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Re: K8 option and middle schools No School Board action

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  • rebecca494
    I have a different take on this than either Robert or Mark. I don t see any reason why the WCCUSD needs to create a senior community center for the citizens of
    Message 1 of 31 , Apr 30, 2007
      I have a different take on this than either Robert or Mark. I don't
      see any reason why the WCCUSD needs to create a senior community
      center for the citizens of El Cerrito by doing the land swap. I simply
      don't understand why the needs of the students of the WCCUSD go after
      the needs of the community. I can remember when the El Cerrito Youth
      Soccer League wanted to buy the blacktop from the district for
      $100,000 and everyone, by that I mean the City Council and the School
      Board was willing to go along with it. I put up a real fuss on that
      one. The lower blacktop belongs to the WCCUSD and the students.
      Now Robert wants to turn it into a mega senior center. As if us baby
      boomers aren't going to be held responsible for enough, this is just
      too much.

      At some point the educational needs of the students have to be paramount.

      Now Mark, I do believe in the middle school concept. K-8 cannot
      provide the students with all the skills they need to succeed in high
      school. But, I think the Fairmont removal is not the answer either. I
      find it abhorrent that our public officials would even consider
      imminent domain to remove people from their homes. It really seems
      cold and uncaring. If a senior citizen community center can be created
      on the blacktop at Portola, I don't see why a decent middle school
      can't be. If too many schools are made K-8 there will no longer be
      first place awards for the Bands such as just occurred with ECHS.
      Music cannot be made unless the elementary musicians come together at
      middle school. K-8 schools cannot have the kind of art classes that
      middle schools can; there might not be dance classes, etc.

      There is also the socialization factor. This cannot be
      underestimated. In this state being able to negotiate among this
      society, as it is, whether we like it or not, is a real plus for our
      children, and colleges factor this in to their admissions criteria.

