U.S. Education Dept. Selects Dr. Escobedo for White House Summit

Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D, was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 top school leaders from across the nation to participate in the inaugural National ConnectED Superintendents Summit. The Summit took place on Wednesday, November 19 and was hosted by President Obama at the White House.

Superintendent Escobedo is among exemplary local school officials who were recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning.  The White House conference brought together officials from throughout the nation to share with one another and the Education Department about promising approaches to using technology in classrooms.

“School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  “We want to make sure every child – whether he or she is in the inner-city, in a rural community, or on a Native American reservation – has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D.,

Dr. Escobedo said his selection for the Summit was a reflection of the hard work taking place across the system.

“It is a privilege to be recognized, but this really is a tribute to our amazing teachers and our Information Technology department, which put us at the forefront in San Diego County and the nation,” Dr. Escobedo said. “Our students have access to the Internet, and the opportunity to collaborate, create, and deepen their learning through an array of technology tools. The technology is used as a fulcrum to enhance students’ learning and understanding of the world around them.”

The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12-15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress made possible by local school districts.  The events will also include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning.

To help spotlight the value of technology in schools, the Education Department is sponsoring a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies.

“The Future Ready Initiative highlights the critical role of district leaders in setting a vision and creating the environment where educators and students access the tools, content, and expertise necessary for thriving in a connected world,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology.

Future Ready superintendents demonstrate effective use of technology in some of the following ways:

  • Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
  • Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
  • Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
  • Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices; and
  • Providing access to quality digital content.

“Technology has the potential to transform education in America, allowing students to learn more, to do so at their own pace, and to develop the knowledge and skills employers demand,” Culatta said.  “And yet, fewer than 30 percent of classrooms have the broadband internet to support today’s education technology needs.”

In the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), the biggest challenge was the lack of infrastructure four years ago. During the 2010-11 school year, CVESD’s Internet “backbone” was 100 MB, with 10 MB going to each school site. The District has since upgraded its network to a 1 GB backbone, with 100 MB going to each of 45 schools, said Matthew Tessier, CVESD Executive Director, Technology and Instruction.

Providing wireless access throughout CVESD also was a challenge given the size of the District.  “We put together a multi-phase plan to outfit all of our classrooms with a dedicated wireless access point over a two-year period,” Tessier said.

With the enhanced connectivity, the District implemented use of Edmodo, an education-based social learning network. Teachers and students securely connect, collaborate, and share content and educational applications through the Edmodo platform.

“We have District ‘trailblazer’ teachers that have received extensive training from Edmodo, District staff, and Microsoft,” Tessier said. “These teachers began with virtual training and face-to-face training, similar to what a blended learning environment looks like. They then trained a second round of trailblazers. We now have well over half of our District students, approximately 15,000, utilizing Edmodo and all of our teachers have accounts.  Furthermore, we are seeing approximately 5,000 to 6,000 logins from students on a daily basis with Edmodo.”

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