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Schools look to improve mental health of students

 March 29, 2024 at 3:03 PM PDT

S1: This Week on KPBS roundtable , a new series from KPBS examines how schools are managing the mental health of students.

S2: Most students who need help don't seek it. And so it's really important that the services be brought to the children instead of relying on children to identify and seek out help.

S1: Then we get an update on a busy sports week for San Diego fans. We'll discuss the new seasons for the Padres and the wave FC , and how the Aztec men's basketball team once again met their match against the UConn Huskies. That and our weekly roundup coming up next on roundtable. The number of young people experiencing poor mental health is on the rise , according to the CDC. A new three part series from KPBS examines mental health in schools. It includes stories from students and teachers , as well as therapists and administrators trying to improve mental health outcomes in young people today. I'm joined now by Katie Hyson. She is KPBS racial justice and social equity reporter. Katie , welcome back to roundtable.

S2: Thanks for having me.

S1: And before we begin , we should note we will be talking about mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide. You can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Katie. Let's start. Big picture.

S2: The CDC has been doing these surveys of students since the early 90s. They've surveyed millions of students across the country , and the last one they released was for 2021 , and it showed an increase in reporting poor mental health , really , across all groups of youth , including increased thoughts and behavior of suicide , self-harm. So it was really alarming. Um , there are therapists in most schools in this area , but the counselor to student ratio is about half what's recommended. And the budget is really limited right now. There's this gap right in what people think would be the best approach to address this crisis and what they're financially able to do. But I also found really unique new programs and approaches. They're trying. So I'm eager to see the 2023 results of this survey to see if that rise has continued or if some of these experimental programs are starting to have an effect.

S1: Yeah , absolutely. Let's jump into how some of these schools and educators are trying to respond to this crisis.

S2: Um , it seems , than when I was growing up. It's understood how common these struggles are. And something I found interesting is like a very recent shift into instead of relying on students to seek out help , they're proactively bringing programs and screening to students and at a pretty young age. So they're screening students as young as second grade and some of these districts and screening everyone , you know , a lot of professionals told me that most students who need help don't seek it. And so it's really important that the services be brought to the children instead of relying on children to identify and seek out help.

S1: It's fascinating when I think about how mental health enter the conversation. When I was in school , usually it wasn't really brought up much until high school , and even then it probably wasn't sufficient. But so to hear that it's entering the conversation as young as second grade , I mean , that's fascinating.

S2: One place I found a fascinating to visit was Aha Charter School , Aha Academies Charter School in El Cajon. They have baked social emotional learning into their curriculum. Um , elementary school through middle school. And I watched children learning things that I wish I had learned at their age. It took me until my late 20s to get into therapy and learn some of the tools. These children are not just learning , but I watched them actively use these tools. Things like asking yourself how big is your problem ? You know , is someone in danger ? Um , things like identifying your emotions and then coming up with practical ways to manage those emotions. Um , so for the younger children , this can look like , um , and they use colors to identify how they're feeling. So I watched third graders say , you know , um , I it's going to be hard for me to learn today because I'm feeling yellow. I'm feeling very silly and it's hard for me to focus. Another student would say. I'm in the blue zone today. I didn't sleep well and I'm really tired. And. And then together , the students would decide what they were going to do to help get them in a space to learn. So for that day , in this third grade classroom , they decided they really needed a brain break. And they all danced for a few songs next to their seats. Um , and so it's , it's introducing as a normal way of thinking to self-reflect on what state you're in , what you need , and to come up with a plan. And it progresses as they get older. In the eighth grade at this school , there's a whole class on stress management , and for their final project , they have to come up with a plan that's individualized for themselves of how they're going to manage their stress. And so I was really taken aback. I mean , it definitely wasn't like that in school when I was young.

S1: And you spoke with a mother named Melissa Gonzalez , who noticed a change in her daughter Solis , since taking part in this social emotional learning at school. Here's what she had to say.

