Transforming Lives on the Roadmap to Success
This is a year of transformation in public education. We are not strangers to change in education. For years, even decades, we’ve responded to education trends, special legislation and the latest in school reform.
The changes we face have the power to transform; the power to transform the way teachers teach and students learn with new Common Core State Standards; the power to dramatically change how our community engages in local decision-making and accountability through the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP); and for the first time in California’s history, a funding model that provides supplemental funding for our most disenfranchised students, and allows local control, so districts can assure the needs of their student populations are met with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
In his book “Finding Your Element,” Sir Ken Robinson writes, “Finding your Element is about discovering what lies within you and, in doing so, transforming what lies before you.” Transforming lives is what we are all about at County Schools; giving young people the power of hope and ideas; the power of knowledge; the power to dream and believe; and the power to succeed. It is providing students with equal access to high quality educational opportunities, innovative programs and inspiring staff.
Helping to transform the lives of students like Rolando Holguin, who led the Pledge of Allegiance for us today. Rolando has had some challenging times throughout his youth. He is currently enrolled as a junior at Bob Murphy County Community Day School. He has made the honor roll the last two quarters, serves as a peer counselor and is ahead of track for graduation. According to his principal, Mr. George Bowser, “Rolando is just a really nice young man. He has turned a corner and I believe he has a bright future ahead on any road he travels.” We are all very proud of you Rolando! Congratulations! We will hear a bit more about Rolando in our featured video. Watch the video on Youtube.
- Transforming California’s School Funding Model
Let’s talk a bit more about the Local Control Funding Formula and what that means for students like Rolando and the 412,000 students who attend school in San Bernardino County. The State Board of Education, on Jan. 16, approved regulations providing guidance to districts on Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic education finance law.
The new funding formula not only transforms largely how our public schools are funded, but also how student success is measured, and how district budgets are created with community involvement. It is critical that high-needs students – including low-income students, English learners and foster youth – benefit from the new law as intended. The law requires that parents, students, teachers, and other community members be involved in the process of deciding how dollars are spent.
- Transforming Accountability
A cornerstone of the new law is the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which calls on districts to account for stakeholder engagement in meaningful ways and measure progress toward annual goals for student outcomes. The regulations are designed to ensure there is a balance of local control with assurances to see that supplemental dollars reach under-represented students and progress is measured toward annual goals.
The review of district plans is a new oversight responsibility for County Schools. We want our districts to be successful and see this as a collaborative model. We really are entering a new era in public education and see this as an opportunity to be drivers of change. Parents and school community members serve a powerful role in the new planning process. It’s time to leverage their involvement to transform the level of engagement and conversation about our schools.
- Transforming our Investment in Public Education
For the governor’s 2014-15 budget proposal, the outlook is favorable in terms of K-12 education funding. The average increase for K-12 school districts statewide will be 10.9 percent, or approximately $725 per student.
Only once in the past 30 years has public education received an increase of more than 10 percent—back in 2001. Now it’s important for us to understand how the new funding model works in our county.
If you will take a look at the slide, while the average district increase statewide is 10.9 percent, in San Bernardino County, the increase ranges anywhere from 1 percent to 19.9 percent, or $104 to $1,214 dollars depending on the district. That’s a significant difference in new dollars, but true to the spirit of LCFF, which acknowledges that districts with higher proportions of low income, English Learner and foster youth students require more resources.
Another major component of the budget proposal is the one-time use of $5.5 billion to fully eliminate apportionment deferrals in 2014-15. This retires all deferrals two years sooner than previously planned. This would mean a great deal to districts that have been financially strapped as they will no longer have to borrow funds to pay their bills as a result of the late apportionments.
Additionally, Gov. Brown has proposed an initiative to put aside surpluses into a Proposition 98 "rainy day" fund to help avoid lean future budget cycles and the inevitable ups and downs that come with boom or bust economic cycles.
This is a wise move, according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California that says California voters remain supportive of spending for education as their top priority. According to the survey, 81 percent of Californians say they support increasing state spending on K-12 education. Yet there continues to exist great disparities in California’s funding for public schools in comparison to other states across the nation.
The years of budget cuts and disinvestment in our public schools have brought California well below the national average in per capita spending on K-12 education. According to EdWeek’s 2014 annual Quality Counts report, California ranked 49th out of 50 states in per pupil spending and $3,500 below the national average when adjusted for regional differences in the cost of living.
Keep in mind that these figures were pre-Proposition 30, before LCFF kicked in and before the governor’s most recent budget proposal. Many other states have prioritized education and children’s health; realizing investments like these more than pay for themselves in terms of increased earnings, decreased healthcare and corrections costs, and a stronger overall economy.
California has failed in this regard by any measure.
