I am a mom with a 7th grader and a 9th grader in Public School in Newark, CA.
I've found that dealing with school administrators and some teachers through the years
come with a great del of frustration.
This website is my way of dealing with those frustrations, to document and collect information.
My conviction is that most kids in Newark, California and the US deserve better than what they are
Public School is supposed to be for KIDS!...ALL kids!
My premise is that Public School should not be for administrators and
teachers, not even parents and school boards. School should be for kids.
School should be safe, stimulating and enriching for all kids;
even if their parents are not deeply involved and/or with deep pockets.
Reality today is not 'equal opportunity', but Public School should be.
Kids have to recite 'equality and justice for all' every day in school;
there should be equality in public school;
all kids should have a good, well rounded education,
Public School should not be divided into good and bad districts, with more or less means.
Status quo, is unjust and a threat to true democracy.
We are the 8th largest economy on Earth - We can not afford giving all children a good education
No Child Left Behind - But only kids with parents with means need enrichment like foreign languages,
music, art, drama, PE teachers, hands on science...
There are established minimum time requirements for P.E. that are ignored.
There is a 'Fitness Test' (costing $ 3.5 million), but no money for P.E. specialists.
There are "Standards" for the arts in education that are ignored.
We have 'Silicon Valley', but no computers in 'poor' schools.
40 years ago, Serrano v. Priest established equity between schools, so how come some kids have music,
visual arts, band, foreign languages, while some schools lack everything.
The best test of equity is reality.
We can live like this, because it still works for people with means. They will get their kids music, arts,
science, computers, one way or another, in their public schools or private schools.
The saying is that 'it takes a village' to raise a child,
but it is more like 'it takes a well-off school district', or else, as a kid in California, you are out of luck.
A society, a state, parents and adults, should have a moral responsibility for all kids.
California accepts social injustice in public school with indifference.
Parents must identify that this is a political problem, it is not a box-top-cutting-
sell -Jamba -Juice-get-parents -signed-up-for-script-
kind of problem,
-that will buy you some copy paper-
To get schools back to an acceptable standard and improved,
means to prioritize, fund, and reform accordingly.
Let us demand the public school system that all children deserve.
This site is mainly my personal arguments and collection of sources I've found that support my theses above.
You are welcome to share.
Working for change:
I put up a petition on change.org to end 'Educational Foundations'. To see that as the only way to make
put an end to inequality in Public School.
Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education), Tom Torlakson (CA Superintendent): End inequality in Public School, by ending 'Educational Foundations'
I am a mom with two children in the California PUBLIC SCHOOL system. My wish for 2013 is that ‘Educational Foundations’ be a thing of the past.
It should be the first step towards equality in PUBLIC SCHOOL. And it would improve education for all children in the long run.
Education is no longer ‘the great equalizer’, because education looks very different in different school districts. Basically Public School is now a
reflection of society, with its own 1% of highly privileged schools, another couple of percent of schools with comfortable levels of extra funding, but
the majority desperately and increasingly underfunded.
In the San Francisco Bay Area it is obvious how the disparate resources of different communities are making PUBLIC SCHOOL into it’s own class
In Los Altos, an affluent district, the Educational Foundation (http://laefonline.net/donate) asks for $ 1000 per child per year (tax deductible!), resultingMeanwhile, there are communities with no Educational Foundation. Maybe a PTA group that scrambles to buy teachers copy paper. Sometimes
in $ 3 million of extra funds that translates into smaller class sizes, music from kindergarten and on, art and school gardens etc.
not even a PTA, and consequently, no art, no music, no extra resources.It is not democracy, it is not equality, and it is not fair to the majority of children in California.
I don’t want to take anything from any child, but it is not right that children with a rich ‘Educational Foundation’ can have art and music in PUBLIC
SCHOOL, while children in a less fortunate district can not have it. It is not about programs held outside of school, after school; It is the same, but
not equal, ‘PUBLIC SCHOOL’ looking very different depending on the extra funds that parents are able to contribute. Are we going by what the
parents are worth to know what a child deserves, in PUBLIC SCHOOL?
Without Educational Foundations and different parcel taxes, students would be equal, parents would be equal and equally upset with the under funding
Equality in PUBLIC SCHOOL is the Civil Rights issue of our time. Status quo is wrong. Educational Foundations help individual districts make it better
for a few kids, but they are the root of inequality in PUBLIC SCHOOL. They are not working in the interest of the majority of children.
I believe that the undoing of Educational Foundations is the fastest way to get all parents to work for all children, and to improve the quality of the
whole PUBLIC SCHOOL system.
Here is a story from NPR on Jan 8, 2013, about the creme de la creme of Public School varieties, the Bullis-PurissimaElementary Charter School in Los Altos.
Their foundation (www.bcsfoundation.com) want an extra $ 5000 per kid to reach an acceptable level of funding,
'donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law'
Now how ever there is a war going on between the 'common' Public Schools and the Bullis Charter school, see npr:
In the wealthy Silicon Valley suburb of Los Altos, the district schools are some of the best in the state. But ten years ago, when the Los Altos district closed a local
elementary school, upset parents formed their own charter. Now that charter has grown so big, it needs a larger campus. The battle over space is creating a bitter rift
in this otherwise tranquil community.
Here's a comment from the story:
“There’s probably a perception outside of our district that this is just a bunch of rich people, kind of sniping at each other and fighting over lovely facilities,
and why should we care?” said district parent Daryl Odnert.
An emailed comment at the end :
........ How can you say this school represents choice when they don't even service a broad spectrum of the community but only those who can afford the
$5K+/student/year. Private-like school using public funds. Do they think the general public is stupid and doesn't see their "entitlement" attitude
Good thing the judicial system is on to their "smoke and mirrors".
You can only wish that is true.
Evolve (www.evolve-ca.org) in San Francisco is working to repeal parts of Proposition 13, and close a loophole
that lets corporations avoid property taxes, by not owning more than 50% of a property, costing to state
billions in tax revenues and ultimately robbing Public Schools of funding. You can sign their petitions on line too..
From Evolve website:
Reform Proposition 13
to corporations. All this comes at the expense of students, working families, everyday homeowners, and pretty much anybody in California.
Proposition 13 has crippled California, decimated our education system, led to government bureaucracy and gridlock, and created massive handout
Proposition 13 is unfair
- Prop. 13 is unfair to new homeowners, young families, and the middle class who pay the highest taxes after purchasing a new home.
In San Francisco among single-family homes, 57% of owners are paying 81% of taxes.
- Prop. 13 allows corporations to pay ridiculously low taxes on valuable properties. Corporations also routinely cheat on Prop. 13,
requiring the creation of a entire state agency to catch them.
