Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fighting for Small School Reform in San Francisco - advocates push for a new policy

The San Francisco Organizing Project [SFOP], June Jordan High School for Equity, and others this month are working with San Francisco Unified School District officials to develop a clear small schools policy which incorporates much stronger autonomies and support for the reform efforts. Despite tremendous challenges, the small schools movement here, has continued to work with the district to establish new rules for small schools in our City.
SFOP is organizing an accountability session for district officials on Wednesday November 8th at 6pm at the San Francisco Community School [125 Excelsior, SF]. Parent, student and community leaders from many of our small schools in SF will address district officials and Board of Education members at the session.
I am off to Washington, DC area this evening on a red-eye flight to serve as a judge for the American School Board Journal's Magna Awards which for the last 12 years has honored innovative school district projects involving school boards and districts in raising student achievement and closing achievement and opportunity gaps.
Thanks to the multi-talented dad/music-lover/Editor-in-chief Glen Cook and the great folks at the American School Boards Journal for sponsoring the awards!

Welcome to Lewis Cohen, the new director of the Oakland-based Coalition of Essential Schools.
CES is working on a new small high school for San Francisco's predominantly African American, and now also Asian immigrant Bayview District. Cohen brings tremendous experience from his small schools and policy work as an Assistant Superintendent across the Bay in Oakland Unified School District.
The Coalition is holding its annual Fall Forum in Chicago at the beginning of November. Our friend Mike Klonsky is on a panel addressing:
Dilemmas of Urban School Reform
Several large urban school districts across the U.S. – including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia – have embraced large school re-design and the development of small schools as part of their overall reform efforts.
Despite significant resources from foundations and attention and support from city leaders, questions persist about taking small schools to scale in large urban systems.
How should urban districts go about implementing systemic reform through a small schools strategy? What are the struggles and competing pressures of doing small schools work in urban communities?
A panel of Chicago educational leaders - including Pat Ford from the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative, Michael Klonsky from the Small Schools Workshop, Don Moore from Designs for Change, and Margaret Small of Young Women's Leadership Charter School – will address these questions and other dilemmas faced by urban
districts working to restructure schools.
The lessons shared by the panel should be useful for San Francisco as we search for a new and hopefully :-) small school friendly superintendent and develop a much stronger small schools policy for our district in the coming months.
More from Lewis and CES -

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I am wondering how it would be possible to open a new school in the Bayview without harming the existing nearby schools -- and in a district with dropping enrollment. Thurgood Marshall High School is recovering after some troubled years. Phillip and Sala Burton High School is losing enrollment. June Jordan Small School for Equity is farther away but targets the same population that the new school would be serving, and has never been fully enrolled.

Is there a way to open a new school without adverse impact on these other schools? I posted this question on the Coalition of Essential Schools blog too; they responded that they're preparing an answer.