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Legislators speak out at education advocacy day

Original post made on Apr 23, 2013

State and federal legislators spent an afternoon with local education advocates Friday afternoon as part of an advocacy day for education. "This is a critical year, we can call this the year of education differed. So much is at stake in this legislative session," a presenter said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 22, 2013, 5:33 PM

Comments (13)

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Posted by Realist
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:29 am

This is outrageous! I hate what these politicians and unions have done to the school system. It started out as a great idea. Everyone needs an education. The only things separating humans from animals is language and logic. Seems like less and less folks have either. This certainly isn't taught well in school considering most graduates of high school CAN'T READ!

Explain to me how "updating" the curriculum by looking "at what incoming college students would need to know when they graduated, then looked at what they'd need to know in eleventh grade to get them ready for twelfth and so on, down to the kindergarten level."

The above strategy sounds stupid! That's how they're deciding what to teach our children?! It all makes sense now! The wrong people are deciding the California Core Curriculum!

Rather than looking at the current curriculum and comparing grade levels, let's look at the big picture.

Our children need to be prepared and ready to make money. What classes do they teach to make money? What classes do they teach that instill the true job skills required to be successful in the market today? Guess what?! They don't know. Teachers just feed off the system. They don't work in a capitalistic market so how can they teach it?! They're really good at steering the career choices of our children to well-established government roles like police officer, fireman, teacher, lawyer, or doctor. Those are your choices if you believe the teachers... I don't. I'd like to see my children as business owners and entrepreneurs.

To do so, our children need the following skills:

- Communication (speech/presos)
- English/reading
- Math (through Calculus would be best)
- Typing/computer skills
- Application development using programming language
- Social skills/team building with their class and school
- Logic (memorization is ok for a while, but our children need to be taught, practice, and understand logic)
- Confidence (not conformity - we are NOT all the SAME)


BTW - I have two children ages 3 and 5 so I have a vested interested in getting this fixed. I'm getting ready to put my oldest child into Kindergarten in September. The SRVUSD form for Kindergarten enrollment requires you to fill out the race of your child or they will call him/her to the front office for visual inspection by a teacher so that they may check the appropriate box.

Interesting to know that if you don't conform, then your child will be picked out and ostracized to ensure she/he checks the appropriate race box. So disheartening...


Just my two cents...


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

Realist,

This is, by far, THE best comment I have read at the Express regarding the issues with our academic system. Unfortunately, I have no easy 'fix it' responses with regard to the issues you've listed. This country needs a true shift in paradigm - on SO many levels, not just as it pertains to our academic issues.

And yes, I agree with you - it really is very disheartening.


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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Apr 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

It would be nice to see an article in the Express that explained Brown's LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) proposal in more detail, including SRVUSD funding under the existing formula, and what it would be under Brown's new LCFF. It has been my understanding that even the existing formula has been bad for SRVUSD, and that our district therefore receives less per pupil than other districts. It also seems from the above article, and also this one (Web Link), that the new LCFF proposal makes this problem even worse. Even though all of our local state government folks (state Assembly and Senate) are from Brown's party, they apparently have little influence on this process.

I much preferred the school funding system in Illinois, where we used to live, as every school district was directly funded by property taxes from within the district boundaries, with local control of both funding and spending. Versus the CA system whereas the bulk of the money flows into the state first, and then is doled out by formula, subject to the political machinations of state government. You have to figure that most of the "powers that be" in state government view our area as "sources of funds", and that we can afford to pay additional taxes to make up for money we don't get back from the state. Lucky us...


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 25, 2013 at 12:13 am

Good for "Realist" to see the light. Ironic the school systems don't admit they follow a very close 1930's German policy of listing your race/ethnicity on their forms for the Nazis. Wake up ppl........Why do MANY public school staff send THEIR kids to privates?.


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Posted by Catherine
a resident of Danville
on Apr 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

Although I think things need to change, Realist needs to do a lot more research on what the schools actually teach. Everything Realist lists is ALREADY being taught. Until she/he actually has children in the school system and understands what the curriculum is, Realist needs to pipe down. Also, the reason that there is the race issue is the school gets that much more money for the probably illegal English Learners. Personally, tax dollars should be evenly divided for all students regardless of race, income level, or special needs. Why is any one student more important than another?

And yes Bayareamom, from other stories/posts I have read I am sure you are going to come back with your learning diabled child response to what I have said.


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Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Danville
on Apr 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Both LCFF and Common Core are going to make things worse, not better. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just being stupid!


