Recap: June 9 Board meeting

(Updated 6/11/09 to clarify several points and expand descriptions of board actions on June 9).

By now everyone pretty much knows the major news from last night’s meeting — the Board passed a resolution amending the district’s independent study policy to include students taking a JROTC course, allowing them to satisfy physical education requirements through independent study. I’ve posted thoughts about this issue here, and here, and here, so really — ’nuff said.  (For those completely new to this protracted policy fight, the district has helpfully posted a fact sheet).

In fact, the action item from last night that will affect FAR more students, staff and families is the approval of a new calendar for the 2010-11 school year and beyond.  I have received a lot of mail, mostly from elementary school parents, questioning this move — which basically starts school a week earlier, fixes spring break to occur always in the final week of March, and ends school just before Memorial Day weekend in May. Since I have two children in elementary school, I get the objections, but I need to point out that there are some real benefits for students in middle and high school — primarily because our calendar will now align with those of City College, where many high school students take additional courses, and because middle and high school students will now be able to complete their final exams before winter break. An additional benefit for all students (but not the reason the Superintendent recommended the change) is that more instruction will occur before the state testing in late April. Dennis Kelly, the President of United Educators of San Francisco, testified that 55 percent of his membership have also indicated a willingness to try out the new calendar proposal, which was also a persuasive fact for me.

My main ongoing concern is that community organizations which provide summer programming–like the YMCA, the JCC and many others–get enough notice and resources in order to completely realign their offerings to support families for whom summer camp is essential childcare. I have been assured that this is happening, and will be checking in on this over the next year.

We also received a report from the Bilingual Community Council (BCC), a Board-appointed committee that oversees the district’s services to English Learners. The BCC is mandated as part of the settlement of Lau v. Nichols, a 1974 Supreme Court decision that established certain guidelines for educating students with limited English skills; it is a separate body from the District’s English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC)–a district-level advisory committee. Basically, each school with 21 or more English Learners enrolled must have an ELAC; each ELAC must send a representative to the District ELAC, called DELAC. And under Lau, the Board must appoint, and listen to the recommendations of, a BCC.

Anyway, of primary concern to theBCC are procedures and services of the Educational Placement Center and support of ELACs.  Board members asked that the BCC provide a list of recommendations each year so that we can be held accountable on our progress toward implementing better supports and services for English Learners.

Also of note:

  • The Board unanimously passed a resolution authored by myself and Commissioner Fewer calling for the establishment of a joint committee with City College of San Francisco to discuss issues of mutual interest;
  • The 2009-10 district’s budget was introduced for first reading but due to the late hour we opted not to hear the full presentation until the augmented Budget Committee hearing on June 16. For interested community members, there will also be a workshop on the 2009-10 budget on June 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at James Lick Middle School;
  • The Board unanimously passed a resolution calling for the second annual Soda Free Summer.

8 responses to “Recap: June 9 Board meeting

  1. I wanted to leave a comment on the post above this one (in re the 2010-11 budget) but for some reason haven’t been able to do so. Hence the off-topic response here!

    I hope that when the Board examines the (horrible, terrible, no good very bad) options available that they prioritize SFUSD’s strategic plan and ask first how proposed cuts will impact student achievement, particularly the achievement of students who have historically been poorly-served by SFUSD. Although we’ve been under this strategic plan for a year now, I do not feel confident that the Balanced Score Cards and whatnot are leading to actual changes in teaching, learning, and administrating, and if the state’s plans are any indicator, equity will be out the window in SFUSD’s cuts.

    Also, given that teacher layoffs are a given, I hope that SFUSD will think carefully before entering into MOUs with Teach for America if those MOUs will require that fully-credentialed teachers with one or two years’ experience who are not from that program will lose their jobs. Our high-needs schools deserve continuity, and while I am deeply impressed with the drive that Teach for America’s corps members show, I am not convinced of their classroom efficacy and concerned about the constant turnover the program requires to succeed.

