Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alisal trustee Carmella Franco pens a book

State Trustee Carmella Franco, who has been at the helm of the Alisal Union School District since May 2010, co-authored a book about her personal experiences as administrator.

Titled "A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School," the book was published in October, and was co-authored with Maria Ott and Darline Robles, also top school administrators.

Haven't read it, but Franco told me the book is based on personal stories. Here's what a fellow administrator wrote about it:

"As a colleague and fellow female superintendent of color, I can relate to and see myself in so many of their stories. This is a wonderful must-read book for those interested in equity!"
--Amy Enomoto-Perez, Superintendent of the Rosemead School District.

To find out more about the book, click here.

Torlakson and students with special needs

Last week, during the conference of California school superintendents, Calif. Chief of Schools Tom Torlakson addressed Latino superintendents and administrators and told them about efforts to revamp education for language learners. I wrote about it here and here.

A reader called "Merry3000" asked when was Torlakson going to talk to administrators about students with special needs.

I have an answer for you.

According to Pam Slater, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education, Torlakson "speaks about the needs of students with disabilities in every context from physical fitness to the use of technology in education and has had a lot of meetings that addressed the topic." The California Department of Education also recently took part in a Disability Awareness Month (which is observed in October).

Hope this helps. Ask anytime.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Marina High is gearing up for WASC accreditation

Supt. Marilyn Shepherd sent a letter to the Marina community to invite everyone to participate in the upcoming in strategic plan meetings. There's no mention of "closure" of Marina High in the letter, only the "development of the new Marina Academy of Sustainability, Science and Technology (M.A.S.S.T.)"

Here's the entire letter

Dear Marina High School staff, students, parents and community members:

The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District has begun the process of gathering data and stakeholder input to form the basis of a Strategic Plan for Marina High School and to meet requirements of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC} accreditation process. Data collection and stakeholder input is an essential element of the WASC review process and a powerful tool for improving the quality of education for students. To guide this process and provide support to staff, Mr. Doug Jones has joined the administrative staff at Marina High as a part-time administrator for the
remainder of the 2011-12 school year. Mr. Jones has ten years of experience as a high school Principal and has worked with MPUSD for the past three years as a Principal Coach and Interim Principal at the high school level.

Mr. Jones will be meeting with staff, students, parents and community members over the next few months. Topics of interest will include the development of the new Marina Academy of Sustainability, Science and Technology (M.A.S.S.T.) and the role of the new College and Career Planning Specialist recently added to the staff at Marina High. Both additions will provide students with college and career readiness activities and greatly enhance the current educational program.

Stakeholders interested in providing input towards shaping the educational program at Marina High will be able to participate in an electronic survey that will be available online in the next few weeks. The data and survey information that is gathered will be provided to District administration, the Board of Trustees as well as the Marina community and will form the basis for developing future plans for Marina High School. Community meetings have also been scheduled for February 1st and February 9th at 6:30 p.m. in the Marina High School mUltipurpose room .

If you need more information or would like to communicate directly with Mr. Jones, please feel free to contact him at dojones@mpusd.k12.ca.us. We welcome your participation in the upcoming opportunities to help shape the vision and purpose of Marina High School and thank you for your continued support towards providing students with a quality education.

Marilyn Shepherd

What's the future of Marina High?

Rumors are running rampart that MPUSD wants to close Marina High. Although we don't have official word yet, the students have suffered for years from having to attend a campus that was designed for very different needs. The school was supposed to be greatly improved with funds obtained from development, but now that development has come to a halt in the area, so have the funds.

Superintendent Marilyn Shepherd is scheduled to talk tonight about two upcoming strategic planning meetings during the regularly scheduled board meeting. If you want to find out what's going to happen, drop by.

The strategic plan meetings are scheduled for this Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the multipurpose room in Marina High. Same hours, same place for the second meeting, which will take place Feb. 9.

Tonight, open session of the board of trustees begins at 7 p.m. at the Instructional Materials Center, 540 Canyon del Rey, Del Rey Oaks.

Lunch with a principal, a teacher, a journalist?

