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The first semester is winding down in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) with little educational improvement and even louder whining from incompetent Superintendent Cindy Marten and corrupt Trustee Tricky Dick Barrera for MORE money while they do significantly less for Student education.

This Sunday Reads features an article from K-12 DIVE that show the 8 trends that school districts will need to address if they expect to successfully implement a full educational recovery for their Students, Teachers, Staff and Administrators.  In our Sunday Reads Synopsis and Commentary we compare the 8 trends from the article to the historical and existing, matching trends in the SDUSD.

We have selected the most relevant portions of the article for our readers but District Deeds strongly urges our readers to click on the article title and read the full article for themselves on K-12 DIVE.


These 8 trends will impact schools in 2021

PUBLISHEDJan. 4, 2021


Vaccine navigation

As COVID-19 vaccines become readily available, teachers are potentially in the second phase of distribution, after frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, whether states and districts will require school employees to get vaccinated is unclear, and leaders have expressed concern about vaccine mistrust among the public.

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, previously told K-12 Dive he expects resistance and legal challenges to vaccinations in some places, but that the majority of districts may mandate them.

Vaccine mandates and exceptions could vary by state and locality. Even for traditional student vaccinations, 45 states and the District of Columbia grant religious exemptions to vaccine requirements with some variation in implementation. (There is no COVID-19 vaccine authorized for children under 16 years old.)

David L. Barron, a Texas lawyer in labor and employment law, told our sister publication HR Dive school districts can look to older federal guidance for some direction. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2009 guidance on pandemic preparedness and the Americans with Disabilities Act stated an employer covered by the ADA may not compel all employees to receive an influenza vaccine regardless of their medical conditions or religious beliefs. The guidance was released during the H1N1 influenza pandemic and updated this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 relief and Biden administration policy shifts

Prior to the second stimulus package’s passage in Congress and signing into law by President Donald Trump Dec. 27, superintendents, advocacy organizations, associations and unions expressed the need for everything from targeted E-rate funding to greater meal flexibilities to more PPE funding in 2021.

Some believe the relief amount included for K-12 schools won’t be enough to cover schools from budget cuts.

With an administration change right around the corner, Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank, told K-12 Dive the Biden administration may try to pass significant agenda policy items, like teacher pay and Title I funding increases, through a separate COVID-19 relief bill.


Others are eager to see what Biden may do in controversial areas like school choice. Some think a Biden administration may be bad news for those efforts, while others think the new president could be better for opening doors to “more constructive conversation around education reform again.”

School models

Given the vast amount of resources expended last year to transition schools to a flexible virtual model, the pieces that worked well are likely here to stay — and those that didn’t may still be ironed out for effectiveness.

While much attention was given to the challenges schools faced under the new model, a portion of students thrived in virtual environments. As a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, many districts now have the infrastructure to facilitate this option in the future, potentially helping traditional public education remain competitive.

That’s just one piece of the evolving school model puzzle. In places where teachers with subject matter expertise previously were unavailable, districts now may be able to add classes in specialty or advanced subject areas for students with strong interests in subjects like computer science, thanks to the widespread use of virtual learning.

Before the pandemic, there was a growing call for a shift away from the industrial model of public education, where students in rows of desks are lead by an instructor, to one where they are spaced out in a flexible environment comparable to modern open offices while their teacher serves as more of a guide to their learning than a preacher of knowledge.

The pandemic has had a silver lining of further requiring schools to reconsider classroom design and the “when,” “where” and “how” of learning. To what extent and how quickly these lessons drive the formation of K-12’s next iteration is uncertain, but the table is set with significant opportunities for forward-thinking districts this year.

Assessments and accountability

While districts have resumed interim assessments, many are pushing to rethink them entirely for equity or other reasons. The U.S. Department of Education, which provided blanket waivers for state assessments required by ESSA for the 2019-20 school year, resumed assessment accountability this school year.

However, that decision has been met with mixed feelings.

Prior to the Education Department’s announcement, lawmakers and states boards expressed the need to postpone state testing for the 2020-21 school year. When Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods jointly announced their decision to apply for suspension of standardized testing to the Department of Education, they said the decision was “in line with our longstanding shared belief that assessment has a place and a purpose in education, but the current high-stakes testing regime is excessive.”

While the Education Department did not grant those requests, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did encourage school leaders to consider the period a good opportunity to “rethink” assessments. And while testing experts don’t foresee a successful push away from standardized testing, they do suggest schools look into detangling results from the high stakes attached to them, like teacher raises and student program placements.

In some places, district leaders are already talking with states, hoping to bring change to current assessment models.

Lost learning and social growth recovery

The disruption to learning and socialization due to the pandemic means as school life returns to normal as expected this year, educators will be pressured to help students recover essential skills. Indeed, this has already been a focus of many state and local school systems, principals and teachers, as well as parents.

