Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life

Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
• Seattle Gets New Leader, p.3
                                                                                                                    • In the Spotlight, p.7
                                                                                                                    • ESEA Off and Running, p.10

  The Nation’s Voice for Urban Education                          March 2015                       Vol. 24, No. 2      

                                                                                                      Council Partners
                                                                                                      With NBA to Help
                                                                                                      Males of Color
                                                                                                      Succeed in Life
                                                                                                        A partnership has been established
                                                                                                    between the Council of the Great City
                                                                                                    Schools and the National Basketball As-
                                                                                                    sociation to improve educational and social
                                                                                                    outcomes of males of color, and includes
                                                                                                    NBA affiliates – the National Basketball
                                                                                                    Players Association and the National Bas-
                                                                                                    ketball Retired Players Association.
                                                                                                        Part of President Obama’s My Brother’s
                                                                                                    Keeper initiative, the partnership is de-
                                                                                                    signed “as a collaborative effort to help put
                                                                                                    boys and young men of color on a path
                                                                                                    to lifelong success,” says Council Execu-
Former Houston Emerge student and Stanford freshman Felipe Guillén comments during Hous-            tive Director Michael Casserly and NBA
ton’s recent State of the Schools event. Photo credit: Dave Einsel/Houston ISD                      Senior Vice President Todd Jacobson in a
                                                                                                    joint letter.
Houston’s Emerge Program Gets Boost                                                                     After the presi-
                                                                                                    dent last summer
To Help Students Attend Top Colleges                                                                announced that 60
                                                                                                    big-city school dis-
    For four years, Edgar Avina rode his bike six miles from his family’s mobile home to            tricts pledge to sup-
Houston’s DeBakey High School. His journey ended last June, when he graduated and                   port My Brother’s
received a full scholarship to attend Yale University.                                              Keeper, the Council
   Avina was one of 64 Houston Independent School District graduates who matriculat-                in October held a
ed at a top tier university last fall as part of the district’s Emerge program, which identifies    two-day conference
and helps high-potential students from low-income households receive scholarships and               to turn the pledge
admittance into the nation’s elite and Ivy League colleges and universities.                        into reality. Urban school leaders from
   Houston’s Emerge program has been so successful that school district Superinten-                 across the nation converged in Milwaukee
dent Terry Grier recently announced $8.5 million in grants received from the Houston                to discuss implementing action plans under
Endowment to expand the program and to boost college attendance of the city’s public-               the conference banner “United to Make a
school students.                                                                                    Difference: Improving the Achievement of
   The district plans to use a $5.5-million grant to expand the Emerge program, which               Young Men of Color.”

Emerge continued on page 4                                                                          NBA continued on page 5
Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
INSIDE THE COUNCIL                                                                                                                                    MARCH 2015

 ‘Engineering Zone’ Launched to Support K.C. STEM Students
    Students in Missouri’s Kansas City
 Public Schools who are interested in
 STEM (science, technology, engineering
 and math) now have a place to call their
    The Kansas City Engineering Zone is
 a pilot program located on the campus of
 the University of Missouri-Kansas City
 that has opened its doors to students on
 the robotics teams at Paseo Academy and
 Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
    The KC Engineering Zone was created
 as a facility where urban students interest-
 ed in science, technology, engineering and
 math can access the space, technology and
 expertise they need. It was also construct-
 ed to be an equalizer to provide resources
 on par with more affluent areas.
    The zone is the result of a partner-
 ship between the University of Missouri- Kansas City Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green joins students from Paseo Academy and
 Kansas City School of Computing and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy to mark the launch of the new Kansas City Engineering
                                              Zone. Photo credit: KC Stem Alliance
 Engineering and the KC STEM Alliance,
 a collaborative network of educators, busi- schools have STEM or robotics pro-             The site is set to be a magnet for stu-
 ness affiliates and organizations that in- grams, but many of their facilities have dents in the region who want to learn more
 spires interest in STEM careers to gener- limitations.                                  about STEM and spur interest in STEM
 ate a robust cadre of professionals for the     “What is uneven is the physical space fields as possible careers. The location plans
 Kansas City community.                       and the tools and the machinery as well as to open up to more schools’ robotics teams
    According to Laura Loyacono, KC access to mentors in the urban core,” said and engineering contests, as well as be a
 STEM Alliance executive director, many Loyacono in an interview on WDAF-TV. regional resource through hosting STEM
                                                                                         summer camps.

                                  Executive Director                   Editor                             Associate Editor                  Staff Writer
                                  Michael Casserly                     Henry Duvall                       Tonya Harris                      Danyell Taylor

  Council officers
                                   A newsletter published by the Council of the Great City Schools, representing 67 of the nation’s largest urban public school districts.
  Jumoke Hinton Hodge             Albuquerque             Charlotte              East Baton Rouge        Long Beach             Oakland                 Sacramento
  Board Member, Oakland
                                  Anchorage               Chicago                El Paso                 Los Angeles            Oklahoma City           San Diego
  Chair-elect                     Atlanta                 Cincinnati             Fort Worth              Louisville             Omaha                   San Francisco
  Richard Carranza                Austin                  Clark Co.              Fresno                  Miami-Dade             Orange Co.              Santa Ana
  Superintendent, San Francisco   Baltimore               Cleveland              Greensboro              Milwaukee              Palm Beach              Seattle
                                  Birmingham              Columbus               Honolulu                Minneapolis            Philadelphia            Shelby Co.
  Secretary-Treasurer             Boston                  Dallas                 Houston                 Nashville              Pittsburgh              St. Louis
  Felton Williams                 Bridgeport              Dayton                 Indianapolis            New Orleans            Portland                St. Paul
  Board Member, Long Beach        Broward Co.             Denver                 Jackson                 New York City          Providence              Tampa
                                  Buffalo                 Des Moines             Jacksonville            Newark                 Richmond                Toledo
                                  Charleston              Detroit                Kansas City             Norfolk                Rochester               Washington DC
                                                           All news items should be submitted to:                                      Find the Council on:
                                                                       Urban Educator
                                                               Council of the Great City Schools
                                               1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 702 • Washington, DC 20004
                                                             (202) 393-2427 • (202) 393-2400 (fax)