S3: Her ability to articulate her emotions has improved a lot , and she can sit down and talk and , um , sometimes go on and on a while about how she's feeling , which is really good.

S1: And so I'm curious , you spoke a little bit about some of the activities involved.

S2: I think it's much more approachable and strikes me as very age appropriate. So they'll just kind of have these conversations without even necessarily labeling it mental health curriculum. You know , they'll ask students to I watched them complete a worksheet on , you know , what do you think makes a good friend ? And how can you be a good friend to someone around you ? Um , or like I mentioned , um , what color are you feeling ? They're not , uh , therapy children in the clinical way that you or I might , uh , talk about therapy or might have been familiar with it growing up. It's very , uh , practical and age appropriate from what I saw.

S1: And now for the for older students , ones in high school , what does it look like to be focusing on mental health for them ? Because obviously when you start to get into your teenage years , you have different challenges , different stressors.

S2: In the school. There's a few schools that have built these wellness centers inside the school where a student can take a break , eat a snack , talk to a professional , all , um , but again , limited budget to roll out these things that seem positive. Students say they're very helpful , but there's limited budget to roll it out everywhere. Um , and the other thing that struck me was that some of this work is very student led. Students are voicing what they need and also participating in how to address it. And so there's a team of , um , San Diego Unified students working with UCSD , uh , to develop a new mental health curriculum. And that's the details aren't public yet. It's still in development. But , um , it really struck me how actively the students themselves are participating.

S1: From what you could tell , talking to the students , did there seem like there was , you know , they identified a need for this , a demand for this ? Definitely.

S2: And I would say , you know , a few things came up over and over again from professionals and from students across the board. It was , um , Covid , social isolation , social media , um. Really like a lack of social connection. That was driving a lot of these mental health issues.

S1: That's fascinating. Yeah.

S2: Still , like a charter school , you know , the families opt in and choose to go to a school that has that kind of curriculum. Um , some of the other efforts aren't rolled out widespread in districts yet. I just moved here from reporting in Florida a year ago , and it was interesting. There was pushback there to this kind of curriculum. It had become , um , politicized in a way that that many other topics in school boards and in schools had become politicized. And so I'm curious , as these approaches and curriculums get rolled out on a wider scale , and even in , uh , new districts , I'm wondering if we'll see that happen.

S1: You saw some alarming statistics in your series. You know , more than 1 in 5 high school students have seriously considered suicide. I mean , that should be a red flag , a bright red flag for any parent or any community member. I mean , what's happening here ? Yeah.

S2: My stomach dropped when I read that statistic , not just the 1 in 5 , but the wording that they had seriously considered it. Um , I think that's the question. What's happening here is what these screening programs and surveys are scrambling to answer. I think there are some driving factors , like I mentioned , social isolation , social media , um , Covid , but I think that's the question that professionals are trying to answer what is happening and how can we address it. And I'm I'm really curious to see the next set of survey results. Um , if that trend continues or if we see it go down with the more distance we get from Covid.

S1: And you report that nearly half of LGBTQ plus students have seriously considered suicide. And I mean , that is truly staggering. What specific struggles do LGBTQ+ students face ? Yeah.

S2: Um , the survey shows that they're harassed at higher rates for that identity than are straight students. That didn't surprise me. But what surprised me was that that amount of harassment they reported as rising in recent years. And I think depending on the district you're in , some of these students also feel like they can't seek help from the school.


S2: There were also , uh , you know , safe space stickers and pride flags taken down in classrooms. Um , and one school district even terminated the contract with a mental health service provider after community complaints that that provider also gave services to LGBTQ+ youth. Um , so there's all these little policy changes and actions that send a message to LGBTQ plus students this school year.

S1: You spoke to one student , Moxie Childs , who is a junior in Temecula. Moxie is gay and trans , and here's how he explained the experience of LGBTQ+ students in Temecula.

