Photo by Will Carless
Last year, Leilani Orduno made a speech to the San Diego Unified School Board, urging it to roll back layoffs. She still remembers it, word for word.
With one in five teachers losing their jobs in San Diego Unified School District, we wanted to take a look at the impacts of the layoffs.
Fay Elementary in City Heights is losing 27 of its 29 teachers. One of those teachers, Rebecca McRae, told our Will Carless this: “We built this school, and I take pride in that. … I want to do a good job and be a good role-model and be excited about my job because I have that buy-in. This is my school. I don’t just work here.”
Over at Central Elementary, half of the kindergarten teachers got layoff notices. Principal Cindy Marten sees the layoffs crisis as an obstacle to surmount: “We will always be working in a system of complexity,” Marten said. “Our job is to figure out how to build on the shifting sands.”
You’re reading our roundup of news from Speak City Heights, a collaboration between KPBS, The AjA Project, Media Arts Center San Diego and us.
Here are the rest of this week’s stories:
• Speak City Heights and Investigative Newsource teamed up to take a look at trends in school discipline in City Heights. Changes are underway at Cherokee Point Elementary for handling kids who act out:
For teachers and administrators at Cherokee Point, more school is always the solution. Last year, it had no out-of-school suspensions. Instead, Saturday school was more common for troublemakers. …
For both the principal and the teacher, effective school discipline requires a meaningful understanding of their students’ home lives and community. In City Heights, many kids come from poor households, families broken by incarceration or deportation, and families that fled civil war abroad. Sending them back to an empty or tense home could worsen their behavior.
And at Monroe Clark Middle School, where the number of students referred to dean of students Kellie McKenzie’s office for misconduct decreased by 50 percent from 2010 to 2011:
When teachers handle more problems in their own classrooms rather than sending students to the office to be disciplined, the students don’t miss out on instruction. And, the fewer suspensions and expulsions a school hands down, the fewer school-aged kids are left home alone or wandering the street. …
McKenzie said the school environment at Clark has improved significantly in the past few years. The students feel more comfortable talking to the teachers about problems in and outside the school. And while the suspension rate might be up, so are test scores. Last year, students met their annual improvement goal.
At the same time, the school district is making changes to its policy, too.
For more, check out how suspension rates in City Heights schools compare to the rest of the school district, the county and state.
• Students at Joyner Elementary in City Heights pay taxes and keep the peace in a mini-society program set up to have the kids deal with issues that crop up outside the classroom, reports KPBS.
• A new mosaic mural featuring photos of City Heights over 10 years has just gone up in the community, reports KPBS.
• A new center that screens for osteoporosis and cancer officially opened in City Heights, reports KPBS.
• Mateo Camarillo, the losing candidate in last week’s District 9 City Council election, shares his thoughts on the low voter turnout: “In the next 10 years, major changes need to take place to keep alive the American Dream of opportunity for all in our democratic society, including holding elected officials accountable to their constituents to reinforce the premise that voting and civic engagement makes a difference in improving your quality of life irrespective of your party affiliation, income, age, ethnic, cultural or racial status.”
• In this week’s Twitter news roundup: News on President Obama’s policy change on immigration, a project focusing on bullying gets covered in the Huffington Post and more.
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Dagny Salas is the web editor at Voice of San Diego. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5669.
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