Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Standley Middle student wins USD essay contest

Character is hard to define for many, but seventh-grader Ashley Meader already has a firm grasp of its meaning and purpose.

Ashley Meader Her essay entitled “Human” won first place in the University of San Diego School Of Leadership and Education Sciences’ Character Matters essay contest.

Responding to the essay theme “Why Character Matters,” her essay described the significance of the 10 Badges of Character and how they are an integral part of our lives. Those badges of character include respect, responsibility, gratitude, compassion, courage, citizenship, self-discipline, trust, honesty and perseverance.

“See, character is the basis of human nature. It is what drives us to help one another, to make the world better than it already is,” Ashley wrote in her essay. “Because character is what causes accomplishment. Accomplishment causes success. And success opens the door to making a bigger and better impact on the world.”

Ashley received a plaque from USD for her accomplishment, which was presented to her in class by a representative from the USD School of Leadership and Education Services.

“Ashley truly displayed character traits such as responsibility, courage, perseverance and self-discipline by taking on the challenge of the contest and reading her insightful and inspiring essay to her classmates,” said Ashley’s teacher, Judi Lattimore.

Each year, the Character Development Center at USD sponsors the essay contest. The Center works with educators and youth to promote the development of life skills necessary for a productive personal and social life.

Monday, July 21, 2014

San Diego Unified Joins Nationwide Effort to Improve Achievement of Young Men of Color

Sixty big-city public school districts from across the country, including San Diego Unified School District, released a pledge to improve the academic and social outcomes of boys and young men of color at a White House event with President Obama today. Superintendent Cindy Marten was among the attendees at this historic event.

President Obama In a call to action by the Council of the Great City Schools, each of the urban school districts support boosting efforts to prepare males of color for college and careers. This pledge will include a number of actions, including a focus to reduce the disproportionate number who drop out of school or who are suspended, and to help them succeed.

“The pledge we are making with President Obama is a promise to our boys and young men of color that we firmly support equity and the opportunity for our students to fully realize their potential,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “It represents an unprecedented platform that sends a strong signal to the nation. As leaders of the largest public urban school districts, we stand with the White House to commit our resources, efforts, hearts and minds to act with courage and conviction to positively impact the life outcomes of our young men.”

Nearly 32 percent of the nation’s school-age African-American males and 39 percent of the country’s school-age Hispanic males are enrolled in big-city public schools. San Diego Unified has approximately 46.5 percent Hispanic students and 10.5 percent African-American students enrolled in its schools. The 2013 graduation rate for San Diego Unified white students was 94.1 percent, the graduation rate for Asian students was 92.9 percent; compared to a graduation rate of 82.8 percent for African-American students and 81.6 percent for Hispanic students.

The San Diego Unified Board of Education adopted a resolution on June 10, 2014, in support of the pledge by urban school districts to address the achievement gap, particularly regarding males of color.

“The achievement gap is an urgent matter that we must address as a school district,” said Board of Education Vice President Marne Foster. “We have established multiple strategies and are closely monitoring students who are on track for graduation in order to have a laser-like focus on supporting our students.”

San Diego Unified approved the Local Control and Accountability Plan that specifically outlines the goal of “Closing the Achievement Gap with High Expectations for All” as the first goal. This plan outlines specific actions and metrics that San Diego Unified will implement to measure ongoing progress in closing of the achievement gap, among other goals.

In “A Pledge by America’s Great City Schools,” each of the 60 urban school systems committed to carrying out specific actions. San Diego Unified has implemented or will be implementing the following actions:
  • Board of Education adoption of the pledge in collaboration with Council of Great City Schools on June 10, 2014.
  • A Harvard Study was conducted in 2013-14 to examine problems of practice in the school district that included: 1) Evaluating discipline policies and practices; 2) Enhancing early childhood readiness; 3) Closing the achievement gap and increasing graduation rate; 4) Improving teacher and school leader recruitment, retention, and evaluation; 5) Long-term English learners.
  • Provide access to classes required for admission to the University of California and the California State University System (A-G courses) are a part of the graduation requirements for the class of 2016. San Diego Unified will closely monitor the ongoing progress by males of color towards completing these requirements.
  • Establishment of the Lincoln High School Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Middle College in collaboration with the San Diego Community College District.
  • Collaboration with the Association of African American Educators for implementation of the Blueprint to Accelerate the Achievement of African American and African Students.
  • Collaboration with the Latino Advisory Committee to develop and implement Cultural Proficiency Standards.
  • Establishment of the San Diego UNIFIED Through Diversity Committee to develop recommendations to the Superintendent and Board of Education.
  • Organization of the Teacher Pipeline Task Force to explore and address issues of diversity in the teaching corps. This work is being carried out in partnership with local universities, employee organizations, and community based organizations.
  • Development of the Local Control Accountability Plan that includes metrics and measurements to monitor the access and completion of rigorous coursework such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and College and Career Technical Education classes.
  • San Diego Unified is currently implementing the Uniform Discipline Policy, which offers direction to principals to reduce the disproportionate number of suspensions of young men of color by utilizing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and Restorative Practices.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

