Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 11, 2008

Charters, cuts, budgets

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:58 am

Long post ahead, you’ve been warned! 

As reported by Eve Pearlman (video!), on Friday the State Superintendent, Jack O’Connell, came for a visit to Alameda to meet with student leaders regarding the issue of budget cuts.   The student leaders from Encinal and Alameda High Schools were articulate and well spoken as usual, even putting Jack O’Connell is a position of endorsing the Parcel Tax right there and then.  But of course, since he won’t be paying for it, it was probably easy for him to say that he would, but I digress. 

Too bad the kids didn’t ask him for a pledge to deny any appeal to his office for the ACLC/NCLC/Nea Charter School, which has the potential to funnel away more than a million dollars away from the very kids that he promised to support at his meeting on Friday, making any cuts that have currently been made by the school district worthless and the school district needing to go back to the drawing board to play another round of what do we cut next.

And today, as promised by the leaders of ACLC/NCLC/Nea, they will come before the Alameda County Board of Education to appeal the decision made by our own School Board.   The final vote will not be taken until April, but the public hearing will be held today.  While some will decry the decision made by our School Board as being nitpicky and having concentrated on small problems, those folks clearly were not listening to the presentation (or read the application itself) which did not provide a comprehensive outline  for the K-5 program as required by the model charter school application.   But we should overlook that as them simply forgetting to cross a t or dot an i? 

ACLC/NCLC/Nea leaders have time and time again insisted that they are a part of AUSD, but rather than striving to cultivate a positive relationship, with this decision to seek approval for their charter no matter what the cost during this difficult financial time, it would seem that they would rather the relationship be adversarial and competitive.   ACLC supposedly contains the best and the brightest that Alameda has to offer, but the student leaders who stood tall during the walkout and protest, in front of countless media, and before the state superintendent were kids from Alameda and Encinal High Schools, the kids who will bear the brunt of an additional million plus dollars cut from the budget if this deficient charter application is approved.  

If you want to weigh in on this application, a handy gmail address has been created that sends fowards directly to all members of the Alameda County Board of Education and the County Superintendent: AlamedaCtySchools@gmail.com  That way you don’t have to individually cut and paste everyone’s email like I had to do.

Suprisingly, only one of the seven member County Board of Education got back to me, even if it was just a form letter basically saying: “Thanks for your email.”   And that was Yvonne Cerato, the Trustee from the Tri Valley.

In other news, it would appear that ACLC has gone on the defensive, putting out a handy “cheat sheet” in order to support their application.

It interesting that ACLC claims that:

…We are urging the ACLC and NCLC communities to support AUSD’s parcel tax, even though the benefits to ACLC and NCLC are likely to be zero to very small…

Really?   So ACLC students don’t take advantage of the sports programs through the school district?   If an ACLC student wants to play baseball, basketball, water polo, track and field, football, swim…ACLC creates from scratch a whole team for those few students?   Pays for facility maintenance, lights when there are games or practices that go into the night, coaching stipends, etc…?

If an ACLC student wants to participate in drama or band, whole productions are formed around that student at ACLC?  Including hiring a drama teacher, costumes, facility rental, buying scripts, coordinating music and sets, etc….?

If there is a special needs student, then all the paraprofessionals needed to assist that student are hired by ACLC, covering all the costs that accompany those paraprofessionals, like salary, benefits (medical and retirement)?

If an ACLC student wants to participate in a club, does ACLC build a club around that student?  Including finding a sponsor willing to stay after school hours, help with fundraisers, provide a location for the kids to meet?

If an ACLC student wants to take any number of electives like foreign language and AP Classes, are those classes built around that ACLC student as well?  Taking time to hire a Spanish teacher (and all relative costs), French teacher (and all  relative costs), or a Social Sciences, English, History, etc… teacher with the ability to teach an AP class (and all realtive costs)?

Or do they simply outsource all the most costly expenses to the School District, paying (and sometimes not paying — they only recently gave a token amount of money to the boosters club apparently) a fraction of the cost of what it takes to actually provide the services.  Is the expense justified by saying, ah well this portion goes to help light the classroom, this portion to the teacher’s services to teach/grade/advise/mentor the student, this portion to help heat/cool the classroom, this portion to pay for the electricity costs for the computer/overhead projector, this portion goes to chalk/white board pens, this portion goes to making copies of assignments, this portion goes to janitorial services to clean the classroom, etc…  I imagine that often the portions tend to exceed whatever payment comes from ACLC to the school district to “buy” these services from them.

And I have to say I am really offended by this statement made by ACLC:

…We will seek a west end location to make attending NCLC easiest for west end parents, many of whom cannot place their children in the higher scoring elementary schools in Alameda…

The implication is that there is something inherently wrong with West End school like Paden, Ruby Bridges, and Washington.  As though having a kid in a “higher scoring elementary” is the end goal of all parents, or rather, should be the end goal of all parents.   That it’s not that the West End schools (or any school for that matter) may not provide the right “fit” for the student, and the ACLC/NCLC/Nea will offer the “choice” of a different model, but rather that they will assure the student or rather, the student’s parents, that they will offer a “higher scoring” alternative rather than a different kind of education.   As if a higher scoring elementary is indicative of the success of that school and not the program and teachers that are a part of that school.

Nothing in the cheat sheet addresses the direct criticism of the charter school application itself.   While they may believe that they have a terrific education model for the K-5 program, what they failed to do is show it.  No amount of “debunking” claims with general point by point feel good blanket statements can correct that deficiency in their application.

It’s not that ACLC has built a better educational mouse trap, it’s simply that they have found mice with a propensity to run it with with more skill than some of the other mice.

And so I leave you with this letter written by Vice Mayor Lena Tam.  While the Council has no real say in issues for the School District it is refreshing to see a Councilperson take a principled stand on an issue that will make huge impacts on our school district, this was written to Gay Plair Cobb who is our representative on the County Board of Education:

Dear Gay –

Thank you for your service on the Alameda County Board of Education in representing the City of Alameda.  I am writing to ask for your help in upholding the denial of the NCLC charter school application that is being appealed at your March 11 board meeting.  This charter school application was denied by the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees on January 9, 2008.

The NCLC charter school proposal presents an unsound educational program alternative for the K-6 pupils to be enrolled in the charter school. Alameda’s elementary and high schools are outstanding from a performance perspective and offer ‘tried and tested’ programs for our students. Unlike the BASE charter school in Alameda, which offers programs that meet special needs, NCLC’s proposal does not provide an alternative that has been tried in the elementary school level.   In addition, the NCLC Charter Proposal includes a plan to deny promotion of K-5 students, who do not meet promotion expectations, to the high school level (6-12 program). This aspect of the proposal further diminishes the likelihood of achieving a racial and ethnic balance which would reflect that of the District. This balance is important in Alameda and one of the criteria in the evaluation of charter schools.

While financial considerations may not be paramount in the consideration of a charter school application, the NCLC charter school program would further exacerbate an untenable financial crisis facing AUSD.  The Governor’s proposed budget cuts and the suspension of Proposition 98 would force AUSD to cut educational programs, increase class sizes, lose teachers and close schools.  This is clearly unacceptable to the residents of Alameda.

Please vote to deny the NCLC (and later the Renaissance Leadership Academy) charter school petition and uphold the findings of the AUSD.

Lena Tam | Vice-Mayor, City of Alameda

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81 Comments

  1. In Lena Tam’s letter:

    “In addition, the NCLC Charter Proposal includes a plan to deny promotion of K-5 students, who do not meet promotion expectations, to the high school level (6-12 program). This aspect of the proposal further diminishes the likelihood of achieving a racial and ethnic balance which would reflect that of the District. This balance is important in Alameda and one of the criteria in the evaluation of charter schools.”

