The Weekly Tally 02.21.19

WHO’S IN TOWN?

Something as subtle as a word or turn of phrase can play a role in shaping the direction of a young student’s education and eventual career path. More blatant attitudes and policies can waylay entire groups – including women, people of color and LGBTQ+ students. TheSociology of Education Association, a group of sociologists and educators, is in town this week for its annual meeting to discuss why this happens and how to change it. Topics include: “Science Ghettoization” in STEM PhD training; microaggressions that discourage black engineering and computing doctoral candidates; bullying of transgender students; and how adolescent girls “hold back” in math and the impact that has on career choices.

Fri-Sun Feb. 22-24. Asilomar Conference Grounds, 800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove. $80-$160. seassoc.wordpress.com.

FREE SPEECH

Transparent California, a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute – a nonpartisan think tank that seeks to empower citizens with information they need to make informed decisions – is best known as a web-based publisher of public employees’ salaries and benefits, as well as for breaking down the costs to residents for those salaries and benefits packages. The group in January filed suit against the King City Union School District and Superintendent Rory Livingston after the district refused to provide names of most employees along with salaries. According to the complaint filed in Monterey County Superior Court, Transparent California requested records that show the names and specific wages of district employees for the years 2016 and 2017; the district provided the salaries, but redacted all names with the exception of two senior managers due to “concerns for employee safety,” a violation of the state Public Records Act. Institute attorney Nicholas Wieczorek says his client is trying to work out a settlement agreement with the school district.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

It’s a good week for Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh, who was recognized by theAssociation of California School Administrators Region 10 as the Superintendent of the Year. (Region 10 includes Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.) Diffenbaugh has headed MPUSD since 2014. He entered the position at the tail end of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and helped MPUSD transition into the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gave states and individual districts more control over student progress. He challenged MPUSD’s communities – Marina, Monterey and Seaside – to re-imagine their schools with specific learning paths. Today, MPUSD’s schools offer programs like International Baccalaureate, New Tech Network and early-college access. He will be formally recognized on April 26.

BAD:

It was a doozy of a bad one for the Chinese buffet restaurant AA Buffet on South Main Street in Salinas, a popular destintion for tour bus groups passing through where offerings include stuffed shrimp, fried rice, orange chicken and other Americanized fare. Owner Chang Tai Lin was fined $169,224.98 by the state Labor Commissioner’s Office for 161 violations of California’s minimum wage law and 71 violations of the state’s overtime wage provisions – in short, the owner failed to pay workers for ever hour they worked, and failed to pay workers properly for working overtime. The case, according to court records, dates back to August 2016. Based on those documents, it appears the state will settle for liquidated damages of $63,673.19, an amount Deputy Labor Commissioner Margaret Flanders noted on the court filing she made in August of last year.

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