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San Diego Unified will enforce COVID-19 vaccination mandate for students 16 and up starting in June

 February 23, 2022 at 5:29 PM PST

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San Diego Unified implements a vaccine mandate.
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We've had to move forward with what we think is the right policy based on science.
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I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavanaugh.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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The head of the San Diego Housing Commission resigns , and we talk Russia and our own democracy with New York Times op ed columnist David Brooks.
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And so there are some polls that have shown shown in the Republican Party that Vladimir Putin is more popular than Joe Biden.
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And so that is a sign of weakness that we'll have to keep an eye on.
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Plus a new program teaching kids about the culinary arts.
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That's ahead on midday edition.
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Starting in June , all students aged 16 and over in the San Diego Unified School District will be required to be vaccinated for COVID 19.
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San Diego Unified Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to enforce its vaccine mandate.
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Joining me to talk about the decision is Richard Barrera , who sits on the school board.
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Richard , welcome.
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Thanks so much , Jed.
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So Richard.
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According to the district , about 80 percent of San Diego's unified students aged 16 and up are already fully vaccinated.
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What would this mandate achieve ? Well , to get to that other 20 percent , which is very important , we think the mandate is critical , as we saw in our district with our mandate for employees to be vaccinated and as we've seen with other vaccine mandates in other places around the country , it really is that final 10 20 percent that the mandate is successful at reaching.
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And so , you know , we don't want to continue to have students in our district who are eligible for the vaccine , especially when that vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA to continue coming to school every day.
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Because what that does is that not only puts those unvaccinated students at risk , but it also puts all students and all staff who those unvaccinated students are in contact with at risk.
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And it creates that potential for destabilisation of our schools like we've just seen with the Omer crime surge in January and early February.
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So what we consistently hear from public health experts is that there are many strategies that are important in mitigating the spread of the virus on school campuses.
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But the most important strategy is to increase vaccination rates.
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And what medical advice did the district receive supporting this mandate ? Yeah.
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So we have been guided , as you know , since the beginning of the pandemic by a team of public health experts , doctors , epidemiologists at UC San Diego and our own district physician , Dr. Howard Terrasse.
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He regularly consults with that team of experts at UCSD.
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And so when we first adopted our vaccine mandate in late September , we had unanimous consensus from that team of UCSD.
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Experts that are moving to a vaccine mandate would not only be effective at increasing vaccination rates on our campuses , but that doing so that increasing vaccination rates is the most important strategy in containing the spread of the virus at school.
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So now why is the district waiting until June then to implement the mandate ? So unfortunately , we had a couple of lawsuits that at one point blocked our ability to move forward and implement our mandate.
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Our goal was to implement the mandate at the semester break in late January , which is just it's a much better time to institute something like a mandate.
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Because what happens , of course , with the vaccine mandate is students who are not in compliance need to be enrolled in our online program , our virtual academy , and then we need to have enough teachers in that online program to be able to work with those students.
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So you don't want to be moving students and teachers out of their schools and into the online program once the semester has begun.
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Those lawsuits delayed our ability to implement our mandate at the beginning of the spring semester.
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So now we're looking at the beginning of our summer program , as well as our enrollment in fall to implement this vaccine mandate.
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And the vaccine requirement will , however , go into effect earlier for students playing sports or doing extracurricular activities in the fall.
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Tell us about the timeline for students to get vaccinated.
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Yeah , there are three key dates.
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The first is to participate in our summer programs , which , as we know last year , we expanded pretty dramatically our summer program.
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So we had about thirty thousand students in our district participate in summer programs last year.
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We're hoping for at least that number or even more this year.
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But in order to participate in our summer program , students in that 16 plus range , I will need to get their first shot at the beginning of the summer program within the first week , and then we'll need to follow up getting their second shot within three weeks after that.
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So that's for students in our summer program.
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Then for , as you said , for students who are participating in fall sports or extracurriculars when those first practices begin , which generally are a few weeks before the beginning of the school year , again in that first week of.
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Practice 16 and older students are going to need to get their first shot and then they're going to need to follow up and get their second shot at the appropriate time.
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And then when the fall semester begins in late August , again within that first week , any unvaccinated student 16 plus will need to get their first shot and then we'll need to follow up a few weeks later and get their second shot.
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The district's vaccine mandate had been challenged in court , and just last week , the Supreme Court declined to issue an emergency order blocking the vaccine mandate , saying that there's no mandate to block.
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But now there is.
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Attorneys representing families who sued the district indicated that they plan to go back to the Supreme Court to hear the case now that the mandate is official.
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What's your response to that and what concern do you have that this mandate could be invalidated ? Well , you know , we've had to move forward with what we think is the right policy based on science and based on , you know , protecting the health and safety of our students and staff and , you know , the right policy to keep our students in school.
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And of course , we've had to respond to these lawsuits and take these cases through the legal process.
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So , you know , the cases are still going through the legal process.
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We have not had a final settlement at the state level by the California Supreme Court.
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We've not had a final settlement yet by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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There's absolutely no guarantee that the United States Supreme Court would take up the case.
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But , you know , as we go through the legal process , you know , before we get a final ruling , we have to press forward with what we believe is the right policy to protect our students and staff.
