News Briefs | FYI
January 8, 2024
Three CA superintendents make NSPRA’s ‘watch’ list
On Dec. 14, the National School Public Relations Association announced recipients of its 2023 Superintendents to Watch recognition award. This year, 25 superintendents nationwide, including three in California, were selected for the honor in recognition of their innovative and effective use of technology to engage and inform the school community, and to expand two-way communication and outreach efforts.
“This year’s honorees understand the critical role that effective, two-way communication plays in building trust with students, families, employees and community members,” said NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, in a news release. “Each of these leaders have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to championing innovative communication strategies to advance their district’s success.”
NSPRA had a record number of nominations this year — more than 70 — and many exceptional candidates, making the selection process very competitive. Since the 2015-16 school year, NSPRA has recognized 152 school district leaders as Superintendents to Watch. Honorees must have fewer than five years of experience as a superintendent and must demonstrate dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core.
NSPRA will recognize each award recipient with a profile piece in upcoming issues of its monthly e-newsletter to association members, as well as on its website and social media channels. Honorees will also be recognized at the NSPRA 2024 National Seminar in July.
Honorees from California are listed below, along with an excerpt from their nomination:
Fal Asrani, Marysville Joint Unified School District: “Dr. Asrani continually prioritizes excellence and leadership through her strategic actions, which elevate and empower student voices, connects with families, fosters an inclusive environment, engages the community with our schools and encourages collaborations.”
Trenton Hansen, Jurupa Unified School District: “Dr. Hansen is a visionary who shares lofty goals for our district and encourages his team to take risks and to think differently so that we can better serve our community.”
Kirk Shrum, Visalia Unified School District: “Superintendent Shrum has quickly become a catalyst for transformative change. His focus on communication and community engagement are nothing short of remarkable.”
Study: Schools with more Black students more likely to close
Schools composed of mostly Black students have a higher closure rate in California than elsewhere in the country, according to a recent study by PACE.
Authors of the working paper, published in September, sought to determine if students of color face higher risk of school closures, and if these closures could be explained by conventional reasons, such as academic performance, enrollment patterns and socioeconomic characteristics.
“The findings indicated a disturbing pattern: School closures are highly sensitive to Black student enrollment in California and nationally, even after controlling for a host of potential explanatory factors,” the authors write. “As a school’s share of Black students increases, so too does its likelihood of closure. Moreover, the strength of the association between Black student enrollment and school-closure rates in California far exceeded those observed nationwide.”
According to the study, while 3.5 percent of predominantly Black schools (student population is 80 percent or more Black) are forced to close nationwide, the rate more than doubles within California. The working paper also provides background on previous research showing both positive and negative outcomes of school closures. The authors also explore justifications for school closure, such as budget/enrollment concerns and academic achievement. However, the authors contend that broader impacts on students and communities should be considered.
“While it is true that such closures are often justified on educational grounds, either fiscal or achievement related, the impact they have on communities goes far beyond these narrow considerations,” the authors write. “In particular, marginalized communities and those heavily reliant on their local schools can suffer significant social and emotional consequences because of closure. Given this reality, it is crucial to examine inequalities along racial lines when examining patterns of school closure.”
The working paper is part of a three-piece PACE series that examines racial disproportionality in school closures in California in the wake of declining student enrollment. In addition to the working paper, there is a policy brief and a report. The report, “Centering Equity in the School Closure Process in California,” contains key considerations for school leaders facing decisions related to declining enrollment. Read it at https://edpolicyinca.org/publications/centering-equity-school-closure-process-california.
Pandemic aid helped to close digital divide in CA
Government aid administered during the pandemic appears to be narrowing the digital divide for California students, according to a recent blog post from the Public Policy Institute of California. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40 percent of PK-12 households in California lacked reliable access to high-speed internet and a connected device, according to Census data. Although the gap decreased to 29 percent of households by spring 2021, Black and Latino households, and those headed by someone without a college degree or with income below $50,000/year, still lacked full digital access at greater rates.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) committed about $6.8 billion for schools and libraries to narrow the digital divide. ECF funds provided approximately 13 million devices and 8 million broadband connections to about 18 million students nationwide during the pandemic. As the third and final funding window closed on Dec. 31, California’s educational entities have requested nearly $1.4 billion in funds, according to the authors of the Sept. 18 blog post.
“Overall, it appears that districts with higher concentrations of students who have historically lacked internet connectivity are applying for ECF assistance in greater numbers,” the blog authors write. “While applicant districts are similar to non-applicant districts on average, when we focus on applicants alone, we see that districts with the highest concentrations of ELs submitted more applications during the first year than did districts with fewer ELs.”
Read the full post at https://ppic.org/blog/did-pandemic-aid-narrow-the-digital-divide.
Statewide Residency Technical Assistance Center provides localized support to teacher residency programs Last year, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing announced that the Santa Clara County Office of Education was awarded grant funds to operate the Statewide Residency Technical Assistance Center. The work of the Statewide Residency Technical Assistance Center is intended to leverage and build upon existing technical assistance offerings disseminated by local educational agencies, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education and foundations throughout the state. Aligned with the grant requirements, Santa Clara County Office of Education is collaborating with four county offices of education to establish regional hubs. Current teacher and school counselor residency program grantees should be prepared to collaborate with representatives from their regional hub for localized support and guidance. Regional Hub representative contact information: Humboldt County Office of Education (Northern Hub): Colby Smart. Sacramento County Office of Education (Capital Hub): Tierra Crothers. Santa Clara County Office of Education (Bay Area Hub): Padma Ramnath. Tulare County Office of Education (Central Hub): Adriana Cervantes-Gonzalez. San Diego County Office of Education (Southern Hub): Conni Campell.
Magazine seeks articles on recruitment and retention
Leadership magazine is seeking submissions for its May/June 2024 issue with the theme “Recruitment and Retention.” Topics include: engaging young teachers; credentialing; burnout; cost of living; on-campus teacher housing; residencies and internships; and strategies for hard-to-staff positions. Email your article to Leadership Editor Michelle Carl. Find Leadership online at leadership.acsa.org. The submission deadline is Jan. 29, 2024.
Virtual Networking Events scheduled for January
During 2023-24, several of ACSA’s Committees and Councils will offer Virtual Networking Events where administrators will be able to join others similar in their job position or interest to network and learn. Meetings are open to ACSA members as well as non-members. Upcoming meetings include Business Services Budget Reaction Meeting, Jan. 16, 2-3 p.m.; Middle Grades, Jan. 16, 9:30-10:45 a.m.; Retirement, Jan. 18, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; Secondary Education, Jan. 18, 9:30-10:45 a.m.; Career Technical Education, Jan. 23, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and Elementary Education, Jan. 30, 9:30-10:45 a.m. Please visit www.acsa.org/committees-councils#tab4 for registration links and for the most up-to-date information as times/dates are subject to change.
UDL Summit will be held Feb. 15 in Stockton
The CA UDLeading the Way Summit will explore the latest UDL strategies, evidence-based concepts and technologies from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15, 2024, at San Joaquin COE in Stockton. Registration is $75 and includes light breakfast and lunch. Register at www.bit.ly/CAUDL.