Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monterey Peninsula high school students: win cash prizes for writing about voting

The League of Women Voters of Monterey Peninsula is sponsoring a contest about the importance of voting for students in the 10, 11, and 12 grades at Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey Peninsula unified school districts.

Find out all you need to know about: the importance of voting, where do I get information about voting, or how do I get my friends and family to vote. Write a 500 word essay about your investigation, and turn it in to:

LWV Contest, PO BOx 1972, Seaside CA 93958. Or email to

Your essay should include your name, your parent or guardian's name, grade level, school name, and your contact info.

Deadline to enter is Nov. 30. Prizes are $375, $250, $125, and five honorable mentions at $50 each.

For more information, about the League of Women Voters, click here.

Chartwell School in Seaside holds open house

Check out the programs at the private, non-profit Chartwell School, which helps prepare students in grades K-8 with dislexia or other language-based learning difficulties.

Likewise, the New High School Project serves students in grades 9-12 who may have struggled in more traditional high school settings.

The school offers open houses regularly. The next ones are coming up Nov. 3 and Nov.6 from 10:30 a.m. till noon. At the school, 2511 Numa Watson Road, Seaside CA 93955 For more information, call 394-3468 or click here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First, Governor Brown; now first dog, Sutter Brown

comes tour Monterey County in support of Prop. 30.

Democratic party stalwarts are getting all cutsey about First Dog Sutter Brown and its tour of California, as it puts "paw to pavement" in support of Prop. 30. The measure in next week's ballot would raise sales taxes for everyone and income taxes for wealthy Californians in order to avoid cuts to education.

Sutter will be in town All Hallows Eve, first in Salinas and later in Monterey. Like its owner, Sutter B has been touring the state to bark for Prop. 30.

The dog's first appearance is scheduled  at 4:30 p.m. at Teamster's Hall, 931 E. Market, Salinas.

At 6:30 p.m. he'll appear at the Monterey Center, 60 Bonifiacio Plaza, Monterey.

I supposed desperate times call for desperate measures. Bring fresh cement for a pawtograph.

And if you want to friend the First Dog, here's its Facebook page.

p.d. Sutter has more than 6,000 likes, way ahead of Bo Obama. America's First Dog has fewer than 2,000. 

Students at the CSU system plan to protest proposed fee increases

Trustees at the Cal State University system are scheduled to consider several fee increases that would take place even if Prop. 30 passes on Nov. 6.

The fees are: The "graduation incentive fee" which would charge seniors who've earned 150 semester or 225 quarter units and additional fee per unit. This $372 fee would encourage "super seniors" to graduate fast.

The "repeate fee" of $100 per semester unit. In addition, students choosing to repeat courses will not be permitted to enroll in more than 15 units in the term.

Third-tier Tuition Fee. Currently, students with six units or less are charged at one rate, and students who take more than six units are charged a second rate. This recommendation proposes adding a third tier in which students enrolled in 17 or more units would be charged for each unit taken above 16 units at a rate of $200 per semester unit. According to the CSU staff report, adding a “third tier” to the CSU resident student tuition fee structure would "improve the fair distribution of needed classes to each undergraduate student. The third-tier would also dissuade students from signing up for extra course loads (and then often dropping courses later in the term) and avail additional course sections and 'seats' to be available for all students and give every undergraduate a better opportunity to carry a full course load."

Students at San Jose State are scheduled to demonstrate on Nov. 8, and at CSUMB on Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. in front of the library. The CSUMB rally will take place a day before Trustees are set to meet in Long Beach to consider the proposed fee hikes. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dias de los Muertos -- for everyone

It's my favorite celebration of the year: we dedicate Day of the Dead to our dearly departed, our loved ones who went on to the next world ahead of us.

We fete in the memory of our parents, our grandparents, our friends; eat their favorite dishes, sing their favorite songs, and for a few hours, we feel their presence again.

It's magical.

Three local celebrations are taking place:



CSU Monterey Bay hosts its 16th annual Dia de los Muertos celebration at 6 p.m. in the University Center, on Sixth Avenue and B Street. Free and open to the public.
Performances by Aztec dancers and musicians will highlight the evening. Altars will be on display; pan dulce and hot chocolate will be served.


Will have a procession from Closter Park on East Salinas to the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts at 6 p.m. With Aztec dancers, folklórico dancers, and more music. Free.

The Alisal Center for the Fine Arts is at 745. N. Sanborn St., Salinas.



