Saturday, July 30, 2011

A new bookmobile is coming your way!

Monterey County Free Libraries is celebrating the arrival of a new 32’ bookmobile today.
The celebration begins with a Launch Party from 10-11 AM at Monterey County Free Libraries’ Administrative offices, 188 Seaside Circle, Marina. From there, the bookmobile will continue on a Whistle Stop tour visiting
10-11 Marina Branch Library (190 Seaside Circle) - Welcome Party
11:45-12:15 Spreckles Memorial Park (at Hatton Avenue)
12:35-1 Gonzales Branch Library (851 Fifth Street)
1:20-1:45 Soledad Branch Library (401 Gabilan Drive)
2:05-2:30 Greenfield Branch Library (315 El Camino Real)
3-4:30 King City Branch Library (402 Broadway) - Launch Party
Ribbon cutting by Supervisor Simon Salinas at 3:15

Refreshments and entertainment are planned for the Marina and King City celebrations.
The new bookmobile will house three Internet computers for the public and 3,000 library books, DVDs and talking books. It will serve the rural communities of south Monterey County beginning in August.
For more information, please call Monterey County Free Libraries at 831 883-7573 or click here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Any Monterey County teachers in D.C. this weekend?

There's a rally going on this weekend in Capitol Hill to bring attention to education in the United States. It's called Save our Schools, and the marchers will read at 1:30 p.m. the groups demands: equitable funding for all schools and children, to put an end to high-stakes testing, and curriculum developed by communities. Any Monterey County teachers over there? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too many public workers on local school boards?

The sage and respected editorial board of my newspaper wrote an editorial in Wednesday's edition pointing out the fact that there are many former public employees sitting on local boards. On local school boards too.

The editors point out that there needs to be a diversity of opinions, and that some of the troubles we're facing, namely pension reform, could be linked to boards that could easily be sympathetic to public employees. We need more insurance agents, moms, and merchants. "At least some of the office holders may have a tendency to see the public as complainants rather than as customers," the editorial reads.

Nobody asked my opinion, but as a person who has to sit in countless of board meetings, here's my two cents.

Yes, we need diversity of opinions and backgrounds. But the schools need diverse and INFORMED opinions. I've seen many a well intentioned board member who has hardly ever sat at a meeting before getting elected (or appointed) trying to cope with ADA, LEAs and SATs and trust me, the picture's far from pretty. And if the adult in question is not only informationally challenged but also reluctant to admit it, the results can be rather unpleasant. Add distrust of administrators, and please, hide the matches. Top that with the daily duties of motherhood, insurance agencing, merchanting, or whatever it is people who don't work for a school district do for a living, and there's really no time to learn the jargon, nomenclature, formulas, budgets, legislation, you name it. Only a brave soul would take on this kind of challenge. Hopefully an informed, brave soul.

(Of course, there will be people out there who will say the educational jargon needs to be brought down to earth so the average people can attend the meetings without the need of an interpreter. Agreed. Try to tell that to Sacramento or Washington)

So yes, we need more people to take on the challenge of public office. We need good, diverse board members. We have until Aug. 12 for people to declare their candidacy. So this is a good time for people to start attending meetings so they can get up to speed with the various districts' issues and prepare themselves for an incredibly steep learning curve.

Young, talented people with great ideas and inspiring stories

TEDx Youth@Monterey wants you.

want to shape the conversation in Monterey County? Want to tell adults how you feel, what young people like you need, what inspires you and how you want to change the world? Here's your chance.

The first TEDx for youth in Monterey will take place Nov. 19 -21 to coincide with Universal Children's Day, and organizers are looking for young people to help shape it. The event will be designed for and by people ages 13 to 20 across Monterey County, and like organizers say, those who get involved early on will have a greater say on how the event shapes up. So sign up early.

If you've never seen a TEDx or TED event, here's a couple of links that will give you a taste: Santa Cruz surfer and environmentalist Kyle Thiermann spoke at a TEDx for youth event about how his surfing trips inspired him to become a better financial consumer. Chassidy Smith, a senior at The Chinquapin School in Texas danced and performed her poetry at a TEDx for youth, and talked about how she found strength to overcome difficulties in her life.

