A year ago, the Star Academy was touted as a showcase for the San Diego school district, a forward-thinking place where struggling students could zoom forward after being held back from high school.

But the academy never opened. A sort-of-similar program did, but it didn’t survive. Now, middle-school students who aren’t ready for 9th grade continue to be sent back to the campuses where they failed in the first place, despite research saying that approach discourages kids.

Did administrators or teachers screw up? Fingers are being pointed and “we learned valuable lessons”-type statements are being made. Meanwhile, middle schools are looking ahead and creating plans to help students who are held back.

In other news:

  • It sounds easy: Prevent wildfires by getting rid of brush. What could be more simple?

    Try telling that to the county, which is getting sued by environmentalists who accuse it of botching its brush-clearing efforts, threatening wildlife and raising fire risk. Firefighters disagree.

  • A survey says 1,098 homeless people live in council District 2, which covers downtown. The other districts have many fewer transients with the exception of District 3, which encompasses Hillcrest, North Park and environs. It has 455.

    Council members have been in a pickle over this issue for weeks: They want to move the shelter out of downtown, but they don’t want it in their districts.

    Hot potato, hot potato!

    You might guess the fewest homeless people are up Rancho Bernardo way. Nope: The survey counts 66 transients in District 5, and the smallest number — three, yes three — in District 4, which covers southeastern San Diego.

  • Also on our site today: South Bay high-school teachers have a tentative new contract. … The latest post about the city budget crisis comes from Joan Raymond, a sanitation driver for the city of San Diego and the president of the blue-collar employee union, who complains of a “still-growing bureaucracy,” and we preview upcoming City Council meetings and solicit your advice and thoughts on the biggest issues.
  • Elsewhere: Local congresspeople on both sides of the aisle were divided over a bill to add sexual orientation, gender and disability to the list of federal hate crimes. Why? Apparently because the mingling of the bill with military appropriations made some switch sides.

    Voting yes: Democrat Susan Davis, which the NYT called a “leading supporter,” and Republicans Duncan D. Hunter and Brian Bilbray. Voting no: Dem Bob Filner and GOPer Darrell Issa. …

    SDG&E is paying “a couple million dollars” to lease a firefighting helicopter for San Diego, although it won’t exactly be free.

    Is SDG&E being so giving because the City Council supported its backcountry power outage plan? “I’m not sure there’s any motive attached at all,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders, who’s now in the running for Least Cynical San Diegan of the Year. (U-T)

  • Finally: Earlier this week, I wondered why central San Diego’s numbered roads are “avenues” west of Park Boulevard and “streets” to the east.

    Readers offered several theories: Avenues are for residential areas and streets are for business districts. Or it has something to do with the streetcars that once ran through town, development after land was set aside for Balboa Park, or the eastern limit of early downtown.

    If you have other theories, I’m all ears. Tomorrow: The X-citing answer (har) to yesterday’s trivia question about why there’s a Xenophon Street in Point Loma, the only one in the country outside Colorado.


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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