Dia de los Muertos and First Friday

From 5 till 8 p.m.
One Main Street, Salinas

The procession will begin from Hartnell College to the National Steinbeck Center. There will be performances by the Yaocuauhtli Aztec Dancers, the Youth Orchestra of Salinas, acoustic guitar, and local band, Ill Fusion. Other activities include an art and crafts area for young people and the opening of a photography exhibition on Mesoamerican Cultural Preservation by Marianne Mangold. Enjoy hot chocolate, sweet bread, music, a community altar and a Frida Kahlo lookalike contest. For more information click here.

More international chances for Monterey youth to shine

Do you have a bright idea of how to fight poverty in Latin America? Are you between 12 and 18? Well, you have until Dec. 31 to enter your idea in a contest and win up to $5,000.

The Daniel Chavez Moran contest is open to all youth in the United States. A panel of judges will select the winning applicants that demonstrate the most original ideas that have a realistic chance of being implemented.

The grand prize is $5,000,
Certificate of Award Runner Up - $2,000
Certificate of Runner Up Third Place - $1,000,
Certificate of Participation

The Award is a great way to get today's youths thinking outside the box on how to solve traditional problems. Future categories to be announced could include Arts and Music, Public Policy and Social Media. The next category is slated to be open for applications in early January 2013.

For more information about the contest, click here

CORAL Academy on the road of rejection -- again

It doesn't look good for the proponents of CORAL Academy, a proposed charter school in the Monterey Peninsula that's been trying to get approved for more than five years.

After being rejected twice by the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, and twice by the Monterey County Office of Education, CORAL petitioners turned to the state. Earlier this month, the advisory committee on charter schools recommended CORAL be rejected, using language that was pretty much used already by administrators at MPUSD and at MCOE.

"The CDE finds that the CORAL Academy charter petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the intended program, and the petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of the 16 charter elements."

Further, CDE administrators say CORAL Petitioners are proposing a program to serve special needs population, but are not explaining how to staff such a program or how to pay for it.

"The petitioners significantly underestimated the number of support staff, side-by-side assistants, special service providers, health care professionals, and psychologists that will likely be required to appropriately serve the anticipated school population. Additional services that may be reasonably anticipated for the target population, such as transportation, extended school year, and alternative student placements have not been budgeted."

The advisory committee recommends the full State Board of Education hold a public hearing and reject the charter. On occasions, state trustees go against their staff recommendations and vote their way, but it's not common -- which makes an approval for CORAL unlikely.

No public hearing has been set yet. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Salinas has two National Merit semifinalists

but word has it Monterey County has six. Where are the other four?

Aradhana Sinha and Brennan Fahselt of Salinas High were named among 16,000 students nationwide who made it to the semifinals of the National Merit Scholarship program, which recognizes the most talented students in the United States. I've been getting really good reports about Aradhana for the last few years, so I'm not surprised she's in this distinguished list. It's the first I hear from Brennan, but likely won't be the last.

The semifinalists have an opportunity to compete for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered in the spring.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

Pretty amazing feat, huh? Congratulations, Aradhana and Brennan! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gov. Brown's coming to Salinas to rally for Prop. 30

Monterey County Democrats are all abuzz about a rally to be held Thursday at Hartnell College, when Gov. Jerry Brown's scheduled to make an appearance and rally for Proposition 30.

Brown has been campaigning all over the state for the tax measure, aimed at balancing the budget and keep funds for schools, colleges and universities at the same level they were last year. If the measure doesn't pass, Brown will cut $6 billion to education.

Opponents to the measure feel the governor is holding education hostage, and have launched a strong campaign to defeat the additional taxes.

Of teaching literature, non-fiction, and the Common Core Standards

In his latest post for the National Association of Scholars, "How the Internet Ruined the Teaching of Literature," Monterey Peninsula College English instructor David Clemens decries how current technology is changing student habits for the worse: they are so used to be fed images they no longer find it pleasurable -- or necessary -- to read literary classics. Students also fail to acquire the necessary knowledge in grammar, history, or morality attached to the works. He writes it much more eloquently that I ever could, so take a look.

You're probably aware that California schools are in the process of changing their teaching practices to accommodate Common Core Standards. One of the main components of Common Core is switching emphasis from literature to works of non fiction. Instead of analyzing "Catcher in the Rye," students will now focus on an equivalent in the non-fiction world, like the biography of a famous leader.