TEDx Youth@Monterey is one of over 60 sites around the world to be featured by TEDx, and the event will be live streamed around the world!

So spread the word, sign up, get involved. It's always great to see young people shine.

To contact TEDx Youth@Monterey, click here, call 647-4630 or email them at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marina skaters going national

and they need your financial support.

They are the California Junior Olympic Gold Medal State Champions and the California State Champions for the 2010 California Amateur Skate League National Skate Federation State Championships. They are the City of Marina/On the Beach/Drawn Skate Team, which after more than two years of hard work have advanced to the National Championships to be held August 6, 2011 in San Diego.

They will be competing against some of the best skaters from around the country. Attending this event is a great achievement, so congratulations, chicos!

They are: Andrew Love, Sterlin Fitzgerald, Sean Byrne, Anthony Johnson, Billy Rodel, Michael Smith, Bradley Mustoe, Shane Sullivan, Tony Mai, Conner Kemp, Rider Starick, Alejandro Martinez, Sergio Anaya, Frisco Pinto, Knox Forsom.

In order to cover the costs of the competition, the Team is asking for donations and you can help! Make a donation to The Marina Foundation - Marina Skate Team fund here or by mailing a contribution to The Marina Foundation, P.O. Box 324, Marina, California 93933. All donations to The City of Marina/On the Beach/Drawn Skate Team go directly to benefit the team and are tax deductible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free video documentary workshop

for youths 15 years and older.

Taught by TV producer Hillary Heath, the workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 4 and 5 at the Media Center of the Monterey County Office of Education, 901 Blanco Circle, Salinas.

Learn professionalvideo storytelling techniques from Heath, who's produced TV shows like Lockup, Women Behind Bars, E! True Hollywood Story & many more. You’ll identify a good story, learn the art of the interview & tell your compelling story in 3 minutes or less.

No experience required.

To sign up, call 755-0389 or email

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tonight: free concert by Yosal and the Bach Festival

Music lovers out there: musicians from the Carmel Bach Festival and the children of the Youth Orchestra Salinas, Yosal, will be teaming up tonight for a free community concert at 7 p.m. at the Salinas High auditorium, 726 South Main Street, Salinas.

Yosal has been in existence for about a year, and it'll be great to see how much these young musicians have accomplished. So don't miss it!

For more info, click here.

Gov. Brown to sign the California Dream Act?

Gov. Jerry Brown, who pledged to sign legislation to help undocumented students qualify for financial aid, will attend a Dream Act Town Hall meeting at noon today at Los Angeles City College. The town hall meeting will also be attended by Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) author of the legislation. Could this really be a signing ceremony?

AB 130, the California Dream Act, would allow for undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition at California colleges and universities to receive scholarships from private, non-state funds. Another bill which would allow undocumented students to tap into public financial aid is stuck in the Senate.

Bay View Academy has a new principal

Bay View Academy parents met and greeted Mitchell Barlas, their brand new principal, last week at their new site.

Barlas holds dual masters’ degrees from Teachers College Columbia University in both Organizational Psychology and Education Administration. He received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with bilingual specialization from San Francisco State University and completed his undergraduate studies in Political Science/International Relations at the University California, Los Angeles. His annual salary is $80,000, retirement through the California State Teacher’s Retirement System, plus still being negotiated medical benefits.

Bay View Academy took possession of the Del Monte School site last week, so parents and volunteers will be busy in the next few weeks to make the site ready for the start of school on Aug. 15.

“We’re very excited,” said Bay View Academy President Bill Shaw. “We just can’t wait.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hartnell trustees vote to close down automotive program

As expected, Hartnell trustees also instructed staff to study alternatives to the program, which administrators found was producing very few graduates. Administrators are expected to report back with possible alternatives to revive or revamp it.