I had lunch with Seaside Principal Mary White more than a week ago, a nice opportunity to have a relaxed conversation about her views on what's happening in her school. Dr. White is going on her third year at Seaside High, and everyone describes the wonders she's done for the students. All I know is I've never seen a principal get hundreds of teenagers quiet down just by staring at them. Pretty impressive.

Then I had an idea, that was reinforced when I learned the Pacific Grove Police Department is hosting "Coffee with a Cop" sessions, in an effort for residents to learn more about their Police Department activities. So why not lunch with a principal? Or a teacher? Or a parent? Or a reporter?

I'd love to have coffee, lunch, or just meet to talk about what's going on in your school and how I can improve coverage of your issues. So email me cmelendez@montereyherald.com, call me 753-6755, tweeter me @MelendezSalinas, Facebook me, whatever.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tom Torlakson makes the Monterey rounds

during this week's conference of California schools superintendents. This morning, he spoke to the members of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators. This is an excerpt of his addressed, which focused on introducing upcoming changes to the curriculum for English Language learners.

"Cash for College" coming to Hartnell

Stumped by how the financial aid system works? Don't know if you qualify? The Financial Aid Office at Hartnell College will hold free workshops on Saturday, February 4, 2012, to provide one-on-one assistance with understanding and completing all the forms required for students to apply for financial aid.

The Cash for College Day activities in room 110 of the CALL building on the main campus at 411 Central Avenue in Salinas. It's designed to help parents and students who will attend college next year complete both state and federal forms, including the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid

Workshops in English are at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and noon. A workshop in Spanish begins at 1:30 p.m. Bring tax returns, W-2 forms, and identification for students and their parents.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Should we fight "bureaucratise" with education?

Recently elected Monterey Peninsula Unified board member Jon Hill campaigned to "tirelessly trump education babble with plain language."

The idea made me feel a bit funny, but I wasn't sure why. Then I spoke with El Brown, an educator, military wife, and contender for the "Military Spouse of the Year." And something clicked.

Brown has a child with autism spectrum disorder, and through countless meetings with therapists and doctors, this is what she's concluded: parents need to be informed about the lingo used in educational circles so they understand what educators talk about.

That's it, I thought.

There's no doubt the educational system is steeped in jargon. After all, those who designed it are the über educated -- the Ph.Ds, the masters, and they love to give you fancy terminology in college. And the fancier the college, the fancier the terminology.

But how's one to fight with layers of bureaucracy that dictate what an API, an AYP, an IEP are? Bureaucracy not created at the local level, but dictated from Sacramento and Washington? Wouldn't it be better to teach our parents what these terms mean? To bring them up instead of talking down?

No doubt some technical language can be simplified -- my editor would tell you, I'm guilty as charged. But maybe there's ways also to educate the general public on educational terms. Education is to be embraced, not feared. What do you think?

I have a profile of El Brown coming out in the paper in a day or so. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Julie Packard, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and ocean conservation

The Monterey Bay Aquarium celebrated its 2 million student visitors on Tuesday, a constant stream of visitors that have been coming to the aquarium for almost three decades. Executive director Julie Packard welcomed the group of about 100 students and their chaperons, and encouraged them to continue caring for the ocean. Here's a snippet of her remarks, taken from far far away, with my iphone.

Now that Digital First, the media company that owns us would like us to produce more digital content, I'd love to hear from you what you'd like to see. Interviews with parents, administrators, teachers? More photos? Let me know!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Teachers invited to join the Big Sur Marathon

Organizers of the Big Sur International Marathon will talk about their youth fitness program, JUST RUN from 4 to 5 pm. Jan. 31 at the Monterey County Office of Education, 901 Blanco Circle in Salinas. All elementary teachers, administrators and parents are welcome to attend.

The goal of the JUST RUN program is to promote healthy lifestyles while combating childhood obesity and its related illnesses. Many local schools are already participating in JUST RUN and have posted higher academic and fitness scores, according to Big Sur officials.

Elementary schools are required to provide instruction in physical education for a total period not less than 200 minutes each 10 school days, exclusive of recesses and the lunch period. JUST RUN can assist teachers and schools help meet the Education Code requirement. The program includes teacher training, advice and support.

For more information about Just Run, click here. Those interested in attending the workshop, should RSVP by Jan. 27 to Jillian Wiker at jwiker@monterey.k12.ca.us or 755.6463.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For high school and college students: scholarships, internships

and all that good stuff. Local and statewide opportunities to further your education, meet interesting people, and make some money!

Assembly Fellowship

Applications are being accepted for the 2012-2013 Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program until Feb. 22. The Assembly Fellowship Program is a full time, 11-month fellowship that gives an introduction on how the Assembly works. Fellows participate in a weekly academic seminar, earn graduate credits from California State University, Sacramento. Fellows are paid a monthly stipend of $1,972, plus health benefits.

Applications for the 2012-2013 Assembly Fellowship Program are due February 22, 2012. Contact the Center for California Studies with any questions at calstudies@csus.edu or (916) 278-6906. An online application is available here.

For information on the Senate, Judiciary and Executive Fellowships, click here.

Scholarship program from PG&E

will award up to $1 million in scholarships to enable high school, community college and “non-traditional” students to complete their higher education paths. Bright Minds scholarship winners will receive full-ride scholarships of up to $30,000 per year; program finalists will receive $2,500 towards their studies.

The Bright Minds scholarships will be awarded based on a combined demonstration of community leadership, personal triumph, financial need and academic achievement. Deadline for applying is February 17, 2012.
For more information and to apply, click here.

Agriculture scholarships

Agri-Culture, a Watsonville organization dedicated to promote better understanding of agricultural issues, is accepting applications for two scholarship programs for students majoring in agriculture.

To be eligible for the scholarships, students must live in Santa Cruz County or within the Pajaro Valley Unified School District boundaries, or be a member of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau. Deadline to submit applications is Feb. 24. For more information, click here.

MCOE's decision on CORAL, Monterey Bay charters

will take a few weeks. Today it was just presentation to the board, another step in the bureaucratic ladder. Stay tuned.

Meet MPUSD high school student board representatives

It's becoming my favorite part of attending MPUSD
board meetings: the day when high school members are introduced.
That happened Tuesday, when Chris Calderon, Kisha Ferguson, Elizabeth Rueda and Chris Pareja were introduced as this semester's representatives to the board.

Chris Calderon is a senior at Central Coast High School and the son of Ms. Lucero Bernal of Seaside. This is Chris' second year at Central Coast. He is involved in the Green Careers Club and is an active member of the After School Academy. Upon graduation from high school, Chris plans to enroll at Monterey Peninsula College. His ultimate career goal is to attend law school and become a lawyer and then return to the Peninsula to serve his community.

Kisha Ferguson is a senior at Seaside High School and is currently the Senior Class President and was the Junior Class President last year. She is the daughter of Evelyn and James Ferguson of Marina. She has played on the softball team for the last three years and is the NAACP Vice President of the Youth Council. She plans to go to CSU Los Angeles to major in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance & Banking. She aspires to be a CEO of a multi-million dollar company.

Elizabeth Rueda is an 11th grade student at Marina High School, and is the daughter of Fernando and Elvia Rueda of Marina. This is her first year as a Marina High School student and came from Maple Mountain High School in Utah where she participated in marching band, color guard, and chorus. She is currently on the Riptide All-Star Cheerleading Squad. She is an "A" student and she volunteers at Gladys Stone Early Start program every Wednesday. This year she is taking 11th grade AP English and AP U.S. History. Her career goal is to become an elementary school teacher.

Chris Pareja is a Monterey Academy of Oceanographic Science (MAOS) junior at Monterey High School and the son of Narda Castro and David Pareja. Chris is a member of NJROTC Leadership and a member of the soccer team. He also enjoys participating in church activities and playing his guitar. Chris is a previous member of the Monterey High School wrestling and tennis teams. Currently, Chris is interested in pursuing a career in business.

