Recap: May 26 regular meeting

I’m sore and sleepy today — seven hours in a hot, crowded meeting that lasts until 1 a.m. will do that to you. A very brief recap:

  • The Parent Advisory Council presented some very interesting statistics on participation and availability of after-school programs in SFUSD; information that needs to be absorbed and addressed by the Board on a night with a less packed agenda. Commissioner Fewer plans to bring this topic to the next Curriculum committee meeting, on June 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Board room.
  • The San Francisco Unified School District has now aligned its graduation requirements with the A-G course sequence required for admission to the University of California and the California State University system, starting with the class of 2014. This is really a historic action and cements our commitment as a district to graduating every student college- or career-ready. Vote: 7-0 in favor.
  • The Board passed the P.E. Master Plan, which lays out a strategy to improve and expand our P.E. offerings in the coming years (the source of funds will be the funding stream provided by the Public Education Enrichment Fund–aka “Prop. H”). There was some discussion about whether the new requirement that all students take four years of P.E. (if students pass the state fitness test they may opt out of P.E. in grades 11 and 12) is too restrictive, given the Board’s concurrent discussion about providing alternative P.E. programs in certain cases. The General Counsel said, however, that the Board may create alternative programs at a later time as a “clarification” of this policy.  Vote: 7-0 in favor.
  • The Board had a lengthy discussion on a proposed partnership between City College, Communities of Opportunity and SFUSD to create a “Gateway to College” program at City College’s Southeast campus to re-engage students who have dropped out and get them back on a college path. There are many advantages and pluses to this proposal, since everyone agrees we have collectively failed these students; a multi-institution partnership is a great way to work to fix this problem. The objections center around the location: there are not extensive course offerings or support services for this group at the Southeast campus currently, and in the opinion of some Board members, the location does not provide the college experience that these students may need. In the end we amended the proposal to keep discussing locations while allowing the district to move forward with acquiring required waivers from the state. Vote: 7-0 in favor.
  • The Board unanimously passed resolutions calling for a Parent Engagement Plan and a Student Feedback System.
  • Many members of the public were waiting to comment on Commissioner Yee and Kim’s proposal to allow students in JROTC the ability to meet the P.E. requirement through an independent study program that would be supervised by the JROTC instructors. Originally, the plan was that the Board would vote to suspend the rules and act on the proposal last night. But by the time the item came up (well after 11 p.m.), Commissioner Mendoza had long departed and there were not enough votes to suspend the rules (this action requires a supermajority of the board, not a supermajority of the quorum). In the end, the item was referred to the Curriculum Committee (June 1, 4:30 p.m. in the Board room) for discussion, and will return to the full Board at the June 9 regular meeting.
  • National Urban Alliance — a controversial professional development plan proposed for 20 high schools at a cost of $2.7 million between now and June 2010 over two years — passed 4 votes (Yee, Kim, Fewer, Maufas) to 1 (Norton).

9 responses to “Recap: May 26 regular meeting

  1. Well, I think there are a number of reasons – First, they charge $3500 per day per consultant, which I’m told is on the very high end for professional development. Second, it is an expansive program that will be located at up to 20 schools, working intensively with up to one-third of the staff at each site on multiple visits throughout the year.

    I want to stress that this is not just for principals & that the NUA program does have great reviews from school districts that have used their services. I voted against the program not because I think it is a bad program, but because I was unwilling to spend this kind of money at this juncture on a program that is completely new to this district. I feel like school communities know what kind of professional development they most need, and it concerns me that this *might* be more of a “one size fits most” solution. That said, we’ve voted to implement it and I will be hoping we get good value for the investment.

  2. Local educator

    Rachel: Could you say more about why the NUA contract is so expensive? What are they doing for almost $3 million in only one year? It better be more than just PD meetings with HS principals.

  3. Regarding Mr. Smith’s departure, I am a little less sanguine about it. He may be a “nice guy” as most people always like to say, but what has that to do with anything? BAYces, the organization that Mr. Smith worked for was the recipient of a significant portion of OUSD’s millions in consultancy contracts. It is no wonder he was picked over the other two. What about finishing the job he came here to do? We hadn’t even completed the first year of the BSC and he already took the higher offer. That’s social justice.

  4. Don Krause

    You made a good decision to vote against the NUA. There are a lot of questions to be answered about this deal. I really don’t understand why all those progressive minded BOE members were so gung ho on Carlos’ choice of NUA. But I would like to know.

    Education lobbies spend a lot of money to promote, for example, the idea that teachers are the problem and that we need to do more training. Then they send out their consultants to reaps huge rewards from never-ending spigot of public education.

    If I had to identify one problem with education it is that not enough funding actually gets to the classroom. It is not to bash professional development, but the fact is that it is a huge kickback industry and if the administration is not willing to shop around, that is a tip off.

    Shame on Carlos Garcia for being so free- spending at a time when his district is so short that he is willing to pay the penalty to raise the K class size. I no longer believe he is out for the best interests of the students.

  5. Thanks, Rachel — just curious. There’s misinformation and conflicting information floating around about the San Jose Unified situation, and I wanted to at least confirm this claim before I let the whole thing drop.

  6. Caroline, I will look through the data I have from the A-G study team (after I get a good night’s sleep, of course). If I find something, I’ll let you know.

  7. I’m almost sure you’re right. I left my paperwork on the contract in the Board office last night so I can’t check for sure, but I believe you are correct that since the work starts this year and stretches into next it’s technically one year.

  8. Although technically the NUA contract says it is for 2 years, isn’t the first year this current one – 08-09? But really isn’t all of the work being provided after the end of the 08-09 fiscal year, so in reality it is $2.7 million for one year?

  9. I’m the only crank in the whole city who thinks that mandating that all students pass the A-G requirements to graduate is too rigid, and I concede, of course. But is it really true that SFUSD did have this requirement until 1998 and then dropped it, and now fewer students are graduating qualified for UC/CSU? (The issue is confounded by the fact that a D or higher would be required to graduate and a C or higher is required to qualify for UC/CSU, of course.)