      Rebecca Hazlewood



      --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Studdiford" <robert@...> wrote:
      >
      > I have a different take on this than you do Mark,
      >
      > I think that when we look at the relocation we must take several
      things into
      > consideration that don't always come to the forefront of thought.
      >
      > If the city and the district were to swap land at the Portola and
      Fairmont
      > sites and the residential properties on the Fairmont site could be
      purchased
      > for reasonable prices I think the city, the district and the
      community as a
      > whole would come out of the process with a much improved system of
      > delivering basic needs of a community to the community.
      >
      > First, having many city services such as a recreation center, senior
      center,
      > library and community center all located next to each other means
      quite a
      > lot to the community over the next 50 years.
      >
      > Having elderly parents that both do water therapy and take part in
      senior
      > activities at centers like the ones here in El Cerrito, makes me
      wish they
      > were closer to each other and more accessible where they live so
      that their
      > lives were easier. Recent real-estate figures state that only 1/4 of
      our Bay
      > Area population has children or any connection to children in
      schools and
      > they too are paying the taxes for our schools. I say this because I
      think a
      > large portion of our community that would benefit from having a Senior
      > Center located next to so many city services.
      >
      > A library built on the old Portola site would conveniently be
      located by 4
      > schools that could walk to it and utilize it as well as anyone at
      the senior
      > center or community center.
      >
      > If El Cerrito was to have a Rec Center with a real gym the children
      of our
      > community would have a greater opportunity to play organized
      sports. Other
      > classes could be held there for health, fitness and recreation for
      all ages.
      >
      > I support a new middle school because from my own experience with our
      > children they both needed the interaction and stimulation that
      middle school
      > delivers. You point out flat test scores as a reason to question Board
      > members Pfeiffer and Ramsey's ability to address the issue but I
      would point
      > out that in the last 6 months there have been many changes both in
      > administration and student attitude on campus and you won't be able
      to see
      > the test scores until spring to see if what was enacted had any
      affect. I do
      > think the district and Board are intent on addressing the middle school
      > issues and we should all watch the June Board meetings to see just what
      > we're in for as that is when Dr. Harter will putting action items on the
      > Boards agenda that relate to the MGT study.
      >
      > I think that if many of the parents from this district that send their
      > children off to private school "invested a little of their time" and
      donated
      > a fraction of the 16-19K they spend per year on private
      institutions...(to
      > the PTA maybe) they would make a much better institution that would
      serve
      > themselves and the community better than they would ever
      believe...but they
      > would have to participate, just like they do in private school.
      >
      > I want to live in this community until I'm old, real old.
      >
      > Robert
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > _____
      >
      > From: wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com [mailto:wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com] On
      > Behalf Of Mark Woo
      > Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2007 9:01 AM
      > To: wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [wccusdtalk] Re: K8 option and middle schools No School Board
      > action
      >
      >
      >
      > I have to say that I'm pretty skeptical of any any significant Board
      > action on improving education in the middle schools. Karen Pfeiffer
      > has been saying that Portola Middle School is on the verge of
      > greatness. When discussions happened around replacing Portola Middle
      > School, Karen Pfeiffer wrote in an e-mail that the Fairmont site
      > can "enhance educational opportunities" (see excerpt of her e-mail
      > below). Well, she never explains how the Fairmont site could do
      > this. While I'm hearing talk of Portola being on the verge of
      > greatness and that a site like Fairmont is helping us get there, I've
      > yet to hear of any explanation of how this is going to come about or
      > any evidence of it happening (certainly the flat test scores the last
      > three years don't support the purported turnaround). Just wishing
      > for it won't make it happen.
      >
      > Meanwhile, San Diego is creating seven K-8's in low-income
      > neighborhoods (see article below). Even though there is a cost to it
      > (about $1.3 million per school), remember that the cost for 2-3 K-8's
      > in conjunction with a smaller middle school is miniscule compared to
      > the $50+ million Portola replacement budget and the potential revenue
      > gains from retaining more students. I guess Charles Ramsey's and
      > Karen Pfeiffer's explanation in May 2006 when they voted against the
      > k-8 proposal that it is too complex doesn't apply to other school
      > districts like San Diego (or Oakland or Long Beach or Fresno, etc) or
      > at Superintendent Harter's previous jobs where he instituted K-8's.
      > And they must also believe that the multiple property transactions to
      > obtain City, State (the street that bisects the Fairmont site) and
      > private homes and amending El Cerrito's redevelopment plan with the
      > State to move Portola to the Fairmont site is going to be easier.
      >
      > Pfeiffer e-mail about Portola replacement
      > >>Second (I believe that this may be the second
      > >>most important criteria to only me since it has
      > >>been little discussed,) is it educationally
      > >>sound; will/can a site enhance educational
      > >>opportunities in some way? I think this
      > >>argument leads to either the Fairmont site or
      > >>the middle-high school concept. I believe all
      > >>of our students, the able and the challenged,
      > >>want the opportunity to try harder and learn
      > >>more. Putting our Middle School near our High
      > >>School allows easier articulation between the
      > >>curricula, the programs, the faculties and
      > >>enrichment activities. For instance middle
      > >>school students can use the theater at the High
      > >>School, advanced students can take one or more
      > >>classes at the High School. Teachers can easily
      > >>get together to talk about preparing 8th graders
      > >>for freshman classes. Could students who wanted
      > >>to begin Band as high school students take beginning band
      > >>at the middle school?
      >
      > San Diego Union Tribune article
      >
      > K-8 schools approved
      >
      > The San Diego school board this afternoon gave permission to seven
      > elementary schools to add middle school grades.
      > The schools expanding to kindergarten-through-eighth grade are:
      > Audubon, Bethune, Fulton, Golden Hill, Knox, Logan and Perkins
      > elementary schools. They are all located south of Interstate 8 in
      > predominantly underprivileged neighborhoods.
      > The board voted 4-1 to approve their expansions, with trustee
      > Katherine Nakamura voting no. Nakamura said the K-8 movement is
      > driven by a desire to undercut charter middle schools located near
      > the elementary schools.