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Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
MARCH 2015					                                                                                                  INSIDE THE COUNCIL

Boston and Seattle Name New Superintendents; Tenure Extended
For San Francisco, Guilford County and Milwaukee School District Leaders
                          Tommy Chang, a        the Washington School Administrators            perintendent Darienne Driver will be able
                       schools administra-      Association, and was also a finalist for Na-    to lead the school system for at least an-
                       tor in Los Angeles,      tional Superintendent of the Year.              other two years. She has been superinten-
                       has been named the          After retiring from the Marysville           dent of the 77,391-student school system
                       new superintendent       school system in June 2013, he served as a      since 2014.
                       of the Boston Public     leadership coach working with more than            The school board recently voted to ex-
                       Schools.                 40 school districts, including the Seattle      tend Driver’s contract through June 20,
                          He is the local       school system.                                  2017, and commended her for efforts to
                       instructional     su-                                                    improve student achievement and engage
Tommy Chang            perintendent of the              A Vote of Confidence                    families and the community.
                       Los Angeles Uni-
fied School District’s Intensive Support &
Innovation Center, where he oversees 135
                                                    Superintendent Maurice Green has led
                                                North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools
                                                                                                 Former Atlanta
schools and some 95,000 students in the
nation’s second largest school district.
                                                in Greensboro since 2008, and under his
                                                leadership the 72,000-student school dis-
   Chang was named Boston’s next su-
perintendent March 3, and will succeed
                                                trict has the highest four-year graduation
                                                rate in its history and has been nationally
interim superintendent John McDonough,          recognized for its innovative character edu-        A former superintendent of the At-
who has been at the helm since the spring       cation programs.                                 lanta Public Schools, Dr. Beverly Hall,
of 2013.                                            As a result, the school board has extend-    died on March 2 after battling breast
   “Dr. Chang will provide the leadership       ed Green’s contract through June 30, 2018.       cancer. She was 68.
that our school system needs and I am con-          In its review of the superintendent, the        She is remembered among many ur-
fident that his innovative views on educa-      school board praised Green for his strong        ban school leaders in the Council of the
tion will move our students forward,” said      character and integrity. Green was also          Great City Schools as a long-standing
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in a news             praised for turning down a 3 percent an-         member of the organization’s Executive
statement.                                      nual raise, the sixth year in a row he has       Committee and the winner of the 2006
   Seattle Public Schools also named a new      turned down the annual compensation.             Richard R. Green Award, the highest
                      superintendent      re-       Also receiving a three-year contract ex-     honor in urban-school leadership.
                      cently, appointing in-    tension recently was Richard Carranza, the          “Today, Atlanta lost one of its gi-
                      terim superintendent      superintendent of the San Francisco Uni-         ants,” said Council Executive Director
                      Larry Nyland as its       fied School District.                            Michael Casserly in a press statement.
                      permament leader to            He has led the 57,000-student district      “Urban public education has lost one
                      head the 52,000-stu-      since 2012 after serving as the deputy su-       of its great stalwarts. All of us lost one
                      dent school district.     perintendent for instruction, innovation         of the best friends anyone could ever
                      He has served as the      and social justice.                              have. And America’s children lost one
                      school system’s inter-        “Richard is driving our district forward     of their truest champions.”
Larry Nyland          im leader since Au-       with a clear vision of the transformation
                     gust 2014, succeeding      that our schools need, a deep understand-
Jose Banda, who left the district to lead       ing of what we are capable of, and an un-
California’s Sacramento Unified School          yielding commitment not to leave any
District.                                       student behind,” said school board vice
    Nyland is a native of Seattle and gradu-    president Matt Haney in a press release.
ated from the district’s Roosevelt High             During Carranza’s tenure, the district
School.                                         has turned around low-performing schools
   Prior to serving as Seattle’s interim        and made strides in reducing student sus-
leader, Nyland led Washington’s Marysville      pension rates, particularly for African
                                                                                                Atlanta Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall
School District for nine years. In 2007, he     American students.                              accepts the Richard Green Award.
was named Superintendent of the Year by             And in Milwaukee Public Schools, Su-

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Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
INSIDE THE COUNCIL                                                                                                           MARCH 2015

Emerge continued from page 1
                                                   Toledo Schools Take NASA Challenge
now serves 25 high schools, to all 45 high            Most high school students simply learn       about the design challenge, now used on
schools. The expansion is expected to in-          about Mars from a textbook, but in Ohio’s       the junior high level, for high school class-
crease the number of Houston school dis-           Toledo Public Schools students are going        es.
trict graduates in the program who go on           one step further by designing hardware to           The partnership between Toledo schools
to attend top colleges from 100 this year to       actually rove the planet.                       and NASA was made possible by a $3.8-
250 annually over the next two years.                 Engineering students at Start High           million Youth Career Connect grant from
    And a $3-million matching grant from           School are getting a hands-on education         the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant
the Houston Endowment will be used to              through a NASA challenge to design new          is part of a national program that focuses
deploy 28 new college counselors to cam-           wheels for a lunar module on the surface of     on making students career-ready through
puses across the district in efforts to boost      Mars. The designed hardware that is being       academic and career-focused curriculum.
college attendance rates by 20 percent over        crafted by juniors and seniors could pos-           In addition to Start and Bowsher, the
the next three years.                              sibly be installed on the Mars Rover. Cur-      grant focuses on three other high schools
    “HISD [Houston Independent School              rently, the machine has to be moved along       in the district in order to create partner-
District] has been awarded a pair of truly         the planet’s surface with a mechanical arm.     ships that provide training, job-shadowing
generous grants from the Houston Endow-               Two NASA personnel at the Glenn              and mentoring to ensure students learn
ment that will transform the lives of scores       Research Center Simulated Lunar Opera-          skills relevant to the job market. The To-
of children who may not have attended              tions facility will help oversee the class-     ledo school district was the only recipient
college otherwise,” said Superintendent            room’s progress. During a news confer-          of the federal funding in the state of Ohio.
Grier in a press release after delivering his      ence, NASA outlined how its personnel               Romules Durant, Toledo schools super-
annual State of the Schools address.               will help students, including giving assis-     intendent, remarked during the news con-
    Students in the program participate in         tance to students in order to build a replica   ference that the collaboration is a prime ex-
college admissions workshops, SAT boot             of a moon surface at Start as well as con-      ample of how the district is providing new
camps and college tours to prepare them            duct student tours of the NASA facilities.      classroom experiences to broaden students’
for campus life.                                      A computer and design class from To-         knowledge base. He also added he’s ready
    “They’re real trailblazers, setting a tangi-   ledo’s Bowsher High School will also be         to take the district’s catchphrase ‘TPS
ble example for others in our under-served         working on part of the project. The two         Proud’ to Mars.
communities to follow,” Grier stressed,            classes are helping to modify a manual
touting Emerge students in his Feb. 11
address before a sold-out crowd at a local
hotel. “They remind all of us that our chil-
dren’s ability to succeed is driven by expec-      Dallas Bilingual Teacher Wins National Award
tations. And those expectations are shaped
by the adults who matter in their lives.”
    Felipe Guillén, another Houston high                                     Irma De La Guar-      school district a few years later, where she
school graduate who participated in the                                   dia, a third-grade       taught kindergarten. “I wanted to make an
Emerge program, is now a freshman at                                      dual language teacher    impact on society; make a difference in my
Stanford University. He told the hundreds                                 at Harry C. Winters      community,” she said.
of educators, administrators and commu-                                   Elementary School           In 2007, she was recruited to Withers to
nity members at the recent State of the                                   in Dallas, was re-       help start its dual-language program. She
Schools event that he would have never                                    cently named the         teaches Spanish Language Arts, science
dreamed of attending a prestigious school                                 2015 Teacher of the      and social studies as part of the Two Way
like Stanford.                                                            Year by the National     Dual Language Program at Withers.
    “I didn’t get to this place all on my own.     Irma De La Guardia     Association of Bilin-       De La Guardia is no stranger to win-
It wasn’t just through hard work, or focus-         gual Education, which represents English       ning awards for her achievements in the
ing on academics,” he said, acknowledg-             language learners and bilingual education      classroom. She was elected 2012-2013
ing the support system provided by the              professionals.                                 Teacher of the Year at Withers. And she
Emerge program. “This dream became my                  Originally an auditor in Mexico City,       was selected as 2014 Bilingual Education
reality because of those who believed in me         De La Guardia moved to Dallas nearly 15        Teacher of the Year by the Texas Associa-
– people in my family, fellow classmates,           years ago. A career change through alter-      tion for Bilingual Education.
and a lot of you in this room….”                    native certification led her to the Dallas

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Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
MARCH 2015				                                                                                                       INSIDE THE COUNCIL

Three Big-City Superintendents Represent Urban Schools
At White House Forum on My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge
   Three big-city school superintendents            tional convening. Later in the day, Coun-           His district is among some 25 urban
converged at the White House recently               cil Executive Director Michael Casserly         public school systems, including the Dis-
with other education, church, business              moderated a panel discussion on “Strong         trict of Columbia, that have developed ac-
and community leaders to advance Presi-             Schools, Strong Kids: Partnering with Su-       tion plans to move the Council’s Males of
dent Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initia-            perintendents to Increase Opportunity and       Color Initiative forward in improving the
tive, launched in February last year to help        Achievement.”                                   achievement of young men of color.
young males of color reach their full po-              Missouri’s Kansas City Public Schools            The D.C. school system and Washing-
tential.                                            Superintendent R. Stephen Green, District       ton’s new mayor recently launched an ini-
   The White House hosted a daylong “na-            of Columbia Chancellor Kaya Henderson           tiative called Empowering Males of Color,
tional convening” of a variety of commu-            and Minnesota’s St. Paul Public Schools         aimed at increasing the success of black
nity sectors that joined the president’s My         Superintendent Valeria Silva discussed          and Latino male students from pre-kin-
Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge to             how school district leaders can help meet       dergarten through 12th grade. The district
ensure opportunities and overcome barri-            the My Brother’s Keeper Community Chal-         in the nation’s capital plans to dedicate $20
ers for all youth, especially boys and young        lenge.                                          million to help improve the outcomes of
men of color.                                          “In KCPS [Kansas City Public                 its males of color, which includes working
   Last summer, the Council of the Great            Schools], we’re committed to making sure        with the community.
City Schools led 60 urban school districts          that all students receive the education and         “We serve more black and Latino boys
to the White House to support President             guidance they need to become successful         than any other group of students, and we
Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.             contributors to their communities, and the      need to give them the tools to succeed,”
   Attorney General Eric Holder and se-             president’s challenge aligns perfectly with     said D.C. Schools Chancellor Henderson
nior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett           our goals,” said Superintendent Green.          during the rollout of the initiative Jan. 21.
delivered remarks to open the Feb. 12 na-

