The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at Mario.Koran@voiceofsandiego.org.
Lincoln High is one problem that San Diego Unified just can’t solve.
This week, we reported that the program created to give Lincoln High School students access to community college courses left the majority of its students with failing grades last semester. In response, San Diego Unified reached an agreement with the community college district that allowed those students to withdraw from the course.
The courses were part of the STEAM Middle College, which officials launched in 2014 and pitched as a way to repopulate the struggling campus. In the first two years, roughly 200 students enrolled in classes at City College, with better than a 95 percent pass rate.
But Lincoln and its Middle College saw major changes over the summer. After key Lincoln staff members left – including the former principal and the person who previously oversaw the program – students who signed up for college classes were routed into a remedial math course.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Success has been achieved in communities with demographics like Lincoln's. The answers are human ( see https://www.amazon.com/Its-Being-Done-Academic-Unexpected/dp/1891792393 ):
* Good leadership (principal)
* Focus on academic culture and a social culture that supports academics
* Hiring inspired teachers
* Small classrooms
It is NOT in brand-new educational models. It is NOT in ignoring test results.
Looking carefully at the book above, it is not clear if the data is biased based upon self-selection. In other words, when you create a charter school that is focused on academics and you attract students with an academic interest, just the fact that your students are interested in learning can enhance your success. Clearly SDUSD understands this concept because it is the rationale behind the Magnet program.
I am NOT implying that students in the Lincoln community don't want to learn. In my own community, I have seen a FULL range of interest in academic performance. The interest spans ALL economic and ethnic ranges. In other words, students of all color and all levels of wealth have the full range of interest in school. Some rich, white kids don't want to learn. Some poor kids do want to learn and are great at it! Even if their parents want their students to get good grades, not all parents / families / students want to work to get them.
Our society needs to realize that education IS NOT A UNIVERSAL VALUE. Not all citizens are interested in being educated. Not all citizens MUST be educated. All citizens must have access to an education that enables them to fulfill their responsibility as an educated voter in our representative democracy. ALL CITIZENS (residents?) SHOULD HAVE THE ACCESS TO LEARN THE TO A LEVEL THAT ENABLES THEM TO SUCCEED IN CAREER OR COLLEGE THAT LEADS TO A CAREER. That includes preparing for undergraduate degrees, post-graduate degrees (e.g. law, health, business, engineering, teaching). I don't think it includes vocational training (e.g. auto mechanic, plumber, construction). Those are trade skills that should require public money.
Lincoln has already been re-booted once. When it was raised to the ground and a new campus was built, the hope was to re-boot the academic success as well. That didn't achieve success.
Mission Bay had somewhat of a re-boot when it implemented the IB program.
Kearny had a huge success re-booting with its multi-campus approach. Big gains academically.
San Diego High also had a huge success re-booting with IB and its specialty programs. Gains academically were in some areas, but not all.
Barnard / BayView Terrace re-boot was popular (going Mandarin immersion), but not sure if it re-booted the academic success for local resident students or just transplanted students from another community that affected test scores.