Rome wasn't built in a day. And Antioch Unified School District flawlessly fashioned holds to the same pattern. Here's my fourth yearly review, speaking for myself only, on progress made, progress needed.
The reforms build. Four years ago the immediate platform at hand was to move off the county fiscal watch list, earn positive certification, build healthy reserves and acquire the highest bond ratings. We accomplished all that.
Now we are two years into platform two what organizational experts say is be it school districts or corporations like Chrysler a five-to-seven-year process of total re-culturing. We are moving from an entitlement to a performance-driven model. The structure is now taking hold; merit vs. personality advancement; objective data, systems-driven modeling and strict benchmarks as vs. feel-good reviews.
Platform three is also well underway: a behavioral adjustment. Learning can and should be fun, but kids must also see education as a serious business. The accomplishments include overall attendance being up; suspensions down; Deer Valley Shopping Plaza quieted; a night-and-day campus culture improvement at Deer Valley High School; closed campus at Antioch High; photo lanyards; 11 schools adopting uniforms; a Youth Intervention Network promising holistic, inter-agency prevention strategies to at-risk kids.
Reduced or not, any suspensions or campus incidents are unacceptable signs of root problems, though. Two school sites are in particular need of support for improved campus-climate. Also more uniformity is needed between our high schools on enforcing photo lanyards and closed campus.
Platform four is innovation and choice. We are moving there with our second Charter Academy; a September opening of Dozier-Libbey Medical Magnet High School and Delta Performing Arts Academy. 2009 may bring a Law and Criminal Justice Academy. I hope, too, for math-science-engineering and trade academies. Not every child is going to college but each deserves to be well prepared and enjoy a seat at the opportunity table.
Platform five, bringing to Antioch uniform vs. isolated pockets of academic excellence, is, admittedly, our biggest work of art in progress. Engaging the innovative Leadership Institute for our principals; Carmen Dragon and Kimball Elementary earning California Schools of Excellence recognition; Deer Valley falling just several points behind Heritage as the second-highest API-ranked far East County high school; a math literacy overhaul of greater consistency and rigor; adopting more stringent curricula and graduation requirements; upping middling test scores; increasing tutoring opportunities; cultivating greater SAT testing participation; partnering with local community colleges for co-enrollment; improving the GATE Program, etc., are positive steps.
The work is underway. I was privileged to grow up in Great Neck Long Island, ranked in my day, the 1960s, as a top-ten national district. My German teacher spoke 11 languages; 80 percent of my classmates went to college.
Antioch has that same potential. We have superb teachers and eager students. We can run with the Great Necks, San Ramons and Walnut Creeks. As Henry Ford said, If you think you can, or you think you can't, either way you are correct.
A.U.S.D. Board President