Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Solved: the mystery of where John Schilling went

Well, almost.

After John Schilling was appointed on June 18 to serve as assistant principal at Central Coast High, he instead took a job in San Jose, MPUSD's Sharon Albert told me. She didn't know where he went, though.

Schilling worked at Pioneer High in San Jose since 1995, later becoming assistant principal at two schools up there. He'd been with MPUSD since Aug 2005, first as assistant principal at Monterey High, then as Marina High's principal.

Marina High will now be led by Sean Roach, who previously worked as social studies teacher and coach for the girl's softball team. Second in command will be interim assistant principal Alan Crawford, the former college and career planning specialist at Marina High School and Central Coast High School. He helped design one of the new SAILS academies.

It'll be interesting to see what's in store for Marina High, with such fresh leadership and three academies being unfurled. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 30, 2012

MPUSD Marilyn Shepherd's contract

Marilyn Shepherd's contract was extended on June 4, like I reported a few weeks ago. 6-1, with Jon Hill dissenting.

I'm digging this up now because a vigilant reader suggested previously eliminated perks made it back into the contract. I checked and found no new perks, but here's the contract which now is slated to expire June 2015.

What I had not previously reported is that, as per the agreement, Shepherd received a 2.5 percent salary increase -- she now makes $223,315. Enough to pay for that gym membership everyone keeps bringing up.

And another gem. When Shepherd was hired, she was making $170,000 a year. So her salary has gone up by about 31 percent since then.

What else will I find out if I keep digging?

UPDATE: I know this is last year's contract, but it's the one posted in the district's website as being approved on June 4. If another contract exists, modified, approved after June 4, 2012, I've yet to find it.

A shout-out to La Paz Middle School's Natalie Bernasconi

Who is in Redmond, Wash., as we speak, showcasing the work she's been doing on "digital citizenship," at the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum.

A self-described techno-geek, Bernasconi has been developing a curriculum to create "digital citizens," that is, students who are conscious of their presence in the cyberworld: how to avoid cyberbullies and not to be one, what to post and not to post, etc. It's a project where teachers and students are invited to participate, and you can find it here.

Bernasconi and her project partner Gail Desler of Elk Grove USD were invited to participate in the national conference after presenting the project at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation ShiftEd forum in March. If selected, Bernasconi and Desler would go to the world wide conference in Greece. So good luck, Ms. Bernasconi! We're rooting for you!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Do you qualify for "deferred action"?

Take this "self-test" and find out if you could qualify for "deferred action," Obama's program to stop deporting undocumented youth.

Brought to you courtesy of Houston immigration attorney Laurel Scott.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Where did Marina's John Schilling go?

Well, it could have been that John Schilling, the popular principal at Marina High, decided to take a very good offer at another district, but now that he's gone -- and another person appointed to replace him -- tongues are wagging.

One of the speculations: that the person appointed to replace him has not experience, therefore the school will be set to fail and then close, like many have been fearing will happen.

It's hard to believe that administrators want to set the school for failure, when so much work was invested into launching the SAILS academies. But stranger things have happened.

One thing's for sure, and for the record: MPUSD trustees appointed Alan Crawford on Monday as interim principal of Marina High. Crawford was until last school year the "college and career planning specialist" as you can read from the school's description in the SAILS website.

That clarified, there's still the mystery of John Schilling. Where did you go, Mr. Schilling? Inquiring minds want to know...

Vote for Loaves, Fishes and Computers!

The good folks at Loaves, Fishes and Computers (who fix used computers to put in the hands of our less fortunate neighbors) are one of five organizations nationwide vying for a brand new car. To help them, all you have to do is vote for them here. Tomorrow it will be the turn of YWCA, same spot.

These organizations are part of a network that makes all of our lives better. Give them a hand!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More workshops about Obama's plan to stop deporting undocumented youth

The Mexican Consulate and the American Lawyers Association will host a second workshop on "deferred action," the plan by the Obama administration to stop deporting undocumented youth and give them a two-year-work permit as long as they meet certain conditions. Attorneys will clarify what requisites are needed to qualify for the program and clarify what the action will and will not do.

The workshop will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 27, in the cafeteria of Hartnell College, 411 Center Ave., Salinas.

MPUSD trustees to set goals tonight

You never know when MPUSD meetings will get interesting, and tonight may be one of those nights. I received a very cryptic message last night from a person -- a woman?-- who said she'd be attending. The agenda includes one of those items that never seems to draw much attention.

Goal setting.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. at the usual place -- 540 Canyon del Rey in Del Rey Oaks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are you at least 8 years old?

Would you like to learn how to fix your bike? You could sign up for upcoming classes in Monterey.

Learn how to inflate tires, change a flat, adjust brakes, and keep your bike clean and lubed. These basic maintenance skills will be taught, along with some safety tips, including proper helmet fit.

The class needs a minimum of six students to be taught, and only four have signed up. So hurry! Classes will be held July 31 and Oct. 30. Both classes meet at Casanova Oak Knoll Park Center, 735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey. They are taught by E. Chavez.

For ages 8 through 13, class is 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

For ages 14 and older, class is 7-9 p.m.

Through the City of Monterey recreation department. $20 for residents, $26 for non residents. For more information, visit Mari Lynch's blog Bicycling Monterey here.

It's that time of the year, when teachers gather at Asilomar

Teacher leaders with the California Teachers association are in town, and Tuesday they rallied in support of Prop. 30, the governor's tax measure, and against Prop. 32, a measure to change campaign finance rules by banning corporations and unions from contributing to candidates.

Joining teachers in speaking out against Prop. 32 was Beverly Bean, president of the Monterey Peninsula League of Women Voters (pictured in the photo below).

(I couldn't be there, but CTA spokesman Mike Myslinski provided me with photos and transcripts of participants speeches-- and apologies for misspelling his name in an earlier version of the blog)

Carol Rodrigues, special education teacher at the Salinas Elementary School District, spoke in support of Prop. 30. She talked about the challenges her students are facing and how sometimes the only stable element in their lives is school. What would happen if the schools themselves were falling apart, she wondered.

She spoke about increasing class sizes in her district -- kindergarten classes of almost 30 students. She spoke of decreased time with students. Decreased library time.

"Our district was lucky enough to have hired 5 music teachers about 5 years ago. Next year, if things go according to plan, we will have one. For the entire district. Our district was looking at having 5 furlough days this coming year. We have been able to limit furlough days to one, and it will be on a day when students are not at school. That’s the good news. But, and this is crucial, if the Governor’s tax initiative doesn’t pass, we will need to go back and look at more furlough days. Days which will come out of student days."

Dean Vogel, president of CTA, spoke against Prop. 32 and launched a statewide campaign against it. "Prop. 32 is not what it seems," he said in prepared remarks. "It’s a blatant attempt by corporate special interests to silence the political voices of teachers on critical issues like class sizes, testing, and the fight for adequate school funding. The teachers here now with tape on their mouths are a reminder of what this measure wants to really do."

Here's a more detailed explanation of Prop.32.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Children of East Salinas participate at Teatro Alisal

It's been weeks of drama for about two dozen children and youth at Alisal, who participated in Teatro Alisal, a project of Building Healthy Communities, El Teatro Campesino, and the children of live in East Salinas. It's an uplifting, inspired story of how the children making the best of their lives in Alisal, and how much fun they have doing it.

Here's Kinan Valdez, director of the play, talking about the project

And here's the play itself -- filmed by Baktun 12


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why I haven't written about technology in schools

Public relations specialist and schools are often suggesting I write about their new computers, their new tablets, their new toys. I feel I should write about technology in the classroom. But I haven't figured out how to do it, so I haven't.

And after reading this post by Larry Cuban, via Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post, I understood my reservations. Technology is not the magic wand that will make the deep educational challenges we face in Monterey County go away.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Two hours before a gunman killed 12 people in Colorado

my mother, sister, niece and nephew walked out of the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora.

When I woke up this morning and heard the news, "massive killing in Aurora, Colorado movie theater" I froze for a second. I had talked to my mother in the afternoon and she told me they were thinking about going to the movies, but decided to have pizza instead.

So I didn't worry. They didn't go to the movies. They'd be OK.

Still, I called my sister for good measure. They had, indeed, gone to see "Ice Age," to the 8 p.m. show. There were dozens of young people already lined up to see "Dark Knight." Like most movies in the United States, the Century 16 in Aurora is always filled with families and joy.

My sister even considered staying for the premiere of such a talked about film, but my five-year-old nephew is a bit restless. They got home nearly at midnight, just as the gunman was gunning down dozens of people at the theater where they'd just been.

Like most people in the country, I've been gripped by the story, but with an added concern. It could have been my family. It could have been me. And I shudder. Right now, there are dozens of families whose lives have been shattered wondering why.

Then again, we don't have to go that far to see a dozen families whose lives have been changed forever by senseless violence. Already 14 people have been killed so far this year in Salinas, our own back yard.

