Dear Families and Staff,
We wanted to share a slightly extended video update with the community as we move into winter break. The update runs a little longer than some of our weekly updates last year at roughly 12 minutes, so if you are interested in some of the components but do not have the time or inclination to watch our whole video we have summarized some of the key points and resources included in that message below.
KEY CALENDAR DATES
- Last day of school for 2022 is Wednesday, December 21
- School starts again on Monday, January 9
ADDRESSING AND COUNTERING HATE-SPEECH ON CAMPUS
As most of you now know, we were confronted with yet another series of unacceptable instances of hate-themed graffiti written on bathroom walls and a stairwell at Alameda High School. In a message earlier this week, and in this week's video we reiterate that all consequences at our disposal via local policies and the California Education Code will be considered whenever we identify people engaging in these types of hateful expressions or sentiments. Whether those sentiments are anti-black, anti-Jewish, or express any other form of bigotry and hate, we will hold a hard line on discipline and consequences may include:
We also note that educating against hateful or biased tendencies is also a big part of the equation. As such we wanted to share that individual secondary schools have and are working on school culture lessons through their advisory periods.
Elsewhere our forthcoming social studies adoptions will ensure a higher and more specific degree of addressing things like hate and stereotyping while also being more inclusive of historically marginalized groups.
The rubric our team of administrators and teachers is currently using to vet a new K-5 social studies curriculum is viewable here
Curriculum reviews and piloting for middle and high school are scheduled to begin this summer.
Readily Available Anti-Hate and Anti-Bias Resources
For more immediate access to resources to support lesson planning, tools, dialogue at school and at home, and other supports we are sharing UC San Diego Professor Mica Pollock's resource-rich page Schooltalking.org
. Professor Pollack and her team's latest project
, #UsvsHate, also provides accessible resources and creative opportunities as well as discussion guides and lessons.
AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENT ACHEIVEMENT AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE
The insufficient outcomes for many African American students in AUSD on metrics ranging from test scores to grades to absenteeism and post-secondary eligibility requires sustained commitment from all of us. On December 13, we shared with the school board preliminary areas under consideration for additional investment and resourcing where this challenge is concerned.
More detailed proposals will be brought forth in January and February in areas such as...
More concentrated mentoring, advising, and monitoring
Additional skilled social supports
Increased availability to tutoring and academic supports
Culturally responsive professional learning for staff
Increasing family engagement staffing to make connections or deepen existing connections with families
GRADING POLICY AND STRATEGIC PLAN
AUSD will initiate a larger community-wide conversation on grading policies, practices, and administrative regulations beginning in January. The initial focus will be on grading policies at middle and high schools. The goal is to engage in an extended community-wide conversation (through presentations and focus groups) on grading practices that includes perspectives from students, teachers, administrators and parents that may ultimately lead to recommendations to the Board of Education for changes or adjustments to the current policies and regulations.
In January, we are tentatively scheduled to kick off the discussion with a presentation from Joe Feldman, author of "Grading for Equity
Some additional resources to help shape forthcoming questions and discussion are also provided below:
SCHOOL SAFETY WORK
After an extremely challenging week last week and multiple deeply concerning safety issues at our schools, today's video update covers areas we are exploring in terms of upgrades and improvement to campus safety. Those include:
Exploring areas of our school perimeters that can be closed during school hours to reduce points of entry
Clarifying best practices for securing individual classrooms on very short notice
Intensifying efforts to recruit additional campus supervisor and noon supervisor positions
Continue the regular schedule of emergency preparedness drills that began earlier this fall at all schools
Reiterate and better enforce policies on visitors passes and employees wearing IDs at all times
Continue to develop existing partnerships with local law enforcement and other first responders
Updates on how these efforts will play out at individual schools will come to the community through principals.
We have many challenges ahead, and yet as we head into the winter break, I remain optimistic about meeting those challenges together.
Margaret Mead famously noted that we should never doubt "that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world," and reminded us that in fact "it is the only thing that ever has."
I genuinely wish you rest and rejuvenation during the break, wish you and yours happy holidays, and thank each and every one of you for being a part of our AUSD Community.