      > Trustee Shelia Jackson said that the change is driven by parents who
      > want the option of keeping their children in their neighborhood
      > campuses, rather than having to bus them to schools elsewhere or send
      > them to charter schools.
      > It's expected to cost $9.5 million to add teachers, buildings and
      > textbooks to each of the campuses.
      >
      > --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogro <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      ups.com,
      > "Charley Cowens"
      > <charley.cowens@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Cathy-
      > >
      > > Your point about doing homework for specific issues through the
      > > committee system and staff is a good point, but I think what is also
      > > needed is some kind of overall named umbrella that ties together the
      > > different efforts in different committees. Part of marketing middle
      > > schools would certainly be the kind of "product development" work
      > you
      > > describe, but there also needs to be some kind of advertised message
      > > that the District really is taking middle school reform seriously
      > and
      > > that there is work being done on this.
      > >
      > > Charley Cowens
      > >
      > > On 4/13/07, Cathy Travlos <cbt@> wrote:
      > > > The board's academic subcommittee discussed double blocking early
      > in the
      > > > year. The topic is being revisited in May or June when there is
      > actual
      > > > data to show whether it's helping or not. If it's not, a policy
      > change
      > > > on double blocking will be discussed. Middle school curriculum in
      > > > general has also been discussed in relation to the revision of the
      > > > Secondary Course Offerings and Related Policies, due to come
      > before the
      > > > board at some point. Secondary curriculum has also been a topic
      > at the
      > > > district GATE meetings, both in relation to the CORP revision and
      > in
      > > > relation to the need for more rigorous classes. My gut feeling is
      > that a
      > > > lot of groundwork is being laid in preparation for board action.
      > These
      > > > committees post their agendas and minutes on the district web
      > page,
      > > > though I realize few of us have time to read everything posted.
      > > >
      > > > Personally, I'd rather the board took their time and did their
      > homework,
      > > > the whole purpose of having these district committees. I expect
      > to see
      > > > policy recommendations coming down the pipe at some point.
      > > > Cathy
      > > >
      > > > Charley Cowens wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > Ummmm...
      > > > >
      > > > > I think Jim made a very simple reasonable request at the
      > beginning of
      > > > > this thread for evidence of some kind of policy response about
      > middle
      > > > > schools. Last year, a community-driven initiative to
      > > > > examine/push/whatever K-8 as a grade configuration option for
      > some or
      > > > > all elementary schools was actually supported by our District.
      > > > > Ultimately a specific proposal to pilot some schools as K-8 was
      > voted
      > > > > down, rightly or wrongly, on a 3-2 vote by the Board. However,
      > it was
      > > > > conceded that something should be done about improving middle
      > schools
      > > > > even by Board members who had voted against K-8. So, where is
      > the
      > > > > policy?
      > > > >
      > > > > Discussing the shortcomings of parents in not volunteering
      > enough, how
      > > > > subcommittee meeting discussions are better, or expressing the
      > sense
      > > > > that a mighty wind is blowing are not real responses. There has
      > been
      > > > > no discussion of middle schools at the Board level, that I know
      > of,
      > > > > whether to just review what staff is doing or develop policy at
      > the
      > > > > Board level. No administrative programs announced that addressed
      > > > > strengthening middle school. No evidence of shifting resources
      > to the
      > > > > middle schools. Maybe administrative actions have been occurring
      > > > > already to improve things like reducing double-blocking to make
      > it
      > > > > easier to support electives, but, if so, no effort is being
      > made to
      > > > > publicize such concrete measures.
      > > > >
      > > > > Charley Cowens
      > > > > http://wccusd. <http://wccusd.blogspot.com> blogspot.com
      > <http://wccusd. <http://wccusd.blogspot.com> blogspot.com>
      > > > >
      > > > > On 4/12/07, Cathy Travlos <cbt@
      > > > > <mailto:cbt%40triplering.net>> wrote:
      > > > > > Having been out of town doing one last round of college
      > visits before my
      > > > > > daughter makes her decision, I was just getting caught up on
      > all this. I
      > > > > > agree 100% with everything Tammy said below. There's a new
      > sheriff in
      > > > > > town and I'm seeing changes. It took Gloria 5 years to
      > destroy all that
      > > > > > was good about our middle schools and we can't expect things
      > to be fixed
      > > > > > overnight. I'm hopeful that the fix is coming because of the
      > > > > > conversations at the district GATE meetings and the board
      > Academic
      > > > > > Subcommittee and in the back of the room during school board
      > meetings
      > > > > > and everywhere else. I think it's even more important for
      > parents to be
      > > > > > part of the process, and for the first time in years and
      > years we have a
      > > > > > superintendent who values parent input. Are things perfect?
      > Of course
      > > > > > not, but I'm seeing more of a feeling of teamwork than I've
      > seen, maybe
      > > > > > ever.
      > > > > > Cathy
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Tammera Campbell wrote:
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Kevin,
      > > > > > > As you well know I also have been at this for twenty plus
      > years and
      > > > > > > sat by you, Scottie, and Marsha at many school board
      > meetings for
      > > > > > > several of those years. This is what I know and believe,
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > 1. We must support and nuture our children no matter what
      > big brother
      > > > > > > may throw at us.
      > > > > > > 2. Though thanks is nice, we don't do this work as parents
      > for thanks,
      > > > > > > we do it because we love the children.
      > > > > > > 3. Parents are not allowed to grow tired and give up. All
      > the
      > > > > > > children's futures are at stake if we give up. I know that
      > you agree
      > > > > > > with this too, this is why you and Lynn did what you did
      > and are still
      > > > > > > participating now.
      > > > > > > 4. And yes, I do agree that the downtown school
      > administration over
      > > > > > > these last 20 years has been unresponsive and frankly
      > unsupportive.
      > > > > > > 5. But I see a change now when I hear that the curriculum
      > at Pinole
      > > > > > > Middle is changing drastically from the Gloria Johnston's
      > brain dead
      > > > > > > plan to what the kids need under Wendell Greer and Bruce
      > Harter.
      > > > > > > 6. I see the beginnings of change in safety on our campuses
      > because we
      > > > > > > are working hard to put systems in place to make things
      > change.
      > > > > > > 7. I see the beginnings of change when teachers at Kennedy
      > sacrifice
      > > > > > > much for their students and their students excel.
      > > > > > > 8. I see the beginnings of change when communication is
      > actually
      > > > > > > happening and partnerships are built between schools and
      > cities.
      > > > > > > 9. The new district administration has not even completed
      > one full
      > > > > > > year, but we expect miracles. It took us years to create
      > this disaster
      > > > > > > and it is going to take us years to fix it. Olinda did not
      > become the
      > > > > > > school it is over night.
      > > > > > > 10. And as for school closure, we need to assess this
      > situation
      > > > > > > carefully and come to some understanding just what small
      > schools cost
      > > > > > > this district. We need to look at the big picture and not
      > just look at
      > > > > > > our own small world at our own local school when we make
      > these
      > > > > > > decisions. If we deem small schools are what we desire,
      > then this
      > > > > > > community needs to rally to insure enough money to run it
      > all because
      > > > > > > the toll of small schools has been great on the whole
      > district (and I
      > > > > > > am not just talking about elementary level).
      > > > > > > 11. West county communities do not understand the full
      > picture of
      > > > > > > public educational funding. If they did this district would
      > be
      > > > > different.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > You see Kevin, I cannot give up and will not give up. There
      > are too
      > > > > > > many kids who don't have the option to go over the hill or
      > to a
      > > > > > > neighboring district. So as our volunteer pool erodes who
      > is going to
      > > > > > > take care of the kids who are left behind? Who is going to
      > look out
      > > > > > > for them?
      > > > > > > Tammy
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Kevin Rivard <kfrivard@ <mailto:kfrivard%40hotmail.com>
      > > > > <mailto:kfrivard%40hotmail.com>> wrote:
      > > > > > > Tammy,
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Here is why I feel most parents by the time their children
      > get to
      > > > > middle
      > > > > > > school and high school, back off in this district.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Lynn and I started in Murphy Elementary. We were on the PTA
      > board, the
      > > > > > > School Site Council (SSC), Braggin Dragon Committee (a
      > reading
      > > > > program),
      > > > > > > Lynn Volunteered in the Library two days a week to keep it
      > open
      > > > > for the
      > > > > > > kids. We supported each of our four children's teachers and
      > continued
      > > > > > > when
      > > > > > > Amber our fifth child started in Murphy four years after
      > her next
      > > > > oldest
      > > > > > > sibling. We volunteered at Murphy for 11 years straight and
      > then went
      > > > > > > also
      > > > > > > went onto the PTA and SSC at Adams Middle School. Lynn and
      > I were
      > > > > on the
      > > > > > > original Ed Fund Board for several years and did the
      > printing for the
      > > > > > > Teachers Excellence Award Dinner and helped on the night of
      > that event
      > > > > > > for
      > > > > > > the years we were part of that organization. In between all
      > this
      > > > > we went
      > > > > > > almost weekly to Board meetings and study sessions. Back
      > then the
      > > > > > > Board met
      > > > > > > 4 times a month. Two Board meetings and then two study
      > session
      > > > > > > meetings in
      > > > > > > between. I was on the Middle School Committee between 1994
      > and 1996
      > > > > > > meeting
      > > > > > > every two weeks. When Amber went to Richmond High I joined
      > the SSC and
      > > > > > > the
      > > > > > > II/USP committee. I helped bring portables to Richmond High
      > which the
      > > > > > > District refused to do for four years prior to me coming to
      > Richmond
      > > > > > > High.
      > > > > > > Before I left Richmond High I helped establish A PTSA there.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > I say all of this not to receive a pat on the back or to be
      > able to
      > > > > > > create a
      > > > > > > long list of Resume' scenario's but simply to point out I
      > have
      > > > > been there
      > > > > > > and done that and have a history of volunteerism that you
      > seem to
      > > > > think
      > > > > > > should be an obligation and and almost a mandate by parents.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > I have a different take on it. In all the years I did all
      > this work
      > > > > > > for the
      > > > > > > kids of this district I received no recognition from the
      > central
      > > > > > > office. I
      > > > > > > did not expect any nor did I complain about the lack of it.
      > > > > However, Lynn
      > > > > > > and I did receive many recognitions from those that did
      > appreciate our
      > > > > > > efforts. The Special Ed Citizens committee (CAC) recognized
      > our entire
      > > > > > > family at a You Make A Difference award night. Murphy
      > School gave
      > > > > Lynn a
      > > > > > > recognition award for all her efforts to keep the Library
      > open. I
      > > > > > > received
      > > > > > > an extremely nice recognition for getting the two portables
      > at
      > > > > > > Richmond High
      > > > > > > from the Principal at Richmond High.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > What Lynn and I received from the central administration was
      > > > > condemnation
      > > > > > > and ridicule. We were told by a reliable source that at one
      > meeting it
      > > > > > > was
      > > > > > > discussed how can we silence the Rivard's about their
      > continued
      > > > > > > questioning
      > > > > > > and public outcry of MRAD. The principal at Adams once told
      > Lynn
      > > > > and I he
      > > > > > > had been asked from central administration sources how he
      > could put up
      > > > > > > with
      > > > > > > the Rivard's on the SSC. When I went before the Board while
      > I was at
      > > > > > > Murphy
      > > > > > > and made a public complaint about problems at Murphy that
      > were being
      > > > > > > caused
      > > > > > > by Central Staff, Murphy's Principal was called on the
      > carpet to
      > > > > > > control his
      > > > > > > parents. I went to the next Board meeting and publicly told
      > Dr. Cole
      > > > > > > and the
      > > > > > > then School Board and all the administrators present that
      > if they
      > > > > had a
      > > > > > > problem with what I had said call me on the carpet but
      > leave my
      > > > > principal
      > > > > > > out of it, he has enough problems without the administration
      > > > > calling him
      > > > > > > down to Bissell to complain about a parent coming to the
      > School Board
      > > > > > > Meeting about district policy problems. Lynn and I have few
      > complaints
      > > > > > > about
      > > > > > > the local schools and because Lynn and I always worked
      > together in our
      > > > > > > kids
      > > > > > > schools we had each others support and made it through the
      > sling and
      > > > > > > arrows
      > > > > > > of insults from the central administration and became
      > stronger in our
      > > > > > > resolve to push forward even against those that wanted us
      > gone.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Now I come to why most parents stop supporting their
      > children's
      > > > > > > schools by
      > > > > > > not being physically on campus after elementary school.
      > Tammy I
      > > > > will use
      > > > > > > your example of Olinda since you so eloquently described the
      > > > > > > volunteerism at
      > > > > > > that school and what a difference it made. Year after year
      > the Olinda
      > > > > > > Community kept that school up for the kids. Parents
      > volunteered many
      > > > > > > hours.
      > > > > > > Lynn and I know personally of how long the community has
