Friday, December 17, 2010

Sweetwater moves toward stricter grad requirements

Plenty of the teachers didn't meet these requirements when they were in high school. If the teachers were capable of bringing the kids up to this level, it would be a different matter, but instituting these requirements in the present situation just means more kids are going to fail. Why is the ACLU getting involved in this? I ask this as a card-carrying liberal. Sadly, I believe the answer is that the ACLU is trying to get publicity and drum up support. I am familiar with several of the leaders of the San Diego ACLU (including Kevin Keenan and David Blair-Loy), and my experience is that these individuals are not so much interested in the success of students or in holding schools accountable for following the law, but rather in advancing their own careers.

Sweetwater moves toward stricter grad requirements
San Diego Union-Tribune
By Ashly McGlone
December 17, 2010

It may get harder to graduate from the Sweetwater Union High School District.

The Board of Education this week voted to require that students meet University of California and California State University admission requirements before they can earn their high school diploma.

No timeline has been set. The requirements include 15 college-prepatory classes in seven academic areas.

Waivers will be available for special needs students and those not fluent in English who enter high school during their junior and senior year.

Trustees opted against a timeline that would have required the courses beginning with the freshman class of 2012.

The resolution passed in a 4-1 vote. Trustee Pearl Quinones, citing her 20 years as a dropout prevention counselor, voted against it.

“Not one size fits all ... What about the ones that don’t want to go to college? All they want to do is graduate.”

According to a presentation by Maria Castilleja, executive director of curriculum and instruction, one-third of last year’s graduates completed the so-called A-G courses.

Nearly 22 percent of seniors currently taking A-G courses are passing with the B average or better, the standard required for university admission.

Students must achieve a C or better in an A-G course in order to receive credit for graduation.

Unknown is how much the transition will cost the district in new textbooks, teacher reassignments and training. The district is looking to cut $23 million from next year’s $320 million budget.

Castilleja said that the board’s move underscores the district’s commitment to college readiness.

In June 2009, San Diego Unified School District became the first district in the county to require A-G standards for graduation, beginning with the 2010 freshman class, but an external audit in September revealed that some 34 percent of students still don’t have access to the courses they need to meet those requirements. Grossmont Union High School District offers A-G courses but does not require them to graduate. Some 37 percent of Grossmont’s 2010 graduates completed the A-G course sequence.

The ACLU has been pushing for districts in California to adopt UC standards. Districts in Los Angeles and San Jose, among others, have made the switch.

Teacher’s union president Alex Anguiano spoke in favor of a gradual transition, suggesting the district begin by ensuring foreign language and art classes are offered at the middle schools.

Residents Karen Janney and Stewart Payne urged caution, saying the district needed to look at data and seek input...

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