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Do you anticipate expanding the mandate to all students when the vaccine is fully authorized for all ages ? Yes , our vaccine mandate policy actually does apply to all students who are eligible for receiving the vaccine once it's been fully approved by the FDA.
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So right now , it's only students 16 and older that are in that group.
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We anticipate at some point during this year that the vaccine will be fully approved by the FDA for students 12 and older.
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And then at some point that group of students five and older.
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We expect the FDA to fully approve those vaccines.
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So once the vaccines have been fully approved for that age group , then our vaccine mandate policy goes into effect for those students as well.
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And on Monday , the state is expected to make an announcement about masking in schools if the mask mandate goes away.
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Will San Diego Unified follow the state guidance or will the board implement its own mask mandate ? Well , we don't think the state mandate will just go away on Monday.
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What we think is likely to happen is that the state will outline kind of a ramp strategy that looks at things like vaccination rates and case rates.
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So there was just a study that came out the other day from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health , which basically does some modeling and says that if you're trying to prevent the spread of COVID at school , you have to look at the vaccination rates in the case rates.
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And depending on what those are at any point in time , you're likely to see the spread of the virus go up or down at school.
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So I think what we're going to see is guidance from the State Department of Public Health on Monday.
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And I'm also very confident that what we will see is the states say that if districts want to continue based on their own conditions with indoor mask requirements , that they'll be able to do that.
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And so we will continue to look to our local experts at UCSD to help us make those decisions as we go forward about indoor mask requirements.
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I've been speaking with San Diego Unified Board trustee Richard Barrera.
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Richard , thank you so much for joining us.
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Thank you , Jade.
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San Diego Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry announced his resignation Tuesday after 14 years on the job.
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Gentry has seen the commission's agenda and impact expand substantially under his leadership , and lately he's seen the commission come under increased scrutiny involving a pandemic hotel deal that has resulted in a city lawsuit.
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The San Diego City Council is now launching an effort to change the way the commission operates , and Gentry has chosen to step down.
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Joining me is voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keates.
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Andrew , welcome to the program.
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Maureen , thanks for having me.
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Rick Gentry says he doesn't want personalities to get in the way of the City Council's efforts to change the commission.
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Do you read more into the timing of his resignation than that ? I don't want to read too much into it , but I think his own version of events plainly makes clear that this is not coincidental.
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The timing with the reform discussions that are underway at the City Council now , he hastened to say that this was not because the City Council has pushed to conduct his annual performance review , which they've never done before.
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He says that that's not the reason for this.
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So that's one situation that's going on right now that happened just a week ago , and then this week he resigned.
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He wanted to say , that's not the reason for this , that the reason for this is those reform conversations.
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But what I would say is that the council's push to review his performance is part of those reform conversations.
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That's all happening at once , and it's all happening at once based on the events of the last year or so.
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Now you've done a lot of reporting on the conflict of interest case that surrounds the commission's purchase of a Mission Valley hotel during the pandemic.
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Can you give us a brief one on one on that ? The capsule of that is that about this time a year ago , I got word that there was an internal investigation within the Housing Commission that had concluded that a broker that they hired during the summer of 2020 who was supposed to help them purchase hotels to be converted into homelessness housing that they learned that broker had after signing a deal with them to go be their broker.
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He made it a large investment in a company that owned one of the hotels that he then initiated a purchase of on behalf of the Housing Commission.
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So they signed a deal with him.
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He goes out and makes a large investment in a company.
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And then he negotiates the housing commissions purchase of that of a hotel from that company so that that word trickles up through the housing commission.
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They conduct an internal investigation.
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It was behind closed doors and they hadn't alerted anybody , including the City Council , about it.
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And then I obtained some documents that outlined what they had found , which included that that broker had told two separate staffers in the housing commission about his investment , and those staffers had sort of confirmed to legal counsel that they did know about it ahead of time.
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And then from there , there was a series of problems , including the lack of communication to the City Council , whether everything was handled appropriately , what to do about the fact that two people knew about this , whether these actions were criminal , whether they should be prosecuted.
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And then it eventually culminated in the city attorney.
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Bringing the lawsuit against that broker.
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Is the Housing Commission Administration involved in the allegations against this broker in any way ? There's no direct implication that anybody at the Housing Commission is involved , except that two Housing Commission staffers did tell their legal counsel that they were told of the investment and that they didn't do anything about it particularly.
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And the broker has defended himself in the lawsuit by saying that he told some Housing Commission senior staff about the investment.
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But no , there's no direct allegation that that there was anything that they were involved or that they were receiving any sort of financial windfall on their own.
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It's more that they didn't do anything.
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How have city leaders reacted to the news of Rick Gentry's resignation ? Respectfully , they've commended him for his time 14 years and acknowledged which is true , that the Housing Commission's budget has nearly tripled under his watch.
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They've taken on many more responsibilities when the housing when Gentry came to the Housing Commission in 2008.
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The Housing Commission was a pretty straightforward entity.
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It handled federal housing programs and it doled out money that the city collected for affordable housing construction.
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That was it.
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Under him , they have taken on a significant role in the city's homelessness response.
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A bunch of homeless services programs run through the Housing Commission.
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And so they've , you know , they have placed a number of people from the streets into homes during.
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This time and the you know , the agency is now considerably bigger and more influential than it was 14 years ago when he took over , and people have mostly just responded by acknowledging that and expressing their their interest in in conducting a robust and comprehensive search for a replacement.
