- Voice of San Diego - https://www.voiceofsandiego.org -

Morning Report: San Diego Unified Forced to Pivot on Its Approach to English-Learners

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego Unified School District made changes (and cuts) to its English-learner program in 2014 that officials said would improve outcomes for students whose primary language isn’t English. 

But now district officials are walking back those changes [1], after a state report blasted the district for failing to meet multiple legal requirements in its English-learner program, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry reports. 

Back in 2014, after cutting its school based language specialists, district officials moved toward emphasizing in-class, or integrated, English language instruction. But state legal mandates require districts to utilize not just integrated, in-class instruction, but also out-of-class, designated instruction, as well. Designated instruction focuses on helping English-learners gain the language skills they need to match the academic concepts they are studying. 

State officials sampled eight district schools and found that comprehensive, designated instruction was not occurring at six of them [2]. State officials have demanded the district come into compliance. 

As part of making assurances to the state, the district recently sent out communications to principals and teachers: “All English Learners must receive Designated [instruction] until they are reclassified,” the communication read, according to an email obtained by Voice of San Diego. 

But district principals may not have enough resources to easily implement the new directive. Most schools lost their English-learner specialists, who often taught designated classes, amid cuts in 2014. 

Assistant DA Investigated His Daughter’s Ex-Boyfriend

The Union-Tribune appears to have uncovered major misconduct [3] in the district attorney’s office.

Jesse Rodriguez, a since-retired assistant district attorney, last year ordered a secret investigation by DA staff into his daughter’s ex-boyfriend while the couple was in a custody dispute over their daughter.

Rodriguez directed staff to look into state records to see if his daughter’s ex-boyfriend had committed perjury a year earlier when he filed for unemployment benefits, according to documents the U-T received through a public records request.

District Attorney Summer Stephan told the Union-Tribune she did not learn about the investigation until after it was closed – no charges were ever filed – when two senior DAs exchanged emails over the incident after Rodriguez had retired. “This inquiry, made without my knowledge or approval, was unacceptable,” Stephan wrote in a statement to the U-T.

Psych Beds Continue to Vex Supervisors

County supervisors greenlit a $23.8 million expansion of of mental health services this week, but there’s still no solution in sight for closures that could leave the region with insufficient mental health support next year.

Supervisor Jim Desmond proposed taking $14 million from county reserves to help Tri-City open 28 psych beds in North County, but he pulled that proposal before other board members expressed reservations to the “bailout.”

He and fellow North County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar are instead negotiating with Tri-City in hopes of striking a deal for a public-private partnership to add mental health services in the region.

That’s all in this week’s installment of the North County Report [4], alongside news that Encinitas may really, truly, seriously this time be on its way to getting housing plan that’s mandated by state law.

Rep. Scott Peters Joins Calls for Impeachment

One of the more moderate Democrats in Congress has said it’s time to open impeachment proceedings against the president.

Rep. Scott Peters, who has turned the swing 52nd Congressional District covering San Diego’s coastal communities into a safe Democratic seat, said in a series of tweets Wednesday that the Mueller report included enough instances of corruption that it is the House’s constitutional responsibility to begin impeachment hearings.

“This is far more significant wrongdoing even than the Watergate break-in and its subsequent cover-up which led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation,” Peters wrote of the report’s findings. “Impeachment is not about the president’s character or policies. It’s about upholding the rule of law and defending the Constitution.”

Bry Doubles Down on Anti-Development Stance

Councilwoman Barbary Bry is pleased with the reaction her mayoral campaign received Tuesday when it warned that Wall Street shills and Sacramento politicians were “coming for our homes.”

On Wednesday, after our story on how her comments kicked the mayoral race into overdrive [5], she doubled down on the framing.

“We struck a nerve. This is why I did it,” she wrote [6]. If state laws force cities to let developers build apartments in neighborhoods that are currently filled with single-family homes, she said, “land speculators will make a killing at the expense of residents.”

It’s early in the mayoral race, but Bry has now deliberately drawn a clear distinction between her and her primary opponent, Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Community activist Tasha Williamson is also running, and Councilman Mark Kersey is expected to enter the race soon.

Bry has pegged her candidacy to the concerns of residents who oppose increased development as a response to the city’s housing costs. Unless something changes, that could mean the race becomes something of a referendum on those policies, proposed both from Sacramento [7] and by the current mayor. [8] The same happened in San Francisco’s mayoral race last year [9].

SoCal Grocery Workers Authorize Strike

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers authorized a work stoppage this week, making a strike across Southern California possible if the union doesn’t agree to a new contract with representatives from Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, according to City News Service [10].

The next bargaining sessions won’t occur until mid-July.

In Other News


Tuesday’s story on a campaign email sent by mayoral candidate Barbara Bry included provisions from a piece of state legislation, SB 330, that were recently removed in committee.

Wednesday’s story on San Diego Unified’s efforts to respond to a state report that found deficiencies in its English-learner program misstated the difference between San Diego Unified’s English-learner graduation rate and the state’s English-learner graduation rate. The district’s rate is two points lower than the state’s.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized a Board of Supervisors vote. The board voted for a $23.8 million expansion of mental health services.

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.