The board representatives give a report about their school's activities and serve as liaison between their peers and the board members. As you can see, they're accomplished young men and women who are surely going into great things. A big kudos to them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A day of charters for MCOE

It will be "charters" day Wednesday at the Monterey County Office of Education, as the trustees hear the submission of the CORAL Academy, review the process for considering a countywide charter, and hold a public hearing to renew the charter status of the Monterey Bay Charter School in Pacific Grove. The action begins at 3:15 p.m. at the MCOE's offices, 901 Blanco Circle, Salinas.

You may remember that founders of CORAL Academy asked Monterey Peninsula Unified School District officials to reject their charter petition so they could just save time and go to the county. Well, tomorrow's the first step in the process.

Monterey Bay Charter officials asked MCOE to schedule an afternoon hearing so students and families could attend, so expect to see their meeting rooms packed.

Tonight, MPUSD meeting worth checking out

In addition to celebrating outgoing board member Richard Glenn and outgoing President Diane Creasey, MPUSD board members will get a glimpse on planned changes mandated by the Common Core Standards. California decided to adopt the Common Core Standards in 2010, which are a series of academic goals aimed at preparing students for college or the workforce.

From tonight's agenda: "MPUSD teachers will be trained on what CCSS means in terms of preparing students to be college and career ready, and the importance of a collective effort on the part of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the community to insist on the types of educational experiences that the standards require."

The meeting starts at 7 p.m at the Instructional Materials Center, 540 Canyon Del Rey, Del Rey Oaks. To learn more about the Common Core Standards, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If you haven't yet ...

check Mari Lynch's blog on all things bike, all the time in Monterey County. You may get inspired to attend a fun, healthy, all family event near you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Calling all 5th graders and young immigrants

This comes from the American Immigration Council: "Celebrate America" writing contest.

The contest is meant to inspire educators to bring U.S. Immigration history and lessons into their classrooms and gives fifth graders the opportunity to explore America as a nation of immigrants.<span class=

Past winners have used the theme “Why I am Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants” to discuss their personal immigration experiences, learn about and share family histories or write about the broader questions of the challenges facing immigrants in a new land.

Fifth grade students enter their work in local contests which are sponsored by chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Each chapter forwards the local winning entry to the National Competition where entries are reviewed by a distinguished panel including U.S. senators, award-winning authors and noted journalists. Winning entries are to be printed in the Congressional Record.

The grand prize winner and two guests (including one parent/guardian) will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Council’s Annual Benefit Dinner where the winner will be recognized and will recite the winning piece. Local and national judges are looking for student writing that is original, thoughtful and speaks to the Council’s mission to educate the public about the benefits of immigration to our society.

For more information, click here.

Also from the American Immigration Council, the Immigrant Youth Achievement Award, which recognizes a young immigrant in the United States whose accomplishments are the embodiment of the immigrant spirit and show a commitment to making a positive impact in their community or the world around them.

The Immigrant Youth Achievement Award is presented at the American Immigration Council’s annual Washington, DC Immigrant Achievement Awards each Spring. Past honorees have emigrated from countries such as Ireland, India, Cambodia, China, and Cuba and have made contributions in literature, journalism, music and politics.


In determining the selection of a nominee to receive the American Immigration Council’s Immigrant Youth Achievement Award, the selection committee will use the following criteria:

  • The honoree must be between the ages of 14 and 25 years of age;
  • The honoree must be an immigrant to the United States, including those who have become naturalized citizens;
  • The accomplishments of the honoree must reflect more than personal success and should have evidence of a commitment to making a positive impact in their community or the world around them;
  • The honoree must be willing and available to travel (at the American Immigration Council’s expense) to Washington, DC for the awards ceremony the evening of Thursday, March 29, 2012. The American Immigration Council will cover the costs of travel and accommodations for the honoree, and for a parent or guardian if the honoree is a minor.

Application Procedure:
Please forward your nominee’s name, address, age, immigration history, and how long they have been living in the United States to Megan Hess at mhess@immcouncil.org. Please include a thorough synopsis of their contributions and achievements. Additional documentation (newspaper articles, etc) is encouraged.

