This week, with Graduation Day for thousands of San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Students drawing near, we decided to look into the decisions being faced in the immediate future by those year 12 graduates.
In our search we discovered that the educational challenges of the Class of 2022 could be worse than any previous SDUSD graduating class in history since the the World War, Korea and Viet Nam conflicts where students were recruited/drafted into military service after, and sometimes during, high school over a period of years.
To help us in this analysis, this Sunday Reads features an excellent article/survey by “The 74” exploring the challenges and decisions faced by those 2022 graduates in determining their best first step into adulthood after high school. We have featured the complete article (excluding some pictures) today and we strongly urge our readers to click on the title (in red) to read the full article for themselves.
May 18, 2022
Milwaukie High, near Portland, Oregon, is known as a “safe school,” said Principal Carmen Gelman. Sharing space with the Milwaukie Academy of the Arts, the school draws students who struggle with anxiety as well as LGBTQ students who might feel unwelcome elsewhere.
After two years of a pandemic, Gelman is proud that her students have learned to speak up for themselves. For example, they asked for a room in the school to gather when they’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed. But as seniors prepare to graduate, she said it’s “been like pulling teeth” to keep them focused on academics.
“They wanted teachers to stop giving them homework,” she said. “Their priority is their mental health, not college.”
The pandemic’s impact on this year’s graduates is captured in new survey data showing that one in four seniors has changed their future plans because of COVID, and some have less desire to continue their education. Published Wednesday by YouthTruth, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, the data shows English learners, LGBTQ youth and students of color were more likely to reconsider their next steps. The results are based on responses from over 28,000 high school seniors from both 2019 and this year, allowing for comparison to the last senior class to graduate before the pandemic.
Black and Hispanic students and boys, for example, are less likely to say they want to go to college than those who graduated in 2019. Eighteen percent of this year’s graduates said they considered dropping out. But that rate was much higher among LGBTQ students (26%) and transgender students (37%). And Hispanic students are more likely than white students to say they’re unsure about their next steps — 14% compared with 9%.
Less access to college and career counseling could be one reason for the shift in attitudes.
In 2019, 40% of graduates reported receiving guidance from their schools about career pathways, according to the YouthTruth results. Among students in this year’s class, 33% said they received such guidance. And the percentage of students saying there’s an adult they could ask to write a college recommendation letter declined for males, students in rural schools and Hispanic students.
‘I felt like I was all alone’
Seniors told The 74 they felt reluctant to seek help and that counselors sometimes didn’t offer guidance unless asked.
Yan Kyaw, a senior at Senn High School in Chicago, said his school partnered with OneGoal, a nonprofit focusing on preparing students for higher education. But he had a hard time taking advantage of the help while learning remotely.
“I did have a support system, but I didn’t use them because I felt like I was all alone,” said Kyaw, who will attend the University of Illinois Chicago and study business. In junior year, he didn’t ask for feedback on his college essays. He often found himself sitting on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He described his high school years as “a punch in the gut.”
Due to the pandemic, many seniors went without the kind of volunteer and internship experiences colleges often look for and had fewer in-person college fairs and opportunities to “set their feet on a college campus to do a tour,” said Geoff Heckman, head of the counseling department at Platte County High School, near Kansas City, Missouri.
Students have “done their best to pick next steps based upon virtual tools and online information,” he said, “but without the genuine face-to-face conversation that is so helpful in making that determination about which direction they really want to pursue.”
Rajsi Rani, who’s graduating from Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California, said she missed informal communication the most.
“Because everything was virtual, there was no knowledge passed by word of mouth, which I’ve found is very helpful for this kind of information,” she said. “I did my own research on career ideas. It was not provided by my school to the extent that I think it was pre-pandemic.”
For some students, the pandemic wasn’t necessarily a setback, but instead helped them identify their goals.
Monty Woods, who attends Milwaukie High, said he always planned to stay close to home and attend Clackamas Community College. He takes care of his mother, who is disabled, and said he used to think about becoming a teacher. But the pandemic changed his mind.
“I saw how it just drained every single staff member,” he said. Now he plans to study business administration.
‘Taking a pause’
Some seniors also missed out on financial aid counseling. The survey shows that only a quarter of this year’s graduates said they received help on how to apply for assistance, compared with a third in 2019.
That decline shows up in application rates for federal financial aid. According to the National College Attainment Network, overall rates — including first-time filers — have dropped almost 9% compared to last year, continuing the downward trend that began in 2020. Every state saw a decline, ranging from less than 2% in Texas to almost 17% in Michigan.
The Network’s report notes that “high schools are having to triage supports to students, with learning loss and academics, mental wellness and basic needs often getting more attention and investment than postsecondary transitions.” The researchers suggested the “hot economy” could also be pushing some students to choose work over college, especially those who were on the fence.
