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[Fwd: Re: Mark Woo's Proposal]

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  • c_travlos
    These comments were not from me, they got sent to the moderator s account. When I forwarded them that information apparently got cut off so I can t tell you
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 10, 2009
      These comments were not from me, they got sent to the moderator's account. When I forwarded them that information apparently got cut off so I can't tell you who wrote them. Sorry for the confusion.
      Cathy

      --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com, Cathy Travlos <cbt@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > Hi Tammy,
      >
      > I understand your concerns and preference for a middle school and respect your choice. But overall, as a community, we have to use the tax monies that are in one pot in the best interest of everyone. We are destroying a very successful 6 year program for a 2 yr? program (some say the new middle school will have 7 and 8 only) So far, there has never been a truly successful full inclusion program in the district, other than Castro, where special ed students can receive all the services they need from an excellent staff and get the help they need in order to not fall behind, without any separation from their peers or any stigma attached to their differences. The results have been of great success. UC Davis Mind Institute, UCSF, DREDF will all sing the praises of Castro's achievement. The school's API of 805 is only second to the top scoring schools in the area: Madera and Kensington. But when you look at the challenges of the student body at Castro, a challenge which neither of the two other schools mentioned have, that API appears to be higher than theirs. It is an incredible success story. My pain is how divisive our community became and literally ganged up against a school that provides such a valuable service to the most vulnerable to get a program for two or at most three years. I was just talking to a mother, who lives in Piedmont school district, with a special needs son. She is having to commute to Santa Rosa daily (I am not kidding, it is not a typo-- she commutes to Santa Rosa daily to a school that can provide the education her son needs so he can prepare for college and be in an environment that is not injurious to his self esteem in the process.) Her tuition is 38+ K/yr. When she heard which school district I lived in, her first comment was: "But why don't you just put your child at Castro? We thought about moving to El Cerrito for it.." But once her district agreed to pay the 38K/yr., they went with a very well known private school in Santa Rosa. She was shocked to hear that our district was closing Castro to build a middle school. Her question was: "Why there?" I did not know whether to cry or laugh at her innocent question. People who have attacked the school to get the site have not investigated why the school is so important but have only considered what they need and prefer. So we are destroying a valuable resource that has been accomplished with all our taxpayer monies over the years and we are not really prepared to deal with the fallout from it. The federal fund does not drop the ball on special ed even when other funds have to be cut for this very reason. Some children are too difficult to educate and when someone does a good job of it and the children and families are happy, you don't touch it. There is going to be a fallout from Castro. The only option now is for all schools and families in the area to open their campuses and resources to those students and be willing to share. Fairmont alone will not be sufficient to handle the problem and their buildings are falling apart, their play areas already impacted. A new school environment may simply not work for all the children. That can get things very expensive for all of us. It is not sensible to take away a great solution to a very difficult problem in order to find a solution to another problem, when you can find alternatives that work well. We all need a middle school, whether it is a K-8 or a separate one. That is not the real big discussion. How you go about it, how much money you spend, what kind of an expense you create in the process, what resources you use and what resources you do not touch for they are too valuable should have been included in the discussion. People say close Castro, but they do not necessarily want to help the children with whom Castro has excelled. So that will have to change now. We will be getting a middle school, but we will get other things with it that we are not quite prepared for. There will be no more Castro that people so happily put their children at and those children will still need placement and comparable education. This will not only impact Fairmont; it will impact all the schools. The whole community will have to transform and change their expectations and learn to live with differences in an environment of mutual respect and learn to respond to the different needs of those children in the same environment that their children go to school. But nobody is discussing that yet. People are trying to make the appropriate placement choice for children they have not even met. By law and for a very good reason, that decision gets made by a team of experts and the parents of the children.
      >
      > --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com, Tammera Campbell <tammeracampbell@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Mark,
      > > I have to differ in your assessment of K-8 for gifted and talented children. I for one was a gifted child and so are both my sons. All three of us attended a junior high school, grades 7-8. All three of us received a great education that prepared us to go onto high school and to college. Myself to Cal Berkeley, my oldest now at Cal Poly SLO and hopefully my youngest to UNR. If you ask my sons today, "would you have gone to Ellerhorst for 7th and 8th grades?", both of them would have resoundly replied HELL NO! If you ask my accelerated high school students at Pinole Valley High if they would have liked attending their elementary school rather than Pinole Middle, they would reply ARE YOU FOR REAL! As a matter of fact some of them attended a school board meeting recently and heard all the discussion about middle school and K-8 and they all asked me why would anyone want to stay at their elementary school when Pinole Middle offers you so
      > > much more.
      > >
      > > I have gone through the middle school years with my kids and am very thankful for the experience. It helped me become a better parent and taught me how to better relate to kids and their parents. I got involved at Pinole Middle when my kids attended. I soon learned that all those horrible tales about kids in middle school were not true. These are young kids turning into teenagers who need our guidance and support. Now mind you there are kids in the crowd that may benefit better from a more controlled environment, but my boys were ready to grow up and fly. There were able to take wood shop, computers, leadership, yearbook, art, music, etc. They learned to go from one class to another and be responsible to multiple teachers. They learned how to work a locker and dress for PE. They learned to manuever the pre-teen gauntlet and become the incredible human beings they are now. I fought hard to make a better junior high for my kids and I
      > > knew I made the right decision when I saw them flourish and I knew I made the right decision when I discovered I became a better human being from this experience.