How far students have fallen behind academically continues to be calculated, but data from the fall show concerning trends across the country. An initial analysis of NWEA MAP Growth assessments indicates dips in math performance, with students in grades 3-8 scoring between 5 and 10 percentile points lower than average compared to fall 2019.

School districts nationwide also are reporting more failing grades for the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. Fears of growing achievement gaps of vulnerable students, such as those who are English learners, from low-income families, students of color and students with disabilities, compared to their peers are fueling creative approaches to reach those most at risk for falling behind.

Responding to student trauma developed due to being separated from regular school life, the scariness of the novel coronavirus and the repercussions of the pandemic, such as job losses, illnesses and even deaths, will be an important factor in post-pandemic schooling, experts say.

Recruitment and retention of teachers and students

Despite school districts’ efforts to distribute devices and establish safe in-person learning spaces in order to continue teaching students during the pandemic, many districts reported a significant drop in student attendance at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, school systems are raising concerns about the depleting availability of quality teachers and other school personnel.

These dilemmas are perhaps some of the initial obstacles school districts will need to tackle as a regular school environment returns in 2021, as expected.

Early data suggests millions of students across the country missed a significant amount of school during the pandemic, according to a December 2020 report by Attendance Works. Enrolling and encouraging participation of students is already a mission at many school districts. Schools are assigning staff to keep in regular contact with each family and to help meet their unique needs. Schools are also offering classes in the evenings and weekends to provide flexibility to those unable to participate in weekday lessons.

The ability to offer personalized and rigorous lessons is also hampered by teacher shortages, including the lack of substitute teachers. When the National Education Association polled educators in 2020, it found 28% said the pandemic has made them more likely to retire early or leave the profession. The NEA poll also showed 43% of Black teachers say they’re now more likely to retire early or leave.

Certain incentives such as differentiating staffing models, providing leadership and professional development opportunities for staff and showing appreciation for school personnel could help with staffing woes but a comprehensive and collaborative approach to teacher recruitment and retainment is likely needed to help school systems recover from the damage COVID-19 has brought.

Teacher burnout

Teacher burnout has steadily increased in recent years amid the pressures of high-stakes accountability metrics, the rise of more demanding learning models like project-based learning, stagnant pay and the shouldering of much of the blame when policy and reform efforts don’t pan out as hoped.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic ramped everything up.

Practically overnight, K-12 educators shifted to and adapted lessons for remote learning — a model they and their students were largely unfamiliar with. Figuring out how to do so effectively as concerns also grew for students’ personal and academic needs took its toll. And as some schools nationwide reopened in varying degrees this fall, stressors grew as many teachers and staff remained concerned about potential health risks. Those in hybrid models also had to navigate teaching both virtually and in-person simultaneously.

The result: A National Education Association poll in August found 28% of teachers were likely to leave the profession or retire because of COVID-19, with one in five teachers with less than 10 years experience expressing this sentiment compared to 40% with 21 to 30 years of experience and 55% with more than 30 years. In an Illinois Education Association poll, more than a third of members said they have considered a career change, 76% said this year’s workload is “somewhat” or “much” heavier than last year, and 66% reported being more “burned out” than usual.

Addressing this issue will be critical to retain skilled and rising educators in the coming years.

Social justice and anti-racist practices

While some schools had laid a path to increase cultural responsiveness, the deaths last year of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks — all unarmed Black people who died at the hands of law enforcement — sparked a reckoning nationwide that placed schools in the forefront of the movement to quash racial prejudices and systemic bias.

That work will continue and grow stronger many school districts have promised. Those districts are making voluntary efforts to rewrite strategic plans, expand curriculums for diverse student bodies, integrate schools and put resources into professional development. Individual teachers and administrators also are taking proactive approaches to better understand how their words and actions can create inclusive classes and school cultures.

Derek McCoy, principal of North Asheboro Middle School in Asheboro, North Carolina, told K12 Dive in June: “What’s going on right now is a call for all of us to really make sure that we’re focused on teaching the right things.

As schools emerge from the pandemic, educators will need to rethink how to distribute what could be limited resources for providing equitable student experiences. The challenges of rebuilding post-pandemic school systems, including teachers shortages, learning losses and trauma response, hopefully will not dilute progress toward equitable practices, say those educators, administrators and groups advocating for change.


We chose this article from K-12 DIVE for todays’ Sunday Reads because it provides the wide variety of issues ALL SDUSD Stakeholders must monitor to assure a full education for ALL SDUSD Students.

Given the fact that every one of the 8 items provided exist in varying degrees of development n the SDUSD, we will grade the SDUSD along with comparing and contrasting the current status of the SDUSD in each category.

Here we go!

Vaccine navigation

SDUSD Grade: F

There currently is no SDUSD Vaccine Navigation.

