What We Learned This Week

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What We Learned This Week

Students head to class at Lincoln High. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Back in 2013, I wrote about an absurd situation in which a group of Scripps Ranch High students were suspended because they filmed a twerking video. I was drawn to the incident then because the punishment didn’t fit the crime – namely, because there was no crime.

But looking back, something else stands out. Though I think those students experienced some injustice at the hands of district administrators, it’s also clear that problems at schools like Scripps Ranch and other schools with largely wealthy, White student bodies look a lot different than problems at Lincoln High.

This week, Will Huntsberry reported that Lincoln High is dealing with yet another leadership transition – at least the sixth such shakeup in 14 years. This type of instability wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere else. In one instance, the search for a principal dragged on for close to a year.

And it’s certainly not the only type of disruption the students at Lincoln have been forced to endure. In fact, some have a much more direct impact on students.

One of the latest attempts to rebrand Lincoln was through the creation of a Middle College – a program that allowed students to take community college courses, thus racking up college credit. Here’s how that played out, as we reported in 2016: “District officials told concerned parents the program had been cut down to a single course because not enough students signed up for the courses. They didn’t tell families about the changes until after some students had arrived for their first classes only to find empty classrooms and no instructors.”

As for that one remaining course, it was so plagued with problems that the district had to broker a special deal allowing kids to withdraw from the course instead of taking an F that would haunt their transcripts.

More recently, the school abruptly canceled an AP class and reassigned students to ceramics – the type of move that can jeopardize in-progress college applications in a way that would mobilize parents in a wealthier neighborhood to wage war.

The district responded to Huntsberry’s story as it always does: By insisting everything, actually, is great at Lincoln. The district tweeted a produced video about students graduating early: “Good day to toast Lincoln High & Principal Brown.” Stephanie Brown, the principal, emailed Lincoln teachers to say that the story “repeated the tired old narrative that our school is failing.”

The district and Brown both acknowledged, though, that the leadership structure will be changing. Everything is going great – but also, it needs to change.

Throughout all of these issues – the leadership changes, the Middle College problems, the AP misfire, more leadership changes – the district has insisted that the one true failing is anyone reporting on any of it.

Imagine seeing someone with their hair on fire and deeming it impolite to discuss how or whether to put it out. The appropriate thing to do in that situation, many of these people would have you believe, is to tell the person, “Good day to toast your hot new ‘do!” and keep on walking.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Barrio Logan is still trying to update its community plan, after years of failed efforts and setbacks. SANDAG, meanwhile is prepping its big plan for the region’s transit future – and as part of that, it might finally spell out which projects previously promised to voters won’t actually get built.

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Two gnarly issues at the top of Mayor Todd Gloria’s to-do list: negotiating a new franchise fee deal, and dealing with the continuing homelessness crisis. This week, we laid out why the franchise fee negotiations might be in trouble before they’ve really begun, and explained the context around Gloria’s new policy for homeless encampment sweeps.

The city is also pushing to declare victory on Measure C, a bond measure to fund a convention center expansion – even as the pandemic has decimated the tourism industry.

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On this week’s podcast, we broke down the many outright falsehoods being trumpeted about what’s happening with migrant girls being housed at the Convention Center. And in a bonus episode, U.S. Immigration Policy Center Director Tom Wong dissects what’s really happening at the border.

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Many schools across the region will be reopening in some form soon. Bear Valley Middle School in Escondido offers a roadmap of how it can work.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room, pooping on the floor. There is a quiet resistance within the administration of anonymous dogs or humans, most likely humans, choosing to do their business right outside the Diplomatic Reception Room.” – This sendup of the notorious anonymous op-ed criticizing the Trump administration was written by a very good boy.

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