Position Statement on the Deputy Superintendent Nomination

January 18, 2021

At a time when Black children are suspended and expelled at higher rates than any other children on a national, state and local level, it is quite troubling to hear that San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) Superintendent, Cindy Marten, has been named the US Department of Education’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Marten in the past year has attempted to correct harm by having anti-Racist trainings that included changing policies on grading.  While this is commendable, it does not erase the fact that SDUSD has a history of harming Black children.

A recent report released by researchers at San Diego States University (SDSU) Black Minds Project sheds light on historical disproportionate rates of suspensions and expulsions in SDUSD. For example, the report found that Black males in Kindergarten through Third grade (K-3) are suspended at a rate that is 280% higher than that of their peers. The report also found that, in comparison to the district’s average, black males were 3.1x more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension and 2.8x more likely to receive an in-school suspension. To help fix this issue, researchers offered to provide free on-going district-wide training on implicit bias and microaggressions in the district, an offer that was never responded to.

On a national level, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2018, Black children had the highest amount of disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates nationwide. Black boys, who otherwise are at the bottom of the achievement gap, lead the way in the percentage of suspensions and expulsions, more than any other subgroup. Black girls outpace every other sub-group except for Native American boys and tie with Bi-Racial boys.

Educators at all levels must have a track record of dismantling the harmful practices of Anti-Black Racism that occur in schools. Cindy Marten has a historical pattern of allowing the excessive suspension and expulsion of Black students in San Diego. President-Elect Biden, with all of the qualified educators we have in our nation, this is not a good choice for healing Black students, families and educators, nor is it a step in the right direction for repairing harm in our schools.

According to NAACP’s Education Chair, Katrina Hasan Hamilton, “Black children experience Racial Trauma and racial battle fatigue as early as preschool from districts like SDUSD who are suspended and expelled are part of a systemic problem.”

Sincerely,

Katrina Hasan Hamilton, Education Chair
NAACP San Diego Branch

PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195

(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
[email protected]
www.sandiegonaacp.org

Celebrating 102 years of civil rights advocacy in San Diego

Hope for Schools in 2021

January 11, 2021

The start of a new year always brings us hope. This year is no exception! A new president will be inaugurated in January, COVID vaccines are beginning to be distributed in phases and conversations around systemic changes in racial disparity are happening. 

With all of these positive changes, one would hope that the San Diego Unified School Board would be pleased with the $390 million from the stimulus package Congress passed at the end of 2020. But NO! In recent communication from Board President Barrera stated, “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done at the federal and state level to get schools the resources that we will need over the course of the next couple of years.” This statement is no different than any other that the board spews out each year. It is NEVER enough for this school board! Year after year they fail to balance a budget with whatever money they receive. Perhaps the problem is not the amount of money given to our schools, but the people who decide where the money goes.

During Superintendent Martens’ reign, there has been no decrease in teachers, teacher pay and/or benefit packages. There has been an increase in high-paying positions at the Education center where these educators never touch the lives of students. Money has been allotted every year to supposedly go to our most struggling students. There has been no accountability on where all the money is being spent. This school board MUST be held accountable for the new money coming from the government. Their past record proves that they do not know how to spend money on students first and not teacher raises, benefit packages, outside consultants, or legal fees to very expensive firms.

Teachers are currently teaching half of their caseload but are receiving a full salary. There would be substantial savings here by giving them a full caseload. There is no other job that has quite a deal like this! By creating a monopoly with six other superintendents in California, the state was bullied into giving them this enormous amount of money and yet schools are still not open. No other business would ever get away with this threatening behavior.

It is a new year. In the words of our newly elected President Biden; “Build Back Better”! We can do this. We can BUILD public education BACK to excellence and give our students a BETTER way of life.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Reopening Schools: Phase One Failure

November 15, 2020

A recent article published by the Union-Tribune describes San Diego Unified School District’s attempt to reopen schools.  Phase One, which began four weeks ago, was meant to be a solution for our most vulnerable students.  What the district failed to recognize is that by making Phase One voluntary for teachers, there was no incentive for students to attend.  How do you expect students to want to attend school if their teachers may not even show up?

Board Members Whitehurst-Payne and Barrera agree that the number of students who attended school in Phase ONE was “disappointing.”  If we believe their estimate, 3000 students attended school in Phase One.  This is roughly 3% of the District’s student population!

The responsibility for NOT reopening schools falls solely on the School Board’s members.   It was their acceptance of the Memorandum of Understanding with the San Diego Teachers Union that gave teachers the option of returning to campus or not.  It is these Board members who should be held accountable for the failure to meaningfully reopen the schools.

