SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for September 2009

No child left behind races to the top?

Last week’s release of the AYP Progress report for SCUSD shows that many of the schools in our district are failing to adequately educate Sacramento children according to No Child Left Behind standards.

SCUSD schools in year 1 of program improvement status jumped from 3 in 2008-09 to 15 to 2009-10.

The statistics are troubling
. Many of our local high schools are at risk of entering PI status next year.

In last week’s Sacramento Bee, Superintendent Raymond describes the vicious cycle of program improvement:

“It’s like the Hotel California, you check in but you never check out.”

What constitutes failure? STAR test results? Isn’t it clearly obvious that NCLB has most educators focused on “teaching the test”?

The one-size-fits-all approach to the law doesn’t reflect or support the incredibly varied needs and strengths of the schools …

Enter President Obama’s Race to the Top, part of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In order to receive federal money, California must tie teacher performance to test results and legislators will soon meet in a special session to consider Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Race To the Top” plan which would allow merit pay and more charter schools.

Consequently, the teachers’ unions feel squeezed by former allies, including the president, seeing more of the same, tired rhetoric around test scores as opposed to real, educational reform.

And, by the way, is anyone asking the local teachers about reform? Is there any other profession in this country where salary is used as a punitive measure? Do we pay legislators on how many laws they pass?

It’s long overdue to start listening to educators, teachers and parents.

It’s hard to fathom that Education Secretary Arne Duncan (who has never taught in a classroom) has a better idea of reform for our district than say, Susan Miller.

Will you take Arnold Schwarzenneger’s advice on how to enrich your kid’s high school experience? Wouldn’t your principal be just a bit more knowledgeable?

Let’s ask Kevin Johnson to come into your child’s elementary school class and give the teacher some pointers on how to race to the top…



Strong mayor initiative dissected

At tonight’s city council meeting, City Attorney Eileen Teichert will present her report titled, “Strong Mayor Initiative Legal Issues and Options.”

Read it here.

Excerpt from page 17:

The Strong Mayor Initiative (SMI) provides for mayoral appointment and removal power over almost all City employees. This includes those employees who participate in City administrative hearing procedures that may grant or divest individuals of certain property rights as with land use and code enforcement decisions. Exercise by the Mayor of his tri-part voting, veto and voting not to override the veto power with respect to appeals of any matters decided by his appointees may give rise to significant due process concerns.

Written by scusdobserver

September 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Local AFL-CIO mobilizes against Johnson

The Sacramento Central Labor Council has put out a call for a strong show of support at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.




Tuesday, September 15th @ 6 PM
*This should be one of the first items on the agenda*

Sacramento City Council Meeting
City Hall
915 I Street, Sacramento

On Tuesday, September 8th, Mayor Kevin Johnson removed Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy as chair of the City’s Law and Legislation Committee. Sheedy has been an outspoken advocate for workers issues on and off the city council. Councilmember Sheedy raised questions reflecting the concerns of Labor regarding the potential corruption in the strong mayor proposal advocated by the group Sacramentans for Accountable Government.

The city council will meet Tuesday, September 15th, to vote on implementation of the mayor’s recommendation of removing Sheedy. It is critical that allies of working families show council members they must vote against the implementation of this political vendetta!

Written by scusdobserver

September 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

A Letter from the chair of the Black Parallel School Board

The African American youth in Sacramento are at a state of heightened emergency in relation to their academic pursuit yet, we are not truly outraged about this. With education being one of the fundamental keys to success we must make every effort to ensure the academic key fits correctly once it’s placed into the hands of our African American youth.

On Saturday, September 5, 2009, the Black Parallel School Board held its monthly meeting at the Oak Park United Methodist Church in Sacramento. The meeting started promptly at 10 am and adjourned at 12 pm. One of the key items we covered was standardized testing. Readers are you aware that within the Sacramento City Unified School District during the past school year of all the African American students they are serving only 8 children of African descent are in geometry and there are only 9 African Descent youth in Algebra II. African American students overall have made little to none standardized test improvements and the same is occurring with the high school exit exam test results. Our children’s ability to articulate themselves in written form is declining astronomically too.

Children of African descent are not doing well when it comes to mathematics and language arts this is a fact. Together as a community, we have a job to do. This job goes beyond the band-aid approach. When the Black Parallel School Board meets monthly we are not there in large numbers along with our children, nieces, nephews, siblings, aunts, uncles, parents and the like, yet we wonder why our children are doing poorly.

