Good Schools for All

ESA’s Executive Director, Laura Kohn, is co-hosting the Good Schools For All podcast alongside Voice of San Diego‘s Editor in Chief, Scott Lewis. The goal is to have some fun, do some interviews that will make us all think, and highlight not only what we need to work on in San Diego, but programs and educators that are excelling.

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Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, or click below to stream individual episodes:


Episode 18: September 1, 2016

Your Zip Code is Not Your Destiny

Special Guests: Andrea Guerrero – Executive Director, Alliance San Diego

Numbers of the Week

952: That’s the number of students last school year who passed San Diego Unified School District’s multilingual test as an alternative to the requirement of passing two years of language courses –four times more students than the previous year.

What Is Working

California State University San Marcos signed an Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education, which guarantees admission to students from 10 school districts who meet admissions requirements. San Diego State University offers a similar admissions guarantee to local students.


Episode 17: August 25, 2016

Where Are the New Teachers? 

Special Guests: Heather Lattimer – Associate Professor, University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences

Numbers of the Week

22,000: The total statewide teacher shortage California school districts anticipate for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

What Is Working

The San Diego Unified School District created a teacher pipeline task force a few years ago to improve teacher recruitment, retention and evaluation methods. The pipeline is designed to encourage and support students in the district to enter the education field and return as teachers.


Episode 16: August 11, 2016

Getting Superintendents and Students to Stick Around

Special Guests: Luis Ibarra – Superintendent, Escondido Union School District

Numbers of the Week

11: The number of San Diego County school districts that will have new superintendents in the 2016-2017 school year.

What Is Working

Superintendents Kevin Holt of the San Marcos Unified School District and Francisco Escobedo of the Chula Vista Elementary School District are long-serving superintendents in the county. Holt began in 2008, Escobedo in 2010.


Episode 15: July 28, 2016

Marrying College Prep & Career Prep

Special Guests: Rob Atterbury – Director, District & Regional Support, ConnectED

Numbers of the Week

63 percent: That’s the percentage of jobs in the United States that will require a degree or certificate beyond high school by 2018, according to a Georgetown University study.

What Is Working

Clairemont High School launched four linked-learning academies meant to align with San Diego’s employment needs. The school’s career pathways include business, information technology, health and medical science and engineering design.


Episode 14: July 21, 2016

Plugging the School to Prison Pipeline

Special Guests: Diana Ross – Executive Director, Mid-City CAN

Numbers of the Week

34 percent: That’s how much suspensions in San Diego County dropped in three years, between the 2011-2012 school year and the 2014-2015 school year.

What Is Working

The National Conflict Resolution Center and the Old Globe Theatre partnered to bring Anna Deavere Smith to San Diego for a preview performance of her stage show about the school-to-prison pipeline. Also, a quick correction, Kohn says Deavere visited Lincoln and Crawford high schools. The visits actually happened at Lincoln and Hoover.


Episode 13: July 14, 2016

Putting Teens to Work

Special Guests: Andy Hall – Vice President & Chief Program Officer, San Diego Workforce Partnership

Numbers of the Week

21.6 percent: That was San Diego’s youth employment rate in 2014.

What Is Working

McKinley Elementary School is a model for parent-led fundraising efforts. The money they helped raise saved the school’s prestigious International Baccalaureate Program.


Episode 12: June 23, 2016

Assessing Teachers

Special Guests: Candy Smiley – President, Poway Federation of Teachers & Michele Manos – Teacher & Leader of PUSD’s teacher evaluation system

Numbers of the Week

1 out of 5 and 1 out of 17: A national survey out of Brown University and Vanderbilt University demonstrates how principals rate teachers. Principals said about one fifth of teachers were not proficient and needed assistance and support. But the same principals only gave one out of 17 teachers less than satisfactory proficiency ratings.

What Is Working

UC San Diego’s CREATE center houses researchers, youth mentors and professional development experts who work with local teachers to help them get better at their craft.


Episode 11: June 9, 2016

The Families Who Can’t Afford Summer

Special Guests: Karen Janney – Superintendent, Sweetwater Union High School District

Numbers of the Week

Two-thirds: According to a 2007 study by Johns Hopkins University, two-thirds of the ninth-grade reading achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss; the other third comes from gaps that arise in early childhood.

What Is Working

Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership, sponsored by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, has worked with San Diego Unified to put in place a summer enrichment program for rising second and third graders that has been successful in sustaining and building reading skills for more than 90 percent of participants, according to an evaluation by UCSD.


Episode 10: June 2, 2016

Low-Income Families Embrace School Choice

Special Guests: Jose Cruz – Executive Director Jose Cruz, Barrio Logan College Institute

Numbers of the Week

42 percent: That’s the percentage of San Diego Unified parents who select a school other than their assigned neighborhood school.

What Is Working

The Parent Institute for Quality Education  teaches parents how to navigate and impact the school system and promote meaningful interaction and partnerships between parents, schools and educators.


