Monday, June 22, 2015

Curriculum completed for first-ever LGBT studies course at SF public high school

By | SF Examiner 

There has perhaps never been a more pertinent time to introduce an LGBT studies class to a San Francisco public high school.

So says Lyndsey Schlax, a government, history and economics teacher at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts since 2008. Although Schlax has previously touched on current events in her classes, she’s certain the first-of-its-kind LGBT studies class next fall will identify with students more than ever before.

“The overarching theme of the year is the nondominant narrative of the American experience,” Schlax explained. “[And] I think there is a lot going on in terms of the advancements of rights for the LGBT community.”

On Tuesday, Schlax finalized the curriculum for the groundbreaking course, which had 25 students enrolled as of mid-June. The class is an elective and will last a semester, as well as count toward the San Francisco Unified School District’s rigorous graduation requirements that ensure students are eligible for University of California or California State University.

While the class marks the first on-site LGBT lessons taught in the SFUSD, the district for years has strived to provide more inclusionary courses, particularly following a Board of Education resolution approved in 2010 to expand services for LGBT students. A district-funded course was offered in 2011 at Lyric, a San Francisco-based LGBT organization for youths, but that class was only available on Saturdays.

And the latest effort couldn’t come a moment too soon as the nation faces an LGBT crusade that in some ways mirrors the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, Schlax noted.

“We’re moving towards marriage equality, we’re moving toward same-sex couples being able to adopt in all states, we’re moving towards all sorts of workplace protections,” she said.

The LGBT studies class will be broken into three units, beginning with basic terminology, followed by identities and the history of LGBT leaders including the late Supervisor Harvey Milk and the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s. The third unit will look at the current portrayal of those who identify as LGBT.

Schlax said there will also be a week to focus on transgender issues and the perception of LGBT people worldwide, including the opposition and persecution they face.

The class will include a field trip to San Francisco’s GLBT History Museum, which will allow students to learn from the museum’s 30-year-old archive.

“The archive was formed in 1985 in the height of the AIDS pandemic when no one would take our materials because of prejudice,” said Daryl Carr, acting executive director of the museum.

The museum also offers artwork, pictures, costumes and other artifacts — including a chair that belonged to Milk — that will give students a snapshot of various LGBT stories in The City, Carr said.
“It’s as relevant for kids today to know that how freedom is earned by both struggle and triumph,” he added.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Five things you can do to keep your child learning this summer

Superintendent Richard A. Carranza has tips on keeping your child learning during summer break:

Three students and a teacher in a cooking class
 Summer break has begun, but taking a break from the classroom doesn’t mean the learning stops.

In fact, I cannot say enough to parents: You are your child's first teacher. Taking time to do a quick math problem just for fun, finding something interesting to read, and talking about school shows your child that his or her education—inside and outside the classroom—is important to you.

  1. Sneak in some reading
    Are you planning to see some movies during the break? Before heading to the theater, have your child read a review of the movie and afterward ask your child to write a review. If you’re more outdoorsy and like to take advantage of our relatively warm winter days here in Northern California, take time to read a map or online guide books before heading to the park together.
  2. Bake up some science
    Do you have a favorite family cookie recipe? Have your child gather ingredients, read the recipe together and let your child do all the measuring. Talk to your child about how cooking is a science, involves math and how you need to double-check your calculations to make sure everything turns out delicious! (Ooops, measured wrong and it didn't turn out perfectly? Try again! Mistakes and perseverance are a vital part of learning.)
  3. Leave things around
    At home, have child-appropriate magazines and books on the table to spark your child’s interest. Children are naturally curious, and they will choose good reading material if it’s hanging around.
  4. Do math on Muni
    If you’re taking Muni somewhere, ask your child to count the number of people on the bus and then the number of people looking at their cell phones, then try to calculate the fraction of phone holders and non-phone holders.
  5. Be a storyteller
    Summer is a natural time to tell family stories. Perhaps relatives will be visiting, and childhood memories are part of the conversation. Share fun stories from your own childhood. Perhaps talking about a favorite teacher of yours when you were young will spark a conversation about your child’s teacher or a special staff member at school.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — When a teacher at the June Jordan School for Equity asked for students to say what they were grateful for, 18-year-old JaMarc Allen Henderson said, “I’m grateful that everyone was kind and cooperative with each other.”

People who know Henderson weren’t surprised by his statement. Henderson is about to be honored with a San Francisco Peacemaker Award for his work in peer mediation.

Henderson’s counselor say the teen developed into a top scholar and now has straight A’s.
The popular student has volunteers to travel to Nicaragua twice, helping to build a rural school.
He says that learning about social justice and the history of the African-American culture at his school opened his eyes to what is possible for him.