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And I was going to ask , you know , what comes next ? Do the new City Council reforms have to be in place before there is a search for a new Housing Commission CEO ? They don't have to be , you know , gentry sort of on his own took the liberty to say that that probably should happen , that that , you know , you should do the the forms before you select a replacement.
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Because who knows , maybe you change the agency such that you that that that would change what would be an appropriate applicant.
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So I think there's some it makes sense to think of it that way , but they wouldn't.
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They don't necessarily have to to follow that , that logic.
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I think these sorts of replacements take a while.
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So there will probably be a temporary executive.
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And then and then eventually , you know , sort of an interim and then an eventual successor.
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And the other thing is , we don't really know how extensive the reforms that the City Council is going to pursue will end up being.
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They have a laundry list of things that they're going to consider.
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Some are very minor , very procedural sort of things about like what is allowed to happen in closed session and who's allowed to be involved in closed session and whether the City Council or the Housing Commissions Board gets to to be involved.
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You could change those things without really having any sort of influence on who should be the next CEO.
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But they also have discussed maybe they should get rid of homelessness services as something that the Housing Commission handles.
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Maybe that should be something the city handles that.
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You know , the the decision there , I think , would heavily influenced the type of person you would hire into that job.
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So part of this comes down to how significant the City Council intends to reform this agency in the first place.
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I've been speaking with voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keates.
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Andrew , thank you very much.
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Brent , thank you.
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The 27th Annual Writers Symposium by the Sea continues in Point Loma today , featuring an interview with politics and culture writer and New York Times op ed columnist David Brooks , who joins me now.
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David , welcome to the program.
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It's good to be with you.
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So I know you're here for the writers symposium , but I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to really ask about the latest news of Russia's tension with Ukraine , which President Biden referred to yesterday as the beginning of an invasion.
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Here are some more of what he had to say in his remarks yesterday.
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When all is said and done , we're going to judge Russia by its actions , not its words.
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And whatever Russia does next , we're ready to respond with unity , clarity and conviction.
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Though there does seem to be some political unity across the aisle , there are also some who seem to admire Putin's actions.
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In an interview released yesterday , former President Trump seemed to almost compliment Putin , calling Putin's latest moves genius and very savvy.
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Do you feel sentiments like those will undermine the U.S. diplomatic efforts during this crucial time ? Yes.
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I covered the independence of Ukraine back in the 90s when they became an independent country , and one thing that struck me so powerfully back then is they really wanted to join the West and not only the people of Ukrainian ethnicity , but also the Russian ethnicity they for the last several decades , they wanted to be a western nation.
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As a free nation , they should decide what they want to do with their country.
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And so this assault by Putin is an assault on the liberal order , and I think the West has done a pretty impressive job in unifying and responding as one.
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I think in general , the American politics and American politicians have done a pretty impressive job as responding as one.
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But there are a couple of groups that have not , and they're sort of outliers right now on the left.
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I think there are some people who see American action as sort of imperialism , an American empire and that sort of thing.
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But on the right , there's a significant number of people like Donald Trump , like Tucker Carlson , who look at Vladimir Putin and they see a fellow conservative nationalist.
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They see a strong manly man.
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They see a guy who at least pretends to defend religion.
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They see a guy who pretends to defend national sovereignty against the globalists.
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And so there are some polls that have shown shown in the Republican Party that Vladimir Putin is more popular than Joe Biden.
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And so that is a sign of weakness that we'll have to keep an eye on.
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In your most recent column in the New York Times , you write that democracy is not natural.
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It is an artificial accomplishment that takes enormous work.
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What is the important work most needed today ? Well , we don't have to talk to each other , among other things , to know that other people have a piece of the truth that most politics is a competition between partial truths and to recognize that the other side probably has a point.
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And to recognize that we're pretty much tribal creatures.
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And if you get a leader telling trying to divide the world into good us and the bad them , we're going to fall for that.
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And history is filled with wars , tyrannies and authoritarian dictators who played on that.
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So how healthy do you think our democracy is today compared to other times in our nation's history ? The worse shape of my lifetime , that's for sure.
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You know , the one thing I look at is social trust.
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Do we trust each other ? A generation ago , if you asked Americans , Do you trust your neighbors ? They said , 60 percent said , Yeah , my people around me are kind of trustworthy.
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Now , if you ask those people , only 30 percent say my neighbors are trustworthy and only 19 percent of millennials and Gen Z.
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And so a lot of people look around the world and they've felt betrayed.
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They felt people have not been trustworthy , not been honorable with them.
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And so if you go around life , imagine daily life thinking that the people you meet are selfish and out to get you.
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You're going to have your walls up.
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You're going to band together in a sort of defensive crouch.
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You're going to lash out.
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You're not going to do the sort of normal being with the stranger.
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That's just the stuff of politics , the diverse society.
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And so that is my ultimate fear.
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A better about our system is not to say that Washington is screwed up , though God knows it is.
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It's that the basic levels of trust in each other , those have eroded away over decades.
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You know , what does it mean even to be a liberal or conservative today ? I mean , has it changed in recent years ? I think big time.
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The phrase is liberalism and conservatism have gotten muddied , and the big distinction these days is between populist and non populists.
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And you have a left wing populist that we put Bernie Sanders story of right wing populist.
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We put Donald Trump in that category.
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And they basically see society as divided between the establishment , which is corrupt and oppressive and the people who are getting the shaft.
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I confess I don't see politics that way.
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We live in a big , diverse country.
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Stupidity is our real problem , not malevolence.
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And we have to figure out ways to overcome our own individual stupidity by working together.
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And so to me , it's populist versus non populist is often more important than left versus right.
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You know , as you referred to , we are in the midst of a very tribal polarized time in our society , making it hard to question our own , sometimes entrenched views.
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In 2019 , though , you wrote an op ed where you talked about your transformation on the issue of reparations , that public expression of changing how you thought about something , how you evolved seemed refreshing and rather rare.
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I'm curious if you agree with that and why you think we don't see more of that today.
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You know , it happened to me , you know , I've always.
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Philippines City , so I felt like I had a pretty diverse life.
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But , you know , I found something called the Weave the social fabric project.
00:23:27.420 --> 00:23:31.800
We went around the country and we looked at people who are weaving community at the local level.
00:23:32.340 --> 00:23:38.250
And these are all kinds of Americans , rural Americans from Nebraska , African-Americans from Compton and Watts.
00:23:38.790 --> 00:23:45.960
And so I just got a daily reality bath where I was with people , people completely unlike myself and a much more daily basis.
00:23:46.800 --> 00:23:51.810
And when I was with the African-Americans all around the country , you know , I always knew it.
00:23:51.810 --> 00:23:54.330
You know , something intellectual , but you don't know what in your bones and your heart.
00:23:54.780 --> 00:24:01.500
The level of anger and rage , the level of legitimate righteous indignation and injustice.
00:24:02.280 --> 00:24:14.430
And I just settled in my bones , not in my head , that America has to make a gesture of respect , of respect toward people who have a long history of being shoved aside and and screwed.
00:24:14.430 --> 00:24:18.360
Basically , if we don't show respect , if we don't show it in some material way.
00:24:18.750 --> 00:24:20.480
It's just hard to turn the page , I conclude.
00:24:20.490 --> 00:24:23.250
So it wasn't like I read a book and get persuaded by an argument.
00:24:23.430 --> 00:24:27.360
I just had a broader set of experiences that changed the way I saw things.
00:24:27.720 --> 00:24:36.120
In your most recent book , The Second Mountain The Quest for a Moral Life , you explore the limits of the individual when it comes to living a fruitful life.
00:24:36.300 --> 00:24:44.940
What led you to write about this in today's day and age ? You know , I went through a hard time in my life , and around 2013 I was like eight years to go now.
00:24:45.300 --> 00:24:50.850
But it was that time of personal doubt and frankly , a divorce and broken relationships.
00:24:51.240 --> 00:24:53.250
And like a lot of people , I was in the valley.
00:24:53.370 --> 00:24:59.160
You know , some people get broken by moments of suffering and some people get broken open , and I wanted to be in the latter category.
00:24:59.670 --> 00:25:07.620
And so I had to learn , even in the moments of pain , how to be more , even more vulnerable and to open up your heart even more , even though it hurts.
00:25:08.190 --> 00:25:11.370
And I had to do it in an American climate that's not always very forgiving.
00:25:11.700 --> 00:25:13.680
A couple of things I learned in that dark period.
00:25:14.130 --> 00:25:18.000
One , Your problem is not going to be solved at the level of consciousness which you created.
00:25:18.330 --> 00:25:22.500
You have probably had some bad values that have led you into a bad place.
00:25:23.100 --> 00:25:26.850
The second thing I learned is when you're in the valley , you probably can't get stuff out.
00:25:27.270 --> 00:25:28.980
Somebody's got to reach down and help you out.
00:25:29.430 --> 00:25:35.430
And so I was lucky enough to have a group of people in Washington , D.C. who were some of them were like 17 years old.
00:25:35.430 --> 00:25:39.930
Some of them were like six year old , formed a little community and we had dinner together.
00:25:39.930 --> 00:25:41.400
Every week we vacation together.
00:25:41.400 --> 00:25:45.750
We celebrated holidays together and we were just a little chosen family.
00:25:46.200 --> 00:25:48.090
They really lifted me out of that dark time.
00:25:48.510 --> 00:25:50.490
And so it was not an individual accomplishment.
00:25:50.850 --> 00:25:52.260
It was just being a member of a community.
00:25:52.810 --> 00:25:53.100
00:25:53.430 --> 00:25:58.850
Do you think the book would have been different if it were written after the pandemic began ? Yeah , that's a good question.
00:25:58.860 --> 00:26:07.260
I think the need for community has been really expanded and the capacity to live in community has obviously been retracted.
00:26:07.710 --> 00:26:12.750
I have certainly felt that my introversion muscles have really been strengthened in my extroversion.
00:26:12.750 --> 00:26:22.170
Muscles have been weakened and I've certainly got to work hard to re-enter forms of community that have not been able to enter over the last few years.
00:26:22.560 --> 00:26:27.510
I've been speaking with author New York Times op ed columnist and PBS contributor David Brooks.
00:26:27.930 --> 00:26:38.910
He will be appearing tonight at the Writers Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University at seven p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased at Point Loma Dot Edu Slash Writers.
00:26:39.450 --> 00:26:42.000
Again , thank you so much for speaking with me today , David.