                                                                                                    NBA continued from page 1

                                                                                                       Thus far, some 25 districts have come
                                                                                                    forward with plans of action to help young
                                                                                                    males of color achieve in life. And several
                                                                                                    big-city school districts have hosted com-
                                                                                                    munity events to support racial and cultural
                                                                                                       The NBA and its affiliates have made a
                                                                                                    commitment to provide resources aimed at
                                                                                                    encouraging male students of color to stay
                                                                                                    in school, attend classes every day, concen-
                                                                                                    trate on their studies, complete homework,
                                                                                                    and serve as school and community leaders.
                                                                                                       “Over the next several months, we rec-
                                                                                                    ommend representatives from the NBA
                                                                                                    teams and school system leaders in their
                                                                                                    respective cities reach out to each other to
                                                                                                    determine how we can better coordinate
                                                                                                    our efforts, our talents, and our skills to im-
Left to right, Council Executive Director Michael Casserly, District of Columbia Schools Chancel-   prove the lives of boys and young men be-
lor Kaya Henderson, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva and Kansas City Public
Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green participate in a panel at the White House to support        ginning during the 2015-2016 school year,”
President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.                                                   stressed the joint letter of partnership.

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Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
INSIDE THE COUNCIL                                                                                                                 MARCH 2015

Atlanta District                                     Dallas ‘ACE Plan’ Provides Teachers
Tops in Financial                                    To Low-Performing Schools
Management                                               In an effort to place effective teachers in   will also receive extended contracts and
                                                     every classroom, the Dallas Independent           have their evaluation ratings stay the same
   The Council of the Great City Schools             School District recently announced a plan         for two years.
recently recognized the Atlanta Public               to recruit the highest-performing teachers           In early spring, district officials will
Schools for attaining the highest standards          and principals into the lowest-performing         identify the five to eight low-performing
in financial management, accountability              schools.                                          campuses that will be transformed into
and fiscal control.                                      The Accelerating Campus Excellence            ACE schools. In addition to recruiting new
   The Council presented the Award for               (ACE) Plan is a pilot program aimed at            teachers and principals, teachers already
Excellence in Financial Management to                relocating top teachers and principals to         located at campuses designated as ACE
the Atlanta school system for enhancing,             work at five to eight of the district’s strug-    schools will be incentivized to remain at
safeguarding, and protecting the financial           gling schools. The Teacher Excellence Ini-        their campuses. Bonus stipends of $5,000
integrity of the district.                           tiative, the district’s evaluation system that    for returning distinguished teachers and
   This is only the fourth time since the            defines and rewards effective teaching, will      $3,000 for returning proficient teachers
Council initiated the award in 2008 that             identify which teachers are considered the        will be added to their normal salaries.
it has honored a school district with its            most effective to be eligible to teach in new        “Our lowest-performing schools need
highest national award for sound financial           ACE schools.                                      the most effective teachers,” said Dallas
management. The last award was given to                  The ACE Plan will offer a bonus sti-          Schools Superintendent Mike Miles.
the Miami-Dade County Schools in 2012,               pend of $10,000 to eligible teachers and             The ACE program is scheduled to begin
with the Houston Independent School                  $15,000 to participating principals. Dis-         in the 2015-2016 school year.
District and Florida’s Broward County                tinguished ACE teachers and principals
Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale receiv-
ing the top financial honor earlier.
   “This is a significant milestone for the
Atlanta Public Schools,” Council Execu-
                                                     Denver Teacher Leadership Program Expands
tive Director Michael Casserly said, hon-
oring the school board, superintendent,                 In Denver Public Schools, an innovative           This shift in the traditional teaching
chief financial officer and staff for provid-        teacher leadership program that started in        model is having an effect where it counts
ing exemplary financial management and               14 schools two years ago has been so suc-         most, with the students.
stewardship of taxpayer dollars. “Citizens           cessful that the program is expanding to             “I’ve noticed that teachers in this pro-
and taxpayers in Atlanta should take pride           more than 70 schools in the 2015-2016             gram are willing to engage in dialog with
                                                     school year.                                      students that is very different than what
                                                        Differentiated Roles, a teacher leader-        it was before,” said Carmelina Palmer, a
                                                     ship program, has been praised by partici-        senior at Denver Center for International
                                                     pating schools for helping to align existing      Studies. “It’s no longer ‘Are you under-
                                                     school-wide initiatives and distribute lead-      standing the material?’ It’s more, ‘What
                                                     ership, while retaining great teachers.           can I do to make sure you are getting what
                                                        The program’s success lies with teacher        you need…’”
                                                     leaders, known as team leads, who serve in           Schools interested in joining the teacher
                                                     a hybrid role that includes both teaching         leadership program are required to create
                                                     and non-teaching time. Team leads spend           design teams, comprised of teachers and
                                                     half their day as teachers in their own           school leaders, and spend months creat-
Council Executive Director Michael Casserly,         classrooms, and the other half of the day as      ing a strong plan regarding what teacher
second from right, presents the Award for
Excellence in Financial Management to Atlanta        team leads who work closely with a team of        leadership should look like at their school.
school district officials at a board meeting. Left   teachers in their schools, co-planning, ob-       Schools with a strong plan are awarded
to right, Atlanta Schools Board Chair Courtney       serving instruction and providing feedback.       funding to implement these roles.
English, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen
and CFO Chuck Burbridge.                             Selected team leads participate in extensive         Teacher teams are developed around
                                                     professional development to improve skills        specific goals for the school and its stu-
                                                     they need for their new leadership roles.
Atlanta Award continued on page 12                                                                      Denver Teacher continued on page 12

