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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Academic Ballgame Has Changed

Just to be clear: Nothing stays the same. Trying to maintain the status quo is usually a wasted enterprise. San Mateo County's school-age demographics brings home that point very well. The area is no longer a homogenous, middle-class enclave. In 2009-10, according to statistics provided by the state, 35 percent of all Peninsula public school students in kindergarten-through-grade 12 qualified for free or reduced-price luncheons and/or other special services because they are considered to be economically disadvantaged, illiterate in English or hampered in some other significant way. In the state as a whole, the situation is even more stark. The comparable Golden State figure is a stunning 55 percent. As for youngsters who are not fluent in English, 25 percent of the county student body falls into that category. Statewide, it's the same. In California public school kindergartens, the figure is 40 percent. Which means two out of every five kindergartners enters public school without adequate, or any, English skills. In all cases, 85 percent of the pupils who are learning English are of Hispanic descent. The Peninsula/California ballgame has definitely changed. And there is no going back. It's not 1961 anymore. It's food for thought.

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