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In one of the first reliable data points for how the pandemic affected San Diego students, state standardized test scores released Monday showed sharp drops in the share of San Diego Unified students who meet English and math standards.
The declines knocked the district back to where it was five years ago, before steady gains in both reading and math had increased the share of students who met the state’s standards, as Jakob McWhinney covered in a new story.
Overall, San Diego Unified saw a 4 percent decline in students who met English standards, and a 7 percent decline for math standards. The percent of students who met the state standards declined among all racial demographics, and the inequities that existed before the pandemic persist. The sharpest decline from the last year of reliable, pre-pandemic data, from testing in the 2018-2019 school year, occurred among math scores for Black students.
This is the first reliable state testing data since school districts shut down in-person schooling and moved classes online to control the spread of COVID-19. The state did not test during the 2019-2020 school year and just 100 San Diego students were tested during the 2020-2021 school year. San Diego Unified’s scores dropped more sharply than Los Angeles Unified’s. The state’s education department has not yet issued all test results, but it delivered them to districts in August and gave each of them discretion on when to release them.
Fletcher Says Cities Should Have Prioritized Homelessness and Applied For County Grant Program
During a panel at this weekend’s Politifest, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said more cities should have better prioritized homelessness so they could have taken advantage of a county program that made $10 million available for cities to build homeless shelters.
Our Lisa Halverstadt pointed out that the cities that didn’t apply to the county’s grant program have said that the upfront costs the county offered didn’t address their lack of funding for ongoing operational costs.
“Everyone has to prioritize,” Fletcher responded, using the county as an example of a governing body that often has to take money from one thing in order to prioritize a more pressing issue.
Why Assessor Candidates Flipped on Abortion, Coastal Height Limit
Dispatch from Scott Lewis: One of the fiercest debates at Politifest this year featured the two candidates for the obscure office of county assessor/recorder/clerk. Jordan Marks, a Republican, who works in the office now as assessor taxpayer advocate and former City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, a Democrat, who ran for mayor in 2020, had some intense criticisms for each other, their backgrounds and ability to manage the office going forward.
Bry alleged the office wasn’t assessing properties quickly and efficiently, especially after they had seen new improvements and that was costing taxpayers money. Marks denied that.
Marks alleged that Bry had a conflict of interest because her and her husband had invested in a company that had developed programs that could help office’s like the assessor’s determine whether contractors and homeowners had performed unauthorized improvements on their properties and thus needed to pay more taxes. She denied she had ever had an ownership stake – she said she simply had overlooked checking a box on her economic disclosure form to indicate it was her husband’s interest, not hers. And he has since gotten out of the investment.
But one of the most interesting exchanges came when I asked them about some important ballot measures and how they would cast their votes.
Bry supports height limit exemption, trash fee: When she ran for mayor, Bry had championed neighborhood concerns about new housing and development and she was an outspoken opponent, in 2020, of Measure E, which would have allowed developers to construct buildings higher than 30 feet in the Midway neighborhood. Measure E passed but a judge threw it out after opponents successfully made their case that the city had not studied the impact of the change adequately in its environmental review.
Bry said that’s now been addressed in the new initiative, Measure C.
“I’m comfortable. What I really think the city is going to need to do though to get it passed, is to deal with the appropriate infrastructure for the community,” she said.
Bry said she would support Measure B, which would allow the city to study and implement a special fee for trash collection. She likewise will support Measure U, San Diego Unified School District’s new tax for construction.
Marks was unwilling to take a stand on any of these measures. He said the assessor should remain neutral. But he was willing to talk about his support for one statewide proposition …
Marks supports Proposition 1: The Legislature put Proposition 1 on the ballot. It would enshrine in the state Constitution the right to access abortion and reproductive health services.
Bry’s campaign has hammered him for past appearances at anti-abortion rallies and his association with the Republican Party. He said he felt like it was a legitimate question for two reasons: One, the assessor does decide on exemptions for taxes for clinics like abortion service providers.
And, he has been dealing with remaining fallout from several years ago when his boss, Ernie Dronenberg, tried to resist providing same-sex couples marriage licenses.
“I actually got a text message from Barbara’s team saying, there’s never been an issue on it. There never has and, under my leadership, there never will be. We do our job independent of any of that, but also, I’m voting for Prop. 1,” he said.
CalMatters Issued Its Own Dispatch from Politifest
Emily Hoeven, who writes a popular daily newsletter about California politics, did a presentation for us about all the ballot measures. You can watch it here.
Monday, her newsletter lead with Politifest takeaways, outlining what conversations at the event included about Sacramento’s decision making. Among those observations:
- The state’s new universal transitional kindergarten program is “breaking the child care sector.”
- Organized labor is finding it harder to secure wins with control split between moderate and progressive Democrats than it was between Democrats and Republicans (that came from Brigitte Browning, head of the local Labor Council).
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new CARE Courts will be a useful tool, but won’t transform poverty that causes homelessness (that was according to County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher).
ICYMI #Politifest2022: The tea was piping hot at Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2022 at the University of San Diego. If you missed it, don’t worry. Catch up on our live streamed panels and keep an eye out for special podcast episodes and more stories highlighting newsworthy comments made throughout the event.
In Other News:
- State Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday threatened legal action against developers and public officials in San Diego who build in areas with high fire risk. He warned that local jurisdictions should prioritize infill developments in urbanized areas over sprawling designs that cover rural landscapes. Cities that bypass these guidelines will risk legal action. (Union-Tribune)
- A 23-year-old man died shortly after he was handcuffed by San Diego police officers Sunday night, a San Diego sheriff official said. Police said they arrived to a call at the man’s home in City Heights, where family members were restraining him. The police said they noticed the man went into medical distress after handcuffing him. (Union-Tribune)
- Registered voters in San Diego County can expect to receive their official ballots for the Nov. 8 statewide election in the mail this week, along with an “I Voted” sticker. (County News Center)
- A hot dog cart that caught on fire in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is reigniting debates about street vending in the area. Street vending is limited in some areas and outright banned in other areas of the city of San Diego under a City Council ordinance passed in May, now the Gaslamp Quarter Association is seeking enforcement. (NBC-7)
- The city of San Diego struck deals with the private companies that collect trash from most people who live in apartments or condos, who are now expected to raise rates to cover the cost of a state law requiring cities to recycle most food waste instead of sending it to landfills. (Union-Tribune)
- Ed Fernandez Birrieria, a local taco shop in South Bay San Diego, has been rated the #1 taco shop in the U.S. (CBS 8)
The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Scott Lewis and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrew Keatts.