Law + Policy

California Game-Changer: Is This the Beginning of the End of Teacher Tenure?

Lowly Superior Court rulings rarely make national news headlines. Then again, Superior Court rulings rarely mash so many political hot buttons at once.

Consider then yesterday’s mercury-raising ruling out of Los Angeles County—simultaneously touching on union power, public school reform, and the constitutional rights of the state’s children—and it’s no wonder that the decision already is being called a “game changer” by supporters and an “attack on teachers” by opponents.

No Joy in Mudville: Amid Drought, California’s Reservoirs are Clogged with Gunk

As the drought drags on and reservoir levels keep dropping, our politicians predictably are clamoring for new dams. But there may be a better and cheaper way to squeeze more water out of California’s desiccated watersheds: Clean out the gunk behind existing reservoirs. That’s because dams collect sediment from eroding watersheds along with water. Our reservoirs rapidly are filling up with silt, sand and rocks—and the more sediment, the less room there is to collect life-sustaining water.

Not Holding Their Tongues: Can the Commencement Speech Be Saved?

When a band of student protesters booed and heckled UC President Janet Napolitano at Laney College over the weekend—to the point where graduates could barely hear her—she became but the latest in a series of invited speakers who’ve suddenly found themselves in the thick of guerilla war over commencement addresses.

POSTERity: Hunt for Depression-era National Park Posters Leads to Berkeley

It all started 43 years ago. Doug Leen was working as a seasonal ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and his supervisor told him to clean out a complex of outbuildings south of Jenny Lake. Leen began hauling junk out of a barn when he saw it hanging from a nail: an old cardboard government poster featuring the park’s rugged peaks.

A Vacation Goes South

I knew we were in trouble as soon as our minivan crested the hill at 8 a.m., about 30 miles south of Guatemala’s border with Mexico. A band of heavily armed men suddenly erupted from the jungle, taking positions in the center of the road. Cloth bags with eye holes masked their faces.

The cowled gunmen surrounded us, screaming orders in a local dialect, their weapons trained through the van’s windows at our heads. In response, the driver turned up a narrow dirt path into the dense jungle.

From the Summer 2012 North South issue of California.

Ambitious Plan for a Captive Readership: Berkeley MBA Students Advise Inmate Newspaper

It was an early fall day when the gates of San Quentin State Prison clanged shut behind the unusual team of consultants on its way to meet the equally unusual team of clients.

“I was apprehensive,” admits Laura Tilghman, an MBA student at UC Berkeley who had never stepped into a prison before. “It was such different circumstances and territory.”

The clients, most of them serving life sentences, didn’t know what to expect either. Why would students from one of the top business schools in the state want to visit inmates at the state’s oldest prison?

Berkeley Econ Study: No Keystone XL Pipeline Keeps a Billion Oil Barrels Underground

For avid watchers of the political saga known as Keystone, it’s another cliffhanger.

Last Friday, the U.S. State Department announced it would kick the can on deciding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, blowing past its prior May deadline and ensuring that the project will endure as a partisan talking point until well after the November midterm election.

Igniting Protest: Will UC Make History By Pulling the Plug on Fossil Fuel Investments?

When 29-year-old UC Berkeley student Ophir Bruck spotted Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, on her way to a University of California Regents meeting, he was holding on to a key that he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.

“We’re here to call on the UC Regents to take bold action on climate change,” Bruck told Lansing last May, as she walked past 58 chanting students chained to two homemade structures designed to represent oil drilling rigs. “Will you symbolically unlock us from a future of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos?”

‘Academies-in-a-Box’ Are Thriving—But Are They the Best Way to School the World’s Poor?

An estimated 2.5 billion people on the planet live on less than $2 a day. Is it possible to give the younger ones a high-quality private education?

One company says yes. Bridge International Academies, a for-profit franchise of private schools founded in 2007 in Kenya, is trying to transform “knowledge for all” into a cost-effective reality. Its answer: the “academy-in-a-box.”

Club Red: Traveling Along the Edge of Post-Fidel Cuba

We are wrapped in sweaters and sitting in an air-conditioned Chinese-made bus as it glides quietly, frigidly through the Cuban countryside. Outside, it’s about 80 degrees and humid, and people walk past the bus or congregate on corners, dressed in shorts and tank tops.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

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