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Honoring Mayor Lee’s legacy as a school ally

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Mayor Ed Lee waves as he’s sworn into office on Jan. 12, 2011. (Mike Koozmin/2011 S.F. Examiner)

Last Tuesday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Salesforce.org Chief Philanthropy Officer Ebony Frelix announced a $8.5 million donation to our public schools. A few days later, we cut the ribbon on our newly renamed Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School.

You may wonder what these two things have in common. It’s Mayor Ed Lee. The late mayor was an advocate and ally of our public schools. Mayor Lee and his wife, Anita, whose two daughters Tania and Brianna attended the San Francisco Unified School District, have been longtime advocates for public education and served as a welcoming bridge to The City’s immigrant communities.

At the newly named Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School, teachers and staff are committed to seeing that mission come to fruition, by providing students a strong foundation in academic subjects and an orientation to American culture in a positive and nurturing environment.

Mayor Lee’s dedication to public schools extended beyond his office. He understood that our educators and administrators have tremendous vision, commitment and talent yet seldom have the resources necessary to make significant strides toward our vision for student learning.

In 2012, Mr. Benioff and Mayor Lee, along with my predecessor, Superintendent Richard Carranza, launched the Mayor’s STEM Leadership Initiative.  Five years and more than $30 million into the largest single private investment in the SFUSD, I want to tell you more about how the Salesforce.org donation is bringing our student learning into the 21st century.

Full STEM ahead

Salesforce.org has accelerated our progress toward ensuring that every SFUSD student graduates with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the Bay Area’s economy. From third grade computer science to eighth grade math and beyond, our partnership with Salesforce.org has greatly expanded opportunities for our city’s children.

Over the last five years, Salesforce.org’s partnership with the SFUSD has introduced technology into middle-grade classrooms, supported cutting-edge curriculum in math and computer science, and funded coaching to support teachers in engaging students and college access programs.

Since the partnership began, enrollment in computer science has grown and proficiencies in math achievement have increased. Over the past three years, enrollment in computer science increased by 2500 percent and enrollment in advanced placement computer science tripled. The SFUSD provided computer science courses to over 70 district schools, and made significant progress in disrupting inequity to broaden access to CS at our schools. There has been an 18 percent reduction in D’s and F’s in middle school math classes and a 40 percent reduction in Algebra repeaters.

New investments

Salesforce’s new investment of $8.5 million to the SFUSD will be used to support science, technology, engineering and math learning. The SFUSD will continue to create and implement high-quality curriculum in math, science  and computer science while utilizing technology to engage students.

Salesforce.org funding is also supporting an innovative new teacher residency model for aspiring middle school teachers. Because of Salesforce, we are able to provide professional development for teachers in the AVID program, which supports students who will be the first in their families to attend college.

The funds support our summer programming for underserved students, including opportunities for African American students to participate in the SFUSD’s Black Star Rising program. And, they will continue to deliver $100,000 per school of unrestricted funds to all 21 K-8 middle schools through the Principal’s Innovation Fund, empowering our schools with the funds and the authority to address their most crucial needs.

We are fortunate to have Salesforce.org as a partner in our work of ensuring each and every student has quality instruction and equitable support. The late mayor’s legacy will continue to benefit the SFUSD students’ ability to thrive in the 21st century.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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