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This week news surrounding the San Diego Unifed School District (SDUSD) focused on the Honors class fiasco at Patrick Henry High School.  There has been a local San Diego Media feeding frenzy on the story, mostly about protests at the school site.  Also widely covered has been massive damage control scrambling by the same inept SDUSD leadership that bought Stakeholders the useless “Summer School of Learning and Joy” scam and the Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera appointed new Manchurian Candidate Superintendent Lamont “Lovey Dovey” Jackson.  By the way, as we said last week, throughout this chaos, “Unapologetic” empty suit Lovey Dovey Lamont is nowhere to be found “Knowing every student by name strength and need” while eliminating classes for those very same Students.

Today in Sunday Reads we have chosen an article by the Hechinger Report that describes the difficulty previously successful high school Students are having in their first year of college and comparing that distress to SDUSD Students who are educationally/economically unprepared to even apply to college.

We have featured the complete Hechinger Report article today in Sunday Reads with our synopsis.  There are also some links within the article that are very relevant to the current dysfunctional SDUSD education disaster.  We strongly urge our readers to click on the title and those other links (in red) to read the full articles for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions.

After the pandemic disrupted their high school educations, students are arriving at college unprepared

Professors are scrambling to fill learning gaps and fend off what they say will be inequitable consequences.


Andrea Hernandez studied the multiplication table nearly every day during the summer between her third and fourth grade years. Sitting at her family’s kitchen table in Dallas while her mother prepared dinner, she printed the arithmetic over and over in a yellow, spiral-bound notebook. When she started at a new school in the fall of 2012, she breezed through the timed math tests. From then until the coronavirus hit, when she was a 16-year-old precalculus student, Hernandez shined in the classroom.

Then, like millions of other students across the country, Hernandez was forced to shift to learning online. For the rest of her junior year and most of her senior year, she learned from a laptop in her family’s living room, with her younger sibling taking Zoom classes down the hall in their shared bedroom.

She felt she lost her muscle for being a student. The standards for online learning during her junior year weren’t just lower than they had been in the classroom, she said, “the standards weren’t even there at all.”

“It was really hard for us emotionally, because we know the stakes for our students. Their failure is my failure.”

Uri Treisman, mathematics professor, University of Texas

By a slim margin, Hernandez, a math major, failed the math placement exam that would have landed her a seat in calculus in the fall as a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. She retook precalculus and earned an A. Now, she spends four days a week in an unusually small seminar-style calculus class with 31 other aspiring mathematicians and engineers.

“I want to say it’s going good so far but, you know, there’s just some things where I look at them and I’m just like, ‘where’s the math? I just see letters,’ I don’t understand anything,” Hernandez said. “I’ll just sit there, kind of lost.”

More than 20 of her classmates took the larger, lecture-style class last fall, and failed.

Many students whose last years of high school were disrupted by the pandemic are struggling academically in the foundational college courses they need to succeed later in their academic and professional careers. Professors and students say the remote learning that students were stuck with during the pandemic wasn’t as good as what they would have had in person. The students were also often distracted — trying to learn while grappling with health, financial and family stressors.

Now, after two years of cobbled-together pandemic learning, many college students not only are less prepared than they should be, they’ve forgotten how to be students.

And more underprepared high school graduates are likely to be coming right behind them, putting unprecedented pressure on faculty, counselors and advisers.

Hernandez’s math professor, Uri Treisman, is nationally known for his techniques and philosophies for teaching calculus. He said the fall 2021 semester of first-year calculus was the most difficult he’s had in his 50-year career.

His students were making basic errors in algebra and trigonometry from the beginning. Despite Treisman doing all he could to help them succeed, about 25 percent of his students failed in the fall — compared to 5 percent in an ordinary year.

Instead of emails from students asking for letters of recommendation, Treisman’s inbox was flooded with emails from students anxious to retake his class, apologizing for a poor performance and for being unprepared.

“It was really hard for us emotionally, because we know the stakes for our students,” Treisman said of himself and his co-professor, Erica Winterer. “Their failure is my failure.”

From the tiniest kindergarteners to college-ready high school seniors, nearly all students had their education disrupted starting in March 2020. As a result, the full scope of the college unpreparedness problem is not yet known.

