Despite the promise and success of both PBIS and teacher-led professional learning and PUSD’s transition toward more equitable schooling, educators are quick to remind themselves that there is much to do. As Costley reminded us, “We are asking the right questions. Now is when the heavy lifting begins.”
Sustainability and Innovation
Another key challenge for PUSD will be the sustainability of change and improvement. Green, coach at Armstrong Elementary, explained, “For our site, we had a staff who still remembered what it was like years ago when kids came to school, listened, behaved. When PBIS came, we had many on the fence, waiting for it to go away. Even though students were changing, we needed to be the ones that changed.” This sentiment was echoed throughout the district: efforts like PBIS and teacher-led professional learning are often presented as new solutions and are abandoned quickly. This is why, in the words of Morillo-Shone, “We not only have to stick with it and ensure it was led by educators at schools, but we need to move into its implications for bigger systems and towards innovation.” With that said, change requires time, especially considering how large a district PUSD is.
During meetings with stakeholders across the district, many recognized that as they look toward change and transformation the key is to continue building momentum and institutionalizing initiatives. Superintendent Martinez explained, “When you want to turn that ship a bit, it sure takes time to start letting go of things that we’ve done, even though the data may not prove that that’s something we should keep. We often keep doing things because it is simply the Pomona way. Other things that might make a lot of sense take time to stick.” Additionally—especially in the transition towards MTSS and a comprehensive strategy for equity—while PBIS has provided a springboard, there is a lot of capacity and consistency that is yet to be built around MTSS. Stacy Wilkins, Administrative Director of Innovation and Improvement Officer, explained, “Even though we are moving towards integrity and consistency, we are still at a place where different schools and different people have different understandings, and we need that good foundation, especially for Tier I.”
Additionally, as PUSD continues to negotiate change, there is a simultaneous effort to bring equity into decision making. As part of the development of the LCAP, which requires districts to engage their communities to guide decisions across the district, the district recognizes the challenges of trying to bring more voices while at the same time negotiating political will. In the words of the Senior Leadership Team: “It has been the most comprehensive approach to supporting all students that [we] have seen, from schools to budgets to the way leaders across different departments speak about schools and practices.”