    So it’s important that we promote a kid to meet a racial and ethnic balance goal even if that kid does not meet scholastic promotion criteria? Great letter.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 11, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  2. I think Lena is a thoughtful and intelligent person, but what is fascinating about the statement Jack mentions is that it flatly asserts that certain races/ethnicities don’t meet expectations. In other words there is an assumption that academic achievement differs depending on race/ethnicity. Doesn’t that type of thinking become a self-fulfilling prophecy? I think someone referred to it as the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 9:23 am

  3. One other thing: O’Connell is quoted in the paper as supporting the parcel tax, as well as supporting an amendment to eliminate the 2/3rds rule for approval of new taxes. But, is there any mention of his support for fixing our unfair funding formula here in Alameda? Nope.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 9:35 am

  4. As with the ACLC endorsement of the parcel tax, how could O’Connell look if he didn’t endorse? Detractors of the tax will jump this and say, “Of course! The state wants us to pass the tax and take the heat off them.” With this in mind, I’m indifferent that O’Connell endorsed the tax.

    It sounds to me like Lena is objecting that NCLC will not permit “social promotions”. I have a lot of respect for Lena and would like to hear her explanation of this before saying more.

    I think the bottom line is not race but socio-economics , but there is a consistent correlation in terms of academic upward mobility .

    I think it’s great that a council person would write such a letter. While the schools are a separate entity, the district and city should work closely. Barbara Kerr was always emphatic about the separation, especially when it came to ANY financial aid from city to school. I found her a bit over board at times to the point of being unfriendly to the district.

    Comment by Mark I — March 11, 2008 @ 9:44 am

  5. Call me crazy, and Mark I’m sure you will, but “social promotion” is ludicrous and counter-productive. I’m not sure what dismays me more, that AUSD allows it or that a CC member is advocating it.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  6. This is the inherent problem with the NCLC application. It doesn’t describe its program and therefore doesn’t describe how promotions will be doled out. What is a “promotion expectation”? How is that defined by NCLC? No one know because it’s not in their application which means that it could be abitrary, it could mean that only kids scoring off the charts would get promoted in order to maintain NCLC’s API scores, or it could mean that only kids with birthdays that fall on Tuesdays will get promoted that year.

    Maybe when they put pen to paper and describe their program in detail and spell out what would hold a kid back or would promote them we could feel a little more comfortable with their abilities to educate K-5 kids other than their reassurances that they have it covered, trust them.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2008 @ 10:02 am

  7. ACLC said the district “would need to take a leep of faith” as to the details of the K-5 program. That was at the first AUSD board meeting when they presented the application.

    Comment by Barbara M — March 11, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  8. Dave,

    I have to respond because I don’t get why you’d expect me to being dissing you on this. Like I said, I’d prefer clarification from the source. I’m not going to jump on somebody who is “intelligent and thoughtful” because that would be to presume I know better than they do, of which I’m doubtful
    .
    I can support social promotion in a classic case of a child performing horribly and being held back a grade, but I can’t claim any expertise, nor can I guess what’s appropriate beyond that simple scenario. (seen season four of “The Wire”?)

    Comment by Mark I — March 11, 2008 @ 10:49 am

  9. Promotion standards should be enforced. I am not advocating that a student be graduated to the next grade level without meeting District standards.

    However, the NCLC application is vague. It’s plan for meeting promotion standards will be assessed by a “facilitator and community team” based on a student’s “team project.” This potential arbitrary and capricious standard could result, as determined by the AUSD from the demographics at ACLC, in minority students “dropping out of the program.” This would affect ethnic and racial balance at the next level (Required Element G in the criteria for charter schools).

    Comment by Lena Tam — March 11, 2008 @ 11:19 am

  10. Mark,

    I hope I am not perceived as jumping on Lena, either. I am being genuine with my “intelligent and thoughtful” comment and am open to hearing an interpretation of the text taken from the letter that is different than what I perceived. Also, I would point out that there is data that indicates that certain ethnicities are not, as a group, relatively successful in academics; I’m not debating that. I am saying that basing policy decisions on assumptions about the academic success of certain racial or ethnic groups can have an unintended consequence of perpetuating the poor academic performance of those groups, in part because it conveys to those groups that not much is expected of them.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 11:28 am

  11. I think you all need to take a step back from your own rhetoric and take an honest look at what has happened in regards to the NCLC charter thus far.

    In a conversation with a long time district administrator whom I deeply respect and admire for their commitment to education and children and for their honesty, I was told that the charter for NCLC was denied by the B.O.E. because of two reasons and two reasons only. The first is fiscal in that the B.O.E. has come to the conclusion that they can not maintain any more charter schools, period. As most of you now know financial issues can not be used in denial of a charter. The second, I was told is more of a contentious personality, philosophical, and management style issue the B.O.E. has with Paul Bentz of ACLC. So all of this about “This is the inherent problem….” and missing “details” and issues of equity, etc. are all nothing more than a smoke screen. It’s not rocket science. The B.O.E. has no burden of proof in regards to reasons they have given for denial. Why do you think they made the statement that, (paraphrasing)here are our reasons but we decided to stop here but we are certain there are more to be found if we looked further? A moron could see that that is a veiled threat telling you to go ahead and fix what you want but we’re just going to come up with more b.s. to stop you so why bother?

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  12. The AUSD fiscal situation is another mystery in Tam’s letter. Why mention and suggest the AUSD fiscal situation is dire (which they already know) when the fiscal situation was not a part of the NCLC denial and therefore cannot be used by the County to uphold the denial?

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 11, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  13. This is infuriating. All of you that are trying to stop charter schools, what solutions are you offering for all the children this district is not working, and private school or homeschool is not an option? I have fought for 6 years now to improve my local public school, advocate for teachers and students, rallied and brought in active parents, created an entire PTA, volunteered until I have nothing left to give, including securing grants and personally tutoring struggling students and teaching art there was no funding for and at the same time I have watched my own children loose their zest for learning, become ridden with test anxiety and hate school more every year. I have spoken with three child psychologists now and they have all confirmed all these tests and teaching to the tests is creating irreversible damage. Countless teaches and educational specialist agree. Yesterday when I visited the class several students and teacher were undone because the school was surprised with more district testing. I have not posted because I do not want to discourage public education for anyone, I have been one of the main advocates. But the system is broken for many and no one is offering concrete solutions to fix it, just keep it afloat. NCLC has finally offered a logical option for those that have already left the district or planning to soon leave. Yes there will still be testing but it is approached in an entirely different manner. News flash, people will leave no matter how many charters you deny. Isn’t it better to allow a charter that will attract people to Alameda and bring some funding into the city, instead of forcing people to look to other cities? If it works maybe we can find solutions to make the rest of the schools more functional for all.

    Comment by jkw — March 11, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  14. Perhaps oen should ask them why ACLC needs to expands? While “demand” shown by parents wanting an alternative to middle school will be their answer, their dirty little secret is that a stand alone charter organization like ACLC can not survive long term without GROWING. It is no coincidence that ACLC submitted their charter request after the District tighten up their MOU thereby squeezing ACLC operating budget. Without outside funding from foundations, charter schools like ACLC can not survive.

    Comment by Observer — March 11, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  15. NCLC doesn’t offer a “different solution” for students. In their own FAQ it’s all about the opening a location for West End parents who can’t send their kids to “higher scoring elementary schools.” I assume that the “higher scoring” means on standardized tests and not on a ball field or the basketball court.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  16. Wow. It is refreshing to hear jkw take a non-establishment, alternative position on this issue. His commitment and involvement to AUSD lends a lot of credibility to the argument for charter school alternatives, in my opinion.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

  17. #14 Alas, more b.s.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

  18. Lauren Do- the self appointed Alameda education expert who has no school age children enrolled in the district, doesn’t now a rat’s a– from different solutions in regards to education
    .

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

  19. #16 There are two people on this blog with the same initials.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  20. As long as my tax dollars are being used to fund your child’s education and the education offered by charter schools, I’ll keep giving my opinion on charter schools, the parcel tax, school budgets, and whatever catches my fancy.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  21. Yeah, for I minute I thought I took someone’s medication by mistake.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  22. With ACLC as a model it is easy to see how NCLC can and will offer a different solution.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

  23. Whew, thanks for setting me straight #19; for a minute I thought I’d taken someone’s medication by mistake.

    Comment by Mike Rich — March 11, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

  24. #18 typo now = know

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

  25. Yes, thank you for the clarification. I don’t post under JKW.

    Comment by John Knox White — March 11, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

  26. Poguemahone #11,

    It might be nice if you also stepped back and took a deep breath or something.

    Above, you offer an essentially hearsay anecdote about a conversation with an administrator, while admonishing anybody who persists in criticizing the charter for uttering only rhetoric.

    Back in January I don’t have any specific memory of exchanges in name calling between you and I, though I’m sure you may have taken references to elitism at ACLC personally, even though you claim no direct involvement. But what struck me then is that more than once you broadly brushed charter critics as spouting rhetoric, and the last time included a warning that we had better stop! The consequences for our not heeding your warning where not stated. I remember replying that the post amounted to “bullying”, which I suppose you aren’t inclined to yield to either.

    Meanwhile, the board’s actions you characterize above as “veiled threats”, are too me a statement that they have spent enough of their volunteer time to satisfy the requirements to deny the application, period. The fact I can’t read more into it makes me a “moron” I suppose. Poor me.

    In specific response to your comments about Paul Benz, you seem to imply that the no votes from the BOE were in part, based on blatant prejudice against a personality. I do not know Paul Benz personally but I have found his quotes in the paper regarding the qualifications of the NCLC application to be dismissive of the boards criticism, without being very specific in response. He previously indicated that he does not consider the state of the AUSD budget, this year or any other year, a factor to be weighed into the decision to apply for the charter. I’m sorry, but to me there is arrogance in this, or at least an extremely aloof attitude which doesn’t sit.

    In my appeal to the county I am specifically pointing out that this is an odd attitude for somebody who espouses an overall concern for the education of children. This is in part the root of my previous accusations of elitism, which I use as more than a weapon of rhetoric, because I believe it’s a fundamental flaw in the attitude for the leadership of the applicant group.

    If we are having a conversation, it would be nice if you’d not wag your finger in people’s faces so much, because it does nothing to bolster your position. If everything Lauren or other charter critics say is simply more “b.s.”, then why waste time responding? (rhetorical question)

    Comment by Mark I — March 11, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  27. #26
    For a long time not many people in this country questioned the rehtoric of the Bush administration in regards to 911, terrorism and Iraq. It was a simple case of, “if you tell a lie enogh times and loud enough it becomes truth.” I believe Dick Cheney even said something along those lines once.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  28. Furthermore, if you don’t like what I have to say or how I say it Mark, then I would only suggest you don’t read it. Fairly simple solution. I’m not posting to make any friends here- I just felt a fairly one-sided monologue had been going on for long enough and so jumped in with an alternative view. Free speech cuts more than one way. That said, I would like to nominate Mark the rule keeper for his own personal debate team. Congrats Mark! Well done!

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  29. Sorry about all the posts but things keep coming to me. Re #26 I would love to quote people directly and name names but the level of nepotism and intimidation in this town precludes me and others from often doing as much. I would argue however that some names that SHOULD be public record are those of the draftees of the parcel tax.

    We did not ramp this up to an either with us or against us argument. That distinction rests with the critics of NCLC. Many of us are very dedicated to the education of children and have been involved in the schools for years and are interested at working outside of the “box” if needed.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 11, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  30. In response to poguemahone,

    I’m very sorry, but with all due respect (I absolutely agree that you have a right to express your opinions and that this is, after all, a free forum in a free country) I’m wondering if maybe you can turn the nasty dial down a couple of notches.

    Now I attended the County Board of Education meeting this evening, and I, along with a few other students, expressed my opinions about this proposed charter. I then, along with my “cohorts” (which is a pretty harsh word to use about students, I might add) was told (I’ll take a wild guess and say that it was you, in fact) that I was a “murderer” of these children’s education, and that I was a “thief,” trying to steal their educational opportunities.

    Now I don’t understand who would decide to call a student who is speaking his or her mind, as you so eloquently defended in comment 28, a “murderer” or a “thief,” but I would only ask two questions of the NCLC team.

    #1 Maafi Gueye stated at the last BOE meeting that the reason why some children didn’t succeed at ACLC was that their “educational lights had been put out by conventional public education.” How could you all then have the concience to send that underperforming child back into the very system that put out their lights? To me, it would seem logical to try to keep that student and do everything you can to put that light back on.

    #2 What do you think our motives are? Why are we “murdering?” Why are we “thieving?” Do you honestly believe that we’re just out to get ACLC/NCLC? Why? What possible motive could I have for staying up late on a school night to go and speak? Obviously, there must be a detrimental effect to the students of our district. Obviously, I believe that a charter is not the right thing for our community.

    So with all due respect, I would really appreciate it if we were no longer called murderers and theives. We’re people who have opinions, just like you. We can absolutely have a respectful, civilized debate. To be honest, I think that a civilized debate would be good for this community. But again, name calling will get us nowhere.

    I’d welcome any constructive reply that you may have. Thank you very much.

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 11, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

  31. Ian, I am not Carlton Grizzle. He made the statements you quoted. Though I can not speak for him I believe he was trying to make the case that parents and their children should not be beholden to, or guilted and or intimidated into accepting only the options a district decides to offer. The argument goes as he has stated before that school districts should not take for granted ADA money; that they should earn it as represented by those who decide to stay within the traditional schools of that given district.

    No one seems to be rallying angrily about Alameda scolding all the people and their children that go to St. Joes, St. Barnabus, Beacon, The Chinese Christian School, Bishop O’Dowd, Julia Morgan, et all about how they are draining funds from Alameda Unified. So why is this targeted only towards us as some twisted logic against a NCLC charter?

    Re question #1 you would have to talk to Maafi whom you may find weekdays at ACLC. I think she may see it as inappropriate to discuss here, but I may be wrong.

    Speaking for myself on #2 I think as they say you have been sold a bill of goods. I do not question that some students believe the “official” argument orchestrated by the district and their insiders. With all due respect though I was young and impressionable once to the extent that when I turned eighteen I did something I will eternally regret; Though I registered as a Democrat I was persuaded into voting for Ronald Regan! Ugh! I also was almost talked into joining the Marines. I did not, went to Art school instead, minored in history, learned some critical thinking and became very politically progressive (a liberal).

    One of my heroes is Lenny Bruce, so sometimes perhaps I am a bit acerbic and uncivilized. So, guilty as charged! Here is part of something I received from Carlton this evening that seems apropos:

    Finally, in a small town like Alameda, hot topics like education can be very divisive and make it seem that neighbors are enemies and have absolutely nothing in common. While we may certainly disagree, we all want what is best for our children and are fighting for them. In addition, we are practicing the very messy, frustrating, and sometimes maddening thing called Democracy on which our great country is based. For that, I would like to thank everyone who participated tonight, whether they supported us or not.

    Carlton Grizzle

    Comment by poguemahone — March 12, 2008 @ 12:11 am

  32. Just to clarify, I am not a part of the so called “NCLC team” but an Alameda parent with a child attending a district school and am a supporter of the NCLC charter.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 12, 2008 @ 12:27 am

  33. Although I am not in favor of the proposed charters, I have to correct something that was in the original post– there were indeed students from ACLC participating in the student walkout. Students I know at AHS saw students they know from ACLC and told me they were there.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — March 12, 2008 @ 12:29 am

  34. I saw one student who I know attends ACLC. I believe they should be there. If AUSD has to cut sports and A/P classes they too will take that hit.

    Comment by Barbara M — March 12, 2008 @ 7:27 am

  35. #31

    “I did not, went to Art school instead, minored in history, learned some critical thinking and became very politically progressive (a liberal).”
    “The liberals can understand everything but people who don’t understand them.” (Lennie Bruce)

    Ah, there’s the problem.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 12, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  36. Jack Richard, I’m also a fan of some of John Stuart Mill’s quotes and this is a fav:

    “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”
    John Stuart Mill

    Comment by poguemahone — March 12, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  37. By the way, for those of you who don’t know, Bruce skewered conservatives as much as he did progressives. He was an equal opportunity satirist. He is a hero of mine for his stance on freedom of speech.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 12, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  38. #27 and #28 I don’t doubt you had the conversations you claim, I was just commenting that you ask a lot when you unleash all this hostility and refer to various unsubstantiated conversations, all under the protection of anonymity, but expect your opinions to be respected.