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Posted by Realist
a resident of Danville
on Apr 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

The United States is 26th in worldwide education. If you break out the U.S. Hispanics separately, they'd be ranked 34th worldwide, and U.S. Blacks at 46th. The above data is provided by the U.S. government and was last reported by the U.S. Department of Education in December of 2007. Unfortunately, every year these numbers are getting worse. Therefore, I go back to my assertion that the schools need to re-focus on reading, writing, and math to ensure each child can excel in each of these topics. Today, most people struggle with public communication.

If school helps socialize children, then this should be the perfect forum to promote public speaking even simple acts like “show and tell" which has been banned by my son's preschool so that other children (poorer) don't feel bad. Although you didn't understand my point, I hope you understand that I do have children in the school system. The school system is failing not only by my measurement but by that of all other industrialized nations including Korea, Iceland, and Germay.

How can we claim success when studies show recent high school graduates can't balance a checkbook? Until we get the basics down, maybe we should eliminate the rhetoric and increase the education. Why defend the failures of the school system?


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Posted by Catherine
a resident of Danville
on Apr 26, 2013 at 7:44 am

How can someone say they have children in the school system when a direct quote from the person is:

"I'm getting ready to put my oldest child into Kindergarten in September."

With regard to poor public speaking skills, I think you have to look no further than social media and texting to realize what has happened there. When your kids actually get into the school system they will start complaining about how many presentations they have to give in their classroom. Like I said, Realist needs to pipe down until her kids are in the SRVUSD schools, not preschool.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 26, 2013 at 11:20 am

I performed a quick search on this subject and came up with this:

Web Link

SNIP:

"New Jersey students may perform better than their counterparts in many other states, but from a global perspective, students across the United States are falling behind.

State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) raised that point during a Jan. 9 debate on the Senate floor about the Urban Hope Act. That legislation, passed by the Legislature and quickly signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, allows nonprofit entities to build and run schools in three failing districts.

Before casting his vote in favor of the bill, Whelan told his fellow legislators that "we've got to change the conversation" and consider a longer school year.

Let's look where we are in the world. We're twenty-sixth," said Whelan, a teacher in Atlantic City. "United States of America is twenty-sixth in school performance in the world."

AND:

..."Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD's Indicators and Analysis Division in the Directorate for Education, told us averaging the scores is acceptable, but he cautioned: "I would still not call this 'overall performance' since there are a number of school subjects not measured by PISA (e.g. history, geography or music)."

But rankings may not be as clear-cut when factoring in the margins of error attached to the average scores..."

AND:

..."Beth Schroeder, Whelan's chief of staff, defended the senator in an email:

"The point Senator Whelan was trying to make still stands. By any measure, the United States is lagging behind the rest of the world in school performance. Whether we're 26th or some other rank once you factor in the margin of error, we should be striving to have the best educational system in the world, and shouldn't settle for anything but first."

Our ruling

"During a debate on the Senate floor, Whelan claimed the "United States of America is twenty-sixth in school performance in the world.

Based on the most recent international assessments, the senator's statistic is on target. After averaging out the mean scores in reading, math and science, the United States ranks 26 out of 75 participating countries or economies..."


Catherine: I would suggest that instead of telling Realist in print to "pipe down," perhaps you may want to perform some of your own research as well. I home-schooled our now college bound son for a few short years and discovered, to my absolute dismay during those years, that Realist's assertions above are quite true.

It's easy to become defensive - I know - but that defensiveness does nothing to change the facts as they are with regard to our country's ratings overall in the world-wide academic sector.

Here's another article:
Web Link

SNIP:

"The United States has rested on its laurels way too long," Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, told USA Today. "Other countries have increasingly caught up and surpassed the United States."

"We've been asleep for a good number of years as a country," says Richard Freeman, an economics professor at Harvard. "It's not that we're doing horrible. But the other guys are moving faster."

Read more: Web Link


One more:

Web Link




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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Catherine,

You stated, "And yes Bayareamom, from other stories/posts I have read I am sure you are going to come back with your learning disabled child response to what I have said."

It just begs the question: What in the world does having a son who had learning issues in school (who no longer does by the way) have to do with this issue? (FYI - our son, now attending college, is maintaining a 3.4 GPA and states he is on his way to that same GPA, this second semester.) Further, your comment about my son was absolutely uncalled for and just plain rude.

Now, if you would like to back your comments up with some hardcore factual information so that the rest of us can be enlightened, please feel free to share.

I just cannot get over the comments made by some of you over here. I have no issues whatsoever with personal opinions - we're all free to express them, but when you come up with nothing more than what are essentially ad hominem attacks in lieu of factual information to back up your assertions does nothing more than, rather transparently, your ignorance on the subject you profess to have such strong opinions.

Life really is one huge learning curve. Given what happened to our son, which ultimately led to his learning/academic issues, I have certainly learned to alter my thinking and perspective on various issues.

It really breaks my heart to see such (at times) callous remarks made about someone, by someone else, when we don't know one another whatsoever, let alone on a personal basis!

I would love to see a discourse over here w/o the snide/rude comments and just compare notes! I've taken the time to dig up some research (and some old research I had on hand) re: this issue. So - Catherine - if you would like to do the same - have at it!


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Posted by Allan
a resident of Danville
on Apr 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm

OK ladies - let's get back to the issue at hand. I believe we need change, but curriculum change is not going to help until two major issues are addressed

1. A huge number of bad teachers in K-12
2. Acceptance of international students into our universities who then graduate and take that knowledge back to their countries – at the two top UC schools (Cal and UCLA) these international students make up almost 33% of each incoming freshman class. No wonder why our country is behind. We are educating the wrong people!


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm

"I much preferred the school funding system in Illinois, where we used to live, as every school district was directly funded by property taxes from within the district boundaries, with local control of both funding and spending. Versus the CA system whereas the bulk of the money flows into the state first, and then is doled out by formula, subject to the political machinations of state government. You have to figure that most of the "powers that be" in state government view our area as "sources of funds", and that we can afford to pay additional taxes to make up for money we don't get back from the state. Lucky us...

I would agree with you, C.R. The description you give re: the funding system in Illinois would seem preferable than the current system we have in place here in CA. But as was pointed out under a different topic by a gentleman named Robert, it would seem that no matter how much our district receives in funding from the state will never be 'enough' for this district.

It was pointed out by this gentleman that our district hires a PR representative (with a six-figure salary)as but one example within which our district may want to review the manner in which our funding is used. When I worked as the California State Director for the National Vaccine Information Center, I discovered, after speaking with numerous Department of Ed speaking heads, teachers, nurses, etc., that NO ONE had heard of a PR representative in any other district, let alone with a six-figure income.

I point this issue out as but an example of expenditures which certainly seem somewhat excessive, in light of this district continuously having its hand out to the parents come enrollment time, every school year.

I wonder what the bottom line per student would satisfy the district? WHAT would truly be ENOUGH in the way of funding, w/o the need to ask for additional funding from parcel taxes, etc., and with additional revenue from parents?


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Here's a website with an article titled, "Do Teachers Really Come From The Bottom Third Of College Graduates?"

Web Link

Interestingly enough, I HAVE heard one of our esteemed board members state the very above (re: the title of the article).

I don't quite agree with your comment re: (2), above. I recognize that on a collegiate level, our universities are some of the best in the world, but on an international level, our K-12 programs across the U.S., leave something to be desired.

As regards re: some of the information gleaned from the above links I've provided, the United States is definitely lagging, on an international level, in the K-12 area. To ME, it would appear SOME international students perform higher academically HERE, BECAUSE they were formerly educated in some of the countries with overall higher achievement levels than our country.

Anyone here ever read Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt's book, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America?" I hadn't heard of this book until I started home-schooling our son. When I started reading through the book, I couldn't put it down (I was never able to finish reading it - it's quite voluminous).

Here is a bit of information about this book, from Iserbyt's website:

A WHISTLEBLOWER'S ACCOUNT

"Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, blew the whistle in the `80s on government activities withheld from the public. Her inside knowledge will help you protect your children from controversial methods and programs. In this book you will discover:

-how good teachers across America have been forced to use controversial, non-academic methods;

-how "school choice" is being used to further dangerous reform goals, and how home schooling and private education are especially vulnerable;

-how workforce training (school-to-work) is an essential part of an overall plan for a global economy, and how this plan will short circuit your child's future career plans and opportunities;

-how the international, national, regional, state and local agendas for education reform are all interconnected and have been for decades.

A CHRONOLOGICAL PAPER TRAIL

..."the deliberate dumbing down of america is a chronological history of the past 100+ years of education reform. Each chapter takes a period of history and recounts the significant events, including important geopolitical and societal contextual information. Citations from government plans, policy documents, and key writings by leading reformers record the rise of the modern education reform movement. Americans of all ages will welcome this riveting expose of what really happened to what was once the finest education system in the world..."

Link: Web Link

I learned so much about our country's academic issues when we pulled our son out of public school for a brief time. We found that after school tutoring, with essential one-on-one in certain subject areas, were absolutely essential in providing our son with the tools he needed to perform to a higher standard academically.

We also discovered that, by far, the BEST teachers WE saw in this district, WERE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. Our son simply 'took off' academically when he started high school and ended up performing very well his last two years. We found through our experiences in this district that teacher QUALITY was the key to our son's academic success and a smaller class room size had relative to low impact re: our son's achievements.

But that's our own personal perspective. Each student is, of course, different, with his/her own unique style of learning.


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