- Prop. 13 is full of loopholes. For example, corporations and wealthy individuals can cheat by forming shell companies to keep ownership shares
- Prop. 13 has forced local governments to increase sales taxes to fund vital services. Sales taxes have increased by over 40% since Prop. 13 passed,
and disproportionately impact the poor and working class.
Proposition 13 has decimated our schools
- California schools were among the best in 1960s and are now ranked last in the nation for class size and number of librarians per student.
California classes were about 50% larger than the rest of the US in 2010-2011.
- California’s per-pupil spending was about the same as the national average until about 1985. Now we rank 47th in the nation for spending
per-pupil. Prop 13 drastically slashed funds for education and also increased inequalities between school districts.
- From 2007 to 2011 alone, education funding was cut by 11% forcing schools to lay off 32,000 teachers.
SF article about evolve, Dec 25, 2012/
Prop. 13 revision efforts pick up steam
POLITICS Closing commercial property loophole is drive's goal
Updated 8:43 am, Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/joegarofoli/article/Prop-13-revision-efforts-pick-up-steam-4144515.php#ixzz2GBCI1vld
The story of their lost footing is also the story of something larger -- the growing role of education in preserving class divisions. Poor students have long trailed affluent peers in school performance, but from grade-school tests to college completion, the gaps are growing. With school success and earning prospects ever more entwined, the consequences carry far: Education, a force meant to erode class barriers, appears to be fortifying them.
"Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer -- the place where upward mobility gets started," said Greg Duncan, an economist at the UC Irvine. "But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It's very disheartening."
"It's becoming increasingly unlikely that a low-income student, no matter how intrinsically bright, moves up the socioeconomic ladder," said Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford. "What we're talking about is a threat to the American dream."
While race once predicted scores more than class, the opposite now holds. By eighth grade, white students surpass blacks by an average of three grade levels, while upper-income students are four grades ahead of low-income counterparts.
One explanation is simply that the rich have gotten richer. A generation ago, families at the 90th percentile had five times the income of those at the 10th percentile. Now, they have 10 times as much.
Excuse my 'rambling' website. I don't have time to organize properly. I mainly keep it to
be able to save articles I find interesting. If you are here, browse around and see if you find
something useful to you.
California needs to find the weak links of the educational chain:
at California State UniversityNew freshmen in the 23-campus system, fall 2010: 42,738New freshmen who needed remedial help, fall 2010: 27,298Percentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking remedial math, Cal State East Bay:
73 percentPercentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking remedial English, Cal State East Bay: 58 percentPercentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking both subjects, Cal State East Bay:
Sources: California State University; Sally Murphy, Cal State East B
Cal State campuses overwhelmed by remedial needs
Posted: 12/11/2011 04:33:25 PM PST
Updated: 12/12/2011 04:58:59 AM PST
Wracked with frustration over the state's legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs
to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.
But many professors at the 23-campus university, which has spent the past 13 years dismissing students who fail remedial classes, doubt the Early Start program will do much to
help students unable to handle college math or English.
"I'm not at all optimistic that it's going to help," said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year's
freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.
"A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years," Murphy said.
The remedial numbers are staggering, given that the Cal State system admits only freshmen who graduated in the top one-third of their high-school class. About 27,300 freshmen
in the 2010 entering class of about 42,700 needed remedial work in math, English or both.
By requiring the Early Start courses, the university is trying, in part, to cut down the number of students kicked out for failing to complete remedial classes their first year. College-
level math and English are required for many other Cal State courses, so students who are ineligible for entry-level classes in one or both subjects have a significant disadvantage.
The courses may be taken online, at a Cal State campus or at some community colleges.
Few instructors believe the 15-hour Early Start courses will ease the burden for remedial students or the university, said Jim Postma, a Cal State Chico chemistry professor and
chairman of the systemwide Academic Senate.
If half the students eligible for the Cal State system are unable to handle college work, he said, California is in bad shape.
"It's a terrible indictment of the K-through-12 system," Postma said. "If a factory was building cars and the lug nuts kept falling off the tires, you would do something pretty dramatic
about it. We keep adding the lug nuts back to the tires rather than trying to figure out what the problem is."
The remedial problem is hardly confined to California. Schools across the country have puzzled over how to better prepare students for college and what to do with those who are
But budget cuts have staggered the Cal State system's ability to teach childhood math and English skills to tens of thousands of students every year. One solution would be to do a
better job figuring out exactly what kind of help students need to focus remedial education, said Linda Wong, executive director of the University of Southern California's Center for
"There have been a lot of problems with the assessment tools that colleges use," she said. Because of that shortfall, "it's very difficult to customize the curriculum to address specific
needs of the students."
The Cal State system's remedial pressures have, for the past few years, led many students to take basic classes at community colleges. That influx has, in turn, made it more
difficult for full-time community college students to get into classes they need to prepare for four-year schools.
Budget cuts also have hurt the community colleges: Thousands of classes have been cut the past few years on the state's 112 two-year campuses.
"We're all trying to figure out how to handle these students who are woefully unprepared," said Mark Wade Lieu, an Ohlone College instructor who directs remedial education for
the state's community colleges. "The greatest fear is we're going to lose a generation of students."
Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 510-208-6488. Follow him atTwitter.com/MattKrupnick.
Shortened school year shortchanges students, report says
Posted: 10/31/2011 03:56:34 PM PDT
Updated: 10/31/2011 07:46:07 PM PDT
Student test scores drop when school years are shortened, especially among low-income students and English language learners, according to a report released Monday by Education Trust-West and several advocacy organizations.
Yet, the California Legislature decided in 2009 to allow school districts to shorten the year by five days -- from 180 to 175 days -- due to budget cuts. If state revenues fail to meet
projections this year, schools could cut another seven days as part of a trigger authorized under the state budget.
This could result in some districts shortening the year to 168 days, which would be one of the shortest school years in the country and would be 75 days shorter than the school
year in Japan, which has the longest academic year. In the United States, the average is 180 days.
"We're seeing revenues now that are so far behind, we're very worried about the trigger," said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based
education advocacy group. "We've already seen school districts cut their school year and cut summer school."
The policy brief, called "Turning Back the Clock: The Inequitable Impact of Shortening California's School Year," said that charter schools and districts that have increased learning
time have seen jumps in test scores, while the opposite is true in districts that have cut school days. For example, the West Fresno Elementary School District expanded the school
day to eight hours in grades 4 through 8 and has seen its Academic Performance Index score grow between 40 and 60 points each year since 2007; the score is based on results
on standardized tests. In the East Bay, the Newark, Mt. Diablo and Oakley school districts expect to cut their school years by five days even without the trigger. Mt. Diablo, however,
still needs to negotiate the cuts with its teachers' union.