We will come together in large numbers to support concerts, ball games, and other extra curricular activities; however, we neglect to use the same energy and efforts to bring about constant change when it comes to our children’s academic minds in fear of rattling the chains.

We must call ourselves to a higher place of accountability by ridding ourselves of the lackadaisical attitude and by not selfishly assuming that this doesn’t impact you. Our ancestors did not bleed, die, and be dehumanized for generations for us to stop fighting.

The battle doesn’t end until we are called home. This battle is not just an African American battle, it is a battle that every race is responsible for fighting for their culture individually and for other cultures too. When one is not adequately educated they will lack the tenacity needed to be positive community contributors causing the cycle of poverty to continue to perpetuate from generation-to-generation. This in and of itself is one of the key ingredients that continues to feed racism.

STAR test results are our business even if it means holding all-night tutoring sessions — so well be it. Being on a unified forefront is so essential. When we come to the table to discuss education, we should be on one accord regardless of our level of achievements and the accolades associated with our name(s). Our skin color is also not an item that we should constantly focus our attention, but that isn’t to say it isn’t a vital area. Our primary focal point should always be those children who are not performing at their “True Potential” even if they aren’t in our neighborhoods. We are truly living in a world where we are constantly producing lost generations who are wandering around hopelessly looking and waiting for us to take charge of them — we appear to be asleep.

Most people are quick to play the, “race card” not too many of those same individuals are willing to come into a room and set aside differences to bring about true change. Politicians want you to hear them so they can be elected yet, when elections occur, you don’t see them until it’s election time again. The fact that there is no funding truly doesn’t matter, what matters is that we all want the best for Sacramento children; that in and of itself is enough for us to work until we can see the change verses just thinking change is going to plop out of the sky into our laps — we have to go and get it.

Those who caused things to truly happen took care of business and they did it with so much passion where they didn’t even care if that meant that they lost their lives in the mist of the fight. Our children are doing poorly in Sacramento in terms of education; I asked when will The Next Generation’s Academic Failures Be Truly Televised. Years ago, survival occurred academically, physically, and financially because there was a unified effort for everyone to, “Be There Brothers/Sisters Keeper At All Cost.”

I am writing as a concerned citizen who is on the battlefield for our youth regardless of their ethnicity, social economic status, religion, and/or sexual orientation.

Lailah Ameerah Muwwakkil

“And now we are reaching out for the daybreak of freedom and justice and equality.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Written by scusdobserver

September 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Do you believe him?

In today’s Inside City Hall feature of the Sacramento Bee, Ryan Lillis reports that Mayor Kevin Johnson wants a bigger role in the way city schools operate. Johnson has plans to raise private money to hire an education liaison who would act as an intermediary between the mayor’s office and the city schools.

“Something very powerful that will unite the school districts under one common vision.” (Johnson’s words).

A thing or a person, KJ?


All this talk about a City Hall education wonk raised the question of whether Johnson had given any thought to taking over city schools, much as some big-time East Coast mayors have done.

No way, says Johnson.

“What’s on my radar is the mayor playing a critical role in our schools,” he said.

Something else on KJ’s radar? Sandbagging City Attorney Eileen Teichert.

Written by scusdobserver

September 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Schools Open Tuesday, September 8

Written by scusdobserver

September 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Swine Flu

KJ’s Education Summit

Yesterday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hosted an education summit downtown at the Central Library. Below are links to media articles accompanied by story excerpts or reader commentary.

Sacramento Press
Reader comment: Kevin Johnson began by referring to other town hall meetings and how this one would be different, we would have “respect and dignity.”

Capital Public Radio

San Jose Mercury News

Sacramento Bee
Reader comment: I’m sorry, Mayor Johnson — but you cannot just close failing schools. It sounds like a nice, neat, simple solution: if a school is performing poorly, get rid of it — but it does not take into account the complex realities of actually putting children first — of building an education system that educates every child.

The Governor Monitor
Article excerpt: * Reward teachers who are consistently doing the toughest jobs. Alternative pay schedules highlight effective teaching practices and create incentives to improve our education system.
* Measure student progress to help identify what works in the classroom. Every child is different and looking at both growth measures and overall achievement scores provides a better picture of a student progress over time.

News Blaze
Article excerpt: In addition to encouraging young people to take an active role in their education, Governor Schwarzenegger also called on the legislature to act quickly to enact the statutory changes necessary to ensure California will be eligible and highly competitive for Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion federal competitive grant program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designed to support education reform and innovation.


Written by scusdobserver

September 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm