Every year the Mayor gives awards to teachers and principals of the year. The award process for 2015-16 is open! Nominate an amazing teacher or principal who you think deserves recognition. More information is here:
Awardees receive wonderful donated gifts like laptops, hotel stays, event tickets and spa days, but the most important thing they receive is high-level recognition and gratitude for the incredible efforts they put in every day.
Nominate every teacher or principal who has made a difference in your life or your child’s life — you don’t have to limit yourself to just one in either category! Teachers and principals who do great work in our schools every day deserve our thanks and recognition and this is one tangible way to offer it.
Every year, the first week of December is Inclusive Schools Week. More than anything else, Inclusive Schools Week is about inspiring all of us to think bigger about who we are, which students our schools serve, and how we can serve every student better.
So, to help get you in the mood, here are some stories I find incredibly inspirational:
Including Samuel is a documentary made by a photojournalist whose second son, Samuel, was born with a disability. Samuel’s family believes strongly he should be included in mainstream classrooms, but they also understand the trade-offs that full inclusion can require.
Here is Samuel’s father, Dan Habib, giving a TED talk:
Harper’s Playground came to be after Harper’s parents learned they would be parents of a child with a disability. They immediately wondered: how would they help Harper play with other children and find friends? From that, a movement toward more inclusive play spaces for children was born.
At tonight’s meeting we heard a fascinating presentation of the results of the district’s research partnership with Stanford. Specifically, the partnership has looked at longitudinal data on English Learner achievement in several pathways — English Plus, Bilingual/biliteracy and Dual Immersion (full descriptions of each of these pathways are here).
I’ll post the presentation as soon as I have an electronic copy, and it’s pretty straightforward to understand. But basically, our concern as a district has been that we didn’t have solid data supporting the big investment we’ve made in dual-language immersion as a strategy to support the achievement of English Learners. (And in addition, until the last two years, we didn’t have accurate data on the English proficiency/background of all the students enrolled in our language pathways).
Dual-language immersion–offered in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean– is wildly popular among English speakers and was designed to support both the English language instructional needs of target language native speakers as well as their content instruction needs. These programs have exploded throughout the district and have been one of the district’s key strategies over the past decade for integrating schools (look at Bret Harte, Fairmount, Monroe, James Lick, DeAvila . . . the list goes on).
There is some data — not unique to our district — indicating that English Learners who are educated in dual-language classrooms (the ideal ratio is debated but generally held to be 2/3 English Learner/bilingual with 1/3 English native speakers) are slightly more likely to be reclassified English proficient by middle school than English learners educated in other environments. Still, the sample sizes of the existing studies are small and the data they generated hasn’t been regarded as definitive (though to be fair it is considered “promising”).
But the Stanford longitudinal results are much more robust and definitive than past studies, and I have to say that I was relieved when I saw that they basically support the earlier studies and our general approach up till now.
Essentially: students in English Plus programs (where they are immersed in content instruction in English much of the day and pulled out for specific English Language Development for a certain number of minutes per day) become English proficient faster and achieve at a higher level in the earlier grades, but students in Bilingual and Dual-immersion pathways eventually catch up by middle school. The takeaway is that it doesn’t really matter what pathway you’re in by the time you reach middle school.
The down side is that there is still a significant gap in achievement and overall English proficiency between students whose first language is Spanish and those whose first language is Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin). And an additional down side is that all students — whether their first language is English, Chinese or Spanish — are not achieving at an acceptable level in math by middle school. So we have a lot of work to do.
Also from tonight’s board meeting:
- We reauthorized charters for Gateway High School and Life Learning Academy;
- We heard public comment from community members at the Claire Lilienthal K-8 Korean Immersion Program, the Filipino pathway at Bessie Carmichael K-8, and Hunter’s View residents advocating for the district to refurbish and reopen the Hunter’s Point Youth Park;
- We celebrated 33 teachers who achieved the rigorous National Board Certification this year — bringing the number of district teachers who have achieved this professional honor and badge of achievement to 239! Congratulations!
Today at my office, we are celebrating Giving Tuesday — a movement created last year to encourage people to give amidst the orgy of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday shopping. (Don’t get me started on the rather repulsive trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving to push people to shop instead of celebrating family and other blessings.)
I gave $25 towards the San Francisco Parks Alliance’s Giving Tuesday goal to raise $2,000 for its Action Grant program. The Parks Alliance launched Action Grants last spring, donating a total of $25,000 to promising park projects that needed some “seed money” to get off the ground. My favorite, the Northridge Community Garden, was started by Mishwa Lee, a school district retiree and sometime substitute paraprofessional. Mishwa and her fellow Northridge residents have built an amazing garden and gathering space in their Bayview housing complex — producing food, community and youth development opportunities for all residents.
I also gave $25 to what might be my favorite nonprofit in the City (though there are so many that do amazing work!). The Arc of San Francisco holds a special place in my heart because of their work ensuring that adults with developmental disabilities lead productive, independent lives. I was honored to be interviewed for their annual fundraising video this year, which I think sums up their work perfectly:
The Arc’s holiday giving drive provides $25 gift cards to their clients who might not otherwise get any gift this year.
These are just my suggestions for making a gift — of whatever size — this Giving Tuesday. Give to whatever cause is most meaningful to you today – it feels amazing!
