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I wrote last night about the lack of an ordinary neighborhood middle school run by San Diego Unified to feed into Lincoln High School.

One result of that middle school gap is that kids in southeastern San Diego disperse all over the school district when middle school rolls around. Only 8 percent of students go to the closest middle schools run by the school district, Bell, Mann and Memorial Prep.

Roughly half of students leave the neighborhood for schools in other parts of the city. Others go to local charter schools or magnet schools that draw from all over the city.

How does that compare to other parts of San Diego Unified? Michael Brunker, executive director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, compared the fractured system to the choices his own family had made in San Carlos. Four of his five kids went to Dailard Elementary, then Pershing Middle, then Henry High. (The fifth child got an opportunity to go to private school in La Jolla after middle school.)

And as it turns out, what happened to Brunker is pretty common for families in San Carlos. Data from the school district show that in his neighborhood, 76 percent of sixth, seventh and eighth graders simply go to Pershing, the neighborhood middle school, which feeds directly into Patrick Henry High.

About 10 percent go to Magnolia, a nearby charter school, and 6.2 percent go to Lewis, another public school. The rest are scattered among other charter and public schools around the city. While there are always kids who choose to take the road less traveled, the diaspora of middle schoolers in southeastern San Diego is very different than the well worn feeder patterns in other parts of the school district.

And, as I wrote in my story, that complicates things even further at Lincoln High as the school district builds its reform plans around creating strong bonds between the elementary, middle and high schools that feed into each other.

— EMILY ALPERT

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