Recap: It’s oh so quiet

Scholar Spencer Huston receives a $500 check from Carpenters Local 22 President Manny Flores

Tonight’s meeting was unusually short and quiet, even though we did have a sizeable group from John O’Connell High School to protest the layoff of the school’s wellness coordinator. This employee is certainly a major asset to a site that has more than its share of students who really need her services, and it was difficult to hear about the potential impact on her students if she leaves. Board members have asked district staff to continue to work on the situation, and I hope there will be a solution that keeps this employee where she wants to remain: serving the students of John O’Connell High School.
Also of note on tonight’s agenda:

  • Proposals establishing open enrollment in honors classes and revising Board policy on graduation requirements were withdrawn by the Superintendent, pending review by the Board’s Curriculum and Budget committees;
  • A tentative agreement between UESF and the school district was ratified by the Board — for their part, UESF members are in the process of ratifying the agreement by mail-in ballot;
  • UESF, UASF, the Association of Black Educators and the Carpenters’ Local 22 announced winners of their annual scholarships — some of the winners even got checks right then and there! (See photo above);

The board also heard a presentation on the district’s plan for the 10 SFUSD schools that landed on the state’s list of the 5 percent of schools in the “persistently underperforming” category. While the staff is still putting the finishing touches on the district’s application for School Improvement Grants (landing on the state’s list makes a district eligible to apply for these grants, also called “SIG”), Deputy Superintendent Carranza told the Board tonight that the Superintendent has decided the following:

  • To apply for all 10 schools this year — this has been a tricky decision because the Federal government says that a district can apply for a few schools at a time rather than committing to work on all of its schools in any given year; the state disagrees and says that districts must apply for all schools at once or risk losing out on SIG funding;
  • To implement the application over time, so that some of the schools will have a planning year and others won’t;
  • To implement the least prescriptive “transformation” model at five (as yet unnamed schools), and the more prescriptive “turnaround” model at four schools (also unnamed until the application is finalized). Both models require replacing a principal who has been at the school longer than two years, and the “turnaround” model also calls for replacing 50 percent of the staff at the school. One school will be closed temporarily, and rebuilt from the ground up.

This decision is probably the best we could have done considering the carrot — potentially millions in extra funding — the state is dangling for participating in the SIG program. There’s also a big stick, since state law requires us to eventually apply one of four intervention models to every school that lands on the persistently underperforming list — whether we ask for the money or not. Still, the turnaround model is going to hurt: it means displacing half the staff at four schools.


10 responses to “Recap: It’s oh so quiet

  1. Definitely, let’s have a due diligence “Reality Check” and view “Center for Education Reform” publications in sunshine (light of day)
    — It’s important for school board members & the general public to be well-informed and aware of the privatization & edu-profiteer players (behind the curtain) who are fronted by this ‘policy tank’ with the moniker “Center for Educational Reform”. Look at the CER Board of Directors, that includes CHRIS WITTLE (infamous founder/cheerleader of Edison Schools corporation & “Channel One” propaganda),
    along with others who might be seeking to craft school ‘reforms’ which happen to directly & conveniently further their bottom lines — to expand & profit their education-industry business ventures. See info. —

  2. Fred – Chill out. This promotion was cost neutral due to retirements and other shuffling of central office staff.

  3. Fred Phephner

    Wow! The board spends money the district doesn’t have on this and other staff increases and salaries. I question this expenditure. So you attempt to portray my comment as insulting to GG, thereby dodging the point of my post and insulting a constituent’s intelligence in the same breath.

    For the record, you were not elected to defend the employment of ANY individual within the district.

    Let me reiterate; You (and your fellow board members) just added at minimum $130K worth of salary to the district’s debt load.

    Can you point to when and where you asked your constituents’ opinion as to whether or not this blatant example of deficit spending was acceptable.

    More to the point of my original post, the board is handing out fiscally irresponsible promotions at the callous expense of site-specific staff at a school clearly identified as grossly under performing.

    I thought School Board members were selected to serve the students, not unilaterally promote then defend specific administrators?

  4. I think it’s insulting to Guadalupe to classify him as an “intern.” He has a pretty stellar resume as an administrator in other districts and has clearly won the confidence of the Superintendent and senior members of the cabinet in his 18+ months of working on the 3rd floor of 555 Franklin St. It’s true he’s relatively new to the district — let’s not hold that against him, hmmm?

  5. Fred Phephner

    Here’s an idea to fund the O’Connell Wellness person.

    How about you rescind a couple of those frivolous promotions (and the accompanying raises) offices the board just handed out over at 555 Franklin?

    I’m interested in understanding how former intern Guadalupe Guerrero was promoted all the way up to assistant/associate Superintendent with no stops along the way?

    I’m thinking both Garcia and the Board seem to think it’s OK to hire and promote staff in the midst of a budget crisis.

  6. There are beneficially effective
    & well-run charter schools; there are mediocre charter schools with limited, narrow curricula taught by
    inexperienced teachers; also there are horrendous charter school operators beset with nonperformance, corruption & graft. Recommended reading:
    this article contains shocking info. about educational malfeasance, undermining of students, financial hijinks &
    school governance machinations
    (be sure to read the insightful comments written by students, parents & concerned members of the public — following this Huffington Post article) — “A Charter School Tragedy” —

  7. Performance Management

    See Hess’s essay (School Turnarounds
    Resisting the Hype, Giving Them Hope) at I’ve done significant reading on turnarounds in both private and public sector contexts. Often times, districts take the easiest way out to avoid conflict with the community and unions by utilizing least prescriptive measures (aka transformation versus turnaround). These transformations usually result in failure because of the lack of complete overhaul and discipline necessary to create new systems and put in place good leadership necessary to make the change necessary. Per Hess, “Teachers and staff cannot be content merely to take marching orders from administrators but must be ready, willing, and trained to drive the educational innovations that make a turnaround possible.” My take – as a five year teacher, the majority of teachers lack the initiative, will, and training necessary to drive innovation and make turnarounds possible. Teachers simply aren’t not trained to do this type of work and community members who cry for participation from all stakeholders, including parents and teachers, are doing a disservice to rapid turnaround, as teachers simply don’t have the management and discipline skills necessary for such an undertaking. Per Hess “This may require shutting down a school; moving out administrators, faculty, and curricula; and “vacuum-sealing” it–then allowing an accomplished operator to start fresh. Meanwhile, new organizations–freed from old rules and rigidities–can emerge, take advantage of new opportunities, and tackle looming challenges. This also speaks to the importance of tending to “supply side” considerations and to reformers cultivating the talent, capital, tools, and infrastructure that enable successful new schools to step in for the old.” My take – bringing in a fresh perspective, be it successful CMOs such as KIPP, Aspire, etc. is the right way… so much of education reform is about bandaging the damaged and ineffective structures in place. This has shown to be ineffective and futile. Sometimes the truth hurts and it takes significant will and revisiting of assumptions to fix failures.

  8. The individual schools are not being named publicly just yet, pending community meetings and other outreach work.

  9. Insightful commentary by Diane Ravitch re: the overbearing federal role in the “Race to the Top” boondoggle and the current situation of public schools in the U.S. — see Washington Post article (as posted in today’s “The Answer Sheet” column) —

  10. Which school will be closed temporarily?