Teachers are the epitome of essential workers!  It is teachers who understand not only the educational needs of their students but their emotional needs as well.  Who is looking after our most vulnerable students?  Which students are being severely neglected in their homes, but we are not noticing because we do not see them in the classrooms?  Which students are malnourished because the school where they were fed at least two meals a day is closed?   Students with special needs are the most severely impacted; their education has been disrupted to a point where they may fall years behind in their learning.  

To make matters even more disturbing, the District agreed to pay teachers their full salary for half the number of students.   We are and should be grateful and appreciative of our grocery store workers, who come into contact with hundreds of people a day. They come to work so we can all survive, and even though they are union workers, they did not demand full salary for half of their workload.  Yet the School Board thought it was “the right thing to do” to agree to this Memorandum of Understanding.   The lack of learning and opening of schools falls on the current School Board members and their constant fear of the teachers’ union. 

Now that San Diego has fallen into the purple tier of COVID-19, it behooves one to believe that after all the family gatherings over the holidays, schools will remain closed for the second semester.   It is a good thing that the state of California commenced testing this year, because we will have proof of every single student who performs poorly by not being provided a level of instruction that would allow them to meet acceptable standards. We must use these results to hold this School Board accountable!

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/story/2020-11-13/san-diego-unified-board-members-parents-say-district-is-falling-short-in-phase-one-reopening

SDCOE: Enhancing Equity with SEL

The San Diego County Office of Education will be partnering with Panorama Education to host a 3-part virtual learning series focused on Enhancing Equity with SEL. It’s now more important than ever to focus on the racial inequities that exist within our school districts and learn how to actively fill the gaps.

Throughout the series, we’ll focus on how to leverage social-emotional learning (SEL) to address inequity that exists among, students, staff, and families. This is a space to ask questions and share resources with district leaders and educators just like you. Let’s tackle today’s challenges together and help each other grow.
If you would like to join us, please save your seat. Be sure to register for each specific learning session that you would like to attend:

If you are unable to attend a session but would like access to the recording and materials, register for that session and we will follow up after.
Please forward this email to your colleagues to spread the impact!

Thank you,The Equity Team

With Children First

November 10, 2020

This is the signature line for all the information that board members send out to the community and the press. It should read “Adults First and if there are crumbs left, let the children have them.” Once again, in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, our board members and the superintendent believe that it is a good idea to offer a “Bronze Handshake” (not as potent as the Golden Handshake) to teachers who are eligible. We haven’t even gotten the online teaching process down with our current teachers, and our leaders believe that this would be a perfect time to retire some veteran employees. Our district lost quite a bit of institutional knowledge less than 3 years ago with the Golden Handshake of 2017. Losing the remainder of the veteran employees to the district will wipe out any and all history with the district.

Keep in mind, there was no mention of the fact that a few years back, the Chief of Staff stated that she would be retiring at the end of this current school year. So interesting that they offer Free Medical Insurance for the next 5 years to any eligible member of SD Unified who retires now. WOW!!

Someone like Stacy Monreal will get at least $75K towards her medical insurance over the next 5 years. Other employees will get between $25-75K for their medical, depending on their seniority with the district. There are 600 employees who took this incentive package.  If the average amount is right in the middle, this adds up to THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS going towards medical coverage for these employees over the next 5 years. It could easily be more. Add this to the already $165M deficit for the 20121-22 school year and anyone can see clearly that this district is NOT about children!

To further inflict chaos to our students, the employees who accepted this plan MUST leave by December 2020. Why? The president of the teachers’ union asked the same question and was given a non-answer that the deadline was December 31, 2020.

The first semester does not commence until the end of January 2021. Why make a teacher leave prior to the end of the semester? Is there a tax incentive for Ms. Monreal to get her money by the end of 2020? Will it place her in another tax bracket if she got the incentive in June 2021? 

There is NO incentive for our students–they will now have to endure a substitute teacher who does not know them, the class routine, the school or sometimes the actual course itself. Will  they be trained on using web portals to teach students? Can they accurately grade students using the new Performance Based Evaluations (which have not yet been vetted by parents or community members)? 

Every single day, at all schools in San Diego Unified, the shortage of substitute teachers has been epic. If we are already short substitute teachers, how will they fill the teaching positions left by the retired teachers in January? And where will they find enough substitute teachers to fill in for teachers who get sick during the school year? 

