Community Insight: Anzar migration deserves more attention

Sofia Safranek and Rene Rodriguez fist bump during the recessional at the Anzar High School graduation ceremony Thursday.

Anzar High School has displayed enormous success as it pertains to students going to college. Like any other school environment, though, it isn’t free of challenges.
Aromas-San Juan Unified School District trustees at a recent meeting talked about the fact that 54 percent of students who entered Anzar with the class of 2014 didn’t actually graduate with the class, a startling figure on its face. That number, meanwhile, does not take into account students who left Anzar and graduated from another school.
Anzar does offer its share of benefits to many students—for those who prefer a smaller setting; more personalized approach; and its college-prep, liberal arts emphasis.
The methods have proven successful in some respects, such as the popular intercession period in which instruction focuses on a wide breadth of alternate, real-world topics and allows more interpersonal communication among students.
Additionally, most of Anzar’s graduating students—in a given class—routinely go on to college. As noted in a recent Free Lance story, the school’s graduation requirements are actually more intensive than the state’s since the site mandates that students meet A-G requirements—courses needed to attend public universities—to get a diploma.
There’s usually a flip side to the coin, however, and the migration number showed that’s the case with Anzar. Much of the phenomenon can be attributed to the San Juan valley’s agricultural base and many farmworkers naturally being on the move, but the stunning 54 percent figure does deserve more examination by district officials.
How many of those students left by choice rather than family necessity?
And what can the district do to inform countywide residents about the unique approach to education while taking significant, bold strides to retain as many students as possible?
Anzar, after all, isn’t perfect. Although the school scored a 783 on the most recently publicized Academic Performance Index testing from 2013—the state’s established standard for every school is 800—Anzar’s three-year weighted average was just 746. The more traditional San Benito High School’s three-year average, meanwhile, was 760.
As the reputation goes, though, Anzar does things differently. If the school is a diamond in the rough, it would be nice for all local families to know it. If Anzar has its share of flaws, as most campuses do, then district officials should identify and address those issues and make sure every student who walks through the school’s doors has a fair shake at a decent education.

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