Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Must Read: Brown Wants Fewer Tests for Students; Councilmembers Push Anti-Port-Shutdown Bill, Again

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 6:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown, in a sharp break from the Obama administration, believes K-12 students in California are being forced to take too many standardized tests, the LA Times reports. As part of his education overhaul, Brown is pushing for fewer tests, contending that they stifle creativity — an argument that teachers have been making for years. The tests take “too damn long,” Brown told the LA Times editorial board. “Second-graders take five days of tests. That’s longer than I spent on the bar exam. I think that’s absurd. You've gotta have some room for creativity.” The statements by Brown, who has two charter schools in Oakland, come in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s call to increase testing.

2. Oakland Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Libby Schaaf are continuing their push to pass legislation that calls on police to do whatever is legally necessary to block future port shutdowns by Occupy Oakland, the Trib reports. The legislation was tabled by the city council earlier this month amid widespread opposition from demonstrators and progressives, but De La Fuente and Schaaf, a former port employee, are bringing it back to the council on February 7. The councilmembers say that the port needs to be protected, but some demonstrators say the legislation will only prompt more protests.

3. Governor Brown also indicated yesterday that he would support delaying a controversial $11 million water bond that is scheduled for the November ballot, the Chron reports. The water bond, which faces intense opposition and is tied to the construction of a peripheral canal around the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, could hurt the chances of Brown’s proposed tax measure.

4. A federal judge in Oakland is blocking $100 million in state cutbacks to in-home service care for the elderly and the disabled that were approved by Brown and the legislature, the Trib reports. Judge Claudia Wilken issued a preliminary injunction, saying that the cuts may be unconstitutional.

5. The misdemeanor domestic violence charges against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have garnered much media attention, but the legal case probably won’t go anywhere, the Chron reports, citing legal experts. The big problem for prosecutors is that a video of Mirkarmi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, in which she says he grabbed her arm roughly likely will not be admissible in court because Lopez is refusing to testify against her husband and denies that he abused her. And without the video, prosecutors have no case.

6. And the US government has shut down Megaupload.com, the wildly popular web-sharing site, after the company was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly violating anti-piracy laws, the LA Times reports. The feds are calling it one of the “largest criminal cases ever brought by the United States.” Megaupload has 50 million daily visitors and prosecutors say the company has received more than $175 million in illegal revenues.

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