Santa Monica’s education is taking baby steps towards its proposed 21st-century learning future.

On the dais for the Thursday, September 6 Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District’s board meeting agenda is the proposed integration of a Digital Learning program, which would integrate more tech-based learning into the classroom.

Additional items of note include the potential approval of an independent Latino parent group, District Advisory Committee goals for the year and more.

Discussion: Digital Learning

“If we have new technology, why would we teach like we did 20 years ago?”

The phrase pops up in a video link attached to an Education Services presentation to be shared with the Board of Education. Why, the video asks, should students still write essays/work by hand when technology can do so much more?

The Digital Learning Program would propose giving students digital devices to complement their learning, a master plan graph showing Chromebooks and iPads to be given to students in a staggered release plan with 7th graders and high schoolers getting the first crack at Chromebooks in the 18-19 school year with iPads and more Chromebooks to remaining grades to follow.

The plan seeks to further equity and access to students via in-class and take-home technology.

Additionally, Digital Learning also seeks to engage teachers with students and students with parents, with teachers becoming more directly involved with students’ learning via tech and parents learning to embrace tech and help their students with digital ethics and privacy concerns.

Discussion and Potential approval: PEMA

Padres, Estudiantes y Maestros Asociacion (PEMA) returns to the school board agenda after being tabled last week.

PEMA’s roadblock that presumably led to their postponed potential approval was an issue of tax and insurance liability; the district said while the group previously turned in the necessary documents to establish themselves, the outstanding issue for both parties was the group using the Pico Youth and Family Center’s tax ID instead of one created for their group.

A PEMA spokesperson said they were told previously that using PYFCs tax information wouldn’t be an issue as they seek official recognition.

According to PEMA, the parent group operates independently of the school district, whose mission goal is “about empowering Latino parents to become engaged in the education of their children, to have a positive impact on Latino student achievement.”

Discussion: DAC charges (goals) for 2018-19

Months after delivering their year-end reports, District Advisory Committees (DAC) will be presenting their goals for the new school year.

The Early Learning DAC will work on accessibility to preschool education, working to investigate and solve issues that may impede attendance; Health and Safety DAC will focus on wellness and drugs in light of a new drug policy revision; Special Education DAC seeks to foster community building, develop programming to close the achievement gap, develop and understand Assistive Technology Plans, and ensure Special Ed needs are being incorporated into the school district’s standards. The Visual Arts and Performing Arts DAC plans to align with and promote the district’s Excellence Through Equity Plan.

Additional items on the board meeting’s agenda include an unaudited financial report, potential approval of a district-funded structure for employee health benefit plans and revising the district’s drug policy.

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