THIS WEEK in Northern California
This KQED-produced series offers insightful, thought-provoking discussion and news analysis. Local reporters from diverse media throughout the region open their notebooks for an inside look at the stories behind the headlines.
THIS WEEK in Northern California Previous Broadcasts
KQED Channel 9: Fri, Aug 25, 2006 -- 7:30 PM
* California's Minimum Wage on the Rise: Joe Mathews, Labor and Politics Reporter, LA Times
An agreement was reached between Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers to raise California's minimum wage by $1.25 - AB1835 will increase workers wages to $7. 50/hr by January 2007 and to $8/hr in 2008. Some small business owners are concerned they may have to significantly lower employee hours or even cut jobs to cover higher payroll costs. However, minimum wage earners are welcoming the gradual increase from their current rate of $6.75/hr. The governor has twice before refused to sign a minimum wage increase, and may hope that this deal will aid in his reelection. If the bill is approved, California would have the highest minimum wage in the country.
* Hurdles Ahead for School Year: Jill Tucker, Education Writer, Oakland Tribune
Educators say that more than 54,000 students in the Class of 2007 may not pass their exit exam. However, School Chief Jack O'Connell says this is an improvement over Class of 2006 at the same time last year. Students most at risk of failing are generally poor, black, Latino, English learners and/or the disabled. In Oakland, state appointed Administrator Randall Ward stepped down recently, after attempting to bring the district out of a $50 million deficit and improve test scores. Both Oakland and San Francisco are searching for new superintendents. In San Francisco, a $450 million bond is on the November ballot, the largest bond to date for improving school facilities. On the statewide ballot, Prop 88 would create a new state parcel tax to generate nearly $450 million a year for various K-12 programs.
* Youth Violence Epidemic: Kevin Weston, Director, New America Media
Last weekend, an Oakland High School junior was killed as he headed to a party with friends. He's the 89th homicide victim in Oakland this year, where nearly 1/3rd of the killings have been gang-related, compared to 12% in 2005. The number of teens killed in Oakland so far this year is nearly double last year's rate. The alarmingly high youth homicide rate has rocked several Bay Area communities, including Richmond and San Francisco, where on Wednesday a 5 year-old boy playing in a park was grazed by a bullet fired from a car. The spike in youth violence has been attributed by some to drug dealing, the use of firearms to settle disputes, increased gang activity, as well as a glorification of gang culture.
* Stem Cell Breakthrough: Carl Hall, Science Writer, SF Chronicle
Advanced Cell Technologies, a biotech firm relocating to Alameda, announced a novel method for extracting stem cells without destruction of human embryos. The new technique involves taking an embryo at a very early stage of development and removing a single cell from which a line of stem cells is grown. Stem cell research is of great medical interest for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes, but has been a source of ethical and political controversy. The Bush administration has restricted federal support for human embryonic research. This new approach may help resolve some of the objections, but it still raises concerns for those who oppose any manipulation of embryonic material and among some scientists who question the efficiency of the harvesting procedure as well as the health of the resulting stem cells. In 2004, California voters approved Prop 71, which allocates $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research in the state, but has stalled because of legal challenges.