San Dieguito Academy / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In what seems like the most unexpected controversy of the pandemic, North County parents in multiple school districts are demanding letter grades for their students instead of credit/no credit for online coursework. 

Parents in the San Dieguito Union High School District, one of the wealthiest in the county, stated a drive-by protest at the district office last month with signs that read “Save our Grades!” Days later, some of those parents also threatened that they would try to boot the school board president from office if she didn’t reconsider. 

But, as Will Huntsberry reports, “when rich people go to war, politicians often listen.”

That’s what happened in Carlsbad. Parents there convinced the district’s school board to give students the opportunity to opt-in for graded work after instituting a credit/no credit policy. 

It’s also what happened in San Dieguito Thursday night. The district’s school board voted to overturn its previous credit/no credit policy and sided with parents. The district will now allow students to have letter grades.

While some argue that the lack of a letter grade will harm their children’s chances of getting into college, those on the other side, including several district leaders, say letter grading disproportionately benefits privileged kids.

Opinion: Recovery Plan Needs to Look Beyond the Border

In a new op-ed, Jason Wells of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce argues that local and state officials need to shift their focus to both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border if they want to recover from COVID-19.

“Mexican public hospitals are not set up to handle an outbreak, much less an epidemic,” Wells writes. “Again, while this sounds like a “they” problem, pathogens know no borders.”

Wells suggests that a binational testing regiment should be established and that hospitals across the state could be linked to help share masks, gloves and basic sanitation to public hospitals in Baja California.

Protecting Kids in a Virtual World

At a Voice of San Diego virtual town hall event this week, school and law enforcement officials discussed safeguards being put in place to protect students from online predators – and what still needs to be done.

Our reporters Kayla Jimenez and Ashly McGlone led the discussion with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, San Diego Unified Trustee Richard Barrera and researcher Billie-Jo Grant.

We also heard devastating details from a former Chula Vista High School student who has firsthand experience with teacher misconduct. “Things escalated quickly and I wasn’t really aware of what to look for. Ask your students what they think about their teachers,” she said. 

If you missed the conversation, you can watch it here.

Newsom Unveils Budget Revise

In the latest iteration of his budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed buying hotels, partially with federal funding, and gifting those hotels to local governments to operate them as permanent supportive housing. As the Los Angeles Times noted, that’s similar to a plan the San Diego Housing Commission and Mayor Kevin Faulconer are pursuing, under the logic that the hotels could be purchased on the cheap because of the pandemic’s effect on tourism. 

Newsom’s latest budget also proposed that cities that didn’t receive money under the federal government’s CARES Act, in response to the pandemic, receive a portion of the money the state received from the federal government.The city of San Diego received CARES Act funding, but no other local city did. Now, the state would provide money to San Diego County, which would distribute it to each individual city.

In Other News

  • MTS is hosting a bus procession through downtown today to honor its late CEO Paul Jablonski. The agency is also planning to give $1,000 bonuses to its employees who have been on the front lines of the pandemic, paid for through what it’s received in the federal CARES Act package. The agency’s budget also suggests it could return to normal service in the next fiscal year, after it was forced to cut bus and trolley frequencies last month in the face of declining ridership and plummeting revenue. An agency staffer said the agency’s budget will be in a precarious position for the next five years, KPBS reports. 
  • SDPD considered buying a cell phone surveillance system from a private vendor, but ultimately decided not to because it was too expensive. (Times of San Diego)
  • San Diegans drove about 44 percent fewer miles on local freeways from mid-March through mid-April than they did during the same period a year ago. (NBC San Diego)
  • County Supervisor Greg Cox said San Diego is working “aggressively” with state officials to put together a plan to reopen the county’s economy, but asked residents to be patient because “it won’t be like flipping a switch.” (CBS 8)
  • The county is spending roughly $14 million a month in its response to the COVID-19 crisis, but there’s little clarity on where all that money’s going. The county has halted public record responses related to the virus, and a county spokesman took two weeks to provide the Union-Tribune with a spreadsheet outlining $15 million in expenditures between early March and mid-April.
  • The County Board of Education decided against revoking the charter for Iftin Charter School, despite a staff report that found the school lacked racial diversity and special education compliance while also identifying conflicts of interest and transparency problems with the school’s leadership, as the Union-Tribune reported Thursday. The school, which caters to Somali refugees, will stay open for another five years, after San Diego Unified in February had declined to renew the school’s charter, paving the way for it to close. In 2017, our Maya Srikrishnan investigated concerns within the school that erupted into turmoil

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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