Even so, educators and experts worry that students from historically underserved backgrounds — often low-income students and students of color — could be disadvantaged even further by the disruptions. Economic fallout from the pandemic hit low-income Americans, people of color and people without college degrees the hardest, so students from families in these groups are more likely to come to college having faced greater challenges over the past two years than their peers.

“Here and everywhere around the world, the wealthy are concerned and nervous about the futures of the children, and they’re investing heavily in ensuring their children have an advantage,” Treisman said. “So, that nervousness requires that those who care about equity work much harder.”

Related: Covid dimmed college prospects for high school students who need help

Even in a normal year, Treisman said, students don’t all show up with the same level of preparedness or knowledge base. But because of the pandemic, his students are contending with different stresses than they otherwise would be.

Hernandez, for example, was taking her 12th grade math class via Zoom in her family’s living room when her father returned from work hours early, visibly upset. She followed him into his bedroom where he told her that her grandfather, who lived in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, had died of COVID-19.

She had leapt up from her makeshift desk so quickly, she hadn’t turned off her camera or taken off her wireless headphones. When she learned of her abuelito’s death, the math lesson was still playing in her ears.

For students like Hernandez, it was hard to focus on education when their loved ones were facing life-threatening illness, financial strife, child care uncertainty or general instability because of the pandemic. Often, school days became about just about getting by rather than excelling.

Other students faced barriers of access. Before the pandemic, Halil Hamscho, who took Treisman’s introductory calculus course last fall, commuted daily from his family’s home in Matamoros, Mexico, to school in Brownsville, Texas. In March 2020, his twin brother became his only classmate.

They worked from a white folding table they’d bought at Walmart, sharing one laptop for the end of their junior year and the entirety of their senior year. If one was using the computer, the other would have to join class from his smartphone, which made it difficult to see his peers or anything the teacher might have been demonstrating on the screen. Sometimes, their mother would bring home her work computer so that both boys could have a device to work on.

Hamscho graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class, although he said the education he received during the pandemic was “watered down.” His grades didn’t betray his lack of understanding, but he felt he was just “regurgitating information,” especially in math. He earned an A in his AP calculus course, but scored a 2 on the AP exam, which required him to retake the course in college.

An aspiring mechanical engineer, Hamscho failed his first college calculus exam before he formed a study group. He eventually earned an A in Treisman’s class.

In a typical year, about 2 to 4 percent of Kristin Patterson’s genetics students at UT Austin are unable to pass her course. Last fall, about 20 percent of students failed. She said she noticed right away that they were struggling, and her worries were confirmed three weeks into the semester, when she scored the first exam. The rest of her students, she said, were just as prepared and engaged as they have been in years past.

Patterson, an associate professor of instruction, said that the college does not yet fully understand how the pandemic has affected student preparedness, but that some trends are emerging.

Because of how quickly the pandemic hit, most educators across the country were caught off guard, trying desperately to convert their in-person curriculum overnight into something that would work online.

And many educators, both in high school and college, had trouble accurately assessing their students’ progress.

Patterson suspects it’s more difficult to assess students’ understanding of the class material with remote tests and quizzes, where students often can consult more resources. Without reliable indicators of student progress, she said, she’s worried that professors “are just assuming mastery when it may not exist.”

And during the 2020-21 academic year, UT adopted a policy allowing students to designate up to three of their courses to be graded as pass/fail, rather than with letter grades, Patterson said. The standard policy, pre-pandemic, wouldn’t allow students to take advantage of pass/fail grading until they had completed at least 30 credits, which typically excludes first-year students. The emergency policy allowed students to “pass” these classes with a grade as low as a D minus, so students who earned a D grade in a prerequisite course could move on without necessarily having mastered the material.

“It seemed like there needed to be a policy and expectation change in the face of an emergency situation,” Patterson said. “And what that emergency situation resulted in is students who would not normally have passed getting a passing grade and moving on to the next course.”

Beyond the actual classwork, Patterson noticed that her students struggled to adjust to life on campus.

