Sunday, May 31, 2009

Marsha Sutton exposes cheating students, but keeps mum on interesting antics at SDCOE

Below is an interesting story by Marsha Sutton. I'd like to ask Martha: why are you reluctant to expose dishonesty among adults in schools? Don't you think there might be a connection between the behavior of kids and the behavior of their role models? Years ago I asked you to look at what was going on at SDCOE. You ran a big story that appeared to account for SDCOE's entire budget, but you left out legal expenses and liability insurance. Haven't you been apathetic regarding the moral lapses of officials at SDCOE and in the schools?

Marsha Sutton: Scandal exposes district problem
San Diego News Network
By Marsha Sutton, SDNN
May 26, 2009

I don’t know which is worse - the fact that dozens of kids were caught cheating at Canyon Crest Academy or the apathetic way parents and administrators regard the moral lapse.

Under pressure to bury the story, which was brought to my attention because of the wide scope of the sordid affair, I’ve had to sort out what it is about this issue that’s causing so many people to exhibit a jaded attitude tinged with resentment at my inquiries.

[Maura Larkins: It appears that you weren't under as much pressure to bury this story as to bury the SDCOE JPA story and the school legal fees and liability insurance story.]

“What’s the big deal?” is the most common refrain I’ve heard. “It goes on everywhere.” “Why are you picking on our school?” “What are you trying to prove?” “It doesn’t help to write about bad news.”

Well, golly. I was under the impression that journalism’s job was to expose corruption (and cheating certainly falls into that category, by my lights), hold government agencies accountable, inform the public, and increase awareness of trends and concerns.

[Maura Larkins comment: Your impression was correct. May we expect a story on Diane Crosier? And all the money taxpayers pay to help school officials cover up wrongdoing?]

A single incident of cheating involving 50 to 60 kids at one of San Diego County’s highest performing high schools is news, but bigger news is that apparently many feel it’s not news at all...

Once, this was just a story about a single incident. But it has broader implications. How is it that cheating is now so common that many consider it “no big deal?” And why are so many people not just puzzled, but perturbed, that this is being aired publicly?

[Maura Larkins' comment: Maybe the kids saw the adults getting away with it, and figured that's how business is done nowadays. And they're right, Marsha, aren't they?]

...Cheating by students - almost all of them juniors and seniors - was discovered in CCA’s two Advanced Placement psychology classes. Combined enrollment for the two classes exceeds 80 students, more than half of whom have been charged with a form of cheating....

There were those students who were said to have cheated on homework assignments and those who cheated on tests - an important distinction that appears not to matter when applying consequences...

Friday, May 22, 2009

The SDUT confidentiality agreement for employees asks for confidentiality and a whole lot more

Apparently SDUT reporters have to go to their graves with any and all knowledge they dug up while working at the SDUT that the editors decided shouldn't be printed. My question is: what if the reporter starts from scratch and interviews people all over again, and tracks down documents again? Can the reporter then write the stories that were covered up by the SDUT?

Click HERE to see the confidentiality agreement and more information about SDUT secrets.

U-T Clamps Down on Potential Rivals
Voice of San Diego
May 22, 2009

In an unusual move for a newspaper, the recently sold San Diego Union-Tribune is requiring employees to sign a confidentiality agreement forbidding them from wooing current or former co-workers to a competitor.

The agreement appears to put a crimp in any employee's plans to create or join a rival company -- such as an online news site -- and bring recent colleagues on board, even those without jobs.

The president of the newspaper industry's leading labor union said he's never seen such an "outrageous" restriction before, and a local professor said it will have a "chilling effect" on those who want to start competing businesses.

A U-T spokesman declined to comment.

Unlike other states, California doesn't allow companies to prevent their employees from working for competitors. But the state does permit "non-solicitation" clauses like the one in the U-T agreement, said Ruben Garcia, an associate professor at California Western School of Law.

The two-page confidentiality agreement states: "I shall not solicit directly or indirectly, any person who is a SDUT employee or who has been employed by SDUT within the prior six (6) months for employment by, or any business relationship with, a competitor."

The agreement says the restriction will be in place for two years after a worker's employment ends.

The U-T is "asking a lot, especially in this climate," said Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newspaper Guild. "I would expect it would make people very upset."

The Newspaper Guild represented hundreds of employees at the U-T until 1998, when workers voted to kick out the union.

Garcia said the wording of the agreement is unusual because it forbids indirect solicitation. "I don’t know what it means to 'indirectly' solicit someone," he said.

He added that non-solicitation clauses generally require that employees be given something in return for agreeing to them. The U-T confidentiality agreement states that the newspaper provides employment in return for signing the contract.

If the U-T asks an employee to sign the agreement while already working at the paper, the agreement states that "additional consideration, to be determined by the SDUT" will be provided...

The confidentiality agreement apparently applies to both current employees and those who are being laid off.

Today is the last day of work for many of the 192 employees laid off by the U-T earlier this month, although they will be paid through July 6.