They all could have been members of our families. They all could have been us. My heart is gripped by terror just thinking about it, and my prayers go to those who couldn't escape it.

Saying hello to new Hartnell president, bidding farewell to Helm

Meet Willard Lewallen, new president of Hartnell College, at a free community barbeque at on Tuesday, July 24. The BBQ will also serve to bid farewell to retiring superintendent/president Phoebe K. Helm.

The barbeque will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the main quadrangle of the campus and will feature music, campus tours, and free parking.

For more information, please contact Sharon Eckhart at 831-755-6810 or seckhart@hartnell.edu.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Carolee Bull, Salinas researcher, wins national award

Bull, a researcher with the US Department of Agriculture in Salinas and plant pathologist extraordinaire, has been recognized for her work mentoring young Latinos and Latinas in Monterey County.

Bull won the 2012 ARS (Agricultural Research Service) Administrator’s Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Awards Program. "This program is to annually recognize employees for exemplary achievements in promoting a diverse workplace free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; and for their demonstrated commitment to workforce diversity through actions that clearly exceeds responsibilities of their positions or assignments in ARS."

Carolee was recognized for "innovative program development and outstanding mentoring provided to minority and women undergraduate researchers in the Salinas Valley of California.”

I profiled Carolee in June, when her student Ana Ibarra received a national award for her work in the USDA lab. Now it's Carolee's well deserved turn. Congratulations, Carolee. Well deserved.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dianne Harrison gets a 20 percent salary increase

True, the salary increase that was approved for her new position as president of CSU Northdrige was only of 10 percent -- to be paid for with private money.

So as president of CSU Northridge, Dianne Harrison will make $324,500, 10 percent more than her predecessor, who earned $295,000.

But when you take into consideration that Harrison was earning $270,315 at Cal State Monterey Bay, it's really a 20 percent salary increase she's getting.

Harrison and two other CSU incoming presidents are slated to earn 10 percent more than their predecessors, something that's not sitting well with many, even though the money will come from private sources.

When I interviewed Harrison before she left, she said the salary presidents earn has to be competitive -- not just in California, but nationwide. And when compared with other presidents in other states -- such as Gordon Gee at Ohio State-- $325,000 doesn't seem that extravagant.

Harrison also told me her salary should not be considered an increase from her current job, but from the position she was taking on. After all, the size of the student population at CSUN is almost four times that of CSUMB. There's got to be a lot more meetings at that university.

Plus, she said all this talk about salaries -- a miniscule portion of the budget -- is just distracting.

I'll give her that last point. When you consider the total expenditures of the university system, complaining about presidential salaries doesn't seem worth the effort.

But we can't ignore how wrong it feels to see these people keep making more and more money, when the rest of us have to endure furloughs and pay cuts. When students have to keep paying more and more, when financial aid is being cut and classes eliminated. Financially it may not mean much but symbolically it says a lot, and that's what infuriates people.

Summer's here, children are out and about playing

please, be careful!

Two little kids were run over yesterday as they rode on a bike with their caretaking adult. Although they sustained some injuries, they appear to be non life-threatening.

Amartya Chinya, a 5-year-old Cupertino boy, was not that lucky. Amartya was riding his scooter in a cul-de-sac Tuesday night when he was accidentally struck by a car backing up on a driveway. the boy died almost four hours later at the hospital.

Please drive -- or ride -- carefully. That little boy or girl darting out into the street after a ball could be your own.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Great encounters through old fashioned reporting

So, we folks at the Herald received yesterday a visit by Steve Buttry, Digital Media's head honcho of community engagement and social media. Steve gave us some advice on how to make sense out of the Twitter chaos, how to add digital tools in our reporter's toolbox, how to try to make connections to our audience through social media.

Facing a dramatic decline in revenue for the printed newspaper, Digital Media, our parent company, is making a big push for us to be more digitally engaged, more online. Which is great: I enjoy blogging, tweetering, and sending my photos into the cyberworld like imperfect children trying to fend for themselves.

But when I was trying to write a daily story about more cuts for the community colleges last week, I was reminded of the power of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Nobody was calling me back. Nobody was responding to my tweets, my facebook postings or my smoke signals, so I decided to do what any good entrepreneurial reporter would. Hit the streets.

I found the printmaking class of Evelyn Klein, and her politically engaged and savvy students. Diana Paul, a film and food enthusiast, ended up writing about the current situation of community colleges in her blog.

