More than 120 educators from charter schools throughout the
region got together Aug. 21 to learn and network at a symposium organized by
the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).
The Curriculum and Instruction Network for Public Charter
Schools Symposium featured learning sessions selected with the help of officials
with the California Charter Schools Association. Topics included new state
standards, new assessments, fiscal information for charter schools, and
“SDCOE is making every effort to embrace our charter
schools,” said Paige Metz, health and physical education coordinator for SDCOE.
“We want to make sure that we make a difference in the education for all students
in the county, including those that are enrolled in a charter school.”
The offerings at the symposium were designed to meet the
diverse needs of charter schools, which are public schools that operate
independently from the chartering school district or county office.
Because they run their programs independently, charter
schools often don’t have access to the same resources that other public schools
can get from their district offices.
“There’s a special set of needs,” Metz said.
There are about 120 charter schools in San Diego County,
including Literacy First Charter School, which is chartered by SDCOE.
“I love that it’s geared toward charter schools because
sometimes we are left out of the loop,” said Lori Belzman, curriculum
coordinator at the School for Integrated Academics and Technologies. “We all
felt motivated to go back and put some of these things in place.”
The school, also known as SIATech, had a team of six
educators at the symposium.
This was the first time SDCOE has sponsored an in-depth
curriculum and instruction symposium specifically for charter schools. However,
over the last several years, SDCOE personnel have organized shorter networking
The symposium featured a keynote speech by Alex Kajitani,
the former California Teacher of the Year known as The Rapping Mathematician.
He told the story of writing his first rap song, “Itty Bitty Dot,” to help
students remember how to add and subtract numbers with decimal points.
“Rap music can make anything cool,” he joked.
There are two more similar symposiums planned for charter
schools this school year: Dec. 11 with a keynote speech from Doug Fisher and
March 25 with a keynote speech from Margaret Heritage.