LCFF is a step in the right direction in terms of bringing equity to California’s antiquated school finance system, yet our state still has some way to go before we push ourselves up from the bottom and adequately fund our public schools. With a new school funding model, continuing state economic recovery and long term planning that requires collaboration, I’m confident we can transform our investment in our public schools.
- Education Transforms Lives — Strategic Initiative Updates
Sharing a common mission, establishing core beliefs, identifying innovative and bold objectives, and having clearly measurable strategic initiatives. These are the transformative steps established by County Schools within the first year of our Strategic Plan.
Our 2013-14 Strategic Initiatives are well underway, and work still continues on some of our year-one plans. I’d like to share with you a snapshot of what milestones we’ve reached, and what’s just around the bend. You may have noticed on the screen, your program and other materials that we have a new logo. One of our first strategic initiatives was to clearly define and create a new brand for County Schools so we could ensure the value of our services was effectively communicated.
A dedicated group of staff from across the organization worked together to develop a Brand Promise Statement to demonstrate our commitment to our communities, and the students, families and districts we serve.
We launched our new brand in December at a Celebration of Success with Strategic Planning, Action Team members, staff and other stakeholders along with a new internal website designed for County Schools’ employees. Today, as a result of our Strategic Initiative to create a user-friendly and interactive website, we are sharing publicly for the first time, the redesigned County Schools’ website.
The website features the most current web development technologies, is designed in a responsive template to interact on mobile devices and with social media, provides information and resources to our key audiences and features stories about students and education in San Bernardino County. We believe it to be an outstanding hub for educational news and resources and hope you will find it to be the same. It will be live to the public on March 1.
As one of 45 states across the nation, California schools will see full transition to Common Core State Standards in the 2014-15 academic year. The Common Core State Standards better support students’ mastery of core subject matter and teach them to effectively analyze, reason, communicate, collaborate and problem solve. Gov. Jerry Brown included $1.25 billion in this year’s state budget for implementing Common Core.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is calling on the governor and the legislature to match, if not raise, that amount next year to provide additional funding to assist districts. I would agree that additional funding is not only needed but also necessary. We are doing our part at County Schools bringing in a series of national experts to speak and train on Common Core, and providing ongoing professional development and resources with the new Common Core standards for math and language arts.
We also have reviewed our communications and technology practices to look at ways of transforming delivery of messaging, information, instruction and professional development and are in the midst of hiring a chief technology officer. Technology-driven learning and professional development represent ways to transform our agrarian and industrial-era designed education system into one that truly prepares our students for today’s workforce.
No longer is teaching confined to the walls of the classroom or the constraints of the bell schedule. Technology allows teachers, students, business partners and mentors to connect, communicate and collaborate around the clock and around the world with rich digital resources that provide relevance to the world in which our students will work.
- Education Transports You
Jim Clifton, author of the “Coming Jobs Wars” and CEO of Gallup says that hope is a better predictor of student success than grades and that Gallup has found that kids drop out of school when they lose hope to graduate. We’ve known in San Bernardino County, that keeping students in school depends a great deal upon relationships. Relationships inspire hope and instill confidence for our students.
We are seeing the results of our efforts as you can see from the data on the slide. Dropout rates countywide decreased from 19.1% in 2009-10 to 13.3% in 2011-12 and subsequently our graduation rates have increased from 70.4% to 77.2% during the same time period. The full story is that we have seen similar rates among our significant subgroups of students, marking dramatic progress on closing achievement gaps.
Seeing that more students complete high school, supporting students in their career of choice and building stable bridges between our high schools and institutes of higher education are parts of our Strategic Plan.
With these elements in place, our goal is that students move further on the roadmap to post-secondary training and education. In a 2012 report titled, “The Economics of Higher Education,” jointly prepared by the Department of the Treasury and Department of Education, the authors cited: “Higher education is important for intergenerational mobility. Without a college degree, children born in the bottom fifth of income distribution have a 45 percent chance of remaining there as adults. With a degree, they have less than a 20 percent chance of staying there and a roughly equal chance of ending up in any of the higher income quintiles.”
It is indisputable that workers with more education typically earn significantly higher wages and are far more likely to be employed than workers who have no post-secondary education. Education is the great equalizer. A good college education does not only prepare students for a paycheck, it prepares students for interdisciplinary and critical thinking skills that are necessary in today’s demanding job market and global workforce. Also, it is an investment in a region’s overall economic vitality and improves social, environmental and cultural factors as well.
Higher education can expose students to new people, new cultures and a global perspective that helps to build world citizens, who in turn help solve global problems. One student who is on his way to solving global challenges is Michael Janner of Redlands East Valley High School. We recognized Michael last year at a County Board of Education meeting for receiving the Innovation Exploration Award at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. That’s quite an accomplishment! Congratulations Michael! Watch the video on YouTube.
We want all of our students to be prepared to go to college, but we know our students are diverse and unique, and learn differently. I would like to share with you some other ways we are providing students with opportunities to connect, engage and move forward on their road to success.