Our students who attend schools in the lower economic areas of San Diego will be hit the hardest.  Remaining teachers who have seniority will fill the empty positions in higher-performing areas of San Diego, meaning our schools will be left with the substitute.  Substitute teachers tend to want to teach in schools in the higher performing areas of San Diego, and it may be very difficult to find any teachers for our students. 

Even if substitutes are found, our students, who have built trusting relationships with their teachers will now have to chance their education on someone who doesn’t know them or the school where they are teaching, and who may not even want to be there.

Once again, what children is our district putting first?

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

It’s Time to Lift Ev’ry Voice

October 21, 2020

In the most recent issue of District Deeds the issue of standards-based grading was brought forth. The  issues brought forth included limiting what is actually taught in the classroom, data mining on our  students, the overwhelming task that teachers will now have to face, limiting students’ desires to achieve and removing societal knowledge. While all of these issues can and most likely will occur, the NAACP believes far more devastating issues need to be addressed. 

Teachers currently have, for the most part, used data to support a student’s grade. By using the SBG form, teachers will now use their judgement along with student work to decide which students exceed,  meet, approach, or do not meet standards. There are teachers, who for whatever reason, DO NOT LIKE SOME STUDENTS! These teachers will be a detriment to the students they do not like! It’s human nature.  It happens. The students in struggling schools will be hurt worse by this because their parents do not  have the time to come to school and fight for their student. Teachers are not as intimidated by these  parents as they are of the parents who threaten to sue if things do not go their way.  

In an article discussing SBG, author Lee Ann Jung brings forth 10 things to consider before going to this model. The one that rang the loudest was this one: “Schools who’ve successfully implemented a  standards-based grading initiative start with getting everyone, parents, and teachers, on board with the  purpose of assessment. Think of this as your Northstar for the initiative.” Has any of this been vetted  through our parents, community or even the teachers’ union? This initiative is just another way for this district to use their “smoke and mirrors” marketing ploys to tell parents how much they care for all students. This is NOT going to help any of our students to do better in school. By switching gears in the  middle of the year pertaining to grades, they have just added another level of dysfunction to an already  challenging school year. We need positive leadership from the top if our students are going to perform  better in school. This includes having an actual plan that is not just educational jargon but substantiated by facts and proven ways to help students.  

Our district gladly accepted the extra FUNDING from Governor Newsome. But where is the plan for how they are using it? Why aren’t departments allowed to spend ANY money at this time unless Cindy Marten approves it? Where is the accountability for where and how the money is going? Is the district using COVID funding to clear the deficit they built up?  

Trustee Barrera will lead you to believe that he is all about helping minority students. The majority of the  students in the SDUSD are Hispanic. Interestingly, there was NO mention of Hispanic Heritage Month on either the district website or any flag flying in front of the Education Center. He also claims that there are some schools that will be allowed to return to all-day in Phase I of the COVID Plan. However, in the SDEA reopening plan, there is NO mention of this happening in Phase I. As a matter of fact, the unions states; “as we move forward to whatever the next phases of reopening may look like, it will be  more important than ever that we maintain our unity and be guided by science.” And they should be guided by science and not the rhetoric from our school board making false promises to parents and  teachers about how and what they plan on doing to reopen our schools. 

Having said all of this, it is critical for us to “Lift Ev’ry Voice” in San Diego to have the current leadership STOP making false promises to our students. Speak the truth once and for all. 

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

PTA Survey: SD Unified & Online Learning

The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs is conducting a survey on how things are going in San Diego Unified this school year. The information gathered will be shared with parents, the school district and help shape the conversation at an upcoming webinar.  The webinar will be happening in November and open to all. 

This survey is meant for all who are actively involved in assisting with online learning, even if the student does not reside in your home or if you are not the parent/guardian.

The survey is live now and will close on October 30th.  It should take less than 5 minutes and your responses are completely anonymous.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SDUPTA2020Survey

El Consejo Unificado de Padres y Maestros de San Diego estan llevando a cabo una encuesta sobre cómo van las cosas en el Distrito Unificado de San Diego este año escolar. La información recopilada se compartirá con los padres, el distrito escolar y ayudará a dar forma a una conversación en un próximo seminario web.  El seminario web se realizará en noviembre y estará abierto a todos. 

Esta encuesta está dirigida a todos los que participan activamente en la asistencia del aprendizaje en línea, incluso si el estudiante no reside en su casa o si no es el padre o tutor.

La encuesta está en vivo ahora y se cerrará el 30 de octubre.  Tomará menos de 5 minutos y sus respuestas son completamente anónimas.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2020SDUCPTAFamiliaEncuesta