Some students didn’t understand the difference between her class’s main meeting period and a small-group discussion regularly scheduled for another time and place, likely because their first year at UT was so abnormal. After nearly two years of an altered learning environment, they are having to relearn how to interact in a physical classroom, how to socialize, and how to manage the expectations of being a college student at the same time.

Ed Venit, a manager at the education research firm EAB and an expert in student retention and success, said the massive disruption to the education system contributes to what he calls “unfinished K-12 learning.” That means the nature of what is “baseline” or “normal” has changed, Venit said, and colleges will have to adjust.

Current first-year students are unlikely to be the only ones struggling, Venit said. He predicts that students coming out of high school over the next several years will need an unprecedented level of academic support. For higher education, he said, the full impact of pandemic learning conditions in K-12 has not yet been felt.

Last fall, 25 percent of students failed Uri Treisman’s freshman first-year calculus class at the University of Texas; in a normal year, he said, 5 percent fail.

At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the rates of students receiving D or F grades or withdrawing from a course are up and math placement-test scores are down. So administrators added more sections of a general college preparedness course to help students develop time management and study skills.

The university is known for its Meyerhoff Scholars Program, designed to prepare students from underrepresented backgrounds for STEM careers. Brad Peercy, a professor and undergraduate program director in the department of math and statistics, said he worries that the pandemic could push more students of color and low-income students from those fields. “That’s definitely the risk,” he said.

At Kansas State University, where first-year students are showing both content and process gaps, they’re being monitored from midsemester onward with an early alert system that uses low grades and missed assignments to identify students who are having a hard time and then connect them with extra resources. At the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, students whose GPA has fallen below 2.0 are invited to join support groups run by social work interns.

Steve Dandaneau, president of the Association of Undergraduate Education at Research Universities, said educators across the country are worried about what students have experienced over the past two years. They have already begun to see first-year students coming in with significantly less accumulated learning, even if rates of low grades have not dramatically increased, Dandaneau said.

“Beyond such a thin indication of whether students got A’s, B’s or C’s in coursework to real master, real command of subject matter,” in whatever field, “then we would see a less rosy picture.”

Though he thinks the disruption and subsequent unpreparedness can be addressed with the right resources and support for students, these are factors that employers, graduate schools and others will have to consider as the pandemic generation of students moves through the world.

Treisman, having seen his students struggle in the fall, is scrambling to figure out how to help them recover.

“It’s so tempting to lower the standard,” Treisman said. “The big risk, from a teaching perspective, is that I give them a good grade and they’re not prepared for what comes next.”

Not only is he preparing them to take their next calculus course, but he also has to backfill the prerequisites they’ve come to college without, he said.

After Treisman administered the first exam last fall, Winterer, his co-professor, emailed all the students who failed, asking them to meet with her. She tried to help them develop a plan to get back on track, offering them structured study groups — an intervention that has worked for Treisman and Winterer’s students in the past.

This semester, even though they are teaching a section made up almost entirely of students who failed the course in the fall, Treisman said they never remind them of that.

“I don’t mention they failed. I don’t lower the standard,” he said. “I have to remind them, maybe put a little more energy into reminding them, that they’re really going to be leaders. That they will figure out how to do this.”

For the first 15 minutes of the sections Treisman teaches, he doesn’t mention the equations or formulas the students need to master. Instead, he introduces them to mathematicians and scientists, past and present, and talks them through different potential career paths. It’s a strategy to help them build back their academic identity, he said.

“There’s just some things where I look at them and I’m just like, ‘where’s the math? I just see letters,’ I don’t understand anything. I’ll just sit there, kind of lost.”

Andrea Hernandez, University of Texas freshman

Students who fail courses face other obstacles as well. If their GPAs drop, they risk losing their financial aid, which could make continuing toward a degree impossible. If they move on without being ready academically, Treisman worries that they will feel like they don’t have control over their academics or their lives. They may choose a career path for the wrong reasons.

“It’s control over their lives and their futures that is at stake,” he said.

If his students can’t be successful, Treisman worries that their high schools and communities will be less inclined to send future students to colleges like UT, denying them opportunities that could transform their lives.

