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Charter schools that operate outside traditional classrooms — primarily or exclusively online — ranked near the bottom of a new analysis of test scores that took poverty levels into account.

That analysis, conducted by Voice of San Diego and the Center for Research and Evaluation at UC San Diego Extension, mirrors other studies showing that non-classroom-based charters perform poorly. Those types of schools have also come under legislative scrutiny in response to a financial scandal.

Executives at one such school in San Diego County admitted earlier this year to steering millions of dollars to their own private companies. But despite the negative press, Will Huntsberry writes, non-classroom-based enrollment grew significantly during the pandemic.

Some of those schools manage to attract a lot of students because they’re allowed to draw attendees from outside the districts where they reside. Some are even allowed to enroll students from surrounding counties. 

Reactions to our analysis, which used data from 2017 to 2019, the most recent available to us, varied. Some noted that they’ve since hired more staff or changed the curriculum. The principal of a traditional brick-and-mortar charter argued that, even when poverty is taken into account, test scores don’t measure intelligence or learning.

“I truly believe the only reason these tests exist is because it’s a requirement of government or anyone giving money away to measure results,” she said. 

SDPD Changes Consent Policy

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Police Chief David Nisleit announced Friday that they’ve changed the city’s consent procedures so that individuals know their rights.

Among other things, officers who want to search a person, their vehicle or their home without a warrant must document the consent verbally on body camera footage or seek it in writing. Officers must also notify the individual of the right to refuse, modify or withdraw consent, and must not destroy property in the process.

It was on the list of reforms that Gloria proposed shortly after taking office. “This is a key step to building more trust between our Police Department and the community,” he said in a statement. According to the city, members of the public have said they felt intimidated or confused about consent options in the past, which created confusion.

We included some of Gloria’s other proposals in a recent look back at the last year of policing

Programming Note

We’re back!

The staff at Voice of San Diego took a breather from daily publishing last week to reset and work on long-term projects. In reality, it was an opportunity to see our families, walk our pups, water our plants, read dystopian fiction, wade into the David Lynch mind-palace known as Twin Peaks, deal with the money-pits known as automobiles, hyperventilate into a paper bag in anticipation of the third season of Succession and contemplate the contradictions of our economic order as the empire slowly but surely recedes.

You know, relax.

We still delivered, though: If you missed any of the five essays we posted about San Diego Specials, those persistent civic dilemmas that this community can’t seem to resolve, we collected all of them here.

And in podcast form: We interviewed Mayor Todd Gloria to get his list of San Diego Specials and see how it compared to ours.

Also, some staffing updates: VOSD reporter Ashly McGlone, whose investigation into sexual assault and harassment in schools provoked dozens of other victims to come forward with their own stories which all led to legislation and major changes, had her second child recently and has chosen not to return to the newsroom for now. For six years, McGlone was our go-to reporter when we needed to understand how systems or finances in government agencies worked. She had a mastery of public records law that made her capable of identifying, before anyone else, when a record may actually be public — like a settlement with a teacher who had been accused of harassment, for example.

And Kayla Jimenez, who took over much of that work, while also keeping an eye on North County and youth issues, has also left to pursue something different. Jimenez started her career in journalism with some of those tough and important investigations and was able to deliver major results, as we recently witnessed at Cal State San Marcos.

In Other News

  • Two candidates for the San Diego County Sheriff pitched the deputy sheriffs for an endorsement. A third is expected to file paperwork in the coming days. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The San Francisco Chronicle surveyed a few Democratic strategists about what people should do if they vote no on the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom but still feel like they should choose between the candidates who want to replace him. They said to pick former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Carl DeMaio still despises him.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are spiking and there’s a major nursing shortage. CalMatters gets some grim updates in this story including from San Diego. “We’ve had some staff leave the organization or leave the industry as a whole because they’re burned out,” said Eric Cole, corporate senior vice president of human resources for Scripps.”
  • Today is the first day of school for San Diego Unified School District, the largest in the region. The district announced it is requiring masks at all times, indoors and outdoors and it asked parents to sign off on COVID-19 testing should there be any outbreaks. If kids can get tested, they won’t have to quarantine for two weeks if they had a close contact but test negative.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Megan Wood and Scott Lewis.

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