Friday, January 28, 2011

More young people to the rescue

Allie Whitehead, a senior at Carmel High School volunteered her talent and her savings to create a t-shirt for The Hope Center in Monterey, which will be used as an attractive fundraiser item.

Proceeds from the t-shirt will be used to purchase toiletries and pet and people food for the food pantry. You can purchase one here.

The Hope Center’s mission is to establish a food pantry serving the Monterey Peninsula, helping neighbors in need with supplemental groceries.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What will President Obama say about education?

And can you play bingo while you watch his state of the union address? If you're planning to watch, and you want to add some element of excitement, the Washington D.C. based Alliance for Excellence in Education has crafted State of the Union bingo cards so you can keep track of what the Prez says about education. As the folks at the Alliance write, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind, is long overdue for a revamp. Will the president call on Congress to reauthorize NCLB in 2011? And will he offer any specific proposals on what changes should be made -- or not?

Will the president mention a high school dropout crisis that claims approximately 1.3 million students every year or the recent results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that showed American fifteen-year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics among the thirty-four member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development?

Playing bingo may make for a more interesting watch. You can download the cards here.


Friday, January 14, 2011

School's all about children

and two little girls in particular have captured my attention this week: 6-year-old Madalena Taurke of Pacific Grove and 9-year-old Christina Green.

Madalena spent a few of hours playing the violin at the Farmer's Market on Monday to collect funds for the library -- which is suffering from financial troubles. By the end of the day, she had collected $91.12.

I'm sure everyone in this country knows the story of Christina. She had gone to meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at her meet-and-greet at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, when a gunman showed up and gunned Christina and five other people down. Giffords remains in critical condition at Tucson hospital. Christina wasn't that lucky.

Two girls, innocent and precious, kids who attend our public schools and are trying to learn how to navigate life with the guidance of adults. Two girls who remind me of how much promise they hold, and how fragile life is. Two girls who make us proud.

As First Lady Michelle Obama said in her letter to the nation, embrace your little ones a bit tighter tonight.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Attention budding filmmakers: a festival and $1,000 bucks

Two opportunities you won't want to miss.

Young filmmakers eager to see their work on a huge screen will get the opportunity in April, when Cal State Monterey Bay holds its third annual Teen Film Festival. Entries can be submitted online at by Feb. 11 for the festival to be held at CSUMB's World Theater on April 9.
Filmmakers between 13 and 19 years old are invited to submit films and videos up to five minutes in length. Entries may be in English or Spanish and there is no entry fee.
While local teenagers are encouraged to enter the competition, it's also open to teenagers from around the world.
Last year's event drew more than 200 entries; films were submitted from the Central Coast region as well as Great Britain, El Salvador and Armenia. Some of last year's entries can be viewed here.

And also some money...

The fourth annual Monterey County Film Commission scholarship and awards program for film students is now accepting applications. Forms are available at the film commission office, or may be downloaded here. Deadline to submit applications is April 30, 2011.

The recipient of the $1,000 award will be announced in May 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Torlakson taps Bill Barr

Monterey County schools chief Nancy Kotowski had a pretty friendly relationship with the former California public instruction czar Jack O'Connell, and something tells me that won't be the case with the new one.
Tom Torlakson, a former teacher, was sworn in as the 27th California Superintendent of Public Instruction Monday at Mt. Diablo High School, where he once taught science and world history. Torlakson has tapped former Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Bill Barr as part of his transition team. Some of you may remember that Barr had given his blessing for Kotowski to follow in his footsteps, but that relationship went sour at some point. Donna Alonso-Vaughan ran against Kotowski with Barr's blessings.
As a former teacher, Torlakson is friendly to the teacher's union, and Kotowski incurred the wrath of the unions when she armed wrestled the King City Teacher's Association and won -- eventually, they agreed to a huge paycut.
Don't expect to see Torlakson coming to fund raise for Kotowski, like O'Connell did in several occasions.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's in store for Bay View Academy?

Somehow, I' don't expect parents of New Monterey will be surprised about this piece of news.

Monterey Peninsula Unified administrators are recommending the board reject the creation of a new charter school in what will soon be the defunct Bay View Elementary. Among the reasons for rejecting the petition administrators cite an inadequate proposed curriculum, incomplete plans for low-achieving, economically disadvantaged students, and lack of a sound financial plan.

The board will hear the district's reasons Monday at 6:30 p.m., when it meets at its usual place, the Instructional Materials Center at Del Rey Oaks.

Stay tuned.