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Reports From The Road Less Covered: Last Stop, San Diego



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(San Diego, CA)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So I got to talk with some interesting people on the road. I met a panhandler in L.A. who wanted me to wire him the change in my pocket instead of put it in his hand---he was worried about germs. And then there was this twenty two year old who found a way to retire in Riverside County's Sun City. I'll save those stories for another time.

But for now, let me introduce you to a woman who spends her afternoon surrounded by teenagers banging on drums.

HEATHER LUCK:  My name is Heather Luck, and I'm the instrumental music director at Steele Canyon High School.

Heather works in San Diego's East County. And her family is hyper musical---grandparents, dad---even now she lives with a tuba player turned music teacher. On the day I met with her, she was working with a student named Stephanie.

[SOUNDS OF HEATHER REHEARSING A DRUM STUDENT]

For me---and I'm just being honest here---it was hard to listen to. But Heather is totally into it.

HEATHER LUCK:  Oh, it's the greatest feeling. I love it. When it finally clicks and you see them not be awkward, like Stephanie when she was playing the drums. She didn't know anything when she walked in here, in terms of that piece of music. And now that she's able to play it, you can see, she wants to go to tell this person and that person. It's awesome.

So this election year, Heather cares about the issues that allow her to do what she loves. And she wants to hear Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman address some pretty big issues in the teaching world.

HEATHER LUCK:  You know what's really fresh on all of our minds is what's going on with the ACLU---and how we're not allowed to charge kids cause this is free and public education.

Heather's referring to suits filed by the ACLU against schools in southern California over band and cheerleader fees. They say the schools can't ask students to pay to participate in those programs.

HEATHER LUCK: So I'm really interested in the two kids talking about how we're able to fund programs like this without chagrining. Because it's against the law, but the state won't fund it. So we're at this paradox of we can't charge the kids, yet they are not going to fund it. So I wanna know what their views are on that.

And, like most other teachers around the state right now, Heather wants a promise from the candidates they'll get a budget passed on time.

HEATHER LUCK: Right now I can go to my principal and say, I need this, and he says he can't do anything until the budget is passed. Well, that's ridiculous. Is that going to work anywhere else at any other business? No. But why is it okay for the state of California to have this happen?

After all, even Heather's teenage students don't leave the band room until they get their part right.

Heather Luck is a music teacher. She lives in San Diego. Her two top issues this election are school program funding---and budget responsibility.

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