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It could be a lesson from a book called How to Lose Students and Fail to Inspire Them.

At local schools, the gifted kids split off to take advanced classes while their friends stay in easier ones. It’s been like this for decades.

Those left behind often feel less than valued. At a Point Loma middle school, the kids not deemed as gifted would joke about being in the “stupid class.” “I didn’t think I had to try because I was below average anyway,” one girl told us.

This year, the middle school has done something almost unprecedented: it’s “detracked.” Now, most kids take the same English and history classes without the old divide.

Is it working? Or are smart kids being dumbed down? Or maybe average kids are out of their depth? Find out by reading today’s story.

In other news:

We’ve got a lot of news to tell you about today so bear with us.

• Jerry Sanders is a “strong mayor” right now. If Proposition D passes tomorrow, he’ll be even stronger: think of the measure as steroids, just without all those unfortunate side effects that make the wrong things grow and shrink.

As our story explains, it will be easier for him to veto city legislation without getting overridden. That’s because he’ll need six votes out of nine — another council seat will be added — instead of five out of eight.

We talk to Prop. D proponents about the veto issue and check the history of Sanders vetoes. (Anybody think he has a big rubber stamp with the word “VETO” on it? That would be cool.)

• We’ve got a rundown of what we’ll be doing tonight as the election results come in and a preview of what our City Hall reporter says it at stake.

By the way, San Diego’s Golden Hall will be a bit less crowded tonight. The Democrats say they’re boycotting it due to a labor dispute and will be watching results (and eating and drinking and schmoozing) at a downtown hotel instead.

• The election isn’t the only thing on our plate today. San Diego school district officials have come up with new ideas about how to trim the deficit, including some big ones: eliminating adult education; ending field trips to Camp Palomar, Balboa Park and Old Town; and getting rid of $4.48 million of assistant principals.

In a related story, the sound you hear is every San Diego kid who’s ever been disciplined by an AP yelling “Yes!”

Also in education, we have a correction: Yesterday’s Morning Report incorrectly implied that the San Diego Unified School District is using federal funds for disadvantaged students to cover ordinary needs at all city schools. In fact, the district is using the funds only at some schools. We apologize.

• We also fact check a claim that two San Diego homes made it onto a list of the 10 most searched-for homes (online) in the nation last week. That would be pretty interesting if true. It’s not. The homes are up in Riverside County.

Let’s hope the school district doesn’t cut geography.

• We’ve been following the saga of Josefina Perez, a Linda Vista woman who’s being deported along with her children after spending 13 years in the United States.

Her partner and father of her kids was arrested and deported in March, but she got to stay in the country so her children could finish the school year.

Some readers have offered to help them as they try to gather enough money to get to central Mexico. Our post has details on how to donate to them.

• Readers enjoyed our People at Work profile yesterday of a woman who helps kids learn to swim despite her own physical handicaps. (“Life in the Water Beats Life on Land” was the headline.)

Now you can watch an audio slideshow and hear Maria Tinnin speak in her own words.    

• Real-estate columnist Rich Toscano takes another look at the impact of the government’s tax credit on housing sales. 

He had me at “the post-tax credit lull in demand.” I don’t know what it means, but the words go together nicely.

Elsewhere:

• CityBeat has created a live blog where local journalists, politicos and opinionated types will meet online to discuss tonight’s election results. At least a couple of us voiceofsandiego.org folks plan to make an appearance.

• Creativity, thy name is not “political consultant.” The U-T notices that campaign mailers in support of Prop. 16, which would limit the government’s ability to get into the power business, credits two different people saying the same thing: a quote beginning with “In tough economic times like these…”

A third person, San Diego’s own taxpayer advocate Richard Rider, provides a nearly identical quote, making it a trifecta of uncreativity. How’s that happen? Well, he explained to the paper, “They sent me a sample quote. I wrote back and said ‘here’s two more. Take your pick.’ I guess they liked theirs better.”

What a concept! Clearly, I should start doing this with the people I quote in stories: “Your comment is terrible, mayor. Mine is better. Let’s go with that instead.”

• Also in the U-T: remember that big lawsuit by developer Roque de la Fuente against the city that resulted in a $94 million verdict against the city back in 2001? The verdict got thrown out. But the case isn’t over: a state appeals court has resurrected it.

• Finally, back on our site, we take a trip back in time to a year when San Diegans were fed up with the corruption at City Hall.

Was it 2004? 2009? Naw. We’re talking 1931, when many reformers wanted to give City Hall a firm thwacking. Their solution: Overhaul how government is run. Voters overwhelmingly loved the idea.

Funny thing: Prop. D on today’s ballot would overturn the system that those 1931 voters thought was so necessary to clean up the joint. Our story explains what happened back then and quotes a newspaper story that used these words to describe how local residents had been treated by politicians: “Gyped, bamboozled, fooled, cozened, defrauded. . . “

It went on. “. . . cheated, jockeyed, choused, diddled, bilked, swindled. . . ” OK, we get it, you have a thesaurus. “. . . abused, robbed and blackjacked.” All right already!

Times change. But writers who take too long to make a point are forever.

 — RANDY DOTINGA

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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