Given the changes the Internet has brought about in the literary scene, and how students are no longer finding it "fun" to learn from the literary masters (it's all about fun these days for young people), maybe the Common Core standards have arrived just in time. Now the challenge for educators will be to make learning "fun" within these confines, and keep ahead of the Internet!

School Quality Snapshot for Califonia schools

Earlier this month, the California Department of Education unveiled a snazzy tool for parents and the general public to see how schools are making progress. It's called the "School Quality Snapshot" and it gathers about five years of data that helps paint a complex picture of how schools are doing.

You can see all kinds of results in the charts: passing rate for the California High School Exit Exam, graduation rate, fitness levels, proficiency in math and English, and more.

You can easily access the snapshot by clicking here and then typing in the name of your school.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Your chance to adopt a family for the holidays is back!

Each year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County sponsor the Adopt-a-Family program to help some of their families in need.

About 130 needy families from among the members of the B&GC are selected to be "adopted." Businesses or individuals who chose to adopt are given a list of gift the family would like to have, go out shopping, then return to gifts unwrapped to the Seaside Clubhouse. Gifts are delivered in time for the holidays.

The program is officially launched on Wednesday. Last year, 345 children benefited from the program. For more information, click here or call 831-394-5171.

It's National School Bus Safety week so please...

watch out for the little ones -- and not so little ones too -- as they get in and out of school buses.

Studies prove that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus. When you consider that this is also "walk to school" month, drivers are encouraged to be super careful and pay attention to the young pedestrians.

And when I say drivers, I actually mean "parents." Sadly, most of the complaints you'll hear are directed toward parents, those who are in such a hurry to drop their children off and pick them up they cut in front of other people, park illegally, etc. So be careful out there, not just for your children's sake but for everyone's. 

California is actually doing very well in student safety, considering how many thousands of students are transported every day -- a lot fewer than before the budget cuts, but still. So let's keep it that way.

And speaking of walking, students from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Seaside will be walking to school on Wednesday, October 24th along with parents, teachers and community leaders to mark the occasion. So if you see a large contingent of little ones on Broadway and Noche Buena crossing the street, watch out!

Participants will receive a healthy snack, a small prize, and a modest amount of sweat.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Monterey County teachers to rally on Saturday for their favorite measures

Gov. Jerry Brown, California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson, and hundreds of teachers and their supporters are expected to rally tomorrow in different sites throughout California.

Monterey County will join in the effort at Hartnell College, where the California Teachers Association Secretary-Treasurer Mikki Cichocki will join students and teachers at 10 a.m. in support of Prop. 30, a tax increase that would stop $6 billion in cuts, and in opposition to Prop 32, which would prevent political contributions by payroll deductions.

Ah, election time. Eighteen more days!!!!

Monterey County creative youth: make an anti-soda commercial, win $1,000

New America Media and Richmond Pulse Youth Creative want you to "Soda Sucks 2: Outsmart the Advertisers."

Imaginative high school and college students out there: New America Media wants you to come up with a creative ad as an alternative to the enticing soda advertisements that inundate our airwaves. They want you to come up with an ad that talks about soda drinking and its links to diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and more.

The contest is open to Californians between the ages of 15 and 25. There are two categories: poster art and rap/music/video/skit. The second category is open to basically any kind of performance that can be recorded either as an audio or video file. One grand prize of $1000 will be awarded to each category. Entries must be received by November 2

For all the details click here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Monterey County young journalists: write about food, win a prize

Enter the first "Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Awards."

Students ages 13 to 18 from all over the country have until Feb. 28 to enter a story about their cafeteria food in an attempt to create a healthy food movement in schools.

“High school journalism classes and school newspapers are the incubators for tomorrow’s great journalists," Michael Pollan, the contest’s judge and food writer said in a statement. “This contest is designed to help those young thought leaders hone their investigative journalism skills and get their peers engaged on a critical issue affecting their own well-being and that of the environment.”

To enter the contest, students need to submit articles that focus on the benefits of healthy and sustainable school food, and what schools are doing to promote healthy eating habits.

The winner will receive $1,500. Second prize will be $1,000. Third prize will be $500, and three fourth prize winners will each receive $300. Teachers supervising the winners will receive a prize of $200.

Winners will be announced on or around Earth Day, April 22, 2013.

To learn more about the Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Awards, click here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are you ready for the next bit earthquake?

Thursday's "Great California Shake Out," the yearly reminder that we have to be ready for one the big one hits.

And in addition to having the usual "drop and cover" drill, Hartnell College will host a Safety Fair and Earthquake Evacuation Simulation open to the public.

