Good Schools For All: School Leaders Blame Perceptions for Neighborhood Flight - Voice of San Diego

Education UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Good Schools For All: School Leaders Blame Perceptions for Neighborhood Flight

At a recent event, San Diego Unified trustee John Lee Evans blamed perceptions and the need for the district to market itself as well as charter schools did. But he also acknowledged that for some schools, perception wasn’t the only problem.

City Heights’ Hoover High School is one of the oldest schools in the region. The school’s known for its structural problems – a notoriously leaky roof was finally fixed after years of causing problems – but now the success of some of its new programs and policies are getting some attention.

Hoover High Principal Joe Austin and Dean of Students Ciria Brewer joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about some big changes at the school.

One major shift has been the school’s approach to punishment. Hoover is now taking a restorative justice approach and favoring conversations over suspension. Brewer said when they see kids acting out, they try to use it as an opportunity to provide “positive discipline” by talking with the kids and teaching them better ways to handle situations.

The method has been working, Austin said.

“What we’ve found is two things: It’s a lot more work to be restorative but it changes behaviors,” he said. “So, in the end, we’re a learning institution and we’re helping kids understand the impact of their actions.”

Test scores are also up at Hoover, and Austin and Brewer share some of the tactics behind their students’ academic success. Part of the strategy is trying to better connect every student at Hoover to the school by keeping a running list of who’s already engaged in groups and activities like sports or band and who isn’t. They try to get those who aren’t better looped in.

Brewer said those and other changes have made a big impact.

“The culture has changed,” she said. “It’s welcoming, it’s warm, kids feel safe.”

Also on the podcast, Lewis and Kohn take on school choice. According to a recent study, over 40 percent of parents are deciding to send their kids to schools outside of their neighborhood.

At a recent event, San Diego Unified trustee John Lee Evans blamed perceptions and the need for the district to market itself as well as charter schools did. But he also acknowledged that for some schools, perception wasn’t the only problem.

San Diego Unified’s goal is to ensure that every neighborhood has a quality school by 2020.

Call 619-354-1085 and leave a voicemail with your feedback, questions and comments about the show. It might be played in a future Good Schools For All Episode.

Number of the Week

58 percent: A new study from the University of San Diego’s Center for Education Policy and Law shows that 58 percent of families attending San Diego Unified public schools, including public charter schools, choose to attend their neighborhood school, which means 42 percent look elsewhere.

What’s Working

Dual-language immersion schools, or schools that offer instruction in more than one language. Many families across San Diego County send their children to these schools. They give kids the highly marketable asset of being bilingual.

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