As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to take the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the parents and community who support the students of San Diego Unified. I am grateful to stand beside you as your superintendent as we work together to create conditions in our classrooms and schools where all students graduate actively literate, participating, contributing members of society making a positive difference in the world.
Since the beginning of the school year I have had the opportunity to visit nearly 30 of our schools. I have been amazed and inspired by what I have seen and learned. Although there are challenges ahead as we focus on our Vision 2020 to create quality schools in every neighborhood, I have been heartened to see examples of our vision in action as I spend time in classrooms and on our campuses. I have watched principals support their teachers in collaboration and planning. I have witnessed quality teaching with purpose and meaning, incorporating the critical thinking necessary to shift to the new Common Core State Standards. I have observed students actively engaged as they take ownership of their learning. I have visited with custodians and food service staff who take pride in the services they provide to our children. I have listened to parents share their hopes and dreams for their children. So many people with various roles and responsibilities, coming together for a single purpose: teach in ways that connect to the brilliance of every child, every day. I am thankful for the hard work and heart work of our team in San Diego Unified.
It is clear to me that kindness matters more than ever before. As we prepare our students for the rigor of the Common Core State Standards, we must adhere to the idea that it is up to us to create a safe, inclusive and nurturing climate and culture in our schools. Our current accountability system ranks and values our schools based on the skills we can measure easily on a bubble in test. Human attributes such as kindness, tolerance, hope, perseverance, compassion, dedication, commitment and forgiveness are not part of the formula. Imagine if our API scores included measures of these attributes in our students? These skills are important not only in schools, but in all workplaces. Businesses hire employees who can collaborate, think critically, pay close attention and care for one another while doing work that matters. Businesses want people who can be thoughtful and kind even when they disagree and hold different opinions, feelings and points of view. Teaching our children these skills clearly is part of preparing them for their future success in career and life.
Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our students. I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and restful Thanksgiving. Please take time to nurture yourself and to listen closely to the children who surround us and teach us.
Work Hard. Be Kind. Dream Big! No Excuses.