Posted on November 4 at 2:18 p.m.
Bill, good post. You raise many good points. I will say that we don't have to look far to find inner city schools around the country with very low socioeconomic populations that are getting much better results than the SBUSD.
Typically, they are charter schools that share some common characteristics. They have a culture of no-excuses, high expectations and high standards of accountability. These schools have little or no bureaucracy, are not hindered by counterproductive labor rules and have great principals who have the expertise to identify great teaching and know how to develop and nurture it.
The teachers work collaboratively to identify academically weak students and develop strategies to attack their weaknesses. They use technology to individualize instruction for students who need it. Although many of these students do not have strong families, teachers work very hard to reach out to these parents. These schools are not burdened with mandates and useless rules that interfere with classroom instruction and impede the adaptation of innovative pedagogical techniques to facilitate learning.
I would like to see our schools adopt many of these reforms. Why reinvent the wheel, when the model already exists.
On Schools' Success Not About Funding
Posted on November 4 at 10:09 a.m.
I am not suggesting we eliminate the centralized purchasing and payroll operation. It could easily be run by a committee of officials appointed by the districts.
Many of the other functions, like teacher development, should definitely be folded into the districts. It makes no sense to have duplicative teacher development programs run by an agency that is not involved in teacher hiring, training and evaluations. Teacher training/evaluation needs to be integrated, if it is to be truly effective.
Since the districts already have their own special needs programs, I don't know why we need the county to run this one school. It's not like the county is doing a bang-up job. The SBUSD special needs budget far exceeds outside revenue sources, so I am sure they would welcome the additional funding.
The bottom line is that we have a $60 million operation, an enormous amount of money, which is not justified considering the number of students and the range of redundant activities already performed at the districts. BTW, have you seen their facilities; they are much nicer than the SBUSD buildings.
The worldly and beguiling Pink Martini returns for a special ... Read More
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