Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Year, We'll See Big Differences in the Roles of Cops in U.S. Schools

Chris Opfer | August 29, 2014 | The Atlantic | CityLab

As classes resume, school districts around the country try different approaches toward police on campus.

As students start heading back to school, they'll find freshly decorated halls, new lockers to decorate, and teachers asking about their summer reading assignments. In some areas, they’ll also be greeted by metal detectors and armed police officers, including at a least a few toting semiautomatic assault rifles.

A new school year means new questions about the role of police in classrooms and the effect of officers on everything from campus security to students’ prospects for spending for a life behind bars. School districts across the country spent their summer breaks grappling with the issue. While they’ve come up with varied approaches, many of the plans aim to achieve two overarching goals: decreasing arrests and enhancing relationships between cops and kids.

School districts across the country have come up with varied approaches that aim for two overarching goals: decreasing arrests and enhancing relationships between cops and kids.

Developing, teaching, and implementing Common Core State Standards Math curriculum

You've probably been hearing about the rollout of Common Core State Standards, especially since we've revamped our math curriculum for all our schools. Our math department has been hard at work over the summer developing teacher training, and teachers have come out of it excited to use the new curriculum in classrooms.

Not sure how to help your children with their homework? These questions and prompts are a good way to start:
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
    • What are you solving for in the problem?
    • Can you think of a problem that you have solved before that is like this one?
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
    • Can you write or recall an expression or equation to match the problem situation?
    • What do the numbers or variables in the equation refer to?
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
    • How do you know that your answer is correct?
    • If I told you I think the answer should be (offer a wrong answer), how would you explain to me why I’m wrong?
  4. Model with mathematics.
    • Do you know a formula or relationship that fits this problem situation?
    • What does the number(s) in your solution refer to?
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
    • What tools could you use to solve this problem? How can each one help you?
    • Why is this tool (the one selected) better to use than (another tool mentioned)?
  6. Attend to precision.
    • What do the symbols that you used mean?
    • Explain to me (a term from the lesson).
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
    • What do you notice about the answers to the exercises you’ve just completed?
    • What do different parts of the expression or equation you are using tell you about possible correct answers?
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
    • What shortcut can you think of that will always work for these kinds of problems?
    • What pattern(s) do you see? Can you make a rule or generalization?

For even more questions to ask, download this parents' guide for developing math skills and visit the SFUSD Math Department website for further resources.

Take a look at how some of these practices have been implemented already in our classrooms:

Friday, August 22, 2014

"We’re Not Interested in Pet Projects. We Know What We Need to Do to Educate Kids

Jon Steinberg | San Francisco Magazine, Photo: Ramin Rahimian
Photo: Ramin Rahimian

San Francisco's schools chief discusses tech money, suspensions, and winning parents' hearts and minds.

This is Think Tank an occasional series of conversations with Bay Area power players and newsmakers, conducted by San Francisco editors. Interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Name: Richard Carranza
Job: Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District
Age: 47
Residence: Ingleside Terrace

San Francisco: San Francisco’s public schools are getting stronger, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of people—one in four families, by some projections—from going private. Why?
Richard Carranza: People go by what they hear on the street. Somebody didn’t get their first choice in the assignment system, so all of a sudden the schools are bad. Or someone had a particularly bad experience with one class or one teacher or one principal or one superintendent, and then all of a sudden doesn’t want to be part of the whole system. That’s unfortunate. My job is to make sure that that unpleasant experience happens less.

Jon Steinberg

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SFUSD kicks off school year with emphasis on technology, communication

Jessica Christian/special to the s.f. Examiner
More than 55,000 students began school Monday,
including a girl who received a helping hand
from mom at Bret Harte Elementary School
Cold and foggy weather didn't dampen 5-year-old Laniya Durgin's spirit as she skipped to her first day of kindergarten at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday morning.

"I like doing the work," said Laniya, referring to her past year in transitional kindergarten. She proudly showed off her new backpack decorated with green and purple peace symbols. "It's got all sorts of stuff in it -- pencils, a notebook, a paper folder."

