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Good Schools For All by Voice of San Diego

Good Schools for All is a podcast about education. Hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn from the Education Synergy Alliance cut through the jargon and debate to get to the news and ideas that matter. Good schools are at the heart of our democracy and economy. We are about good schools for all kids.
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Now displaying: May, 2016
May 26, 2016

Every kid learns at his or her own pace. They each need something different when it comes to education. Personalized learning has emerged as a response to kids' individualized needs and their varied pace of learning. It's a radically different educational approach that's been gaining steam lately thanks to technology that allows teachers to better track students and provide them with personalized educational experiences.

On this week's podcast, co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn talk to someone who’s putting the personalized learning approach into practice.

May 19, 2016

Normally, the County Board of Education race isn’t one that makes it into headlines. But this year, four of the five spots on the board are up for grabs. And things are heating up.

The folks elected to the County Board of Education wield some power. They do things like approve the San Diego Office of Education‘s annual budget, select and choose the very powerful county superintendent. The board also serves as the appeals board for charter schools that have been denied the right to open by a district in San Diego County.

In this week’s podcast, co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn tried to put on a debate between District 1 incumbent Gregg Robinson and his challenger, Mark Powell.  District 1 represents most of the city of San Diego on the board. Only Robinson accepted the opportunity to debate. But Lewis and Kohn got Powell on the phone after to ask why he wouldn’t face off with Robinson.

One hot topic in the race is charter schools and whether the candidates would support more of them in San Diego.

“I’m sure there are really good charter schools and there’s really bad charter schools,” said Powell. “I would give a fair evaluation if, in fact, an appeal does come to the county board.”

Robinson, a professor of sociology at Grossmont College, says he, too, supports charter schools, but only when they’re effective.

“Charter schools have been very helpful with low-income students in inner-city areas,” he said. “So I support them in those kind of circumstances if they’re doing the job they’re really designed for, but I’m not a rubber-stamp for charter schools.”

Number of the Week

 1,600: The number of at-risk students currently enrolled in San Diego County Office of Education schools. About 12,000 at-risk students cycle through County Office of Education schools over the course of the school year.

We also have a Number of the Week correction. In our May 5 episode, we said 75 percent of middle and high school students are long-term English-learners. The correct number is 75 percent of middle and high school English-learners are in long-term programs.

What’s Working

John Spiegel, science coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education: County schools are beginning to adopt dramatically different standards for teaching science. To help make the transition, Spiegel and his staff have provided professional development opportunities, online resources and more to teachers and schools. For more on this, listen to our March 31 interview with Trish Williams.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

May 5, 2016

Damian checked a little box when he registered his son Ethan for kindergarten. It indicated that the family predominantly spoke Spanish at home.

At the time, Damian had no idea his son would be classified as an English-learner, and that the designation would follow his son around, having a profound impact on his education.

It's been difficult, Damian said, to get the school district to recognize that, although his son still speaks Spanish at home, he's a smart kid who's excelling in many ways.

"That's my major concern is that I can't describe my kid to this bureaucracy in the right way," he said.

This week, hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn take a new approach to the podcast by weaving Damian and Ethan's story into the larger question of how our city, state and country is educating English-learners.

In November, voters will weigh the California Multilingual Education Act. The measure would essentially gut Proposition 227, the controversial statue that banned bilingual education in most classrooms unless parents specifically opt in.

Conor Williams, the founding director of the nonprofit New America's dual language learner national work group, joins the show to provide some statistics and context on the issue. Williams drops a bombshell when he shares which state is actually leading the way when it comes to its approach to English-learners.

"I'm amazed every time I say it – I can't even believe it myself," he said.

VOSD's education reporter Mario Koran also makes an appearance to talk about his New America fellowship and the future of his weekly column, The Learning Curve.

What’s Working

We've mentioned duel-language immersion schools in the past. There are 82 schools in San Diego that educate students in two languages. Two schools doing it well are the EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon and the Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School. The two schools are recognized nationally for their efforts in providing a bilingual education to a diverse body of students.

Number of the Week

75 percent: That's the number of California students in middle and high school who are considered long-term English Learners, which means they've been designated as English-learners for at least seven years.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

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