At County Schools, our mission is to transform lives through education. We do this in collaboration with school districts, other agencies, families and our community partners. We provide leadership, advocacy and services to ensure innovative, inspiring educational practices. This endeavor is essential to the quality of life and economic vitality of our communities.
During these changing times it will take bold and active leadership, strong advocacy and innovative and responsive services to shape policy that will improve the lives of our students and families.
I am excited about the Countywide Vision Project adopted by our San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors along with the leadership of Greg Devereaux. It provides direction to a more prosperous San Bernardino.
Ten element groups have been formed to support the vision statement. I am thrilled to serve as the co-chair of the Education Element Group along with my colleague Dr. Tomás Morales, our new president of California State University, San Bernardino.
We, along with the other group members, want to create broad-based support for a countywide goal where all sectors of the community partner to support the success of every child from cradle to career. I have been planting the seeds and growing support from the other element groups and am pleased with the great response.
Education lays a foundation for the fundamental future success of our county and region. Change, on such a large scale, requires broad cross-sector coordination, and so we are building on a collective impact model. Collective impact is the commitment of a group of leaders from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.
Our county has been on the cutting edge of developing forward-thinking collective approaches and broad range solutions. We took this approach at County Schools with the development of our Strategic Plan with a range of community stakeholders coming together to work with us. We began with eight strategic initiatives during our first year of implementation.
This includes developing clear priorities for public education, supporting districts as they prepare for the Common Core state standards and increasing high school graduation. Also, we are taking a coordinated approach to family and community programs to ensure their reach and comprehensiveness. Internally, we are conducting audits in technology and communication to improve efficiency of use and delivery.Finally, we are creating top-of-mind branding around our new mission to better communicate what we strive to accomplish, including a redesign of our website.
As we think about the challenges in education today, the recent changes being proposed in school finance will take center stage. We are committed to our leadership role when it comes to stewardship of resources on behalf of public education.
Those of us in the education business are grateful to the voters for the passage of Proposition 30. The proposition will begin to pay down the ten billions of dollars of deferred payments over a six-year period.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposes to reduce the amount deferred to public schools to $5.6 billion by the end of 2013-14 and completely eliminates the amount owed by 2016-17. Deferred payments force districts to borrow funding to maintain positive cash flow, however, this will only fix one piece of the equation.
California tumbled two more spots, to 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending according to Education Week’s latest annual Quality Counts report. The ranking, which includes, Washington, D.C., and the 50 states, covers education spending in 2010 and so does not include the impact of Prop. 30.
I appreciate Gov. Brown’s efforts to cut-through California’s outdated and overly complex state driven school finance system. The governor introduces a term “subsidiarity,” as described by the governor, “is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level.”
Moreover, the governor’s funding formula recognizes the fact that a child in poverty, or those speaking a language different than English or living in a foster home requires more support. The governor’s funding proposal is titled the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under the formula, more than 250 current sections of the Education Code are repealed along with 42 categorical programs and reporting requirements.
This formula establishes a base with supplemental and concentration add-ons for English Language Learners, students in poverty and foster youth students. Different from last year’s proposal is the promise of a hold harmless funding provision.
It is important to realize that the new formula is an equity model not an adequacy model.
For county offices of education, the model recognizes the critical needs of at-risk student populations and oversight responsibilities. This is due in a large part to the work of statewide County Office of Education Business Administration Steering Committee (BASC). The chair of that group is County Schools' own Ted Alejandre, assistant superintendent of Business Services.
The proposal also will bring equity to county office of education funding and County Schools would no longer be the lowest funded in the state.
I remain hopeful that the tables have turned and we are seeing the beginning of a reinvestment in public education in California.
On the national level, all eyes are on Congress to reach a solution on across the board sequestration cuts, which will impact schools and students directly. In San Bernardino County, roughly $33 million in reductions will be seen to programs such as:
Title I, which provides support to disadvantaged students;
Career technical education
English language learner support.