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Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
MARCH 2015				                                                                                                     INSIDE THE COUNCIL

Serving the Students of San Francisco in Dual Roles
    Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell advocates                                                             district, the city and private entities and
for the San Francisco Unified School Dis-
                                                       In the                                     bring more private dollars into the school

trict by serving as a board member, a posi-                                                       system.
tion she has held since 2006. But she also                                                             Last year, she helped shepherd a $2.7-
advocates for the 57,000-student school                                                           million donation from the
district by serving in another role: senior                                                       Foundation to fund the mayor’s Middle
adviser on Education and Family Services                                                          Grades Leadership Initiative to provide
to San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.                                                                 San Francisco middle schools with in-
    She has served in this position since                                                         creased technology resources, including
2005, when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom,                                                               purchasing iPads for middle school stu-
appointed her to the newly created senior                                                         dents in math and science classes and cre-
staff level position because he wanted to                                                         ating Wi-Fi digital classrooms. This year,
develop a better relationship between the                                                Foundation is donating an
school district and the city.                                                                     additional $5 million.
    “He felt strongly that the city and school                                                        A former pre-school teacher, Mendoza-
district go hand-in-hand and in order to                                                          McDonnell also has a strong interest in
have a great city you have to have great                                                          strengthening the district’s early childhood
public schools,” said Mendoza-McDonnell                                                           education programs, which she believes can
in a recent interview with the Urban Edu-                                                         help close the district’s achievement gap.
                                                 Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell with her daughter
cator.                                           and son.                                             She is a 1983 graduate of the San Fran-
    Her decision to run for the school board                                                      cisco school system, as well as her daughter,
a year later was spurred by Newsom, who          cation because he has someone like her on        while her son is a sophomore at one of the
believed it would be beneficial to have          the inside who can serve as his eyes and         district’s high schools.
someone in city government who under-            ears as well as the interest of students and         The public servant describes her service
stood the inner workings of the school           families she serves as a school board mem-       on the school board as “an honor and privi-
system so the city could align its services      ber.                                             lege to create and implement policy for our
and resources with what the school district          She said balancing the two roles can be      young people.” But she urges those who
needed.                                          a little tricky because oftentimes she may       want to follow in her footsteps to come
    Although Mendoza-McDonnell had               find herself at an event featuring the mayor,    into education for the right reasons. “This
never run for political office and was run-      superintendent and her fellow board mem-         is about changing the history of how pub-
ning against 16 other candidates, she fin-       bers, but she will be staffing the mayor.        lic schools have served our schoolchildren
ished second in the city-wide election for       However, she feels strongly that serving as      historically,” said Mendoza-McDonnell.
the three available seats on the board. Her      the mayor’s education adviser has helped         “Open your mind to multiple solutions of
election made her the first, and only, Filipi-   her tremendously as a board member.              the challenges of public school systems.”
na elected to public office in San Francisco.        “Being at the table when the city is plan-       Mendoza-McDonnell, who recently
    And what about the potential conflict of     ning things, I get to be the one who says        turned 50, likes to travel, spend time with
interest that may arise in serving as a mem-     ‘have we talked to the school district about     friends and family and take advantage of
ber of the school board as well as the may-      this or how will this impact families,’” said    all the things living in a city as ‘dynamic’ as
or’s education adviser? She admits that the      Mendoza-McDonnell. “The school district          San Francisco offers.
issue came up when she was first elected,        can be a part of these conversations.”               And in her nine years on the school
but over the years she believes people have          According to the San Francisco Chroni-       board, she has attended hundreds of board
come to appreciate the dual roles.               cle, since Mendoza-McDonnell was elected         meetings, but there is one meeting she will
    “I think people appreciate this kind of      to the board in 2006, she has recused her-       likely never forget. It was the one where
‘twofer’,” said Mendoza-McDonnell. “Be-          self only once from voting on an issue be-       her boyfriend approached the microphone,
cause when I’m at a meeting, people know         cause it involved the school district suing      told the board he was in love and after sing-
that they not only have me there as a school     the city over rules regarding civil servants.    ing a few songs, including Stevie Wonder’s
board member, but they know the things                                                            “You are the Sunshine of My Life,” bent on
that came out of the meeting which were                Bringing in More Dollars                   one knee and asked a surprised Mendoza-
meaningful, I will share with the mayor.”                                                         McDonnell to marry him.
    As a result, she believes the mayor is          As a board member, she has worked to              They will celebrate their two-year anni-
more knowledgeable than most about edu-          increase partnerships among the school           versary in August.