S4: It's hard to be open , and it took a while for me to accept myself. Um , it takes a while for anyone to accept themselves , but especially in a setting like , um , how to Michaela is right now , or that sort of thing is being shunned and ostracized and punished , it gets a lot harder.

S1: And I'll note that in your reporting. Temecula Valley Unified School District declined to comment on the details of your story. What was your reaction when you heard ? Moxey say that.

S2: There were several moments in his interview where I had to pause just to keep my emotions in check as a reporter. The things moxie and other students like him are facing would be hard for anyone , but it was really clear in the interview. You know , if you see moxie , this is still a child that I'm talking with , um , who is facing really adult problems. Um , and I think what struck me is , you know , I , I grew up in the 90s in Florida , and it struck me how much of this conversation , even 30 years later , in a very different place , was the same. Um , but I did also see more students pushing back and asserting their identity much more than I saw around myself growing up. And I think that just speaks to , you know , their courage and resilience. Um , it's it's I wish all the listeners and readers of this story could , uh , hear from moxie in person and just see what a remarkable person he is.

S1: And moxie has been one of those students pushing back against the school district's policy decisions. What actions has he taken and and how have those actions been received by , you know , fellow students or the school district or the broader community ? Yeah.


S2: So after the school district passed a policy that classrooms could not hang any flags except the state or US flag without , uh , approval , specific approval. Um , and that was used to , uh , back taking down all the pride flags. And so moxie decided to hand out pride flags on sticks. And he said that , you know , a lot of students would try to , uh , would grab them and try to rip them up. But because the flags were more plasticky than they were fabric , that they couldn't be ripped. And so these students would just be struggling. Um , certain metaphor there. Yeah. And it was nice. I mean , moxie was laughing at this point and it was it was nice to see him still , you know , laugh and find , find humor. Um , but on the other hand , he , he said he had students come up to him. Who ? And come out to him , you know , who saw him as a safe person following that coverage. And he said he's had students , trans students reach out from across the country. After that , the news coverage came out of what he did. Um , just feeling able to safely speak to him. And that's something I saw , especially for these vulnerable students in districts where they feel like they can't go to the institutions for support. They're really finding it in each other.


S2: I mean , not that it like you said , it's staggering and I have not stopped thinking about it since I read that.


S2: I've been reporting for five years. Most of these decisions get made on the school board level , and parents can make their preferences known to their representatives. You can vote who sits on those school boards. I know attending meetings is often less accessible for the people that face the highest inequities in the school system , but you can leave a written comment. Oftentimes , you can join over zoom for public comment. And the other thing is that journalism is shrinking. You know , there are a lot of news deserts. And so there's a lot of school districts that aren't getting thorough coverage of their budgets. And parents , if they have capacity for this , I think parents in those areas should look page by page through the school district budget. What are they choosing to spend money on and what are they not choosing to spend money on ? And if you think it could be better to voice that.

S1: That public engagement truly does go a long way. Katie Hyson is KPBS racial justice and social equity reporter. Katie , thanks for joining us. Thanks for.

S2: Having me.

S1: And you can read Katie's three part series on mental health in schools at KPBS. Org. And if you are experiencing a mental health or behavioral health crisis , the number to call for help and resources is 988. When we come back , the Padres are back in action. So are the wave FC and San Diego States. Men's basketball has another successful season. We catch up on San Diego sports next. You're listening to KPBS roundtable. Welcome back to KPBS roundtable. I'm Scott Rodd. What a week for San Diego sports. The San Diego Padres are back. They started their first homestand of the season with a 6 to 4 win over the San Francisco Giants yesterday. It also marked the end of the San Diego State Aztecs men's basketball season. They lost to the UConn Huskies in the sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in a rematch of last year's championship game. Plus , soccer is back. The San Diego Wave FC started their 2024 season with a loss last weekend in front of a big home crowd. They look to turn things around later tonight at Snapdragon Stadium , so a lot to cover here to help us get a handle on. Everything happening in the San Diego sports world is Ryan Finley. He's the sports editor with the San Diego Union Tribune. Ryan , thanks for being here and what I imagine is a busy day in the life of a San Diego sports journalist.

