About 20 San Diego County school district superintendents came together Monday at the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) to learn from an internationally recognized expert on educational equity.
Author Michael Fullan shared his research on leadership, accountability, and coherence as ways to develop system-wide change that positively impacts students and student achievement.
Caring relationships, high expectations, and know-how is the foundation from which to build strong school systems, he said.
“It works when you do the work and are more specific about doing the work,” Fullan said, challenging those in the room to strive for consistency and unity.
The County Office’s role is as a support system to districts through the Local Control and Accountability Plan approval and in providing differentiated assistance to districts identified through the California School Dashboard. The goal is for SDCOE to come alongside district leaders to enhance the districts' efforts to implement change that results in increased student engagement and the success of all students regardless of race, ZIP code, or gender.
The day with Fullan was aimed at enhancing the efforts of superintendents and helping to focus the work of SDCOE and its services to districts.
Fullan, the author of Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems, has been an advisor to policymakers in California as well as to the California Department of Education and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence in the effort to help districts become more equitable for all students.
Fullan described equity as all subgroups of students engaged and performing well; on average, no subgroup performs better or worse than another.
“Equity is one of our board goals for the County Office, so it’s important that we are able to connect SDCOE leaders and area superintendents with experts such as Fullan and through events such as the upcoming Equity Symposium,” said County Board of Education President Guadalupe González.
During the learning session, Fullan shared the key points to what he has found leads to student engagement, which is a strong driver of equity for students.
Character and civic engagement are critical to reaching all students, in conjunction with communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, he said.
“Not all of our kids — 100 percent — are achieving at the level we want,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold in introducing Fullan. “Doesn’t that mean every district could use some help in getting to that goal?”
The mission of the County Office is inspiring and leading innovation in education.