The pandemic’s strain on family budgets pushed many students to take jobs or increase the number of hours they were working. Shelly Reggiani, executive director of equity, community engagement and communications in the North Clackamas district, which includes Milwaukie High, heard from students working as many as 30 hours a week “to keep the lights on.”
“These young people were forced into taking on that adult role at such a young age,” she said. In the past, she added, the term, “gap year,” often referred to travel plans or putting off a year of college sports. Now, she said, “it almost seems to be synonymous with, ‘I’m taking a pause.’ ”
Milwaukie High senior JohnTasia Simmons, who goes by “Tae tae,” is just glad she pulled her grades up enough to get into Portland State University. She’s struggled with a learning disability her whole life, which she said was “not a good mix” with online learning. She fell behind in algebra and English, and almost failed history.
“My assignments were just stacking up. My grades were looking friggin’ terrible,” she said. “I thought I would have to start off in community college.”
DISTRICT DEEDS ANALYSIS:
Reading through this article by The 74 we decided to investigate the current conditions and strategies being implemented in the SDUSD that may be persuading SDUSD class of 2022 to reconsider “next steps” after graduation.
First of all we will establish some obvious basic facts from reviewing the conditions of the SDUSD class of 2022:
Basic Fact #1: Learning Loss
Source: August 12, 2021 – Forbes – Learning Loss: Urgent Crisis Or Harmful Myth?
The data is clear: students haven’t been learning at the same rate as in a normal, pre-pandemic year. According to one estimate they’ve lost four to five months of learning, on average. The figures are significantly worse for students from lower-income families. And because those students are less likely to have been tested recently, the available evidence probably underestimates the extent of the problem.
District Deeds Conclusion: SDUSD Class of 2022 Students had massive cumulative learing loss in Sophomore, Junior and Senior year.
Basic Fact #2 – Zero Disaster Recovery Planning and subsequent gross educational mismanagment made learning loss worse in the SDUSD:
Source: District Deeds: May 3, 2020 – SDUSD Sandimic Week 7: Thousands of SDUSD Students Not Connected – The Tricky Dick Barrera and Marten Distance Learning Mirage!!!
District Deeds Conclusion: SDUSD Class of 2022 Students had WORSE cumulative learning loss in Sophomore, Junior and Senior year than school districts described in Fact 1.
Basic Fact #3: SDUSD Increases Graduation Rate despite learning loss.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune – March 13, 2022: San Diego Unified projects a 95 percent graduation rate this year
San Diego Unified is predicting a whopping 95 percent graduation rate this year, partly because it expanded opportunities for students to recover course credits and because of a state law that temporarily relaxed graduation requirements due to the pandemic.
District Deeds Conclusion: For self serving propaganda and enrollment reasons, the SDUSD graduated Students MORE Students with LESS education.
Basic Fact #4: Enrollment is dropping in the SDUSD
Source: EdSource – March 18, 2022: Enrollment fell faster than expected at San Diego Unified, data shows
The San Diego Unified School District is losing students at a faster pace than school leaders expected, which might mean financial trouble in the future
District Deeds Conclusion: The horrible education provided to ALL Students before Covid was exposed to Parents during Covid and then got exponentially WORSE during the last 2 years making Parents and their kids RUN AWAY from the SDUSD to other educational options.
Basic Fact #5: SDUSD is pouring millions of dollars into getting new students.
Source: San Diego Channel 10 – May 12, 2022: SDUSD offering UTK classes at most elementary schools in the fall
San Diego Unified School District is opening its classrooms to four-year-olds. Next school year, Universal Transitional Kindergarten, or UTK, will be offered at almost every school.
District Deeds Conclusion: Instead of focusing on improving service to CURRENT “customers”, that have invested 12 years…those Class of 2022 Students Graduating with sub-par, incomplete educations…the SDUSD is pouring MILLIONS of dollars money into UTK to con NEW 4 year old “customers” into enrolling.
Here is the SDUSD website propaganda page for UTK…all laughing children and flowers:
In marketing this is called picking the “low hanging fruit”.
District Deeds OVERALL Conclusion:
For for the class of 2022, despite massive Learning Loss from Sophomore Year (March – June 2020), Junior Year 2020/21 and Senior Year 2021/22, the SDUSD refused to put in the hard work and planning to close that education gap and instead used grade inflation to improperly pass Students and present a fraudulent Graduation Rate for propaganda purposes. This immoral act graduated thousands of Class of 2022 Students that are now educationally unprepared for either college or career.
For SDUSD sychophants, we have one HUGE question you must answer for all SDUSD Stakeholders:
How can inconsistent remote learning and massive learning loss translate to higher graduation rates without grade tampering and corruption?
