Tuesday, October 11, 2016

As a School Board Member, I Will Work to Improve...

As a member of the TUSD School Board, I would work with the Superintendent to improve measures associated with:

Student Achievement

By raising student achievement, TUSD will attract more students.  The most efficient way to improve student achievement rates is to:

1) raise funding to each classroom from $.49 per dollar to $.70,

2) hire high quality teachers,

2) provide robust teacher support and development systems, and

3) empower teachers to replicate what is working in high performing schools; hold administrators accountable for student achievement rates.

TUSD can learn from parents, teachers, students, and community members.  To that end, the District should open itself to parent and community input in order to provide the kinds of schools that parents and others want for our community.  Parent and teacher input should be sought after, and the district should routinely reach out to parents to gather feedback and advice about how schools can improve.

No member of the public should ever get blocked or barred from a TUSD-associated forum, meeting, or public media (like Facebook, twitter, etc.); the community must perceive that TUSD is a transparent district, that it owes the people of Tucson its greatest allegiance and openness, and it exists to serve Tucson’s needs and desires—not the other way around.

To build enrollment, TUSD leaders must actively recruit students to the district—just as they should be holding periodic hiring fairs to actively recruit teachers to the district.  Board members can reach out to the community to share the amazing things that TUSD is doing, how some of the school are thriving, and what the district is learning from those schools to improve district-wide.

The Superintendent must have goals that include measurable outcomes and that depend upon notable improvement in quantifiable gains like student enrollment numbers, new hires, and employee vacancies.  

To that end, the Supt. should ensure greater focus and improvements in measures associated with:

Instruction

--> Replicate successful models from high performing schools

--> Use other successful districts as examples, and work with other districts to improve.

Diversity

--> Tie the Strategic Plan to the Unitary Status Plan (USP)

--> Use Tucson Magnet High School Magnet Plan as an example of what works:

* outreach, marketing, recruitment

--> Tie Supt. Goals to the USP, Curriculum Audit, and Comprehensive Magnet Plan (CMP).  The CMP, for example, requires that:

1. A magnet school must be an A or B school as defined by the Arizona Department of Education school letter grade system.

2. Students in magnet schools will score higher than the state median in reading and math on the state assessment.

3. Students in magnet schools show higher growth than the state median growth in math and reading.

4. Magnet schools will secure the growth of the bottom 25% of the students at the school at a rate higher than the state median growth of the bottom 25%.

5. Magnet schools will reduce achievement gaps between the racial groups so that achievement gaps between racial groups are less than those in schools not participating in magnet programs.

--> Desegregation funding

* Use properly—explain spending, so community (including Plaintiffs) understands without having to ask.

--> Explore grants and other sources of funding to supplement budgets for diverse students with extraordinary needs, including refugees, English language learners, students living on their own or in foster care, etc.

Facilities

--> M & O: Community Schools:

* Engage the community to understand and gauge needs, desires, intentions to work together to make the best use of TUSD schools; continue to consolidate buildings (based on parent input regarding their needs and desires); lease empty space out to community; invest in new, updated spaces.

* Invest in solar energy.
* Establish multiple community task forces—stop outsourcing, reach out to employees and neighbors to bring people together and stop alienating families.

* Empower custodians and other employees responsible for plant operations to lead, improve systems, collect feedback, and use the feedback to improve.

* Raise the pay rate for all "blue collar" employees. 

* If the board can get elected by slathering names all over town, the board can get an incentive passed—pass a bond or an override to increase the M & O budget.

-->Busses

* Improve efficiency by empowering current leaders to continue to step up and continue streamlining processes.

* Raise salaries, populate busses with safety monitors, and collect input about how to improve morale from the bus drivers and monitors.

Communication

--> Use free technology to establish systems of communication in the community to build trust, provide transparency, and engage the community in positive and open interaction.

--> Invest in technology to streamline processes, stop waste, and improve communication with employees and with the community at large.

--> Revise and update the TUSD website to make it easier to find information, including the Unitary Status Plan.  The USP should be as prominent on the website as the Strategic Plan.

--> Revise the Strategic Plan to include specific and measurable outcomes so any reader can tell when goals are reached.

* Currently, the first point reads: "Strategic Priority #1: Curriculum: TUSD will design an aligned, articulated and well-administered curriculum that supports academically high standards of learning for all children, integrates college- and career-ready skills, incorporates fine and performing arts and is culturally relevant for our diverse student population. It will be reviewed and revisited regularly to meet the changing demands of our students and community."  

As an example of how I would revise the plan, I developed the following.  I would work in collaboration with the Superintendent and other board members, so this is just an example of the type of planning I believe necessary.  To start, I would replace the first point as it is written above to:

Strategic Priority #1: Curriculum: TUSD will ensure that there is available on each school’s individual website a curriculum map for each subject taught at the school, across grade levels. 

Specific: TUSD will design an aligned, articulated and well-administered curriculum that supports academically high standards of learning for all children.  Measurable: TUSD will provide curriculum maps.  Achievable: The Supt. will work with principals and teachers to determine a schedule to fulfill this responsibility.  Results-oriented: Parents will find the maps online, at each school website.  Time-bound: The curriculum maps will be up and available for parent inspection by May 2017.

S: The curriculum will be reviewed and revisited regularly to meet the changing demands of our students and community.  M: School principals will lead their staff in reviewing and revising the curriculum on a timeline set at the school level, posted to the school website.  A: The Supt. will work with principals and teachers to determine a schedule to fulfill this responsibility.  R: Parents and other community members will see updated curriculum maps each year, which reflect the changing needs of the students and the community.  T: The maps will be available on school websites beginning in May 2017.

S: Students will graduate ready for college or for employment.  M: TUSD will collect (and share on its website) data regarding college entrance and graduation rates and for post high school graduation employment rates, beginning in May 2017.  TUSD will create a system to collect contact information for TUSD graduates, so TUSD can send graduates periodic surveys collecting information about college and work experiences.  A: The Supt. will work with principals and teachers to determine a schedule to fulfill this responsibility.  R: Reported data will show that students graduate at a rate of 80%, enter college or enter the workforce at a rate of at least 90%, report that they are equipped to work or study at a rate of at least 80%, and graduate from college in 5 yrs or less at a rate of 60% (I just chose these numbers at random as an example).  T: Data will be collected beginning in March 2017.  Data will be reported beginning in September 2017.

S: schools will offer courses in the fine and performing arts.  M: List schools, will offer courses in the fine and performing arts.  A: The Supt. will work with principals and teachers to determine a schedule to fulfill this responsibility.  R: parents will find these courses listed and students will be able to enroll in the courses on school websites.  T: completed on date . . . .

S: schools will offer culturally relevant classes that reflect TUSD’s diverse student population. M: TUSD will offer list courses, at list schools.  A: The Supt. will work with principals and teachers to determine a schedule to fulfill this responsibility.  R: Students will report that they are taking diverse courses with diverse students, as reported by teachers, and parents will find these courses listed and students will be able to enroll in the courses. T: completed on . . .
-->The Superintendent should present the Board with a timeline, perhaps in February 2017, detailing the curriculum map completion goals and dates for each school.

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