SUSTAINING EQUITABLE SCHOOLS: Models of Reform
NOTES for a workshop presentation at UESF Conference Washington High School, San Francisco, October 16, 2004
What is EQUITY?
High Stakes testing defines equity by test scores alone (API, % basic or proficient on CST ELA and math and percent who pass the CAHSEE) – SEE SF map showing discrepancy in API scores and how it correlates to EAST v WEST, which used to be racially divided but not so segregated as it used to be – it is socio-economic status that is the strongest variable that correlates to test scores. See James Popham, The Truth About Testing: an Educator’s Guide to Actions – browse chapters online. See more Popham.
Consent Decree uses test scores but also adds other categories—suspensions, expulsions, GPA, number of AP classes in a school, special day classes/special ed, attendance rates, degree of segregation within classes, school and district; extra curricular activity participation, staff diversity.
OTHER CRITERIA? Art teacher per pupil ratio, number of books and computers in school’s library (library hours and number of librarians), college acceptance and retention rates, employment history following HS graduation, Voting record after graduation, level of participation in community service after graduation, number who return to alumni functions and level of donations by alumni and many more. See Williams Settlement
REFORM MODELS can be grouped into two types: top down and bottom up
EXAMPLES OF BOTTOM UP: (impetus and/or design comes from community)
EXAMPLES OF TOP DOWN (community not part of decision making process with the inevitable result that they generally oppose the implementation of these reforms)COURT ORDERED RECONSTITUTION 1983- staff vacated, new staff hired – Drew to become a middle school to feed into Lowell; Drake elementary, Carver elementary; Pelton turned into academic high school modelled after Wallenberg
When the schools opened that September, district buses arrived in the neighborhood of Drew to take the elementary students to other schools in the city. The buses were met by picket lines of parents and their supporters, preventing the buses from transporting the children for two hours (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/9/83). On September 19, four people, including the Reverend Cecil Williams, were arrested for blocking school buses. Williams explained to the Chronicle reporter, “integration will never work unless the people of Bayview-Hunter’s Point are included” (9/20/83). On September 22, the 198-member bus driver’s union voted unanimously to honor any future picket lines by Drew parents (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/83). The situation was finally resolved when the school board voted 6–1 to reopen Drew as a prekindergarten through second grade school (subject to approval by NAACP and Judge Orrick). The Drew parents had wanted complete restoration of the PK–5 school (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4/83).
Pelton parents were not as successful as the Drew parents in opposing the reconstitution of their school. On February 21, 1984, the school board voted 5–2 to move Pelton students to another site. Pelton Middle School was reconstituted and renamed, becoming the Philip and Sala Burton High School. When the parents complained about not being part of the planning process, the superintendent told them they were forbidden from doing so by the Consent Decree (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/22/84).
From chapter 7 of my dissertation
1992-1999 – RECONSTITUTION IS DISTRICT POLICY – but still under Consent Decree so community not allowed to challenge superintendent’s decisions on which schools to reconstitute. Union fought to end Reconstitution - but state adopted it as part of PSAA in 1999.
STAR SCHOOLS 2000-2001: schools identified as low performing based upon their state test scores get targeted resources – curriculum and counseling. Example, snacks on test days, training in district chosen, standardized, scripted curricula like Open Court and High Point. According to most recent Consent Decree Monitor’s report, conditions have gotten worse not better in the last two years – growing achievement gap, attendance gap, disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos suspended, expelled
TALES OF TWO CITIES
San Francisco– RECONSTITUTION adopted district wide from 1992-99 under the auspices of the Consent Decree (see chapter 7 in my dissertation or chapter 9 in my book, Why is Corporate American Bashing Our Public Schools?). Schools reconstituted under Rojas are the same schools still struggling today. Despite community demands for neighborhood schools, community schools, and small schools, Superintendent Ackerman, instead, has been reconstituting 15 "low-performing" schools as Dream Schools.
Oakland– SMALL SCHOOL. Oakland Community Organizations, the Oakland Teachers, and Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools created an alliance about 10 years ago to transform all of Oakland’s public schools into small schools. In 2002, they believed they were at the tipping point—25% of OUSD students were to be enrolled in small schools. But at that moment, the state decided to take over the district because of financial deficits. One result of the takeover has been the suspension of small school reform in Oakland. BayCES and OCO continue to support existing small schools (although BayCES seems to have been co-opted now by the state appointed superintendent Randy Ward). The future of authentic small schools in Oakland is now in doubt. See Lessons of Freedom Summer to understand the current small school movement in the context of the history of alternative schools in the U.S.