Good morning. It’s Thursday, Oct. 19.
- Students’ test scores remain well below pre-Covid levels.
- Four Pepperdine students are killed in Malibu crash.
- And a rousing showcase for Bay Area art at the de Young.
Student proficiency in English and math remained flat in the second year after returning from remote learning, new state test scores showed. There was a slight improvement in math, with 34.6% achieving state standards, while English proficiency fell less than 1 percentage point to 46.7%. Both were down roughly 5 percentage points compared to 2019. State officials sought to portray the results as encouraging, leading some experts to scoff. “Our educational performance is not good,” said Morgan Polikoff, of USC’s Rossier School of Education. “And people don’t like to hear this.” EdSource | L.A. Times
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to visit China next week for talks on climate cooperation at a time of increasing economic and military tension between Washington and Beijing. Stops on his itinerary include Hong Kong, a Tesla factory in Shanghai, a bus depot in Shenzhen, and the coastal city of Yangcheng, where he plans to do some birdwatching. Newsom aides said he would avoid talking about human rights abuses in Hong Kong and China’s Xinjiang province. L.A. Times | Politico
Christina Pascucci, a veteran television news reporter in Los Angeles, announced a long-shot bid for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat on Wednesday. Pascucci, a 38-year-old Democrat and San Fernando Valley native, portrayed herself as a moderate consensus builder in a field of bomb-throwing partisans. “Enough is enough. People are fed up, including myself,” she said. “What you do is you sit down and reach across the aisle.” Politico | L.A. Times
A roundup of California developments connected to the Israel-Hamas war:
- Students walked out of high schools in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley on Wednesday to protest Israel’s bombing of Gaza. “Students know what’s going on, and they want to protest against the genocide,” said a junior in San Francisco. Some parents expressed concern about student safety. S.F. Chronicle | Jewish News of Northern California
- In recent days, vandals scrawled “Death to Israel” and “Kill a settler” on storefronts in San Francisco; a Muslim woman in Burlingame said a man spat at her and told her to go back where she came from; and a Jewish student was said to find a swastika scrawled on his locker at a high school in Newport Beach. SFist | NBC Bay Area | @stopantisemites
- Alicia Keys, who lives near a paragliding hotspot in La Jolla, said she wanted to try paragliding in an Instagram post. She quickly deleted the post and explained it had nothing to do with events in the Middle East. Hollywood Reporter
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty.”
The proposal to add wind farms off Humboldt County will require enormous infusions of private and public money and more than a decade of planning and building. It will involve expanded ports, miles of undersea transmission lines, upgraded onshore substations, and what amounts to a giant experiment: placing clusters of floating turbines in waters multiple times deeper than any other project in the world. Julie Cart wrote a clear-eyed account of the ambitious plan to capture the power of wind off California’s remote North Coast. CalMatters
One day in August 2022, a 12-year-old boy named Braden Fahey collapsed and died during football practice in the Bay Area. A few months later, his parents learned that a photo of their son was plastered on the cover of a book arguing that Covid-19 vaccines caused a surge in sudden deaths of young people. It was co-published by an anti-vaccine group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who wrote in the forward: “Covid shots are a crime against humanity.” Not only was the claim of a death surge false, Braden Fahey never even got the vaccine. His death was linked to a malformed blood vessel in his brain. A.P.
Shasta County has had no public health officer since May of 2022, when the conservative Board of Supervisors fired Dr. Karen Ramstrom after she faced misdirected anger over pandemic measures handed down from the state. On Tuesday, the board finally approved a new officer, Dr. James Mu, a family physician who has no public health background and opposes Covid-19 vaccine mandates. “When they say ‘anti-vax,’ I don’t know, what does that mean? … I just don’t like people putting labels on other people,” Mu said on Tuesday. “I support vaccinations, but I don’t support a vaccine that’s not effective or causes potential harm to someone.” Record Searchlight | KRCR
After San Francisco’s de Young Museum put out an open call for art, nearly 8,000 pieces were submitted. The 883 finalists are now part of a sprawling “salon style” exhibition of Bay Area artists where just about anything goes in terms of subject, style and medium, wrote Jori Finkel. “It’s a dizzying, bursting-at-the-seams extravaganza of an exhibition, designed through an open call process to take the pulse of what local artists are thinking and making.” N.Y. Times
Give something they’ll open every day.
Four Pepperdine students were killed on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu late Tuesday when a car slammed into three parked vehicles where they were standing, authorities said. The university identified the victims as seniors Asha Weir, Deslyn Williams, Peyton Stewart, and Niamh Rolston. Police arrested Fraser Michael Bohm, 22, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Officials said the stretch of PCH has been a long-running safety concern. “We’ve got this major highway running through the center of our city — it’s a racetrack; it has been for years,” said Mayor Steve Uring. L.A. Times | KABC
A few years ago, a group of Latino residents sued Santa Monica, one of the state’s most progressive bastions, to overturn its method of “at-large” elections, in which City Council members are chosen by citywide votes rather than separate council districts. The system, they argued, has made it all but impossible to elect nonwhite lawmakers. The city has fought the issue all the way to the state Supreme Court. A research paper published this month drew a stark conclusion: Santa Monica’s “self-styled racial liberals” have fought to minimize nonwhite representation to retain their own political power. CalMatters
Last month, a viral video of a white woman harassing a Latino construction worker on a job site in Santa Barbara — “I’m American, you’re a Tijuanan,” she tells him at one point — prompted a large protest. Now prosecutors have charged Jeanne Umana, 74, a retired UC Santa Barbara law professor, with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing and battery. The charges come just one day after a second video emerged showing Umana scolding a Spanish-speaking street vendor, threatening to summon the police and calling him “illegal.” Santa Barbara Independent | edhat
A collection of abandoned Chicago commuter trains has been decaying in the Southern California desert for more than a decade. The story of the abandoned railcars begins with the ambitious effort to forge a rail connection across the rugged terrain between San Diego and Arizona in the early 1900s. Dubbed “the impossible railroad,” it was one of the most expensive lines ever built, including 14 trestle bridges and 21 tunnels. The nickname was prescient, as fires, floods, and tunnel cave-ins repeatedly put it out of commission.
In the early 2000s, a rail operator bought 17 cars from the Chicago Metra intended for passenger service on a section of the line that dipped into Mexico, parking them on the U.S. side of the border near Jacumba Hot Springs. But once again, track problems and shifting ownership put everything on hold. Ever since, the cars have been left to sit there, like some post-apocalyptic art project, covered in graffiti and slowly disintegrating in the desert sun.
- A pair of travel vloggers paid a visit to the abandoned Metra train cars a few months ago. 👉 YouTube (~22 mins)
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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