- Linked Learning Drives Change
By integrating rigorous academics with real world workplace experience, Linked Learning is transforming learning for a number of our students. Linked Learning turns high school into a personally relevant and engaging experience for students by exposing them to college and career opportunities that connect them to real world applications. It’s an approach that is helping to create well prepared, disciplined, and thoughtful graduates to prepare them for future work in California and beyond.
These are students who are ready to excel on the roadmap to college, careers and life. Students like Upland Junior High, eighth-grader Rebecca Barrios, who is in a Linked Learning program in Upland. Her favorite class is Exploring Technology.
Since Linked Learning provides relevance with real-world applications, as well as strong ties to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Rebecca says she’s challenging herself in her math and science classes more and more so that when she enters Upland Hight School she'll be able to continue her STEM studies in her choice of Linked Learning Pathways. Keep up the good work Rebecca! Watch the video on YouTube.
Our County Schools’ office, in a consortium with Upland and four other school districts in our county – Chino Valley, Colton, San Bernardino City, and Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified – was one of 20 consortiums and individual districts selected to take part in a statewide Linked Learning Pilot. In June 2012, the consortium completed planning with the focus of beginning implementation of 12 pathways for the 2013-14 academic year with plans to add an additional 18 pathways for 2014-15.
There is a strong STEM focus as the five districts in the consortium have established engineering and medical/health care pathways. STEM workers help to drive our nation’s global competitiveness by playing a direct role in the invention, creation and maintenance of technologies that drive economic growth.
Aaron Pick is here from the James Irvine Foundation. I would like to acknowledge Aaron for the tremendous support and funding they have provided our Alliance for Education and schools in the Linked Learning Alliance. The James Irvine Foundation is among the strongest benefactors of public education in the state and has been a longstanding friend to San Bernardino County. I was honored when I received the call to sit on the statewide Linked Learning Leadership Council. Research among all demographic profiles shows higher rates of graduation, stronger scores on statewide tests and students better prepared to enter the workforce at high schools that have implemented Linked Learning.
- Transformational Time for ROPs
It’s a transformational time for Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) under the new Local Control Funding Formula. Under LCFF, funding for ROP is rolled up into the new funding formula—100 percent by 2015-16.
We are already seeing ROP and career technical education programs closing across the state and fewer offerings for students. I am pleased to say that is not the case in San Bernardino County. County Schools’ ROP will not be deterred from its core mission of providing exemplary career education, career development and workforce preparation. The testament to excellence in our ROP programs is that the districts in our County ROP recognize there is strength in unity and a regional delivery model. Tyler Schober is just one example why.
With ROP classes in San Bernardino County celebrating their 40th anniversary this academic year, Tyler Schober represents the 17,000 students countywide enrolled in ROP classes that are making students college- and career-ready for the global economy. Tyler has taken four years of welding classes at Apple Valley High School, and now a senior, enrolled in the school's new precision machining class that he takes after school because he sees the value of learning another trade skill he plans to use in his future career. I’m certain Tyler will graduate high school with the rigorous education and skills necessary to enter our current workforce—and at a decent salary I might add! Watch the video on YouTube.
I would like to acknowledge our County Schools ROP and the Apple Valley Unified School District for an “off-the-chart” machining program at Apple Valley High School that is state of the art and will prepare hundreds of students like Tyler for well paying careers.
- Driving Change on the Roadmap to Success
As the county superintendent of schools, our focus for the K-12 student population of 412,000 students in 33 school districts is having them career and college ready when they graduate from high school. The “Cradle to Career Roadmap” identifies key milestones in a child’s academic, personal, social and career readiness, encouraging partnerships with all sectors of the community to support the goal of meeting the educational needs of all students from cradle to career.
You can see from the graphic that the Roadmap depicts the collaborative continuum approach in which families, educators, government, business, labor, faith and community-based organizations act as pillars of support for students from the time they are born until they complete advanced education programs or certifications.
The Roadmap also acknowledges the personal/social readiness factor that is so critical to the academic success of our students. We can’t know the spectrum of challenges students come to us with each day, but some of our students have personal and social needs that must be met before learning can ultimately take place.
The Roadmap is based on students achieving specific mile-markers at each age and grade level. For example, the first 36 months of a child’s life are dedicated to building a strong developmental foundation that includes stable caregiving and positive exploration — long before a child enters the schoolhouse doors. Reading at grade level is to be achieved by third grade, and ready for college and/or careers at high school graduation.
Why is this important? A special report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on Why Reading By Third Grade Matters looked at National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores and determined that if the current trends hold true, 6.6 million low-income children in the birth to age eight group across the nation are at increased risk of failing to graduate from high school on time because they won’t be able to meet national proficient reading levels by the end of third grade. My friends, that’s slightly more than the total K-12 student population in California.
