Monday, November 27, 2017

November 2017 Newsletter

Hello Friends of TUSD,

I hope this email finds you well.  I am writing with another monthly update.  Much has been going on, so I leave you with a question this month: How do we (you and I and the people of Tucson) work together to revolutionize TUSD for the better? 

First and foremost, thanks to input I have received from the community, I am convinced that the Board must develop a strategic plan with the Superintendent, as part of his evaluation process.  One way for us to do that:

1. Vote on 5 over-arching board goals for TUSD

2. Follow up with Dr. Trujillo to develop 3 to 5 strategies for each Goal.  I have included a few examples of strategies I would like to see employed below.

3. Dr. Trujillo would then work to develop S.M.A.R.T. tactics, alone or with other administrators, by which to fulfill the strategies we develop.

4. Hold Dr. Trujillo accountable for successfully implementing the tactics he chooses (by delegating to and evaluating administrators effectively); Trujillo will be evaluated against the tactics that he chooses and shares with us (to implement the strategies we develop together). 

For example:

I.                    Board goal: Achieve Financial Sustainability

  1. Strategy: Increase student enrollment to positive percentage by 40th day of 2019-20 school year.
i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Reduce enrollment loss by 50% by the 40th day of the 2018-2019 school year as compared to the 40th day of the 2017-2018 school year? [This was his recommendation.]

ii.              Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

iii.             Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

2. Strategy: Decrease spending on Operations by at least 10%, as measured by AZ Auditor General Report, by 2018-19 [I brought this down from 50%, which I would prefer]

i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Work with Sustainability Partners?

3. Strategy: Decrease spending on Administration by 2%, as measured by AZ Auditor General Report, by 2018-19
i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

4. Strategy: Ensure the most efficient and effective use of all school sites, including by consolidating under-enrolled schools, selling or leasing all empty buildings, and building additional structures, as necessary.
i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

II.                  Board goal: Raise Academic Achievement Levels

  1. Strategy: Improve district-wide average school rating for each category (elementary, middle, and high school) by one grade level by 2018-19
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] 

3. Strategy: Move UHS to a stand-alone site and expand programming to fulfill requirements for high schools under USP by July 2019
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

III.                Board goal: Improve Student Conduct District-Wide

1.     Strategy: Revise GSRR for clarity and effectiveness by August 2018
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]
2.    Strategy: Provide professional development in effective restorative practices, inclusive discipline strategies, etc. by August 2018.
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]
3.    Strategy: Revise TUSD policy to take back teacher-related policies currently left to TEA on a discretionary basis, including student/teacher ratios, by 2018-19.
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

IV.                Board goal: Improve Client (Community) Relations

1.     Strategy: Improve employee retention levels by August 2018
i.                           Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]
2.    Strategy: Improve community (family) relations and communications (achieve transparency) by creatively exploiting all media outlets and by collecting and sharing more information than necessary, by August 2018, as measured by surveys, emails to board, and other anecdotal and empirical data.
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]
3.    Strategy: Decrease transportation issues by August 2018
i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Dismiss Transpar at conclusion of current contract period.

4. Strategy: Increase classroom spending by at least 2%, as measured by the Arizona Auditor General’s report, by 2018-19.
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]


V.                  Board goal: Implement USP, Achieve Desegregation (Forever)

  1. Strategy: Collect and evaluate data, use research in all decision-making (for all schools and, therefore, magnet schools)
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

    1. Strategy: Meet with Plaintiffs’ Representatives to develop mutually acceptable plans for growth and development
                                                               i.      Tactic: [Trujillo chooses]

  1. Strategy: Fulfill court orders by systemically developing and supporting effective magnet programs
i.               Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Expand Tully open GATE program to Roberts-Naylor by August 2018?

ii.              Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Develop ROTC magnet program?

iii.            Tactic: [Trujillo chooses] Expand and further support Catalina CTE magnet?

Where there are fewer than 3-5 strategies, I figure the Board would work together to formulate more, and we would work together to decide on the final percentages and dates.

Finally, I think the Board’s retreat on December 5 will be very important for us.  I look forward to setting goals for the Board and a plan to evaluate ourselves and our work together and for TUSD.  We must develop respect for each other and get above and beyond the politics, or the mess will never end. 

·      Academic achievement and data collection. I continue to request data-based proof of effectiveness, and I will not vote to approve any curricular materials unless data shows that the materials will help raise achievement levels.  
I am not sure why the request seems large to many.  I studied in an EdD program for about three years and I was left with the impression that data is the most important issue in education today--it is imperative that we collect, evaluate, and use data to improve.  Closing the achievement gap depends on having the information--the data--to diagnose issues and fix them.  We need effective and efficient data systems in TUSD.  
TUSD’s achievement gap from 2005 to 2017 looks like this (where St = State):



This is not acceptable.  

We have been under court order since 1978 to fix this problem, and yet we seem to have made no overall progress.  We cannot simply continue to do what has been done and hope for different results.  Unless we tackle the issues with purpose and creativity—unless we do things differently—nothing will change.  I do not accept the argument that poor students cannot achieve at high levels; many of our students have already proved that is not true.

Still, I realize that the message, “We can do better,” feels like an insult to those who feel they are doing their best.  I am sorry about that.  I maintain that we can do better.  

I personally believe that there is always room for improvement—it is not just a quaint expression—and I do not mean to suggest that TUSD employees are terrible.  I simply believe we can all do better, all the time, bar none.

·      The media
It feels like TUSD is treated unfairly in the media.  Do you agree or disagree?  I do not want to criticize the Star, etc., without reason.  However, I cannot help but sense that someone out there has an agenda, and improving TUSD is not on it—or something.  

I would love your advice, your input.  How can TUSD convince our local media to reduce the contempt and increase its faith in our capacity to do better?  

I am also forced to wonder: Would you, in all honesty, prefer a charter district in place of TUSD?  I do not think a charter district would improve the educational situation in Tucson.  I think New Orleans and Philadelphia and other cities are proof.  

Further, some TUSD schools are doing really amazing educational things for and with our families.  With the right kind of support, I believe every school in TUSD can excel.  But I am not enough.  We need a majority, not just on the Board, but in Tucson as a whole.  Getting a majority on the Board to vote for change has proved to be an "interesting" game of playing feelings, which I do not appreciate.  I prefer facts and logic.  

What do you think?  
·      The next Sit & Chat is on December 2.  
Please RSVP so I can look forward to seeing you Dec. 2 at noon at Maynard's Market downtown!  We will chat about maternity leave, teacher/student class ratios, and any other issues or questions you bring.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. 

Thank you for your time.  Have a great week J

Sincerely,

Rachael Sedgwick
Sedgwick4tusd.com

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