San Diego superintendent finalists vow to prioritize equity, closing opportunity gaps for students

The two San Diego Unified Supervisor finalists said schools have not done enough to serve the most disadvantaged children and outlined in a public forum Saturday the strategies they will implement, ranging from programs to develop your own teachers to enrolling more students in advanced courses.

Two people are vying for the position of supervisor vacated last year by Cindy Marten, who left to become US Deputy Secretary of Education.

Susan Enfield has been the supervisor of Highline Public Schools, a Seattle area with about 18,000 students, for the past nine years. She was previously the principal academic director and interim leader of Seattle Public Schools, principal of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and of the Portland and Vancouver Districts of Washington. She was also a teacher in Northern California.

Lamont Jackson was temporary curator of San Diego Unified since May last year. A product of the district, he has worked at the San Diego Unified for more than three decades as a teacher, principal, human resources manager and most recently district supervisor.

Whoever takes the position of supervisor will become the CEO of California’s second largest school district with approximately 95,000 students, 15,000 employees and a budget of $ 1.7 billion. Decide on mitigating and responding to the spread of COVID-19, manage the staffing aggravation exacerbated by COVID, address the impact of COVID on students’ academic and mental health, and work to correct long-term inequalities in schools.

Candidates answered questions from members of the community during a two-hour public forum at Wilson Middle School in City Heights on Saturday, which was attended by about 150 people and was streamed online.

At the beginning of the forum, Jackson talked about how he grew up in a interracial family and how he did not know his identity, feeling too light to be black and too dark to be white. “I do not think any of our children should be in a place where they do not know who they are … That’s why I’m passionate about education,” he said.

Possible San Diego Consolidated supervisor Lamont Jackson speaks at a student forum at Wilson Middle School in San Diego on Saturday.

(Bill Wechter / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

He then described how his grandmother, who had raised him, died while he was in high school. Two years later, he said he lost his best friend, who was jailed for a triple murder. A few years later, his sister was shot and killed by one of his own students, Jackson said. Then, when Jackson was 23, his father died at the age of 44. Fumes from the audience echoed in the school hall as Jackson remembered these events.

“As I talk about the basics of finding my voice and helping others find theirs, you need to know why I’m passionate about it: it’s because of the many lives I lost and the many lives that came in to shut it down. “to pave the way for me to stand in this scene,” Jackson said.

Answering a question about how they would lead the district and make decisions, Enfield said leadership is not about trying to win everyone’s approval, but about listening to the community, making a decision and then explaining why the decision was made. decision. It also includes the willingness to admit mistakes and correct the course.

“Genuine listening and commitment is really important, not lip service,” Enfield said.

Jackson said it was important for students to have a say in decision making. He also said that he is willing to do work on the ground, instead of just directing others.

“If painting needs to be done, I will paint. If teaching is needed, I will teach. “If the following needs to happen, I will follow,” he said.

Enfield and Jackson’s attitudes, priorities, and ideas about how to serve students overlapped on many fronts.

Both spoke at length about equality and the expansion of opportunities for disadvantaged students, especially black and Latin students, students with disabilities and students learning English. They both talked about the importance of reducing suspension rates, giving students access to more rigorous lessons, using grading practices that give students more opportunities to show that they know the material, and expanding early learning programs, such as preschool. .

Possible San Diego Consolidated Supervisor Susan Anfield Speaks In One Step

San Diego Possible Unified Supervisor Susan Anfield speaks during a forum at Wilson High School in San Diego on Saturday.

(Bill Wechter / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Answering a question about closing the gaps in disadvantaged students, Anfield recalled a time when a high school student who dreamed of going to Harvard asked Anfield to write a letter of recommendation. Anfield said she was saddened to see that the student’s copy had no advanced lessons.

“I knew in that look that, despite being brilliant and full of potential, there was no way he could get into Harvard. And that was not on her. “That was for us,” Enfield said.

Enfield said schools need to be honest about their practices that exclude students from opportunities, such as the ability to take advanced courses. When it first reached the Highline in 2012, two of the district’s four high schools had no advanced courses. He has since said he has worked to expand access to advanced courses.

“It’s about the beliefs we have in our children and how we convey it or not, and how we give them access to opportunities or deny them access to opportunities,” Enfield said.

Jackson also spoke of the need to eliminate gateway practices, such as imposing strict curriculum restrictions on students.

“All we do is layer our system and we do not want to do that. “We want our most marginalized students in the strictest subjects,” he said.

Jackson said he participated in and created student support programs that provided teachers, helped students learn how to study, helped students with their assignments and grades, and checked in with their teachers.

“This is the recipe for closing the performance gap: high expectations, faith in all children, providing access to a rigorous curriculum with support and supervision,” he said.

Both Jackson and Enfield talked about educating new teachers from the school district through “grow your own” programs.

Enfield said its county has a program that invites and trains bilingual special education assistants to become bilingual teachers and is setting up a similar program for special education teachers. Jackson talked about how he became a teacher through a previous development program in San Diego Unified that sought to increase the number of colored teachers. said such a program would help address the problem of teacher shortages.

To improve teacher recruitment and retention amid a shortage of teachers nationwide, Jackson said salaries should be raised to show that teaching is a valuable profession and an attractive choice, especially for first-year students.

Anfield said the point is not only to have attractive salaries and bonuses, but also working conditions that allow teachers to do their job better. That means hiring a full-time counselor, social worker, nurse, psychologist and family liaison for each school, Enfield said.

The San Diego Consolidated School Board, which will hire the inspector, began interviewing the two candidates in a closed-door meeting Saturday after the public forum. The district says the election of the board will be announced in mid-March.

People can comment on prospective inspectors to the district inspector search website until March 1.

San Diego superintendent finalists vow to prioritize equity, closing opportunity gaps for students Source link San Diego superintendent finalists vow to prioritize equity, closing opportunity gaps for students

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