What we learned this week

A row of lockers at Castle Park High School. / Photo by Dustin Michelson

One of the defining experiences of my life was in college, when school officials called the police after a few girls noticed that some of their lip glosses and CDs were missing from their gym lockers. The police took the girls from the physical education class to an area of ​​the locker room and, one by one, strip searched them to make sure they were not hiding stolen items inside their bodies.

After word started to spread and outrage built up over this overly intrusive and absurd reaction, the deputy director who initiated the research and the police officers who conducted it all lied about whether it was had actually happened. The school district ultimately paid thousands of dollars in court settlements following the incident, and years later the United States Supreme Court ruled that such searches were unconstitutional.

It was my first encounter with a truism that has been reinforced countless times in my career as a journalist: While public schools are vital institutions that can change the trajectories of people’s lives, they can also facilitate very dark acts. , terrible, even illegal.

As outrage over ‘critical race theory’ grows in places like Poway and Coronado, that’s what I keep coming back to. Such anger is stupid and offensive for many reasons – there’s the fact that critical race theory isn’t taught in these schools to begin with, for example. But it mostly makes me want to pull my hair out because every ounce of energy invested in rallying against a nonexistent problem is a distraction from solving the very real and concrete problems that exist in our education systems and that journalists and the like. work so hard to reveal.

The Poway and Coronado school districts both employ educators who have been credibly accused of harassing or abusing students. In some of these cases, community members mobilized to defend these educators.

Parents in the region, for example, could start demanding that lawmakers make fundamental changes to a system that consistently protects abusive educators. They could demand that Lincoln High students have access to high-level courses and consistent leadership, as other high schools do. They could flock to the streets to challenge disparities in discipline between white children and children of color. They could insist that school officials be held to high standards of accountability and transparency in how they spend funds on vulnerable children.

This is what makes the critical hysteria of racial theory so frustrating. It’s not just that the anger is over a made-up problem, or that the objections are based on racism. It is because there are countless urgent and critical crises in our schools which do deserve our anger and attention. We can’t even focus on real problems, let alone real solutions.

What VOSD Learned This Week

It may seem difficult to keep up with all the back and forth about Lincoln High School, so we have annotated the letters sent by City Councilor Monica Montgomery Steppe and Administrator Sharon Whitehurst-Payne to help readers understand the background and l story behind the dispute.

And speaking of educational leadership feuds, the California Faculty Association is defending its decision to back a professor that officials at Cal State University San Marcos tried to fire for harassing students.


First of all, the city refused to provide us with a memo that we requested. Then he told another outlet that the memo didn’t exist. Then he finally delivered the memo. The funniest part (the slash, the most awful) of it all: the memo was already public the whole time.


The Mesa has changed a lot over the past decade, and those changes help explain the rapid political rise of MP Akilah Weber.


The city is moving homeless families from a motel it owns near Imperial Beach, and moving people into a low-level offender treatment program.

Meanwhile, the city has only made cosmetic changes to its plan for how it will accommodate housing development over the next eight years. We covered the plan’s flaws in this week’s podcast.


It’s budget season. This new San Diego 101 video explains the county’s budget process, where billions of dollars are at stake.

What i read

Line of the week

“It is therefore crucial to have the right tool for the job. Life has many tasks, many moments, each requiring its own tool, its own solution. This is why the Swiss Army Knife was designed: with tweezers, a toothpick, a nail file, a corkscrew, sometimes a pen, a thermometer and a pair of small scissors. Each of these things meets an individual need, solves a particular problem. Open a bottle, cut a wire, file a fingernail, remove food from its teeth. Or, better yet, consider the unmatched versatility of the AR-15, which shoot bullets. – A judge from San Diego gets roasted by the best. (For context, I wrote about the decision here.)

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