AAUW supports school district goals
The Sonoma Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) has found Sonoma Unified School District’s goals and practices to be compatible with those of AAUW in several important areas.
With a long and distinguished history of advancing education and professional opportunities for women, AAUW, with its national membership of 100,000, actively supports public education, including a commitment to adequate state and federal funding, increased teacher and school accountability, increased access to higher education and policies and programs that address relational aggression, bullying and harassment to ensure students’ overall health, safety, and well-being. (“AAUW Federal Policy Agenda for 2011-12”)
The board’s position was taken in response to an informative address by Superintendent Louann Carlomagno in which she outlined the district’s K through 12 goals and achievements. In her talk, Carlomagno touched briefly on the district’s severely reduced budget, ending with the observation that Sonoma has so far not had to take any furlough days. She paused to recognize that “No Child Left Behind,” although failing in its goal of closing the achievement gap, had nevertheless exposed the need to increase teacher and school accountability.
Because possession of a high school diploma is no longer the only thing needed to get a job, Sonoma Valley High School’s graduation requirements prepare all graduates for college entrance or career readiness. Students are monitored and assisted in their efforts to be successful in their college- and career-ready path throughout their school years. The result is an upward push, motivating students for higher achievement. The college- and career-ready path is the high school’s default curriculum. Students who do not wish to accept the challenge may “opt out,” but only with parental consent and not until the 10th grade.
Staff have found that a good way to keep tabs on the freshmen and keep them on track, is to divide the class into three teams with four teachers for each team for their basic subjects. Evidence that the program is successful is the high school’s modest dropout rate, which stands at 7.9 percent.
Carlomagno praised the district’s Safe Schools program, which seeks to ensure the students’ overall health, safety and wellbeing. Simply put, children cannot learn if they don’t feel safe. For more than 10 years, the district has implemented the program, in which 40 students from grades six, seven and eight are trained to be ambassadors and to detect incidents of bullying and harassment.
In addition, more than half of the district’s elementary school teachers have been trained in the techniques of the “Responsive Classroom,” a program that starts with the basics of respect for all, adults as well as peers.
Sonoma branch’s AAUW board, representing a membership of 78 business and professional women, unequivocally supports the concept of public education, with educational equity for all. The program offered by Sonoma Valley Unified School District deserves our whole-hearted support.
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Catherine Beatty is the AAUW Sonoma Branch public policy chair.