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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators

News Briefs | FYI

May 24, 2021
Marten confirmed as Deputy Secretary of ED
The U.S. Senate has confirmed San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten as the next Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
On May 11, the Senate voted 54-44 to confirm Marten for the second-highest position at the education department.
“As superintendent of the second largest school district in California and one of the longest serving urban school leaders in America, Cindy remained committed to San Diego when the pandemic hit, finding ways to provide technology to thousands of students and provide more than 20 million free meals to students in need,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, in a statement. “Our top priority at the Department of Education is to reopen America’s schools for in-person learning, support students’ social, emotional, and academic needs, and address inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Marten has spent 32 years as an educator, holding various roles of increasing responsibility as a teacher, literacy specialist, vice principal and principal. She is the author of “Word Crafting: Teaching Spelling, Grades K-6,” which places an emphasis on literacy as a key to students’ success.
As superintendent, she directed implementation of the district’s Vision 2020 commitment to a meaningful graduation for all students, with the district achieving the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California and the fastest reading growth of large urban districts nationwide, in 2019. Marten is an ACSA member and currently serves on ACSA’s Superintendency Council.
In addition to her emphasis on academics, Marten has been a champion for health and wellness, putting in place an award-winning wellness policy for staff and students. Under her leadership, San Diego Unified received Gold Recognition in the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index for efforts to support employee wellness, and multiple San Diego Unified schools received “America’s Healthiest Schools” award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Prior to being appointed superintendent, for 10 years Marten worked in one of San Diego’s most ethnically diverse and economically challenged school communities, at Central Elementary School in City Heights. As a teacher, instructional leader, and later as principal, she established a commitment to educating the whole child through an emphasis on social and emotional learning and the arts, combined with academic rigor.
PPIC: Californians believe students are falling behind
A new public opinion survey shows 86 percent of Californians believe children are falling behind academically during the pandemic.
The survey of 1,602 California adults completed April 1-14 by the Public Policy Institute of California looked at public opinions on education one year after the state’s schools halted in-person learning due to COVID-19.
Most Californians approve of how Gov. Gavin Newsom is handling the state’s K–12 public education system, though six in 10 are concerned that California’s K–12 schools will not be open for full-time in-person instruction this fall.
Californians are similarly concerned that students in lower-income areas and English language learners are especially likely to fall behind academically.
“Californians overwhelmingly believe that children have fallen behind academically during the pandemic and that students in lower-income areas and English language learners have been most at risk,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, in a news release.
Amid continued public deliberation over reopening California’s K–12 schools, majorities say that schools should be at least partially opened now. Among all adults, 53 percent say schools should be partially opened and 28 percent say they should be fully opened. Among public school parents, 48 percent say schools should be partially opened and 27 percent say they should be fully opened.
Asked about the way their local school district has been handling school closures, 65 percent of adults and 72 percent of public school parents approve. Today, majorities across regions approve of how their school district has been handling school closures, as do majorities across racial/ethnic and other demographic groups.
Asked to give their local public schools a letter grade, 41 percent of adults and 50 percent of public school parents would give an A or B.
“Californians’ grades for their local public schools are similar to before the pandemic, but more parents are saying they would send their child to a private school if cost and location were not an issue,” Baldassare said.
About half of Californians say that the current level of state funding for their local public schools is not adequate. Asked how they would vote on a state bond measure for school construction, majorities of adults (59 percent), likely voters (55 percent), and public school parents (74 percent) say they would vote yes.
For more views, including opinions on standardized testing and distance learning, with demographic breakdowns on the results, visit bit.ly/32WZ728.
Limited COVID-19 transmission found in Marin County schools
Despite having widespread community transmission of COVID-19, Marin County schools experienced only nine cases of suspected in-school transmission of the coronavirus during last fall and winter.
That’s according to a new paper from the Learning Policy Institute, which documents the approach Marin County took to reopen 87 percent of its schools for in-person learning by January 2021.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March 2020, districts across the nation have faced the difficult task of reopening schools safely and keeping them open as community infection rates have risen and fallen,” according to the brief. “Marin County, CA, offers one useful example of a thoughtful approach to school opening that involves collaboration and communication among school districts, the county office of education, and the county health office.”
Information was taken from county and district documents and resources, as well as interviews with staff at the Marin County Office of Education and the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District. The brief includes details on Larkspur Corte Madera School District’s reopening strategy, which included cohorting, symptom screening and tracing, and COVID testing. The district also utilized a “Thanksgiving re-entry plan” that asked families to quarantine and offered free testing to students before they returned from the break.
The document also includes links to resources that may be useful for policymakers and educators who are designing school reopening plans. Read it at content.acsa.org/covid-19-school-reopening/safe-school-reopening-in-marin-county.
FYI
Apply to serve on WASC commission by May 26
ACSA is seeking a member to fill a seat on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission, the body responsible for accrediting all schools in California. The deadline to submit an application is May 26, 2021. Thirty-five people serve on the WASC commission, and seven are members of ACSA. The new appointee will fill the seat held by Gregory Franklin, whose term is expiring. Nominees should have high credibility with colleagues, recognized competence in their professional field and be committed to ensuring high quality education for all students. They should be able and willing to devote the necessary time and energy to fully carry out the responsibilities of a commissioner. Interested members should review guidelines and duties and use this link to submit their application: form.jotform.com/211237027025039.
Help students boost their college savings on May 29
New college savers can take advantage of a special offer to commemorate 529 Day, May 29, this year. ScholarShare 529 — California’s official college savings plan — is offering a $50 bonus for families who open a new account with $50 or more between May 24 and May 31, and set up automatic monthly contributions of $25 or more for six months. For more than a year, California families have prioritized saving for college despite COVID-19 challenges. ScholarShare 529 recently eclipsed $12 billion in assets under management, and posted record growth in 2020. To learn more about the 529 Day promotion and how your students and families can participate, visit www.ScholarShare529.com/529Day.
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