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Almost every morning, I pass my neighborhood elementary school, Laura G. Rodriguez Elementary. The sidewalk comes to life in the morning as parents walk their little kids toward the gray-colored campus.
Education reporter Jakob McWhinney recently wrote about the shocking rate at which kids in that school are missing class — at least 10 percent of instructional days.
But it is not alone. Lots of schools in the 92113 ZIP code are struggling.
The numbers: Of the 20 schools with the highest chronic absenteeism rates in San Diego County, 15 are in the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest district in the state. Seven of those schools are in the same ZIP code, 92113, which stretches from Barrio Logan to Lincoln Park.
What experts say: It’s not surprising. Communities that have socioeconomically disadvantaged populations tend to have higher rates of chronic absenteeism. Research shows that kids who miss a lot of school are more likely to fall behind and drop out.
It’s difficult data to sit with, as one school board member expressed.
McWhinney plans to continue digging into the data. You can keep up with his reporting by signing up for his newsletter, The Learning Curve. Click here to subscribe.
If you’re a parent in the 92113 area, I’d like to hear from you, reach me at email@example.com.
Curious about absenteeism rates at your neighborhood school? Dig into the data by downloading our Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools here. (The data starts on page 16 or search the data online here.)
‘The Sidewalk Is Not a Home’
Homelessness is the number one issue residents in San Diego are worried about.
We know that the crisis is the worst it has ever been, as more people fall into homelessness than the region can house, and our local leaders keep telling us it’s only going to get worse.
This week, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Stephen Whitburn unveiled a series of plans to address the crisis. (Click here to read the full story.)
Here’s the breakdown:
- An ordinance that bans camping on public property when shelter is available. It would also ban encampments at all times within two blocks of schools, some parks and trolley tracks. (It has to be approved by the City Council first before it can happen, FYI.)
- The city will pursue a safe campground program. (You can read more about that here.)
- Police will resume enforcement on April 1 of the city’s ban on vehicle homelessness. (Officers had stopped enforcing it because of an ongoing legal challenge. Read more here.)
- A 2024 ballot measure to open new shelters.
Why all these actions? The thinking goes, if shelter and other options are available, then the city can clear people off the street. Here’s how the mayor put it: “When we ask you to come off the street and we have a place for you to go, no is not an acceptable answer. The sidewalk is not a home.”
How will it get done? Gloria expects the police to enforce the new ordinance if it is approved. A police spokesman said the department supports the proposal and will do its part.
But can they handle it? I’ve spent time at community meetings where residents complain about homelessness in their neighborhoods. Often police officers tell them they are doing their best, despite being short-staffed, and navigating laws that are keeping their hands tied.
As senior investigative reporter Lisa Halverstadt reported, the department’s staffing crisis that’s fueling a surge in response times and overtime spending, isn’t going away anytime soon. Halverstadt obtained a document that sheds some light on staffing issues in each of the city’s police divisions by shift. Hint: It’s not great.
Read about the staffing issues here.
More Chisme to Start Your Week
- Fellow managing editor Andrew Keatts published a story on Friday with some big chisme. A new appraisal was supposed to get to the bottom of whether the San Diego Housing Commission overpaid for a hotel it purchased during the pandemic, but turns out, it can’t answer that question. Keatts gets into why and provides some background on this controversial purchase in his latest story. Read it here.
- A teacher in National City was accused of having a sexual relationship with a former student. The Union-Tribune has a story here on the charges and her plea. We’ve covered sexual misconduct in schools and how often predatory teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom. Here’s some background on how grooming happens in schools and a recent story by McWhinney about a different teacher who was able to keep his teaching credentials despite a court finding that he touched a student inappropriately. Read that story here.