      > been
      > > > > involved in
      > > > > > > that school. Lynn's mom volunteered in that school over 35
      > years
      > > > > ago when
      > > > > > > Lynn's brothers went to Olinda. So let's take a scenario of
      > a
      > > > > mother who
      > > > > > > volunteers hours and hours at Olinda. Never really getting
      > > > > recognized for
      > > > > > > her work other than the teachers thank yous and the
      > satisfaction of
      > > > > > > seeing
      > > > > > > the children gain from her help. She and her husband help
      > to keep the
      > > > > > > infrastructure of the school up as much as the bureaucracy
      > will allow.
      > > > > > > She
      > > > > > > has three kids 7, 5 and 3 so her commitment to Olinda is
      > long
      > > > > term. Her
      > > > > > > oldest is now in 5th grade and the siblings in 3rd and
      > kindergarten.
      > > > > > > After
      > > > > > > having been volunteering for now 4 years and seeing another
      > 5 years of
      > > > > > > commitment to go she and her husband hear the district is
      > going to
      > > > > close
      > > > > > > Olinda.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Now she is asked to rally with the Olinda Community and go
      > to Board
      > > > > > > meetings, closures meeting, K-8 meetings, only to
      > continually hear
      > > > > > > from the
      > > > > > > School Board and Administration that the school needs to be
      > > > > closed. Then
      > > > > > > there is a reprieve but the possibility of closure is still
      > there. The
      > > > > > > mother and father are tired of having to continually
      > volunteer and
      > > > > > > then also
      > > > > > > fight against a system that seems bent on destroying the
      > very
      > > > > efforts the
      > > > > > > parents continue to support. They finally either find
      > another venue,
      > > > > > > private
      > > > > > > school, or they say, "We will send our kids to school and
      > do the
      > > > > best to
      > > > > > > support our kids and put our energies into our own kids and
      > let
      > > > > the other
      > > > > > > parents do the volunteer stuff." Unfortunately, most of the
      > other
      > > > > parents
      > > > > > > have had the same experience and feel the same way.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > You see Tammy I believe, it is not that parents don't want
      > to put more
      > > > > > > effort into the Middle and High School years, it is that
      > they have
      > > > > had to
      > > > > > > fight so hard against the bureaucracy for so long during the
      > > > > elementary
      > > > > > > years that most are battle worn by the time the kids hit
      > middle
      > > > > and high
      > > > > > > school that the parents are to frazzled to continue. As you
      > know in
      > > > > > > your own
      > > > > > > life the battle takes a great personal toll and most
      > parents cannot
      > > > > > > continue
      > > > > > > a 13 year war against a system, that has people who are
      > getting paid
      > > > > > > to keep
      > > > > > > the system as it is and a system that continues to circle
      > the wagons
      > > > > > > to keep
      > > > > > > the parents at a distance. If the parents saw along the way
      > in the
      > > > > > > elementary school years that their efforts were appreciated
      > and
      > > > > > > supported by
      > > > > > > the whole bureaucracy then I believe the support would
      > continue but
      > > > > > > for most
      > > > > > > volunteers it is feels like a demand and expectation, that
      > they be a
      > > > > > > volunteer and then their efforts are spat upon until they
      > just
      > > > > give up.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > This is one parents perspective after trying to change the
      > system that
      > > > > > > still
      > > > > > > is functioning the same way after 30 years and my case is
      > proven
      > > > > by the
      > > > > > > postings by Jim who along with his wife have given not only
      > to the
      > > > > > > schools
      > > > > > > but the outside children community as well.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Kevin
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > When I look at people like Jim and Cynthia who have done
      > their best
      > > > > > > with all
      > > > > > > the other volunteers and staff at Olinda who have tried to
      > keep a
      > > > > school
      > > > > > > together, for all the children, finally throwing in the
      > towel it
      > > > > > > saddens me.
      > > > > > > But what saddens me more is that there are people down at
      > Bissell
      > > > > who are
      > > > > > > relishing their surrender with glee. I know this and
      > Scottie Smith
      > > > > knows
      > > > > > > this and Marsha Williamson knows this and all the parents
      > who are
      > > > > still
      > > > > > > around, from the Parents Council, when we met in the Gym at
      > Helms
      > > > > Middle
      > > > > > > School know this. When one wonders why parents drop out of
      > the
      > > > > > > volunteering
      > > > > > > just look at how this district works to alienate the
      > parents while
      > > > > they
      > > > > > > volunteer in the elementary schools and you will have your
      > answer as
      > > > > > > to why
      > > > > > > there are so few parents in the higher grades.
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > Kevin
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >From: Tammera Campbell
      > > > > > > >Reply-To: wccusdtalk@yahoogro
      > <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com> ups.com
      > > > > <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > > > > <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > > > > >To: wccusdtalk@yahoogro <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      > ups.com
      > > > > <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > > <mailto:wccusdtalk%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > > > > >CC: robert@ <mailto:robert%40twofish.biz>
      > > > > <mailto:robert%40twofish.biz>, Maria Alegria ,
      > > > > > > David Cole
      > > > > > > >, Pete Murray
      > > > > > > , Mary Horton
      > > > > > > >, Stephen Tilton , Belinda
      > > > > > > >Espinosa , pinolechamber@
      > > > > <mailto:pinolechamber%40sbcglobal.net>
      > > > > > > <mailto:pinolechamber%40sbcglobal.net>, Cathy
      > > > > > > >Swift
      > > > > > > >Subject: Re: [wccusdtalk] K8 option and middle schools No
      > School
      > > > > Board
      > > > > > > >action
      > > > > > > >Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 18:02:28 -0700 (PDT)
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >Jim,
      > > > > > > > I do see a change on the horizon for middle schools next
      > year.
      > > > > > > >Regardless, it is a shame that you and the other 19% of
      > parents who
      > > > > > > do all
      > > > > > > >the work at Olinda wish not to do it for the kids of west
      > county. Can
      > > > > > > you
      > > > > > > >imagine what your energy would do? Can you imagine the
      > rise in test
      > > > > > > scores
      > > > > > > >just based upon your presence on the middle school campus?
      > Can you
      > > > > > > imagine
      > > > > > > >how many children you could touch and help shape their
      > lives? Can you
      > > > > > > >imagine the programs you could help start? Can you imagine
      > the change
      > > > > > > you
      > > > > > > >could invoke?
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > > Middle school years are tough on parents. The learning
      > curve is
      > > > > > > >emotional, but well worth it. My boys gained so much from
      > middle
      > > > > school
      > > > > > > >and it is not the horror story so many think it is. My
