Tough love from Berkeley professor

Just read “A letter to my students,” a blog post from UC Berkeley professor of public policy Michael O’Hare. In it, prof. O’Hare apologizes to incoming freshmen for the “swindle” that has wrecked California over the last 30 years and exhorts them to start working to change it.

It’s a blog, so he gets away with a generation-sized straw man — at one point literally putting words in the mouth of millions of voters — because it’s such an impassioned piece. He places blame for our current predicament solely on tax-hating voters (even, mind-frakkingly, safe districts!?), ignoring the generation-long dearth of sanity in the Capitol building. I wouldn’t give Abel Maldonado or Darrell Steinberg an extra $1000 even if it was to get them to fight each other to the death. But everything he says about the current situation, especially as it pertains to education, is undoubtedly true and his piece is definitely worth a read.

A letter to my students, by Michael O’Hare, from The Berkeley Blog

STAR test results show slow growth

The 2010 California Standardized Testing and Reporting results were released Monday, and overall the picture continues to be grim, though there are mild improvements over last year:

Fifty-two percent of the students are proficient in English, while 48 percent are proficient in math – an increase of two percentage points in each over last year.

Results in Sac City Unified are basically flat, with 1-3% improvements over last year’s summary scores. The “Science End-of-Course” scores went up by 5%, which is a welcome sight for people concerned with the state of science education these days.

Where was I? Hella hard to find

Where am I?  These guys are hella tight.
Why do I have craving for a high quality meal at a competitive price?

This story about the UC Davis physics undergraduate trying get the word “hella” to be accepted as a unit of measure, distance, etc. is quite entertaining. The comments of course are choice. Is he the smartest dude ever? Or, is he totally stupid? Such a lame debate. Whatever.

Oh, speaking of, did anyone ever use the word “moded” when someone was embarrassed or insulted? You got moded! Just curious if that was specific to my junior high or what.

St. Francis Elem. School to move to Tahoe Park

Sac Bee reports that earthquake retrofit rules will force the St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School to relocate… to the former site of John Paul II School in Tahoe Park.

[St. Francis Principal Laurie] Power said estimates for the retrofitting have come in between $3 million to $5 million.

“We obviously don’t have that kind of money lying around in our checkbooks,” Power said. “It will take a lot of planning.”

Funny, the only reason there is an empty site is that the diocese didn’t have a dime to save John Paul II. I am happy though that the site in Tahoe Park won’t go unused.

SCUSD survey deadline has passed

UPDATE: The two surveys offered by SCUSD have expired, and the district promises to make the results public as soon as possible.

Today is the last day to take two surveys prepared by Sac City Unified School District, who is facing a $30 million budget deficit. One survey intends to find respondent’s views toward the overall strategic plan for the district, and the other focuses on specific areas that could be targeted for cuts.

The surveys are linked off the SCUSD Website.

And as always, remember the district’s motto: Success For Every Student By Name. That still gets me every time. Did I have a mini stroke at some point and am I completely missing the meaning of that phrase?

Sac City Open Enrollment Fair Saturday

I mean to blog this earlier in the week, but if you’re a current or potential Sac City Unified parent, you might want to check out the “Showcase of Schools/Open Enrollment Fair” tomorrow:

The fair is the place to go for information about SCUSD schools and programs and meeting principals, students and teachers from all schools in the district. Translators will be available. Families will also be able to learn more about the February 2010 open enrollment application process which will allow students to apply to schools not in their neighborhood attendance area. Representatives from local colleges and technical institutes will be available with information about their programs and to answer questions about how to apply at their
colleges or institutes. District staff from offices such as Special Education, Child Development, and Health Services will also be on hand.

The fair will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 7) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Serna Center, 5735 47th Ave.

Country Day moving to the grid

Newton Booth SchoolThe Sac Press reports that Country Day School is close to signing a lease for the old Newton Booth school building. I had not followed this story so I had no idea, but as a former Newton Booth resident I am glad the school will be getting some use. Country Day’s student newspaper The Octagon reported in March (in a very well written article! Kudos, Page Editor Calvin Fernandez) that the school “hasn’t historically gotten along with its Sierra Oaks neighbors,” another fact of which I was not aware. I wonder why, and I wonder how they will get along with the Newton Booth folks.

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“Success For Every Student By Name”

Success for this student by name: Melvin Van Nerdlinger
Success for this student by name: Melvin Van Nerdlinger

It’s that time of year again, with schools opening from Rocklin to Dixon, and so I return to one of the biggest educational mysteries of the Sacramento region: the enigma that is Sac City Schools’ motto: “Success For Every Student By Name.” I have blogged about this before, when at the time I thought it was merely the motto for the open enrollment department. But with Sac City’s website undergoing a redesign for the new school year (actually I believe it’s been completely re-engineered, not just redesigned) that motto is right there staring me in the face, daring me to either stand up and challenge its naked lack of sense or sit politely and accept that the Emperor’s new motto is quite beautifully crafted.

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“1st-Grader Threatens To Shoot Classmate”

green gun
not this kid… or WAS IT???

KCRA reports:

A first-grader at a Sacramento school threatened to shoot a classmate over an argument, police said.

Authorities were called to Caroline Wenzel Elementary School at 6870 Greenhaven Drive at 11:45 a.m. Monday to assist school officials with an investigation, Officer Norm Leong said.

The 6-year-old’s father was contacted and advised of the threat. No arrests were made.

Investigation? No arrests made? You don’t say. I’m glad the principal, Judy Montgomery/Philip Moore according to SCUSD’s website, didn’t decide to go off book and handle this themselves. If this was my kid, I would be so livid that I would probably forget to scold him for being such a dingbat. Is that really the district’s policy when it comes to these things?

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Segregation(?!) at Elk Grove schools

Supernintendo ChalmersAs the Bee reports today, administrators at several schools in the Elk Grove school district are going “old school” to motivate their kids to take standardized tests this spring — as in segregating them by race for motivational speeches:

Students at Laguna could go to any rally they wanted, but the gatherings were designated for specific races – African Americans in the gym, Pacific Islanders in the theater, Latinos in the multipurpose room.

What incredible bad taste and stupidity on the part of the district. If their concern really was to allow staff to “talk about test scores without making any one ethnic group feel singled out in a negative manner,” why not take ethnicity out of the question! Why not give all the kids a pep talk about how they can all do better?

Continue reading “Segregation(?!) at Elk Grove schools”