February 12, 2013
As we perform our work on behalf of families and communities across the Sacramento City Unified School District boundaries our processes are guided in matters of policy such as school closures by California State PTA's position statements.
The California State PTA School Closure Position Statement reads: The California State PTA believes that while school closure... 'can be an opportunity to improve the quality of education... The.... success of school closure depends upon....total involvement of the community.
In considering school closure, PTA supports:
Early and ongoing involvement of all those affected - parents, students, teachers, administrators, staff, board of education, and community; [The proposal before the board is the result of only one group of stakeholder involvement - administrators. All other stakeholders have been engaged post-proposal]
Appointment of a broadly representative committee that is charged with making a study that includes alternatives and making recommendations within a specific time period; [The superintendent's proposal has been presented with no alternatives being sought - only feedback and support being solicited around the singular proposal]
Formation of goals and objectives that meet Education Code requirements and student needs, and give the highest priority to maintenance or improvement of a quality program for every student. [There is no clear plan or set of goals, only a proposal; there is no focus on educational quality or programs surrounding the schools on the closure slate; the only focus on educational programs has been the exclusion of Priority Schools from the closure list - that is not a focus on every student]
Just as we are guided by our position statements, so too is the work of the district guided by the Strategic Plan 2010-14, the Board of Education-approved document, that according to Superintendent Raymond, "....will guide the work of Sacramento City Unified School District over the next four years. " The Superintendent adds....."...we cannot achieve success for our district without the help of partners."
When stakeholders such as parents and community members, who spoke so eloquently and presented such well-informed statements, are not included in the development of such high-stakes proposals, those thoughts and ideas are omitted, and the result is what we have been presented with - a proposal based strictly on numbers.
However, those numbers (capacity and utilization) are the wrong numbers. PTA feels that the correct numbers are as follows:
Career and College Ready Students - The first pillar of the SCUSD Strategic Plan; because there is no regard for the educational quality of the schools being proposed for closure, this proposal is not in line with Pillar One of the strategic plan - capacity and utilization as the sole criteria gives no indication as to whether this proposal creates more career and college ready students.
Family and Community Engagement - The second pillar of the SCUSD Strategic Plan - this proposal, made in silo by district staff, omitted input from families and communities. Of the 11 schools closed, 6 are current Sacramento Council PTA schools and 8 are active Parent Teacher Home Visit Schools. A proposal created without inclusion of these, and other SCUSD district-level partners, including the District Advisory Council, District English Learner Advisory Committee, Community Advisory Council, and Indian Education), does not support a vision of Family and Community Engagement being at the forefront of the decision.
Organizational Transformation - The third pillar of the SCUSD Strategic Plan - obviously, the closing of 11 schools will transform our district, but there is no clear illustration of a plan beyond closing schools. There is no clear plan between closing schools and improving our district as a whole. This presented proposal has transformed the organization in terms of mobilizing parents as advocates on behalf of children.
The Strategic Plan, and the work of the school district, rest on those three pillars. When those pillars are not present, as they are not present in this proposal, the work of the district, in this case, the school closure proposal, will fail, and fall.
Because the proposal is not in alignment with our State PTA position statement, we as Sacramento Council of PTAs cannot support it.
Because the proposal is not aligned to the SCUSD Strategic Plan, our Board of Education should not support it either.
Sacramento Council of PTAs
Lily Williams, 2012-13 President Terrence Gladney, VP-Leadership