      > boys are
      > > > > better
      > > > > > > >teenagers because they went to Pinole Middle because of the
      > > > > variety of
      > > > > > > >courses they received and the teachers that taught them. I
      > love
      > > > > Pinole
      > > > > > > >Middle and will be forever grateful to that staff because
      > they
      > > > > helped me
      > > > > > > >grow as an individual and a parent. I truly learned what
      > it means to
      > > > > > > be a
      > > > > > > >parent for all kids.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > > The health of your community is tied directly to your
      > businesses and
      > > > > > > >schools. If we don't put effort into all our schools, not
      > just the
      > > > > > > >elementaries, then we get the what we get. Do not blame
      > just the
      > > > > school
      > > > > > > >board. That is a cop out. It takes every one of us to
      > participate to
      > > > > > > make
      > > > > > > >something better. It takes every one of us to push for a
      > movement to
      > > > > > > make
      > > > > > > >life better for our older children in this district. It
      > takes every
      > > > > > > one of
      > > > > > > >us to give a damn! When safety was an issue at PVHS, I did
      > the
      > > > > hard work
      > > > > > > >and pushed for the lanyards and the code of conduct. I can
      > > > > proudly say I
      > > > > > > >pushed and shoved my way to success. I didn't wait for the
      > school
      > > > > board
      > > > > > > >because I took the responsibility to make something happen
      > because IT
      > > > > > > IS MY
      > > > > > > >RESPONSIBILTY!
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > > Jim, have you really spent any time at any of these local
      > middle
      > > > > > > >schools. You can't just take one hour and visit, but you
      > must
      > > > > spend some
      > > > > > > >time and really get to know these kids. They need active
      > parents like
      > > > > > > >yourself to make a difference in their lives. I have a kid
      > at the
      > > > > high
      > > > > > > >school who got in trouble all the time last year and his
      > grades were
      > > > > > > poor.
      > > > > > > >Because of a dedicated teacher, Donelle Oda, and a little
      > prodding
      > > > > > > from me,
      > > > > > > >he now has a 3.2, is reaching for a 4.0 at the end of the
      > quarter,
      > > > > > > and is
      > > > > > > >thinking about actually running for class office next
      > year. He told
      > > > > > > me that
      > > > > > > >no one ever put faith in him to succeed. What a sad
      > comment on
      > > > > society
      > > > > > > >that he feels no one cares, but he knows that Donelle and
      > I love him.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > > We can either chose to touch the lives of children who
      > need
      > > > > support and
      > > > > > > >guidance or we can chose not too. I chose to participate.
      > > > > > > > Tammy
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >jim cowen wrote:
      > > > > > > > Tammera Campbell wrote:
      > > > > > > >...Jim. You made a statement that you have been waiting
      > for a year
      > > > > > > for our
      > > > > > > >school board to come up with a plan for our middle
      > schools. When
      > > > > did we
      > > > > > > >parents relinquish our responsibility for making our
      > middle schools
      > > > > > > >stronger? Why is it that you think the school board should
      > be the
      > > > > sole
      > > > > > > >responsible party for everything? ...
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >Jim answers:
      > > > > > > >When the school board voted down K8, the SCHOOL BOARD said
      > it
      > > > > wanted to
      > > > > > > >make middle schools the best around. Karen Pfeifer said
      > she wanted to
      > > > > > > make
      > > > > > > >the middle schools so great that students would flock to
      > them.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >If you would like to get me elected King, then I will be
      > happy to fix
      > > > > > > the
      > > > > > > >middle schools. But, for now, it is the SCHOOL BOARD that
      > gets
      > > > > the $half
      > > > > > > >million$ per year to spend. It is the SCHOOL BOARD that
      > hires and
      > > > > > > directs
      > > > > > > >the superintendent. It is the SCHOOL BOARD that sets
      > policy. It
      > > > > is the
      > > > > > > >SCHOOL BOARD that dictates which school gets what. And, of
      > > > > course, it is
      > > > > > > >the SCHOOL BOARD that PROMISED to make middle schools
      > great. And, it
      > > > > > > is the
      > > > > > > >SCHOOL BOARD that has NOT shown any plan or effort to fix
      > the middle
      > > > > > > school
      > > > > > > >problem.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >It is true, however, that parents ARE giving up on the
      > middle
      > > > > > > schools. Not
      > > > > > > >ALL parents. But here's a scary example using the old 80-
      > 20 rule. If
      > > > > > > 20% of
      > > > > > > >the parents in elementary schools do all the work (PTA's,
      > special
      > > > > > > projects,
      > > > > > > >etc), then the problem is that 19% of those parents are
      > heading
      > > > > off to
      > > > > > > >Orinda, Albany, or private schools. That leaves 1% of
      > parents doing
      > > > > > > all the
      > > > > > > >parent support work in middle schools.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >My prediction, and all the endless research done by the
      > district K8
      > > > > > > >committee and the Goldman School for Public Policy,
      > suggests that if
      > > > > > > WCCUSD
      > > > > > > >added K8's, a lot of those 19% of parents would come right
      > back.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >The SCHOOL BOARD made a PROMISE to fix middle schools. I
      > don't see
      > > > > > > any way
      > > > > > > >for them to do it, and don't see any plan. However, I DO
      > know how the
      > > > > > > >SCHOOL BOARD COULD fix 6-7-8 education almost overnight;
      > and that
      > > > > is by
      > > > > > > >offering a K8 option in WCCUSD.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >Jim Cowen
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >---------------------------------
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      > > > > > > >Browse Top Cars by "Green Rating" at Yahoo! Autos' Green
      > Center.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >---------------------------------
      > > > > > > >Never miss an email again!
      > > > > > > >Yahoo! Toolbar alerts you the instant new Mail arrives.
      > Check it out.
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > > >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > > > > >
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > > __________________________________________________________
      > > > > > > Download Messenger. Join the i'm Initiative. Help make a
      > difference
      > > > > > > today.
      > > > > > > http://im.live.
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      > com/messenger/im/home/?source=TAGHM_APR07
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      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
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      >
    • Tammera Campbell
      Mr. Woo, Thank you for providing information. I still contend that if all those elementary school parents actually took all their energy and put it toward the
      Message 31 of 31 , May 3, 2007
        Mr. Woo,
        Thank you for providing information. I still contend that if all those elementary school parents actually took all their energy and put it toward the middle schools, think of how much better those schools would be.

