Tag Archives: Lau plan

Recap: Board Meeting Nov 10 2015

A large crowd for public comment tonight, mostly to advocate against the District’s Common Core math sequence, now in its second year of implementation. Jill Tucker from the Chronicle did a good job summarizing the comments, so I’ll just link to her article, which quotes me, parents and the Superintendent.

Last spring, when families began to advocate against the math sequence, I hosted a meeting of concerned parents with Jim Ryan, our STEM expert, and Lizzy Hull Barnes, our math curriculum expert. The input we heard at that meeting, and in subsequent public comment at the Board, as well as conversations with outside experts, led me to propose additional investments in coaching for middle school math teachers and decreasing class size in 8th grade Common Core math to 22-24 students. That’s what has been implemented this year, and I’m watching the results. The Superintendent has also set benchmarks he’s willing to be judged against as we complete implementation of the Common Core, and he’s announced those benchmarks publicly (see this update from the San Francisco Parent PAC for more information).

A community member recently forwarded me this interview with Donna Ford, PhD, a professor at Vanderbilt University, conducted by one of our parents who is critical of the district’s math sequence and heterogeneous class groupings. I actually think the professor is quite insightful on these issues and I encourage you to listen to her comments — the interview is about an hour long.

We also heard an update on our Lau Plan implementation to serve English Learners. (Here’s the background on Lau v. Nichols, the landmark court case that led to SFUSD’s being under court supervision to provide appropriate supports to English Learners). There was a lot of data presented — the biggest takeaway for the Board is that being more aggressive to reclassify English Learners has had a positive effect on achievement. The plight of LTELs (Long Term English Learners) who languish for years without achieving fluency is appalling and unacceptable. So seeing that many of the students who we managed to reclassify are now achieving at the same rate (or higher) as their English-fluent peers is a good thing. Of course we still see a significant gap between the achievement of Spanish-speakers and Cantonese/Mandarin/Korean speakers so that is still a major issue.

There were also some parents present to protest the district’s support for SB 277, which was signed into law months ago. They are requesting transcripts from one of our committee meetings, so as a public service here is how you can get recordings of our meetings, as well as other information:

Regular board meetings are streamed on sfgovtv.org and broadcast on KALW FM 91.7. You can stream or download video or audio of all of our regular meetings by visiting this link.

Committee meetings are recorded and I’m told this year the recordings are now digital, though it doesn’t appear they are posted for easy download. I’ll try to work on that. In the meantime, you may request a recording of any public committee hearing of the Board of Education by contacting the office of Equity Assurance at 415-355-7334. You can also always make a public records act request of the school district by filling out this form and faxing it or mailing it to the school district (the fax number and address is on the form). There may be a nominal fee for recordings or document reproduction.


What’s happening – January 2014

Apparently feeling guilty about not posting does not actually result in an actual blog post. So now I am trying another tactic: actually sitting down to post. Here we go:

  • First – January Board meeting recaps. Our first meeting of the new year occurred on January 14. The Board elected new officers, voting Sandra Lee Fewer as President and Emily Murase as Vice President. I enjoyed being President — it is a very interesting and information-packed position — but it is also very time-consuming, so I was also not sorry to hand over the mantle of responsibility to others. The Board voted unanimously to support the Superintendent’s proposal to create a district-wide and world-class arts education hub at 135 Van Ness Ave (which would also involve moving the Ruth Asaway High School of the Arts to the Civic Center arts hub). Finally, the Board also voted to endorse, 5-2 (Mendoza-McDonnell and Maufas voting no), the sugary beverage tax that Supervisors Wiener, Mar, Avalos and Cohen will introduce at the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 4.*  On January 28 (full disclosure: I did not attend the meeting due to a bad cold), the Board voted to accept the Superintendent’s spending plan for $50 million in Public Education Enrichment (Prop. H) Funds for 2014-15 — not much else of note was on the agenda and the meeting was over within 90 minutes (nice going President Fewer!).
  • Surplus property presentation at Board of Supervisors Select Committee, Jan 30: Conventional wisdom says that SFUSD has lots of property that it is “hoarding” to the detriment of the City and kids everywhere. No offense, but WRONG. This presentation, delivered by SFUSD Facilities Director David Goldin at the request of Supervisor Jane Kim and members of the City-School District Select Committee, shows that most of the properties previously-declared surplus by the school district are very much in use today. A few, like the lots at 7th Ave. and Lawton St., 200 Middlepoint Road in Bayview-Hunters Point, or the Principal’s Center on 42nd Ave., have development potential. Most, however, are either serving an educational use or generating revenue — $7 million anticipated for the 2014 calendar year.
  • Stanford Longitudinal Study on efficacy of SFUSD programs for English Learners:  I haven’t heard the commentary on this data so I am simply posting the summaries I’ve been given by staff; the Board will receive a briefing sometime soon on this study and after that I will have more observations. My initial sense, in reviewing these summaries, is one of relief. I have been quite worried that we have invested too much in programs with  limited efficacy for English Learners. This data — at least as summarized here — indicates that those concerns might be misplaced. I want to see more and hear from the researchers before I can say for sure. Until then, you know what I know:

That’s about it for now. An outstanding issue concerns the district’s plans for spending funds allocated by the Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and our work to implement our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).  Districts are required to hold public meetings as part of the LCAP implementation, and I’ll update the blog as soon as I know what those plans are.
In the meantime, the Budget & Business Services Committee meets the first Wednesday of every month (next meeting scheduled — not confirmed — for Feb. 5).  Attending the monthly committee meetings is the best way to keep up with what is happening with the LCAP and the school district’s budget planning.



Meeting recap: March 12, 2013

It’s very late after a very long meeting, so I’ll expand this post later tomorrow or Thursday when I have some time. In short:

  • Congrats to the 28 National Board Certified teachers honored tonight! SFUSD now has 231 NBCTs — the highest, on a per capita basis, in the state. This is a very rigorous certification to achieve and I couldn’t be more proud of our teacher corps for showing this incredible dedication to their profession.
  • The resolution authored by Commissioners Fewer and Haney and now Supervisor Yee requesting the Superintendent to create and forward a local hire policy to the Board for approval passed 6-0 (Murase absent). “Local hire” means changing the district’s contracting procedures (within legal limits) to prioritize the hiring of San Francisco residents on facilities bond construction projects; the city passed its own local hire ordinance in 2010 requiring city-sponsored construction projects to eventually employ 50 percent local residents. The “invitation to a policy” we passed tonight also contains provisions asking the district to take steps to increase opportunities for women and people of color in the construction trades, again within legal limits. It represents the aspirations of the Board to go in a direction that would channel the economic power of our bond dollars for the good of San Franciscans, and provide more career opportunities for our students. The final policy will represent some trade-offs –administering and monitoring a local hire program will increase costs  and may decrease competition in our bidding process (though so far that has not been the City’s experience). In order for such a policy to meet its goals and still be workable from a construction management perspective, there will need to be “off-ramps” or “safety valves” allowing contractors who can’t meet the local hire requirement to find some other way of contributing to the goals of the policy. So there are a lot of outstanding questions and a lot of work remaining, but the aspirations of the resolution are good, and worthwhile to take on. Stay tuned for further developments. 
  • We heard an update on the Lau Action Plan and saw some examples of the increased amount of data the district is receiving from the longitudinal study of our English Learner (EL) outcomes being conducted by Stanford University. Some of the data is very sobering (our Chinese-language-speaking ELs are becoming English-proficient much faster than our Spanish-language-speaking ELs; biliteracy pathways [also called bilingual programs] seem to be doing a slightly better job getting ELs to English proficiency than dual-language immersion programs. The good news, though, is that now we finally have a store of data that will help us analyze the effectiveness of our programs and continually question our assumptions so that we continue to make the best decisions for EL students, as required by the Lau v. Nichols court settlement we operate under.
  • Staff also updated the Board on the draft Coordinated Early Intervention Services (CEIS) plan submitted to the state last week — required because we have been found to be “significantly disproportionate” in our identification of African-American students for special education. The fact that African-American students in San Francisco and many other places are disproportionately identified for special education isn’t really a surprise to anyone, but now that the finding is “official” from the state, the district must take specific measures; the CEIS plan — listing our findings on the root causes of disproportionality and steps we will take to decrease it –is the first step. Once the draft plan is approved by the state the district will be required to use 15 percent of our IDEA appropriation to fund the plan, which is restrictive but given the depth of the problem, probably justified.