00:26:42.480 --> 00:26:43.110
It's a real pleasure.
00:26:43.120 --> 00:26:43.560
Thank you.
00:26:47.310 --> 00:26:56.820
Imagine being a college student carrying a full schedule of classes , a part time job and also worrying about where your next meal will come from.
00:26:57.240 --> 00:27:01.440
Tens of thousands of students across the state don't have to imagine that situation.
00:27:01.590 --> 00:27:02.550
They are in it.
00:27:02.970 --> 00:27:15.330
A new analysis from the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley shows that more than 21000 San Diego College students are on food stamps known here as the Cal Fresh Program across the state.
00:27:15.540 --> 00:27:22.020
The report found more than 260000 college students are using Cal Fresh to make ends meet.
00:27:22.530 --> 00:27:29.850
These are the first hard numbers to support evidence seen on campuses that many students struggle with food insecurity.
00:27:30.270 --> 00:27:33.480
Joining me to talk about this is Alex D-San Ross.
00:27:33.720 --> 00:27:40.560
She is co-author of the report and a postdoctoral scholar at the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley.
00:27:40.830 --> 00:27:41.850
And welcome to lease.
00:27:42.150 --> 00:27:43.680
Hi , thanks so much for having me.
00:27:44.460 --> 00:27:53.670
In order to come up with these numbers , you had to access information from a number of different sources and you finally linked it up in a new database.
00:27:54.240 --> 00:28:07.710
Why is it important to know how many California college students are using the Cal Fresh program ? You know , before this research , we knew from other survey evidence that food insecurity was really widespread among college students.
00:28:08.040 --> 00:28:17.220
And how fresh is this huge program is probably the the biggest tool that we have to address , or at least to alleviate food insecurity.
00:28:17.490 --> 00:28:22.710
And we really didn't have any visibility into how many college students were actually able to access it.
00:28:23.070 --> 00:28:48.900
We've partnered with the community colleges and the University of California in addition to the Student Aid Commission and the Department of Social Services , and they're all really eager to understand sort of the extent to which they're reaching this population , in large part because pretty much all these partners believe that the numbers of students actually on Cal Fresh is definitely below the number of students who are likely eligible for it.
00:28:49.140 --> 00:28:54.030
So there is , you know , another hundreds of thousands of students that.
00:28:55.060 --> 00:28:59.110
Are eligible for and deserve these these benefits , but are not actually getting them.
00:28:59.740 --> 00:29:05.080
Give us an idea of what the new data is telling you about where Cal Fresh is being used most.
00:29:06.400 --> 00:29:12.250
The new data shows that there's quite a bit of variation in terms of which students are enrolled in Cal Fresh.
00:29:12.610 --> 00:29:23.500
So around 10 percent of community college students are enrolled in this program , around 12 percent of U.S. undergrads and around four percent of U.S. graduate students.
00:29:23.800 --> 00:29:26.050
So there's quite a lot of variation across those segments.
00:29:26.410 --> 00:29:32.690
And then even within each segment , there's a lot of variation , depending on the region or the college campus.
00:29:32.710 --> 00:29:42.100
So , for example , in the U.S. system , graduate students at UC San Francisco have a really high rate of California's participation.
00:29:42.100 --> 00:29:43.030
It's about a third.
00:29:43.810 --> 00:29:45.230
And that really is an outlier.
00:29:45.250 --> 00:29:54.580
Most of the other campuses house considerably lower rates , so there's just a ton of variation , and that's likely due to a number of factors.
00:29:54.850 --> 00:30:04.360
It's in part due to the efforts on campuses to enroll these students , but it also has to do with the varying levels of eligibility and need in these various areas.
00:30:05.530 --> 00:30:17.530
Now , knowing the number of students currently on Cal Fresh doesn't tell you how many students need the program and could qualify , your lab estimates that one in three college students face food insecurity.
00:30:17.890 --> 00:30:29.410
So do we know what's keeping more students from getting on the program ? For one thing , it's very complicated for students to understand whether or not they are eligible for this program.
00:30:30.040 --> 00:30:36.190
That's in large part because the policies that define eligibility for college students are extraordinarily complex.
00:30:36.550 --> 00:30:45.090
So , you know , to for the general public to access Cal Fresh , you have to fulfill a couple of criteria.
00:30:45.100 --> 00:30:49.330
But if you're a college student , you have to fulfill those criteria and more.
00:30:49.570 --> 00:30:57.220
So it's objectively more difficult and more complicated for college students to determine that they're eligible for these benefits.
00:30:57.520 --> 00:31:08.050
And a lot of times , the information that they receive if they're looking online or even on campus can be confusing or can conflict with each other.
00:31:08.290 --> 00:31:11.570
And it's just not a straightforward thing for students to know ahead of time.
00:31:11.590 --> 00:31:13.090
Oh , I'll be eligible for this.
00:31:13.720 --> 00:31:19.000
On top of that , there's a lot of barriers that students face not related to eligibility.
00:31:19.000 --> 00:31:23.380
So there's quite a lot of stigma and even fear around call fresh enrollment.
00:31:23.380 --> 00:31:40.630
A lot of students think that they'll feel embarrassed to use their ID card at the grocery store , or they're concerned about all the questions that the application asks about them in their family , particularly students who are in a mixed status.
