Friday, October 25, 2013

MEDIA ADVISORY: Trustee Foster Addresses Concerns about Lincoln High Schol

MEDIA ADVISORY from San Diego Unified Board of Education Trustee Marne Foster, October 25, 2013


Reporters and editors: See background and information below.


During the last school board meeting (Tuesday, October 22, 2013) Board Trustee Marne Foster responded to concerns raised by a group of Lincoln High School students, teachers, SDEA and sister organizations during last week’s rally held at Lincoln.  “It’s one thing to hear from the adults, who often have a voice, and it’s another to hear from the students whom we are all here to serve,” said Trustee Foster, “I wanted to provide them with facts and let them know that their voice and their education is most important!”


Ms. Foster mentioned the new Common Core assessment standards will require students to exercise critical thinking and to dig deeper into information, situations and source documents.  Foster expanded, “This is an opportunity to demonstrate how this plays out in real-life.  Students had concerns and some based on part of the truth and so now we get an opportunity to have a health exchange and look at the facts.” 


Foster took a flier distributed at last week’s rally and addressed each concern:


Trustee Marne Foster’s Response to Concerns about Lincoln High School:


1.      Every student has a right to qualified and committed teachers who emphasize academic achievement, cultural awareness and community involvement.


·         A little over a year ago it was discovered that Lincoln had 11 teachers with expired credentials

·         Some courses were not a-g aligned – a requirement for graduation

·         Test scores were very low especially in Math –with only a 5% proficiency rate

·         At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year the new principal conducted a transcript audit after speaking with parents and students and discovered that only  about 50 students were eligible to  graduate out of a class of 350 students


To rectify the issue the new principal and the Lincoln Leadership team:


·         worked with HR to rectify the credential problem

·         aligned courses as possible with A-G requirements and suspended courses that did not meet A-G requirements such as Unifying Algebra and Social Justice.

·         reorganized the centers (Social Justice, the Arts, Public Safety, and Science and Engineering) so they would emphasize and deliver a clear career pathway through electives and internships offered and partnerships with industry. 


o   For example, elective law courses are offered through the social justice center, and include Intro to Legal practice, Business law, Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice careers, and Legal Foundations. The extended learning experiences that connect to career pathways include Teen Court, Junior Model United Nations club, and internships with Local Attorneys.


·         Created many classes and audited transcripts to support students as they strive to meet graduation requirements.


Accomplishment:  By the end of the year, about 325 students graduated out of the class of 350. The remaining students were enrolled in other extended learning opportunities



2.      Our school must build programs that engage us and connect us to our education like social justice, ethnic and women’s studies, oceanography, the arts, music, career-oriented classes, and extra-curricular activities.


·           There were courses and programs that functioned as stand-alone single courses that never connected to core classes or created a career pathway.


To rectify the issue Lincoln leadership:


·         created career pathways for each center

·         established Lincoln chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

·         Partnered with the Old Globe, UCSD, and CalSOAP for expanded opportunities

o   The UCSD Partnership yielded 10 scholarships to Lincoln students valued over 2.4 million dollars

·         embedded Social Justice course content into existing Global Political and Economic Development course

·         received accomplished Music teacher with a doctorate degree and distinctions in the field.  The teacher is a permanent substitute.


3.      We demand to have principals that are professional, work with us, respectful, transparent, bilingual, and support values, students, parents, community members, staff, and teachers.


·         Three of the four administrators at Lincoln are bilingual or multilingual.


·         We have started Mini Town-Hall Meetings in the morning and evening to enhance communication and continue a dialogue with students, parents and community about Lincoln


·         The community, parents and students in these meetings have expressed their concern, love and support of Lincoln High School and had participants walking away feeling empowered, connected and committed to Lincoln. The mini town hall meetings that Superintendent Marten, Mr. Aguirre, Mr. Leonard Thompson (Race and Human Relations), Area Supt. Dr. Wilson and myself attend will be ongoing every week on Thursday mornings at 9 am and Thursday evenings at 5:30 pm in Lincoln’s parent room (Rm. 601).


4.      We demand a return to the original small school model of Lincoln High


·           Lincoln never had a small school model.  Small schools have separate County District School (CDS) codes where each school operates autonomously.  Lincoln has just one CDS codes and was never set-up that way or recognized as such by the district.  The correct term is centers.  And, the centers were designed as career pathways which were never fully implemented at Lincoln.  This means no definitive course pathway or series of classes leading to a career was previously established.


5.      We demand the implementation of an effective plan to recruit and retain students at Lincoln


·           To grow enrollment there are plans to add a middle college experience at Lincoln High School in the Fall of 2014 where students will have access to college classes and career technical certificated programs offered at the Community College District’s Continuing Education – ECC Campus –located nearby.  This is part of the plan to attract more students, while expanding elements of the MET High School model and providing the middle college experience to our students.


o   While there is a plan to grow enrollment at Lincoln High School, I want students to know and understand that declining enrollment is a trend being experienced by school districts across the State of California and the Nation.  Lincoln’s enrollment like so many other schools in San Diego Unified has taken a dip.  This is not new, and the factors stem from families moving out of the area and the economy, to school choice.  


6.      We need permanent teachers NOT substitutes!


·           I agree!  This problem goes beyond Lincoln, and the District is working to resolve it.  This has been a challenging year, and ALL principals have been told subject matter teachers will become permanent or placed in difficult to staff classes (World Languages, Math, and Science etc.) by the end of October.


Trustee Foster pointed out that many Lincoln teachers, staff members, and administrators shared they would like to move forward together in a more collaborative manner to support their beloved high school.


“My parents are Lincoln High School graduates,” Foster shared, “This makes me a product of Lincoln and a Hornet for life! I will continue to support healthy dialogues and programs that foster positive school climate and student success.  We will and we can create the beloved community together.”



Marne Foster

District E, Board of Education Trustee

(619) 725-5550