If remote and asynchronous learning that produces learning loss HONESTLY creates higher graduation rates, maybe the SDUSD should close ALL the schools and go 100% remote learning for a 100% Graduation Rate!!!
So what IS the SDUSD doing for the undereducated Class of 2022 to prepare them for the future?
This falls into the realm of the amorphous Leadership and Learning” Department.
Here is how the corrupt SDUSD is “marketing” that support to the Class of 2022:
Where are the laughing 12th graders and flowers?
But wait…there is an IMPORTANT link to click and “view the Critical Concepts, Guaranteed Viable Curriculum and Department Website“.
When we saw that, we got excited!
But here is what we got:
Just like the overall story of the dysfunctional UTK-12 SDUSD and their educational betrayal of the Class of 2022, “Critical Concepts” and “Guaranteed Viable Curriculum” are nowhere to be found!
However we did not give up!
Through an expansive search through the SDUSD website maze we were able to locate the 2021 Leadership and Learning Administrative Circular 216. It provides the Counseling timeline for 2022 Graduates from August, 2021 through March, 2022. Following up with contacts within the SDUSD we discovered that the circular is part of a SDUSD initiative nicknamed “Summer Melt”.
According to a blog post from Harvard Education Publishing titled “Where Have All the Graduates Gone” we found a definition and interventions for “Summer Melt”:
As a result, a surprisingly high share of lower-income high school graduates who have done everything they are supposed to in order to get to college—they have applied and been accepted to school, in most cases have applied for financial aid, and have chosen where to enroll—fail to enroll anywhere in the year after high school. This phenomenon, to which we refer as “summer melt,” occurs from sea to shining sea: melt rates range from 21 percent of students in Boston, MA, to 29 percent of students in Albuquerque, NM, to 44 percent of students in Fort Worth, TX.
Promisingly, we also find that students and their enrollment decisions are very responsive to additional outreach and support during the summer months.
According to our contacts, every year the SDUSD “Summer Melt” program, initated by counselors, focuses on contacting everyone in the current graduating class to assist them with any issues regarding college enrollment. In the SDUSD they partner with a non-profit organization, CalSoap, that assists them in getting all the supports required for college enrollment of graduating Students. Although the outreach to graduating seniors occurs througout the school year, a large emphasis is applied AFTER graduation (in the summer) when most all the acceptance and record transmittals are in place.
What good is successfully getting unprepared Students fully enrolled in colleges where they will fail? That is like sending a Student up in an airplane with a certified pilot and then having the pilot bail out when they get to cruising altitude.
In other words, an educational example of the great Coach Bill Walsh and incompetent Trustee Sharon Payne quotes:
What a waste of time and money for EVERYONE involved!!!
The District Deeds Solution – UTC!
No, San Diego Readers…not THAT UTC!
UTC = Universal Transitional College!
Instead of pouring MILLIONS of dollars into day care for 4 year olds, put ALL that money into a 2nd semester senior year intensive tutoring initiative for their weakest subjects to bring ALL students up to 12th grade level whether they are going to college or not.
According to SDUSD propaganda outlet San Diego Channel 7-39 “San Diego Unified School District Changes Grading System to ‘Combat Racism“:
During the first semester of last year, 30% of all D or F grades were given to English learners. One in four, 25%, of failing marks went to students with disabilities.
By ethnicity, 23% went to Native Americans. Another 23% of failing grades went to Hispanics. And 20% of D or F grades went to Black students.
By comparison, just 7% of failing marks went to White students.
The article says with the new grading system:
Academic grades will now focus on mastery of the material, not a yearly average.
What better way to USE that new grading system, guarantee “mastery of the material” and prepare for College and Career than by spending the last 6 months in high school putting in the hard work to assure that graduating students are ready for the world outside of High School?
If we apply the millions of dollars to guaranteeing a complete education to “CURRENT customers” (graduating Students), the “NEW customers” (parents of Kindergarteners) will be enrolling their kids district wide.
THAT is low hanging fruit!!!
Let’s do it!!!
For our Readers who want to learn more about “Summer Melt” we found an upcoming FREE webinar three days from now (on May 25, 2022) titled “Strategies to Avoid Summer Melt“.
According to the FREE Webinar description:
Join this webinar to learn:
- What are the primary factors that contribute to students “melting”?
- How can we prevent it?
- Steps that Achieve Atlanta found to be effective in preventing summer melt
- How coaching students can help
- OneGoal’s Summer Hub – a platform designed to support students during this challenging time
Sign up today!!!
“Go make your big beautiful dent, and as you do so come down on the side of boldness. If you err, may it be for too much audacity, and not too little. For you really are enough. You have untold strengths and resources inside. You have your glorious self. – Sue Monk Kidd
- Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!
- You want to be sure you don’t miss an issue of District Deeds, click the “follow” button below and you will get an email automatically when an article is published on District Deeds.