The multi-agency Safety Fair and Community Emergency Response Team training exercise will begin at 10:18 -- right when the earthquake is supposed to happen -- and include an earthquake evacuation simulation, fire suppression training, rescue training, and a test of its social networking capabilities. All will happen in the main quad.

The public is invited to observe these drills and participate in the Safety Fair, which will last from 10:18 a.m. until 1 p.m. on the quad and annex area of the main campus in Salinas. Special displays and demonstrations will include a specially trained rescue dog, a CAL FIRE mobile kitchen unit and a communications van, and safety resuscitation drills.

For more information, please Joseph Reyes at 831-755-6814, or Lindsey Bertomen at

All Monterey County high school students were invited

to a national discussion regarding the Dust Bowl and the environment at the National Steinbeck Center.

Only about 90 attended.

Monterey County was invited as part of the National Youth Summit, a discussion led by the Smithsonian Institution. Organizers believe poor participation could be owed to transportation issues. It could have been students are taking yet another exam this week. It could have been lack of communication.

For whatever reason, it was sad to think local students were missing out in a great opportunity to deepen their knowledge of history. An opportunity to make it relevant to their lives, a glimpse into what they could do to get involved. An opportunity to look at the Salinas Valley in a national, global context.

I often hear adults talk about how students learn better when the content is relevant. This was relevant. This is history directly linked to the present. This is our environment, our agriculture, our land, our future.

And there were so few of us there to see it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mungers v. Brown v. education

Whenever I watch squabbles among trustees in small school districts, I like to believe this only happened in small, provincial places. Surely, more enlightened people would know what's best for everybody, agree to disagree, and work together toward common solutions.

Not so. Just watch Molly Munger in a mud fight with Jerry Brown. Munger, who's sponsoring a ballot measure that would increase taxes on most Californians and give it mostly to education, has begun running negative ads against Brown's Prop. 30. Munger's determined to have Brown's proposition defeated, and hers come out triumphant. The end result, Prop 30 is now sagging in the polls and not really helping Prop. 38, Munger's initiative.

This is good news for the anti-tax cruzaders, as both initiatives will likely go down in defeat. For education folks, who will see a really bad dip in their moneys come next year, it's really bad.

Even the PTA, which sided with Munger's initiative, is urging her to make peace with the governor. 

Sad. Nobody seems to be talking about the issues anymore, just about who's more right than the other.

Can the real adult please step up?

Monday, October 15, 2012

So many schools in Monterey County, so little time

California officials handed score cards to all state schools last week, as you probably remember from this story. Many schools went up, some went down, and overall, academic performance at Monterey County public schools declined for the third year in a row.

This trend deserves further examination, something I hope to get around to in the upcoming weeks. Also, another trend that's been brought to my attention and deserves further scrutiny is the increased use of "alternative" testing for special education children -- something that data crunching guru Doug McRae believes is "inflating" test results statewide. Here's his story on EdSource, in case you're curious.

At the local level, there are several local districts that are using high proportion of alternative testings. I'll be looking into that sometime in the near future.

But I'd also love to look into high performing schools. Bay View Academy, for instance, hit its scores off the park by scoring 849 in its inaugural year -- three points ahead of Monte Vista Elementary, which, given Monterey demographics, is actually not very surprising.  I'm sure folks at both schools are very pleased, as they should.

Also noteworthy is the Monterey Bay Academy, which also went up by 21 points in the API scale. I'd love to explore what the school's doing, how they're tackling the challenges other schools have with low income, English learners, and other "subgroups." Stay tuned.

Finally, two schools of the Greenfield Union School District made impressive gains. Mary Chapa went up by 108 points. Its sister campus, El Camino Technology Academy, went up 73 points. And nearby Cesar Chavez went down by 33 points. Why the discrepancy?

So many stories...

Friday, October 12, 2012

School Bytes is on TV!

And so am I. Adela Micha, watch out!

It's a sign of the times. Reporters now have to be more versatile. We have to take photos, produce video, and hosts our own TV shows!

Take a look at my debut on TV. I hosted a forum on California Prop. 30 and 38, the competing, vastly different ballot measures that would increase taxes to fund education. I'm afraid now the issue is getting muddled by the rancorous debate taking place between their sponsors -- Jerry Brown and Molly Munger -- so this may be a good opportunity for you to find out the basics of the two and how they'd affect education in Monterey County.

