Dear SFUSD Board of Commissioners,
We have thrown billions of dollars at the challenge of educating our children. And we still have teacher turnover. Willie Brown Middle School is on its fourth principal. Landon Dickey has left SFUSD for the James Irvine Foundation. Dr. Vincent Matthews is leaving after five years, continuing the school superintendent turnover trend here in San Francisco.
Great teachers leave, while mediocre teachers, who become tenured, can’t be fired. And Tenderloin Community Elementary School has ONLY ONE half-time literacy coach. African American and Latinx students continue to fall behind in reading and math. Now, new teacher candidates don’t even have to take the CSET or CBEST teacher exams anymore.
Remember Vision 2025? Whatever happened to that? Everyone knows the necessity of getting to these kids by the third grade with respect to reading. Please check out this website: https://www.careads.org.
Five facts about California’s reading crisis:
- Over 51 percent of California students read below grade level in third grade.
- For low-income Latinx third graders, 66 percent read below grade level. For low-income African American third graders, 74 percent read below grade level.
- Only 11 California school districts, out of 287 ranked, have over 50 percent of low-income Latinx students reading at grade level. The SFUSD is not one of them. Only two California school districts have over 50 percent of low-income African American students reading at grade level. The SFUSD is not one of them.
- On national tests, California ranks 40th among the states in fourth grade reading level. For low-income students, California is tied for 38th. Remember, there’re only 50 states.
- On these tests, half of California low-income fourth graders score “below basic,” the lowest level of achievement. Only 20 percent are “proficient” or “advanced.” Even for high-income students, 48 percent of fourth graders are below “proficient.”
Not sure how much early reading matters? Check out Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Early warning! Why reading by the end of third grade matters” from 2020.
What is going on? Is it the curriculum? The elementary school teachers? It certainly IS a literacy crisis. The kids aren’t reading at grade level, and it is NOT their fault.
San Francisco Resident, Grandmother