Public Press wins an Excellence in Journalism award for ‘Public Schools, Private Money,’ in the winter 2014 edition


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Programmer Bootcamps: Will They Shake Up the Industry?

By Rachel Wong, KALW Crosscurrents

Around 20 students are standing in a circle in a big open office space. There are both men and women, mostly in their 20s or 30s.

One by one, they give an update on their projects, using terms like “blocker” and “refactor.” They refer to this particular meeting as a “stand-up.” But only a few months ago, these students probably did not know these terms at all.

They are all students at Dev Bootcamp, a training program in San Francisco that teaches people to become employable, beginner software programmers in only nine weeks.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents.


Sights and Sounds of Bayview: Quesada Gardens Initiative

By Jen Chien, KALW Crosscurrents

Like many people who see a pretty rose in bloom, Annette Smith likes to take in the sight and scent of it. But when she bends her head to inhale this particular rose’s fragrance, her enjoyment comes with a deeper meaning – she remembers where this rosebush came from, and how and when it was planted here.

Smith knows the stories behind most of the plants growing in the Quesada Gardens project – which is on the median strip of Quesada Avenue, off of busy Third Street in the Bayview. The mostly single-family houses on either side of the street face lush greenery, flowers, and even some fruits and vegetables.

“There was a lot of dead grass, weeds,” she recalls. “It had all kinds of debris: beer cans, liquor bottles, needles of where they were using drugs, condoms. Name it, it was out there.”

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 


The Last Oyster — Tracking the History of S.F. Bay's Native Bivalve

By Sean Greene, Bay Nature

They are basically just small rocks out in the San Francisco Bay, stuck to bigger rocks that anchor them in place for their entire lives. The tides come and go, and they just sit there, unmoving and sometimes opening and closing their shells. If you are not looking closely, you might think the oyster does not do much at all. But its apparent inactivity belies its true nature: The oyster actually works pretty hard for us.

The West Coast’s native Olympia oyster plays an important role as an ecosystem builder with its ability to filter the water and serve as substrate for other organisms. Its habitat once ranged from Baja California to north of British Columbia.

But owing to reasons that are still somewhat unclear, over the last few millennia native oysters have largely disappeared from the bay. 

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

Living Wage: What Does It Cost to Live in Bay Area?

By Todd Whitney, KALW Crosscurrents

KALW's Todd Whitney researched what it really costs to live in the Bay Area. He and Ben Trefny sat down to check out the results.

Whitney: "So we're talking nearly $33 an hour. Or you can think of it this way: That's two adults earning nearly $17 an hour." 

Listen to the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 

As Tourism Rises, So Do Mural Turf Clashes

By Daniel Hirsch, Mission Local

The Mission’s status as a global tourism destination has never been more acutely felt—when one walks down any of the Mission’s increasingly famous mural alleys, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Swedish and the ubiquitous snap of cameras can all be heard. As the number of tourists increases, so have the companies providing neighborhood walking tours—at least a dozen coming to the Mission. Not everyone, however, is thrilled about these arrivals.

Clarion Alley Mural Project, the nonprofit that first organized the creation of murals in Clarion Alley in the 1990s, has asked private tour companies to refrain from including Clarion in their tours—going so far as to list specific companies contacted on its website including: Avital Tours, Precita Eyes, Wild SF, Dylan’s Tours and the Real SF.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

High Schools in Mission District See More Students Graduate

By Andra Cernavskis, Mission Local

A few years ago, it did not look like Michelle Nguyen, 17, would make it through high school. After a successful middle school career, Nguyen ended up at Lowell, the city’s most competitive public high school. It was here that her life began to unravel when problems at home began to creep up. She rarely made it to class in her freshman year, and the 0.0 GPA suggested a future without college.

Nguyen’s fate changed when she transferred to Mission High School later that year. She will now be a part of a growing number of students who attend high school in the Mission to walk across the stage in her cap and gown in a few weeks.

Graduation rates are on the rise at Mission  and John O’Connell high schools.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

Medi-Cal Gets Spending Boost in Governor’s Revised Budget

By Scott Detrow, KQED News Fix

Few politicians — especially Democrats — eye an extra $2.5 billion as suspiciously as Gov. Jerry Brown. That is the amount California revenue estimates have increased since Brown introduced his initial budget in January.

But as Brown rolled out his revised $156 billion spending plan Tuesday, he spent the bulk of the press conference pushing back against calls to further hike state spending and restore programs cut during the recession.

“Now, you say we ought to do more,” Brown said at one point. “Well, to do more you need to have to take it from some other program — from the courts, from the university, from roads, from something — or you have to get more taxes. There is no other way around it. And I invite everybody to scrutinize. If you can find more cookies in the jar, hallelujah.”

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 


Bay Area Indian Expatriates Campaign to End Corruption at Home

By Samantha Clark, KQED News Fix

Monday, India wrapped up six weeks of voting in its parliamentary elections. Some 551 million people — 66.4 percent of the more than 800 million eligible voters — went to the polls to choose 543 members of India’s lower house of Parliament. It has been been described as the largest democratic election in history.

Here in the Bay Area, a large number of Indian expatriates are avidly following the results, which are expected to be announced on or by Friday, May 16.

And many are doing more than watching. Last Friday night, teams of Indian expatriates in San Francisco, Fremont and Sunnyvale worked all night calling voters halfway across the world to urge them to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

Educators Need Sensitivity Training on Foster Youth Issues, Advocates Say

By Susan Frey, EdSource Today/New America Media

Under the new school finance system, the state will soon be sending districts lists of their foster students so schools can direct more resources to them. Although the students will benefit, they fear their personal lives may be widely exposed and they may be stigmatized if educators do not handle the information sensitively.

“Foster kids are very nervous about this,” said Michael Paynter, the Foster Youth Services liaison for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. “They don’t want to be called out in public or identified in a way where they aren’t choosing the moment. We need some sensitivity training around the release of these lists.”

The new finance system requires districts to come up with Local Control and Accountability Plans that explain how they will use the extra funds they are receiving for low-income students, English learners and foster students to improve their academic achievement. For foster students, that could mean more mental health counseling or tutoring services, or help with college applications and financial aid.

Read the complete story at New America Media.

San Francisco's No. 8! No. 8! (But L.A. — It’s No. 1)

By Adam Grossberg and Dan Brekke, KQED News Fix

The Guardian — you know, that Brit source of news and information — is out this week with something it calls the “Guardian Cities Global Brand Survey.” It purports to be a meaningful ranking of “the most powerful city brands” worldwide. (Oh, good — we’ve been waiting to see who wins the Brainerd vs. Fargo smackdown that has been brewing ever since the Coen Brothers came out with their somewhat misleadingly titled movie.)

So, the envelope please.

San Francisco, a little-ish city with a big superiority complex, where the unofficial motto is “Beat L.A.,” ranks No. 8 on the Guardian list.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.