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School District concerned with new state education funding proposal

Original post made on Apr 17, 2013

A new funding formula proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown has San Ramon Valley educators worried about the future of the district, student services and employees. The district's Board of Education recently adopted a resolution calling on the governor and legislature to amend the proposed [Web Link Local Control Funding Formula].

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 4:09 PM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Betty
a resident of Danville
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

As a retired teacher from Santa Anna , but now a resident of Danville, I could not help but notice that the superintendent left out some important details. She did not mention the more than $12,000,000 the schools in SRVUSD receive annually from parent "donations", and the $7,000,000 the district receives each year from the parcel tax. These are financial benefits that very few school districts receive except in wealthy, Bay Area districts. I would also suggest that anyone who has worked in districts such as I did would be cautious about complaining about anything related to the San Ramon district.

The proposed funding formula may not be perfect, but let's make certain the full picture is presented before attacking it.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Betty - I am sure the reason those figures were left out is that we should not need to pay the additional funding as all students should be treated equally by the state regardless of where they live. We are just trying to make-up for what the state does not give us, but gives to those other districts.


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Posted by Betty
a resident of Danville
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Douglas you might be right, but do you or anyone else really believe that if state funding was improved and balanced for all school districts that SRVUSD would no longer request donations or pursue an additional parcel tax? My only point being that SRVUSD has many advantages over most school districts which were not mentioned by the superintendent.

In fact, look at the district she just came from. No parcel tax, few donations, losing enrollment and closing schools. Would she have the same message if she was back in her last district?


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Posted by Hank
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:27 am

How many ppl of the SR school district voted for Brown and other socialist-spread the wealth- equity-socialists? So more money will go to non-English speakers etc? Serves you low information voters right. Stop all the extra fund raising etc...you are being played.


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Posted by Mom and Teacher
a resident of Danville
on Apr 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I am so glad to have had my children in this district. I have gladly paid my "contributions" to each of the school education funds, especially at the high school level where that money goes directly to adding class sections.I used to think class-size reduction was important in elementary school, but in my opinion it matters even more in high school.

One of the best reasons to move to Danville is that this is a whole community that supports our schools, including financially. If only 20% of the people contributed, each of those people would have to give more to have the same effect on their child's education, and participation in the learning funds would wither to nothing. Because so many parents and community members give to the schools, we are able to have a district that is unique and rare in this state.

Now to put on my teacher hat: a starting salary of $44k will not allow a new teacher to live in our community. A top salary of $84k after 25 years of experience and service won't buy you a house here either. (Numbers from the SRVUSD website, feel free to add 25% if you are one of the "but they have great benefits and summers off" type of reasoners). If there is no more money, the dollars that go to teacher salaries and benefits will not get larger, and soon our district will be the lowest paying in the area. If we do not insist that the state use OUR tax money to fund OUR district, we will have to continually increase our personal, voluntary contributions at the community level. That may be good news--after all, if housing prices fall because our lagging school system, good teachers can then afford to live here, right?


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Posted by Greg
a resident of Danville
on Apr 22, 2013 at 9:29 am

The problems with Brown's funding formula are many. First, he assumes that the lack of a quality education in large urban districts is simply a lack of money. Oakland already gets twice as much money per student as San Ramon Valley. How is that working out for the kids in Oakland? It is not all about money. It is about how you effectively use the dollars that you get. Hiring highly qualified teachers, setting standards of performance for students, teachers and administrators, and demanding excellence are part of the solution. Brown just wants to throw more money at the failing school districts without also demanding a fundamental shift in those districts' attitudes about acceptable levels of employee performance and student success. I have worked in large urban districts and I can tell you that most kids will strive to reach the "bar" you set for them. If it is near ground level, then that is what they will strive to achieve. Raise the bar higher, and they will set their goals higher.

We have spent decades in California giving large failing urban districs more money than everyone else. Scores are still in the basement. Drop out rates are still high. College bound students are still rare. The solution is to offer financial resources as a carrot, with a requirement to show fundamental changes in leadership, accountability, responsibility and expectations. Without those requirements, it will be just more good money after bad, with much of the money having been diverted from districts like San Ramon Valley.