Would I have learned from Diana Paul had I just been surfing the web? Probably. But I would not have made a personal connection, which is far more valuable than any I could have made through social media.

CSU trustees to vote on pay for Dianne Harrison, Eduardo Ochoa

California State University trustees will discuss what to do if Gov. Brown's tax measure fails in November -- raise tuition, cut employees compensation.

They'll also vote on how much to pay newly appointed campus presidents. Dianne Harrison, who was appointed to lead CSU Northridge, would receive the same annual salary of her predecessor ($295,000) but receive an annual supplement provided by the university's private foundation of $29,500.

Incoming interim president Eduardo Ochoa would receive the same annual salary Harrison was receiving, $270,315.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fun times for children at Kids in Motion

Del Monte Shopping Center in Monterey wants your children to come pet animals, hear stories, get their faces painted, and ride on ponies, all free! The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 14. Sounds like a good way to spend Saturday morning with the little ones!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Alert students of the world, read this!

A group of alert, adorable fifth graders in Bethesda, Maryland, wrote to The Washington Post’s Dennis Drabelle to set him straight on one of his stories. Drabelle incorrectly wrote the date when the Titanic hit the iceberg, and the diligent students wrote a gigantic letter to set him straight. Read the story here.

It gives me so much hope: that students are reading newspapers (it doesn't say if they read the story on line or in print, but I'm not sure it really matters). That they're paying attention to details and doing their own research. And that they were so kind on their letter, not with name calling or demeaning comments, but just a straight correction.

A big kudos to those fifth graders! Now, I try my best not to make mistakes in the paper, but they do slip. Maybe next time, a fifth grader in Monterey County will catch me ;-)

MPUSD, local military, receive national recognition

The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and the local Military Partnership in Education were awarded the Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award at its 14th National Training Seminar in Grapevine, Texas. Dan Albert, assistant superintendent of business services; and Sharon Albert, district communications director, Lela Casillo, Chief: Child, Youth and School Services Naval Support Activity Monterey; Tina Wekell, School Liaison Officer, Naval Support Activity Monterey; and COL Joel Clark, Garrison Commander, Presidio of Monterey.

This annual award encourages and recognizes the outstanding partnerships formed between military installations and school districts that serve military children. Award winners are selected from schools and military installations around the world by the Military Child Education Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the transition and educational issues affecting the highly mobile military child.

The Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award was created in 2004 to recognize the work of former MCEC Chairman Lieutenant General (Ret.) Pete Taylor in assisting the highly mobile military child. The award is designed to foster the sharing of lessons learned and to recognize the long-held belief of General Taylor that “goodness starts at the local level.”

For more information about the award, click here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maybe schools aren't the problem

UPDATE: Kolbert's article in the New Yorker about spoiled children continues to make waves. Here's another reflection about it Leslie Crawford of GreatSchools.com

maybe it's the students.

So, here's a topic that's making the rounds these days. Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker analyzes a book and an essay to conclude that, thanks to over-cuddling parents, children in the United States are growing to be lazy and complacent. We don't let them learn how to tie their own shoes because it's not expedient: we're in a hurry, we have to get to work, so we do it for them. The result: they grow up feeling that everything can be handed down to them, that they don't have to work hard for anything. And that, if they're not being entertained, there's no point in anything.

Then comes a response from Lee Bessette, a teacher of writing in Canada, who concludes in this blog at Inside Higher Ed that people are now getting their satisfaction primarily from parenting because everything else in life is so unrewarding that getting that smile of approval from your child is worth the world. Your reason for being.

Which makes me wonder: what will happen with those children when they grow up and we're not there to make them smile, or hand them down life on a silver platter?

I sort of got my answer from this video, posted on CNN by Joseph Ryan: kids don't want to learn. They expect to have things handed on them on a silver platter. To them, if it's not fun, is not worth doing.

And learning is hard work, it's dedication, is discipline, and if we don't teach that to our children, no matter how much "school reform" we embark on, things are going to continue to look pretty dismal.

P.D. -- And maybe, our cuddling's the reason for the U.S. to have dropped in international rankings on innovation.

Meet and greet for Kari Yeater, new NMCUSD superintendent

Trustees with the North Monterey County Unified School District will host a "meet and greet" for new Superintendent Kari Yeater and new administrators. On Wednesday, July 18th, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Castroville Library, 11160 Speegle Street, Castroville.

Christopher Bates, Eleanor Taylor, local school bus drivers extraordinaire

Christopher Bates, a dispatcher for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District's Transportation Department, won second place in the state bus driver championship held by the California Association of School Transportation Officials on May 27.