    Normally I would read a post to know what a person is thinking and how I might agree or disagree, but with Pogeumahone, why bother ? Because it seems like it’s the same redundant “b.s.” she lables anybody who has an opposing view.

    P.M., I thought you might appreciate that I was defending myself against what I took to be offensive assertions by you, while trying not to come right back and wag a finger in your face. It’s a fine line and I’m no angle. But it’s not about me staking high ground as rule keeper, it’s about trying not to be drawn down as fast as another person can drag you.

    I have what you might find an odd cedo. I post my identity in order to justify being as direct or honest as I feel is appropriate. If I wanted anonymity I would curb much of what I post because I would not wish to offend somebody under cover of anonymity because it’s cowardly.

    I don’t need to hear your “it’s small town” excuses, I’m living through that daily as the price having my heart on one sleeve and my liver on the other.

    Comment by Mark I — March 12, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  39. typo “cedo” is credo

    Comment by Mark I — March 12, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  40. Mark I, To quote,”….expect your opinions to be respected.” I do not have this expectation but I’ll call it like I see it and argue my point as I see fit.

    “….but with Pogeumahone, why bother….?” You certainly put a lot of energy into something/someone you claim not to have the need to “bother” with.

    I nominate Mark for a brownie button for his courageous credo in posting his identity. Again congrats Mark. I may only dream to be but a shadow to your greatness!

    I do not owe you any explanation or validation as to my choice of remaining “under the cover of anonymity.”

    I don’t need to hear (read) your little lectures on decorum, and courage and cowardice but if it makes you feel better by all means…..

    Comment by poguemahone — March 12, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

  41. My name is Becky Sotello, I am a senior at Encinal High school and am the student body vice president.

    I am in shock at what this blog has become. It is now an arena of bickering, sarcasm, and insults. I think that should stop now and we should all be civil adults when responding to what others have said. Let us stick to the issues, and stop the personal attacks.

    In any event, I have an opinion or two on this matter.

    Pogeumahone, just to clarify, I was not talked into or convinced to go against the NCLC charter. I may be young, but I am not impressionable, and nobody forced my beliefs onto me. In my own opinion, the charter should not pass.

    As I briefly (as they only give you two minutes to speak) stated at the county meeting last night, I have seen what really goes on at ACLC, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to model a k-12 charter school after it. I have been neighbors with ACLC for four years, I know what I am talking about. I see the things that parents and sometimes even teachers don’t.

    There are kids constantly wandering around in our, yes OUR hallways. They come to school late, skateboarding in like it’s no big deal, they often don’t even go to certain classes, they hang out on their couches all day listening to their ipods, or out in back playing with Pokemon cards or hacky sack, and many things similar to that.

    I’m not saying every kid does this, not at all. However, there is a good size of their population does this on a normal basis.

    I am not making any of this up. What would be the point of any of that? I’m not here to sabotage anyone, I am not a thief as Carlton said last night, I am just a senior who has observed some very disturbing things. I have no hidden agenda, no secret plans to destroy ACLC, I am just a concerned student.

    It scares me that they want to model a school after this.

    There is plenty more I could say, and perhaps I will some other time, but I’m afraid this has gone on rather long and I would like to finish my homework and go to bed. I have classes to attend tomorrow.

    Comment by Becky Sotello — March 12, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

  42. So I’m just curious.

    As I posted earlier on a different strand, I support the proposed parcel tax. I, as a student in Alameda, have been enduring budget cuts since I was in 5th grade, and my youngest brother, Elijah, who will be a kindergartener next year, will likely be enduring them for the next 13 years. I believe that this parcel is necessary to maintain the quality public education in Alameda that we have come to expect from our town.

    But I’m just curious. I wanted to ask those who post here who are opposed to the parcel tax why they are. I don’t mean it in any antagonizing way at all. I am just, truly and honestly, curious.

    I often, when I have an opinion, don’t take time to sit and listen to people who disagree with me. I’m trying to change that. So I’d like to ask you all to respectfully give me your reasons for not supporting the parcel tax. Or, for that matter, if you do support it, I guess you could tell me why as well. Thanks.

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 12, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

  43. Why would we support another parcel tax?

    We want to have our kids receive the best education we can afford to give them. We moved here for Alameda’s schools, and the safe, small town quality of this Bay Area retreat. $120 / year is almost nothing.

    However, to play devil’s advocate – it is not $120/yr. – It is another $120 /yr, on top of the $189, plus the nearly $500/yr for M”C”. And that is just for the schools today. Then add some of the other special assessments, for Alameda’s hospital, the EB parks, Transportation etc; than let’s increase sales tax, increase gas tax, (again for transportation, & roads, bridges, transit systems, so we can support more development that our infrastructure still cannot support), it goes with an increase in surtax on phones, cable, water, PG&E, and increase in solid waste cost to support recycling – which should save money. What do you think is going to continue as Alameda is strapped for more and more services because the big business of development takes their pound of flesh? If AP&T survives it will be at greater cost, but really the $120/year to meet the needs of public education in Alameda is nothing.

    Nothing but a band aid! (devil’s advocate again) Clearly not enough to satisfy those of us who want Alameda education to offer what used to be offered. Many know it needs to be more. Some don’t want to work for it because it clearly is insufficient for what we want. Why put so much effort into such a little return. Especially if it appears that the authors want to keep their little school open. Look at the powers that be, behind it, I only know a few – Bill S, R. Mooney, your mom. – Your mom – what was her quote in the paper yesterday? “Don’t people know if schools are closed, there will be no sports?” WHAT??
    What kind of fear mongering is that? If we could close two small schools that would more than cover restoring the full funding of all HS and Middle school sports to a level we had years ago. It only means moving a few hundred students and their teachers to join a larger facility to take advantage of an economy of scale. It would be a perpetual savings. What is so bad about bringing the little schools into the fold where the average size elementary school should be between 500-600? People don’t respond well to fear mongering, people don’t like blatant disregard of democracy, people are apprehensive any time there is a sense of powers acting in self-interest at the expense of the rest involved. It really seems like a very poorly planned and insufficient proposal.

    But of course I support the parcel tax, at least I will vote for it. If I didn’t have to work both days this weekend, escort my younger scout to CGI for a tour, and get the back section of our house ready to rent, (because we can’t meet our out-go without the added income), I would consider attending the tax ballot prep pep rally. Perhaps I’ll call to put up some lawn signs.

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 12:05 am

  44. Don’t you live with the Kahanes? In any case I’ll not be drawn into a pitched battle with kids but here are some observations.

    If the ACLC students/learners are such slackers how do they manage to consistently score so well on those dreadful standardized test, earning the coveted 10 rating on the state Academic Performance Index for the past five years and also end up being praised by such EXPERTS as State schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell who happened to mention on his visit to ACLC that, “Schools like this with a good track record should be replicated,”? These wandering, skateboarding, ipod listening, hacky sackin, class cutting lovers of all things couch, ne’er-do-wells also managed to be named a California Distinguished School by the state; the first in the entire county of Alameda. I’ll bet some of them even had the audacity to all the while busying themselves reading condemned obscenity of the likes of Joyce’s Ulysses!

    It is not a traditional school and is not attempting to emulate the traditional high school experience found at Encinal or Alameda High.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 12:23 am

  45. #44 was in response to #41.

    As for the parcel tax.… I mostly agree with what David has said. I support it but find some wording disturbing and smelling of personal interest, and I also take issue with the complete exemption to seniors, regardless of their financial situation. Many middleclass families here in Alameda are surviving pay check to pay check these days while I am certain that more than a few seniors are financialy better off than they. It also seems to be somewhat inequitable in regards to multi-unit residential rental property.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 12:48 am

  46. Re #44,

    How would they achieve these test scores if they were on their own campus without taking classes at EHS? How many parents would opt to send their children ACLC if all of the extras that make a High School experience complete were not supplied by EHS? ACLC attends our dances, participates in our sports,plays in our band, performs in our plays, uses the grades they earned in our foreign language & A/P classes to make them well rounded and good test score worthy. Yes we also make their lunch. I realize that ACLC pays for some (but not all) of these services but without them ACLC could not offer a complete high school experience. For that we get told that our system is inferior and we not enlightened enough to understand their ways. One more note, if you aren’t trying to replicate a traditional high school why do you want our dances, plays etc…

    Comment by Barbara M — March 13, 2008 @ 5:36 am

  47. #46 – All of this is irrelevant. None of what you mention is a negative, – in fact, not only are those the rights of Charter Schools, but I am shocked at your ‘us-them’ division. Barbara – All the districts students are “our” students, whom we should be trying to educate by any means necessary. The purpose of Charter Schools is to find out what works for students who fail, are unchallenged, or otherwise are failed by the more traditional concepts employed at our other public schools. And it is more financially efficient to boot. And by law, the financial effect of a Charter school on the “supporting District” is not allowed to be a consideration by the BOE.

    How is it that a school achieving “CA Distinguished School” status, who has the blessings of the State School Super – is not being replicated?
    This is very puzzling indeed.

    I’m off to work but look forward to your response.

    As for those negitives attributed to ACLC in post #41 – I see that daily at BHS – have ear buds, cell phones and skateboards been eliminated at AUSD’s other schools?

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 6:23 am

  48. I am not here to deliver answers. I am merely pointing out observations that I and other Encinal students, even ACLC students, have taken note of. I apologize if my comment last night sounded short, it was late. However, I still stand by what I said.

    The truth is, a lot of kids that end up going there would have high test scores no matter where they went. I am not saying ACLC hasn’t helped students, I hear it has done remarkable things for certain individuals, however, a lot of the students going there would be high achievers anyway. Some of us were talking about this yesterday, a lot of us would succeed at ACLC just like them, and a lot of ACLC students would succeed just as much, and raise our own test scores, if they came to Encinal. My point is, perhaps a lot of those test scores come from already smart kids.

    Now, again, I’m not saying that nobody learns anything from ACLC. That would be silly. It is a school, a distinguished school, I am aware of that, however, I believe a lot of those kids are taking advantage of the free structure of the school. They even have a certain reputation at our school because of what I stated in my previous comment. It is not a lie. Why would I make it up? I really have nothing against ACLC. But things like that disturb me.

    I’m saying that some aspects of it could be replicated, of course. However, the school has become something that is different than what it started out as, and I am afraid that if it expands, it will be even easier for kids to fall through the cracks and take advantage of its system. That is all I am trying to say.

    The system as of right now should not be replicated.

    Comment by Becky Sotello — March 13, 2008 @ 6:36 am

  49. I can’t reply till later, I have to go to mafia headquarters.

    Comment by Barbara M — March 13, 2008 @ 6:51 am

  50. (sorry – repost from the 1000 words thread – it fits better here)

    Why will throwing more schools (charter) at Alameda help the financial situation? Closing Schools? Which schools in Alameda are so poor that a Charter school should come in and replace them? What evidence is there that Charter Schools are better than public schools? Don’t quote that Harvard economist – her published report came from faulty data.

    Both Public Schools and Public Charter schools will have to live by the same test standards and meet the same requirements to receive funding. I’m not even sure this last point is true – that they will need to meet the same requirements – I’ve heard otherwise (I’ll need to research this a bit further.)

    Why are we even having this charter school debate – if there is not enough money for public schools – why would there be additional for charters?

    Comment by ChrisO — March 13, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  51. #44
    I’ll not repeat what David has already David so well, but I’ll add that not every kid at ACLC takes an AP or language class at Encinal and even if they did I think it is absurd to conclude that that is somehow the magic fairy dust that magically awarded them a Distinguished Schools honor, praise from many education experts, and national media, and an across the board high proficiency on state standardized tests.

    #48
    Becky you sound like a bright, engaged, passionate kid but with all due respect your argument, especially your second paragraph, is beginning to sound a bit silly.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  52. Dr. O,
    I believe all of your questions have been answered here and elsewhere ad nauseam, so forgive me for not replying and simply suggesting you do a bit of research on the subject.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  53. Poguemahone #40 onward

    sorry, I can’t respond to you because I took your advise and stopped reading your posts. Huge weight lifted.

    Too bad, because you have made some pretty intelligent posts when not flaming out about charters.

    From context of other posts it’s ironic that adults are getting lessons in citizenship from kids still in school, but they are the future after all.

    Comment by Mark I — March 13, 2008 @ 8:11 am

  54. #51
    Sory about the typo. For clarity, the second “David” should have been “said”.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 8:26 am

  55. Patient 52 (hope those meds are working)

    Don’t dodge the questions.

    I’ve been reading the posts – not one person has answered the finance question. How is adding charters going to help an underfunded school budget?

    Here is another question – is it a level playing field between the two? Do special needs kids at Charters have the choice of being sent to other schools at the expense of the charter for not meeting their special needs (like public schools) or will they just be sent awaay to public schools?

    This thread is a bit of a bore with all the one upping – it needs more fact discussion. Post a fact – let’s debate it.

    Go ahead and slam me – I’m a waiting; however, I would prefer a decent answer.

    Thanks

    Comment by ChrisO — March 13, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  56. Mr. Kirwin,

    With all due respect, I’d prefer that if you would like to characterize my mother’s quote as “fear-mongering” that you say that to her, rather than me. I don’t believe that she actually said that, but even if she did, I don’t believe that attack should be made through her son. I feel that’s pretty disrespectful.

    The fact is, however, that school sports do have a very very good chance of being cut if the parcel tax does not pass. While closing a couple of elementary schools(at a mere savings of less than $300,000, according to Luz Cazares) may help the district, we have already seen a glimpse of the school board’s priorities. On March 4th, the cut sports, they didn’t close schools. While we can argue about what would help the district more, the fact is that if the parcel tax doesn’t pass, we will almost certainly be losing both sports and a couple of neighborhood schools.

    One other argument I might point out (to anybody who opposes the parcel tax) is that Alameda, compared to other communities, has notoriously low tax rates for homeowners and businesses. Now think about this for a moment: A parcel tax could (and almost certainly will, unless the state budget somehow becomes even worse than it is now) save high-school sports, elementary music programs, AND maintain small neighborhood schools. And what do all of these things do? They help contribute to our districts reputation, improve our schools and the quality of education, and therefore RAISE property values (or, given the current state of property values, at least help to stem the bleeding.) People don’t want to come to communities without neighborhood schools and without sports. So a parcel tax will actually pay each homeowner in our community more than it will cost.

    I also don’t quite understand the argument that the people that wrote the parcel tax did it out of self interest. Can someone please explain that to me?

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 10:48 am

  57. Pogumahone #51,

    Becky actually made a very insightful point in that post.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the philosophy of ACLC is to foster the educational growth of independent learners, correct? It’s intended to be a school where self-starters can manage their own time and where learners, rather than being “taught” have their own, independent learning, merely “facilitated.”

    Well, if that is true, than it would make sense to say that most of those independent, self starting students would also succeed in a conventional school, correct? Those kids are the ones that care about learning, the ones that love learning and want to work to learn. The independent students at ACLC, the ones for whom the program was made, would succeed in any school.

    Now, as Becky already said, we do not claim that ACLC doesn’t teach kids anything. On the contrary, I’m sure that it’s the perfect school for a lot of students. When an ACLC student says that that school has changed their life, I’m not doubting that. I am merely attempting to suggest that if the true philosophy of ACLC is that students need to learn independently, and that their education need only be “facilitated,” then how can it claim credit for their success? ACLC should be praising it’s students, and only it’s students, rather than patting it’s own back.

    I will also make one other point. The very nature of the application process for ACLC effectively weeds out a certain population. To get into ACLC, you have to be savvy enough to understand charters, you have to be willing to find out how to apply, be willing to do the work to get on the list, and also be willing to wait.

    What about the child with a single parent who works 70 hour weeks and barely speaks english? Children in those types of situations, with parents who are either unable or unwilling to go through with the process, are not going to be able to go to ACLC. And since those kids’ parents obviously are not, for whatever reason, very involved in their children’s education, they are not likely to be the kids with the highest test scores.

    To put it simply, I don’t have enough faith in the success of the system (since I believe that that success is largely due to naturally bright, independent students, who, for the most part, have naturally bright, involved parents) to take a “leap of faith.”

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 11:02 am

  58. Go, Ian! I think that regards of where you stand on the Parcel Tax, Charter Schools, etc. we should all be proud that our public schools turned out such a compassionate, well spoken student. Gives me hope, that’s for sure.

    by the way, I couldn’t have said #57 about NCLC (ACLC) any better myself…

    Comment by Kerri L. — March 13, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  59. “I’m sure that it’s the perfect school for a lot of students.”

    Ian Merrifield

    So that is not enough?

    Are you aware that ACLC has requested for years now a contact/mailing list from the district to better “spread the word” but the district has ignored this?

    Are you confident that all parents at Encinal and Alameda High are fully aware of ALL their students options and rights and that the district fully facilitates them knowing ALL of their rights and options? For instance; that any student can opt out of STAR and any of the overdone standardized testing done in the name of assessment, and also that recesses and or lunch breaks can not be withheld as a form of punishment? Are ALL parents aware that ESL (English as a second language) and special needs kids are tested in the same manner as the rest of the district? “Here is the test, good luck!” Unless you go to one of those schools where cheating occurred and you might be lucky to get some “extra help”. Are ALL parents aware they can petition to send their children to any school in the district?

    The “application process” is a district facilitated lottery system, and any wait can be attributed to the fact that this district has tried anything and everything to keep ACLC from expanding its program to more equally mirror the demand.

    Finally I’ll posse a question for you Ian:
    Is Cal a great school because of it’s students or because of it’s staff and curriculum and facilities?

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  60. I’ll have to respond to Dr. O later as I have to go teach some art at a traditional public school.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

  61. Mr. Merrifield,
    First, let me apologize if I offended you and the other students with my comments at the Alameda County Board of Education meeting. When I prepared my speech its intended audience was the policy makers, politicians, and community members who can only criticize and offer no real alternative or solution to the hundreds of Alameda families disillusioned with the state of public education. It was totally intended for an adult audience. You and your friends were unfortunately caught in the crossfire. However, for its intended audience, I stand whole-heartedly behind my words.
    For clarity, the speech I read at the Alameda County Board of Education public hearing regarding the Nea Community Learning Center charter proposal on March 11, 2008 is copied below in its entirety within brackets.
    [I am Carlton Grizzle, AUSD parent and ACLC facilitator. Three times now I have heard our detractors speak against the Nea Community Learning Center. Most disturbingly, three times now they have failed to offer any kind of solution or alternative to the hundreds of Alameda families who are disillusioned by traditional public education. Oh sure, they talk of forming committees, creating a task force. There’s even the claim of starting a magnet school probably within the next 3 to 5 years. Maybe. Perhaps. That is the complacency and entitlement that is smothering our children’s love for learning.
    Why do they fear Nea CLC? They fear that, given public educational choice for the first time in history, more families will demonstrate their lack of faith in the traditional schools by fleeing. After all, it’s a peaceful society where no one is allowed to demonstrate.
    A great teacher once said that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Our detractors steal our children’s state provided educational money by holding them hostage in schools that don’t serve them. They kill our children’s enthusiasm for learning by smothering them with district mandated standardized testing and scripted lessons. They destroy innovation and hope by tying down the NCLC team with bureaucracy and technicalities. There is hope, however. It only takes four of you to stop the thieves. It only takes four of you to hear the voices of desperation and offer hope.
    Let’s lay it all on the table. What do our detractors have to offer? Committees. What does the Nea CLC team have to offer? A nationally recognized, award winning, proven educational model. Our detractors? A task force. The Nea team? Deeply committed parents, teachers, and community members who have the skill, experience, and knowledge to achieve the best 21st century educational model possible. Our detractors? The promise of maybe some new programs in the indeterminate future. Finally, the Nea team? The plans, means, support and ability to implement that 21st century model as soon as we are approved, not at some obscure future date.
    Bottom line, our detractors offer nothing. We offer hope based on reality. All you have to do is say yes. We’ll do the rest.]
    You and your friends are very bright so I will not insult your intelligence by presuming to explain the use of metaphor in making a point. Please do not insult the intelligence of your readers by misquoting my words or obfuscating their original meaning. Really now, are you the one who is killing children’s enthusiasm by forcing them to take district mandated tests? Mr. Merrifield, you do yourself an injustice. You are better than that. Stop sensationalizing another’s words by making such tabloid-worthy claims.
    The points of my speech follow. 1.) Several hundred Alameda families have no confidence in the public education opportunities available. 2.) The NCLC team is trying to offer a solution to their problem by offering them a different public education opportunity. 3.) Our detractors continue to offer those hundreds of families no solution at all other than vague promises.
    By the way, a friend told me of your comments on this blog and so I have returned to the forum that is, in my opinion, a very ineffective way of communicating meaningfully. I gave up on the blogosphere over two months ago for the very reasons you mentioned: it’s very difficult to have a civilized discussion in this format. It’s far too easy to misconstrue or even manipulate a writer’s intent and base claims on spurious data. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to communicate directly.
    Please be careful. Your attempts at finding out the true identity of your opponents discourage many people who may legitimately disagree with you from posting their thoughts and comments online. Harsh attacks and ridicule only confirm their fears and may squelch a timid but gifted soul from posting his or her opinion. The internet is boasted as the great equalizer where anyone could post their thoughts anonymously without fear of reprisal or having to give up their identities, even those who are afraid. I am of different stock. If I want to say something I will say it clearly and I will identify myself. My communications will be similar to my few blog postings and the speech you heard at the ACOE board meeting. Once again, I will say it for all to hear and you will know who I am.
    I was very impressed with your student group. I especially appreciated the young lady who had the courage to address me directly! You all have very bright futures and you are good speakers. However, if you want your group to be taken as seriously as you deserve they should speak their own words, not those of the adults who brought them.
    Finally, I would truly enjoy speaking with you in a civilized, constructive manner. Let’s discuss solutions, not criticisms. After all, our groups could be critical of each other for all time. But, what will that accomplish? You know where to find me and you are welcome to stop by any time I am not in class. Or, if you prefer, we can set something up through some of our mutual friends.
    Until then, best regards.
    Carlton Grizzle

    Comment by Carlton Grizzle — March 13, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  62. First to Mr. Grizzle,

    I first want to apologize. I did not mean to antagonize in my guess that poguemahone was actually you. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.

    I am, though, happy that you came on and read what I had to say. While the remarks may have been made with the intent of a different audience, please, as you said I was doing, don’t insult your readers’ intelligence. You turned around in your seat, looked at us, and pointed repeatedly. You easily, if you didn’t want to attack students, could have modified what you had to say to fit the audience that you saw behind you.

    But you’re correct, this is not the proper forum for this discussion. I’d certainly be happy to have it at a different time and place.

    Again, I don’t mean any disrespect to you. While we may disagree about this issue, I totally agree that we can do that in a different manner. I merely felt that some of your comments were more divisive than they needed to be.

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

  63. Poguemahone,

    What I believe is the flaw with your Cal argument is that Cal claims to teach it’s students. Cal, like any other university, has professors that lecture and give assignments. The style of education at a school is very different than that of ACLC.

    So when Cal brags about their excellent faculty, and the great success that their students acheive because of that faculty, it makes sense.

    My only point about ACLC was that I’ve seen a lot of pro-NCLC parents, students, and others continually hold up the test scores of their students as a way of saying “Look at our school and how wonderful it is.” I would propose instead that these people say, “Look at our students and how wonderful they are,” because if the educational philosophy of ACLC is truly that a student’s independent learning need only be facilitated, then their succes was similarly merely facilitated. I think that leads to the question: “If the school itself can only take credit for facilitating learning, how do we know that these students wouldn’t have had the same successes at Encinal or Alameda high schools?”

    As you quoted me saying, I do think that ACLC is the perfect school for many of the students there. That’s why so many of them love it. I’m not against ACLC, I’m against the creation of a new charter. Again, I’m against the new charter because I don’t feel we have enough evidence to take that “leap of faith.” What we have instead is a successful school that takes credit for all of it’s success, rather than acknowledging that the students, who are independently in charge of their own learning, are the ones to be praised.

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  64. P.S. Mr. Grizzle,

    By the way, every student that spoke at the meeting wrote their own words. We looked at the facts and composed arguments based on those. If you truly believe that we are smart kids that deserve to be taken seriously, please don’t underestimate our intelligence so much that you’re willing to claim that we were merely fed words by the adults whose cars we happened to arrive in. We’re big kids, we can make our own arguments.

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

  65. Hey Ian,

    I agree with your comment in #63 that students “are independently in charge of their own learning.” It runs counter to the slogan from the California Teachers Association that gets played endlessly in their radio ads: “No child succeeds alone.”

    I mention that because whenever I hear the advertisement it conveys this image of children failing without the help of the system, which is similar to the message from the recent court ruling that parents can’t home-school their kids. The message I hear is: “how dare you presume to try to succeed or run your own life outside of this wonderful system we have created for you.”

    While I am concerned about the financial impacts of new charters on the traditional public schools in Alameda (even though I am fortunate to be able to choose private school for my own child), I must tell you that a message similar to what I’ve just described is conveyed to me when I hear people arguing against new charters. I don’t know the answer and I’m sure you don’t intend to come off that way, but I think there are some people who have a philosophical difference regarding school choice that has little or nothing to do with the financial implications for the traditional schools. Perhaps there is a way to both acknowledge that school choice is a valid consideration, while also arguing that such considerations don’t surmount the impact on traditional schools.

    Comment by Michael Rich — March 13, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  66. So Ian,
    I am not trying to put words in your mouth but it seems to me that you are saying it is inaccurate to judge a school’s success by the success of it’s students? Huh?

    Was State schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell, The Distinguished Schools Review Board, and Newsweek all duped by a bunch of brainy slacker kids and their inept faculty and flawed curriculum? Sounds like a t.v. sitcom.

    Re #64
    I have to strongly refute. I witnessed with my own eyes as did others in attendance, Sylvia Kahn orchestrating and directly telling kids what to say. The last young woman who spoke read from what was a hastily written speech written on paper that I saw shoved into her hand that attempted to rebuked Carlton’s comments.

    Mike Rich,
    How dare you send your child to a private school! You and your elitist cohorts are bankrupting AUSD! (wink, wink.)

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  67. #66, they don’t get the ADD, but they do get my tax dollars for services I’ve decided not to use. I know you are being facetious.

    Comment by Michael Rich — March 13, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

  68. Re #55
    Dr. O,
    First of all charters are legally public schools. Parents their children and educators within a given district have the right to collectively start charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools available in their district, city and county. Without trying to sound flippant or callous it is not the charge of a charter or any public school for that matter to balance the books of any district. However, many charters, not all, have been shown to deliver a more fiscally efficient education than traditional schools that are more closely tied to a district bureaucracy. I’m not an expert on special needs, but charters do pay for sourced out options.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 4:10 pm

  69. Thanks p

    “First of all charters are legally public schools. Parents their children and educators within a given district have the right to collectively start charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools available in their district, city and county”

    I completely understand this. I’ve read it previously. It doesn’t answer my questions regarding $$.

    My problem isn’t with charters as being a bad idea – my problem is with where the money for them would come from? Where are we taking money away from.

    Not to be super evil – but has ACLC been considered for the chopping block? If not why not? Or will it close with Encinal(which I would NOT like to see being from EHS class ’84)?

    Seems we should be bare bones – keep the existing schools and existing programs, even keep ACLC – impose a parcel tax – but no further charter schools until more funds come in – or until a more equitable parcel tax is imposed.

    Thanks

    Comment by ChrisO — March 13, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

  70. This will be my final post.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand something. You all say we are very intelligent young students, and yet you insult our intelligence by saying that we were saying the words of the adults that brought us. How dare you. Everything that we said, everything, came from us. I’ll have you know that the last student that spoke wrote that all on her own while she was listening to the other speakers. I watched her. We have our own opinions, we are not just the puppets of adults. I can’t believe that after all that you have seen us do within these last weeks, you would think that we would do something like that. I’m sorry, but I just had to clear that up.

    Again, all that I have said have only been observations of mine, you can believe them or think they are lies, you are your own person. I just don’t see why I would waste my energy going to board meeting or coming on here just to spread lies. I assure you, I am not.

    That is all that I will say on the matter in here. I believe this place has become somewhat of a monster. How did someone’s personal blog become a source of such frustration? I know that I will never change the minds of people that are in here, and I know that they certainly will not change my mind, so I won’t waste my time any longer on here. Although there have been some pretty insightful thoughts on here, most of it is just arguing. I think you should all look at yourselves and wonder why you are here. Do you really think you will convince someone that you are right? There are such passionate people here on both sides, it seems pointless to me.

    Anyway, I will leave it there. I have more constructive things to do with my time.

    P.S.: although I will not be at the next county meeting due to the Close-Up trip, rest assured there will be someone speaking on my behalf. Just because I have left here does not mean I am done with this issue.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Becky Sotello — March 13, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

  71. Becky,

    As my grandma used to say, “Nil Illegitimus Carborundum.” (OK, she’ didn’t actually SAY that, but she did needlepoint it on a belt.)

    I can understand your frustration. There are a fair number of people on this blog who like to yank people’s chains and engage in badgering for fun, but it is actually a useful tool for sharing information and hearing different voices. I’ve been really pleased that you and Ian have made the effort to participate in the discussion although I can completely understand why you might want to stop. I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to work with you as we try to get the parcel tax passed.

    Comment by Page — March 13, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

  72. In response to Poguemahone, #66.

    I’m sorry, but I must respectfully ask you to read my last post, my entire post, before I will respond. You have grossly mischaracterized my argument on multiple levels, and I just simply can’t respond to that part of it. Rather than directly quote the things that I said earlier that would refute the statements that you just made, I’d just respectfully ask you to read what I said again.

    I will, however, put my foot down about one point, as Becky did. The students who were at the County meeting did not, I repeat, DID NOT, take any orders from any of the adults who we came with.

    To put aside the point about the last girl that spoke (Her name is Mirana, by the way) she was not reading from a script. She was reading from a speech that she wrote. I merely had an idea of something that she could add at the very end, and so she was reading something that I had written. It was NOT written by an adult there.

    We rode to the meeting with Barbara and Sylvia, they provided small suggestions, but every word that was uttered by the students was our own. I can personally tell you that while I agree with much of what Sylvia and Barbara said that night, I don’t agree with all of it. That’s because we are smart, independent students, and we are certainly old enough to create our own opinions. Any attempt to assert anything different would be, in a phrase you, PM, might be familiar with, “f-ing shameless.”

    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 13, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

  73. I re-read it….and?

    Let’s not split hairs; coaching, suggesting, telling, reading others comments, it all looked a bit contrived from where I was sitting or as you put it “f-ing shameless.”

    Now let me guess how many people are going to jump on and condemn me as a basher of children?

    Page, Thanks for calling us all bastards. I’ll let my ma know next time I see her. Here’s one for you. Go hifreann leat cac ar oineach.

    Comment by poguemahone — March 13, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  74. I think this proves my point, Becky. Too bad there’s not an “ignore” function on this blog.

    Comment by Page — March 13, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

  75. #74
    Sometimes you might just want to say a quick prayer when others are suffering from “bad moments”. I used to wish I knew the tongue of my heritage, days like today I feel blessed that I don’t…

    On the other hand if no credit is deserved by the schools because it is only the students that achieve – it sounds like Ian is willing to eliminate the budget problem with teacher reductions – I can’t buy into the thought that “teachers don’t teach, it the students that learn.” Maybe I too miss his point in #57 & 63.

    It seems clear to me that all the students at ACLC, self starters or not, were dissatisfied with the conventional AUSD schools and opted for trying the Charter school. For what ever reason that choice was made. If ACLC learning is self paced it can work for all levels of students. Not all teachers would know how to properly facilitate that however. Maybe even some ACLC teachers are failing to motivate every student if some of the Encinal student reports are correct in their assumptions. I think what was said around posts 57 are weak arguments if meant to dismiss the successes of ACLC, or to de-value the teachers there.

    #56
    Ian – with all due respect, I am not attacking your mother thru you, I posted on her statement (see front page article of Tuesday’s AJ)
    I defined it as fear mongering, others may say it is to incite fear, I really don’t understand her point , because school closures would only provide more money for things like sports, not less. With or without passing the parcel tax I will bet we have HS sports next year.

    It really gives me the ‘willies’ when you dismiss the savings of a “mere $300/yr”. It is that kind of thinking that is bankrupting so many public systems. Someone once told me that if you mind your nickels and dimes, your dollars will take care of themselves.

    I think by now most of us on this blog know the arguments favoring the parcel tax. I encourage you to keep preaching it, but you may not want to spend your time preaching to the choir. Most of us who are upset about the tax will still vote for it, but their may be a serious backlash of anger regarding the lack of democracy involved –Should anyone spout off that democracy starts and ends at the ballot box it would certainly seal their label as a moron. I don’t think any readers here are that naive.

    Despite any action the District or BOE may take or state, it is the wording on the ballot that will be voted on. It is the wording on the ballot that will be remembered. I hope some of the young readers entering this blog have read why so many are so upset with this ballot measure, and why the level of distrust has been ratcheted upwards.

    There is the issue of fairness, what that means and how it has been applied; things like senior exemption – most of whom have benefitted the longest from the school district and many of whom pay very low taxes due to prop 13. (Of course this does not apply to all seniors, in fact my mother-in-law only recently moved to Alameda.) Many believe a parcel tax based on size of parcel, or sq footage of home is more appropriate. I suggested businesses enjoy the improved community due to the excellent public schools here, but most are not required to help the schools, even the ones with sweet lease deals at the Point. Renters don’t pay in…

    There is the issue of adequacy of the proposed tax – it clearly is not going to raise enough funds, it offers no protection except from the immediate, and it is not permanent. It is tiring to have the constant new school taxes. This will be the 4th time in less than 8 years. I understand those who don’t want to again walk the neighborhoods, post fliers and lawn signs, to work the phone banks, work to keep offsetting the letters and articles in the paper that are negative to the tax. It is a lot of work kids if you have never put the time in. Who has the time anymore, seems we are all working longer and harder and earning less relative to inflation? And the reality is it is the same amount of work, no matter what the amount is. This obviously is not enough to return the quality education to Alameda that is expected. The District has to be back again within two years asking for more. This is because we need to submit a 3 year budget plan, and the parcel taxes, – all of them run out in 2012. So in 2010 we need a budget to 2013 – Where will the $$ come from then? Does anyone think the public will be gladdened by another round of school tax? Will Alamedans have more available money at the end of the month or less? Which way are you betting on the economy in two years?

    There are many reasons to be saddened or even disgusted with why this is the best we can vote for.

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 9:40 pm

  76. The above line

    It really gives me the ‘willies’ when you dismiss the savings of a “mere $300/yr”.

    should read “mere $300k/yr”.

    If it were only $300/yr Ian, I would agree with you that it is not worth the cost of the effort.

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  77. Oh how I wish that I had the ability to speak like the EHS kids! Thank you for thinking it was me! Becky, William, Ian and Myrna are leaps and bounds more sophisticated and civic minded than I was at their age. Each time I hear these young people speak, I am amazed, proud and a bit more hopeful for our future.

    Anyone who has spent time with these students would never believe that Barbara and I could tell them what to do or say. If I had that power imagine how easy parenting would be!

    Comment by sylvia kahn — March 13, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  78. Sorry C.O. – I ‘spaced’ your post#18 about moving the charter discussion over here.

    #17 Chris O. –

    You have real questions – here are some real answers.

    Charter schools do not operate by the same set of rules and standards as the ‘conventional’ schools in CA’s districts. This is intentional – the state Board Of Ed set it up this way. I truly feel they are intended to be ‘experimental’. Our education system is changing, it will have to change. One of the purposes of the Charter school laws is to sample education delivery options. They are still part of the district, but their “pot ‘o funding” is separate. The ‘conventional’ school “pot ‘o funding” for the District is reduced proportional to the ADA of the # of students who opt to move to the “Charter style” of education delivery. This is the fiscal difference that concerns many, yet because the funding is proportional to the students, it is the best way that the State has come up with to divide the operating costs. Some of the facilities, activities and courses can be shared. I doubt lunch, or gym, dances, sports, etc would differ, for the different education styles, but maybe they are. I am not attached to any particular Charter school; the day for that investigation is years away for my family. I do support the concept of Charter Schools. I do imagine technology will be playing a larger role in education, and will be used to lower the labor costs of education. I do imagine the ‘experimental’ styles inherent in Charter schools will help us learn to develop the education system of the future.

    The point is that it is cheaper to educate thru the Charter system, but equally true that there is no net savings designed in the Charter laws for the host District.

    I’ll bet my reputation that there are good and bad Charter schools, some that do a much better job, and others that are a sham. ACLC seems to be the former, but I am sure that is not so for every student there. As I said in a previous post – how can a single system be the best for everyone in such a diversified community? Seems obvious we need more than one system.

    Schools aren’t closed because they are “poor”, in either sense of meaning. Clearly it seems the smallest elementary schools remaining in AUSD are in the wealthiest neighborhoods. I am sure the students at those schools receive excellent education, and obviously those neighborhood parents have the most clout in the fight to prevent the District from taking steps towards making financially justified decisions.

    So please understand both promoting elementary schools to the advantaged size of 500 -600 student size, (like AUSD’s highest achieving elementary schools), and making use of Charter school options are both financially advantageous steps.

    There are probably as many reasons students and their families would opt to change from conventional to charter systems, as there are students applying for the openings. Some may be good students who aspire to find an ‘easy way out’ to suit their lazy unmotivated selves. Some may be good students who aspire to pursue their goals instead of being bored and frustrated in the conventional system. Some may be less scholastically advanced students who are frustrated with their inability to “get it” when taught in the conventional system. Some may just think they will more easily get away with being a ‘slacker’ – as some posts seem to imply. (Although this may be the goal of a young slacker, I doubt this is motivation supported by the adults responsible for that child.)
    Having two boys in elementary school, I would happily support a policy banning iPods and cell phones in all AUSD facilities, both for conventional and charter schools. I am also sure the MOF dept has banned skate boards on district property to prevent destruction of low walls, steps, benches etc. I think enforcement is the issue. Don’t our middle and high schools now have uniformed cops on campus? What does it take to get kids to follow the rules and abide social mores?

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

    Comment by David Kirwin — March 13, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

  79. [...] had is from the flu I came down with on Monday or the discussion about Charter Schools over on Lauren Do’s Site. The discussion is a classic of what happens to passionate discussions about issues in Alameda. [...]

    Pingback by Stop, Drop and Roll » Enough already — March 14, 2008 @ 6:30 am

  80. Here we go again, parcel tax supporters (Barbara and Sylvia et al) trying to bring on the charm offensive by having these school kids post on their behalf here.

    Ian, with all due respect, you have NO right to lecture us on the merits of a “mere 300k/year”. Let us know how long it takes for you to earn that once you start working.

    As for the other “genius” (Becky) who states “Do you really think you will convince someone that you are right?” Hahahahaha … we could ask the same of you and Ian!

    The parcel tax will and should be rejected. Let AUSD fix its home first.

    Comment by Phil S — March 14, 2008 @ 8:13 am

  81. After that last comment, I’m closing comments for this post. Attacking students that have dedicated their time, intelligence, and passion to a subject is the last straw for me.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 14, 2008 @ 8:18 am


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