VOSD Podcast: Why We Stood and Delivered Grad Rate Reporting
When students’ stellar test scores are called into question in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver,” actor Edward James Olmos, playing a real-life high school math teacher whose success story the movie is based on, calls out the racial motivations behind the investigation.
“Those scores would have never been questioned if my kids did not have Spanish surnames and come from barrio schools, you know that,” Olmos says in the movie.
San Diego Unified School District board trustee John Lee Evans invoked that same racial sentiment when calling into question Voice of San Diego’s series of stories looking into the district’s impressive 91 percent graduation rate.
“We’ve had a lot of criticisms and questions about it,” Evans said in a recent board meeting. “How is that possible? How is it possible with an urban district with such a diverse population could produce this level of graduation? I’m reminded of the movie that some of you may have seen, ‘Stand and Deliver.'”
On this week’s podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts dig into Evans’ accusation and explain the basis for VOSD’s reporting on the district’s stunningly high grad rate.
There were 8,745 kids when the class of 2016 entered the district as freshmen, yet the number used when calculating the 91 percent graduation rate was just 6,428. (Editor’s note: the numbers Lewis uses in the podcast aren’t quite right; the ones listed here are the correct numbers.) VOSD’s Mario Koran simply asked where the students missing from the final grad rate number went. He found that many struggling students were pushed to charter schools, which helped put the 91 percent graduation rate into context.
Craft Beer Bubble Not Bursting Anytime Soon
Last year, 21 new craft breweries opened in the county, and San Diego Brewers Guild’s president Jill Davidson said the region’s on pace to open even more this year.
Davidson, who’s also the sales manager for Pizza Port, joined the podcast this week to talk about San Diego’s craft beer scene. She discussed a few government regulations, at the state and local levels that breweries are up against, and also put to rest any concerns about San Diego’s craft beer boom.
“We are now a mature industry,” she said. “That doesn’t mean a bubble is bursting. … It just means you have way less room for error as a business owner. It means you need to focus first and foremost on quality, because that is always what has differentiated San Diego beer. It’s what made us the capital of craft.”
Also on the podcast, Keatts criticizes San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman’s insistence that the media is to blame for the department’s failure to hire enough officers, and Lewis questions San Diego Unified’s proposal to lay off another 200 employees to help close a $124 million budget shortfall.
Hero of the Week
San Diego Natural History Museum paleontologists discovered fossil remains of a mastodon that showed evidence of modification by early humans. That’s a huge discovery, since the fossils are estimated to be about 130,000 years old, and it’s long been thought that people didn’t live in the Americas until about 15,000 years ago. The science journal Nature published the findings this week, and while not everyone is buying it, the discovery is making waves across the world.
Goat of the Week
Peter Navarro, an adviser to President Donald Trump, gets a big goat for continuing to push to revoke the North American Free Trade Agreement. Navarro has ties to San Diego, a region that would suffer some serious economic repercussions if the trade deal fell apart.