Even if the trigger is pulled, shorter school years are not a done deal, since every district would have to negotiate furlough days with their unions, said Peggy Marshburn,
spokeswoman for the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
"It's not forgone that it can happen before the end of the school year," she said.
Districts that can't negotiate such agreements would have to make cuts elsewhere, she said. However, Marshburn agreed that shortening the school year impacts students.
"Some of the districts are already in the shortened school year, so obviously anything that happens in that direction is going to affect student achievement," she said. "There's just
no question about it."
Ramanathan said he is urging the public to call the governor and legislators to ask them to find other ways to balance the budget.
"At the minimum, we should have the average school year that the rest of the country has," he said. "What we really should be thinking about is how to expand that school year and
we're having the opposite conversation."
Staff writers Paul Burgarino, Robert Dennis, Eric Louie, Jonathan Morales and Katy Murphy contributed to this report.
How many days?
Academic years vary at East Bay districts:
175 days: New Haven, Newark, Mt. Diablo*, Oakley
177 days: Byron
178 days: Acalanes, John Swett
179 days: Pittsburg
180 days: Antioch, Brentwood, Castro Valley, Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Knightsen, Lafayette, Liberty, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Ramon Valley, West Contra Costa
*Needs to be negotiated with teachers' union
Source: Bay Area News Group research
ONLINE The Education-Trust policy brief is available at www.edtrust.org/west. For Additional details, read the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.
Look at this video of 94-year-old Stepane Hesssel.
Don't know what this has to do with Schools and Newark specifically, and then again, I think it has everything to do with it...)
(10/7/11) From Michelle Rhee at studentsfirst.org:
School is in session. But what kind of schools are we sending our kids to?
Every morning as we send our eager fourth graders off to school, ready to learn with their backpacks and lunch boxes, we are entrusting them to an education system that accepts the fact that only one in three of them can read at grade level.
Let me repeat: Only one in three U.S. fourth graders can read at grade level. This is not okay.
Studies have shown that in just one year, an effective teacher is able to achieve one and a half years worth of learning in his or her students. These effects are so significant that the "achievement gap" between low-income, minority students and their wealthy, white classmates can effectively be erased by only three consecutive years of highly effective teachers.
At StudentsFirst, it's our goal to make sure every child in America has a great teacher in every classroom. From improving teacher evaluations, to ending seniority-based teacher layoffs, to paying teachers higher salaries, there are many ways we can elevate the teaching profession in this country to a level that reflects their important contribution and impact in the classroom.
Answer our Facebook poll and tell us what you think is the best way to ensure we have effective teachers in every classroom.
Great teachers also have an enormous impact on the economic outlook of their students. Research shows that each year, a highly effective teacher can increase the expected lifetime earnings of his or her students by $20,000. In a classroom of twenty students, the total economic impact of a highly effective teacher amounts to $400,000.
Our children cannot wait. Our economy cannot wait. We cannot wait. We must improve our schools now — and to do it, we must have an effective teacher in every classroom.
Tell us what you thin
State Superintendent Tom Torlaksen has "A Blueprint to Great Schools' (August 9,2011):http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/bp/bpcontents.asp
Nowhere do I see mentioned the issue of inequality been rich and poor school districts.
I think that trying to ignore this elephant in the room is a fatal flaw.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 5,2011
California school funding analysis finds disparity
State lawmakers have struggled for decades to bring equality to how school districts are funded, yet some districts receive thousands
more per student than others, a California Watch analysis has found. And the data show spending more provides no assurance of
Last year, California schools spent an average of $8,452 to educate each student, a figure that includes money from local, state and
federal sources, including one-time stimulus funds.
But that average masks enormous differences in spending. The Carmel Unified School District, for example, spent nearly three times as
much as the Norris School District in Bakersfield. According to the state's Legislative Analyst's Office, some of the smallest schools in t
he Sierra foothills, with just a handful of students, received about $200,000 per student.
The differences can be due to funding for special programs that can come from a variety of local, state and federal sources. Put together,
that can add up to quite a difference in spending.
In a show of bipartisan support to change the way schools are funded, the state Assembly approved legislation last week on a near-
unanimous vote. AB18 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, seeks a funding formula that would take into account the
proportion of disadvantaged students in a school and other factors, such as students' proficiency in English. It now goes to the Senate.
As districts struggle with huge budget cuts, an extra few hundred dollars per student can make a significant difference. In a school
district like Los Angeles Unified, by far the largest in the state, $500 more per student would yield about an extra $300 million,
precisely the amount the district aimed to save when it sent out thousands of layoff notices this spring.
More money, however, does not necessarily translate into better learning.
The Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, for example, spent much less than the San Bernardino City Unified School
District. Yet its Academic Performance Index score, which is based on test scores and other measures, was 862, compared with San
"Money may be necessary for school improvement, but it doesn't guarantee that improvement takes place," concluded UC Berkeley
education Professor W. Norton Grubb in his recent book "The Money Myth."
He found that urban schools tended to spend inefficiently for a variety of reasons, including high staff and student turnover and
conflicts over how to teach struggling students. At the same time, he said, urban districts often have extra expenses for needs such as
security, dropout prevention or for teaching students who are not proficient in English.
One of those districts with higher expenses is the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, where about two-thirds of
students are English learners. The district has had to hire three full-time Spanish translators - mainly to translate lengthy special
education reports as required by law - and has translators working in the school office, in classrooms and at parent meetings.
Ravenswood spends nearly $13,000 per student, yet has cut several programs and may slash two weeks from the next school year,
Superintendent Maria De La Vega said.
"It is sad, when you look across the freeway and see so many other opportunities" for students there, she said, referring to the Palo
Alto Unified School District, which is in a wealthier community on the other side of Highway 101.
Last year, financial frustration prompted nine districts, including Alameda Unified School District, and several dozen parents and
students to file a lawsuit claiming the funding system is unconstitutional. The suit, Robles-Wong vs. California, is being heard in
Alameda County Superior Court along with another suit by the Campaign for Quality Education, which makes similar allegations.
"We are not asking for simply more money," the Campaign for Quality Education lawsuit contends. "We're asking for fundamental
reform so that existing and additional funds will be more efficiently spent."
What especially galls education leaders in Alameda is that its district receives substantially less money than nearby districts like
Berkeley, Oakland and Palo Alto.
"There is a huge sense that the system is very inequitable in how it operates," said Patricia Sanders, a middle school math teacher who
is also president of the Alameda Education Association, the district's teachers union. "For us not to receive the same amount as other
districts near us is like saying, 'We are going to value one child more than another.' "
Four decades ago, the California Supreme Court declared the state's system of financing schools unconstitutional. In the 1971 Serrano
vs. Priest ruling, the court found that using local property taxes to fund schools resulted in vast differences between a wealthy district
like Beverly Hills and a low-income community such as Baldwin Park, which is east of Los Angeles.
The Supreme Court ruled that differences in the basic amount spent per student - so-called "revenue limit" funding - had to be within
$100 across all districts. Taking inflation into account, the permissible difference is now $350 per student. Although larger differences
remain among some districts, disparities in the basic amount districts receive from the state have been substantially reduced.
But that reduction has been wiped out by local, state and federal funds for close to a hundred different programs. A large part of the
money is based on formulas established in the 1970s for meals, transportation and other services that often have little connection to
current student needs.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/04/BARV1JNQO1.DTL#ixzz1OQ0PI75i
Three Public Schools, 30 Miles Apart: A Study in Contrast
Flickr: Seven Depolo
As an education reporter, I have seen the entire gamut of schools —
but never in a single day. The way my schedule came together yesterday, I
ended up visiting
three different campuses, each representing a vastly
different picture of the American public school system. Combined, the
visits have all the makings of a Dickens
novel: one is a gleaming campus
experimenting with cutting-edge ideas, another is an island of relative
safety surrounded by a deteriorated neighborhood, and the
other is a
scrappy, middle-class beacon, pushed to excel by a highly involved
The day started with a visit to Covington Elementary School in Los
Altos, an affluent suburb in the heart of Silicon Valley surrounded by
scenic hills. The school’s
exterior is every parent’s dream: beautifully
landscaped garden beds, wide, open-air hallways, new playground
equipment, and huge windows in the classrooms
looking out onto
Will providing computers for impoverished students help them get to college, or give them a chance at a better life?
I was there to visit one of the classes piloting The Khan Academy
(video-based classroom lessons and tests). It’s a fifth-grade classroom
led by Richard Julian, a
bright, engaged teacher in a room full of
bright, engaged kids. Each student had an Apple laptop and used it to
either watch videos or practice math skills. Many of
them were already
on to trigonometry and calculus-level problems. (I’ll write much more
about the pilot program in the coming weeks.)
Later in the day, I visited Elmhurst Community Prep, a middle school
in one of Oakland’s rougher neighborhoods. Just outside the perimeter of
the campus, homes
have barred windows and huge piles of trash are
strewn on lawns covered with empty, overturned shopping carts. Inside
the chain-linked fence, students are excited
about an end-of-school
event celebrating their accomplishments from an immersive after-school
program. (I was there to interview one of the kids and will write
more about that, too.) The principal of the school, Laura Robell,
greeted all the students warmly, and welcomed back visitors who’d
graduated. I spoke with
her for just a short time, but it was clear that
this was going to be an emotional night for her, seeing students, who
are living difficult lives by anyone’s standards,
projects they’ve completed during the past few months.
The day ended with my own daughter’s spring musical concert at
Crocker Highlands Elementary, nine miles but a world away from
Elmhurst. Playing the piano and
leading the group was our elementary
school’s PTA-funded music teacher, Miss Rose, a talented and vivacious
educator who sneaks in current events and history
lessons into the 45
minutes she gets every week with her kids in the tiny, windowless room
set aside for music class. (For the record, neither she nor any of the
students complain about the room.) Last night’s performance included
songs from all over the time spectrum – everything from “California
Dreaming” to “New York,
New York” to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” Miss Rose’s
very presence is a testament to the PTA’s commitment to bringing the
arts to a typical, budget-crunched California
public school. And
although we don’t have a computer for every kid, we do have one for
every 10 kids (more or less), another PTA accomplishment.
So what does the future look like for these schools? Will providing
computers for impoverished students at Elmhurst help them get to
college, or give them a chance
at a better life? Is an immersive
after-school program necessary to keep students engaged in learning for
the high-achieving population at the Los Altos elementary
Miss Rose ever be replaced by software?
New innovations and teaching techniques and ideas about learning will
materialize (or be repackaged or reconfigured), and they will make an
impact in their own
way. But no single solution — not bleeding-edge
technology, not laser focus on science and math, not extending the
school day, not newfangled assessments —
not any one of these
things will be able to address the vastly different needs and
populations of each school. And it’s important to note that each one of
techniques will continue to morph and change. What we’re
witnessing now is just one moment in time.
The one common thread I did see was that each school is pushing
itself in its own way to serve kids the best they can with the resources
and the information they
have at this moment. And that gives me hope.
It seems the bells are tolling for music at the Newark Junior High according to newark.patch.com
(June 1, 2011)
Forum this morning: Michael Krazny in conversation with Robert Greenberg (a Bay Area composer,
music historian). A teacher called in pointing to the sad fact that music is not considered important in school.
I've transcribed Mr. Greenberg's response but encourage you to listen to it because his intonation adds
another level (www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201106011000):
"For a number of years I sat in Sacramento speaking to these education committees that would create
curricula for our public schools, trying as best I could, like everyone else, to convince them that the arts, as
they utter this like kind of pass phrase, that lump of stuff, that includes musical arts, visual arts, that the arts,
are important to education. What these folks don't seem to get is that the arts are not an addenda to
education, they are the key to education, they are a key to unleashing our inner thoughts, to allowing us to
verbalize what seems to be nonverbal. Music, and study of music, and study of of visual arts allows us to
conceptualize abstract thoughts, it forces us to think on our own, it makes us less liable to be manipulated
simply by words. If we know how to use our brains, how to create, it gives us a sense of grounding that
nothing else can do. And sometimes, if one is a cynic, one would think that education has been legislated to go
the way it does now quite purposely to remove,1984-like, a certain ability, that we might otherwise innately
have, to process information our own way. Now, I'm not trying to sound paranoid,
never Michael, but I will say that by taking away certain skills we render ourselves more easily manipulated
and music is one of those things that forces us to hear our inner voice."
It is a very serious offense we are committing to today's children when we take away music and art.
Birgitta Bower, www.sosnewark.org
More than one-third of California teens do not participate in school physical education
Cuts to gym classes and student exemptions mean less physical activity for teens
Despite a state requirement that public middle and high
school students get 400 minutes of physical education every 10 days,
approximately 1.3 million teens —
more than a third (38 percent) of all
adolescents enrolled in California public schools — do not participate
in any school-based physical education classes, according
to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Research has shown that a lack of physical activity is associated
with obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions, while regular
physical activity is associated with
increased mental alertness and
higher academic achievement.
