I’ve received a few emails inquiring about SFUSD security procedures in the wake of the awful events at a Newtown, CT elementary school late last week. Hours after the tragedy, Superintendent Carranza held a joint news conference with Mayor Lee to reassure the public that the city and the school district place strong importance on students’ safety. Today, Superintendent Carranza followed up with this letter to all district personnel:
I know you join me in expressing our collective heartbreak over the tragic loss of precious life at Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday.
Over the last few difficult days we have been processing the events in Newton, Connecticut with our colleagues, families and students. I have seen so many examples of caring and support across the city.
In addition to grieving, many of us are asking what more we can do to secure our schools. I want to assure you that I am taking this opportunity centrally to review our procedures and plans and I am asking every school site to do the same. From everything we’ve heard, Sandy Hook Elementary appears to be a model school in terms of security — yet still an intruder intent to do harm found a way in. I make this point because research I’ve read, coupled with my own experiences as a site teacher and administrator, have led me to believe that ultimately it’s the decisions we make when faced with a crisis that makes the biggest difference – our decisions can literally save lives.
I believe we are all committed to doing better. We want to keep our children and loved ones safe and we want to make sure nothing like what happened in Connecticut ever happens again. Year round we must familiarize ourselves with and practice the important protocols and procedures to follow during an emergency. All schools have a safety plan that is updated annually and staff should be trained to implement these plans. On a day-to-day basis, we must enforce sign-in procedures and single points of entry at our schools to mitigate harm.
And the most important thing we can do is to stay alert. Though some things cannot be prevented, many of us know first-hand the crises we’ve averted because alert people intervened in time. We must also be willing to use and refer appropriately to health and wellness services those individuals who we feel may be dealing with issues that require additional support.
Thank you for all that you do every day to keep our schools safe and to keep our children engaged in joyful learning. I wish you all peaceful and restful holidays in the company of your loved ones, and a well-deserved break.
With gratitude and respect,
Richard A. Carranza
I found this remarkable video diary thanks to a link on the Thoughts on Public Education blog. In a week where we received depressing statistics on rising poverty levels for families, this is a matter-of-fact look at what it is like to be a young family living in poverty in San Francisco.
The video is narrated by mom Valerie Klinker, who speaks in the voice of her 17-month-old son Terreace, imagining his world as he experiences it.
Upcoming events to mark:
Thursday, April 28: Budget committee meeting; Special Budget meeting on Edison Charter renewal.
Monday, May 2, 5 p.m.: Curriculum Committee to discuss inclusive practices and AVID program
Tuesday, May 3, 6 p.m.: Committee of the Whole on Special Education Redesign; Special Meeting to vote on Edison charter renewal following the adjournment of the Committee of the Whole.
Thursday, May 5, 6 p.m.: Community budget meeting at Thurgood Marshall HS, 45 Conkling St., near Silver Ave. (Free childcare and interpretation available by reservation, call 249-9293; Free parking; Muni 44, 14x)
Monday, May 9, 6 p.m.: PAC and PPS present findings and recommendations from the middle school forums at the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment.
Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m.: Community budget meeting at James Lick MS, 1220 Noe St., at 25th St. (Free childcare and interpretation available by reservation, call 249-9293; Free parking; Muni 24, 48, J)
Tuesday, May 24, 6 p.m.: District staff present their recommendations on the middle school feeder plan at a regular meeting of the Board of Education.
Wednesday, May 25: Budget review open office hours 2 pm – 6 pm, available by appointment first come, first served. Email HernandezE2″at”sfusd.edu
Monday, June 13, 6 p.m.: Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment meets to discuss the middle school proposal.
Tuesday, June 14, 6 p.m.: BOE is likely to vote on the middle school assignment policy at its regular meeting.
Two fun videos to share:
The video above shows the work of students in our CAT program (transition for students with disabilities ages 18-22) who participated in a stop-motion animation class sponsored by the City’s Recreation & Parks Department.
Click here to see SFUSD students featured on ABC-7 News tonight – the clip is about “Everything Goes,” a performance of the SF Arts Ed Players (full disclosure: my children are part of the Players this year). You probably know SF Arts Ed for the artists-in-residence it provides to San Francisco public schools during the school year, and the Players are part of another amazing program where students learn dance, singing and acting skills and perform in a professionally-staged production.
Saturday and Sunday, the Players will be performing in a revue of Cole Porter songs — they have worked incredibly hard since September, with hours of rehearsals each week, and the hard work shows! Shows are 2:00 p.m. both days at the Eureka Theater (215 Jackson St., SF) — Tickets can be purchased online through City Box Office.