I commend County CEO Greg Devereaux, Chairwoman Janice Rutherford and our entire County Board of Supervisors who looked at our county beyond the 20,000 square miles and foresaw a comprehensive, countywide vision to engage all stakeholders in a regional goal to support the success of every child, from cradle to career. Fifteen school districts have adopted the Countywide Vision resolution thus far and many have committed to the Cradle to Career Roadmap.
Colton Joint Unified School District was among the first recipients of San Bernardino County’s “Vision in Action” award for its efforts to partner with the community to accomplish the goals of the Countywide Vision. It is one of a handful of districts in the county that has established a solid community cabinet.
What’s a Community Cabinet you might ask? It’s a group of stakeholders in a school district’s community that are forming around the Countywide Vision in support of the Cradle to Career roadmap. Colton formed its Community Cabinet to provide a broad base of support for those in the community from business, labor, government and faith-based groups to support educational opportunities.
As a result of these collaborations, the district partnered with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers this winter to hold boot camps for elementary and secondary students. Jaidyn Jacobs, a sixth-grader at Crestmore Elementary in the Colton District, was one student who took part in the boot camp and came away with a transforming experience that will propel her on the road of success. Jaidyn is just a bundle of energy and smart beyond her years. She is here with an entire entourage of family, her teacher and school and district staff, and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. That is what a Community Cabinet is all about! Watch the video on YouTube.
I’ve shared a sampling of our student’s journey to success with you, but who better to tell you then our students themselves. I’m pleased to introduce to you to Jordan Brown, a sophomore and president of the Black Student Union at Middle College High School in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Jordan’s path to success is already earning her enough college credits that when she graduates high school, she will also have an Associate of Arts degree. How’s that for a scholarship? Let’s hear more from Jordan and our other students.
Jordan Brown is here with us. Jordan, will you please stand? Thank you for being such a wonderful host. I can see you have a promising future ahead in broadcasting.
- In Closing
Thank you students for sharing your stories with us! It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your county superintendent. As you know, I’ve announced my retirement in 2014.
I would like to take a moment to thank the many supporters and staff for the opportunity to lead. It is time for me to enter a new phase of my life that will entail more time with my family, especially in the role of grandpa. I want to acknowledge my family and especially my wife Bev. As many of you know, this work could not be accomplished without the support of family. Bev has been by my side all along the way and I truly appreciated her advice, support, and love.
With this said, we are not slowing down at the County Schools office. Over the past six years, despite facing years of deep budget cuts in the greatest economic downturn of our time, working together, we’ve accomplished so much: In fact, we had no state take-overs due to fiscal distress during the toughest financial period of contemporary time. We have begun to rebuild hope for our students as our dropout rates have decreased and our graduation rates have increased.
We recognized the dedicated work of staff, students, parents and board members as we saw, steady growth in the Countywide Academic Performance Index and many of our districts achieved the state standard of 800, as well as 900 and above. We celebrated the accomplishments of our school districts as 70 were named California Distinguished Schools and six National Blue Ribbon Schools. We’ve had four of our middle schools recognized as “Schools to Watch” by the Department of Education.
We established permanent housing for County Schools’ administrative staff at Brier, ending lease payments and resulting in long-term savings. We gave the Roy C Hill Education Center a face-lift and the renovation will serve the organization for many years to come with updated technology, a fresh coat of paint, new carpet and efficient space design.
We developed County Schools’ Mission and Belief Statements, and a comprehensive Strategic Plan, including the launch of a new brand, redesigned websites and the collaborative adoption of the Cradle to Career Roadmap. Together, we are building a new collective impact model with the Countywide Vision project and school districts throughout our county. That is progress! Give yourselves some applause!
Education, we know, is at the center of progress in any culture, and the determining factor of economic strength and social equity. It drives innovation and is at the heart of tolerance and understanding. The connective power of education is transformative and lights up the path to a successful life.
Together We strive to invest, engage and demand a strong educational system for our children. Together we need to continue to deliver innovative and inspiring educational practices. Together we must build an educational structure that develops hope through strong relationships. Together we must see this endeavor as essential to ensure the prosperity of our current and future generations of students. Thank you for your time and attention today!
2014 State of Education Address
San Bernardino County Superintendent Gary Thomas will deliver his fifth State of Education Address on Feb. 25 at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino. The State of Education Address is open to the public, and the event is free.
The event begins at 3:30 p.m with a reception immediately following in the California Room on the second floor of the theatre.
The theme of this year's address is "Transforming Lives On The Roadmap To Success." In his speech covering K-12 public education in the county, Thomas will discuss the transition to the new Common Core State Standards, as well as the impact of the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plan.
For more information about the event, contact the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools' Communications office at (909) 386-2413 or by email at Communications@sbcss.k12.ca.us
Visit the 2013 State of Education Website