S6: It sure is. You know , March is among the busiest times for us , and certainly Thursday was no exception. You had the Padres season opener at 110. The Aztecs played at four. There's other college basketball going on opening day throughout the rest of baseball. Just a super fun time if you're in the sports world. But yesterday , yeah , that was Thursday was a long day. Thursday was a long day.

S1: Yeah , absolutely. Well , let's get started with the San Diego State Aztecs men's basketball team. Another great season. They made it to the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament , but again met their match in the UConn Huskies , who they lost to last year in the championship game. Tell us about the game and how this season unfolded.

S6: You know , I think that the game went about how many thought it would. UConn has been described by its own coach as bullet proof , and the Huskies certainly looked that way Thursday night. Not only are they big , but they're very skilled and very deep. And and if San Diego State was going to have a problem with any team left in this tournament , it was going to be UConn. UConn's won nine straight NCAA tournament games by an average of 15 points or more in this year's NCAA tournament. They're beating their opponents by an average of 28.7 points per game. San Diego State lost by an even 30 , uh , on Thursday night. And so that's pretty much in line with what's happened. You know , it was just a tough matchup for the Aztecs all all the way around. Uh , throughout the season , they were led by Jaden Lardy , who may have put together the greatest single season performance by any San Diego State men's basketball player ever. He is a fantastic forward , great rebounder , a scoring machine. Um , but UConn smothered him. Um , they had bigger , uh , stronger , more skilled players and that really you can see the frustration in Lydia as the game went on and he scored something like 11 or 12 San Diego State points really early and then went through , uh , essentially a scoring slump. It was just a bad matchup. And , you know , that's what you see in the NCAA tournament , right ? It's , uh , sometimes just matchups matter almost more than the seeds do. And San Diego State is the number five seed. Certainly belonged in the sweet 16. But , uh , UConn's going to be a handful for not only the Aztecs , but anybody else who they play the rest of the way in this tournament. Absolutely.

S1: Absolutely. You know , the Aztecs typically have a pretty solid defense. Last night , they couldn't buy a rebound , it seemed like. So yeah , that that observation about the matchup often is matters more than the number next to the team. You know in terms of seeding.

S6: Uh , San Diego State is going to lose a lot of players this off season , uh , just due to graduation and sort of the churn that exists within college basketball now. Uh , we live in a world where name , image and likeness and the ability to pay players oftentimes dictates how good you are on the basketball court. San Diego State is , I think , a little bit late to that game , though. It's certainly trying to catch up in terms of , um , you know , nil and what it can offer players to come play at San Diego State and to stay at San Diego State. Uh , to me , that's going to be a really tough one. I would keep an eye on seeing. Diego State had one freshman this year who had redshirted because of an ankle injury. The guy's name is Megan Goth. Uh , he's a big man who can shoot somebody who I think might step right in next year as a redshirt freshman and really stand out. Um , outside of that , there's a lot of decisions that need to be made here in the next week or so. Uh , who is staying , who is going , who wants to maybe pursue another year of eligibility ? And again , who can see Diego State get with the relatively limited name image and likeness resources that they have ? You know , this isn't a pay for play situation like you see at some of the major colleges. Um , but you really do if you're San Diego State , need to have to be able to offer something. And , you know , they can offer Brian Dutcher and they can offer the ability to develop players. And I'd argue that few programs in America develop as many good players as San Diego State does. Um , but there needs to be some money there , too. And I think that that's what we'll see in the coming weeks is a push to try to get more money into their Nil program , um , so they can go get , you know , essentially free agent basketball players during this off season.

S1: Well , we'll be watching in the coming weeks to see how things shuffle. Let's move on to soccer. San Diego Wave FC had their regular season opener last weekend. They lost that match , but my understanding is they broke another attendance record.