00:31:40.990 --> 00:31:51.880
Households where maybe some of their household members are immigrants are often concerned about sharing a lot of information with the government , even though they are still eligible for this program.
00:31:52.300 --> 00:32:00.820
Can you share with us some of the things that you've heard from students about why they aren't getting the food assistance they're eligible for ? Yeah , definitely.
00:32:00.830 --> 00:32:06.430
So one of the key ones was just sort of this confusion about eligibility.
00:32:06.790 --> 00:32:14.610
For example , there is one U.S. student that said I looked at the county website and I could not find eligibility information for college students.
00:32:14.620 --> 00:32:16.630
I had no idea if I was eligible.
00:32:17.050 --> 00:32:20.920
I gave up on applying on that occasion , and that seems to be a common theme.
00:32:21.760 --> 00:32:28.390
Another common theme was kind of , like I mentioned before , this concern about all the information the application asked for.
00:32:28.750 --> 00:32:33.520
So one community college student said I was not sure why I was being asked for my parents info.
00:32:33.790 --> 00:32:36.880
The food I obtain with these benefits is for me , not for them.
00:32:37.300 --> 00:32:51.620
And that can come up a lot because the way the rules work is that if you are under 21 and living with your parents , your parents' income factors into your eligibility , even if you're sort of covering all your grocery costs on your own.
00:32:52.180 --> 00:33:03.250
Well , now that you have this data on the number of college students accessing health fresh , how will you use it ? You really need the eligibility to fully understand these enrollment numbers.
00:33:03.580 --> 00:33:15.160
So we're going to be estimating Cal fresh likely eligibility using financial data that we have from students from the Student Aid Commission , for the most part.
00:33:15.430 --> 00:33:22.630
So again , this big data linkage we were able to put together enables us to do that kind of research.
00:33:22.870 --> 00:33:34.930
And from that , we're going to be able to understand which groups are really being underserved and could use more targeted outreach and interventions to get them , you know , the benefits that they need.
00:33:35.350 --> 00:33:52.780
And the exciting thing is because we have this partnership with these agencies , we can actually work with them to pilot some strategies and interventions to increase enrollment among these groups , particularly the ones where eligibility really exceeds actual enrollment.
00:33:53.050 --> 00:34:00.310
And then we can work with them to measure whether or not these small pilots and interventions are successful , and hopefully we can scale those efforts up.
00:34:00.970 --> 00:34:03.130
I've been speaking with Elise Dizon Ross.
00:34:03.160 --> 00:34:05.290
She is co-author of the report on how.
00:34:05.360 --> 00:34:09.440
Many California college students are using the Cal Fresh program.
00:34:09.650 --> 00:34:14.750
She's also a postdoctoral scholar at the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley.
00:34:14.900 --> 00:34:16.160
Thank you so much , Elise.
00:34:17.030 --> 00:34:17.800
Thank you.
00:34:28.640 --> 00:34:30.590
This is KPBS midday edition.
00:34:30.770 --> 00:34:37.400
I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Heinemann , not far from downtown San Diego in the heart of Barrio Logan.
00:34:37.640 --> 00:34:42.020
There are students learning to cook in an unconventional culinary classroom.
00:34:42.350 --> 00:34:46.930
It's part of the new California Culinary Arts Institute for adults.
00:34:46.940 --> 00:34:55.430
But KPBS education reporter M.G. Perez shows us how children are now the special ingredient in this community of learning.
00:34:57.890 --> 00:35:01.370
11 year old Carlos Sandoval is a chef in the making.
00:35:01.460 --> 00:35:03.350
He can do the argument right now.
00:35:03.410 --> 00:35:06.230
His mentor is executive chef instructor.
00:35:06.230 --> 00:35:15.770
So Rob Zarqawi , who is also the director and founder of the new California Culinary Arts Institute in the common chaos of a commercial kitchen.
00:35:16.070 --> 00:35:18.470
Carlos has learned his lessons well.
00:35:18.530 --> 00:35:21.110
When you're plating something , you have to be like organized.
00:35:21.260 --> 00:35:24.500
You don't just put the food on the plate.
00:35:24.740 --> 00:35:26.680
You have to be very present.
00:35:26.720 --> 00:35:38.210
Is this sixth grade student spends at least 10 hours a weekend plating and learning the art of cooking in a six week program , now catering to kids ages 10 to 16.
00:35:38.540 --> 00:35:46.520
During the week , the school has adults working on cooking and baking certifications , which happens to include Carlos's mother , Angelica.
00:35:46.760 --> 00:35:49.580
But it's his father who inspired him most.
00:35:49.610 --> 00:35:56.990
He always wanted to be a chef one day , and then he didn't have the opportunity to be a chef.
00:35:58.070 --> 00:36:00.650
So I want to accomplish his dreams as mine.
00:36:00.860 --> 00:36:02.420
You're going to be the meat.
00:36:02.870 --> 00:36:07.820
The political chef , Zarqawi is an immigrant from Iran by way of Spain.
00:36:08.090 --> 00:36:10.490
He's been cooking since he was six years old.
00:36:10.760 --> 00:36:16.900
His is not only a culinary story , it's a love story to every time that my mother could.
00:36:17.090 --> 00:36:23.660
I look first for the leftovers and I wanted to eat the leftovers because I appreciated for what she had done.
