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Playing the Race Card

These are not just economic achievement gaps,” said California’s schools czar Jack O’Connell last August. “These are racial achievement gaps.” With this controversial statement, the California Superintendent of Schools presented public school students’ standardized test results. As usual, there were distinct differences between the scores earned by various ethnic groups, with Asians scoring very high, whites trailing them, and Hispanics and blacks bringing up the rear. Does that mean race plays a role in school success? A former teacher ponders what really makes kids achieve.

Showdown Over Wide
Open Spaces

This year, for the first time in human history, more people will live in urban areas than in rural lands. Though the tipping point will most likely be reached-or perhaps already has been-without fanfare, its significance cannot be overlooked. With this new age comes a whole new set of rules, values, and views that threaten to leave many of our most celebrated traditions behind as we work to reconcile past methods of survival with a less agrarian lifestyle. Here in the United States, with the ever-growing beast of urban sprawl spilling from cities toward the horizon, the rural, agricultural spaces that were the societal backbone of previous generations are fast becoming zigzags of highways connecting suburbs to shopping centers.

‘Round and ‘Round We Go

We may never know the name of the ancient Sumerian who invented the wheel in Mesopotamia some 7,000 years ago, but we’re pretty sure nothing’s been the same since. The most crucial component of how we transport ourselves and our stuff, the wheel is an undeniable cornerstone of human existence, an invention that encouraged trade, enhanced agriculture, expanded civilization’s range, and paved the way for the modern world. Whether you’re pushing watermelons in a wheelbarrow (one wheel) or hauling refrigerators in a big rig (18 wheels), there comes a time when you’ve got to bow down and worship these round, rolling objects.

The Price of Redemption

Here’s the inside story of Phillip Gladden, a former meth addict and alleged child molester-turned-preacher who has come to Santa Barbara to reveal God’s plan. Some say the registered sex offender is a healer of epic proportions and that he speaks the word of God, so The Indy‘s Sarah Hammill, herself a practicing Christian, decided to spend a revealing year in Gladden’s evangelical world.

The Indy’s Annual Blue and Green Guide

Welcome to The Independent’s Blue & Green issue, our annual ode to those great outdoor activities that cause so many of us to live in Santa Barbara. Whether you’re a surf nut, a hiking fanatic, a rabid rock climber, or just someone who enjoys a casual stroll along one of our many beaches, we’re pretty positive that one of the main reasons you endure our town’s high cost of living is because you’ve got a thing for the outdoors, a nagging addiction to crisp air, and a hankering for unspoiled natural beauty.

Nature’s Roll Call

Chances are, the word biodiversity makes you do one of two things: either immediately glaze over in a cloud of vague buzzword understanding, or call to mind far-flung exotic locations teeming with rare plants and animals that have little or nothing in common with what’s in your backyard.

All the News Not Fit to Print

RIP-n-READ: One of the more depressing aspects of the self-inflicted mutilation taking place at the News-Press is its withering effect on our ability to laugh. I hate to admit it, but it’s hard to crack wise when you have lawyers threatening to sue you to kingdom come. Greeting me on my computer Tuesday morning as I sat down to write the latest installment of this agonizing tale were not one, but two threatening letters from attorneys.

Earthday Report Card

Santa Barbarans take credit for not only starting the modern environmental movement but also for inspiring Earth Day. Like many conceits, this notion has almost as much fact as fiction to back it up. In fact, former U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson is the one credited for hatching the first Earth Day back in 1970. But Nelson said his visit to Santa Barbara after the catastrophic oil spill of 1969 spurred him into action.

Earthday Report Card
Santa Barbara County

Assigning a grade to Santa Barbara County is a difficult prospect, as efforts toward reducing its residents’ impact upon the land involves examining the likes of college students in Isla Vista, affluent families in Montecito, and ranchers in North County. However, the county has made notable progress to ease the burden it and its residents place on the land on which they live.

Earthday Report Card
Small Businesses

From Java Jones, which now offers organic, fair-trade coffees and compostable plastic utensils, to travel business Green Pleasures, which at no extra fee makes contributions to offset your trip’s carbon usage, Santa Barbara’s small businesspeople are making exceptional efforts to be environmental citizens. Since 2000, the annual Green Awards have honored five businesses that exceed the call of commerce to save the Earth.

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