Five New Area Superintendents Appointed to the San Diego Schools

In June 2006, Superintendent Carl Cohn appointed five new area superintendents for the San Diego Schools.

Each new area superintendent will be an advocate for the schools under them, as well as the communities for these schools. They will be empowered to ensure that the San Diego Schools have a fully enriched and competitive curriculum that recognizes the importance of the educational basics, as well as the nearly forgotten art, music and physical education programs. They will be responsible for expanding in their San Diego Schools partnerships between parents, the community, businesses and higher education. Each student is to be ensured as smooth a transition as possible for students and parents, especially in the early years.

These five appointments complete key staffing of top leadership positions in the San Diego Schools. Each of the five areas within the San Diego Schools will include up to 25 elementary schools and their nearby middle schools.

The new area one superintendent is Carol Barry. She earned an MA inn school administration from Azusa Pacific University and a BA in liberal studies from San Diego State University. Before her appointment, Barry served as acting assistant superintendent for the San Diego Schools. Previously, she was the principal at several San Diego Schools.

The area two superintendent is Dr. Hye Jung (Chelsea) Kang-Smith. Kang-Smith holds an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California, MS in education from California Southern University Fullerton, and her BS in biology from the University of California Irvine. Kang-Smith came to the San Diego Schools in 2005, where she first served as principal in Anaheim Union High School District and most recently as assistant superintendent.

Dr. Richard Cansdale is the area three superintendent. He holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the United States International University, an Ed.S. from Point Loma Nazarene University, an MA in education of exceptional children from San Francisco University, and a BA in elementary education from the University of Nevada at Reno. Previously, Cansdale was the principal at Cherokee Point Elementary School in the San Diego Schools.

The area four superintendent is Vincent Matthews, who was a 2006 fellow of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy. He earned an MA in educational administration and a BA in elementary education from San Francisco State University. Before his appointment, Matthews was an educator in residence for the New-schools Venture Fund in San Francisco. Prior to that, he was an advisor to 35 charter schools that serves approximately 9,000 low-income students.

Dr. Delfino Aleman, Jr. is the area five superintendent. He holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA in education from Texas Women’s University, and a BA in theology from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Aleman, who is proficient in Spanish, was the associate superintendent for teaching and learning at the Isaac School District in Phoenix, Arizona. Previously, he served as director of policies, procedures and public information in the San Antonio Independent School District.

In addition to these five new appointments, the San Diego Schools filled three other positions through recent appointments.

Dorothy Harper is the new associate superintendent for parent, community and student engagement. Harper earned her MA in education from Memphis State University and bachelor’s degree in biology from Dillard University. Her experience includes vice president of development for the Newton Learning Supplemental Education Services, as well as area superintendent, assistant superintendent, and deputy superintendent at the Long Beach Unified School District. In her new position, Harper will work to establish a comprehensive, consolidated system of support that will engage parents, the community, and students within the San Diego Schools.

Arun Ramanathan, an advanced doctoral fellow at Harvard, is the new executive director for governmental relations. He earned an MA in special education and elementary education from Boston College, and a BA in government from Dartmouth. Prior to his appointment, Ramanathan was research director for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He will serve as an advocate for the San Diego Schools to state legislators on issues and laws affecting the school district.

Dr. Kyo Yamashiro is the San Diego Schools’ new director of school management. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA, which she received in June of 2006 as a top doctoral candidate. She earned an MA in administration and policy analysis and a BA in English literature from Stanford University. Prior to her appointment, she was a research and evaluation consultant for the Long Beach Unified School District. In her new position, Yamashiro works with the School Choice programs, including charter schools, No Child Left Behind program improvement, and enrollment options program — magnet schools and voluntary ethnic enrollment programs (VEEP) are included.

These appointments excite the San Diego Schools. All will serve well the more than 132,000 students in the San Diego Schools, the second largest school district in California. With more than 216 educational facilities, these talented and motivated appointees will be a plus for the San Diego Schools.

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Eight Graders Who Fail Will Be Held Back In The San Diego Schools

The San Diego schools is the largest school district in the state. Last year, almost 13 percent of its eighth graders failed two or more core subjects of English, mathematics, history and/or science. This does not include those who received Ds. They were all grades of F.

The San Diego schools is cracking down. Beginning with the current eight grade classes within the San Diego schools, these students will be subject to a new policy recently passed by the San Diego schools board with a vote of four-to-one. A new retention policy puts forth that any eight grader who fails (grade of F) two or more core subjects will be held back to repeat the eight grade. If the parents of such San Diego schools’ students object, then those children will be passed on to high school but must actively participate in a ninth grade intervention program.

There was much heated discussion about retention versus social promotion (passing San Diego schools’ students on to the next grade, when they are not prepared) before the vote was taken. The one dissenting vote was by San Diego schools’ board trustee Shelia Jackson, who argued that the causes for such failures should be addressed before punishing the students. She noted that the children did not fail on their own — teachers, parents and counselors participated, as well.

Some San Diego schools board trustees felt that the threat of retention would give the failing eighth graders incentive to work harder and get back on track. Jackson felt they were punishing the students for possible ineffective teachers or teaching methods.

All San Diego schools board trustees did agree that intervention programs for failing students should be implemented as early as elementary school to guarantee student success later in school and career.

The San Diego schools’ board trustees did not discuss what specific intervention programs would be provided to eighth graders who are held back or to those passed to the ninth grade at their parents’ request. The design of such programs will be left to each individual middle or high school, giving them the ability to tailor their programs to the needs of the students.

Retention is not a new method to assist failing students. It is widely used across the nation. Even the San Diego schools have used it in the past. Almost five percent of the San Diego schools’ sixth and seventh graders (more than 400 children) were retained in 2001 and almost three percent of first graders (360 children).

Superintendent Carl Cohn sides with Jackson, wondering if the new retention policy will hurt the San Diego schools’ students more than help them. He believes that retention only accelerates the drop out rate, and studies have proven Cohn correct — students held back are more likely to drop out of high school, than those promoted on to the next grade.