U.S. Dept. of Defense approves $34M grant to modernize two district schools

Department of Defense On July 16, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) approved a grant for more than $34 million to provide needed facility improvements at Hancock and Miller elementary schools in the Tierrasanta community. This DOD grant will be combined with approximately $8.6 million in existing Proposition Z bond funds for a total construction budget of nearly $43 million to perform repair, renovation and replacement work at the two schools.

This federal funding allows the district to replace more than 20 aging, portable classrooms with state-of-the-art permanent classrooms to achieve a more functional learning environment at Hancock and Miller. This will have a significant, positive impact, and supports the initiative to provide quality neighborhood schools.

"San Diego Unified's Vision 2020 calls for quality schools in every neighborhood," said Superintendent Cindy Marten. "This generous grant from the Department of Defense will help ensure that the students at Miller and Hancock elementary schools receive a world-class education in a state-of-the art learning environment."

"This is another example of how kids benefit when we collaborate with our community partners," added Kevin Beiser, president of the Board of Education. "We are pleased to work with the DOD and are grateful to receive this grant. We have a proud military tradition in San Diego, and we are glad to have the opportunity to give back to our service men and women by providing their children with the best possible learning environments."

Construction at Hancock and Miller is scheduled to start in spring 2016 and is estimated to be complete in late 2018. The schools will remain open while construction is underway. Construction phasing and other strategies will be employed to minimize disruptions to the teaching and learning environment.

Planned site improvements in the whole site modernizations will include:
  • Renovation of existing open classrooms 
  • Replace aging portables with single-story permanent classrooms 
  • Replace and enhance campus security, as well as fire and emergency safety systems 
  • Renovate and enhance existing heating ventilation and air conditioning systems 
  • Replace aging electrical systems and upgrade technology network infrastructure to support the i21 Interactive 21st Century Classroom Technology Initiative 
  • Repair and replace sidewalks including accessible ramps and stairs 
  • Renovate and upgrade food services areas 
On April 5, 2011, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act was signed into law, authorizing the DOD to provide up to $250 million to construct, renovate, repair and expand elementary and secondary public schools located on military installations in order to address capacity or facility condition deficiencies.

Related links:
DOD News Release:
Hancock ES project info (scroll down to "Project Schedules"):
Miller ES project info (scroll down to "Project Schedules"):

Thursday, July 17, 2014

San Diego Unified earns perfect score for transparency in bond program

Propsoitions S & ZSan Diego Unified earned a perfect score from the San Diego Taxpayers Association for transparency in the bond program and is one of only two school districts to earn this distinction. The report was released on July 9.

According to the report:  "The San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation conducts research on issues relevant to taxpayers including transparency. Taxpayers should be able to quickly determine if new libraries, new pools and new classrooms, for example, that school district officials promised to voters while pitching the bond have been built. In many districts, this information is easier to find today than it has been in the past. This report is intended to provide tools for San Diego County school districts to use in the ongoing process of improving transparency with respect to school facilities bond programs.

Only San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union High School District earned perfect marks on the Transparency Scorecard, with all other districts having at least one missing section."
Media coverage:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Language Academy eighth-graders excel on AP tests