Trustees Bill Freeman and Ray Montemayor voted against the measure.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Congressional art competition winners

Carmel High student Mira Malcom has come and gone to Washington D.C. for the reception held June 22. Her piece, "Nature's Peace," hangs in one of the halls of Congress, where she had a chance to see it as she met Congressman Sam Farr.

But her piece will be in display for a year.

”Every year this competition reminds us of the rich artistic culture and talent that continues to thrive on the Central Coast. The arts are integral part of our nation’s cultural fabric, and I am encouraged that our area’s youth stand eager and ready to paint, draw and sculpt their cultural influence," Farr said.

Besides her round-trip ticket to D.C., Mira got a $1,500 scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Also honored in the Congressional Art Competition were San Benito High School student, Diana Fonseca, who won second place with her art piece “The Old Farmer”. Diana’s artwork will be prominently displayed in Congressman Farr’s Washington, D.C. Office. Everett Alvarez High School student, Alicia Rojas, was named the third place winner, with her artwork “In Response to Wagner”. Alicia’s art will be displayed in Mr. Farr’s Salinas office.

School's coming back, and needy kids need supplies

So, if you're feeling generous, you may want to help the United Way in its "Stuff the Bus" campaign. Through Aug. 6, United Way will gather school supplies to benefit children in grades 1-8 throughout Monterey County. The materials will be distributed through each school in partnership with the Monterey County Office of Education to children who are homeless, in foster care and in great need. For more information, check out the campaign's website. The items needed are: backpacks, 3-ring binders, 5-tab dividers, pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, pens, pencils, rulers, glue sticks, scissors (with blunt tip), and construction paper. There are drop off locations throughout Monterey County, so check out the website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hartnell board considers fate of automotive program


The controversial topic returns to the Hartnell board when they meet Tuesday. Hartnell administrators want to scrap a program that's produced few graduates, while instructors and some students want to preserve it.

When the board considered the item last month, passions erupted. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, father of instructor Tom Alejo, went to bat for his dad. The session became so chaotic that a decision was postponed to an uncertain date. Well, the date has arrived. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

An extra month for the whooping cough vaccine

Parents and administrators can take a deep breath now that the Legislature has approved a month extension for schools to verify students from 7th to 12th grade have received the pertussis vaccine -- also known as whooping cough.
The bill granting the extension was approved Thursday.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that can be debilitating at any age and lethal to infants. California’s current pertussis epidemic has killed 10 babies and stricken more than 11,000 people since last year.
Legislation signed last year requires students entering or advancing to grades seven through twelve in the 2011–12 school year to be immunized with a pertussis vaccine booster called the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. That new requirement went into effect this month and affects all students—current, new, and transfers—in public and private schools.
Senate Bill 614 (Kehoe) would grant local educational agencies an extra 30 days after classes begin to verify vaccinations of all seventh through twelfth grade students in California.
For more information on pertussis and Tdap, please visit the California Department of Education’s Web page.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Monterey County schools could be short $11 milllion next year

As part of reform efforts, some Monterey County schools applied for a federal School Improvement Grant -- SIG -- which is supposed to be used to implement major changes for school considered to be underperforming. Several schools in Monterey County, including three from MPUSD, applied and received grants to reform their schools

But the SIG grant program is under fire by the U.S. Department of Education, which reported California is out of compliance with the program. Members of the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to halt funds to all the schools in the program until they're in compliance with federal requirements. The bloggers at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation do a good job at reporting on the saga.

The Department of Education report is based on visits to three schools only -- two in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco -- so it's not clear whether they've visited Monterey County at all.

In Monterey County, the schools or districts slated to receive SIG funds were: Highland, $1.1 million; Martin Luther King, $1.1 million; Seaside High, $1.6 million; MPUSD, $1.5 million; Chualar Union, $295,000; Greenfield Union, $1.3 million; Pajaro Valley Unified, $2.2 million; Soledad Unified, $1.5 million.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

California's Parent Empowerment laws approved, again

Very interesting. There are many "failing" schools in Monterey County, and plenty of dissatisfied parents out there. But so far, I haven't heard anyone locally wanting to use "parent trigger" laws.

The California State Board of Education has just approved a second set of regulations for the "Parent Empowerment," rules that allow for parents to gather enough signatures and demand changes to their school that are basically the four options allowed under No Child Left Behind: closure, convert it to a charter, fire the principal and half the staff, or transform it completely. The second set of rules were drafted after a controversy erupted in Southern California over how signatures were collected and validated. Veteran education reporter John Fensterwald has a good recap on the issue here. And here an interesting piece from Time Magazine about how the California law has spread to other 14 states.

With the new regulations in place, it'll be interesting to see if more parent groups get together to take advantage of the law.

Monterey County parents: your high schoolers need a shot

Beginning this fall, all students entering 7th through 12th grade need to be vaccinated against the whooping cough by the first day of school -- mid August, depending where your child attends -- or your teenager will be sent home. Not a good way to start the school year, huh?

The Monterey County Health Department will host three Saturday clinics starting July 23 to make it easier for young students to get their vaccines. For more information, click here:

It's difficult to tell how many students have already received the required vaccine because many of them can have it administered through their regular doctor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CSUMB fee hike approved

As expected, a panel of the Board of Trustees of the California State University system approved a 12 percent fee increased for the fall, so students should expect to pay $294 more per semester on top of an already planned increase. A full vote is expected this afternoon

Also, in spite of a protests by Gov. Jerry Brown, a committee of trustees approved a $400,000 compensation package for incoming San Diego State President Elliot Hirshman, with a vote of the full board expected this afternoon.

Any CSUMB students out there want to chime in?

Spanish Spelling Bee in Monterey County, anyone?

Evelyn Juárez, a seventh-grader at Carlos F. Vigil Middle School in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, won the first ever National Spanish Spelling Bee last weekend by correctly spelling the word bizantinismo, which means excess luxury.

The contest, which was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, drew contestants from Texas, Oregon, but the majority appeared to be New Mexicans, according to a report by the Albuquerque Journal.

None from California? Coming to think of it, we have speech and essay writing contests in Spanish, but I have yet to hear about Spelling Bees. Some school administrators I know have told me they were looking for more activities to promote and celebrate the use of Spanish, could a Spanish Spelling Bee the one?

Although it was the first ever national, New Mexico has held a state wide competition for 15 years, and in Texas Spanish Spelling Bee have been around for 19. It will be interesting to see if a Spanish Spelling Bee is born in California. Or Monterey County.

Monday, July 11, 2011

From the hands of babes

For the second year in a row, the Monterey County Health Department held Stay Healthy Poster Contest for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Alyssa Peña Ceja, a Salinas 5th grader, drew one of the winning images of a bar soap facing an open water faucet and the admonishing "Wash your hands" (my favorite last year was the "vampire cough")

Children from all over the county are invited to use their artistic talents to create posters to highlight good and healthy habits, such as hand washing and eating healthy.

“The children captured the health messages with imagination and color," said Dr. Hugh Stallworth, Monterey County Health Officer, “It is my hope, the children’s messages will remind all of us to take some simple steps to keep our community healthy.”

The winning designs will be featured in the 2011 – 2012 Stay Healthy Calendar. Three designs will be reproduced as posters and one as a magnet.

To see all of the winners, click here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Let redistricting begin

Coming to a school district near you: redistricting meetings, redistricting committees, and everything that has to do with how children get to be represented in their respective school districts.

At the Monterey Peninsula College, the Citizen's redistricting advisory committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sam Karas Room in the library. President Doug Garrison will provide an overview of the process, followed by a presentation by Jeanne Gobalet of Lapkoff and Gobalet Demographic Research, Inc. about the demographics of the district.

At Hartnell College, applications are due July 28 for those who are interested in serving in the redistricting advisory committee. The committee will be comprised of two representatives from each of the current seven trustee areas. To be considered for appointment, a person must be a resident of one the current areas. The time commitment includes up to six evening meetings, held through November in locations throughout the district.

Applications may be found and completed at the college's redistricting website. Materials are provided in English and Spanish. For more information or to request a hard copy of the application, leave a message at 755-6912 or email

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Attention Monterey and Seaside communities

If you're in need for a special treat for your classroom, I have a tip for you.