Cuts to physical education (PE) programs, as well as exemptions that
allow high school students to skip up to two years of PE, have
contributed to declining
participation in these school-based programs,
the brief's authors noted. The study found, for example, that the
proportion of teens participating in PE drops
precipitously with age,
from 95 percent at age 12 to just 23 percent at age 17.
Using data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS),
the authors found that only 42 percent of California teens report
participating in PE on a daily
basis. And more than 80 percent of all
teens fail to meet the current federal recommendations for physical
"California teens don't get enough exercise," said Dr. Allison Diamant,
a faculty associate with the Center and a UCLA associate professor of
medicine and health services research, who co-authored
the policy brief, Adolescent Physical Education and Physical Activity in California.
"Physical activity doesn't just keep the body healthy and prevent
diabetes and obesity," Diamant said, "it also feeds the mind. Exercise
is an education tool."
Diamant noted that PE classes are especially important to urban teens
who may lack access to parks or other safe recreational spaces.
"Kids need to move more, and PE class is often one of the few safe places to do so," she said.
Among the study's findings:
Boys exercise more than girls
PE is higher among boys than girls (66 percent vs. 59 percent). Yet just
25 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls meet the current federal
recommendations for physical activity.
School PE linked to higher rates of physical activity
California adolescents, participating in PE is associated with an
additional 18 minutes of physical activity each week, the authors
PE participation varies by county
number of days that adolescents participate in PE each week varies
considerably from county to county, ranging from 1.8 days in Santa Cruz
3.8 days in Madera County. The average number of days that
teens engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per week ranges
from 3.1 days in San Mateo
County to 4.7 days in Lake County.
The authors recommend maintenance of existing PE classes and
increased funding to ensure that all schools meet statewide PE
standards. And although they
commend recently implemented legislation
that requires students to pass five of the six standards of the
California Physical Fitness Test before receiving an
exemption from PE,
they note that it is important for students to maintain physical
activity, even if they do meet these standards.
"Physical fitness is an intrinsic part of the educational process,
not something to be sidelined or avoided," said Dr. Robert K. Ross,
M.D., president and CEO of the
California Endowment, which funded the
study. "Our educators need to understand that physical education is just
as essential to a student's academic success as
reading, writing and
Read the policy brief: Adolescent Physical Education and Physical Activity in California.
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of
the nation's leading health policy research centers and the premier
source of health-related information on
The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) is the nation's largest state health survey and one of the largest health surveys in the United States.
The California Endowment,
a private statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to
expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved
individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in
the health status of all Californians.
U.S. should look abroad for education reform, study says
Posted: 05/28/2011 04:01:59 PM PDT
Updated: 05/28/2011 09:10:10 PM PDT
In public education, America has stuck with a 100-year-old model originally intended to churn out factory workers -- while top competitors abroad have designed sleek new systems that mass-produce tomorrow's professionals.
That conclusion could be drawn from a provocative new study that suggests American schools have been looking for reform in all the wrong places.
It's not for a lack of trying. By the thousands, U.S. public schools have undergone overhauls, launched pilot projects and experimented with "best practices." Yet despite countless reforms, overall student achievement has stagnated for about 10 years, according to national and international measurements.
The National Center on Education and the Economy suggests that almost everything embraced by both the establishment and renegades, from smaller class sizes to cash infusions to charter schools, simply has not worked. Instead, the report from the Washington, D.C.-based think tank recommends emulating foreign success stories, primarily by expanding national standards for curriculum, administering smarter and less frequent testing, improving teacher quality, salaries and authority.
"In Singapore, beginning teachers make as much as beginning engineers," study author Marc Tucker said.
And there's more: Pare down administration, and forget the spiffy new school buildings, textbooks and even intramural sports. Focus money on disadvantaged students and, above all, build a coherent, coordinated education system.
The stakes are high, as the study points out. The United States needs to educate all its children to compete with the best from around the world. "Part of the price paid by the American education system for being built on the mass production model is that we tolerate an exceptionally high rate of wastage. Only in our case, what is being discarded is young people," the study says.
At the request of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the study looks at Finland, Japan, the Canadian province of Ontario, Shanghai and Singapore, all of whose students score near the top on international tests. Over decades, all five designed and improved their education systems. The study looks at strategies of those successful systems, Tucker said, because it makes sense for the U.S. to bench mark the best.
That's what this country did when it designed its education system a century ago, by borrowing mainly from Germany and Scotland. But in recent decades other countries have surpassed the United States in student achievement, educational quality and equity -- even while spending less than American systems, according to the report.
Sherri Taylor, a parent at Hammer Montessori Elementary in San Jose, liked almost everything she read in the report. But, she said, "I'm concerned it's going to be difficult for any changes to come out of it."
The report suggests expanding on the "common core" standards in math and English that most states adopted last year. In the five exemplary countries, national curricula also cover science, social sciences, arts, music and often religion, morals or philosophy.
Of course, not all those can be measured by multiple-choice tests. The report argues against computer-scored standardized tests -- the kind California students take each spring -- and instead suggests exams that assess students' depth of knowledge and whether they can effectively apply what they've learned.
And rather than annual testing, the study advocates a system of "gateway" tests at key transition points in middle and high school.
In arguing against small classes, the study takes on one of California's most popular reforms. "Of all the strategies available to improve student performance," the study says, "decreasing class size is among the most expensive and least effective."
Besides establishing a comprehensive system and curriculum, the U.S. could best improve education by boosting teacher quality, the report said. First off, move credential programs to higher-status universities, and stiffen entrance requirements.
In Finland, for example, only one in 10 applicants is accepted into teacher-training programs, which take five or more years to complete. By contrast, in 2008, U.S. high school graduates intending to major in education scored in the bottom third on their SAT college-entrance exams. "We cannot afford to continue bottom fishing for prospective teachers while the best-performing countries are cream skimming," the report said.
Once in college, teachers need to be trained in their subjects, class management and a host of other skills that new teachers often lack, the report says.
Charles Weis, Santa Clara County superintendent of schools, agreed. "Now would be a great time to increase the requirements for teaching," he said.
And on the job, rather than the adversarial management vs. union mentality of a factory, teachers need to be given the responsibility and autonomy to improve teaching and student performance.
"The focus on great teachers in the classroom is the thing you have to get right," said John Danner, CEO of the charter-school organization Rocketship Schools. Charters, he said, serve as a good model for moving forward.
But the report dismissed charters as well. As a whole, Tucker said, they do not perform any better than do public schools when student background is taken into account. And charters are small in number and influence, compared with Singapore or Ontario's centrally directed changes.