Language Academy students are serious about mastering multiple languages – and are showing it by successfully testing at the college level.
Language Academy AP Students Twenty students in the school’s AP Spanish course and 16 students in the AP French course passed this year’s Advanced Placement exams administered in May.
“We are so proud of our wonderful school, our language programs and our K-8 faculty,” said Principal Cynthia Arce. “But most of all, we are proud of our incredibly hard-working and talented students.”
Twenty students in Mr. Altamirano’s AP Spanish course successfully passed the exam with an average score of 3.77. Four students earned a 3; Landon D, Isabel M, Niki T, and Capri W. Thirteen students earned a 4; Antony R, Jorge R, Diana R, Julio R, Rodolfo M, Katy P, Joscelynn L, Sofia G, Alyssa D, Alejandra C, Denessa C, Kaitlin B, and Jalani B. Three students earned a 5; Fiona H, Zusan M, and Adrian S.
Sixteen students in Mr. Pique’s AP French course successfully passed the exam with an average score of 3.39. Ten students earned a 3; Shola A., Zoey B., Jewliet C., Charles D., Lauren D., Maya G., Camden K., Emma R., Delaney S., and Zane V. Three students earned a 4; Olivia H., Emily U., and Lucius W. Three students earned a 5; Ashley O., Maya S., and Yasmine S.
The majority of AP exams are taken by high school juniors and seniors, but the world language exams are the only tests made available to younger students.
According to the College Board, the AP Language courses focus on linguistic proficiency and cultural competency, so in rare situations these courses can be successfully offered earlier than ninth grade among students who can already speak, read, and write the language with fluency.
All of the AP students have shown advanced achievement at a college level, and have shown degrees of mastery of their target language. Depending on the passing score, students may be eligible to claim college credits of 5, 10, or even 15 semester units. Students may now also consider fulfilling their minimum two-year high school world language requirement by studying a third language in high school.
“What makes these results more impressive is that our Spanish and French classes met only four days per week this year,” Arce said. “In addition, our year-round schedule meant that we had five fewer weeks of school before the exams were administered.”
Principal Arce added that this was the first year the official AP French class was offered.
For more information about Language Academy, contact the principal at 619-287-1182.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Middle school promotion ceremonies planned for July 18, July 21

Friday, July 18, 2014

School Time Location
Clark Middle 6:00 – 7:30 Amphitheatre, 4388 Thorn St. (92105)
Farb Middle  5:00 – 6:30 Joint Use Field at Farb, 4880 La Cuenta Dr. (92124)

Monday, July 21, 2014

School Time Location
Audubon K-8 9:00 – 10:00 Auditorium, 8111 San Vicente St. (92114)
Bethune K-8 9:00 – 10:30 Lincoln High Theatre, 4777 Imperial Ave. (92113)
Golden Hill K-8 9:30 – 10:30 Multi-Purpose Room, 1240 33rd St. (92102)
Knox Middle 9:15 – 10:30 Lower Lunch Arbor/Field, 1098 S. 49th St. (92113)
Language Academy K-8 9:30 – 10:30 Auditorium, 4961 64th St. (92115)
Logan K-8 9:00 – 10:00 Auditorium, 2875 Ocean View Blvd. (92113)
Montgomery Middle 9:00 – 10:30 Auditorium/Lunch Court, 2470 Ulric St. (92111)
Perkins K-8 9:15 – 10:30 Middle School Area, 1770 Main St. (92113)
Wilson Middle 12:30 – 1:30 Lunch Court, 3838 Orange Ave. (92105)

No Exercises Planned

  • Dana Middle
  • Riley Middle
  • Wangenheim Middle

Monday, July 14, 2014

Graduating seniors recognized by City Council Member Myrtle Cole

Twelve graduating seniors from Lincoln, Morse, SCPA and Gompers Prep that exhibited academic excellence and outstanding community engagement during their high school career have been immortalized in the Walls of Excellence.

 Emmanuel Llanda
 Emmanuel Llanda
These walls, located in Lincoln Park, were established in 2000 to display the names of exemplary high school seniors that are graduates of the four high schools in the Fourth Council District.

This year’s honorees included:

Lincoln High School: Cydnee Chappell, Keraneicia Aaron and Seifone Vorarath
Morse High School: Ma Delta Caraulia, Emmanuel Llanda and Stormy Evans
San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts: Gillian Mooney, Michaela Valk and Martin Martiarena
Gompers Preparatory Academy: Julio Ramirez Miranda, Louisa Gutierrez and Zayra Chavez Montes  

These students have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, have a history of community involvement, have demonstrated significant improvement, and are proud residents of the Fourth Council District.

As honorees, the students participated in the induction ceremony June 7, which was attended by Council Member Myrtle Cole and San Diego Unified Board Vice President Marne Foster. They were also honored at the June 17 City Council meeting. Lincoln High also recognized its students at their senior awards night in June.
 Walls of Excellence honorees
 Walls of Excellence honorees at City Council Meeting
 Photos courtesy of the Office of City Council Member Myrtle Cole.