And if as a society, we are unable to help students recover, Venit, the education researcher, said he worries about a large-scale economic hit, and who will suffer the most in that worst-case scenario.

The students whose families were financially stable before the pandemic will be able to bounce back, and those who weren’t — overwhelmingly students of color, first-generation students, rural students — will have a much more difficult time, he said.

“If those folks don’t have the opportunity to advance themselves economically, then this is a rich gets richer situation, and poor stays poor situation,” Venit said. “That reverses the trend that we’ve been trying to do for 20 years in higher education.”

For Hernandez, who is nearly halfway through her second semester at UT Austin, the goal is clear: Pass calculus, finish college and become a middle school math teacher.

To do that, she has to rediscover the girl who, nearly 10 years ago, was always the first to turn in her timed multiplication tests.

District Deeds Synopsis:

While reading through this Hechinger article about an excellent Student who is struggling to succeed in college in the context of the recent Patrick Henry High School (PHHS) fiasco, we immediately recalled a headline from the San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT) titled  San Diego Unified Projects a 95 Percent Graduation Rate this Year.

The article goes on to say:

The rate jump for Black and Latino students is even higher. Both groups’ graduation rates are expected to reach 92 percent this year, which would be an increase of 6 percentage points for Black students and 9 points for Latino students.


About 500 of the graduating students, or 8 percent, are able to do so because of relaxed graduation standards, according to district data.

That propaganda provided by the SDUSD through its SDUT vessel compared with todays’ Sunday Reads featured article and the recent protests at Patrick Henry High School raised multiple red flags for us.

So, instead of just regurgitating cherry picked data from the SDUSD and ignoring the education disaster reality for thousands of Students, we decided to put together a quick assessment from infomation we have gathered and presented in District Deeds.

As we typically do, lets put together the published “facts”.

  1.  According to the Hechinger article, 2021 excellent Students “are arriving at college unprepared”, but were able to successfully:
  • Graduate from High School using established graduation standards
  • Apply to a college
  • Gain scholarship support
  • Be admitted to a major college

2.  PHHS, according to KPBS, decided to  “reduce honors and advanced course offerings was created without any consent or conversation” for “equity reasons”.

3.  According to the SDUT article, The SDUSD graduation rate for the 2021/2022 school year is projected to be a 95% “because of relaxed graduation standards”.

We decided to reverse engineer this group of facts and the analyze the impact on ALL SDUSD Students, not just those that go to college.

Reverse Engineered Fact 1: SDUSD 95% Graduation Rate

During Covid, The SDUSD enacted a number of relaxed standards to increase graduation rates:

As with the Hechlinger featured Student, SDUSD Students that attend college have had to climb out of an educational hole to succeed in college.  Luckily for those Students, there is a huge amount of college performance data that precisely identifies the shortfalls and also helps detemine resorative supports. For instance, a quote from the featured article:

In a typical year, about 2 to 4 percent of Kristin Patterson’s genetics students at UT Austin are unable to pass her course. Last fall, about 20 percent of students failed.”

In the case of College Students (2021 CSS) from the class of 2021, the data speaks for itself…more students “failed”.  But the accurate data also allowed UT to adopt “a policy allowing students to designate up to three of their courses to be graded as pass/fail, rather than with letter grades”.

The side effect was that thisemergency policy allowed students to “pass” these classes with a grade as low as a D minus, so students who earned a D grade in a prerequisite course could move on without necessarily having mastered the material.

In the case of 2021 High School Students (2021 HSS) who either didn’t go to college or dropped out, there is no data about how many Students “failed” to:

  • Know how to read
  • Know how to add, subtract and multiply
  • Get a job
  • Avoid going to prison
  • Be able to pay bills
  • Support a family

Logically, the “relaxed graduation standards” is providing a wonderful propaganda “feel good” story that the sychophant local media can turn into more readers, more clicks and more advertising revenue.

Also logically, the “relaxed graduation standards” derived from the SDUSD Diploma Mill Scam allows uneducated Students to allow “move on without necessarily having mastered the material.

In others words, the SDUSD Diploma Mill Scam, that has been in effect since at least 2015 and was expanded dramatically during Covid, allows uneducated Students to fail at LIFE with ZERO SDUSD Transparency or Accountability!

