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UCSF Pursues Stronger Partnership with San Francisco Unified School District

By Shipra Shukla

Ushering in a new era of greater collaboration between UCSF and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), UCSF hosted a reception on Oct. 29 to welcome the city's new Superintendent of Education Carlos Garcia. Well-wishers gathered at a reception in the Fisher Banquet Room at UCSF's Mission Bay Community Center, where Garcia received an enthusiastic and warm welcome. "UCSF and the San Francisco Unified School District have been strong partners for 20 years," said Garcia. "We want to build on that strong partnership and take it to the next level, so that we can better serve the educational needs of all our children." The reception drew students, teachers and principals from local schools. UCSF was represented by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Eugene Washington, MD, as well as members of Student Academic Affairs, the Science & Health Education Partnership program, and the Department of Pediatrics High School Summer Internship Program, among others.
Joe Castro and Carlos Garcia

Joe Castro, right, associate vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs at UCSF, greets Carlos Garcia, superintendent of education, during a reception at UCSF Mission Bay on Oct. 29.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a new parent, and chairman of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor's City and School District Select Committee introduced Garcia. "Knowing that this is a town where politics is a blood sport, Garcia is choosing to leave a comfortable job in the private sector to lead the educational charge for our city," said Dufty. "He believes this is the level in our society where true democracy is forged." Garcia is a 30-year veteran in K-12 education. He served as superintendent for five years of the fifth largest in the nation Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also served as principal of San Francisco's Horace Mann Academic Middle School. Most recently, Garcia held a position as vice president of urban markets for McGraw-Hill Education Group. A graduate of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Garcia is Mexican American who was raised in Los Angeles. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Claremont Men's College and a master's degree in Education from the Claremont Graduate School of Administration. Closing the Achievement Gap Garcia spoke about the achievement gap as one of the greatest challenges facing American education. He believes that UCSF can continue to play a key role in helping to bridge that gap. "UCSF has provided invaluable science training expertise in the past," said Garcia. Moving forward, Garcia indicated that, it will be important to bolster existing programs for science teachers who need training and to look at other initiatives where UCSF can help provide expertise. UCSF's formal partnership with the SFUSD began in 1987 with the Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP), which was co-founded by Professor Bruce Alberts, PhD, former director of the National Academy of Sciences. SEP partners scientists with educators to promote high-quality science education for K-12 students. SEP works with 85 percent to 90 percent of the 120 public schools in San Francisco and with 300 teachers and their students.
Bruce Alberts with children circa 1987.

Bruce Alberts, co-founder of the Science & Health Education Partnership, brings science to life in a San Francisco public school. UCSF Public Affairs file photo circa 1987.

In his address to the audience, Garcia highlighted UCSF's Rosa Parks Science Discovery Project at Rosa Parks Elementary School in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood. The program brings UCSF School of Pharmacy students into a fifth-grade classroom to conduct hands-on science experiments. Garcia sees the project as an example of a way in which the University's commitment to teaching can help to address issues of disparities in health and education. Garcia also spoke movingly about the partnership between UCSF and the SFUSD that allowed for the creation of a fully accredited SFUSD school within UCSF Children's Hospital to serve the educational needs of sick children. Garcia recently toured the school and said that he was impressed with the vision and hard work that led to the school's creation. He noted that it is exactly this type of vision that is needed to continue to improve educational opportunities for children. UCSF and Garcia have already had a few preliminary meetings to discuss next steps. Developing a stronger partnership between the University and the SFUSD symbolizes UCSF's commitment to its vision of "developing innovative, collaborative approaches for education" and "serving our local community," both priorities stated in the UCSF Strategic Plan released in June. "Partnerships are a two-way street that allow for mutual experience and a way of learning for both partners," said Michael Adams, director of UCSF Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity. "Our relationship with the San Francisco Unified School District addresses our needs just as much as it does theirs." San Francisco elected officials who attended the reception included Assemblyman Gene Mullin (D-South San Francisco), a former teacher who now serves as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee in Sacramento; Mark Sanchez, president of the SFUSD Board of Education; Hydra Mendoza, a commissioner on the SFUSD; and Jose Cisneros, San Francisco treasurer. Founded in 1851, SFUSD educates about 55,000 preschool, elementary, and middle and high school children, many from diverse backgrounds. Photos by Susan Merrell Related Links: Project Teaches the 'Magic of Science' in Western Addition
UCSF Today, October 31, 2007