Episode 9: May 26, 2016

Every Kid Needs Something Different

Special Guests: Nicole Tempel Assisi – CEO, Thrive Public Schools

Numbers of the Week

11 (math) and 8 (reading): Those are the percentile point gains for the typical student in personalized learning schools, compared with similar students at non-personalized learning schools.

What Is Working

The Mobile Technology Learning Center: The University of San Diego’s research center is helping schools locally and across the country adopt and integrate technology in ways that are effective for education.


Episode 8: May 19, 2016

Meet County Board of Education Candidates

Special Guests: District 1 candidates Gregg Robinson & Mark Powell

Numbers of the Week

1,600: The number of at-risk students currently enrolled in San Diego County Office of Education schools. About 12,000 at-risk students cycle through County Office of Education schools over the course of the school year.

What Is Working

John Spiegel, science coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education: County schools are beginning to adopt dramatically different standards for teaching science. To help make the transition, Spiegel and his staff have provided professional development opportunities, online resources and more to teachers and schools. For more on this, listen to our March 31 interview with Trish Williams.


Episode 7: May 6, 2016

Speaking Up for English-Learners

Special Guest: Conor Williams – Founding Director, New America’s dual-language learner national work group

Numbers of the Week

75 percent: That’s the number of English Learner students in middle and high school in California who are considered long-term English Learners, which means they’ve been designated as English-learners for at least seven years.

What Is Working

We’ve mentioned dual-language immersion schools in the past. There are 82 schools in San Diego that educate students in two languages. Two schools doing it well are the EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon and the Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School. The two schools are recognized nationally for their efforts in providing a bilingual education to a diverse body of students.


Episode 6: April 29, 2016

When Kindergarten Slaps You in the Face

Special Guest: Dr. Matt Doyle – Executive Director, Vista Unified School District

Numbers of the Week

6,846: That’s the number of transitional kindergarteners we have in the San Diego region. The program just launched three years ago and it’s seen a big increase since its inception. There was a 67 percent increase in TK enrollment from the 2013-2014 to last year, and this year’s numbers are expected to see an even bigger jump.

What Is Working

The Quality Preschool Initiative: The program rates the quality of state-funded preschools and head start programs in San Diego County. It’s working because the San Diego County Office of Education is implementing the program effectively. The results of the program aren’t publicly available yet, but they will be soon.


Episode 5: April 22, 2016

How Startups Aim to Shake Up Schools

Special Guest: Tom Vander Ark – CEO, Getting Smart

Numbers of the Week

4 percent: That’s the projected proportion of private capital that’s expected to be invested in education technology in the next decade. Right now, the number’s just .4 percent, so that’s a 10-fold increase in the next 10 years.

What Is Working

TEDxKids@ElCajon: Organized by the Cajon Valley Union School District, the annual event helps kids find what’s unique and special about them and asks them to present to their community. Students from kindergarten through high school participate and it’s become a successful, student-centric event.


Episode 4: April 8, 2016

School Leaders Blame Perception for Neighborhood Flight

Special Guests: Principal Joe Austin & Dean of Students Ciria BrewerHoover High School

Numbers of the Week

58 percent: A new study from the University of San Diego’s Center for Education Policy and Law shows that 58 percent of families attending San Diego Unified public schools, including public charter schools, choose to attend their neighborhood school, which means 42 percent look elsewhere.

What Is Working

Dual-language immersion schools, or schools that offer instruction in more than one language. Many families across San Diego County send their children to these schools. They give kids the highly marketable asset of being bilingual.


Episode 3: April 1, 2016

Common Core Myths

Special Guest: Trish Boyd Williams – Member, California Board of Education

Numbers of the Week

The achievement gap refers to the difference in educational achievement between different races or demographics. 72% of Asian students read at grade level last Spring, and only 30% of black students did. In 8th grade math, 73% of Asians students met grade level standards, and only 22% of black students did.

What Is Working

Devin Vodicka, the Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District, and was named Superintendent of the year by the California Association of School Administrators in 2015. Devin and his team are making thoughtful but ambitious changes in the schooling system. They are working from a “blueprint for educational excellence,” and are creating a very positive impact.


Episode 2: March 25, 2016

‘Most Likely to Succeed,’ the Movie and Filmmaker Challenging Traditional School

Special Guest: Greg Whiteley - Director, Most Likely to Succeed

Number of the Week

503,848: That’s the number of students enrolled in public school in San Diego County. That’s more students than 20 other states.

What Is Working

Del Lago Academy: A 3-year-old high school in the Escondido district that focuses on biomedical and health sciences for students. They use project- and work-based learning, integrate technology and are a great example of a school system that is delivering innovative and inspiring education for children in a non-traditional way.


Episode 1: March 17, 2016

Start from the Beginning: The Early Childhood Challenge

Special Guest: Ida Rose Florez – Executive Director, Elementary Institute of Science 

Number of the Week

$359: What San Diego County is investing in each 0-, 1- and 2-year-old child. In contrast, we’re investing over $9,400 in every school-age child, 6-12.

What Is Working

Educational Enrichment Systems: a nonprofit provider of preschool and other early childhood programs for 1,100 kids across San Diego County, serving as a network of preschools.

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