URBAN EDUCATOR                                                                                                                             |   7
Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
INSIDE THE COUNCIL                                                                                                         MARCH 2015

Boston Extends                                 New San Francisco Disciplinary Efforts
School Day                                     Help African American Students
   Boston’s school board recently voted to         Four years ago, officials in the San Fran-      New Discipline Code in NYC
extend the school day by 40 minutes in 60      cisco Unified School District analyzed
elementary, middle and K-8 public schools      suspension data and found that although               While the efforts made by San Fran-
in the city, giving nearly 23,000 students     African Americans constituted only 10.5           cisco schools to reduce the number of sus-
the equivalent of an additional month of       percent of the overall student population,        pensions for African American students is
instruction.                                   they made up nearly half of all suspensions.      showing results, the nation’s largest school
   The vote follows an agreement forged            So the district embarked on a series of       district recently announced a plan to im-
by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston           efforts to fix the problem and their work         plement a series of school climate and dis-
Public Schools and the Boston Teachers         is paying off, with new data revealing that       cipline reforms.
Union.                                         the number of suspended African Ameri-                District officials in New York City
   Calling the agreement “a historic mo-       can students is down 17 percent since last        have partnered with the New York Police
ment in public education for Boston,”          school year.                                      Department and the Mayor’s Office of
Mayor Walsh noted in a press statement             One of the ways the school system be-         Criminal Justice in an initiative to reduce
that “Boston’s students deserve more learn-    gan to reduce the disproportionate number         ineffective suspensions, increase oversight
ing opportunities. The extra 40 minutes        of suspensions for African American stu-          and accountability and eliminate dispari-
will mean more time for academic learn-        dents was when the Board of Education             ties that negatively affect African Ameri-
                                               in 2013 passed the Safe and Supportive            can and special-education students, who
                                               Schools resolution. The resolution com-           are more likely to be suspended than their
                                               mitted the school system to addressing the        peers.
 ” Boston’s students de-
serve more learning oppor-
                                               disparities in principal-office referrals, sus-
                                               pensions, expulsion referrals and expulsion.
                                                                                                     Under the new discipline code, princi-
                                                                                                 pals will be required to seek authorization
tunities. ”                                        As part of the resolution, middle school      from the Office of Safety and Youth Devel-
                                               principals began implementing Behavioral          opment before suspending students for in-
 —Boston Mayor Martin Walsh
                                               Response to Intervention (Rtl), a research-       subordination/defying unlawful authority.
                                               proven program that offers a multi-tiered              In addition, a School Climate Leader-
                                               approach to help struggling learners. As          ship Team has been created to coordinate
                                               part of the program, students’ progress is        and evaluate the effectiveness of reforms
ing, more time for enrichment opportuni-       closely monitored to determine the need           and make recommendations for improve-
ties, and more time for added supports for     for instruction or intervention.                  ment.
struggling students.”                              As a result of the program, district mid-         Initiatives will also be put in place to
    The additional 40 minutes will be          dle schools have made the most strides in         reduce the need for suspensions, includ-
phased in over three years, and will begin     reducing suspensions for African Ameri-           ing allotting $1.2 million to 100 schools to
this fall in 20 schools, according to the      can students, accounting for 40 percent of        implement restorative practices and $2.36
school district.                               the reductions taking place in the school         million to provide counselors to students
    Currently, students in traditional Bos-    district.                                         who are in detention and help them ease
ton public elementary schools are in class         At a recent school board meeting, three       their transition back to traditional schools.
for six hours a day, and six hours and 10      schools demonstrated the programs they                The NYPD will also establish a pilot
minutes for middle-school students.            have developed within the Rtl framework.          program at five schools that will replace
    “This is an exciting time in the Boston        Visitacion Elementary School conducts         summons for student misconduct with
Public Schools,” says Boston School Com-       daily check-ins with students and orga-           warning cards, with the program expand-
mittee Chair Michael O’Neil. “Innovations      nizes classroom circles where students talk       ing to eventually 25 schools. The police de-
such as longer school days, an improved        about their feelings. James Lick Middle           partment will also begin tracking the use
teacher hiring and evaluation system, and      School has an Rtl faciliatator, who helps         of restraints in schools and will provide a
more opportunities for school staff, parents   provide lessons for all homeroom teachers,        monthly report on any use to the Mayor’s
and partners to collaborate are leading to     while students at Civic Center Secondary          Office.
greater outcomes for students….”               School get raffle tickets for being on time           According to district officials, the
                                               and for positive behavior in class.               school climate reforms will go into effect
                                                                                                 in Spring 2015.

8 |                                                                                                                      URBAN EDUCATOR
Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
MARCH 2015				                                                                                                  INSIDE THE COUNCIL