"While we try to change things on the fringes,'' Tucker said, "they've changed their systems."
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775
California is seriously considering cutting 20 days off the school
year if taxes are not extended!
When are parents going to wake up to the reality of the state of
Check out the article below. It basically says that the education system is corrupt. Either you are a parent of means ,
the minority, who can make the system work for you and your kids, or you are part of the big group of parents and
kids who are getting an inferior education with inferior prospects for the future.
From the Atlantic , June 2011 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/06/the-failure-of-american-schools/8497/
The Failure of American Schools
Who better to lead an educational revolution than
Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But
in his eight years as chancellor
of New York City’s school system, the
nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own—about
feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre
teachers, and other
enduring obstacles to school reform.
Above: Joel Klein in Brooklyn on the first day of school, two months before
he resigned as chancellor
Image credit: Ramin Talaie/Corbis
Three years ago, in a New York Times article
detailing her bid to become head of the American Federation of Teachers
union, Randi Weingarten
boasted that despite my calls for “radical
reform” to New York City’s school system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and I
had achieved only “incremental” change.
It seemed like a strange thing
to crow about, but she did have something of a point. New York over the
past nine years has experienced what Robert Schwartz,
the academic dean
of Harvard’s education school, has described as “the most dramatic and
thoughtful set of large-scale reforms going on anywhere in the
resulting in gains such as a nearly 20-point jump in graduation rates.
But the city’s school system is still not remotely where it needs to be.
That story holds more than true for the country at large. Nearly three decades after A Nation at Risk,
the groundbreaking report by the National Commission
on Excellence in
Education, warned of “a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our
very future as a Nation and a people,” the gains we have made in
improving our schools are negligible—even though we have doubled our
spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) on K–12 public education. On
latest exams (the National Assessment of Educational
Progress), one-third or fewer of eighth-grade students were proficient
in math, science, or reading.
Our high-school graduation rate continues
to hover just shy of 70 percent, according to a 2010 report by the
Editorial Projects in Education Research Center,
and many of those
students who do graduate aren’t prepared for college. ACT, the respected
national organization that administers college-admissions tests,
recently found that 76 percent of our high-school graduates “were not
adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.”
This is a long article, go on line for the rest!
The fiscal crisis - What is the future for California 's public schools if the cuts go through? From Edsource.org:
How many elementary kids get their PE when it rains?
If not, how many get a 'raincheck'?
From Educate Our State:
It’s time to take action: “Wake Up California!”
Greetings from Educate Our State:
We need to “Wake Up California!” and let everyone know our public schools are facing a major crisis. Many of you are acutely
aware of the looming disaster facing our schools - potentially severe cuts affecting our children's classrooms. Now is the time for all
Californians to stand together and show support for our kids. Our legislators have the power to save our schools! They can extend the
existing revenue measures to support public education funding, but will they?
On Tuesday, May 24th you are invited to participate in a statewide event “Wake Up California!” We are coordinating a multi-city day
of action to bring attention to the devastation facing public education funding.
Please consider hosting or attending a rally in your community. With your help we will be raising awareness of the budget disaster
our schools are facing and letting our legislators know that we need them to work together to solve this issue.
- On Tuesday, May 24, 2011 local rallies will be held across the state in areas including Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego
and many more!
- Please consider hosting a rally in your community or attending one above.
- Join the kick off planning conference call on Tuesday, April 26th at 8:30 am.
- Email us at email@example.com to get involved and check our website and facebook for updates.
- Can’t attend? Donate $10 to support the planning and execution of these events atwww.educateourstate.org/donate-now.
The Department of Education joined the Albany school district fighting a child and his mom who wanted
his 200 minutes of PE/10 days (that is 20 minutes per school day) that are guaranteed by the Education
According to the Department's ‘Physical Education Framework for California Schools’ (2009), PE is of such
importance that, I quote:
"Physical education is the only subject area in which schools are required by the state to provide a
minimum number of instructional minutes."
The Department is fighting kids, the law and its own words.
How many elementary school kids are getting PE anyway when it rains?
Albany school district loses PE appeal
The State Supreme Court denied an Alameda County school district's appeal Wednesday of a ruling that requires elementary schools in California to provide
three hours and 20 minutes of physical education every two weeks.
The suit was filed in 2009 by a third-grade student who claimed, through his lawyer, that
the Albany Unified School District was violating his rights under state law by offering only two hours of PE every two weeks.
The district, joined by the state Department of Education, argued that the law calling for more exercise time set only nonbinding guidelines for local school
officials. But the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled in November that the law "means what it says" and requires all districts to provide
at least 200 minutes every two weeks in Grades 1-6, not counting lunch and recess.
"Although one might reasonably question the wisdom of the Legislature micromanaging the state's education system" by imposing the requirement, the court
said, "it is not for this court to second-guess the Legislature."
The state's high court unanimously denied review of the district's appeal Wednesday.
The ruling was limited to elementary schools but has implications for a similar law requiring twice as much physical education time - six hours and 40 minutes
every two weeks - in Grades 7-9.
"The Legislature has been very clear about how much physical education they wanted kids to get in school, and some school districts have just ignored those
requirements," said Donald Driscoll, lawyer for the plaintiff, who is now 10 and in the fifth grade.
The state's then top education official, Superintendent Jack O'Connell, sent a letter to local districts shortly after the suit was filed saying the 200-minute
standard was a requirement. But Driscoll said O'Connell's office, which sided with the Albany district in lower courts, had failed to pressure districts to
The district's lawyer and the new state superintendent, Tom Torlakson, were unavailable for comment.
The law, which dates from the 1960s, says the elementary school curriculum "shall include" at least 200 minutes of physical education every 10 schooldays,
"with emphasis upon the physical activities for the pupils that may be conducive to health and vigor of body and mind."
A later statute elaborated on the need for the law by citing studies showing that "the vast majority of children and youth are not physically fit."
This story has been corrected since it appeared in print editions.
Court: Parents can sue if schools skimp on P.E.
Parents can sue if state minimum is not enforced
Parents can take their children's public schools to court to force educators to provide the minimum amount of physical education required by state law, the
California Court of Appeal ruled in Sacramento on Tuesday, which could spell trouble for a lot of state schools.
California's education code requires elementary schools to offer 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, an amount that rises to 400 minutes in
middle or high schools, not including lunch or recess. A small-scale survey of state schools a few years ago found more than half failed to provide the
required minutes of physical activity.
Last year, a parent in the Albany school district believed Cornell Elementary wasn't meeting that
minimum and sued the district to force it to offer the required physical education, said Donald
Driscoll, the parent's attorney.
The parent was not identified in the lawsuit to ensure anonymity of the children.