The program will air on the Media Center for Arts, Education & Technology Channel the following dates. All showings are both A.M. and P.M.

Monday, October 15 at 2 and 8
Saturday, October 20 at 1 and 7
Monday, October 22 at 2 and 8
Saturday, October 27 at 1 and 7

MCAET can be seen on Comcast Cable Channel 26 in the Salinas/Monterey area. MCAET also transmits over the air on Digital Channel 38.2 in the Salinas/Monterey area. In North Monterey County, MCAET can be seen on Charter Cable Channel 17.

Or watch it here!

Mission San Antonio de Padua

is a treasure that Monterey filmmakers Terri DeBono and Steve Rosen believe deserve to the preserved. Open to the public.

But the state will close its doors if it can't find money to retrofit its adobe walls. DeBono and Rosen hope their film "An Island in Time" will inspire rescue efforts.

Missions are important elements of our history -- an important project for fourth graders! The film premieres at the Carmel Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13 at noon at in Youth Center Theater, 4th and Torres in Carmel.  

Take your fourth graders along!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monterey County libraries want your input

Monterey County residents: help the Monterey County Free Libraries create a new, useful plan for their future.

Click here  to  to fill out an online survey and help plan the future of the County library system. The survey takes just about 10 minutes to complete and will remain open through November 10th 2012. Survey results are anonymous.

Help is needed from

• People of all ages
• People from all parts of Monterey County
• Library users
• Non-Library users
• People of all interests and backgrounds

If you don't have a computer, you can find the surveys at any of the 18 library locations throughout the county.  

For more information, call 883-7573.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monterey Peninsula College trustees settle on final finalist

No final decision has been made, MPC trustees caution, but after careful deliberation, they have scheduled a visit to....

The Wenatchee Valley College District in Central Washington to gather more information about Walter Tribley. Tribley is currently vice president of instruction at the district, as well as the administrator of the Omak campus.

Tribley was interviewed by the MPC community last Thursday, and some believed he was the least likely to make the final cut because of his lack of knowledge of California community college system and the Monterey region in particular. Other candidates in the running were Larry Buckley, interim president of San Bernardino Valley College; Angela Fairchilds, president of Woodland Community College; and Kathryn Jeffrey, president of Sacramento City College. 

The results of the site visit will be discussed at the regular board meeting on October 24, 2012.

That one came out of left field for me. I wonder how others in the MPC communities see it. 

MPC employees are a bit miffed...

because they were promised they'd be able to see the candidates via video, but alas, the video did not work for the first candidate, so no video was offered for any of them.

A good 90 people showed up for each forum, but many instructors were away with teaching obligations, thus could not see who's in the running for the post.

Naivete whispered in my ear the decision would be fairly straightforward, easy to reach. Well, board members have been meeting for hours now -- Friday, Monday and today -- trying to whittle down the list to two candidates.

I hear there may be an announcement this afternoon. Stay tuned.

Monterey volleyball players to raise breast cancer awareness

Monterey High Girls Volleyball will charge an extra dollar at their game on Oct. 25 to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. It's their "DigPink" night, the official name for fundraisers that benefit the Side-Out Foundation for medical research.

Many of the volleyball team members have a family member or a close friend touched by breast cancer, said Michelle Hazlett, volleyball mom extraordinaire.

"Last year, one of our Team Moms from Boys Volleyball, Debbie Hodgson, passed only two weeks prior to the DigPink which is what motivated the girls to start their annual DigPink," Michelle wrote in an email. "This year, we have another mom battling, but chooses to keep it private as many often do. We have a player whose great aunt is a survivor, which of course always gives hope. We have asked the girls to all announce who they will be playing for this year, and none will have trouble coming up with a name. It definitely makes your heart rip out; this game’s dedication wasn’t started because of a bunch of adults thought the kids should do this, it started because the girls found this was something they could do to help, when often they feel like they can’t."

 Admission to the Oct. 25 game is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and youths. Junior Varsity starts at 5pm, and Varsity at 6:30pm. At Monterey High School Randal Gym, 101 Hermann, behind the Football field.

York opens its doors for fall fair

The yearly celebration, organized and hosted by the students, features food, games, student performances, farmers market, used book sale, and more. Proceeds benefit the private school’s student financial aid and the various activities and charitable causes of participating student clubs.

The celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.

For more information, call 372-7338 or click here

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bilingual bird walk for kids in Seaside

The Monterey Audobon Society is organizing a bird walk for the young ones -- in English and español!