                                            School District in Orlando Riding Wave of Success
                                                By all measures of success, 2014 was          Minority Leadership Scholars program,
                                            a good year for Orange County Public              where young students of color meet after
                                            Schools in Orlando, Fla. The district be-         school and receive academic and social
                                            came the first co-winner of the prestigious       support from adult male mentors in the
                                            Broad Prize for Urban Education, along            business world. The district is also embark-
                                            with Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public             ing on plans to send older students into el-
                                            Schools. As a co-winner of the 2014 award,        ementary schools to provide the same kind
                                            the district received $500,000 in college         of support for third-grade boys of color.
                                            scholarships for its high school seniors.         This concept models the Males of Color
                                                The 191,942-student school district also      initiative established by the Council of the
  Council PSAs Air                          won the confidence of voters, who in Au-          Great City Schools, meeting the criteria of
                                            gust, passed a renewal of a half-cent sales       President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper”
  At Daytona 500                            tax worth approximately $2.1 billion. The         Initiative.
                                            funds will help the school system contin-            The school system’s state-of-the-art
                                            ue its building program with 59 schools           digital tech centers recently received a
      More than a million race-car fans     scheduled for renovation or replacement in        boost when Florida Gov. Rick Scott an-
  viewed the Council of the Great           the next decade.                                  nounced plans to fund $20 million for
  City Schools’ latest public service an-       And three months later, in November,          student scholarships at the state’s technical
  nouncements on the Common Core            citizens overwhelmingly approved the re-          centers. He made this announcement while
  State Standards at the recent Daytona     newal of a one-mill property tax estimated        touring the district’s Orlando Tech.
  500, NASCAR’s most prestigious            to raise approximately $429 million, which           The district is also continuing its ef-
  motor race.                               will help the school system retain highly         forts to make Advanced Placement (AP)
      Two 30-second spots aired mul-        qualified teachers and preserve arts, athlet-     courses open to academically prepared stu-
  tiple times on a jumbo-tron during        ics and academic programs.                        dents. Last year, the district was named to
  the Feb. 20-22 event at the Daytona                                                         the College Board’s 5th Annual AP District
  International Speedway in Daytona                Continuing the Success                     Honor Roll in 2014 by posting significant
  Beach, Fla.                                                                                 gains in AP class enrollment.
      The Council in January launched          So what’s next for the district in 2015?          “We want to continue leading our stu-
  its second PSA campaign to increase       In an effort to close the achievement gap,        dents to success with our excellent, dedi-
  public awareness and engagement of        two years ago Orange County Schools Su-           cated teachers and principals, and an out-
  the Common Core State Standards,          perintendent Barbara Jenkins created the          standing central office leadership team,”
  especially around new assessments to      district’s Minority Achievement Office.           said Orange Schools Superintendent Jen-
  help students prepare for college and     One of the office’s newest initiatives is its     kins.
  career success.
      Two Common Core PSAs – one
  on English language arts and the oth-
  er on mathematics -- have been devel-
  oped for television and radio, and in
  English and Spanish, with a compan-
  ion three-minute video.
      The Council’s first Common Core
  PSA, rolled out in December 2012,
  won two prestigious Telly Awards and
  ranked high in the Nielsen Media Re-
  search rankings among national pub-
  lic service announcements.
      The PSAs and three-minute videos
  are available on the Council’s web site
                                            Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, listens as Orange County Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins
                                            discuss the importance of the district’s technical centers.

URBAN EDUCATOR                                                                                                                          |    9
Council Partners With NBA to Help Males of Color Succeed in Life
LEGISLATIVE COLUMN					                                                                                                       MARCH 2015

           ESEA Off and Running
           By Jeff Simering, Director of Legislation

              The U.S. House of Representatives has                                      would be be repealed in H.R. 5, allowing funds
           under consideration a new Elementary                                           generated by poor students to be used to benefit
           and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)                                             others.
           reauthorization bill -- H.R. 5, The Student
           Success Act. After three days of debate on                                         Additionally, H.R. 5 freezes ESEA program
           the House floor without bipartisan support,                                    funding for the remainder of the decade and
           further action has been postponed as of the                                    beyond. And, the formula grant funding that
           beginning of March. In the meantime, the                                       remains would be diverted, in part, to States to
           Senate continues its bipartisan negotiations at                                support a 150 percent increase in the State Title
           the committee level. And even though other                                     I set-aside.
           reauthorization efforts have failed in the 110th,
           112th and 113th Congresses, the outlook for a                                     Finally, the House bill eliminates the
           reauthorization in the 114th Congress appears                                  long-standing ESEA maintenance of effort
           better -- though clearly far from certain.                                   requirement for districts and states. Without
                                                                             this essential fiscal protection, states could cut their own
              Nonetheless, the Council of the Great City Schools has         state education expenditures and not suffer a reduction in
           opposed the new House ESEA bill. While the organization           federal funds as in current law. Under this provision, ESEA
           acknowledges efforts to fix many of the flaws in No Child         dollars could become an offset against reductions in state
           Left Behind (NCLB) and roll back unproductive federal             aid without providing the additional benefits intended in
           requirements, the House bill swings the pendulum too far          the original Act.
           in the opposite direction. H.R. 5 undercuts the purposes,
           benefits, funding, and integrity of the main ESEA                    While the Senate Education Committee continues
           programs for disadvantaged students, their schools, and           bipartisan negotiations on its ESEA reauthorization bill,
           their communities. In fact, the fundamental financial             the panel’s ESEA Discussion Draft starts with all the
           infrastructure of this landmark law is so diminished that         unacceptable fiscal provisions that are under consideration
           attention to key ESEA policy issues that need fixing has          in the House. This includes Title I portability, the repeal
           been sidetracked.                                                 of the schoolwide poverty threshold, a six-year freeze
                                                                             on ESEA funding, an increased Title I State set-aside,
               The House bill also erodes the essential targeting of         and the elimination of the ESEA maintenance of effort
           funds under the so-called “portability” provision. Under this     requirement. Hopefully, the bipartisan process can make
           option, districts with high-concentrations of poverty could       substantial revisions to these extremely troubling provisions.
           have their “weighted” Title I allocations redistributed by
           their State to school districts with lesser or minimal poverty.      In fairness, it is easy to criticize a partisan bill that was
           Thereafter, school districts would be required to direct Title    fast-tracked in the House, but it should be noted that
           I funds to any school with even one low-income student.           an overwhelming bipartisan process with strong White
                                                                             House support created the now widely disparaged NCLB
              The result would be a two-step dilution of Title I funding     Act. Bipartisan bills may readily address the interests of
           for high-poverty communities – first from the State to the        Congress and the Administration, while being divorced
           school district level and second from the school district to      from the needs and operational realities of the nation’s
           any school with one or more poor students. In effect, there       diverse schools, communities, and children.
           no longer would be Title I schools as we know them, and
           former Title I schools would have significantly less Title           The nation needs a better and more workable ESEA bill,
           I funding than before. Moreover, the 40 percent poverty           but at this point, neither the House nor Senate has produced
           threshold for using Title I funds for schoolwide activities       an acceptable product.

