I finally got to sit down and watch the KPBS documentary about Lincoln High, “Building Expectations.”
If you’ve got a spare half hour and care about education in San Diego, go watch it. It traces the high hopes for Lincoln High when it was rebuilt and reopened roughly three and a half years ago and the not-so-high test scores and college readiness rates there.
The basic question that the documentary hits on is how much schools can help when kids are living in poverty. It delves into some of the extraordinary challenges that the southeastern San Diego school faces and how it has fallen far short of its promise to ensure that 85 percent of its graduates would be ready for college.
Lincoln also has some other unusual issues that we’ve reported on. Kids come to Lincoln from a slew of different middle schools, making it harder for teachers to work with the schools that kids come from to ensure they’re prepared. (To address that problem, the district chose this year to set aside more spots for local kids at a desirable magnet school nearby.) Even when it first opened, the honeymoon was beginning to wear off as teachers grappled with a lack of supplies and behavior problems.
Yet there are other schools with big challenges that seem to do better than Lincoln; last year it ranked in the middle compared to demographically similar schools statewide. There’s one question that I found myself grappling with after the documentary: Could Lincoln do more to counter its challenges or not?
The documentary spurred San Diego Unified to send out a press release from school board member Shelia Jackson, who laid blame for the problems at Lincoln with a revolving door of district leaders overseeing its principals.
Jackson, who applauded KPBS for its work, argued that the school district could help Lincoln by keeping the same area superintendent and assistant superintendent in place. San Diego Unified is weighing whether to reduce its number of area superintendents to save money.
Is instability in leadership the problem? Or is it something else? I’d love to hear from parents, students and teachers about your thoughts on this latest look at Lincoln High.