And if you're feeling generous and want to help a group of girls attend an upcoming PONY Super Tournament in Redlands, Calif, I also have a tip for you.

Diane and Curtis Olivares of Seaside are hosting a bake sale Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Metz Park to help raise the $8,000 they need to take the entire team up north. So far, they've held one bake sale and raised only $400. They'll have another one next Wednesday, same time, same place. They say it's a super honor for these girls, who had never played together before, to go so far, so they want to show them support. And they're hoping the community too will show them love.

Donations will be accepted at Metz Park during the above dates as well or can be mailed in to Po Box 1022 Seaside Ca 93955

For teachers and parents in Monterey who may be wondering how to cover a field trip or how to purchase an alphabet rug, here's the stuff for you: The Project Helping Program by the Monterey Peninsula Sunrise Rotary Club was established to provide one-time grants of as much as $500 to teachers with a specific need for a specific project. Monterey public school teachers, grades K through 12, are encouraged to submit a request to meet a need not included in their school budgets. Since it was founded about three years ago, the project has given out about $12,000 to La Mesa, Bay View, Colton and Foothill schools for supplies and projects as varied as strings for violins, field trips, and dancing classes. For more information and to be considered for a grant, click here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

of teachers and immigrant kids

A new story by AP reporters is highlighting what I pointed out in an earlier post: when it comes down to undocumented children, teachers are at the forefront of the battle.

And recently approved legislation in Alabama is trying to make teachers act as ICE agents. Signed by Gov. Robert Bentley last month, the law requires schools to find out whether students are legally present in the country. The law is being challenged in the courts.

There's really nothing new about trying to figure out whether children are in the United States legally or not. In California, Prop. 187 would have denied schooling to undocumented children, but the voter-approved legislation was struck down by the courts. What's new is the renewed vigor on the topic, and how widespread it's become.

An update on Pacific Grove's parcel tax

The Pacific Grove Unified School District trustees will consider whether to ask voters to increase their parcel tax from $35 to $60 for four years at a meeting scheduled for Aug. 11. District administrators expect the tax would bring in $230,000 a year for the district -- and partially offset ongoing state cuts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Testing the teachers

Respected band teacher D.L Johnson of North Monterey County High wrote this essay in response to his experience taking the CTEL test. I'm curious: how many teachers in Monterey County had to take it -- regardless of the subject they teach? And I'm even more curious about its potential ramifications: are teachers now going to be evaluated based on their performance of the test -- now that there's so much emphasis on finding ways to evaluate teachers? I'll be curious to hear what teachers out there have to say.

Education's worst test ever?
By D.L. Johnson

On June 11th hundreds of schoolteachers walked into testing centers throughout the state to take a 6-hour exam, that is by far the most difficult and excruciating over-all exam ever given to educators. I know I was one of them. When I left the six hour exam, after spending 9 Saturdays--attending the six hour class each day--along with hours and hours of study just to prepare for this one test, I left the test angry, humiliated, hurt, frustrated, furious, and mostly disheartened all at the same time. After 37 years in education my career was being tested on a subject area I very seldom if ever have had to consider in my music classrooms. From my perspective as a high school band director, it is the worst example of educational testing I have ever witnessed. Why? Music classes, including all the college classes I took after college, are based on performance. Not testing. In fact, it was the first written exam I had ever taken in 37 years (except the DMV test). It’s called the CTEL Exam. For many, I’m sure you would say, “It really wasn’t that bad.” However, look at what you teach. The CTEL test is based on the mechanics of learning English language skills as taught in a regular classroom. What if the subject you have been teaching is not based on English language skills? What if comprehension is taught before mechanics? Ex. If an Auto Shop student, who speaks little or no English, can put a carburetor together correctly in shop class, language is not the issue---Comprehension is. If a music student can perform the music correctly, language is not the issue---Comprehension is.