      > >
      > > I know that it is truly hard for parents to take that leap of faith, but if you have a really strong parent group who follows their students, you too can make a great difference for your kids and others. There are some wonderful teachers in middle school and with a strong parent group and principal the world can be your child's.
      > > Tammy Campbell
      > >
      > > --- On Sun, 1/18/09, Mark Wood <fangwoo@> wrote:
      > >
      > > From: Mark Wood <fangwoo@>
      > > Subject: Re: [wccusdtalk] Re: Mark Woo's Proposal
      > > To: wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date: Sunday, January 18, 2009, 10:25 PM
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Actually 61% of the Kensington parents responded to the survey and 80% said they would send their child to a K-8 if offered. The number is actually higher, since we were not able to track whether a single survey might have been returned for a family with multiple students.
      > >
      > > Also, I have not seen any research that shows that K-8 schools are inappropriate for gifted and high achieving students. It sounds like from your statement that State GATE standards recommend certain things for such students, but that is very different from saying that K-8 is inappropriate for them.
      > >
      > > Mark
      > >
      > > --- On Sun, 1/18/09, c_travlos <cbt@triplering. net> wrote:
      > >
      > > From: c_travlos <cbt@triplering. net>
      > > Subject: [wccusdtalk] Re: Mark Woo's Proposal
      > > To: wccusdtalk@yahoogro ups.com
      > > Date: Sunday, January 18, 2009, 6:54 PM
      > >
      > > I agree with you that one size fits all usually doesn't work. However,
      > > as far as K8 goes the population that is best served by that grade
      > > configuration, according to the research that the K8 group cited, is
      > > highly urban, socio-economically disadvantaged with students who are
      > > struggling. Neither Kensington nor Olinda nor Castro fits that
      > > description. I think it's also important to remember that the survey
      > > that was done at Kensington several years ago had far less than half
      > > the families respond. It's hard to draw accurate conclusions without
      > > real data. It's also important to remember that all the current
      > > research shows that K8 configurations aren't appropriate for gifted
      > > and high achieving students; per state GATE standards they need the
      > > chance to accelerate and to have appropriate curriculum in the visual
      > > and performing arts, which is difficult to do with such a small
      > > population.
      > >
      > > I'm interested in knowing if the Stege or Washington school
      > > communities are interested in converting their schools to K8. Does
      > > anyone know?
      > >
      > > Cathy
      > >
      > > --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogro ups.com, "Catherine Mercurio"
      > > <catherine@ ..> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > I am a Kensington parent who has worked in the district promoting
      > > both the
      > > > K-8 option and middle school option for our children; one size does
      > > not fit
      > > > all and too many children and their families are leaving the district.
      > > > Unfortunately, there are families in the Kensington community who
      > > transfer
      > > > out of Kensington Elementary starting in the third grade for various
      > > > reasons, not the least of which is the concern about the middle school
      > > > option. The current district demographic study shows that more than
      > > half of
      > > > the students in grades 4-6 are transfers. When Kensington and El
      > > Cerrito
      > > > residents leave the school, ADA dollars leave with them. In
      > > studying K-8 a
      > > > few years ago, there were families at Kensington who said that they
      > > would
      > > > stay if Kensington were to become a K-8 school. Perhaps if these same
      > > > Kensington families had K-8 as an option, they would stay around
      > > long enough
      > > > and actually choose to go to middle school.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Others on this site have questioned whether Kensington should even be
      > > > considered for K-8. Mark Woo proposed three K-8 schools in the El
      > > Cerrito
      > > > High School family because his proposal calls for a middle high at El
      > > > Cerrito High for approximately 400 students and the balance of
      > > middle school
      > > > students in this family would be educated in a K-8 school or go to a
      > > nearby
      > > > middle school (Adams). The three K-8 schools suggested in his
      > > scenario are
      > > > Kensington, Washington and Stege. While I cannot speak for his
      > > reasoning in
      > > > selecting these three schools, I can speak to the history of both
      > > Kensington
      > > > and Washington's past interest in becoming K-8 and recommendation of
      > > these
      > > > schools in previous studies. In addition, two of the three
      > > remaining feeder
      > > > elementaries - Madera and Harding (both renovated) - are too small to be
      > > > K-8. In Mark's proposal, Castro remains open and includes students
      > > from the
      > > > closed Fairmont; Castro could be one of the K-8 schools. Another option
      > > > would be to close Castro and some of its students move to Fairmont;
      > > Fairmont
      > > > could then be one of the K-8 schools.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > At a recent meeting in Kensington to discuss the current district school
      > > > closure process, Kensington's principal indicated that Kensington
      > > currently
      > > > only has room for an additional 15 students based upon current building
      > > > capacity and that the teachers voted against K-8 at Kensington. I
      > > do not
      > > > know how the Kensington teachers were presented with the proposal of
      > > K-8 at
      > > > Kensington. One could assume that if the teachers were presented
      > > with the
      > > > information that there is only room for 15 additional students and
      > > that the
      > > > elementary student population would have to shrink to allow for K-8, the
      > > > teachers would not want K-8. I would like to point out that
      > > district staff
      > > > did an analysis of school district capacity provided to those of us
      > > on the
      > > > district K-8 subcommittee; this analysis showed that the Kensington
      > > campus
      > > > had a capacity of 649 due to an approximate site size of 10 acres.