All nominations must be received by 5:00pm EST on February 1, 2012.

Please note it is required that the honoree attend the Washington, DC Immigrant Achievement Awards the evening of Thursday, March 29, 2012.

The nominees will be reviewed by the American Immigration Council. An invitation will be extended by February 10, 2012.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The truck's arrived!

The Media Center for Education Arts and Technology has gotten a new truck! As part of its mission to train youngsters in the fabulous world of media, the bus will help with live coverage of events -- such as the Bronco series.

The Media Center is a project of the Monterey County Office of Education. Its Millennium High School Charter is scheduled to open this fall.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Of teachers, offensiveness, and aspiring to be color blind

Let me begin by saying it wasn't my intention to offend any teachers (Latino, White, Black, or whatever color persuasion) with the story I wrote for the Dec. 23 edition of the paper (Teachers 'diversity' gap plagues the state). A caller who found the story offensive didn't leave a name or number to call back, so I don't know what she found offensive in the story -- and I'm going to assume she's a teacher, that's what I can imply from her message. She said she was tired of me writing stories where I found research "from somewhere else" that fit my particular "bias."

I'm going to assume she thinks I believe all children should just be taught by teachers of their same "color": white kids should be taught by white teachers, etc. Or that teachers who are not of color (i.e. white) should not be hired anymore.

Not true.

There was also a letter to the editor who claimed I'm not being "colorblind." That's one of the problems we have in the good old U.S. of A. We'd like to believe we're colorblind. Truth is otherwise. All you have to do is watch the horrible posters people in this country produce distorting the image of President Barack Obama.

Ah, there are so many ways I could address all this, but very briefly, I'm going to pick just two:

This is my personal opinion: caring, prepared, respectful adults should teach children. Their race, color, sex, sexual orientation, height, weight, preference for perfume, shouldn't even be a consideration. If my personal "bias" did not come through in the story is because it's not supposed to.

I try to gather the best information that's out there (locally, state, nationwide) that better reflects what's happening in our community. Yes, Common Core standards are coming down the pike (too hard to fit on a daily, not local folks involved in the effort that I've been able to find) Yes, teacher evaluations are being discussed (not in Monterey County). Yes, California got a Race to the Top grant for early childhood education (nobody in Monterey County will get funds, or is involved in the discussions of how to come up with quality ratings. I've already checked).

And there's a gap between the percentage of Latino teachers in Monterey County vs. the number of Latino students. It's an issue of concern to some researchers. I did not conduct the research, I did not pull the numbers off my sleeve. This is a topic of national relevance that has some local implications. All I'm trying to do is bring to light some arguments being discussed out in the world into local context.

Monterey County is more than 50 percent Latino (higher percentage of Latino than the state as a whole). The population is highly segregated, with Latinos living mostly in the Salinas Valley, and non Hispanic whites in the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Valley, and along the coast. Issues of ethnicity and race are important in this community -- I'd dare say almost as important as water. I'm willing to bet these issues are not just going to evaporate if I stopped writing about them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two upcoming events worth noting

The League of Women Voters of the Salinas Valley is hosting a panel discussion on education on Sunday, Jan 8, from 2 to 3:30 pm. at the First United Methodist Church, 4040 Lincoln Ave., Salinas.

• Luis Alejo, Assemblymember, 28th District
• Bill Barr, former Monterey County Superintendent of Schools
• Hetty Eddy ,Washington Union School Board Member, President of the local CTA, Math Coach, Retired Teacher

On Saturday:

The New Media Center at Hartnell College will offer a free day of interactive discussions designed for small business owners and entrepreneurs on Saturday, January 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Steinbeck Hall in the Student Center on the main campus in Salinas.

The event, called Technology Tour 2012, features local industry leaders who will offer their expertise on innovations in technology, marketing, and communication, including digital media, social media for small business, online interaction, 3D animation and design, and videos for business.

For information and to register in advance for this free event, please contact New Media Center Director AnaLuisa Morales at 831-755-6782 or amorales@hartnell.edu. Space is limited.