Meeting recap and other goodies

As most SFUSD-watchers know, the Board generally meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. All meetings are cancelled in July, and the second meeting in both November and December is also cancelled. This month, however, due to Election Day, we rescheduled our one meeting for the third Tuesday — tonight.

There really isn’t much to report from tonight’s meeting. We heard a brief presentation from the Youth Commission on the Immigrant Youth Summit organized by Youth Commissioner Happy Chang, a senior at Balboa High School. Everyone clapped for the passage of Prop. A last week, a $531 million bond issue that will help us complete the work of retrofitting and upgrading all of our school buildings (including a new Willie Brown MS in the Bayview).

A handful of parents came to again complain about the principal at Paul Revere and ask for her removal; two neighbors of the new Buena Vista Horace Mann combined campus came to discuss the worsening traffic situation around the school (Bartlett St., where many parents drop off their students in the morning, is a very narrow street, and double-parking and congestion have caused several near misses).

The Superintendent also introduced a proposal to rename John O’Connell High School Alternative High School of Technology simply “John O’Connell High School.”  In fact, according to the Superintendent’s resolution, the school has at least six different official or unofficial names:  John O’ Connell Alternative High School of Technology, John O’Connell Altemative High, John O’Connell Altemative High School, John A. O’Connell High School, John O’Connell High School of Technology, and John O’Connell Technical High School. The school has a highly-regarded new principal, Dr. Martin Gomez, who is trying hard to turn around the school. The name change, the Superintendent says, will help change the perception among Mission District families that the school is a credit recovery school — the use of the word “Alternative” in the name, some say, adds to that perception.

In other news . . . 

Last week at the Curriculum Committee we heard an interesting followup report on the district’s “Early Warning System,” which I wrote about last spring. Essentially, the high schools are now “flagging” students who leave the 8th grade with a GPA lower than 2.o, and/or an attendance record of lower than 87.5 percent, because those two indicators are strong predictors of students who will later drop out of high school. Focusing resources on these particular students allow schools to address their needs and specific issues.

Mission High is doing a lot of things right in this respect. Since last year, its “flagged” 9th graders (50 this year) have shown improved levels of achievement. The school attributes success to several promising practices, including assigning each target student an additional counselor as well as a faculty mentor (even Mission Principal Eric Guthertz has 10 student advisees).

It’s important to note that every middle school has students with these indicators, and they attend every high school in the district, in greater or lesser numbers.  In addition, Mission is not the only school making progress by focusing on students with risk factors.

About Prop H . . . 

There are still provisional ballots being counted, but Prop. H appears to have ended in a statistical tie, with the “Yes” side (at last count) receiving a slight edge with 89,517 votes vs.  the “No” side’s 89,136 votes. In response to questions being asked about the impact of this advisory-only measure, President Mendoza has issued a statement on behalf of the Board.


15 responses to “Meeting recap and other goodies

  1. Can someone tell me where to find the meeting minutes for the October Curriculum Committe? I’m wanting to know what got discussed about SFUSD middle schools. Also, I’m looking for feedback about the SFUSD’s and Board of Education’s policy/opinions on honors programs in SFUSD middle schools.

    Many thanks.

  2. To “Anonymous”:
    If you weren’t even aware that Prop H LOST, I’d say the interesting question is just how much to laugh at your threats of voting people out of office.

  3. @anonymous – it IS a statistical tie. Here’s the definition of statistical tie:

    Also, the measure technically lost – see final election results from 11/17:

    Measure H – School District Student Assignment
    Shall it be City policy to encourage the San Francisco Unified School District to change its student assignment system so that it places the highest priority on assigning each student to the school closest to home, after placing siblings in the same school?
    Votes Percent
    No 91629 50.03%
    Yes 91514 49.97%
    This measure requires 50%+1 affirmative votes to pass.

  4. “Statistical tie?” Seriously? I guess you credit for originality, at least.

    It says right on the ballot that the measure passes if there 50% +1 ‘yes’ votes.


    The only interesting question that remains is whether you will continue this blog after we vote you out of office next year.

  5. Hi Rachel,

    Do you know when we can expect to see a first draft of the Quality Middle School proposal?


  6. Dear Ms. Norton,

    Thank you for providing insightful information and opinion on matters important to us.
    From what we see in the news, it seems that a lot of effort (including time and money) is being used to figure out how to move student populations. The underlying issue, in my opinion, is for schools to be producing a quality education for children regardless of where they go to school. If this were the case, then the placement of students would be a lot less important. By ‘quality education’, I would suggest that the best measure is whether each child is ready, at the end of the year, for the next level, and that children who exceed this are appropriately challenged both in academic and enrichment activities.

  7. I’m glad Prop H lost; the better schools should not only be available to those lucky enough or rich enough to live near them.

  8. Hardly Suprised

    I think you underestimate the level of discord with the current board. The next board election will not be about “feel good” slogans about great schools for great kids, it will be about the lottery, the perceived status-quo, debt and the continued exit of families from SF.
    This vote on H was the first time parents disenfranchised with SFUSD actually organized and had a voice, other than the two minute puppet theater time allotted at the Board of Ed meetings. Change is coming.

  9. I’m talking about standard political wisdom, @Hardly Surprised. My own view is that the vast majority of YES voters are not involved with or informed about SFUSD and just think “oh, that sounds good” — augmented by yes votes from parents who live near popular and desirable schools and a random few outliers. How that will play out in a BOE election remains to be seen, but I predict zero impact.

  10. hardly suprised

    I think you underestimate the 86000+ people who voted for Prop h also get to vote in the next school board election, which is a historically low voter turn out. It will be interesting to see if those on the board can explain away a statistical tie.

  11. @Wayne, for a purely advisory measure, a statistical tie renders it meaningless, according to the standard political wisdom. An advisory measure needs a solid victory to carry any weight.

    The comment about the misleading nature of the word “alternative” in a school name is ironic. (“The name change, the Superintendent says, will help change the perception among Mission District families that the school is a credit recovery school — the use of the word “Alternative” in the name , some say, adds to that perception.”) A misinformed Prop. H advocate recently “accused” me of sending my kids to an alternative SFUSD K-5 school because I wanted a feel-good touchy-feely school rather than a solid education — so that was HER interpretation of “alternative school.”

    For the record, “alternative” at that time meant a school with no defined attendance area, and had nothing to do with whether the school was feel-good and touchy-feely.(That would seem to make the word meaningless in the name of John O’Connell HS.) At the time my kids started SFUSD, the official policy was that everyone had to attend the attendance-area school (in most cases the local neighborhood school) and the only options were the several alternative schools.

  12. middle school parent

    Thanks for the good news about Mission High. Always good to note when something is working.

    But I am wondering if there was any discussion of improving middle school quality across the board? Has the curriculum committee been discussing this? What is the plan to address it? I realize it is complex, but we are hearing nothing out here about it now that the feeder plan has passed. Lots of us who are already at the middle school site level would love to know what resources and plans may be coming our way. We are already in the planning stages at the site level but it feels like flying blind.


  13. hardly suprosed

    Oh well, so much for teaching the value of a Democracy to students and parents. Prop H could have been one of those “teaching moments”,

  14. Could you please check the link to Mendoza’s statement on prop h? It is not working for me.
    Also, now that it is clear that about half the voters in the city favor a neighborhood based school assignment system, does this change your thinking on student assignment?

  15. The link for Hydra’s Prop H statement doesn’t work,

    it is on the main page of the SFUSD website, here is another link: