At its Sept. 10 meeting, the board approved Connie Holman as assistant principal at Edison Elementary School and Arron Wilkins as assistant principal at Boze Elementary School. Holman has been with the Tacoma Public Schools since 1986, serving as a teacher, reading coach and instructional facilitator. Wilkins has been an elementary educator and an instructional facilitator with the Tacoma district since 2002. He was also an elementary educator in Federal Way prior to coming to Tacoma.
The board also:
Approved submission of a Title III English Language Acquisition grant application to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). This grant focuses on professional development of educators and support activities for parents and families of students with limited English proficiency.
Approved an interagency agreement with the Department of General Administration for future energy/utility conservation project management and monitoring services.
Authorized the superintendent or his designee to execute easements to the city of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities, that authorize the installation and maintenance of a water main and associated improvements as may be required by the First Creek Middle School site.
Authorized the superintendent or his designee to negotiate and execute documents for participating in a street vacation at South 40th and Cedar streets (district’s Madison Complex).
Dr. Art Jarvis commissioned Dr. Thelma Jackson, owner of Foresight Consulting, to do a study of the achievement gap for African American students in the Tacoma Public Schools. Dr. Jackson is a recognized leader in educational leadership; transformational change; systems thinking and intervention; school boardmanship; urban issues; reconceptualization of schools and learning; cultural competency; multiculturalism; school improvement auditing and planning; and policy-making.
She presented her report at the Sept. 10 board study session. The report lists 31 findings and 18 recommendations. The Gap Report, other gap documentation and a video interview of Dr. Jackson are on the district Web site at www.tacomaschools.org, under Addressing the Achievement Gap on the home page.
Deputy Superintendent Carla Santorno presented the district’s response to the Gap Report following Dr. Jackson’s presentation. She referred to Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” which states that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance; but largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.
Santorno said that first an organization has to thoroughly examine where it is. The district must examine the report, interpret and anyalze the report contents and see where the district is going. Secondly, an organization must have a clear mission and vision, and have a laser-like focus. For the district, this means a goal of high achievement for all students, elimination of achievement gaps and proportionate data in all areas.
The next steps include reconnecting with the work. The organization must commit to immediate action to go from good to great. It must ask itself “What is going to be different now?” Santorno said the district has plenty of data to work with. The district needs to act on its previous work and recommendations.
The district’s actions include reorganizing the responsibilities of the diversity coordinator. She will serve on the superintendent’s cabinet, report to the deputy superintendent and coordinate the development of an action agenda.
The district will also reconvene the diversity committee, examine its history, update the action agenda, establish accountability benchmarks and establish a timeline for the school board. The district will be held accountable for the work it is doing and will give specific measures to do mid-course corrections, if needed.
The Tacoma Public Schools will reconnect with community agencies, such as the NAACP, Urban League, Black Collective, Ministerial Alliance, parent advisory groups, under-represented advocacy organizations and Tacoma 360. As part of the reconnecting, the district will review the action agenda, establish joint responsibilities and support links, and establish benchmarks and accountability measures.
As the district reconnects with community agencies, it will report back to parents, students and community groups and listen to them.
When looking at the dimensions of its work, the district will look at:
Multicultural curriculum and material
Community and family engagement
Student voice; a way for students to voice their concerns
Professional development; connect and follow up
Recruitment and retention of high quality teachers (a mix of veteran and new teachers has proven the best combination that makes a difference)
Santorno said, “Things must operate as a system for a system to be able to be sustained across different leaders. We need to be real transparent and hold to a timeline.”
Dr. Jarvis pointed out, “We need to challenge the status quo—we can’t be comfortable with work that doesn’t help all children. We need to celebrate even tiny successes and hard work.”
Board President Kim Golding said, “The board hired Dr. Jarvis to look at where we are, where we were and where we are going. We need to address changes. It’s a chance to wake up our community and go forward like never before. I’m energized and ready to move forward.”
The next regular school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24, in the fourth-floor auditorium at the Central Administration Building, 601 S. 8th St., Tacoma. The board agenda will be posted on the school board Web page at www.tacoma.k12.wa.us/information/schoolboard. Videos of board meeting will be posted on TPS TV the Tuesday following a school board meeting.
For more information, call the Public Information Office at 253.571.1015.