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Residents talk food, graduation at SD Unified event

On March 10, students, teachers and administrators came to Crawford High School for the Vision 2020 Forum with San Diego Unified School Board members and administrators. Photo by Adam Ward

On March 10, City Heights students,
teachers and administrators came to
Crawford High School for the
Vision 2020 Forum with San Diego
Unified School Board members.

Photo by Adam Ward

On March 10, about 200 parents, students, teachers and administrators came to Crawford High School for the Vision 2020 Forum with San Diego Unified School Board members and administrators. It was the last of several meetings in each of San Diego Unified's districts.

Superintendent Cindy Marten led the event, where participants broke into work groups and added words to drawings of a child that Marten said were at the center of each table to make sure that children are at the center of the process.

It was the final of several meetings designed to "yield a clear and collective sense of our district-wide long-term priorities," according to San Diego Unified.

The groups answered three questions: What is working? What needs to be improved? And "How will we work together to accomplish our Vision 2020?"

City Heights residents were eager to share their insights and ideas with the Superintendent and other district officials.

Sitey Musa, a junior at Crawford, highlighted the gap in graduation rates in San Diego.

"We wanted to be heard and see how to fix it," Sitey said.

Besides factors like family income and parental focus on children's education, she identified teacher expectations and strictness as a critical driver.

"Some of the teachers don't expect students to pass, and that will give them low self-esteem -- some students will give up right away," she said. But some "students will say 'I will prove them wrong.' "

Sitey recently was the Building Healthy Communities AmeriCorps mentee of the month – part of a statewide program that mentors youth in nine-communities.

Another topic that parents and students emphasized was healthy, culturally appropriate food.

"If children don't eat they can't learn," said Rosy Lomaseng, in Spanish. "They need a healthy body to have healthy minds."

Lomaseng, a parent of students at Crawford, said "We also wanted to prioritize having a halal plate or meal because this community is so diverse, and that should be reflected in its food."

Halal is an Islamic term that designates food –often meat – and its preparation as permissible for Muslims to eat.

Her son Brett Lomaseng, a senior at Crawford, echoed his mother's comments.

"We are talking about how we need more changes for the school foods," Brett said. "I see students walking around, they'll get the lunch and they'll pick on it.

"Sometimes, they'll throw it in the trash."

Binci Musa, a City Heights resident who now studies at Grossmont College, said supporting students at Crawford starts in the home.

"Parents need to be involved more in student's education," she said.

For many parents in City Heights, that means having a translator instead of their child communicating with them on behalf of the school.

"Most parents will allow students to translate, but when the message is reaching the parents, it is different," she said. "By the time it is getting to the parent, they say that the teacher just wants me to do my homework at home and do this.
"But they don't explain that there are consequences, or they went to detention and got suspended. They don't explain that perspective."

Rosy Lomaseng and Brett Lomaseng came to Vision 2020 to talk about the importance of fresh, culturally appropriate food. Photo by Adam Ward
Rosy Lomaseng and Brett Lomaseng came to Vision 2020 to talk about the importance of fresh, culturally appropriate food.

Photo by Adam Ward

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