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San Diego Board Fights to Keep Students' Leg Up at CSU Campus

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In San Diego, trustees on the city's school board are hopping mad at San Diego State University leaders, who have scrapped a long-held tradition of granting admissions preference to local students who meet the minimum eligibility requirements.

Because of its popularity, San Diego State has long used higher admissions standards than other California State campuses, and now, under the new policy, local students will have to compete with applicants from across the state, starting with next year's admissions cycle. Some San Diego Unified leaders worry that local students, many of them low-income Latinos, will be shut out.

The school board is holding a special hearing on the issue later today.

Officials at the university, which is the largest of the 23 campuses that make up the CSU system, insist that extreme budget pressures (which couldn't get much worse in the Golden State) forced them to shrink enrollment. Dropping the local-preference policy to make all students compete for admissions is one way they are reducing the size of their freshman classes.

It doesn't sound like San Diego State executives are likely to budge on this one, in spite of the public pressure the school district is putting on them.

While the school board goes to the mat for its students, the university's stance could perhaps spark a conversation in the district about the rigor of its high school curriculum. Another local district, Sweetwater Union High School District, has a special admissions agreement with San Diego State for its students who meet certain academic requirements, and university officials have said that program isn't going to change. A university official said the same arrangement could be made for San Diego Unified students, if the district were to adopt "major curriculum changes."


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