Originally published June 9, 2009 at 12:09 a.m., updated June 9, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.
SAN DIEGO The San Diego Unified School Board is expected to vote today in favor of overhauling the district's high school curriculum. Education advocates are praising district officials for beginning to address education inequalities at the high school level. In fact, they're planning to stage a rally in support of the trustees' vote.
Critics have long said that all high schools in San Diego Unified are not created equal. Now they have some new evidence.
New data shows San Diego Unified students who attend high school in more affluent neighborhoods -- like Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa -- have access to more college-level work than in students in poorer communities -- like Southeast San Diego and City Heights.
As a result, more than 60 percent of teenagers do not take the sequence of rigorous classes needed to get into a college or university.
The district's Chuck Morris says that's about to change. He says his team is working on a district plan that requires teenagers at all San Diego high schools take the full-spectrum of necessary college preparatory courses.
"We have too many students who are graduating from high school who just have a diploma but it doesn't really help them to get a job in terms of a skill," says Morris, San Diego Unified's director of curriculum and instruction. "It doesn't let them go to a university if that's what they want to do. So we need to prepare our students."
That pleases the ACLU's Kevin Keenan. The ACLU is part of San Diego County's Education Consortium which is tackling issues affecting public education. The group has been working with district officials over the past year to develop the high school reform plan.
"We have an opportunity here to take a step forward, to really provide the rigor and relevance to succeed in life," Keenan said. "Here’s an achievable important step forward that we can make in giving our kids an equal educational opportunity."
Keenan says the latest data also shows students in San Dieguito and Poway have the most access the college-level work. Vista and Oceanside students have the least.
San Diego Unified will now join a handful of other large urban school districts in California ensuring all of their high schools are offering the necessary sequence of classes that satisfy University of California standards. The San Jose Unified School District was the first to implement such a reform.