According to San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT), “San Diego County closes COVID-19 testing sites dedicated to school staff“:

“San Diego County has shut down four COVID-19 testing sites that were dedicated to school staff, because testing resources are needed more elsewhere, officials said.

The county has “paused” the testing sites “until area school districts get closer to reopening for wider in-person instruction,” the San Diego County Office of Education said Sunday.”

Here is the SDEA perspective from bargaining:

The first line that mentions “COVID-19 on-site testing pilot program for staff and students in Phase One” is totally negated with the last line in the selection above:

These stay-at-home measures will not impact Phase One or Phase One Expansion onsite appointments, which remain voluntary for SDEA members.

The ridiculous Supt. Marten Phase 1 plan was not really a plan at all, it was just a propaganda campaign to pretend to open with voluntary Teacher participation.

According to info on the SDEA website, the SDUSD Phase 2 – 4 is not any better:

The District’s proposal did not include a specific start date for future phases. 

So the Covid testing sites are closed, Phase One was pure SDUSD propaganda and there is no start date for even more ridiculous Phase 2-4.

With no Testing Sites and only volunteer Teacher participation, there is no “Vaccine Navigation”

A solid SDUSD “F” grade!  

COVID-19 relief and Biden administration policy shifts

The whining for more money is one of the few consistencies spewed by incompetent Supt. Cindy Marten and her corrupt partner in crime Board of Education President/Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera.

As we have described in previous posts, the SDUSD has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by NOT opening schools…but there is NEVER enough money for the corrupt Marten and Tricky Dick.

In a San Diego Channel 10 story titled “SDUSD Superintendent blasts Governor’s school reopening plan“, No Mercy Marten is quoted as saying:

“We do not want to see the state spend state education dollars on public health issues,” Marten said.


Here are the Covid 19 stats from yesterday, 1/9/21:

In the middle of a worldwide Covid 19 Pandemic with 3,538 NEW cases each day, “No Mercy” Marten, despite HUGE cost savings, wants MORE money to grossly mismanage and pay off herself and her cronies at the expense of fighting the Coronavirus!

Remember, this complaint about the California State plan comes from Marten who has had NO viable education plan to serve ALL Students since she was illegally appointed Superintendent in 2013.

Morally, ethically and factually, the SDUSD receives an F!

School models

SDUSD Grade: F

The SDUSD School model can be encapsulated by the following word that Supt. Marten lives by from her Central Elementary days:

While at Central Elementary, Marten sucked dry all the funds and media attention from the other City Heights/Lincoln Cluster schools.  Central got propaganda enhanced mediocre performance and Marten got improperly promoted to Superintendent at the educational expense of all non-Central Elementary Students.

The result at Central Elementary was the same as the SDUSD today:

The only difference now is that thousands more student educations have been damaged district wide for the sake of Marten’s ego.


Assessments and accountability

SDUSD Grade: F

As we have described in previous District Deeds posts, assessments and accountability are nonexistent now and have been since 2013. They are nonexistent because the multimillion dollar SDUSD propaganda department effectively covers up wrongdoing and the multimillion dollar legal department crushes and/or pays off most of the complaints by SDUSD Stakeholders.

The current situation is as follows:

  • ZERO SDUSD Standards Based Grading Plan Transparency, Accountability and Community Collaboration
  • ZERO SDUSD 2020/21 Reopening Plan Transparency and Community Collaboration
  • ZERO Operational Budget Transparency used to hide TOTAL Operational Budget Mismanagement.
  • ZERO Transparency of SDUSD performance BEFORE and DURING the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • ZERO Accountability for SDUSD LACK of performance since BEFORE and DURING the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • Phase 1 Educational Supports denied to tens of thousands of the most disadvantaged Students
  • OPTIONAL Boot Camp Professional Development for Teachers – FAIL.
  • Individualized “disadvantaged Student” supports with NO Equity Rules, Standards or Tracking.
  • Every Cluster, School, Principal, Teacher and Student for themselves “custom” school site “strategy” by incompetent Supt. Marten creating gross inequities from classroom to classroom.
  • Only 3 hours per day vs 5 hours per day of live teaching.
  • Only 3 periods per day vs 5 periods per day of live teaching.
    No Teacher Evaluations.
  • No Smarter Balanced tests in Math and English language arts.
  • No California Science Test
  • No Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)
  • Minimal California (ELPAC) for English learners
  • Minimal California School Dashboard
  • Dysfunctional Standards Based Grading
  • Disorganized Four Phase School Reopening Scam/Plan
  • Mid-semester retirement of thousands of highly experienced Teachers and other employees causing major educational disruption in the middle of an educational disaster.

And the list just keeps getting longer.

A solid case for an SDUSD F.

