Tag Archives: National Board Certification

Recap: New Year, New Leaders

Tonight the Board elected leaders for 2015 — Dr. Emily Murase will be President and Matt Haney will be Vice President. Congratulations to them both!

Congratulations as well to the 38 teachers honored this evening for achieving National Board Certification this year. Achieving this certification is rigorous, particularly when you’re already working full time in the classroom. It was really wonderful to see teachers surrounded by their proud families (lots of parents of young children!), and to be able to recognize their achievements at the Board meeting. SFUSD now has the highest number of National Board Certified teachers in the state, on a per capita basis, and we are 13th in the nation. Truly something to be proud of –the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards calls National Board Certification “the profession’s mark for accomplished teaching.”   And there are 110 teachers currently completing the program for next year’s cohort! If all of them achieve National Board Certification, we’re going to have to rethink the awards ceremony and hold it in a bigger venue — a great problem to have.

The Board also heard informational presentations on our language pathways and on our participation in My Brother’s Keeper, a program launched by President Obama to support youth of color, particularly African American males. In San Francisco, in partnership with the Mayor’s office and the San Francisco Foundation, the school district will focus on males and females, and not simply African American youth, but all youth of color. We have hired a Special Assistant to the Superintendent who will focus on African American Achievement, and we have a team working on an African American achievement initiative that this new Special Assistant will oversee. I have not met our new Special Assistant, Landon Dickey, but he comes highly recommended and his resume is stellar — born and raised in San Francisco, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, also holding a Masters in Special Education, Mr. Dickey taught in the New York City public schools as a Teach For America fellow and also worked as an advisor to the Mayor of Boston. Vice President Haney has already announced that African American achievement will be a standing item on the Curriculum Committee agenda this year, so I’ll pass along information through the blog as the initiatives gain steam (right now they are plans and recommendations, which are important, but actions are more important).

Blog readers will also be interested to hear that Board members actually went out and knocked on doors in the Bayview last weekend to encourage families to sign up for Willie Brown MS. Working from lists of families of 5th graders living in zip code 94124 who are currently enrolled in an SFUSD school yet had not  submitted a 6th grade enrollment application, Commissioners and senior staff went out in pairs and knocked on doors. Commissioner Fewer was paired with Deputy Superintendent Guerrero, and she told me they were able to get four of the 10 or so families they spoke with to submit applications on the spot listing Willie Brown MS as a choice. The great news is that all of the families they spoke with knew the application deadline was approaching (it’s Friday, January 16!) and were either planning to submit an application or had already done so. It made me think that more robust door to door outreach in targeted areas could really pay off in Round I participation. (There is a caveat that prospective Kindergarteners are harder to target since many of the families who most need information about enrollment procedures and timelines are not necessarily going to appear in any of the district’s existing data sources – partnerships and data-sharing with organizations that serve families with young children are crucial in this particular outreach).  Anyway, it sends a powerful message when Board members are out there knocking on doors, so I think this actually should be an annual exercise.

Upcoming meetings: The Governor submitted his initial 2015-16 budget proposal last Friday, Jan 9, and we’ll be discussing it and its implications for SFUSD (neutral to positive) at the Budget & Business Services Committee on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. And the next Student Assignment committee will be Feb 5 at 6 p.m.

FREE “Selma” movie tickets! 7th, 8th and 9th graders can receive free movie tickets for “Selma,” just in time for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday! Visit selmastudenttickets.com and select San Francisco to reserve tickets. Students must bring a student ID to receive tickets.


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.

Recap: February 26, 2013

The second meeting in February is always the meeting nobody wants to go to, because it’s the meeting where the Board votes on layoffs and non-re-elect notices to non-tenured teachers. There had been some hope earlier in the year that, due to the brightening state budget picture and the passage of Prop. 30 in November, there might not have to be layoffs this year.

Unfortunately, there is still too much uncertainty in the state budget picture, not to mention the looming prospect of sequestration in the Federal budget–threatening almost $4 million in cuts to district resources next year– to eliminate layoffs entirely for 2013-14.  In addition, the district’s School Improvement Grant (SIG)  is ending this year, meaning we lose $15 million in annual funding we have received each of the last three years. Other categorical funding grants are ending as well.  Finally, the Board continues to push the Superintendent to fully align our budget with the ongoing priorities in our strategic plan, especially taking into account the lessons we have learned with SIG (e.g., the value of the community schools approach, on-the-job coaching and professional development, and family engagement).  Realignment in an environment where resources are still scarce means tough decisions about program needs across the district.

It’s perhaps overly sunny to call it good news, but there are fewer staff getting notices this year than at any time since I took office in January 2009; 191 fewer certificated staff than last year. No multiple-subject (elementary school) teachers were noticed this year.  With that, here are the numbers:

Staff receiving preliminary layoff notices for the 2013-14 school year (FTE):

Pre-K-12 Certificated (teachers, social workers, counselors, nurses)– 118

Early Education Department teachers– 10

Administrators– 24


In addition, the Board also voted to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation to “non-re-elect” 33 teachers across the district who would otherwise have been granted tenure if they were employed by the district in the 2013-14 school year. This is a very difficult decision, because by definition, a non-re-election of a probationary teacher can be made without any specific cause. A probationary teacher can (and many do) receive satisfactory evaluations and still not be re-elected, simply because the administrator supervising them does not feel it is a good enough fit to grant them tenure status.

The very difficult part for me  tonight was that 14 of the 33 were special education teachers — a job that is one of the toughest across the district, and of course a credential area that is perennially in demand. Being a new special education teacher is exceptionally difficult, and without adequate support it is more than likely a teacher will fail in some area or another. So the failure to “find a fit” is perhaps a greater failure of the district’s rather than the individual teacher; still, it is important to back up our administrators when they make the very tough calls we have been telling them they must make in order to continue putting student learning above all else.

Teachers who have been non-re-elected can opt to resign at the end of the year in order to avoid having “non-re-elected” appear in their employee file, and can apply for any future opportunity with the school district.

In the news:  Did you know SFUSD has the highest percentage of teachers who have attained National Board Certified status of any district in California? That’s right — 231, or about six percent of 3,600 teachers across the district–have now attained the prestigious (and rigorous to attain) professional designation.  The newest batch of teachers who have achieved this status in 2012-13 will be honored at the March 12 Board meeting.

We aim to please: A commenter recently asked for a copy of the bedrock principles of inclusion that were submitted as a proposed Board policy recently. Here they are.