S6: Yeah. It was , uh , something like 34,000 people packed into Snapdragon Stadium to , uh , to watch the wave. They lost 2 to 1 , um , at home to the Kansas City current. Uh , the wave. They're a phenomenon within San Diego. Um , they really found a way to draw in , I think , young families and kids to their games. You know , they had an offer last week of $10 tickets upstairs , which I think is a smart way to do it. Um , I think San Diego State's football program could learn something from the way the wave have approached , uh , packing the stadium. They have , you know , star power. What I think makes the wave unique within San Diego sports is they have. I mean , I would argue three of the top 9 or 10 , uh , women's soccer players in the United States playing on their team. And , you know , you could argue maybe two of the top 5 or 6 , uh , you have Naomi Girma , who is the , uh , reigning US soccer women's player of the year. You have Jaden Shaw , who just set a record for most consecutive , uh , US women's national team matches with a goal. And then you have Alex Morgan , who's probably the most recognizable women's soccer player in the world. Uh , somebody who has been with the wave since their inception and is , you know , most waves wave fans favorite player. Um , you've got these three just budding superstars and , uh , you know , there is some real star power there. And , uh , you can see the wave really trying to take advantage of it this year. Uh , at Snapdragon Stadium.


S6: Uh , look , I'm a San Diego native. Um , you grew up here , followed San Diego sports my whole life. Uh , I will never jinx something by saying that some teams should win a championship because they haven't yet. Uh , but the San Diego Wave certainly have the talent. You know , they won the NWSL shield last year as the top regular season , uh , team in their league , and they were the number one seed in the tournament. Uh , they had a championship match scheduled for Snapdragon Stadium , whether they played in it or not. Uh , they had their opportunity last year to really win a championship and lost in the semifinals here at home. Uh , that said , I think that they come back with a team that's just as good , if not better. Uh , there won't be the long break like there was , uh , last year for the Women's World Cup. There will be a shorter break for the Olympics. Uh , I think that this is a team that certainly , on paper , matches up as well as anybody , um , in the NWSL.

S1: And the Padres had their home opener yesterday and got the win.


S6: They did something that they didn't do a whole lot of last year. Right. Uh , come from behind. Uh , they trailed I think twice to the Giants in Thursday's game and then uh , put it together , uh , you know , uh , scored some runs late. Big hit from Jake Cronenworth. We didn't see a whole lot of those , uh , last year , although he was certainly a big part of their team when they made it to the NLCS in 2022. You saw a good pitching from Yu Darvish. Uh , you saw some , some opportunistic baserunning. Fernando Tatis was doing what he does. You know , he went from first base to third base on a groundout , I think. They played their style of baseball well. And what I'm really looking forward to watching here in the coming days and weeks is how this year's team is different under new manager Mike Schulte. He's talked about essentially doing the little things. He talks about doing things on the edges to to try to win games. And , you know , you can tell early on he's managing every game like it's game seven of the World Series , which I think after last year they had such a rough start and preach throughout the year that it , you know , it wasn't too late and that they still had time. Mike Shields treating every game like the. To mix my sports metaphors here , every game is the Super Bowl. Now. Every manager tries to win every game , but it seems like there is some some tinkering and some strategy under him so far that we didn't see a whole lot of under Bob Melvin a year ago. Now , whether managing becomes micromanaging as we go through the season , you know , we'll have to see. But I certainly like what I've seen from their approach through the first three games of their season. You know , they're two and one. They have a winning record. They didn't have a winning record very often last season , and this is a team who I think has at least the belief that that they can make the playoffs. Maybe it's a wild card team this year.

S1: Well , the Padres do look quite a bit different compared to last year. You mentioned new manager Mike Schulte , who is tinkering very hands on. But , you know , superstar Juan Soto is now a Yankee.

