Superintendent Message

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September 15, 2014

Dear SAISD Staff,

What a tremendous start to the 2014-2015 school year. I’m still feeling the jolt from the awesome display of enthusiasm and energy that filled the AT&T Center during our Convocation. I hope you still are fired up and already making good connections with students.

Believe, Connect – I cannot emphasize enough how vital those words, and the actions behind them, are to ensuring that our students Succeed.

We make no excuses in SAISD. We have but one job, and that is to ensure that every child graduates and is educated so that he or she is prepared to be a contributing member of the community. I have no doubt in my mind that every one of our students is capable of fulfilling his or her fullest potential.

Research, though, shows there is a correlation between economics and academic success, and recently, Dr. Raymund Paredes, Texas’ Commissioner of Higher Education, stated that if a family is in the top economic quintile, there's an 80% chance that their children will earn a college degree. Conversely, if a family's income is in the lower quintile, the chance of their children earning a college degree is a mere 10%. It’s a stat that hits home, especially when home is a place where I have the privilege of serving 93% of students whose family incomes don’t fall in the top economic quintile.

Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade is associate professor of Raza Studies and Education Administration at San Francisco State University. He also has taught high school for more than 20 years in East Oakland, California. In a 2009 essay titled “Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete,” published in the Harvard Educational Review, he stresses the need for educators to rebuild what he refers to as critical hope — not hokey hope, mythical hope or hope deferred. Duncan-Andrade believes that good teachers help students realize the relevancy of academics to the students’ everyday lives, as a critical element to connect what they are reading and learning. 

"The most effective urban educators, in every discipline at every grade level, connect the academic rigor of content areas with their students’ lives. If we are serious about giving our children hope, we must reflect on how to connect our pedagogy to the harsh realities of poor, urban communities," Duncan-Andrade writes.

The idea of critical hope and the title of the essay were inspired by a poem by the late rap artist Tupac Shakur called “The Rose that Grew from Concrete.”

Here’s the short poem:

The Rose That Grew from Concrete
By Tupac ShakurDid you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.Source: AllPoetry.comYou and I, together, can nourish the rose, albeit through cracks in the concrete. Our many “roses” may come to us with damaged petals. But, they can reach full bloom, despite imperfect conditions. When our students continue to reach for the sky, driven by sheer strength and determination, their success becomes even more valuable.

Dr. Sylvester Perez

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