Meeting recap: April 22, 2014 – teachers rally, QTEA, and a-g

Big raucous rally by UESF members at last night’s meeting. Our teachers, paras, nurses, counselors and security guards are worried — as many San Franciscans are–about the City’s growing income inequality and cost of living. The past five years of budget cuts were very tough on our school employees and last night they let us know  that they need a raise.

The Board and the Superintendent agree — our employees need and deserve a raise. Negotiations are ongoing and I have no doubt that we will be able to come to an agreement that is fair to our employees and is within our means.

We also heard a report from the QTEA (Quality Teacher and Education Act, otherwise known as the Prop. A  2008 $198 parcel tax) oversight committee. This committee serves as the taxpayers’ representatives in overseeing expenditures of  QTEA revenues ($35 million in fiscal 2013, according to the audit we received last night).  The vast majority of those funds go each year to some form of teacher compensation: sub days for teachers and paras receiving professional development, retention bonuses and bonuses for teaching in hard to staff subjects and schools, tuition reimbursement and coaching for teachers seeking to improve their skills, and much more.

The oversight committee reported on these and other uses of the QTEA funds and expressed satisfaction that more funding has gone to professional development in the most recent budget. They continued to express concern about the Board’s decision in 2010 to use the last half year of funding under the tax (payable 20 years from now) in 2010 to defer teacher layoffs — while the oversight committee agrees that the use of the money was appropriate they are concerned that it will represent a “double-dip” over the long term.

Finally, the Board heard a report on the progress of the Class of 2014 towards meeting the a-g graduation requirements. Graduates in 2014 are the first to be expected to meet the UC entrance requirements, otherwise known as the a-g course sequence. Since the Board passed the more stringent graduation requirements in 2010, we have been monitoring the progress of these first graduating classes — 2014 and 2015 — towards meeting it.

While we have made a good amount of progress — especially considering the dismal predictions early on about whether our students would be able to meet the more rigorous standard–there are still a lot of students in the class of 2014 who are not on track to graduate. First, the good news: more than half of the class met the entry requirements  for UC (meaning a C or better in a-g classes) this fall, and another third will likely meet those requirements by the end of this school year. Three-quarters of current 12th graders will meet the requirements to graduate.

The bad news is, of course, that half or more of some subgroups (African American students) are not on track to graduate. It was the right thing to do to increase the rigor of our graduation requirements, but the data for this current class shows the price we have paid for that decision: this class represents, as the Superintendent asserted last night, the most prepared class we have ever graduated from San Francisco Unified. And at the same time we must recognize that this class represents a group of  students who were largely unprepared by our schools for the requirements we are now saying they must meet. I do have every confidence that we will get more of our students over the line by the end of the 2014 school year and in subsequent school years, but at the same time it is important to pause and absorb where we are now.

The crux of the data for the Class of 2014, a snapshot as of February 7, 2014, is here, and here.

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4 responses to “Meeting recap: April 22, 2014 – teachers rally, QTEA, and a-g

  1. Hi Rachel,
    I’m glad the teachers are getting a raise. I’m wondering if the District has any plans to help retain experienced principals and teachers given the high cost of obtaining a teaching credential and other higher forms of education and the high cost of living in San Francisco. I’ve noticed that principals from Alvarado, Miraloma, and Sunnyside are leaving the district. Is there any discussion about how to help alleviate teachers’ student loan debt or how to subsidize their housing costs. It seems that SFUSD could join together with other districts with a high percentage of English Language Learners and free and reduced lunch students to develop a plan to help teachers earn loan forgiveness through time in the district. It also seems with so much wealth in San Francisco that the District could develop a plan for loan forgiveness and housing and go to the ballot box for an additional tax on alcoholic beverages to help keep our great teachers and administrators. San Francisco is in a unique situation, because so many of the people living in the city are renters in buildings that are paying property taxes based on the year the property was purchased. I believe only 30% of people in San Francisco own their own homes. That means when rents go up, no additional funds go to city services. We live in an expensive city, but public services are not gaining funds in proportion to rent increases. In addition, many high income earners do not work in San Francisco so their payroll taxes do no go to the city. It’s ironic. People would think that San Francisco as a city would be well supported through tax dollars, but in reality, it struggles. If we want our city services to be funded in a way which match our rental prices, we’re going to have to do some creative thinking.

  2. Thanks for the update. Is the report of district a-g data you shared posted anywhere on the SFUSD site? Is it data available by high school?

  3. Hi Katie – We asked for more info Tuesday evening and I’m told it is forthcoming. In the meantime, this chart has a little bit of the data.

  4. Katie Russell

    Hi Rachel,
    Is there any information on Special Education students’ status in meeting the graduation requirements? If so, is that information broken down by disability?