Lost learning and social growth recovery

SDUSD Grade: F

As we have been posting since when the Covid 19 Pandemic began in March, 2020, the current SDUSD Leadership had no Disaster recovery plan and still has no plan, or the capacity to address lost learning and lost social growth for SDUSD Students.

There has been nothing done by the current SDUSD Leadership to make Stakeholders believe that the lost learning and lost social growth will be addressed any differently.

A continuous, ongoing SDUSD F.

Recruitment and retention of teachers and students


Teacher burnout

SDUSD Grade: F for both items.

Back on 11/29/20 we posted  “SDUSD Avoids Accountability and Parents Make Them Pay!!!” that made the case for why the SDUSD will be losing both Students and Teachers.  Here is a quote from the post:

We predict those 120 departures are just a drop in the bucket that will not cover the massive enrollment defections from the SDUSD due to the long list of Martens’ miserable Covid 19 Pandemic “strategies”

The truth is that many SDUSD families are making Marten and her cronies pay by finding educational alternatives to the SDUSD for their kids.  SDUSD Families are moving to Charter Schools, out of district schools, home schooling, learning pods and other alternatives.

We predict that once budget calculations for the massively reduced SDUSD enrollment are made public in December, 2020 and in the first 3 months of 2021, the SDEA and other employee unions will be devastated with layoffs.  Even if the delusional Marten $320 billion federal government funding dream comes true, those Students and Families that have left are NEVER coming back.

The lesson for Marten and the corrupt Board of Education is when it come to parents and their children, massively poor performance along with zero accountability can’t be covered up with massively financed propaganda campaigns.

Lots of F‘s to go around!

Social justice and anti-racist practices

All our readers need to do is read the following letter we posted on July 7, 2020 from the San Diego Branch of the NAACP to decide whether the SDUSD under incompetent Supt. Marten and Tricky Dick have the ability to address Social Justice and Anti-Racist Practices:

July 7, 2020

Re: Racial Issues are Alive and Well in San Diego Unified

Students from Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District are amusing one another by posting pictures in blackface.  This, while much of the nation is experiencing a moment of consciousness about the true extent of racial injustice in our society, and taking to the streets in support of their fellow human beings.  Clearly, the killing of Mr George Floyd is not what is in the consciousness of San Diego Unified students when it comes to African-Americans; instead, it is the mockery of the minstrel show.

Perhaps one of the reasons these students lack consciousness of their actions is that the district continues to employ (and promote!) teachers who themselves find blackface a matter of amusement, like Dean Schmidt at Serra High.

Racist incidents are going to continue to show their hideous faces until we address the systemic racism in our schools.

Cindy Marten, however, continues her crusade to pretend we live in a “post-racial” society and that she runs a “post-racial” school district.  Why else would she have abolished the Race, Human Relations and Advocacy Department?

Mr Kevin Beiser, you are trustee for all the youth in the district.  We ask that you rise to this occasion and show some bold leadership.  We ask that you call the Superintendent onto the carpet and hold her accountable.

Mr Beiser, this superintendent tried to sweep this incident under the rug, as she has so often done in the past.  This superintendent has shuffled her organization chart nearly 20 times, and never brought much in the way of diversity to the decision-making table.  Instead of addressing each new problem, she merely crows that much louder that there are no problems, in hopes of never having to make real change.

Also, Mr Beiser, while we note the school’s statement regarding its name, we invite you to consider the words of high school student Mr Dino Jones, when he called for the renaming of his own “Patrick Henry High School”: It’s a direct contradiction to speak out for freedom for some and still own slaves.  It is time to change the school’s name; we do not think it appropriate to operate a school named after a man who said “Give me liberty or give me death” but refused to grant liberty to others when it was his to give.  That is hypocrisy, not heroism.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

P.O. Box 152086 • San Diego, CA 92195-2086
619-431-1633 Phone/Text

Founded in 1919 after a visit by renowned author, activist and NAACP co-founder, W.E.B. DuBois, the NAACP San Diego Branch is celebrating a century of standing sentry over the civil rights of the people of San Diego. If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit sandiegonaacp.org/presskit

To paraphrase Ms. Maxwell…when it comes to SDUSD Social Justice and Anti-Racist practices under the current leadership:

“Hypocrisy not Heroism” = a SDUSD F

It is obvious that the lack of leadership, planning and overall governance has failed miserably for the last seven years and has been drastically accentuated in the last 10 months.

There is no indication that the SDUSD has the capacity to change for the better under Marten, Tricky Dick and the rest of the District leadership and Trustee sycophants.

Trust in the SDUSD is broken.

The SDUSD Educational Winter has arrived and will continue to get much worse as long as the current leadership stays in power.

Buckle up…it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Now for our quote of the week that can be directly applied to the educational abuses of the SDUSD senior leadership:

A broken trust is like a broken mirror. You can’t put the pieces together again.” ― Christine Willson








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