        I can only tell you from my direct experience over five years at Pinole Middle that the only thing I would have really changed was to get more parents involved and provide better parent education. The more parents, the better the school. Frankly the Pinole Middle School teachers embrace parent involvement. You have no idea how happy they were to find out that the PTSA would reimburse them $75 for school supplies. No one has ever really paid them much attention, but they still come out of pocket for our kids and they do a hard job teaching adolescents.

        It saddens me that for some reason some parents seem to opt out at this age level. Middle/high school years are the years our kids need us most. I presume that you are not at this age level at this time, but I can tell you it is a wonderful age. One full of many surprises for both parent and student.

        Like I said I would be willing to work even harder to ensure that my child would have the elective base that they have at Pinole Middle. I believe that providing those children with such opportunities gives them the world and having adult participation is paramount. Achievement is directly tied to how much the school community is involved in the school. Olinda did not have the scores it does today a couple of years back. Those scores came as a result of hard teamwork across the school. It took concerted parent involvement at that school to get it where it is. Why can't that effort be given to the middle school kids? They would exceed even your wildest dreams if our society gave them the time day.

        As I have stated, I am not against K-8 and would only oppose it if it take millions of dollars from the current budget to convert schools and provide the curriculum parents would demand. For years this district has enabled the elementary level to encroach on the general fund which takes a toll at the secondary level. Many small elementary schools can also take a toll on the budget. When you have a child at the high school level you will see what I mean. High school students are children too and they require an extraordinary amount of effort to educate. I know that you would not want to sacrifice their education.

        Parents need to fight for what they believe in, but you have to remember that for every decision which is made, there is an impact on someone else. Things are not black and white and to simplify major decisions across the district would be a disservice to others. I have been at this for over 20 years now and I have changed my mind numerous times because someone has taken the time to explain their side of the educational picture. I would hope that the community out their would change their mind and give to the middle school kids. They need our help and they deserve our love and attention.
        Tammy Campbell


        Mark Woo <fangwoo@...> wrote:
        As I said in my email, we don't know why so many families are leaving
        the District between elementary and middle school - though they are
        clearly leaving as evidenced by District attendance records we
        studied. That could have been answered by the survey if the District
        had been responsive. I think that if we want families to stay in the
        District we have to understand why they leave.

        I did venture a guess about why they might feel compelled to leave.
        It was NOT a statement about the families that stay. As for why
        District indifference becomes such a big issue at teh middle school
        level; middle grade education is complex and vexing for all schools.
        I would refer you to the Rand Corp study that I mentioned about the
        huge challenges. This immense challenge in middle grade education
        requires a school district that can think creatively and is willing
        to change when necessary. Since the Board rejected K-8 on the basis
        that it is too hard to do while numerous other urban schools
        districts are doing it; it signals to me that they want to maintain
        the status quo.

        Finally, K-8 supporters have always said that there should be a mix
        of K-8's with middle schools and that families should have a
        choice. The middle school sucess stories are to be applauded, but
        the overall low achievement and the loss of students means that we
        have to do better for the sake of all students.

