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The Voice of San Diego Podcast

VOSD’s Friday roundup of the past week’s news in brief, featuring interviews with special guests and more.

Sep 7, 2018

Voice of San Diego's investigation of graduation rates at the San Diego Unified School District didn't go over very well with district leaders.

Former VOSD education reporter Mario Koran found that some of the school district’s lowest-performing high school students transferred to charter schools focused on credit recovery — sometimes at the urging of school employees — which helped the district land a 91 percent graduation rate in 2016.

The district worked aggressively to push back against those findings. It posted a web page aimed at refuting the reporting, and it hired a PR professional to spread the word about its grad rate achievement.

And yet, a new Union-Tribune editorial board interview with San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten revealed that the district did end up quietly forming a committee to look at grad rates. That committee released a new report on San Diego Unified’s graduation rate for the class of 2016, and the report confirms Koran's major findings, including that nearly a third of students left district high schools for charters. Among the report's recommendations is keeping tabs on the number of students who leave for district charters schools and identifying how many of them are behind academically.

In this week's podcast, Andrew Keatts, Sara Libby and Scott Lewis walk us through VOSD's graduation rate investigation and the district's surprising reaction to it.

The crew re-enacts segments of the U-T editorial board interview in which Marten and the district's chief public information officer, Andrew Sharp, who chimed in a few times, talk about forming the committee to look at grad rates. The hosts also bring to life another part of the interview in which Sharp responds to a question about lead in water at schools and the district's insistence that it needs new bond money to pay for new pipes, despite the fact that the district has said in two previous bond measures that it would replace pipes at several schools that have since been found to have lead in the water.

Also on the podcast: legal pot shops haven't increased crime like some officials said they would, and a few thoughts on that anonymous New York Times op-ed that broke the internet.

Hero of the Week

The hero is MTV, which launched "Pretty Little Mamas," a new reality television show that follows a young mom squad based in San Diego. Libby digs it.

Goat of the Week

Grain beetles are the goat. The microscopic critters were found in the packaging of some of the beach hats the Padres gave away to fans at a recent game. The jerk beetles ruined what was meant to be a fun, friendly promotion.

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