Think of the worst test you ever took in school? Most of you are probably thinking of a certain subject test like that Biology test you struggled through, or maybe the SAT Exam, or how about that five day CST (California State Test). For some of you it might just be trying to get through that DMV test for your first drivers license. The reality is the “educations worst test ever” is not taken by the students at all, but by the teachers. It’s called the CTEL (California Teachers of English Learners, formally called CLAD) Exam.

The purpose of the CTEL training is to train teachers how to teach ELD (English Learning Deficient) students, when they are mainstreamed into their classrooms. No problem with that. CTEL Training is a long and extensive program. For some teachers however, whose subject area does not include extensive language skills in reading and writing, (Ex. Visual and Performing Arts, Vocational Education, Physical Education, etc), the CTEL class and exam can be quite a challenge. Most educators will say there is nothing wrong with CTEL training for credential certification. To some extent I would agree. I actually found the subject fascinating over the 9 Saturday-six hours per day classes. I learned so much. Therefore, I thought there was nothing wrong with CTEL training. IT WAS THE 6-HOUR TEST THAT SO MANY QUESTION. It is so difficult even those trained in classroom reading and writing find it challenging. After the exam, I saw teachers angry, frustrated, mad, and even crying. Many felt it was a career-ending disaster.
The certification for ELD is not new. Teachers have been doing this since the mid-80’s. However, lately, many school districts have put deadlines that all their teachers be certified in ELD. This is where it all breaks down. Tests are black and white. This test is just plain fuzzy. 75% of the materials I studied for the exam were not on the test. Questions are based on everyday classroom scenarios. However, the answers are so similar, if you miss one hidden word, you might select the wrong answer easily. That’s, of course, if you really know what the word means in this situation.

When CLAD (now CTEL) training and certification was first introduced in the 1990’s, many teachers were told they did not need to take this because they were not directly involved with ELD learners. Also, school districts weren’t pushing everyone to take this training because the districts were paying for the instruction and paying the teachers for each day they attended the class. Now there are no school funds to pay the $2000+ cost per teacher. This is where this exam takes a bad step. The subject area teachers who were originally told they would not have to take the training and exam must now study a subject area they have little use for in the classroom. CTEL Training is based on regular classroom or subject areas that require a lot of reading and writing. Therefore all the CTEL test questions are based on a regular academic classroom scenario. (Not a shop class, music class, dance class, PE class, etc.)

Performance or demonstration (also called “Hands-On” courses), do not base their classes heavily on reading and writing (I’m not insinuating that language skills are not used in those classes. It’s just not the focus). Most the teachers mentioned above are closing in on 30+ years in teaching. When these teachers study and take the CTEL Exam they must translate each question (scenario) into a type of teaching they use very little in the classroom. In other-words, a P.E. teacher, Music Teacher, Vocational Ed Teacher, Dance Teacher, etc., must learn to think like an English Teacher. Not easy to do in the short amount of time given. The big question is not whether these teachers should have to be certified in instructing ELD students, but whether it is even necessary. Most good performance based teachers who have taught a few years have already figured out how to deal with their ELD students through physically demonstrating class content.

Yes we were warned. But we were also made to feel some of us did not need to study for this, or worry about the exam. It’s just like the people who were encouraged to buy a home, without fully realizing monthly payments would eventually go up. We got conflicting advice.
So why are school districts pushing this. Is it for money and bragging rights? Maybe? There are even rumors it is not even mandated by the state. Then who is mandating it? Is it the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, or special interest groups? I believe most teachers support CTEL training, but not the huge amount of class time, and most certainly not the final test.

My final evaluation of this entire experience, was that the test makers were trying to show us how difficult it is for young people to learn the English Language. I get it, but why sacrifice so many experienced educators just to make a point. It takes 5-7 years for kids to learn a language. We were given only a few months.