        --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com, Tammera Campbell
        <tammeracampbell@...> wrote:
        >
        > Mr. Woo,
        > Your statement that parents leave because they see a poor
        performing middle school and an indifferent district saddens me.
        Isn't this the same district you seem to be happy with in the
        elementary school and that is why you stay and volunteer? Why does
        the district seem so indifferent the moment children arrive in the
        middle school years? And let me ask you, if all those high performing
        students who leave the district were to stay at the middle school, do
        you really think the scores would be that low? How can Juan Crespi's
        leadership class be recognized at the state level for having one of
        the top leadership classes amongst all middle schools if something
        good was not happening at that school? How could Pinole Middle send
        51 out of 124 science projects to the district wide science fair and
        many onto the Bay Area science fair and beyond, if nothing was
        happening at that school? How could Pinole Middle be able to provide
        beginning, intermediate, advanced band; choir;
        > drama; storytelling; home ec; computers; spanish; yearbook; art;
        etc. as electives if it wasn't a performing school?
        >
        > I too was apprehensive about having my sons go to Pinole Middle,
        but I decided that since I was involved at elementary school I needed
        to be involved at the middle school. I can tell you that I am
        forever grateful to the staff, students, and parents that I met at
        Pinole Middle. My sons had a great time in middle school and learned
        more than if they had stayed at Ellerhorst. They were ready and I
        needed to let them grow. As I have always said, middle school is not
        for everyone, but for my boys it provided a great opportunity to
        learn and grow. It also helped me become the better adult to
        understand, nuture and help teenagers find their potential. My boys
        and I would have missed out on so much if I had left my boys at
        Ellerhorst.
        >
        > Like I have always said, a school is only as good as the staff,
        students and parents in it. If our community does not support our
        secondary schools, then what can we expect. Though I am not against
        K-8, I want to encourage people to embrace the middle school years,
        get really involved and help these kids get through adolescence. I
        am working one child at a time to improve our secondary schools. I
        hope you can join me.
        > Tammy Campbell
        >
        > Mark Woo <fangwoo@...> wrote:
        > The K-8 subcommittee had hoped to answer that exact
        question with
        > telephone surveys of families taht had recently left the District
        > between grades 6 and 7. We presented the District with a protocol
        > and a proposed confidentiality agreement for a group of UC Berkeley
        > grad students to do the surveying. After four months of delaying
        and
        > the need for outside legal counsel, we finally got the go ahead.
        > Unfortunately it took so long that the students were no longer
        > available. Furthermore, the outside attorney the District hired
        > apologized it had taken so long, since the proposed confidentiality
        > agreement that the Subcommittee provided was virtually identical to
        > the final one. Another missed opportunity by the District.
        >
        > However, I do have a guess as to why families leave. I think
        parents
        > have their kids in the District and participate at the elementary
        > level because they are happy with the elementary school. They want
        > to preserve a good thing so they are willing to volunteer. Then
        > comes middle school, many people see a poor performing middle shool
        > and an indifferent school district. They know if they leave for a
        > private school or another district, they can choose one that
        already
        > has strong performance and is responsive. I'm sure these other
        > options are not perfect, but they are a lot easier than trying to
        > reform a school district.
        >
        > For those of us that volunteered for the K-8 Subcommittee to reform
        > the school district's approach to middle grade education, the
        > Ramsey/Pfeiffer explanation that it is too hard to do left a lot of
        > us shaking our heads. If other urban school districts around
        > California and the country can do it, including the district Sup.
        > Harter's previously worked at, is WCCUSD staff just less capable or
        > was that an insincere explanation? In either case, it further
        > degrades parents' willingness to stay for middle school or to try
        and
        > reform the educational system.
        >
        > --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com, jim cowen <jimcowen@> wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > > Robert Studdiford <robert@> wrote:I still do not understand why
        > > Kensington and Madera parents walk away from the things that made
        > their
        > > childrens elementary education a success. I'm baffled by it and
        so
        > are a lot
        > > of other people.
        > > ---------------------------------
        > > Frankly, I am baffled by it also. But both Robert and I agree
        > that the fact is, parents DO leave with their children at middle
        > school.
        > > One option is to continue to wonder why that is, and to hope the
        > district might somehow, someday come up with a solution.
        > > A second option is to offer K8, which overnight will bring many
        > of those parents back into the district (along with all their
        > volunteer spirit and efforts).
        > >
        > > I come at this from the business perspective. The district is
        > selling blue widgets. Many prime customers are off buying red
        > widgets (at a higher price!). The district keeps wondering why
        > people want red, and hope they will change their mind. The K8
        > advocates want the district to add red widgets to the product line.
        > >
        > > Even if you don't know or care whether red or blue widgets are
        > best, it's a simple decision. ADD THE RED WIDGET OPTION TO YOUR
        > PRODUCT LINE.
        > >
        > > And, to answer the Karen Pfeifer mantra that people arent leaving
        > the district for K8 but for other middle schools, the correct
        > analysis is that people leave THIS district's middle schools, and
        the
        > surveys show they would STAY for THIS district's K8 options.
        > >
        > > Jim Cowen
        > >
        > >
        > > ---------------------------------
        > > Ahhh...imagining that irresistible "new car" smell?
        > > Check outnew cars at Yahoo! Autos.
        > >
        > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ---------------------------------
        > Ahhh...imagining that irresistible "new car" smell?
        > Check outnew cars at Yahoo! Autos.
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >






        ---------------------------------
        Ahhh...imagining that irresistible "new car" smell?
        Check outnew cars at Yahoo! Autos.

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