      > > > Kensington currently has an enrollment of approximately 545. The
      > > district
      > > > has guidelines that elementary schools should be 450 to 800 students and
      > > > that K-8's can be created with the use of portables.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Clearly, there would need to be further discussion of the feasibility of
      > > > adding portables to any campus proposed as a K-8. In fact, the K-8
      > > district
      > > > subcommittee had recommended to the board that any school interested in
      > > > becoming a K-8 form its own committee (with information provided by
      > > district
      > > > staff) to determine the feasibility. Needless to say, the previous
      > > school
      > > > board did not support this course of action.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > In addition, it was also discussed at the recent Kensington meeting,
      > > and by
      > > > some on this site, that a K-8 cannot offer the range of courses
      > > offered by a
      > > > middle school and can't adequately prepare a child for higher education.
      > > > While I respect this opinion, I again wish to reiterate that one
      > > size does
      > > > not fit all. For those parents who want a broader range of classes for
      > > > their children, a middle school option needs to exist. Other parents
      > > > believe that a K-8 option is best for their children and they can
      > > provide
      > > > the "electives" and challenging coursework outside the school. The only
      > > > existing district K-8 school is Stewart and the K-8 district
      > > subcommittee
      > > > studies showed that electives were provided, test scores were good, and
      > > > there was (and is) a waiting list to enroll.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > As a school district, we need to find ways to keep families in our
      > > schools.
      > > > I hope that my current fourth grader will stay in this school district
      > > > because I do believe in public school education. Kensington does
      > > not have
      > > > to become a K-8 and Portola does not have to be rebuilt in order to
      > > convince
      > > > me to stay - I just want to know that my daughter will have the
      > > opportunity
      > > > for a solid education through the middle grades in a facility that
      > > is safe
      > > > and conducive to her learning.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > _____
      > > >
      > > > From: wccusdtalk@yahoogro ups.com [mailto:wccusdtalk@ yahoogro ups.com] On
      > > > Behalf Of c_travlos
      > > > Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2009 9:16 AM
      > > > To: wccusdtalk@yahoogro ups.com
      > > > Subject: [wccusdtalk] Re: Mark Woo's Proposal
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > At a faculty meeting 2 weeks ago teachers were asked if they supported
      > > > Kensington becoming a K8. Two teachers abstained, the rest voted
      > > > unanimously that they did NOT want Kensington to become a K8. They
      > > > aren't necessarily all against the idea of K8 but they are all against
      > > > Kensington becoming K8.
      > > > Cathy
      > > >
      > > > --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogro <mailto:wccusdtalk% 40yahoogroups. com>
      > > ups.com,
      > > > jim cowen <jimcowen@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > Greg wrote that one reason he is against K8 at Kensington is a
      > > > belief that teachers there won't support it. He asked if anyone has
      > > > asked the teachers.
      > > > >
      > > > > In November 2005 the district conducted a survey of parents and
      > > > teachers regarding K8. When asked "Would you support WCCUSD offering
      > > > more K8?", among Kensington teachers 12 said YES, 2 said NO, and 5
      > > > were undecided.
      > > > > When asked "Would you be willing to work at a WCCUSD K-8?", 15 said
      > > > YES, 2 said NO, and 2 were undecided.
      > > > >
      > > > > (Also, parents were asked if they plan to enroll their student in
      > > > WCCUSD for middle school. At Kensington only 27% said yes. But when
      > > > asked if they would enroll if K8 was offered, 80% said yes)
      > > > >
      > > > > Greg, in light of the fact that your opposition to Mark's plan was
      > > > based on missing information, and the correctinformation is contrary
      > > > to your assumptions, can you now support Mark's plan?
      > > > >
      > > > > Jim
      > > > > --- On Mon, 1/12/09, gregorychang <gregorychang@ > wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > From: gregorychang <gregorychang@ >
      > > > > Subject: [wccusdtalk] I Oppose Mark Woo's Proposal
      > > > > To: wccusdtalk@yahoogro <mailto:wccusdtalk% 40yahoogroups. com> ups.com
      > > > > Date: Monday, January 12, 2009, 9:47 AM
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > I am against Mark Woo's plan for a couple of reasons.....
      > > > >
      > > > > Also, has anyone asked the teachers at schools such as Kensington and
      > > > > Stege how they would feel about having their schools converted to K-8?
      > > > > If the teachers who are there every day don't support it, then why
      > > > > should we?
      > > > >
      > > > > --Greg Chang.
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