"Kids need time to play; they need time to burn off their energy," Driscoll said. "Now there's a mechanism for enforcing the law."
The 3-0 appellate court ruling overturned the judge in the Sacramento trial court, who said the state's physical education rule was advisory rather than
requirement and that a private party, like a parent, had no standing to enforce the law anyway.
The appellate court disagreed.
"We conclude (the law) means what it says and that, while individual school districts may have discretion as to how to administer their physical education
programs, those programs must satisfy the 200-minute-per-10-school-day minimum," the judges wrote in the ruling.
The case now returns to the trial court to determine whether Albany is out of compliance with the requirement.
District officials maintain that they are complying, said Michael Pott, an attorney with the Porter Scott firm, which represented Albany Unified in the case.
The law does give flexibility in interpreting physical education, which can include health, nutrition and things like teamwork, in addition to active play,
The plaintiff's interpretation "was that it needed to be stick and a ball, outdoor running for 200 minutes every 10 days," Pott said.
The state Department of Education, which was named as a defendant in the case because of its enforcement role, agreed with the appellate ruling that the
gym class minutes are mandatory.
"We have always had the view that the minutes are required," said Hilary McLean, a department spokeswoman. "Unfortunately, due to the state budget crisis,
we've never been funded to do the monitoring. It is up to local districts to comply with the law."
The state also requires schools to test children for physical fitness levels every year. In 2009, the most recent results available, about a third of students
tested were able to meet the six fitness criteria measured, including things like flexibility, aerobic capacity and strength.
There is a reason state law emphasizes physical activity - it's key to a child's well-being, Driscoll said.
"The law seems clear. The importance of the law seems clear and the school district just hasn't complied," he said. "I hope school districts take notice and
I hope parents take notice."
BUDGET UPDATE – NO RESOLUTION YET:
LEGISLATURE STILL WON’T “LET US VOTE!” TO SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING
Greetings from Educate Our State,
Week two of the budget negotiations and we still don’t know if public education funding will be “spared.” The legislature spent all of last week negotiating the preliminary “cuts” part of the state budget; now, it is faced with addressing the possible revenue extension measure. As it stands currently, Governor Brown does not believe he has enough bipartisan support to move forward with a June election. As a reminder, two-thirds of the legislature needs to approve the revenue extension measure in order for it to be sent to the vote of the people in a special election in June.
If you have not yet sent a letter to your legislators, NOW IS THE TIME! Please click here and take two minutes to be included with the more than 50,000 letters that have already been sent asking to “Let Us Vote!” in the June election.
If you have already sent a letter – please call your legislator today and/or encourage your friends to do the same at www.educateourstate.org click “Let Us Vote!”
No matter what transpires over the next few days, though, there will be a long road ahead to protect education in California. We look forward to counting on you to help educate your friends, family and neighbors on the importance of saving our public schools.
Thank you for stepping up and taking action on behalf of all of California’s children. For more information about Educate Our State, a list of our partner organizations and our efforts to unite the voices of Californians in support of K-12 public education and demand real change visit the Educate Our Statewebsite at www.educateourstate.org. Follow us on facebook, twitter, purchase a car magnet or consider adonation.
The Educate Our State Team
URGENT! Take Action - California Schools at Risk!
Parents for Great Education will focus on educating the community about Governor Brown's revenue measures/extending
the current temporary taxes, and support sound education policy in 2011. We, parents, students and community
members who care about quality education and the future of California, need to step up and take action to advocate for
adequate education resources.
URGENT TIMELINE - Action needed in February for March 1st Deadline. Read below, and Scroll down for Action
$18 Billion has already been cut from k-12 education in California in the past three years. With a deficit of $25.4 Billion in
he state budget, the Governor has proposed cuts as well as revenues. The Governor's proposed budget, presented
Jan. 10th, includes maintaining education funding, contingent on the extension of current temporary taxes
(sales, income and vehicle taxes), which would otherwise expire in June 2011 if they are not extended. These
taxes currently generate over $8 billion annually. The loss of this revenue would cause billions of dollars of additional cuts
to schools state-wide! (approximately $330-$1000 per student at a minimum and possibly much more!)
The Governor has asked the Legislature for their support (with a 2/3 vote) by March 1st to put the revenue measures on
the ballot and to let the voters decide whether to continue the current temporary taxes. This is NOT an increase!
What can you do?
1. Get Informed – The first step in making a difference is to get informed (Read all info here). Please help educate your
friends, parents, neighbors, relatives and community members about the budget crisis and its impact on education.
2. Take Action Immediately - Our children are counting on us to advocate for quality education. Here's a list of things
you can do to make a difference.
- Write or call your legislators (ASAP and by February 15)– particularly in the Republican districts, Central Valley,
- Riverside and coastal areas. Please fax letters to your Legislators and to the BIG 5. See below for sample letters
- and contact information. Download letters, sign, include address and fax.
Find your California legislators and their contact information using this zip code search engine.
California State Senate: http://www.sen.ca.gov/~newsen/senate.htm
- Send in a Letter to the editor – Send letters ASAP, generally 150 words, check with your local print media.
- Sample letters to the editor 1, 2 (see examples)
- Start an e-mail campaign ("dear friend e-mails") send out in mass to everyone in your address book to go viral...
- Post this with the title “URGENT! Take Action! California Schools at Risk” to link on your Facebook, Myspace, etc.
Schools struggle to measure fitness of students as focus on health grows
Posted: 02/04/2011 10:10:30 PM PST
Updated: 02/07/2011 05:36:14 PM PST
OAKLEY -- Elementary school students here were identified as the most overweight in Contra Costa County when health officials ranked childhood obesity by school district in
When officials updated that ranking last month, Oakley was notably absent, having failed to report any fitness data.
Superintendent Rick Rogers has dismissed the state's annual physical fitness assessment -- the main metric public agencies have to measure childhood obesity rates -- as
inconsistent and without statistical merit.
Rogers isn't alone in questioning the test's value. Health experts, and even those responsible for the test, acknowledge that the results can be unreliable.
"At best, it's haphazardly administered, so it's not reliable," said Chris Boynton, director of the Project EAT program in Alameda County. "And it's important because we don't have
any idea whether we're making a change in the kids obesity epidemic."
Unlike some school districts, the Oakley elementary school district does not train teachers in how to administer the test.
"It becomes a matter of time and resources," Rogers said of the test, which measures five fitness benchmarks besides body composition, including the ability to run a mile and do
sit-ups. "It tends to be inconstant, and they change it constantly, so the data doesn't match up when you move on to the next year.
"That's how the state runs virtually every state testing program."
