A group of students in San Diego County have been meeting weekly since January with Project Youth Coordinator Vanessa Mateus to come up with events and forums to prevent students from using drugs and alcohol. With funding from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, the South Bay Community Change Project works with the Institute for Public Strategies to develop anti-substance-abuse messages targeting youth. "It's a more effective message coming from the youth, especially when these types of issues affect them so much," Mateus said.
A 2007 report found that San Diego Unified schools segregated its students in special education and needed to embrace inclusion. Since then, the district has worked to incorporate children with special needs into mainstream classrooms. While the effort has broad support, some disagree about how to best transition to more inclusion. Some parents and educators fear that if done too quickly or without the proper resources, inclusion will be difficult for students with disabilities.
Some students at San Diego's Hardy Elementary School attended a ceremony where they were honored for being reclassified from English language learners to achieving English fluency. Slightly more than 10% of San Diego County's 37,147 English language learners -- about 80% of whom speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali or Filipino-Tagalog at home -- achieved reclassification this year. "Our message is not, 'Yeah, English is the best language in the world.' Our message is, 'Yeah, you know two languages, you rock,'" the school's principal said.
California districts are grappling with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed $4.4 billion in 2008-2009 statewide education cuts, and are either considering or enacting measures that include layoffs, school closures and replacing principals with program managers.
Some innovative charter schools are harnessing technology to boost student engagement and address the needs of nontraditional learners. In its three years of existence, San Diego's High Tech High has consistently scored among the top 10% of California high schools in state ratings and has seen all of its graduates continue on to college.