Cajon Valley Family,
Over the last several years we’ve had literally hundreds of visitors from across the country and around the world tour our schools to learn from the innovations and modern curriculum you and your colleagues have both created and put into practice. We are both grateful to and proud of our school leaders and staff for opening up our schools to allow others to draw inspiration and ideas to help their own educators “get unstuck” from practices and systems that have grown obsolete and are no longer preparing our students for the modern world. Although we are leading the way, we are still at the beginning stages of transforming our school system to allow each of our students to achieve 100 % Return on Investment in their post-secondary decisions.
In the United States an estimated 44 million Americans collectively hold more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and, based on the latest college completion trends, less than 50% of students who start college actually finish with a diploma. This is happening at a time when the U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than 6.5 millions jobs, many of which do not require a bachelor’s degree but rather other forms of post-secondary learning, remain unfilled because of a burgeoning skills and labor gap.
Cajon Valley Union School District introduced the first K-8 Computer Science Magnet Schools to the United States beginning in 2014. The success of these programs at Rios, Bostonia, and Los Coches Creek earned us a seat at the table with the California Department of Education and the California State Board of Education to lead our state’s efforts to bring Computer Science to all students in California. After serving several months leading this committee the most obvious action steps were to revisit our curriculum frameworks, standards, and policies that govern them as a whole.
Our decision to invest heavily in Computer Science Education in 2013-14 aligned with our District Vision, “Happy Kids, Engaged in Healthy Relationships, on a Path to Gainful Employment”. The Department of Labor and workforce development experts forecast a million person job gap in Computer Science by 2020. We have a laser-like focus in Cajon Valley to ensure every child upon leaving our district will achieve career, financial, and social well-being as defined by the Gallup organization.
To achieve this we’ve created a comprehensive K-12 Career Development (World of Work) curriculum and process to expose students to current and future opportunities for gainful employment, such as Computer Science, skilled labor, and high-demand jobs of the future. The World of Work Curriculum and Framework can be found at worldofwork.net.
K-12 Education, however, is a zero sum game. The California Department of Education has increased standards and expectations on school districts for decades without removing or making significant concessions to the core curriculum frameworks and standards. The best and unfortunate analogy to describe what we are doing is “adding chairs to the deck of the Titanic”.
All stakeholders would agree that we need a modern curriculum that reflects the demands of industry and the economy and that also prepares our students with the skills and avenues to fill those demands. Rather than lay new expectations onto an outdated model, we need to start over with a plan that is consistent with globalization, modern technologies, access to ubiquitous and free content, and aligned to the current and future world of work. This hasn’t been done since 1892 when the Committee of Ten constructed the current K-12 model that we are still using today.
We all want and believe that California can lead the country in education and prosperity. In order to achieve this we must look at the broader outcomes that manifest in society once students leave our K-12 school system. Since the 1980s state accountability measures and our now current dashboard have focused on improving standardized test scores, graduation rates, English Language Development, lowering suspensions and expulsions, increasing student attendance, and more program offerings. These are all noble and well-intended efforts.
Despite decades of this work, California now leads the country in percentage of homelessness, percent of people living in poverty, per prisoner spending, and we continue to receive national attention on our school to prison pipeline. These are all symptoms of an education system that has lost its’ relevance and is no longer preparing the majority of kids for successful adult lives.
Resources like The Gallup Student Engagement Survey measure student hope, engagement, and belief about their future. In Cajon Valley we aim to use these as our primary metrics to measure success. Literacy, numeracy, language development, and content knowledge are still priority areas, but we’ve learned from science that students who are hopeful, engaged, and see the relevance of what they are doing in school towards their future possible careers are significantly better positioned to achieve well-being.
So how…. Or is it even possible to insert a new operating system into hardware that was designed in 1892?
What would it look like if our K-12 school systems were designed with…
- The end in mind
- The well-being of our students (self-awareness, self-esteem, & hope for their possible future selves)
- research-based practices
- student voice
- modern skills and competencies as outcomes
This is our call to action for you… The Committee of 10 is long gone, so we’re convening a new committee.
The committee of 100. We’re asking for 100 of our Cajon Valley educators to answer the call to help us finish this work we’ve started in Designing our Modern K-12 system to deliver on our vision of happy kids, engaged in healthy relationships, on a path to gainful employment.
We’ve assembled a short list of reading material, opportunities, and developed a short application to help you decide if you’re ready to join up!
All interested and available educators are encouraged to apply. If you are unable to make all the scheduled events but are interested, please complete the application anyways. Selection priority will be given to middle school teachers, but we expect the committee to be a cross-section of all Cajon Valley Educators.
We're going to get started right away with our kick-off at the end of April. We hope to see YOU at the first convening of the Committee of 100.