On tonight’s agenda were several items of note:
- The Restorative Justice resolution sponsored by Commissioners Kim, Maufas and Fewer passed 6-0 with minor amendments. Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh gave the Board a revised budget projection showing the revised motion would cost something like $450,000 to implement at 40 schools than the original estimate of $2.4 million at 25 schools, addressing my original questions about the cost of this program. For the next year or two, Board members agreed that funding for this “culture shift” in how we address discipline issues in our schools can be shifted from Prop. H funds now going to a wide variety of violence prevention programs. Commissioner Wynns added an amendment underscoring that agreement, stipulating that the program will not add to the school district’s projected deficit in coming years. I also proposed an amendment that would have made the detailed Policy Components defined in an Appendix strong recommendations of the Board, rather than required aspects of the legislation, but it failed. This new policy does not supersede the California Education Code, so there are still a number of offenses (bringing a weapon to school, for example) that require us to expel a student. But what we hope will come about as a result of this policy decision is a better understanding by staff on how to work with students to help them understand the consequences of their actions, by giving them constructive ways to repair the harm those actions have caused. This won’t be effective with every student, but it’s not as if what we are doing now is very effective, either.
- A resolution from the Superintendent, introduced for First Reading, that would require every teacher in SFUSD to obtain the appropriate certification to instruct English Learner students, effective immediately, or risk disciplinary action or even unpaid leave, termination or layoff. According to a UESF representative who spoke at the meeting, there are 200 teachers in our schools who currently lack this certification. This resolution was referred to four committees, including Rules, Personnel and Curriculum. It ought to be a hot topic for discussion over the next few months–while UESF is not disputing the need for every teacher to be certified to teach our many English Learner students, the union leadership is rightly concerned about the careers of their members who for whatever reason do not have this certification. We’ll need to get a better understanding from HR and from the Union on what has been done to assist all teachers with getting this certification.
- Finally, there was a rather eye-opening report on the number of classrooms that still lack sufficient textbooks. A large number of them are at Independence High School, for reasons the staff will have to look into; but students in High School Health courses are also very short on books. Finally, there are shortages in World Language textbooks, including Spanish and other languages. Apparently this year’s report represented an improvement over past years: I’m glad to hear that but certainly don’t think what we got tonight is anywhere good enough.