S6: You know , you look this team , the team that took the field yesterday had new new guys playing second base , shortstop , third base , uh , left field , uh , center field. Uh , they have uh , 3/5 of a new starting rotation and a new closer. There are a lot of new faces on this team. You know , the keys to their team remain the same , right ? The keys to their team remain. Manny Machado , Fernando Tatis Jr. A better season from Xander Bogaerts. Uh , inconsistent pitching from Yu Darvish , Joe Musgrove and , uh , new acquisition Dylan Cease. Uh , if those guys can all perform , the Padres will make the playoffs. Uh , that said , you know , I think that their margin for errors a lot less than it was a year ago. Um , they really have to play a certain way every night , uh , to win games. Um , I think that this team is still missing a bat somewhere in their lineup , whether that's a left fielder or maybe somebody who can platoon in either left or center. Uh , Jackson Profar , uh , is is their everyday left fielder right now. Um , it remains to be seen whether that's a smart move for the course of an entire season. That's what they need. They need a bat. Now , fortunately , um , they do have a little bit of money to spend. I believe they can spend another $13 million this year without going over the competitive balance tax , uh , which is essentially a soft salary cap. Um , within Major League Baseball , they have $13 million to play with. It will be a buyer's market. If not now , then at the trade deadline. Um , but I think that their strategy right now is to sort of see what they have , test out some of these young players , like center fielder Jackson Merrill and , uh , Michael King , who's a new acquisition , starting pitcher from the Yankees , really see what they have and then assess the situation and maybe go get a bat. I mean , maybe they go get a bat and maybe they go get a starting pitcher. I don't think that on paper , they're that far off from being a playoff caliber team.

S1: Well , only 160 ish games left in the season. We'll be watching to see how things shape up. Ryan Finley is sports editor with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Ryan , thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today. Anytime. When we come back , we talk about some other stories we've been following this week on the weekly Roundup. That's next on roundtable. Welcome back to roundtable. It's now time for our weekly roundup of stories we've been following. Joining me is Andrew Bracken. Andrew , how's it going ? Pretty good. How are you doing , Scott ? I'm doing pretty good. All right.

S7: It's Jonathan Height's new book called The Anxious Generation. And it really kind of puts the blame on a lot of these mental health problems we've been seeing with young people at the foot of smartphones in our digital cultures. And The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin had an interview with the author. But I just thought it was funny. I mean , I wanted to mention the author kind of starts , you know , it's an audio interview as well. And she starts by interviewing her 20 year old son. And the banter there is pretty , pretty hilarious and kind of familiar to me , honestly. Like , I have younger kids , but she's like asking him questions and he's texting his friends in the middle of the conversation and she's like , are you texting your friends right now ? So I thought that was definitely something familiar to a lot of parents. But this is a big ticket issue , and I'm going to read the book because he has a lot of a lot to say about the mental health of young people as it relates to technology.

S1: I actually heard a couple of interviews that he's done on this topic , on this book that he has coming out. From what I can tell , he's his argument is that , you know , this essentially young people being glued to their phones and not just phones , but social media , it , you know , causing heightened anxiety , this kind of fear of missing out. And that's causing people to be glued to their phones sometimes when they don't even want to be. If you ask them , you know , would you prefer to be doing something else as opposed to being on TikTok ? They would say yes , but at the same time they'd say , well , I don't want to miss out on what may be happening with my friends.

S7: I do feel like inherently , for better and worse , the internet is part of their childhood and their experiences. Their humor is so based in these memes and things. It's really interesting. Again , I don't have the answers. I think every family is struggling with it. What I'm trying to , at least in part to my kids , is just a sense of being responsible and thinking about how you might say something in a flash on a text message , and how that can really last a lifetime. It can , you know what I mean ? You can really have long lasting impacts. And , you know , with young people , they don't always have. You know , my kids do have stories of interactions online that are a little concerning , I guess I'd say.

S1: He was the founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange. This was like a remarkable rise , meteoric rise and then astounding fall of this. You know , he's now 32. He was in his 20s when this FTX platform was really rising. Just a remarkable story of this company that really embodied a lot of the ethos and enthusiasm around cryptocurrency. Um , and just in a week span in late 2022 , it all came crashing down. There was essentially a kind of run on , you know , people who had invested in FTX went to go get their money out , and it exposed this $8 billion hole , basically in this company where , um , you know , what it comes down to is just fraud. You know , they were taking this money. They were using it for other purposes. Sam Bankman-Fried had made a number of political donations. They were spending it elsewhere. They had moved their headquarters to this sort of Bahamas compound. It's a remarkable story. And in fact , if people are interested in learning more , I'd recommend Michael Lewis's book Going Infinite. It's a great kind of behind the scenes tale of how this all unfolded. And then came crashing down. But Sam Bankman-Fried , he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. And that is from what I read in the New York Times , at least one of the higher sentences for a white collar crime in recent years. And it just goes to show , I think , that prosecutors are not taking this lightly , this type of fraudulence , this type of activity. I think they're really going to try to crack down on on this. So that definitely caught my attention. I'd been waiting to see what sort of punishment might be handed down , uh , for Sam Bankman-Fried. And so 25 years , it's pretty significant.

S7: Yeah , that's a lot. Yeah. I haven't been following the story that closely , but I definitely remember , you know , all the Super Bowl commercials , all the. Celebrities that kind of went on that bandwagon and how quickly it just kind of went away for him and , you know , for a lot for that industry. I think since then , here's so much about crypto. And obviously it's still kind of going through ups and downs. But , you know , the scandal with Bankman-Fried and what happened there not long after that I felt like sort of the tech story became like artificial intelligence. And we went to focus on like the new thing.

S1: Yeah , absolutely. You know , it lost its luster. You know , the crypto sort of craze had , you know , come and gone. And , you know , there are still people who firmly believe in crypto's value as a , as a sort of disruptor for traditional currencies and how , you know , financial markets work. And so there there are those true believers , people who still see , you know , a value and a future for cryptocurrency. But there really was a lot of hype grift that surrounded a lot of these , you know , platforms or individual coins. And I think this really is a kind of a nail in the coffin of a certain phase of cryptocurrency , where I think we'll look back and be like , wow , do you remember that phase that , you know , all of this hype , you know , all this scandal and a lot of that came to a head with this sentencing , again , 25 years in prison. He's 32 years old. So yeah. But yeah , that that was definitely something that , that I'd been waiting to see what happens. So when that story came down , it definitely caught my attention. All right , on to the next some local news that you've been paying attention to.

S7: And I just thought it was interesting. You know , last week's show , we talked a little bit about energy and some of what's going on there with power , San Diego and SDG and E , but this focus is on the Imperial Valley and how the Imperial Irrigation District is sort of changing this way. It charges for energy. It's trying an average monthly billing system. And I think the idea is just to level out your monthly bills a little bit more , especially , you know , like an Imperial. It gets really hot in the summers. So I think Corey reports on some people saying basically their their bills would double in the summertime. And so what this would do is , you know , customers may see like a slight increase right now , but the thinking is it's going to be more of like a balanced , predictable bill going forward. I thought that was interesting.

S1: That is interesting. I'm sure it's a I imagine it's very hard for , uh , you know , families , especially if they're on , um , you know , a tight budget to try to anticipate , you know , how much their bill might increase in the summer because , you know , um , you'll know it's going to go up , but you may not know just how much. So that offering that kind of predictability for families , I'm sure will mean a lot. Yeah.

S7: Yeah. I'm interested to see I mean , I think we've talked to Eric Andersen , others about how in the last few years we had seen a rise in the number of customers behind on their bills related to energy. I think that number has come down somewhat in the last year or so , but it is an ongoing problem. So maybe that would help with that. Oh. Interesting.

S1: Interesting. Definitely. Uh , there's another local story that I saw that I wanted to mention in the roundup. Uh , it's from the San Diego Union Tribune. The world's largest artificial reef is off the coast of San Diego. I didn't know that. I don't know if you knew that.

S7: I didn't either. Know.

S1: Know. Um , but it was built off the coast near San Onofre , the nuclear power plant. Um , and it's been around for several decades now , and it's just now starting to thrive. And the reason why it had been developed in the first place , where there were some , you know , issues with the impacts of the power plant and its impacts on wildlife. And so this reef is essentially it's , you know , it's described as an anchor for this giant kelp. It helps , uh , foster , you know , different types of fish that can live there , different , you know , other sorts of creatures , basically. Um , and there was a requirement for this reef to be developed to combat some of those problems that developed as a result of the plant. And now it's finally starting to really take shape. It's starting to do what it was intended to do. Um , and so some good news there. I mean , it is nice to hear , considering all of the problematic things that are happening in the ocean. I mean , you're hearing about reefs elsewhere dying off. You're hearing about microplastics in the water pollution on the southern border from , you know , the sewage crisis. It was refreshing to hear that there was something positive and moving in the right direction that are happening in the waters here off the coast of San Diego. Yeah.

S7: Yeah. And just that idea , that kind of nature will come back. It'll fight its way back is pretty interesting. Yeah. Um , it needed.

S1: You know , it needed monitoring and a helping hand. There was a concerted effort around it. Um , but I think with that hand up. Yeah , I mean , nature will , uh , push back. Nature is a strong force that with some , some help and some guidance and some investment , um , you know , it definitely will bounce back. So it was great to see that for sure. Yeah.

S7: Found is kind of interesting is California has a lot of video game studios. We've seen a lot of video game industry job losses past few months , similar to kind of the tech industry , but there's been a lot of a lot of people losing their jobs in that industry. San Diego has at least a few major video game publishers in town as well a major studio , I think they're mostly in Irvine in Southern California , voted to unionize this week , and this was a Sega studio , Sega Sammy Studios , and it's really one of the first examples of a video game studio unionizing. Whereas in movies and in other industries , it's very common. But in video games it hasn't been been apart. And I worked in the video game industry for many years. And again , San Diego has kind of a pretty rich history of having video game jobs here. So I'm just interested to see where that goes and what comes of it.

S1: That's fascinating. It's the first , you know , major studio to unionize. It's always interesting to hear , you know , I would have maybe assumed that video game studios were already along that path. It's interesting to hear how different industries are at different points in terms of whether or not they've , you know , you know , had unions or in this case , you know , it's the first major one that's really interesting. Um , having been in the video game industry , I don't know what your take on it.

S7: It's a pretty natural cycle in that industry. So I'm just curious to see how like job protections I guess would potentially be impacted there. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Something to watch. Absolutely. Well that's it for this week's roundup Andrew Bracken , thanks for being here.

S7: Thank you.

S1: Thanks for tuning in to KPBS roundtable. We'd love to hear from you. You can email us at roundtable at , or leave us a message at (619) 452-0228. You can also listen to our show anytime as a podcast. KPBS roundtable airs on KPBS FM at noon on Fridays and again Sundays at 6 a.m.. Roundtable is produced by Andrew Bracken. Brendan Trufant is our technical producer. Brooke Ruth is our senior producer , and I'm Scott Rodd. Thanks for listening.

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Ariana Gonzalez speaks with KPBS on the EJE Academies Charter School campus on Wednesday, Nov. 29 2024.
Katie Hyson / KPBS
Ariana Gonzalez speaks with KPBS on the EJE Academies Charter School campus on Wednesday, Nov. 29 2024.

A new reporting series from KPBS examines how area schools are managing the mental health of students.

Then, the San Diego Padres held their home opener Thursday. We hear about how the team has changed after last season's disappointing end. Plus, San Diego Wave FC's new season kicked off last weekend with a record home crowd. Meanwhile, San Diego State University men's basketball season came to a close after making it to the Sweet 16 in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament.

And we hear about other stories we've been following in the weekly roundup.


Katie Hyson, racial justice and social equity reporter, KPBS

Ryan Finley, sports editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Andrew Bracken, producer, KPBS