Bates started his career in school bus transportation in 1992 and has been competing in "Roadeos" ever since. As captain of the PVUSD Roadeo team, Bates trains and recruits new drivers who compete in sectional and statewide Roadeos, and has personally competed in the last six CASTO State Championships. He is extensively involved with the school bus industry, and making sure that safety remains a top priority.

Eleanor Taylor, a bus driver with the Monterey County Office of Education, is heading to Wisconsin to compete at the 42nd Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition. The competition takes place July 14-15 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it's an opportunity for six California drivers and hundreds nationwide to demonstrate their skills.

“School bus drivers and other classified employees are absolutely integral not only to the operations of their school district, but they often make a real difference in the lives of the kids they serve,” Superintendent of California Schools Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic members of their school communities, and they make the safety of our children their top priority. It’s my absolute pleasure to recognize the contributions of these outstanding workers and wish them luck in Milwaukee.”

Congratulations, Mr. Bates! Good Luck, Ms. Taylor!

Monterey County gets grant renewed to continue literacy efforts

The Monterey County Office of Education’s AmeriCorps program was awarded another three-year grant for $359,957 to continue its United for Literacy program efforts in Monterey County. This is the fifth consecutive award for AmeriCorps.

Though the program, AmeriCorps trains about 30 tutors who each provide 1,700 hours of literacy development service to schools annually. Tutors provide one-on-one or small group tutoring during and after school hours for 30 minutes at least three times a week. This year, more than 515 students will receive at least 20 hours of tutoring.

Fifty-eight percent of second through fourth graders do not meet proficiency standards in language arts and 64 percent of students are English learners, according to the California Department of Education.

Monterey County United for Literacy mobilizes and links community resources that enable Monterey County children to read well and independently by the end of fourth grade. Since its inception in 2000, the program has clocked 484,000 hours of volunteer service reaching 6,175 students with one-on-one reading tutoring. Ninety percent of students participating in United for Literacy have advanced their reading ability to reach performance objectives.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Read! And get free rides at the Monterey County fair!

Monterey County kids in grades 1 through 6 who read extra books during the month of July, 2012. This is a great opportunity for kids to get summer reading done and earn a treat at the same time.

To enter, kids should read the required number of books listed below and fill out the entry form found here. A parent or guardian must sign the entry form and then return it to the fairgrounds office by August 10, 2012 or send the completed entry form via fax to 372-8248. Upon receipt, the Monterey County Fair will send a ribbon and two free carnival ride tickets to be used at the Monterey County Fair, between August 29, 2012 – September 3, 2012. The book reading requirements are:

Three books for 1st & 2nd grades (can be picture books)
Four books for 3rd & 4th grades
Five books for 5th & 6th Grades

The “Very Berry Extraordinary” 2012 Monterey County Fair will be held on August 29-September 3, 2012. For more information, contact the Fair Administration Office, at 2004 Fairground Road in Monterey, by calling (831) 372-5863 or click here.

More literacy tutors needed

There are over 70 adults in Monterey County waiting for a tutor to help them learn how to read, write, speak and understand English better. Language skills are crucial not only for people to navigate the labor force, but also to help their children thrive in school and become productive members of society.

One in four adults in Monterey County read below the 4th grade level. Administrators with the Monterey County Free Libraries want to change this statistic.

Become a literacy tutor. Volunteers with the program provide one-on-one tutoring to help learners read, write, speak and understand English better. New volunteers may join the program at any point during the year by registering for the new tutor training. Make a commitment of just two hours per week for six months or longer if you wish.

The next orientation and training will be held at the Seaside Branch Library at 550 Harcourt Ave, Seaside, CA 93955

Part I on Tuesday, July 17, 6:00-8:30 pm

Part II on Thursday, July 19, 6:00-8:30 pm. Would-be volunteers are asked to attend both sessions.

For more information or to register for training, call 831-883-7597, or email andrewscs@co.monterey.ca.us

Plaza Rotario: a community triumph

A big applause to all the Rotary Clubs that participated in the revamping of Closter Park in Salinas. The ceremony on Saturday, full with pony rides, races, Aztec Dancers and community participation was very special, an example of what can happen when people come together for a common goal. Particularly touching was to see many people who would not normally go to the Alisal enjoy of a sunny day, paletas, and Mariachi music on the East side.
A big shout out to the Rotarios, and a plea to the community - like the Rotarios said -- let's keep it up. Let's make it even more beautiful.