A week or so ago I had a pleasant coffee with Kristina Rizga, a reporter for Mother Jones who is embedded at Mission High for the year. She’s been writing regular dispatches from the ground, and doing a great job capturing life at an inner-city high school. I’m particularly interested in her upcoming post about watching “Waiting for Superman” with a Mission teacher and his students, and the discussion about the movie.
Here’s Part I of the “Waiting for Superman” dispatch >>>
You know you’re in the realm of the A-list when omnipresent local treasure Bill Wilson snaps your photo at a luncheon. Carlos and I were chatting at the Geary Boulevard Merchants Association lunch when Bill happened along with his camera.
Last week I posted figures from CDE on the special education achievement gap. But tonight I learned from Dr. Ritu Khanna, our Executive Director of Research, Planning and Accountability, that the CDE has pulled ALL of its special education results to recalculate them due to some unspecified error (not just with SFUSD’s numbers, but the entire state’s!). So I’ve redacted the information in the earlier post and will repost updates when available. If I don’t get to it within a month, someone remind me to ask for updates.
Happy first day of school, everyone! I haven’t posted in a few days so there are a few things I wanted to note:
- Nice article in the Chronicle this weekend on the Potrero Residents Education Fund (PREFund) parents’ investment in Daniel Webster Elementary. The school has been transformed by the care, investment and attention the neighborhood parents have showered on it since bringing the school back from the brink of closure in 2006.
- High school students in San Mateo experienced a terrifying first day of school after a former classmate set off at least one pipe bomb at Hillsdale High School. The boy was captured before anyone was harmed, but the incident was chilling nonetheless. The principal and teachers at the school credit frequent drills on emergency procedures for quick action that kept anyone from getting hurt. SFUSD has recently updated all of its emergency procedures, so I’m confident our schools are similarly prepared, but it never hurts to double-check. Talk to your principal if you are at all concerned about safety issues.
- I recently heard from a new Kindergarten parent who was very disappointed in the welcome offered to new families by her child’s new elementary school. The school principal did send out a letter to new and returning families, but it arrived less than a week before school started and had less information than the parent wanted. I understand how a new parent feels — when your child is entering a new school the most important thing is for you to feel that they will be welcomed into a safe, stable environment with open arms — but I also feel sympathy for the principal, who has a million and one things to juggle and arrange and fix and ready ahead of the start of school. In many schools, welcoming new parents is a task the PTA takes on, but sometimes it takes a few weeks for the PTA to rev up at the beginning of the year. If no one is around or paying attention in August, then the welcome letter doesn’t get done until the last minute, if at all. It is one of the niceties that falls through the cracks, because, after all, the important thing is to have schools ready to receive our children on the first day. And like many veterans of the public schools, I have already forgotten the intense anxiety of the First Day of Kindergarten and settled into the “everything gets sorted out after the first week” attitude, because I’ve seen from experience that our children will be well-cared for. So, I have two suggestions that might make everyone’s lives easier. To newbies: lighten up! Your children are going to be fine and if the first week is a bit chaotic, try to go with it. Things will settle down and I predict your child will be just fine (he or she might even enjoy the ride!). To veterans: remember what the first week was like and try to mentor or reach out to new families at your school. The small pieces of information no one thinks to pass on will make a world of difference to someone who is new.
The roses in our jewel-like garden (enter from Fulton & Park Presidio Blvd or JFK Drive just west of the De Young Museum) are at their peak just around the Fourth of July. Magnificent!
A child I know has lately been obsessed with perfecting her skills on the monkey bars (she wasn’t tall enough to reach the bar until this year). Every recess for the past few months, she’s been out on the structure at her school, jumping and swinging and working on that upper body strength. One day her blistered palms gave out and started to bleed; she went crying into the office for a band aid, where the principal (kindly, but firmly) told her to lay off until her hands healed. She did – it took a week.
Over the weekend she proudly showed me how good she’s become. “I can jump to the third bar!” she proclaimed.
Today she missed, fell, and broke her left wrist. It hurt, and she was very scared, but she kept her head. After the ordeal of the emergency room was over, she reflected on the experience. “I learned a lesson,” she said. “DON’T jump to the third bar. Even though it’s so much fun!”
She has just turned nine, and I am so proud of her – first, for trying hard to meet her goals. And second, for being willing to learn from adversity. She says she’ll be back on the monkey bars after the cast comes off. We’ll have to have a talk about the third bar, but if she decides she’s ready to reach for that height again once she heals, well – I’m not sure I’ll have the heart to stop her.