Laniya was one of more than 55,000 pre-kindergarten through high school students welcomed back to the San Francisco Unified School District's 131 schools Monday as city and district leaders highlighted numerous goals for the school year, including greater emphasis on technology in classrooms and a more defined community-schools approach.

Superintendent Richard Carranza told the approximately 200 students at Bret Harte Elementary, the first of five schools he visited Monday, in both Spanish and English to "have fun" this school year.
Principal Jeremy Hilinski said about half the students are Spanish speakers, and the school offers one of the district's nine Spanish-immersion programs to help ensure students are biliterate by the end of fifth grade.

Read more at:

S.F. school for immigrants offers soft landing to new kids in town

Above: Parents help kindergartners get ready for class on the
first day of school at the Mission Education Center.
Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle
The flow of children from Central America started hitting San Francisco schools in January, said Principal Debbie Molof. And over the summer they kept coming.

As the school year started on Monday, they filled Molof's classrooms at the Mission Education Center, a K-5 "newcomer" school for Spanish-speaking children who have recently arrived in the country.

The students came mostly from Honduras, but also El Salvador and Guatemala, with a handful from Mexico. Most of them arrived over the summer.

Veteran teacher Lilly Chow smiled as the nervous fourth- and fifth-graders filed quietly into her classroom and filled every seat.

Typically, Chow starts the school year with 12 to 15 students, with more arriving throughout the year.
"This year is different," she said. "For the first time in 27 years, I will start with more than 30."

The school offers a one- to two-year program to help the students learn English and catch up on academics they might have missed in their home countries. Then they transfer to other schools. The district also has a newcomer school for Chinese-speaking students.

These kids are among the 60,000 children who have entered the country in the past year from Latin America, often unaccompanied. Most are being placed in California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Read more at:

Monday, August 18, 2014

SF International High Sees Increase in Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors

Jennifer Chavac, 16, with Supervisor David Campos
and School Superintendent Richard Carranza at the first day
of school at SFIHS.
On her first day of classes at San Francisco International High School, Jennifer Chavac, an 11th grader, was busy. This is her third year at this school and she’s proven to be a dedicated student. Today, she was in charge of showing City and School District officials what her Science class is like.

Her most important task, however, was serving as a role model for the young immigrant students appearing for their first day of classes—a number that has jumped with the recent increase in unaccompanied minors coming into the United States. The Los Angeles Unified School System expected more than 1,000 new immigrant students, according to the LA Times and the same story estimated that 60,000 unaccompanied minors will be absorbed in school systems across the country.

The entry on the first day of school begins in the most mundane of ways.

“Today is about finding your way around because some teachers don’t have homerooms yet,” Chavac said.


Monday, August 11, 2014

SF schools preparing for increase in unaccompanied immigrant students

Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo
West Portal Elementary School teacher Jennie Lee teaches
K-1st grade students Chinese
The San Francisco Unified School District, a nationwide leader in newcomer student programs, wants the recent surge of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving in the U.S. to know that they are welcome in The City’s public schools – and have been for some time.

While the district already accommodates immigrant students through its pathway programs, school officials are preparing for the arrival of more unaccompanied children than in previous years by coordinating resources with city agencies and likely hiring several new teachers.

“San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and [SFUSD] is a sanctuary school district,” said Matt Haney, a Board of Education member who has authored a resolution specifically urging the district to meet the needs of recent unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing from Central America.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

SF schools rolling out new Common Core math curriculum this year

All San Francisco Unified School District math teachers
will begin implementing the Common Core State Standards
curriculum for the first time this fall.
Math is about much more than just a right and wrong answer. And anyone can do it.

That’s what the more than 55,000 PreK-12 students at San Francisco’s 121 public schools will learn beginning this school year, when district officials say math classes are taught in a more hands-on, collaborative way than ever before.

It will mark the first time all 1,800 math teachers in The City will implement the Common Core State Standards curriculum, the first significant change to the San Francisco Unified School District’s math curriculum since 1997, said Lizzy Hull Barnes, the district’s mathematics program administrator.

“For a very long time we have been reinforcing that math is getting the right answer quickly,” Barnes said. “Kids associate being good with math with speed [and] computation, and mathematical reasoning is much broader and deeper than that.”