The New Year promises new beginnings and a brighter future and this week’s Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District meeting will be one of both reflection and looking ahead for the district.

Updates on programs that were proposed and instituted last year are key highlights for the upcoming January 17 school board meeting:

Social Justice Framework update

The board will receive an update on last year’s approved Social Justice Framework, a curriculum that Ethnic Studies teacher Sean Arce said would help students develop a social justice literacy through activities, articulating social justice problems and creating solutions.

This update will identify progress made in the program thus far, adjustments that have taken place and next steps.

A slideshow to be shown at the meeting displays samples of literature that could be used in lessons, (books ranging from fiction to biographies, subjects ranging from gangmember-turned-poet to Malcolm X), lesson procedures asking students to find examples of oppression and themes of intersectionality in the text, and learning targets.

Next steps involve spreading the curriculum to elementary schools, expanding to Malibu and increasing family and community engagement.

Digital Learning update

The Digital Learning program was presented at a September 6,2018 board meeting, a baby step towards the district’s move to 21st-century learning.

The program proposes digital device equity for all students, the initial presentation proposing giving students digital devices to complement their learning. A master plan graph showed that 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 update presentation to be displayed at the meeting shows that staff has done site visits with various school districts to pick up their best practices. Additionally, staff has met with vendors to ensure tech standards of security have been met while also securing a state of the art filtering system.

Possible approval of SMMUSD funding to support the Early Learning Program Starting 2019-20

Last month, staff recommended that the Board forego an impending 5-year Head Start grant in favor of creating SMMUSD’s own model of early education.

District staff believes a district-funded early learning program service can provide similar or better early learning services than that of Head Start.

This update will provide clarification on what actions the district will take if the district foregoes Head Start. This includes communicating to families why the district is choosing to forego Head Start, requirements for participation in this new program, outreach, and procedures for evaluation.

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