Head Start and Early Start services would be eliminated for approximately 8,200 children, reducing access to critical early education.
Just when we are able to find some steady ground after years of statewide budget cuts and cash deferrals, districts and families are now being faced with these challenges. We are very concerned of the trickling affect this will have to provide our students with the fundamental skills necessary for future success and for the full economic recovery of our state.
Preparing students with higher education and workforce skills necessary for college and careers of the future has been the work of our County Schools’ Alliance for Education for over a decade now.
Don Antonio Lugo High School in Chino Valley Unified is one of the five county school districts that will work with our County Schools office and the regional Linked Learning Alliance. Don Lugo already has a strong partnership academy that has sparked the imagination and provided motivation to students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math post-secondary educations.
I would like for you to meet Andrew Reyes, a junior at Don Lugo, who will talk in a video about the impact his STEM classes have made on his education and achievement in the classroom.
Through LEAD at Don Lugo, Andrew has forged a path that is leading him to a college program in engineering. It is these types of opportunities where our county has become a recognized state leader in Linked Learning.
In a recent Forbes.com report, the Inland Empire was ranked the second fastest growing region in the country for high-tech jobs. This is why programs that support STEM are becoming so incredibly important for our students.
The consortium between San Bernardino County Schools and five county districts is among 20 educational agencies statewide to take part in a Linked Learning pilot program to increase college readiness. County Schools' Alliance for Education has partnered with five county districts to implement the regional grant: Chino Valley, Colton Joint, San Bernardino City, Upland and Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified.
Through the Linked Learning approach, students are expected to achieve at high levels in mathematics, science, English, social studies, and foreign language. Students master these subjects through the power of applying knowledge in real-world context - they learn by being presented with authentic problems and situations that are part of the modern workplace.
The Alliance calls this relevance!
The STEM partnership academy, as highlighted at Don Lugo High, is an example of a Linked Learning approach. Research shows that in schools that have already adopted Linked Learning, student attendance rates are increasing and dropout rates are decreasing, students are graduating high school at higher rates, and enrolling in colleges and universities in larger numbers.
Preparing students for high school graduation, post-secondary options and the workforce is one of five strategies in County Schools’ Strategic Plan and is where we are directing our work and resources.
Our region has had a long-term concern regarding improving our high school graduation rates and decreasing our dropout rates.
In a study released in January by the U.S. Department of Education based on data completed during the 2010 school year, high school graduation rates nationally are at their highest since 1976. California had the honor of producing the highest number of graduates, but also showing the most dropouts.
The gap between the demands of California’s economy and the supply of college-educated workers represents a serious hurdle to an economically viable future for our state as a whole, and particularly for the Inland Empire region.
The good news is that by working across the county with school districts on research-based practices to reduce dropouts and improve graduation rates, we are seeing positive results. We now have two years of reported dropout and graduation data with student identifiers. San Bernardino County’s dropout rate registered at 15.3 percent and its graduation rate at 74 percent for 2010-11.
Four years ago when the first set of data came out, the dropout numbers were abysmal for our county at 26.3 percent. We are showing improvement, but we have more to do in this area.
One of these research-based practices is the Early Warning and Intervention System. It uses key research-based indicators such as:
* Course grades and
* Behavior to identify students at risk of dropping out of school or failing to graduate on time.
The system supports students with both school-wide strategies and targeted interventions. Middle schools and high schools in Upland Unified and Victor Valley Union High are participating in the pilot project. Districts and schools in the pilot also use their early warning systems data to examine school-level patterns in the current school year and over time, in order to address systemic issues that may be impeding a student's ability to graduate.
We also must address obstacles between high school and a student’s access to a college education. Statewide, more than 500,000 students have enrolled in our community college system, yet first-time students are unable to get into a class, in some cases for more than a year.
Tuition hikes have stretched the financial resources of our Cal State and UC students.
In many cases, the very set of skills we prepare our students with for high school graduation are not the same skills required for in college entrance examinations.
I’m a great believer in the Early Assessment Program or EAP and am convinced that a common college entrance exam across the state’s post-secondary institutions would improve college access and eliminate much of the need for remediation.
More students taking and passing the EAP lessens the burden of our colleges to provide remediation upon college entry and opens up more transferable coursework. We must remove obstacles and create opportunities to improve college access or else we undermine the aspirations of our young people.
We’re in an era in school safety that is defined by the horrific realities of active shootings. In our county, we have been fortunate to avoid the tragedies that have befallen Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine.
Fostering strong collaborative relationships with law enforcement, justice, social service agencies and faith-based organizations, safety training remains a priority for schools and districts, students and staff.
In February, our County Schools’ Risk Management office organized an event with the County Sheriff’s office to train for active shooters. Just as we drill for catastrophic events like fires or earthquakes, planning and procedures need to continue to be refined and focused on providing the safest possible environments at all of our county schools. The unfortunate fact is that prevention and preparedness has evolved from fire and earthquake drills to active shooter and lockdown drills. My office has pledged to work with the district attorney to tackle challenging issues that threaten the safety and well-being of our children.
One of these challenging issues is human trafficking. From an educational perspective, we will work with districts to incorporate information about human trafficking into the mandating reporting training that districts are required to provide to staff annually. Just as school employees are mandated reporters for other forms of child abuse, they would be trained to spot the warning signs of human trafficking for proper reporting to Children and Family Services.
Just as we have tackled other societal issues that touch our schools - from gangs and drugs to truancy - I pledge that our County Schools office will continue to work with the district attorney’s office and our other educational partners to combat this horrible crime and keep our young people safe. Maintaining safety in times of uncertainty demonstrates the need and powerful importance of this ongoing collective work.
Another good example of collaboration is taking place in Fontana among the Fontana Unified School District, the Fontana School Police, City of Fontana and Fontana Police Department. For the past three years, 135 students have graduated in five classes from the Fontana Leadership Intervention Program or FLIP.
The mission of FLIP is to bring about life altering and lasting positive change through a referral program. Students enrolled attend 16, eight-hour classes on Saturdays and focus on topics like violence prevention, drug and alcohol resistance, ethics and leadership development.
Close to 95 percent of the graduates of the program have returned to their schools with no further referrals. Next, you will have the opportunity to see a video of Michelle Garcia, a graduate of the December 2012 program. Michelle was the student speaker for her class of 22 graduates and is a junior who attends A.B. Miller High School.
Reaching out to students to give them a personal connection that makes a difference not only in their education but also in their lives, is one of the outcomes of FLIP.
In the Desert/Mountain region, another course of action is taking place that is yielding great results. The Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is creating a supportive culture in schools that takes into account parent/family support, mental health services and positive behavior support.
This has been part of a groundbreaking effort through the work of the Desert/Mountain Special Education Local Plan Area.
Working with 53 schools - and anticipating another 30 coming on board this year - schools have used PBIS for the past four years. The data-driven framework of PBIS targets reducing suspensions, expulsions and behavioral referrals while promoting positive environments that increase academic achievement.
Serrano High School in Snowline Joint Unified is in its third year of implementing PBIS and reporting remarkable results. The school has seen its behavioral referrals drop from 1,675 during the 2010-11 academic year to just 668 during a similar period so far this school year. That’s a reduction of more than 60 percent.
The following is a video clip features Serrano freshman Doug Herring, who talks about how developing positive relationships with a teacher had a big impact on his early academic success and headed off the danger of him becoming a student who falls through the cracks during his transition into high school.
While our schools were never designed for the kinds of safety issues they are dealing with these days, each and every day, thousands of parents hug their children and send them to school entrusting us to keep them safe. It is a huge responsibility that we take very seriously. We must do everything in our power to ensure students can pursue their education in the safest conditions possible.
We advocate for students in a number of ways. One is to ensure that students who face obstacles beyond their control receive the support they need to achieve their future success.
I would like to highlight just a few.
Many are surprised to find out that we have thousands of children countywide living in foster homes, group homes or with relatives. At County Schools, our Foster Youth Service program reaches out to these children to develop and empower them and their caregivers. During the 2011-12 academic year, our Foster Youth Services team served 1,805 children.
One of those who received services was Nick Dodson, who now is a student at San Bernardino Valley College. Through a partnership with the University of Redlands, the Student Success Partnership, Nick received individual attention to guide him and support him in his pursuit of post-secondary education.
Since Nick still lives in a group home, we could not show his face in the following video, but I think from the images and words that Nick provides us, you can see a clear picture of how vital Foster Youth Services can be for students’ academic achievement.
While Nick benefitted from the Student Success Partnership at the University of Redlands to reach his goals, nearly all our unified or high school districts in the county are involved in a program that practically guarantees high school graduation, as well as opportunities for post-secondary educations. Of course, that program is AVID.
In July 2012, days after the signing of the 2012-13 budget act, my office received the devastating news that funding for one of the most successful college-going programs in our region - Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) - had been completely eliminated from the state budget.
The Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino county region has a tremendous legacy with the program. It is among the strongest in the nation with 44,000 AVID students at 217 schools. Last year we had a record 4,342 graduates and 86 percent of them had at least one letter of acceptance to a four-year college. More than 99 percent of AVID students graduate from high school.
Simply put, AVID works!
Because of the vital necessity of this work and what it means for our students, we have pledged financial resources to allow AVID’s work to continue throughout the region. It’s worth noting that we are one of only two regions in the state able to sustain a regional AVID program. A program with such a high success rate deserves the appropriate and adequate support to continue.
With the motivation of someday going to college, Kim Garcia of San Gorgonio High School in the San Bernardino City Unified School District wanted to make sure she had the right vehicle to propel her to reach her goal. Turning to AVID, Kim found the courses that would take her through her middle school and high school years on the path to graduation and then to attend a four-year college or university.
As a senior now at San Gorgonio, Kim is one of about 60 seniors at her school in AVID. Countywide more than 1,700 seniors at 35 county high schools are preparing to graduate this spring. For Kim, she is looking forward to studying neurology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In the upcoming video, Kim talks about how her AVID courses made it possible for her to be prepared and ready to go to college once she graduates from San Gorgonio High.
Part of our role as an advocate is to be a spokesperson on behalf of the 414,000 public school students in San Bernardino County. I am extremely proud of the outstanding work that takes place in our schools each day by inspiring and hard working educators who care deeply about students.
Seventeen elementary schools were named Distinguished Schools for 2012. They were among 387 California public elementary schools to receive the distinction. The effort of these outstanding schools to boost academic achievement for their students is to be commended.
Two high-performing middle schools in the county were among 12 middle schools identified statewide as "Schools to Watch" by the California Department of Education in January. Selected schools demonstrate academic excellence, as well as developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of their students, social equity and organizational support. Let’s congratulate Summit Intermediate in the Etiwanda School District and Vanguard Prep in the Apple Valley Unified School District as they are the first two schools in San Bernardino to receive this distinction.
Although there are changes ahead for both state and federal accountability systems, under the current Academic Performance Index, the state’s measurement for academic achievement, county schools showed continued growth, improving 10 points to reach a record high growth score of 767 for 2012.
Additionally, a record number of schools from San Bernardino County reached the state standard of 800 this year. For the first time, half of the elementary schools in the county have reached the state benchmark.
There are now 31 schools in the county that have reached 900 on API growth, two more than a year ago.
Our own County Schools Student Services operated programs experienced the highest growth among all lead educational agencies in the county with a gain of 55 points. I want to give a big round of applause to our administrators, teachers, staff and students for their exceptional achievements.