00:36:23.960 --> 00:36:30.800
And I'm going to turn it on for you and go Danica to Arena is almost 10 years old.
00:36:30.830 --> 00:36:36.190
You had to put a little bit fire on it , and it turns like Brown.
00:36:36.380 --> 00:36:39.290
She's making creme brulee on her first day.
00:36:39.620 --> 00:36:46.160
She tells us her home cooking includes pancakes , cookies and tortillas , among many other challenges.
00:36:49.500 --> 00:36:59.020
Danica dances to while living with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum , which only makes her dreams to become a chef that much more exceptional.
00:36:59.040 --> 00:37:01.650
I want to have a restaurant.
00:37:02.250 --> 00:37:06.560
I want to make my own foods desserts.
00:37:07.320 --> 00:37:12.430
The chef and his team of instructors are here to educate and cultivate young cooks.
00:37:12.450 --> 00:37:15.300
They want to be proud , and they want their parents to be proud of it.
00:37:15.570 --> 00:37:22.500
It is good for them to teach them how to eat healthier rather than fast foods.
00:37:22.800 --> 00:37:29.880
The new culinary institute is in the heart of Barrio Logan , a neighbor to culture and the crisis of homelessness.
00:37:30.180 --> 00:37:42.960
The chef plans for scholarships to include homeless students , and he wants to hire those in need to staff an outdoor patio restaurant with all proceeds going to homeless programs and other charities.
00:37:43.050 --> 00:37:47.300
When ability comes in , responsibility should kick in as well.
00:37:47.310 --> 00:37:50.820
If God made me available to have this school.
00:37:50.850 --> 00:37:53.730
I don't want to be the only one who gets the benefit.
00:37:53.970 --> 00:37:56.760
Be nice to learn how to cook other things aside from just eggs.
00:37:56.970 --> 00:38:01.260
14 year old Joshua Meza is more comfortable chopping boards than food.
00:38:04.310 --> 00:38:15.170
He's successful at mixed martial arts and now steps out of his comfort zone to try his skills in a kitchen and cooking is a way we can express ourselves and the way to get to know a lot of people.
00:38:16.110 --> 00:38:22.670
And without even having to use or learn another language , cooking is just kind of a universal thing we all know and all do.
00:38:22.730 --> 00:38:25.430
Cooking with love is also universal.
00:38:25.670 --> 00:38:30.110
Carlos puts it this way , by the way , we make it is kind of like love.
00:38:30.830 --> 00:38:32.240
Like You give somebody a hug.
00:38:32.960 --> 00:38:33.800
They love it.
00:38:34.370 --> 00:38:35.360
You give somebody food.
00:38:35.570 --> 00:38:36.110
They love it.
00:38:36.230 --> 00:38:38.030
Like student , like chef.
00:38:38.060 --> 00:38:51.350
Once you touch your food and you touch this food with passion to care for someone to give with someone because you love that someone , it tastes different.
00:38:51.740 --> 00:38:54.950
That's a delicious recipe for love and learning.
00:38:55.370 --> 00:38:57.670
M.G. Perez KPBS News.
00:38:58.610 --> 00:39:02.750
Joining me is KPBS education reporter M.G. Perez and MJI.
00:39:02.750 --> 00:39:03.200
00:39:03.620 --> 00:39:04.040
00:39:04.880 --> 00:39:17.840
Can you describe what it's like inside the California Culinary Arts Institute while the kids are learning to cook ? Well , I would like to tell you that it's magical and beautiful , but it's a working kitchen.
00:39:18.230 --> 00:39:28.550
So if you can imagine several kids in a working kitchen learning , making mistakes , creating wonderful food , that's what it's like.
00:39:28.550 --> 00:39:30.950
And as far as smells go , definitely.
00:39:31.340 --> 00:39:36.260
Lots to smell and enjoy and eventually eat.
00:39:37.610 --> 00:39:46.400
Is this culinary training part of the student school curriculum , or is this something that they pursue on their own ? It is not part of a school curriculum.
00:39:46.410 --> 00:39:55.250
This is something that the institute decided to start in order to try to educate young people about healthier eating , believe it or not.
00:39:56.030 --> 00:40:01.730
And so they are doing it as an extracurricular activity and because they love it.
00:40:02.480 --> 00:40:07.100
And how much does it cost ? The price tag for tuition is twelve hundred dollars.
00:40:07.100 --> 00:40:12.820
That is full six weeks , which works out to about 60 hours in total.
00:40:13.070 --> 00:40:16.250
And all ingredients , tools and all of that are provided.
00:40:16.250 --> 00:40:24.320
So the price is steep , but the school is willing to work with students and parents in getting them enrolled in the program.
00:40:25.040 --> 00:40:30.770
Now , as your report points out , this is a labor of love for the students and instructors.
00:40:31.100 --> 00:40:32.410
But I was thinking about it.
00:40:32.420 --> 00:40:36.590
It can also be dangerous to have kids around knives and hot stoves.
00:40:36.860 --> 00:40:48.200
How are the children supervised during their cooking classes ? We're talking about children ages 10 to 16 , so consider what they might be like as far as responsibility goes.
00:40:48.440 --> 00:40:50.120
But interesting week one.
00:40:50.120 --> 00:40:50.870
Day one.