10 10
    | ||                                                                                                                   URBAN
MARCH 2015				                                                                                                  INSIDE THE COUNCIL

                                                                                                 L.A. School Board
                                                                                                 Approves Aid
                                                                                                 To Students at Risk
                                                                                                 Of Deportation
                                                                                                     In Los Angeles, almost 3,000 unac-
                                                                                                 companied youth who fled from dangers
                                                                                                 they faced in El Salvador, Honduras and
                                                                                                 Guatemala last year are unrepresented in
                                                                                                 court cases on the Los Angeles Immigra-
                                                                                                 tion Court docket.
                                                                                                     In a potentially precedent-setting mea-
                                                                                                 sure for urban school districts nationwide,
                                                                                                 the Los Angeles Unified School District
                                                                                                 Board of Education recently approved a
                                                                                                 plan to allow attorneys employed by the
                                                                                                 district to accept a limited number of de-
                                                                                                 portation cases, without charge, involving
    Council Testifies on Capitol Hill                                                            unaccompanied children who live within
                                                                                                 the school system’s boundaries.
          Executive Director Michael Casserly of the Council of the Great City Schools               The pro-bono work will be handled by
      testifies Feb. 5 at a forum on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary         10 district lawyers working in concert with
      Education Act (ESEA), hosted by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), ranking                   nonprofit organizations that specialize in
      minority member of the House Education and Workforce Committee. “The chal-                 immigration law.
      lenge … facing the Committee is to design an ESEA reauthorization that is an                   The move furthers the nation’s second
      improvement for schools and students over current law with their accompanying              largest school district’s mission to keep
      flexibility waivers,” Casserly concluded in his remarks. “Merely delegating author-        students in school.
      ity to the states and hoping for the best is not a supportable approach.” (Photo               “LAUSD continues to lead by example,”
      credit: Michael Campbell)                                                                  said Los Angeles board member Mónica
                                                                                                 García. “Our students faced with circum-
                                                                                                 stances beyond their control can now focus
  First-Ever Student to Serve on Minneapolis                                                     in the classroom instead of the courtroom.”
                                                                                                     The initiative is slated to begin this
  School Board                                                                                   spring.
                                                                                                     The Los Angeles school district is not
                                                                                                 the only school system in California offer-
                          Noah Branch, Pat-      government leadership to the next level.        ing assistance to unaccompanied minors.
                      rick    Henry      High        Branch will serve as a non-voting mem-          The San Francisco Unified School Dis-
                      School sophomore, has      ber of the school board during monthly          trict and the Oakland Unified School Dis-
                      impressed his peers and    meetings. The goal of his new position is       trict offer newcomer programs that special-
                      Minneapolis       Public   to be the voice of student issues and work      ize in helping recent immigrant students
                      Schools leaders with his   with the school board to improve the qual-      make the transition to school in the United
                      self-professed critical    ity of the district through the development     States.
                      and conscious view of      of education policies and programs.                  The San Francisco School Board ap-
  Noah Branch         the world and passion          Currently, Branch is actively involved in   proved a resolution committing that it will
  to address injustices.                         Minneapolis schools City Wide Student           dedicate resources toward both the short-
     Selected as the first-ever student repre-   Government and The Movement, Patrick            and long-term needs of unaccompanied
  sentative to join Minneapolis Board of Ed-     Henry’s student council.
  ucation, Branch is ready to take his student                                                   L.A. School Board continued on page 12

        EDUCATOR                                                                                                                      | 11
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                        Council of the Great City Schools
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Atlanta Award continued from page 6

in how well the city’s public schools are         The Council convenes a panel composed          Great City Grads
managing their resources. Few city school      of respected senior financial executives
systems can match Atlanta on this front.”      from major school systems across the na-
   To receive the Award for Excellence in      tion to conduct the review process, which
Financial Management, an urban school          includes an assessment of the district’s
district must demonstrate it complies with     management practices, an extensive review
a series of management practices that rep-     of documents, and a lengthy site visit.
resent the highest standards in financial
accountability and control in nine catego-
ries: general financial management, inter-
nal controls, budget, strategic planning and
                                               L.A. School Board continued from page 11
management, internal and external finan-
cial auditing, capital asset management,       immigrant children enrolling in the dis-
debt management, risk management and           trict’s schools.
purchasing.                                        The district has hired new teachers and
                                               established professional development for
                                               newcomer teachers and support staff.
Denver Teacher continued from page 6               In addition, the school system has hired
                                               a social worker to coordinate legal and so-
dents. This program is not a one-size-fits-    cial services for unaccompanied immigrant          A. Philip Randolph
all and is unique to each selected school.     children.
     “I greatly appreciate the innovative          The Oakland school system has hired        Labor Leader and Social Activist
work of our teachers and school leaders,”      an unaccompanied minor support services
said Denver Schools Superintendent Tom         consultant and created a newcomer task
                                                                                                      1907 Graduate
Boasberg, “which is positively changing        force to make recommendations for a long-           Cookman Institute
our schools and is providing tremendous        term strategic plan for newcomer support.
leadership opportunities within the teach-     The district is also using grant money to       Duval County Public Schools
ing profession.”                               pay for new support positions and services           (Jacksonville, FL)
                                               for unaccompanied minors.
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