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Morning Report: State Slams San Diego Unified’s Handling of English-Learners

Cindy Marten
San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

English-learner students in San Diego Unified School District “are not receiving consistent, comprehensive instruction” to help them develop proficient language skills or do well in core subjects, according to a recent state report obtained by Voice of San Diego through a public records request.

English-learners are students whose primary language is not English. They graduate high school at lower rates and tend to perform less well academically than their peers. Students who get enough support to be reclassified as English-proficient, however, tend to have much better outcomes.

As VOSD’s Will Huntsberry reports, state officials sampled eight schools to evaluate the district’s English-learner program. They found problems at all but two of the schools.

State investigators also dinged the district for not sticking to a high enough standard when reclassifying students out of English-learner status, not tracking their progress effectively and for problems in professional development,” Huntsberry writes.

“The findings outlined in the March report from the [Department of Education] deserve to be taken seriously,” wrote the district’s spokeswoman in a statement.

Issues, Tensions Persist at Porter

Three representatives from the local chapter of the NAACP went to Porter Elementary’s campus last week in response to complaints that it’s persistently unsafe and unaccommodating to parents and students. But they were stopped by administrators from seeing the school’s potential problems upclose.

The NAACP initially filed a complaint with the San Diego Unified School District earlier this year, and the group was inspired to visit Porter and meet with the school’s counselor in response to issues raised in one our stories in April.

Porter principal Graciela Chavez defended the decision to bar the group from touring the campus.

“I expect all of our staff to be working every day to serve our students, rather than bringing guests on campus and taking time away from work to show them around,” Chavez said.

Politics Roundup

  • In a special podcast interview, San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery talked to us about possible housing, police and school reforms. As chair of the city’s public safety committee, Montgomery wants the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices to have independent subpoena power to investigate officer-involved shooting. She’s aiming to put that initiative to a public vote in 2020.
  • We also sat down with San Diego City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who has been heavily involved in housing and land use issues. She shared her thoughts on inclusionary housing fees and more.
  • Sen. Nancy Skinner is trying to calm the nerves of coastal San Diegans. She told the Sacramento Report that though her bill, SB 330, is intended to loosen local restrictions on new housing projects, the measure won’t kill coastal height limits.
  • Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez won a big, though temporary, victory last week when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would eliminate sales taxes for diapers as part of his state budget revision. But it’s only good for two years. U-T columnist Michael Smolens has more on Gonzalez’s long effort to make child care slightly less expensive for poor families.

In Other News

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the Community Review Board on Police Practices. 

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry and edited by Sara Libby.

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