00:40:51.260 --> 00:40:54.620
First lesson knife skills , Maureen.
00:40:54.620 --> 00:41:03.830
So they learn about sharpening knives , safety , cutting skills in various other ways of using and storing knives.
00:41:04.070 --> 00:41:12.230
So it's really the first thing they learn , and there are adults throughout their experience that are there to support and help them.
00:41:13.100 --> 00:41:21.470
Now , besides learning valuable cooking skills , do the kids get any kind of credit or certificate for completing the training ? Absolutely.
00:41:21.770 --> 00:41:34.490
As far as credit , it would not be applied to a school program , but they are recognized for their accomplishment at the end of the six weeks , and it is quite an accomplishment because they are learning to cook.
00:41:34.520 --> 00:41:37.310
This is not just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
00:41:37.610 --> 00:41:43.010
These are actual entrees and they also bake and so there's lots to learn.
00:41:43.910 --> 00:41:49.250
Now , during the week , the institute offers cooking classes and programs for adults.
00:41:49.640 --> 00:41:55.700
Are those classes for beginners or for people already in the food prep industry ? Both.
00:41:56.060 --> 00:42:04.430
If you are looking to be certified so that you can get a job in a restaurant , for instance , the certification program is there for you.
00:42:04.700 --> 00:42:11.270
If you are someone who just wants to learn to cook or learn to cook better , maybe host parties and have friends come over.
00:42:11.810 --> 00:42:16.100
There are opportunities and programs for the casual cook as well.
00:42:17.060 --> 00:42:20.600
M.G. Tell us more about the man in charge of the Culinary Arts Institute.
00:42:20.910 --> 00:42:28.070
Zarrab Zade Hui It sounds like he has big plans for the institute and the surrounding neighborhood.
00:42:28.280 --> 00:42:30.050
He is quite a character.
00:42:30.350 --> 00:42:33.410
He is a chef in every sense of the word.
00:42:34.040 --> 00:42:34.870
Quick story.
00:42:34.880 --> 00:42:39.150
He gave me a chef's hat before I left , and he taught me the proper way to wear it.
00:42:39.170 --> 00:42:43.910
I was wearing it where I'd looked like the pope , and he said , No , you have to move it around.
00:42:43.910 --> 00:42:45.540
So he is invested.
00:42:45.560 --> 00:42:49.220
He is a man who has been cooking since he was six years old.
00:42:49.230 --> 00:43:00.590
He's an immigrant from Iran , as I mentioned , and he loves what he does , and his plans are well beyond just teaching people to cook both children and adults.
00:43:00.980 --> 00:43:01.430
00:43:01.870 --> 00:43:10.390
Facility is located in the heart of Barrio Logan , not but a block away from where many homeless people have set up tents and encampments.
00:43:10.780 --> 00:43:17.560
His plan is to incorporate some of those people to bring them into his kitchen and teach them how to cook.
00:43:17.890 --> 00:43:19.320
So there is a greater good.
00:43:19.330 --> 00:43:24.940
There is an attempt to reach out to the community that he really has on his radar.
00:43:24.970 --> 00:43:36.910
The other thing he's planning to do is convert a patio area into an outdoor restaurant , and all of those proceeds will be donated back to homeless programs and other charities.
00:43:37.780 --> 00:43:46.720
Now what kinds of dishes are the kids at the institute going to be able to prepare by the end of their six week course ? Let me read you the menu.
00:43:47.050 --> 00:43:50.140
As I said , it's not peanut butter and jelly , that's for sure.
00:43:50.410 --> 00:43:54.960
Lasagna , spaghetti , fettuccine , alfredo , sushi.
00:43:54.970 --> 00:44:00.430
Believe it or not , they learn how to to roll California rolls and make miso soup.
00:44:01.150 --> 00:44:11.860
The day that we were there , Salisbury Steak was on the menu , but my favorite week five they learn how to make fried chicken with herb roasted potatoes and mushroom sauce.
00:44:11.860 --> 00:44:19.360
So clearly this is quite a wide menu of opportunity for these young people to learn how to cook.
00:44:20.020 --> 00:44:23.800
Now , MJ , I'm assuming you took a bite or two while you were there.
00:44:24.010 --> 00:44:33.190
How did the food taste ? Maureen , you know me ? Well , it was delicious , and I will admit to you that I tasted the creme brulee.
00:44:33.760 --> 00:44:37.450
It was not good for my girlish figure , and please don't tell my trainer.
00:44:37.690 --> 00:44:42.640
But it was delicious , handmade fresh fruits.
00:44:43.120 --> 00:44:45.400
I licked the bowl clean.
00:44:45.430 --> 00:44:53.200
How's that for an answer ? I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter Margie Perez , M.G. Thank you so much.
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Thank you , Mary.

The school board voted unanimously to enforce the vaccine mandate, which has already been challenged in court. Next, San Diego Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry announced his resignation amid an effort by the city council to change how the commission operates. Then, New York Times op-ed columnist and PBS contributor David Brooks joins Midday Edition ahead of his appearance at the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. And, new data show more than 21,000 San Diego college students receive food assistance through the CalFresh program. They represent a fraction of those who are eligible for help. Finally, not far from downtown San Diego, in the heart of Barrio Logan, there’s a special culinary classroom where children as young as 10-years-old are learning the art of cooking.