With public education being defined in San Bernardino County by collaboration, innovation and opportunity, County Superintendent Ted Alejandre said the region is creating a shared culture of community that will positively impact the futures of students.
“We have been very fortunate in this county to have tremendous support for our public schools from our partners in the community, from our families to our faith-based leaders, our business and labor partners, government and public safety entities, and policy makers,” Alejandre said during his fourth annual State of Education Address. “We have known for years that these partnerships are critical to the success of our students and schools, and the quality of life and economic vitality of our communities.”
Alejandre made his remarks at the venerable California Theatre of Performing Arts in downtown San Bernardino. He was introduced by County Supervisor Josie Gonzales of the Fifth District. This was the first of two regional addresses to be made by Alejandre, who will make his second speech at Victorville’s High Desert Church on Oct. 19.
For the more than 403,000 students who attend public school in the county, Alejandre sited educational programs to support them from cradle to career. Right now, more than 700 county school students and 50 teachers are taking part in an AP Readiness through the University of California, Riverside. The program is made possible through Growing Inland Achievement (GIA) innovation grant and will offer supplemental teaching and support for Advanced Placement (AP) students countywide, joining Riverside County students and teachers who have participated in the program during the past two academic years.
“GIA is geared toward improving educational attainment rates throughout the larger Inland Empire region as a means of furthering economic progress,” Alejandre said.
In an effort to boost literacy rates among early learners, county preschoolers have read more than 895 million words and more than 2.8 million books with a 79 percent reading comprehension level since the inception of Footsteps2Brilliance, a collaborative among County Schools, County Preschool Services, Children’s Fund and First 5 San Bernardino.
“Footsteps2Brilliance is impacting an entire generation of county preschoolers who will begin kindergarten prepared with literacy skills to jump-start their success,” Alejandre said.
Another countywide effort, Vision4Safety, aims to bring county residents together to create safer neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. “Often when we think about safety, the first thing that comes to mind is crime and violence, including the unfortunate reality of violence on school campuses,” Alejandre said.
This past year, County Schools brought on board a highly experienced safety officer to support our classrooms and school districts in school safety planning, including equipping school communities for active shooter response should such an emergency arise.
In the area of students’ social and emotional wellness, there is a countywide focus on multi-tiered systems of support, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), building safe and relationship-oriented school climates, mental health awareness and treatment, and suicide prevention.
“Mental and emotional health are extremely complex issues, so it’s all the more critical that we are prepared to respond to the needs of students, so they can look to our schools as safe harbors,” Alejandre said.
In terms of innovation, the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) for County Schools debuted this summer its first cybersecurity class through its Cyber SB program at the newly opened Dorothy Inghram Learning Center in San Bernardino. Partnering with both San Bernardino Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino, the ROP class offers students in the region an education pathway to lucrative and fast-growing careers in cybersecurity.
The State of Education Address also featured several student performances from county school districts including:
- The Sierra High School Military Explorers, Post III, from San Bernardino City Unified School District — under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Ayala – which presented the flag colors;
- Michaela Rogers, a student at Tri-City Community School in San Bernardino, who led the Pledge of Allegiance;
- Summit High School orchestra from Fontana Unified, under the director of James Sharp, performed the National Anthem and a patriotic medley;
- Alexis Young, a San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools’ special needs student at Rancho Cucamonga High School, played a keyboard solo;
- Chino Valley Unified students from Lyle Briggs K-8 School demonstrated their national champion Rube Goldberg project;
- Rancho Cucamonga High School Dance group from Chaffey Joint Union High School District performed.
In closing, Alejandre called for public education not to just reform its practices, but be transformative as it provides opportunities for all students. “We are talking about our students’ lives, their success and employability, quality of life and the vitality of our region. Choose each day to make an impact … and transform the future,” he said.