Friday, March 31, 2017

Digital Citizenship Week

Join us from April 11-14 for "Digital Citizenship Week"! We'll be featuring activities and lessons throughout the week to show students and adults how to navigate the digital landscape more safely and productively.

Digital citizenship can be understood as "the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use." Although this may sound like a lot, what it really encompasses is how to be aware of what you're doing and what's going on around you while you're online or using technology.

For example, did you know that Congress voted to let broadband companies like Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T sell your personal data without asking for your permission? Or: do you use different passwords for each online account in case a company is hacked? We want you to know how policies and events like this might affect your family's online behavior and what you can do to protect yourselves.

Digital citizenship isn't just about your own safety and security—it's also about creating a safe, secure environment for everyone online. That's why we teach about cyber bullying and online trolls and encourage our students to model respectful and safe behavior online.

Digital Citizenship Week highlights our continuing efforts to create citizens of the future who are able to function successfully in and beyond our communities (Vision 2025). Through lessons, guided discussions, games, and other activities, in partnership with Salesforce and Common Sense Education, SFUSD community members will learn how to become more aware of the norms that apply in an online environment.

Digital tools and social media increase opportunities for SFUSD students, staff and families to communicate, collaborate, create, and think critically about the world around us. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility (even if we're not superheroes!). We are all collectively responsible for considering and modeling best practices as we navigate within these digital environments.

Below, please find games, discussions, videos, and other resources you can use with your family at home to reinforce good digital citizenship practices:

Congratulations, Mission Bears!

Photo by Dennis Lee, SF Examiner

On March 24, the Bears beat the Villa Park Spartans 82-75 in overtime to become the state Division 3 Champions—and the first San Francisco public school team to win a state basketball title!

The win capped off a 35-1 season that included a regional win at top-seeded St. Ignatius and a playoff victory over third-seeded Vanden.

“I could not be more proud,” Mission principal Eric Guthertz said, according to the Mercury News. “Whether they were taking a stand in something they believed in or winning this whole state tournament, to me that is all beautiful and exactly what we want here at Mission High School.”

Congratulations to the players and coaches on an incredible and historic season! 

Read more

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Respecting gender identity

SFUSD was the first school district in the country to pass a policy extending safeguards to our transgender student body, and we are dedicated to continuing to protect our transgender and gender-expansive students.

Although the Trump administration reversed federal guidance that directed public schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identities, both California and SFUSD have policies that support students’ rights to use facilities that correspond with their gender identities. The California Education Code also prohibits discrimination based on disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Read more about Assembly Bill 1266 (California’s policy) 
  • Read Board of Education administrative regulation R5163a (SFUSD’s policy) 

Student rights

Students, know that in California public schools, you have the right to be...

  • Free from bullying, harassment and discrimination 
  • Respected when you dress and express yourself in ways that do not conform to gender stereotypes, with respect to the student dress codes 
  • Affirmed by adults when you declare your pronoun and name that fits your gender identity 
  • Involved in school activities, access spaces such as locker rooms and restrooms, that fits your gender identity 
  • Read more about your rights at school

Resources

Smarter Balanced (SBAC) testing and your child

Photo of study materials from Sourabh, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Tests are an important part of high-quality teaching and learning (sometimes we refer to them as “assessments.”)

Just like class assignments and report cards, tests are a gauge of student progress. They provide information to your child’s school, teacher—and you—about how he or she is progressing toward California’s challenging goals for learning.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment measures what students know in English-language arts and Mathematics.

Just as important, the assessment uses computer-adaptive technology. This means the test automatically generates the next question based on his or her previous answer. This drills down to help teachers understand more precisely where your child is in understanding the subject.

The SBAC is a chance for reflection and growth. Teachers look for areas for improvement, and celebrate each child's accomplishments.

So, not only are assessments a good way to evaluate your child's progress and accomplishments, they also inform teachers, principals and the district as they work to improve teaching and learning.

How to help your child prepare


This year, testing will take place between March 6 and May 26. Check with your child’s school for the dates planned for your child to take the tests. Here are some things to remember:

  • As with every school day, a good night’s sleep helps your child have a successful day at school.
  • Because the tests are not timed, you want to remind your child not to rush through the test.
  • Let your child know that the SBAC is simply a tool to show where students are in their learning - so their teachers can do a better job helping them to learn.
  • Finally, it’s always good to do a practice run (follow the instructions for guest users). You and your child can take turns trying the test out to see what to expect.

Learn more about SFUSD’s assessments.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Actual facts about the SFUSD budget

Photo from Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0
President Trump has said, "Schools are flush with cash." We know that is not true in California where schools still rank at the bottom nationally in per pupil funding (42nd to be exact). Revenue growth is slowing and mandatory expenditures, like retirement contributions, are growing. Test your knowledge here:

Actual facts about the SFUSD Budget 


  1. Does the state factor in local cost of living in its allocations to school districts?
  2. By what percentage has the average teacher’s salary grown over the past three years?
  3. Does California law require school districts to hold money in reserve?


Answer key 


  1. No.

    Even though San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in California and the whole U.S., local cost of living is not a factor in state or federal funding formulas. LCFF provides a per student base amount that factors in cost of living adjustments at a state level. We then receive two Grade Span Adjustments: (1) Grades K-­3 for smaller average class enrollment and (2) Grades 9­-12 for costs of Career Technical Education coursework. We also receive Supplemental and Concentration Grants for our percentage of students who are English Learners, free and reduced ­price meal program eligible, or foster youth.

  2. By the end of this school year, the average teacher’s salary will have grown by 15% since 2014. After the latest raise implemented in early 2017, the average salary for teachers is $68,130 for 184 work days. This does not include benefits.
  3. Yes.

    SFUSD holds money in reserve as required by law and to even out cash flows. California law requires that every school district of our size holds at least 2% of its overall general fund budget in an unrestricted reserve, aka the Designated Fund Balance (amount varies by district size). SFUSD also holds some additional money in reserve, aka the Undesignated Fund Balance, to help even out cash flows from year to year. This helps to stabilize the district’s budget and support more predictability and better planning. The Designated Fund Balance typically increases or decreases slightly each year to mirror the overall budget. In recent years, SFUSD also increased the Undesignated Fund Balance, given projections that our overall expenses would exceed our overall revenues (primarily due to negotiated salary increases). Now, the district is drawing down on its reserves.

Sanctuary schools

Photo of City Hall from GPSCC BY-SA 2.0
Given President Trump's executive orders related to immigrants and refugees, SFUSD has sought to clarify for families that Mr. Trump’s orders do not have any effect on how we respond to our students’ rights in San Francisco public schools.

We do not ask for students' immigration status when they enroll, and there are existing laws that help keep your children safe while at school regardless of their immigration status. Furthermore, SFUSD staff will not cooperate with any official seeking information about your children absent a court order.

Some have asked if there is a risk of SFUSD losing federal dollars given San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy. At this time, we cannot predict whether or not federal dollars may be withheld as a result of San Francisco and SFUSD sanctuary practices, and SFUSD will pursue legal and political defenses against such proposals or actions. Almost all federal revenue received by the district is tied to specific programs, most notably free and reduced meals programs, preschool, and educational services for students with special needs and schools with high concentrations of low-income students.

SFUSD resources

Resources from community organizations


Please note that this post is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an immigration lawyer.