Of the Alisal, revolutionaries, and the future of No Child Left Behind

I recently finished listening to Havana Nocturne, and I was struck by the similarities between the Cuban revolutionaries and some community leaders of the Alisal. Like the members of the Movimiento 26 de Julio, members of the May 1 Alliance of the Alisal are persistent. They know the system is rigged against the poor, against Latinos, and they will be happy at nothing but a complete overhaul of the Alisal Union School District. Like Castro and his followers, May 1 and his followers have been underestimated, dismissed as one would a pesky gnat. For years, they have spoken their truth at board meetings of the Alisal and the California Department of Education, and through their tactics -- which many people despise -- they've managed to bring on a new entire board, and get on it at least two members who are in complete agreement with their political views. I chronicle that story in today's paper.

Like the Cuban revolutionaries, May 1st followers have charismatic leaders who inspire some people to follow them. Disillusioned by an educational and political system that seems to have no room for them, hard working people of the Alisal see in May 1st the answer to their troubles. If you show up to enough meetings, film your opponents and distort the facts to your advantage, you are bound to win elections and get somebody on board who supports your political leanings. Then you'll get what you want: the books you want, the educational system you want, the teachers you want. If you get rid of State Trustee Carmella Franco, and get a local boy to lead the schools, then he'll do what the newly elected board wants, the children will blossom, and the happy ending will make Cenicienta feel like a total loser.

This is where July 26 and May 1 part ways. Castro and his revolutionaries were aiming at the meros meros, at the source of Cuba's inequalities. May 1st is barking -- very loudly -- up el árbol equivocado. The entire forest still stands. For as long as No Child Left Behind continues to brand school districts as failures, the Alisal and hundreds of other school districts will remain labeled as "under performing", in need of dramatic intervention that will have little to do with the desires of May 1. California will have no choice but to demand the changes required at the federal level, or withhold financial support.

With the effectiveness so far displayed by May 1, maybe they ought to focus on trying to dismantle No Child Left Behind. The law has many detractors, and May 1 could win lots of supporters in the process. Already, South Dakota has pulled out of NCLB, even risking to lose millions of education dollars. But Education Secretary Melody Schopp was quoted as saying the law is proving unworkable.

My post is not aimed at endorsing either the Cuban revolution or May 1 supporters. Nor am I advocating for the dismantling for NCLB. All I'm doing is an analysis of what's going on a district that educates 7,000 children, is in desperate need of help, and, in many ways, reflects what's going on at a national level.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Layoff notices for MPC classified

Trustees of the Monterey Peninsula College will consider Thursday at a special board meeting whether to eliminate about 19 positions and begin issuing layoff notices.

College administrators have been negotiating with the union that represents its non-teaching employees for months in efforts to reach their "share" of budget cuts, but the membership did not approve a tentative agreement reached early June.

"It is therefore necessary to begin implementing a reduction in force of the Classified service to eliminate and reduce services to meet the estimated budget deficit," administrators write in their notice to the board. "Because the final impact of the State Budget is not known, it may be necessary to implement additional layoffs at a later date."

If approved, the layoffs would become effective Sept. 15.

This is a list of the positions that would be eliminated:

Accounting Specialist 1.0
Administrative Assistant I (two positions) .66
Administrative Assistant II .44
Art Gallery Specialist .40
Attendance Accounting Specialist 1.0
Campus Security Officer 1.0
College Receptionist/Dispatcher 1.0
Groundskeeper 1.0
Information Systems Specialist 1.0
Instructional Specialist (three positions) 1.01
Instructional Specialist-Theatre Master Carpenter 1.0
Instructional Specialist-Theatre Master Electrician 1.0
Instructional Technology Specialist (two positions) .83
Laboratory Specialist I .22
Matriculation Services Specialist 1.0
Media Technician - Audio/Visual .33
Re-entry Counseling Services Specialist .47
Research Specialist 1.0
Sciences Lab Manager 1.0
Theatre Management Specialist 1.0

CSU students could see a 12 percent increase THIS fall

if the trustees approve a proposal on July 12.

Buried at the bottom of a press release, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed announced yesterday that he'll ask for an additional $294 per semester beginning this fall to partially compensate for budget cuts "in order to avert devastating and lasting damage to student access, student services and program quality."

And the cuts are not even done yet. There could be more "trigger" cuts, if the projections in the budget passed by Democrats do not materialize.