If you live in San Francisco, a revolution is coming to a school cafeteria near you . . . Revolution Foods, that is. Tonight, the Board voted unanimously (6-0, with Commissioner Mendoza absent) to award Oakland-based Revolution Foods with an 18-month contract worth $13.5 million to provide pre-cooked, pre-plated fresh meals (mostly breakfasts and lunches) to students in SFUSD.
This is big news for so many reasons:
- The contract represents a shift in attitude towards student nutrition. It calls for fresh, not frozen entrees, and specifies that meals must be served to students within 24 hours of being prepared. If you accept (which I do) that fresh food = higher quality, then this requirement should bring about a huge improvement in the appeal of meals served to students. In many districts, improving the quality of meals has led to modest improvements in participation. What I hope is that this step will begin a “virtuous cycle” of increasing participation leading to better financial stability for the food program leading to better quality leading to even higher participation.
- The contract also represents an increased financial commitment to school meals in San Francisco. District officials told the Board that the school district is paying its current vendor $1.79 per lunch for elementary school students (up from the $1.59 per elementary lunch the district paid in 2011-12). Revolution’s bid for the new contract came to $1.95 per elementary lunch. Revolution was also the lowest bidder. The current vendor, Preferred Meal Systems of Illinois, bid $2.26 per elementary lunch for the same terms. Still, the bottom line is that the district will now be paying more per meal than it has in the past. In my reasoning (and one of the reasons I supported the new contract), we also will get more for our money.
- Finally, the contract also represents a huge increase in Revolution’s daily meal production in Northern California — according to co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer Kirsten Tobey, the company is currently producing 33,000 lunches a day in its Oakland kitchens; with the addition of the San Francisco Unified account, it will have to produce at least 22,000 more lunches each day. Even for one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies, this will be a big lift for Revolution, but Ms. Tobey assured the Board the company can handle it. She said Revolution has already begun increasing refrigeration capacity and is alerting suppliers that their orders will be increasing as well.
Revolution’s foods will start appearing in SFUSD cafeterias on Monday, Jan. 7, the first day of school following the Winter break (and it’s a good thing, too, as sources tell me there was no backup plan if the Board had turned down the contract). Talk about working without a (hair)net. Once they’ve had a week or so to settle in, let me know what you think!
Last Friday, President Norman Yee and I were proud to stand alongside Superintendent Carranza and other district leaders to announce the district’s scores on the 2011-12 California Standards Test (CST or STAR test). The scores added another data point to the trend of gradual improvement for all SFUSD students in English/Language Arts and Math.
Overall, 60.5 percent of all students in grades 2-11 scored proficient or above, up from 50.5 percent in 2008. In the Superintendent’s Zone, fewer students scored proficient (35.5 percent) but compared to just 19.4 percent proficient in these schools in 2008, the gains were impressive. The nine SIG schools (those receiving three-year Federal School Improvement Grants ending in 2013) increased to 36.6 percent proficient compared to 18.2 percent proficient just four years ago.
Overall, 67.6 percent of all students in grades 2-7 scored proficient or above, up from 59.4 percent in 2008. In the Superintendent’s Zone, fewer students scored proficient in Math (48.8 percent) but compared to just 25.1 percent proficient in these schools in 2008, the gains were impressive. The nine SIG schools (those receiving three-year Federal School Improvement Grants ending in 2013) increased to 50.4 percent proficient compared to 23.5 percent proficient just four years ago.
More data and charts are posted here, and at the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 18 the Board will receive an in-depth presentation on our 2011-12 achievement data. Stay tuned!
Hot off the presses – United Educators of SF and SFUSD have reached a tentative two year agreement (covering 2012-13 and 2013-14) that will restore the number of instructional days to 179.5 and limit the number of forced closure days to 1.5. This is huge, not only because teachers, paraprofessionals and other UESF members have taken four furlough days in each of the past two years, but also because students will now have the benefit of a full school year (the last day of instruction both years will be designated a half day).
The tentative agreement was reached by the district and UESF bargaining teams last week, and last night was ratified by the UESF Executive Board by a 2-1 margin. Next, the agreement will go to UESF membership with a recommendation to ratify — members will vote in a mail-in election with ballots due by August 20.
“What stands out about this agreement is that, even in the midst of an ongoing economic crisis for public schools in California, we worked together to find a way to make student learning come first by restoring the school year,” said Superintendent [Richard] Carranza. “However, our ability to keep schools open for our children completely hinges on the voters of California passing either or both tax initiatives, Prop. 30 and Prop. 38. Without this, we’ll have to institute as many as 5 additional forced closure days for the upcoming school year and up to 10 additional days for the 2013-14 school year.”
[UESF President] Dennis Kelly pointed out “that the union advocated for the half-day and non-instructional day closures to preserve learning time and to make a statement about the importance of extricating children from the vice of state fiscal failures.”
Major props to the bargaining teams for both sides, who persevered and achieved a good agreement despite some pretty hard feelings earlier in the spring. Assuming UESF membership ratifies the agreement, this is truly a win-win-win for the district, its partners in UESF, and families — who can now look forward to the first day of school without losing precious instructional days and worrying about having to scramble for additional child care to cover scattered forced closure days, or even worse, a prolonged strike.
Read the district’s press release on the agreement here.