When we speak of service, of utmost importance is the direct support to students in county-operated alternative education, special education and state preschool programs provided by the County Schools office. We serve the most medically fragile, physically handicapped and learning disabled students; the most vulnerable at-risk students; students expelled from the regular education setting; incarcerated students; and the neediest and most underserved preschool aged children in a cost- effective, efficient manner.
We offer some of the most revolutionary programs to serve special needs students and our alternative education and Juvenile Court School programs serve as statewide models.
In the West End region, annual enrollment totals about 160 students for accounting purposes, but nearly three times that amount actually are served on the three campuses. That’s because fewer than 20 percent of our students in the region are enrolled for longer than 90 days. In the next video segment, you are going to meet Cesar Avila, a junior who attends David Stine Chaffey West County Community Day School.
Cesar acknowledges that he wasn’t a very motivated or high-performing student prior to being enrolled at Stine Chaffey West, but the individual attention he received at his school, as well as forging strong working relationships with his teachers and staff, has helped Cesar develop the skills he has needed to turn himself into a strong academic achieving student.
Supporting the work of our schools and school districts’ efforts to serve our student populations, as vanguards helping to advance public education, our Educational Support Services staff is on the forefront of delivering responsive and innovative service, and strengthening the skills and capacity of other educational professionals. Seemingly, a main emphasis of that work is to support districts efforts in implementing the Common Core State Standards from various vantage points:
The Common Core standards are designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and the workforce. In addition, they will provide a clear and consistent educational framework that is internationally benchmarked to ensure our students will be globally competitive.
Well we couldn’t end our student videos on a higher note. Many of you are aware of the countywide student activities our office coordinates.
Offering this service has been a long-standing tradition of the County Schools’ office, and we take immense pleasure and great pride seeing district students compete and excel in academic and artistic competitions from Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon to Science Fair and History Day.
We have had both state and national individual and team winners for all of these events from San Bernardino County districts.
The All-County Orchestra and Honor Band programs happen to be a favorite of mine. Annually, more than 1,000 students compete across the county and are recommended to audition for elementary, middle and high school Honor Bands and Orchestras. Selected students play in regional, as well as countywide groups.
Each year when the events come up on the calendar, Bev and I put on some of our concert best and enjoy a little date night. The caliber of the musical talent of our students is phenomenal.
Of course this program could not take place without the tremendous support of the San Bernardino County Music Educators Association, which consists of music teachers from throughout the county and music consultant Dr. Carl Schafer. He has been at this a lot of years and was recently inducted in the Music Hall of Fame.
Research shows that involvement in the arts and music is associated with gains in reading, math, cognitive and critical thinking skills. It’s also been shown that strong arts programs in schools can close gaps that have left many children behind.
Amanda Williams, a student at Redlands East Valley High School in Redlands Unified, knows the prestige of being selected to perform with the Honor Orchestra. As a freshman bass player at REV, Amanda says music isn’t just a class or extracurricular activity for her. Music is part of the composition of her life and has been since she was a toddler. In the following video, Amanda talks about the impact music has made on her education and how it will play in her future academic pursuits.
I would like to take a moment and acknowledge the students we highlighted in our videos today. Students present and your support network (parents, counselor, etc.) would you please stand and let us recognize you. You inspired us with your stories, and we are so proud of your accomplishments.
These fine students are only 7 of the 414,000 public school students in San Bernardino County, and they only represent a microcosm of the diverse populations we serve. It shouldn’t matter if a student is on a path toward one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation, planning to attend the local community college, or training for a technical career. It makes no difference if a student excels at sports or music; speaks a second language; has a learning disability; or learns better in an alternative high school setting.
The American promise of opportunity should be real for every child that walks through the schoolhouse door. We are aiming high and see it as a moral obligation to work across boundaries to support the success of every child - from cradle to career. At County Schools, we see it as our purpose to lead, to advocate and to serve - on behalf every students and that is our highest priority.
We believe that through this stewardship and through our commitments we will deliver on the American promise and our mission to TRANSFORM LIVES THROUGH EDUCATION.
Thank you for your attendance today!