The other problem with Brown's formula is that it only gives about 10% credit for growth in students. In other words, for every new student that comes to the District, Brown's formula will only provide the District with 10 cents on the dollar compared to current funding. For a growing district like San Ramon Valley, that would spell disaster in short order. We would not have sufficient money to open up the new classes necessary to house the new students. We could not afford to hire the new teachers necessary to educate the new students. Class sizes would have to rise to unprecedented levels since no new teachers could be hired to teach the thousands of new students that are expected in the next few years. Under Brown's formula, the money instead would be diverted to the large urban districts. Most urban districts in California are static or losing enrollment, so the new growth formula would not hurt them. In fact, for every dollar in new money that San Ramon Valley would receive in the coming years in increased state funding, they would receive up to $1.70. A 70% premium would be given to them as opposed to a child in the San Ramon Valley.

So much for equalized education funding in California. Under Brown's proposal, education failure will be rewarded with unprecedented waves of additional money, much of it taken from suburban districts like San Ramon Valley to help fund the redistribution of education dollars.

Some social commentators say that we need to do more for our failing urban public schools. I agree. Having worked in large urban districts, I have seen the results of poverty, gangs, neglected poor communities, etc. The answer is not all about more money. It is about a change in attitude, a change in expectation about how the adults running the schools will administer them. Failure should not be an option. There are many examples around the country of poor kids going to urban schools that are high achieving, with high graduation rates, high college attendance rates, etc. Those districts have a common theme of high expectations and adults running them that do not make excuses for low performance.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

Greg:

Might you be someone who sits on the SRVUSD school board? If what you have stated in the above comment is correct (and I am assuming it is correct), how about 'educating' our good Governor about these issues? Has anyone from our board spoken to either the Governor and/or his associates re: this funding issue (or anyone from our district for that matter)?


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Posted by Michelle
a resident of Danville
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

If anyone thinks that their $$$ contribution "adds classes" or keeps class sizes down is so misled. It's simply NOT true. ESPECIALLY at the high school. Unless it's a "special" class, but the mainstream core classes are busting at the seams with 40 kids.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

What Greg states in his above comment may be true to some degree, but there are many other issues involved with lower achievement districts than that which he has outlined, above.

I would agree that simply throwing more funding toward large, failing urban districts is not the answer. However, students in many of these type urban districts contend with societal/personal issues that MOST of our district families in San Ramon/Danville, do not, i.e., illegal drug usage, be it parent or student, gang related activities, etc., which obviously have a detrimental impact on overall student achievement.

I would imagine many parents in Oakland cannot afford to supplement their students' schools in the way of contributions in the manner in which we are asked to provide in our district. (Likewise, I know many families in our district who have two or more students at any given time in our district who cannot afford the additional 'supplemental' fees often asked of us upon enrollment, either.)

Here is an interesting article regarding the benefits (or lack thereof) of smaller class size:

Web Link

SNIP from above:

..."Even in light of findings that suggest no relationship between class size and student achievement, the preponderance of the evidence supports positive effects and academic gains when class size reduction programs in the primary grades are well-designed and properly implemented.

Student achievement, however, is not the only factor in play. The possible benefits of smaller classes must be weighed against the costs (see Hoxby, 2002 for one analysis of the costs of class size reduction). To reduce class size in a meaningful way, school districts might need to hire more teachers, add more classes, purchase more supplies—or all of the above. Questions of class size can figure in decisions from teacher contracts to school construction.

Hiring more teachers can be especially difficult. Public schools already are straining to fill positions as an aging workforce edges closer to retirement and fewer young people enter the profession. New standards for teacher quality established by federal legislation could further complicate the supply and demand problem.

Some researchers (e.g., West & Woessmann, 2003) believe that school districts would do better to hire fewer teachers with better credentials than to hire more teachers without regard to the level of credentials and experience. They argue that the quality of the teacher, rather than the size of the class, drives student achievement..."


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Interesting websites:

Web Link

SNIP:

"Florida's constitutional amendment, which forced districts to use state funds for class reduction unless they had already reduced class sizes to an acceptable level, had no impact on average student performance. Students in schools where districts were not forced to spend their money on class size reduction improved as much on state tests as those attending schools in districts subject to the constitutional mandate. The study also found no significantly different impact on the average performance of ethnic and racial groups or between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students.

The study, conducted by Matthew M. Chingos, a research fellow at Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance, analyzed student-level data provided by the Florida Department of Education to follow all students in grades four through eight who took the state reading and math tests between 2001 and 2007. During this time, average class size was reduced by about three students. Chingos found that students attending schools that were required to reduce class size did no better on state math and reading tests than students attending schools that were given funding to spend as they saw fit. The study also showed no discernible impact on student absenteeism and behavior problems.

"We do not know from this study whether giving districts more unrestricted state funds has positive effects or not," Chingos said, "but the study strongly suggests that monies restricted for the purpose of funding class-size reduction mandates are not a productive use of limited educational resources."

Link: Web Link


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Posted by Robert Higgins
a resident of Danville
on Apr 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Governor Brown's funding proposal sounds like it is causing much commotion in the hallowed halls of the SRVSUSD.

Lest anyone think that the district will ever be satisfied with the amount of money that the state provides, whether it is calculated under the current system or the proposed funding formula which provides $2,000 more per student. There's never enough cash coming in to feed the beast (i.e. the teachers union that has heavy influence on the school board).

I agree with a statement above that is it important to effectively use the dollars in the budget. However, after reviewing the salaries of many district employees (Web Link), one has to question whether it's necessary for the SRVUSD to pay a six figure salary to a public relations guy.

Even without any change to the state funding system, it appears that the developers, the City of San Ramon and/or the district severely underestimated the need for new schools due to the huge number of homes built in the Dougherty Valley area over the last several years. I have heard that the schools are already crowded and more homes are still being built. Hopefully any new housing developments will adequately estimate the school facility resources required for the new students and not force the rest of us to foot the bill for another parcel tax if additional buildings are required.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Robert,

"... after reviewing the salaries of many district employees (Web Link), one has to question whether it's necessary for the SRVUSD to pay a six figure salary to a public relations guy,"

And

"Even without any change to the state funding system, it appears that the developers, the City of San Ramon and/or the district severely underestimated the need for new schools due to the huge number of homes built in the Dougherty Valley area over the last several years. I have heard that the schools are already crowded and more homes are still being built. Hopefully any new housing developments will adequately estimate the school facility resources required for the new students and not force the rest of us to foot the bill for another parcel tax if additional buildings are required."


I couldn't agree with you more. My husband and I live in the San Ramon/Dougherty Valley area. We were truly appalled when our son, who just graduated from Dougherty Valley High School last year, informed us that this new high school was already bursting at the seams at the time of his graduation (overcrowding in this school is far worse now as one of his friends now informs him). Yet, new homes/developments are being built in and around our area faster than you can say 'jackrabbit'.

One has to wonder where the additional funding is going to come from in order to supplement the costs required for the additional classrooms and teachers' salaries which will be needed for the many new students moving into this area of the Valley.

NO amount of money from the state will be enough for this district and I would dare to say that EVEN should this district receive what it states it would 'need' from state funding, it would still have its collective hand out to the many parents in our district come enrollment time.

Why on earth does a public relations spokesperson need a six figure income? Better yet, why do we NEED a public relations spokes representative? I've spoken with numerous parents/teachers and other school district personnel around the state when I was active as an advocate for special needs rights and other issues. Not one individual I spoke with in any of those districts had ever heard of of a school district employing a public relations representative, let alone one employed with a six figure income.

There MAY be some areas in our district which could certainly use a bit of extra funding, but I would suggest there are plenty of areas within which they could 'trim the fat.'


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Posted by Betty
a resident of Danville
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Greg's commits reflect ignorance and a touch of racism about the challenges urban school districts face. If he is a SRVUSD board member that is indeed a disturbing thought.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:07 am

Betty-

Although Greg didn't come right out and say it, there are factual reports and statistics that make it clear that certain races do better academically even when the playing field is equal. From those same types of reports, the whole culture in urban areas is different and education is not a priority to those students because that doesn't assist with their way of life. Greg is correct in stating there needs to be a HUGE pendulum shift before any more money is sent that way. Right now, those schools are a huge sink hole for our tax dollars and throwing additional money at the problem is not going to change anything there, and in the process, is taking away from schools whose students have a drive to be successful in life. Until the "woe is me" attitude changes, the schools in the urban areas are going to continue to decline at the expense of those schools and students who actually care to be educated.


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

@Douglas,

Whether right or wrong, @Greg at least tried to rationalize his points. You just chose to highlight a racially bigoted and utterly disgusting perspective about which "races do better academically even when the playing field in equal." As to your facts and reports, rubbish.

In terms of urban ignorance versus suburban superiority, look to where the magnet schools are located (Web Link).

When you respond, bring your 'factual reports and statistics' that cannot be easily undermined by confounding factors such as income, relative access to advanced learning technology (e.g. a computer), educational level of the parent or parents, amongst many known causalities that influence educational scores and outcomes. Also, don't denigrate yourself further with a Faux news highlight from a region of the country where SEC football is more popular than the Easter Bunny...

The only thing uglier then bigotry itself is the bigot who brought it...


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I was about to respond to Douglas' horrid comments, but Conservator beat me to it (and a huge thank you with that).

Below is a website that I would suggest any of you willing and able to research this area a bit more fully, may want to peruse. It is entitled, "Creating Effective Schools In Failing Urban Districts."

Web Link

SNIP:

..."In Who Benefits From Failed Urban Districts I explained why the 120 major urban school districts cannot be changed let alone transformed and listed 22 constituent groups who derive great benefits and unearned privileges from miseducating 7 million diverse children in urban poverty who attend school in these districts. (Haberman, 2003) At the same time, there are successful schools within each of these failing districts and it is possible to create more of them even though they must function as part of dysfunctional bureaucracies. The creation of such schools is of the highest priority since the children who attend them can be saved from becoming drop outs, push outs, or worst of all, "successful" graduates who lack the skills to enter the work force or to pursue higher education.

The attributes of effective urban schools have been well researched, clearly documented and frequently published in professional journals and even in the mass media..."


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:22 pm

For both Conservator and Bayareamom,

My information comes from my studies, research, and degree from UCLA and I grew up in Los Angeles, not the South. You both need to do a lot more research before you start spouting off on your expertise!! Anyone can pick and choose snippets from a report or web link to support their side. Information needs to be looked at as a whole. Maybe both of you need to go back to school...


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Also, until you experience real race riots like those during the Rodney King/Reginald Denny time, you really have no idea what drives the inner-cities and their residents. It certainly is NOT education...


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Douglas,

You sound like a bored, churlish, elderly gentleman who needs to grow up. I don't care what school you graduated from, nor do I care what letters or degrees you may carry. Your comments clearly indicate your lack of decency and bigotry towards those that simply need a 'hand up.' Your personal attacks against us serve only your lack of integrity.

What in the world does 'growing up in the South' have to do with this issue? Also, for many years, I too, lived in Los Angeles, which is where I met my husband.

No one posting here is 'spouting' any sort of expertise. There is always room for growth and learning - about any subject area - and I have learned much in these many years as I have lived in this area.

To the contrary, we are rather (or trying to be) politely offering up an expansion of thinking on this issue. A quote I love, "Don't think outside the box - get rid of the box," comes to mind.

Further, Douglas, there are definitely students in these hallowed halls of the SRVUSD who do not seem to be willing to want or accept the education provided to them, for whatever the reason, and some of those students live in some of our more expensive and gated communities.

I call a spade a shovel; your bigotry and narrow-mindedness is far too transparent. I agree with Conservator - the only thing uglier than bigtory itself, is the bigot who brought it.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Now I understand why you are so defensive - you are one of those who think you are owed something and think those who do well should pay for it. No need to waste anymore of my time on someone who likes to wear rose colored glasses and doesn't live in the real world.


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm

@Douglas,

Check yourself on 'spouting'. Family roots go deep - Edinger and Harbor Blvd. If your as relevant to the Southland as you vindicate that your Westwood degree offers, then you know where I'm describing.

Clearly your a kid if your frame of reference only goes back to the King events. Perhaps a little age will do you well. My frame of reference goes much further.

Regardless, young man, your bigotry sings loud and clear. You should be so proud.

About those 'facts and reports' you indicated that were so saliently available??? Anytime now.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Douglas,

This, my friend, will be my last post on this topic (to you anyway).

You don't know me but at all. Nope, I REALLY don't expect something for nothing, but I DO know that some folks simply need a hand UP, for various reasons. It's called empathy, Douglas, i.e., compassion, understanding - something I see you could certainly learn about.

As for the reality of this world, Douglas - I don't think you could HANDLE the real reality of this world. This world isn't what you think it is and you can take that to the bank.

I pity you, Douglas. If you are a younger person that I sense you are, hopefully in the next several years, you will have matured and expanded your emotional horizons. If you are an older gent, I truly feel for you, for this life has apparently left you an embittered soul.

Good luck to you, Douglas.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm



I just didn't want to tax your uneducated brain going back farther than 20 years as I didn't think you could handle it. Obviously you, like Bayareamom, don't want to live in the real world and are a complete waste as you like living with your heads in the sand.

BTW – people seem to throw the racial, bigotry card when they really have nothing relevant to say which both of you have done and that says to me that you have very sad little lives and are not very well educated.


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

@Dougie,

Sad is relative. In my book, it's what one feels for the truly bigoted.

So about those 'facts and reports' on the definitive truth between race and cognitive learning ability that you researched as a young man cowering in a Westwood dorm room while others were looting the Sears, East and South of your location with Beverly Hills in between you and the really scary stuff...

Anytime Now.... You have them handy??? It will take some of us a while to read them, I'm sure. As you indicated, the apparent lack of sophistication and/or evidence of formal education, regardless of our use of the English vernacular, implies an obvious literary impediment.


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Posted by Bayareamom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Well, I would welcome any 'facts' and 'reports' on this subject, but I'm sure it will take my attorney husband and I (a former legal assistant) some time to read through them, given our lack of education, but hey, we're game. I know it will take us some time to sound out the words, but we've been able to diddle along thus far (between homeschooling our now college bound son and other activities), so I'm sure we'll muddle along quite nicely.

Love your humor, Conservator; made my day.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Still, no relevant information - proving my point...


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

BA Mommy

Also, just citing your husband is an attorney does not mean he is well educated. There are thousands of attorneys in California - most of which are ambulance chasers and bad attorneys. Good try though!


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm

@Dougie -

You're right, you clearly have no relevant information to offer. In addition, you're not doing that Westwood degree a whole lot of positive advertising here, young man.

This can go on for as long as it suits your fancy. We can either continue to point out that you have 'no relevant information to offer' save for that which might come from an equally bigoted or worse (if even remotely possible) group or website. I do realize that traditional literary sources are likely below you.

Or, you can provide the 'facts and reports' which substantiate your claim that race and cognitive ability are intrinsically linked. Anytime Now, Dougie...


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Cnsrvtr,

Obviously you expect me to do the work for you - something lazy people usually want. If that is not the case and you think you're that smart, you should be able to find it without too much trouble, but I have a feeling that is beyond your grasp or capability. I don't waste my education on people who are not willing to have an intelligent discussion on topics there are volumes on for people who choose to get the facts before opening up their mouths.

Hope you and BA Mommy enjoy your fantasy world...


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Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Douglas - don't waste your time on Bayareamom (and seems like Conservator as well). She is a complete bleeding heart liberal who, like you pin-pointed, thinks the world owes her. Just look at all of her posts with me on the preschool thing in Pleasanton. She loves bringing in how hard her life has been including her child with learning disabilities. All of us have our crosses to bear and most of us suck it up and deal with it - not her. Just go enjoy your week!


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

@Dougie,

But I can expect you to do the work for me.... You offered it.

We can do this for as long as it suits your fancy. BTW, in any real word existing, I will the take privileged comments of decent human being such as Bayareamom over the drivel of bigoted, young man.

Anytime Now for those 'facts and reports'... We're burning daylight as my father used to say. So get on with it young man. Educated us in all your Westwoodian grandeur.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Carolyn - read those posts and thanks for the heads up! It is too beautiful a day to waste any more on people like BA Mommy and Cnsrvtr. No wonder why our country is going to hell in a hand basket!!


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Posted by Mom and Teacher
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm

And, back to the topic of funding our public schools, I'd like to address a comment to Michelle, who states that our parent donations are not going to fund classes/class size reduction at the high schools.

I have been a part of Academic Boosters at MVHS for the last 8 or so years, including several board positions. It has been an uncomfortable but necessary undertaking, over the 25 years of our organization's existence, to ask parents to help fund our schools. I know the money goes directly to fund 18-25 class sections every single year, at a cost of over $17,000 per section, because I have seen the check! We don't fund our pet classes, we give the money to the professional educators and ask them to use it with their very best judgement.

Nevertheless, class sizes have indeed grown at all of the high schools over the last several years. And if you'd like to see some real trouble looming, look at the projected growth in our district and figure out how we can safely put any more bodies into our crowded classrooms when the state won't fund it.

Consider making a donation to your school's learning fund-the spring campaign is already on, raising money to be spent next school year. If you think that other high performing school districts are not doing the same thing, check out the Moraga Education Foundation, where parents are asked for $750 per year: Web Link


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Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm

@Dougie,

After enjoying an awesome late afternoon and evening outside, I'm so terribly disappointed to see that there are no 'facts and reports' that substantiated the visceral and bigoted claim you posted earlier this afternoon.

You recall, don't you? The one about a body of peer-reviewed literature that conclusively substantiated the notion (just can't bring myself to call it a theory) that there was a definitive and defendable link between race and cognitive learning ability. Yes, that one.

Of course, I certainly would not mind seeing it nicely presented in the hand basket your identified just earlier this evening.

Humor me Dougie. I'll look for your response in the morning or early afternoon. BTW, I kind of like your acronym for my nom de plume. Still sounds out the same but efficiently removes the vowels for what it's worth.


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