California Educator

October/November 2019

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changes to improve instructional qual- ity and equity," says LPI President Linda Darling-Hammond. "We hope that other school districts and states will focus on the lessons from these case study school districts to ensure all students have access to deeper learning regardless of the size, location and wealth of the dis- trict where they go to school. We know it can be done." T h e L P I r e p o r t a n d r e l a t e d c a s e s t u d i e s a r e a v a i l a b l e a t Sanger In Sanger Unified, LPI researchers noted a long-t erm investm ent in a stable, well-prepared teaching force, a culture of collaboration among and support for teachers, and professional learning communities (PLCs) at all levels for continuous improvement. The report notes that SUSD first adopted PLCs in 2005, but it took Sanger Unified Teach- ers Association (SUTA) making PLCs a bargaining priority for them to be con- tractually protected. B onnie Gonzalez, SU TA f irst vice president and seventh and eighth grade English teacher, says the local asso- ciation successfully negotiated PLC language into the collective bargaining agreement in 2015, later enhancing that language in 2017 to protect educators' PLC time. Gonzalez says the tireless dedication of Sanger educators and their strong collective voice as SUTA are the driving forces behind many of the pro- grams that the LPI report spotlights as being especially important to equitable student outcomes. " SU TA m embers give many hours beyond the duty day — often without compensation," she says. "The success that SUSD has experienced has just as much to do with [educators'] hearts and selfless giving of time as it does with the programs that have been put into place." A m o n g S U TA's o n g o i n g e f f o r t s t o e n s u re SU S D c o n t i n u e s t o c l o s e t h e a c h i e v e m e n t g a p , a c c o r d i n g t o G o n z a l e z : • Advocating for competitive com- pensation to attract and maintain quality teachers. • Advocating for SUTA members who are part of the "leadership pipeline," especially in relation to their time. • Fighting to maintain lower class sizes. • Negotiating to protect special edu- cation teachers' time, as many of them have been recruited into the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process. In addition to their caseloads, they are respon- sible for Response to Intervention (RTI) students. • Negotiating language to protect PLC time when site meetings were infringing upon it. Chula Vista In Chula Vista Elementary, the largest elementar y district in the state, the LPI report spotlight ed th e di strict 's " i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e p h i l o s o p h y," a n approach to continuous improvement that balances the respective roles of district and schools. LPI researchers f o u n d t h a t C V E S D's i nv e st m e n t i n capacity-building and focus on mar- ginalized students enabled the district to supp or t t ea ch ers w ith prog ram s and practices that improve learning env ironm ents and m eet th e uni qu e academic needs of its students. S u s a n S k a l a , p r e s i d e n t o f t h e 1,500-member Chula Vista Educators, says that while she is excited about the great work in Chula Vista being high- lighted as a model for districts across th e st a t e , sh e fe e l s th a t th e re p o r t f o c u s e d o n di str i c t a d m i n i stra t i o n voices and didn't include the important and integral role played by dedicated and talented educators. " We look forward to having a more collaborative relationship with CVESD leadership to maintain and build upon these impressive teacher-driven results," Skala says. How to Support Student Learning B A S E D O N practices enacted by pos- itive outlier districts that contribute to supporting student learning, the LPI report recommended five areas for policy work at the state, federal and district levels: 1. Develop a stable supply of well-prepared, instructionally engaged teachers and leaders. 2. Support capacity-building for high-quality instruction and focused instructional change. 3. Use assessments and data strategically to support continuous improvement. 4. Create coherent systems of support based on student needs, including academic, social and emotional learning. 5. Allocate resources for equity. Arts Education Improves Outcomes W A T C H "Something's Happening in Chula Vista," a short film by the Cali- fornia Alliance for Arts Education that explores the value of arts education in Chula Vista Elementary School District ( The district has invested in arts education as a strategy to improve student out- comes and address the needs of its 30,000 children (one-third of stu- dents are English learners, and half participate in the free and reduced- price lunch program). Jamila Demby, dance teacher at Otay Elementary and Chula Vista Educators member, moves with her students. 57 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 019

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