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.