Local schools win Big Lots grant money

For some reason I want to read a Skippyjon Jones book. Creative Commons License photo credit: amsd2dth

Congratulations to Elk Grove Unified’s Franklin Elementary School and Sheldon High School and Robla School District’s Taylor Street Elementary School, who were 3 of the 45 schools to win “Big Lots Lots2Give” prize money. From the contest website:

We asked participating schools to put their creativity to the test by submitting a short video and brief essay explaining why their school is in need of financial support. Then we turned to the public to select the winners by voting for their favorite video. Cash prizes include one $10,000 grand prize and forty-five $2,000 first prizes.

I know that cynicism gets old, but I am cynical about these big corporate “charity” social networking programs. In addition to Big Lots you’ve got the Pepsi Refresh Project and more locally the Raley’s Reach grants. My skepticism only goes so far, because at the end of the day these are actual charity programs and various groups are actually benefiting from them. Charities that fund public school projects in particular are doing great work, as governments consistently fail these schools. But these programs all leave a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to methodology.

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Last day of school at John Paul II

IHMs (nuns) at work in the classroom at All Hallows Parish School 1966

When the bell rings shortly at John Paul II School in Tahoe Park, it will be Alice Cooper’s dream come true: Schooool’s out. For. Evah. The Catholic Diocese is closing the school and allowing its students to transfer to the new Saint Patrick SUCCEED Academy on the former campus of St. Patrick Elementary School in South Sac.

According to what I have been told, the Diocese currently has no plans to lease out this great old brick school facility. There are still people involved with the All Hallows Parish who might be able to use the facility in the future for educational programs. Me, I’d love to see a public charter school open up there.

John Paul II School opened in 2005 as a merger between All Hallows and St. Peter’s Parish Schools. All Hallows Parish School opened on the site in 1948.

The Sac Bee has a nice photo gallery of the last day of school at Sacred Heart (my alma mater), which opens a new campus across the street this fall. But no mention of JPII.

Natomas Unified school library closures

The Sac Bee brings out the sad news that Natomas Unified School District has closed all of its elementary school libraries. It certainly seems like things are spiraling out of control, doesn’t it?

The article includes a foreboding quote from Martha Rowland, district coordinator of library services for Sac City Unified:

“I’m proud of our superintendent and his vision” … “I don’t know how that vision will be funded, but he has the right idea – that libraries are important to kids.” (emphasis mine)

Sac City parents are dreading the dropping of the other shoe on that one …

What passes for science these days?

Thousands of intermediate grade elementary school students will be at the Capitol building on May 19 for “State Scientist Day.” The event is sponsored by the California Association of Professional Scientists, a group that one assumes knows a thing or two about science. The kids who attend this event, however, will probably still only know literally a thing or two about science when it is over, as some of the topics covered are “Fishing in the City” and “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.”

I’m stretching a bit, as the other topics on State Scientist Day agenda do sound like hard science — chemistry, wildlife tracking and earthquakes for example. This event is my hook into discussing something I’ve been bugged by lately: the sorry state of science education in California.

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