Reverse Engineered Fact 2: “reduce honors and advanced course offerings for equity reasons”

Let’s talk about “Honors and Advanced Courses” and “Equity”.

According to the “Changes Taking Place: response document from Principal Erwin’s  Course Offerings 2022-23, there are about 8 classes being removed.

Before the document created by Erwin for this public relations disaster blamed on “Equity”, there was, and still is, only a THREE YEAR OLD  2019-20 Student Handbook Document on the PHHS website that contains NO Master Schedule and NOTHING about what classes are available for Parents or Students to review.  Here is the page on the PHHS website:

THIS is the SDUSD version of Equity.  To be sure, we double checked.  Maybe another school has the class availability info.

How about Lincoln High School (LHS)?

The LHS Student Handbook contains a little about available classes….but this time the version is even older..from the 2018/19 school year….FOUR YEARS OLD!

Here is what you see:

Basically incomplete 4 year old information to serve one of the most econonomically challenged communities in the SDUSD.

Now lets look at the area where the Tricky Dick Barrera political donors live…La Jolla High School.

Guess what?

The full educational offerings are available to ALL LJHS Cluster and ALL SDUSD Stakeholders via the “Counseling” tab.

Here is a screen shot of the Counseling options:

And here is a link to the LJHS 2022-23 ARTICULATION (COURSE SELECTION)

Here is a quote from a recent UT article regarding PHHS:

San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera said that in the district’s efforts to address inequities, the district is not taking anything away from students — it’s not watering down curriculum, it’s not lowering standards and it’s not taking away chances for students to earn weighted GPA credit, he said.

NOT providing ALL SDUSD schools ALL the same access to ALL Master Schedule information IS taking away important curiculum information and is also historically typical of FAILED  “district’s efforts to address inequities”.

Typical NONEXISTENT efforts!

Reverse Engineered Fact Conclusions

Conclusion #1: As expected, the SDUSD verion of Equity is EXACTLY like the featured article said:

The students whose families were financially stable before the pandemic will be able to bounce back, and those who weren’t — overwhelmingly students of color, first-generation students, rural students — will have a much more difficult time, he said.

“If those folks don’t have the opportunity to advance themselves economically, then this is a rich gets richer situation, and poor stays poor situation,” Venit said. “That reverses the trend that we’ve been trying to do for 20 years in higher education.”

Conclusion #2:  By NOT providing equal access to ALL educational information to ALL SDUSD Stakeholders in ALL SDUSD Schools and favoring only those who have money and political influence, Trustee Tricky Dick Barrera, empty suit Superintendent Lovey Dovey Lamont and the rest of their Senior Leadership crew are OBVIOUSLY incompetent, corrupt and TOTALLY “Unapologetic” about it.

Unapologetic about pushing uneducated children to Prison…

And “unapologetic” to the familes being destroyed by their corruption.

Final Conclusion:

A SAD truth: 

Protests against the SDUSD usually only last as long as the local press news cycle.  When you are not looking in a month or so, the PHHS fiasco will be papered over by feel good stories about graduations and end of school celebrations from the SDUSD Propaganda department and fed to the sychophant local media who depends on them for a paycheck through SDUSD access.

The REAL truth:

For education activists, relentlessness is the key.

Don’t stop protesting until your community gets what it needs from the SDUSD…and then keep the pressure on them for accountability sake.

Insist and demand FULL Honesty. Transparency and Accountability on ALL initiatives from ALL SDUSD Employees.

Protest with your Vote this November and sweep ALL incumbent SDUSD School Board Trustees or political designee surrogates OUT OF OFFICE!  Only a clean slate of NEW Trustees regardless of political party will give our children what they need…a FRESH START.

Nothing will change as long as we are subservient to this widespread corruption.

We are right there with you to make it STOP!

Now for our quote of the week dedicated to our relentless SDUSD Stakeholder comrades in Lincoln. Patrick Henry, La Jolla and ALL SDUSD Schools and Clusters:

“We will be relentless in our pursuit for perfection. We won’t ever be perfect – but in the process we will achieve greatness.”
– Vince Lombardi


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