  2. I linked to the BCC report in my original post. Though I’m still new to the Board, I think both bodies provide valuable input, and from different perspectives. Not sure there is anything more to say on this subject.

  3. It doesn’t matter where you get your information? I think it matters a great deal. Why not get the information from those who actually were elected to and work on ELACS. Putting appointees on place can cause all kinds of problems. This is a hypothetical. For all I know the BCC is fine and a good source of info. I would be interesting to know what the DELAC thinks of that info. Do you have the report from the BCC or where can it be obtained? Otherwise I’m done on this subject.

  4. Well I understand that you just want good advise so you can make informed decisions. But I do think it could matter. Do you get input from the DELAC for other matters on ELL? How is one appointed to the BCC? Based on what criteria? There are too many rules and regulations altogether I admit. Yet, it is usually better to have a representative group than an appointed one, at least from a community perspective.

  5. You’d have to ask someone who was there. As a Board member, I am happy to listen to input from either the DELAC or the BCC — it really doesn’t matter where it comes from.

  6. The whole thing seems very strange to me. If have an existent group mandated to advise ,why create another?

    The Lau case was in 1974. Since then the DELAC was created. The DELAC is supposed to advises the Board on ELL issues, but I suppose there is no law that says another body can’t do so as well. But the point is this- If the BOE set up a separate body to do so, as in this case with the BCC, it is possible that the BOE did it to bypass the DELAC. Why would the BOE not want the DELAC to advise? Could it be that it is not appointed? This is an example of sidelining the legally mandated community representatives and replacing them with appointees. Am I missing something here?

  7. To clarify, we do have a DELAC and the membership is not appointed by the Board. I was not specific enough in my original post about the duties of the BCC, which is a separate body appointed by the Board (I’ve since corrected the post). The BCC was created as part of the settlement of Lau vs. Nichols (often referred to as the “Lau” case), in order to oversee the district’s progress toward meeting the requirements of Lau. The Lau plan you asked about earlier is also part of this effort.

  8. The District ELAC (DELAC) is supposed to advise the Board in districts that require its input by state and fed law to procure comp ed funding. Your DELAC should not be appointed by the board. ELAC members from local schools are supposed to comprise the council by law.

    I understand that the DELAC meets the same time as the DAC. Does the district have two district wide separate ELL councils? If the BCC is actually the DELAC you shouldn’t be appointing members. If it is not, then why are you not getting the input from the legally mandated body for this input?

    No one can keep up on all this regulation – so I don’t mean to criticize. I only think that if you have to have a DELAC why create a BCC unless you want to avoid true community input by controlling who are the members through appointment which is technically unlawful.

    Generally speaking I find this district to be so backwards in terms of community engagement and parental involvement. Few seem to know much about these issues. But that is not true in some other large urban districts in California. We believe ourselves to be so progressive.

    I was reading a research study by the American Research Institute – a comparison of SFUSD’s WSF and Oakland’s funding model titled -A Tale of Two Cities …l. Among many important points of interest it said that respondents thought that fewer than 20% of SSCs were effective. In my own research on this issue I would concur.

    The latest indignity for parents who want accountability is the loss of access to school budgets as a matter of public record. What accountability is the Superintendent referring to when the policies are going the other direction from transparency?

    With practically all Comp Ed monies free to flow for virtually any purpose with the new flexibility, we need site governance by trained SSCs that will provide a real accountability role. WSF has created a situation where money is spent on all kinds of vague consultant expenses, yet the councils review none of this and the BOE complacently adopts the BSCs and the budgets ( which are supposed to be a part of the SPSA, but with no oversight whatsoever)

    My advise- don’t let the BOE adopt a community engagement plan that doesn’t have specific goals and defined objectives. Watch out -that one will not put you in great stead with the Superintendent. I really don’t know if he is anti community engagement or whether these issues are just not on his agenda. Either way, the community is the loser.