Whether because of flaws in the program or the way it's administered, the state fitness test does not tell a consistent story about childhood obesity in Oakley.
Contra Costa Health Services reported in its last health indicators report, issued in 2007, that Oakley had the highest rate of overweight fifth graders in the county, with 44 percent
of children failing to meet the state's body-composition criteria. But one year earlier, that rate was just 32 percent, and the year after the report was issued, it fell to 24 percent --
lower than the county average.
Project EAT measured obesity levels in several Alameda and Contra Costa school districts over a three-year period, and found that teachers were consistently misreporting rates
of overweight children. Boynton's group uses fitness test data for grant applications, but like many anti-obesity organizations, does not deem the figures reliable enough to use in
To calculate body composition, most teachers simply weigh students, sometimes with a scale brought from home. This is the least accurate of the three options the state gives test
administrators, according to Department of Education Administrator Linda Hooper. The most accurate is to pinch children's arms and legs to measure body fat.
More students and parents opt out of the body-composition test than any other part of the fitness assessment, and the state sometimes changes its definition of a healthy weight,
making it hard to compare data year-to-year.
Health Services number cruncher Jennifer Lifshay, who puts together the organization's indicators report, has reservations about the obesity data but uses them, she says,
because "it's the only source we have."
Health Services compiles its report by ranking school districts by the percentage of fifth graders who fall outside of the healthy body composition range in the state fitness test.
As the state's main source of information about obesity in school-aged children, these statistics get used a lot.
The body-composition assessment is the most studied element of the state fitness test by far, according to Hooper. Advocates have used this data to argue on the state Senate
floor for school junk food bans and other nutritional standards for students.
Fitness test results should be consistent as long as the test is correctly administered, according to Matt Stewart, a West Contra Costa school district athletic director whom child
health advocates cite as an expert on the test.
Guided by the mantra that "consistency is everything," Stewart retrains his teachers annually to give the fitness test. His district's obesity rates have held remarkably steady over
the past decade.
The rates in West Contra Costa have been higher than average, reflecting a trend that students from low-income communities are more likely to be overweight.
Contra Costa school districts with a high percentage of overweight fifth graders are also home to a higher-than-average proportion of students who qualify for the free lunch
program, according to Health Services.
Students in the Tri-Valley school districts, which host many fitness initiatives, typically score well on the fitness test. In 2009, fewer than 20 percent of fifth graders in the Dublin,
Pleasanton, Castro Valley and San Ramon school districts failed the state's body-composition test.
Stewart calls districts like Rogers' that essentially opt out of the test "criminal" because, he says, they show a lack of regard for physical fitness.
"For someone to say it's not important to me is just nonsense," he said. "If you cut the test, it takes the credibility away from PE."
But Rogers argues that a small, cash-strapped district like his cannot afford to give the test this kind of attention.
"Is it our priority to teach students to read, write and do arithmetic," he said, "or to teach kids to do physical fitness?"
More than 10 percent of school districts in the state absorbed the budget cuts of the past two years in part by cutting back on physical education, according to a Department of
Education survey. Prohibited by law from eliminating physical education completely, districts are reducing the minutes of instruction or assigning gym duties to classroom teachers,
both for budget and curriculum reasons.
Parents need to take responsibility for their child's fitness, Rogers said.
"As my father-in-law always used to say, the best exercise you can do is pushing yourself away from the dinner table."
Rogers believes that the state is sending mixed messages by emphasizing standardized testing while at the same time taking away the resources districts might use to implement
these assessment programs.
He's unlikely to get any extra funding, though. The fitness test program, which costs the state about $3.5 million annually, only narrowly escaped the budget chopping block last fall.
Contact Hannah Dreier at 925-779-7174. Follow her at Twitter.com/hdreier.
The more I learn about the state of education in California, the more
alarmed I feel about the future of my children, as well as all the children of
California. Why are not parents up in arms? And why do not the state and our
communities rallying around Education? What kind of Future are we creating
by cheating kids out of a decent education Today?
With 51% of parents' support, parents have the power to fire inefficient principals
and teachers, or start charter schools.
PTAs need to unite and do something bigger and more profund than the usual
business of fundraising and selling different company chocolates and wrapping
paper.It does not
make sense that these activities are supposed to make up for the millions of dollars
missing in schools that would give all kids a well-rounded education.
I think we need to unionize in a big way to defend Education in the long run and our
Children of Today. Schools are supposed to be for children, not to give
administrators excessive salaries and teachers, whether good or bad, tenure after
This is an example from the City of Alameda: Alamedasos.org (from their website:)
All it takes is more parents making unified demands for quality and equality in
education! Nobody is a better advocate for our children than us. We should trust no
The bad state of public school has long been undeniable. For me, the catalyst was
having a child in school with a bad teacher. It was like starting to pull on a thread,
and then you find the whole thing unraveling. I found too much amiss, too many
problems, and now I'm wondering how to fix it. Where to begin? It's not just the
teacher, the principal, the district, the school board, the department of education...
it's the whole chain.
I think change is inevitable, hopefully sooner than later. But, my kids are in public
school right now, and, as a parent, I want change to happen now!
Parents need somewhere to go to find information and be empowered by a group to
demand information.I thought this could be a start for parents in Newark...then you
can go to ''Parents Unite" and you will see, there are groups and people like me,
and maybe you, out there.
I feel better already,
Who we are
Alameda Save Our Schools (Alameda SOS) is the campaign organization for the next parcel tax measure for Alameda public schools. We’re currently building the operational
infrastructure and raising the funds necessary to execute an effective campaign if and when the Board of Education places a measure on the ballot for March 2011.
We hope that everyone who supports a new parcel tax for Alameda schools will volunteer to be part of Alameda SOS. Day-to-day campaign activities will be managed by an
Executive Committee and assisted by subcommittees focusing on specific operational areas. The current leadership of Alameda SOS consists of:
- Seamus Wilmot, Treasurer
- Sarah Olaes, Volunteer Chair
- Julie Hong, Deputy Volunteer Chair
- Brad Hayward, Communications Chair
- Anne DeBardeleben, Fundraising Chair
- Laria Pippen, Deputy Fundraising Chair
- Andy Currid, Data Management Chair
- Rob Siltanen, Campaign Coordinator
- Page Barnes, Legal
The campaign organization will continue taking shape this fall. We’re committed to delivering a clear community message about what’s at stake for Alameda and its schools,
communicating frequently and proactively with our volunteers, and being responsive to the great ideas suggested by everyone who wants to be part of this critical campaign effort.
We want to hear from you!
I think 99% schools need an SOS group and that we together need to make a SOS
umbrella for California.