As expected, on Tuesday evening the Board voted to issue 506 preliminary layoff notices — 144 to administrators with contracts expiring this year, and 362 to probationary teachers. This was the hardest vote by far that I’ve had to take on the Board and it was made all the more sour by the fact that it may be unnecessary: if the City does the right math and lets the schools draw 25 percent of the current balance of the Rainy Day Fund, we will be able to rescind all of the notices we voted to issue.
One bright spot was the special and jaw-droppingly amazing performance of “America the Beautiful” by Tavana Faataui, an 8th grader at Visitacion Valley Middle School . “American Idol” here we come! Watch the first five minutes of the meeting to see this amazing performer. Ms. Faataui and a few other students from Visitacion Valley MS will be performing with Paul McCartney at Radio City Music Hall in April.
Also of note was an eye-popping report by Mr. Hoover Liddell from the Superintendent’s Race and Racism Working Group. Mr. Liddell, who has for many years monitored the district’s progress towards desegregation and equitable distribution of resources, presented figures that many of us have seen before and yet they are no less shocking when you see them for the 5th, 10th or 15th time. For example:
- Of the African American students who entered the ninth grade in 2003 in an SFUSD high school, only 31.8 percent received an SFUSD diploma four years later in 2007. By comparison, the district-wide percentage during that period was 62.8.
- African-American and Latino students represent 75% of the students suspended, 80% of the students in the juvenile justice system, 54% of the students in special education, 68% of truant students, and 75% of the students enrolled in the lowest performing elementary schools.
- By contrast, African-American and Latino students represent 8 percent of the students enrolled in the highest performing elementary schools, 9 percent of students taking Advanced Placement exams, 10 percent of students attending Lowell High School and 13% of students in the Gifted and Talented program.