San Diego Unified Students Face Tougher Graduation Requirements - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Unified Students Face Tougher Graduation Requirements

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San Diego Unified students will soon have to pass all prerequisite courses for the University of California system before receiving their high school diploma, it was reported today.

The district's school board voted this week to begin laying the groundwork for the new graduation standards.

Those standards will take effect in the 2010-11 school year, when they will be applied to the freshman class, and include a second year of foreign language study and a full-year of a visual or performing arts course, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been pushing districts up and down California to adopt the UC standards. So far, San Diego is the first in the county to move toward the change.

"It is downgrading how a larger percentage of Caucasian students in the northern areas, like La Jolla High School, have a complete education for students, but in schools like Mission Bay, where the majority of students belong to a minority race, quality education is not enforced," Mission Bay High School junior Lula Berhe, 17, told the board.

Not every board member agreed. Trustees Katherine Nakamura and John de Beck said enforcing UC requirements might lead to increased dropout rates, overburden already-busy counselors and make it tough for students to pursue vocational education programs, the Union-Tribune reported.

"Legislation of a curriculum as a `one size fits all' bothers me," de Beck said during Tuesday's board meeting. "It's not right to force kids into a curriculum when they have career plans."

Less than 40 percent of San Diego students currently take the classes needed to get into the UC system, according to the Union-Tribune. Costs of adding more college-prep courses in San Diego have not been addressed, the Union-Tribune reported.

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