Schools across the country have a hard enough time teaching kids to read and write. It’s even harder when kids are learning English as a second language. But what about when they’re illiterate in two languages.

That’s what reporter Mario Koran took on in this week’s edition of the learning curve.

English-learners have some of the lowest graduation and highest drop-out rates of any student group.

The crucial moment, Koran writes, is getting kids reclassified as fluent in English. Once that happens, they have time to take all the other classes they’ll need and can start learning all the things their classmates get to focus on full-time.

As he’s written before, Koran describes the disproportionate success Kearny High has had with its English-learners.

• Meanwhile, Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn looked at another type of student falling behind in this week’s episode of their Good Schools for All podcast.

After pre-school focused on playing and supervision, kids jump into kindergarten with much different expectations.

For local mom Sally Cox, it meant her son fell behind.

Cox joined the podcast to share her experience.

The man in charge of easing this exact transition at Vista Unified School District’ Matt Doyle also joined the show to talk about that and a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to deal with some of the problems with early-childhood education across the state.

You Can Put Your Little School Over There

Rounding out a heavy day of education coverage, we laid out why you sometimes find charter schools in the weirdest of places on this week’s episode of San Diego Explained.

California’s home to 1,100 charter schools and more than half a million students go to them, but they’ve been struggling for space for some time. Making do with what they’ve got, you’re as likely to find them within other schools as you are in a retail space in your neighborhood strip mall.

SANDAG’s Long-Promised Transit Tax Under Fire

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, a coalition of local governments focused on regional planning, will decide today whether to put a proposal on the November ballot to increase sales taxes to fund transit improvements, open space preservation, highway projects and local infrastructure spending in cities across the county.

San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner joined the mishmash of conservative and liberal voices opposing the measure.

Liberal proponents for increased transit spending say it doesn’t do enough for their aims, and tax-averse conservatives say SANDAG has all the money it needs.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he’s going to make a rare trip to SANDAG this week to vote against putting the measure on the ballot. He said “in totality,” the measure didn’t warrant an $18 billion tax hike, but didn’t say what would make him more likely to support it. Maybe he will at the hearing.

• We ran an op-ed Thursday from former City Council candidate Carol Kim who said the region needs transit more than ever, and SANDAG’s plan simply isn’t good enough.

• The U-T ran dueling op-eds on the topic. San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, all SANDAG board members, said the measure is a necessary investment in the region’s future. National City Chamber of Commerce member Brian Clapper, Environmental Health Coalition organizer Monique Lopez and the newly minted Secretary-Treasurer for the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council argued the sales tax is regressive and doesn’t address the region’s  contribution to climate change or its issues with economic inequality.

Commentary: Mission Beach Project Is Fine; Your Argument Against It Is Not

In another new op-ed, Mission Beach resident Mike Downs argues the group opposing a new housing project in his neighborhood has made bizarre, unconvincing arguments against it.

The group has – as is common with anti-development sentiment – said the project will bring traffic and parking problems and that it’s bad because it doesn’t look like other homes nearby.

Nonsense, Downs writes. Mission Beach is already an aesthetic mix-up. The lot the project is going into is blighted and smelly. And the tree on site they’re trying to preserve isn’t worth saving.

We suspect you might have opinions of your own. We’re the place for them. Submit your commentaries to Kinsee Morlan at

Hunter Still in Trouble

An ethics organization has filed complaints with two federal agencies over East County Congressman Duncan Hunter’s campaign spending, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

He’s already had to clear up other issues, after it was discovered that a campaign credit card paid for his kid’s private school tuition, plus was used to buy an awful lot of video games.

• Previously, Hunter introduced legislation purely to make a point about women serving in military combat roles, requiring that they register for the draft, too. Vox has a new story describing how legislators from both sides of the aisle agreed with him, and he ended up having to vote against his own bill.

In Other News

• Here’s the latest in KPBS’s roundup of where all the candidates in each race stand on a handful of relevant issues. This one is for the City Council’s district 7 race, where incumbent Republican Scott Sherman is the frontrunner against two Democratic challengers.

• San Diego’s National University System Institute for Policy Research crunched the numbers and projects California is going to be a pretty solid win for Donald Trump.

• San Diego has the highest rate of cesarean section surgery of all other urban counties in the state. (inewsource)

• Countywide economic indicators are climbing. (KPBS)

• Encinitas is launching a pilot program to help its homeless population find housing. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

• There’s been an expectation that if the Chargers don’t head to Los Angeles, the Oakland Raiders would. Now, it looks like they might be going to Las Vegas. The team’s owner says he’ll spend $500 million to do it. (Associated Press)

• Heavy-hitting studio 20th Century Fox is Skipping Comic-Con this year. (Los Angeles Times)

• Bruce Lightner didn’t show for a debate this week, leading San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins to declare it evidence the City Council district one candidate wasn’t seriously trying to win the seat his wife, Council President Sherri Lightner, is vacating.

“The arrogance, no matter how understandable in an unserious candidate, is undebatable,” Jenkins wrote.

Plenty have speculated he’s in the race to make things harder on Republican Ray Ellis, who ran against his wife four years ago. He told me people would be surprised how much support he gets.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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