Education Report Leads to City Joint Session

City leaders schedule meeting to solve socioeconomic problems in school district

Faced with the finding that one-third of schools in San Diego are underperforming, councilmembers announced a session scheduled to solve some of the district’s most pressing issues.

Most of the issues come from socioeconomic disparities, detailed in a report from the University of San Diego’s Center for Education Policy and Law released in the spring.

“It’s very clear students across the city have very different access to quality-performing schools,” said Scott Himelstein, director of the center.

San Diego City Council President Tony Young and councilmember Carl DeMaio joined Himelstein Wednesday to discuss the report and announce a joint session of the council.

The session would bring together members of the public, not just city and school offices, to best determine how to reach out to underperforming schools in the district -- the second largest in the state.

For example, 75 percent of schools in San Diego’s eighth district are considered underperforming compared to statewide rankings. The same district, located just above the U.S.-Mexico border, had a high rate of English-learners and a large majority of students who qualify for meal discounts.

“We have great socioeconomic differences in our city,” Himelstein said in listing some of the study’s takeaway points. “We have some areas that are filled with English-language learners. We should focus on things like that.”

The joint session is scheduled on September 18 at 6 p.m. Business leaders, parents and members of the community are urged to come forward with ideas.

“By presenting a report of data, we can move toward a school performance accountability system,” DeMaio said at a press conference Wednesday. “We will select measures based on parental and city input so that what gets measured gets done.”

DeMaio, who is also running for mayor, has not officially adopted an education platform during his candidacy, though two of his rivals going into the Primary Election came out with plans.

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, who DeMaio faces in the General Election, touts his background as a boardmember on the San Diego Unified School District as the experience necessary to help the struggling district get back on its feet.

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