I am writing with an update about TUSD and the Board’s activities over the past month or so.
1. As you may know, the AzMerit scores were presented to us this week. The scores verify that TUSD has great room for improvement.
a. See the presentation here: http://govboard.tusd1.schooldesk.net/Portals/TUSD1/GovBoard/docs/packets/packet08-08-17/8-8-17-BAI4-Presentation.pdf).
2. Dr. Trujillo, the Interim Supt. has developed a strategic plan to address TUSD’s academic improvement goals; I trust that the Board and Dr. Trujillo will work together to ensure that the plan is in following with TUSD’s needs and our goals.
a. I would like to see more focus on our high performing schools (such as Fruchthendler, Dodge, Mansfeld, Sam Hughes, University High School, etc.) to learn what they are doing to beat the odds and apply what we learn from them to our lower performing schools.
b. See Dr. Trujillo’s plan here: http://govboard.tusd1.schooldesk.net/Portals/TUSD1/GovBoard/docs/packets/packet08-08-17/8-8-17-BAI5-Presentation.pdf
3. The Superintendent search continues. We will interview our four final candidates this week and each candidate will hold a community forum, one each on: August 14, 15, 16, and 17. You can find more information at http://tusd1.schooldesk.net/Home/tabid/73239/ctl/view/itemid/158954/Default.aspx?returnurl=/Home/tabid/73239/Default.aspx.
a. I will, unfortunately, be out of town this coming week due to a personal emergency that requires I not postpone my trip. I will participate in each Superintendent interview using Facetime, and I will watch each forum stream online.
4. We are in the process of improving TUSD Operations and Facilities Maintenance. TUSD has tremendous need. Sustainability Partners reached out to me a short while ago with the idea of a public/private partnership, which would save TUSD thousands of dollars. I was very impressed with their work and their results, as were TUSD’s administrative leaders. They are now working with SP to help us be more efficient and effective. I look forward to working with the Board to redirect all savings to the classroom over the next year or so.
5. I am working with the Tucson Education Association and the Tucson Federation of Teachers to achieve better working conditions for teachers and other employees.
a. TEA represents approximately 12% of our teachers and 5% of our white-collar employees. As a result, many TUSD employees are voiceless. Further, the TEA Consensus Agreement does not guarantee teachers what they need to teach well—they are, for example, guaranteed chalk, but not dry erase markers, air conditioning, or computers.
b. Teacher-leaders have gotten together and advocated for the Board’s assistance to bring back TFT. Up until about five years ago, TUSD teachers benefitted from dual representation—by TFT and TEA. The teachers want dual representation again, they asked for my help, so I will do everything I can to help.
6. I understand that Discipline continues to be a concern in TUSD. We continue to work on the Code of Conduct, though I am still trying to understand how best to communicate my ideas effectively. Thus far, my suggestions have not been implemented, but I will continue working on it and look forward to hearing an update about the Code soon.
a. The USP and desegregation order make it difficult for TUSD to make change; we have to get permission from many people in several states. Still, Phoenix Unified was able to successfully fulfill their Desegregation Order, so I am sure TUSD can do it also.
b. I suspect that TUSD has allowed attorneys to handle desegregation in TUSD thus far. I have asked Dr. Trujillo to assign an educator—ideally, Dr. Trujillo himself, in his capacity as Assistant Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction—to lead the Deseg. Team. As a recent law school graduate, I have great respect for attorneys; as a teacher, I understand that attorneys are not the ideal people to write curriculum or determine how children learn best.
7. Board meetings usually end at 10 PM these days. As such, we have not finished all our business each meeting, but we are working with our Board President and Board Office Staff to help us be more efficient and effective.
a. I have learned much already, including that it is easy to criticize governmental bodies, but it is very difficult to fix them (you can read about my opinions of the Board from before I joined the Board here: https://www.academia.edu/34124587/TUSD_and_the_Law_MAS_edited_not_updated_.pdf).
8. The Board has not discussed Mexican-American Studies and TUSD curricula, the MAS trial that recently concluded, or the possibility of bringing MAS back to TUSD. It was incorrectly stated in the media that TUSD would not bring MAS back no matter what happens at trial. That was wrong—as I have said, the Board has not discussed the issue at all.
a. I would like to see TUSD’s entire curriculum incorporate culturally relevant information. It does not make sense to me to force students of certain ethnic backgrounds to take classes designed for people of those ethnic backgrounds and thought such was contrary to law, under both TUSD’s Deseg Order and Brown v. Board of Ed. I suppose I read those documents differently than others. I am working on changing their minds—just as I am working on collaborating more effectively with others. I am proof that life is a learning process J
9. Parents at Utterback Middle School have reached out and asked for help—students need backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, calculators, rulers, and even clothes and shoes. The need is not unique to Utterback; many TUSD families live below the poverty line, so many students and their families have similar needs in schools across TUSD. If you can help or know someone who can, please reach out to the school or to me. Together we can make TUSD great.
10. I will once again host a Sit & Chat Saturday (tomorrow) 8/12 at noon at Maynard’s downtown. (I had to change the location, as La Cocina is not open this weekend). Please RSVP if you plan on attending, so I know how many to expect.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out. As always, your feedback is more than welcome. Thank you for your time.
Have a great weekend!