Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A happy ending for the housing problems of international students at CSUMB

You may remember I reported about the housing woes faced by international students at CSU Monterey Bay, who complained administrators were charging them more than U.S. students. You can find the full story here.

Students met with CSUMB administrators last week, and there's a happy ending to the story. Students who ended up sharing a small room -- to the tune of $525 each -- will get a $600 refund.

"I am very pleased to tell you that we were able to find a solution," German student Moritz Bartsch wrote in an email. "Vice president Dr. Higgs and Provost Bonnie Irwin were very cooperative. For the first time since all this started we were talking to people that took our concerns seriously."

Students were able to voice their concerns during a two-hour open forum, Bartsch said.

"I am confident that the CSUMB learned from this experience and the next International students will not have to deal with injust housing policies," he said.

Ronnie Higgs, vice president of student affairs, also said students were satisfied with the solution.

"They felt that the administration responded fairly and heard their concerns," he said in an email. "I received several positive compliments from the international students regarding the resolution."

Cyberpatriot season is over

And the future computer programers did great!

Hartnell College faculty and students mentored approx 65 high school students in the national cybersecurity competition program, CyberPatriot, reports computer science instructor Joe Welch. The teams spent hours learning about networking, operating systems, and computer security, in preparation for three competition sessions held in November and December.

Mentored teams and mentors are listed here:

William Starling mentored the King City High School team, Wendy Fernandez the Gonzales High School team, Jennifer Westerbeck the Alisal High team, CPO Israel Gonzalez, USN was in charge of the Everett Alvarez High NJROTC team, and finally, Liz Koenig was in charge of the Notre Dame High School team.

Welch said staff, faculty and teaching assistants from Hartnell College worked tirelessly in mentoring high school students towards studies and careers in computer science fields. A big shout out to all of them!

Not to be outdone, three of the Seaside High School teams qualified for the silver tier, and one team qualified for the gold tier, reports teacher Tessa Brown. She'll find out how the teams placed going into the regional round of the competition this week. "All of the students continue to have a great time learning cyber security," she said. "It is amazing to see how their skills have improved over the past few months. They are already talking about how competitive they will be next year."

It's fun to see these kids get into computer science. I can't wait to see how far they go next year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pacific Grove Unified rethinks idea of merging elementary schools

Last month I reported about a proposal at Pacific Grove Unified to merge its two elementary schools and make one K-2 and the other 3-5.

It's an idea that had been floated before and went nowhere. Officials were hoping to give it plenty of time for community discussion before actually bringing it to a vote.

But the resistance was still there, and this time, there was not even a formal discussion about it. Adminstrators pulled it off the agenda before the meeting took place. Here's an explanation of what happened directly from Superintendent Ralph Porras.

"We met with the teachers from both elementary schools regarding the reasons and timing of reconfiguration. This was important because they are the educational experts and are responsible for delivery of curriculum and instruction, which are both at the heart of the reconfiguration model. It was clearly communicated that the time and conditions were not right for this significant change. Community members from both elementary schools also communicated this same sentiment the District and Board. The Board accepted this message and pulled that discussion from the agenda. Our schools are providing excellent service to students and families, and are continuing to address the challenges presented by progressive educational reform. We will continue to support that effort in ways that best suit all stakeholders."

So there you have it. Robert Down and Forest Grove will remain as the are for the considerable future.