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Education

San Diego Unified Gets High Marks For School Choice

The San Diego Unified Board of Education building at 4100 Normal Street, Oct. 24, 2012.
Katie Schoolov
The San Diego Unified Board of Education building at 4100 Normal Street, Oct. 24, 2012.

Increasing public school options to make schools compete for students is one popular idea in education reform. San Diego Unified ranked in the top 10 of more than 100 large school districts in these areas, according to the Brookings Institute.

The institute's recent report looked at things like parents’ ability to choose schools outside their neighborhoods, how many charter and magnet schools a district has and the availability of virtual courses. It also awarded points based on how many students used these programs.

San Diego Board of Education President John Lee Evans said parents can apply to up to five out-of-neighborhood schools, but the district is focused on making local schools more attractive to families.

“We very strongly support parents’ right to find the best option for their child," he said. "But we also know the closer the school is to home, the more likely there’s going to be parent engagement and there’s a pretty big connection between that and student achievement.”

The national focus on school choice may be gaining momentum now, but Evans said San Diego’s out of neighborhood enrollment and magnet school programs grew out of the district's voluntary integration efforts in the 1970s.