It will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Laguna Grande Park. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Seaside Library and then walk to Laguna Grande park from there, returning some time between 11:00 and noon.

For more information, contact Celia Bosworth at 375-5002

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monterey Peninsula College professor shares his views on superintendent candidates

David Clemens, English professor, coordinator of the Monterey Peninsula College Great Books Program, and blogger extraordinaire, attended the presentation of all four candidates for the job of superintendent.

I asked if he would share his impressions with me -- and the readers -- about the candidates, and he wrote a detailed analysis of each. Too good to reduce to a two-sentence quote, I told him, and he graciously agreed to let me share it in my blog.

Astute observations, indeed. Here they are:

The sad part is that all the candidates are in economic survival mode, and that could lead to the extinction of all small classes as well as our nationally renowned Great Books Program and our new Creative Writing Program. Literature classes are already being rationed and eliminated. Losing the traditional curriculum, I believe, is ultimately suicidal but in survival mode, no one looks past the present crisis 

Each candidate was asked to describe where they saw the community college in five years. This question was suggested by Clemens.

As (Larry) Buckley noted, the Board of Governors president doubts Proposition 30 will pass and that will mean possibly 25 colleges closing. And if the BOG provides relief by suspending regulations, that could make it even worse because it will be easier to pink slip full time, tenured faculty and replace them with adjuncts, para-educators, tutors, and software.

Angela Fairchilds
Pros: Personable, used humor, energetic, somewhat connected, some candor
Cons: Often described a problem rather than provided a solution, e.g., “we need to build back FTEs.” How? “We’ll have no money without Prop 30.” And so . . ... ? “We are no longer the institution that we were.” What are we? How do we establish criteria for filling positions? “Set priorities." Lacked experience with program discontinuance.

Kathryn Jeffrey 
Pros: Smart and funny. 
Cons: Too much flattery. (She went on and on about how great MPC is and how well the college functions) Seemed to lose steam halfway through, fuzzy response (on some contracts and financial models), not astute about online—my notes say “getting really confusing.” 

Larry Buckley 
Pros: My choice. Academic Ph.D. He was honest and candid as well as well-connected in Sacramento... He said what I’ve been saying, “what is most important to us with the resources we have?” “We have to have a new deal” (finance model). 
Buckley was straightforward, didn’t mince words, and had cogent ideas. He didn’t seem to be applying in hopes of retiring in Monterey. He was light years ahead of the other candidates in his grasp of the political and educational situation. He seems to have the guts to make the cuts. 
Cons: I doubt I would like all his decisions, especially convening a committee to do curricular triage. We did it before, the Instructional Priorities Committee, and it featured “the usual suspects,” the faculty identified as reliable who are on every important committee. It was very powerful and very political. 

Walter Tribley 
Pros: Academic Ph.D. Good scientific knowledge, apparent support of liberal arts. 
Cons: Nervous. Simply not enough knowledge of California and MPC landscape. Support for liberal arts seemed to evaporate with “funding will play a large and disproportionate role” in prioritizing. Referred to “para-educators.” Maybe too dazzled by educational novelties?

Monterey County celebrates Latino Heritage Month

Fifty-six percent of the population in Monterey County is of Latino origin. In our public schools, 74 of students are of Latino background.  

Hispanic Heritage month ends Oct. 15, to celebrate this and other nifty facts and figures about Latinos in the county and the county, the Monterey County Board of Education invited over Roberto Melendez, chair of the media committee of the League United of Latin American Citizens to receive a resolution to the effect. Trustee David Serena was in charge of the honors. Thanks, Marci McFadden, MCOE spokeswoman extraordinaire, for sending the picture along.

For the record, Mr. Melendez is not related to yours truly.

For the record, I'm of Latino origin. Who knew, huh?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Turn off the TV and go play in Monterey

Come use your limbs on Saturday, Oct. 6, during the "Day of Play" sponsored by the 20th District PTA at the Monterey Sports Center.

There will be Zumba classes, swimming, volleyball, basketball, ping pong, and more. Free!

 Bring appropriate clothing, and towel if you plan to swim.

 From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Monterey Sports Center, 301 E. Franklin St. Monterey, CA 93940.

For questions, contact Tammi Suber at

Can you judge a presidential candidate by its theatrical prowess?

And I'm not talking about Obama or Romney.

Today was day three of presidential candidate forums at Monterey Peninsula College, and like Trustee Rick Johnson said "having four qualified candidates to choose from is a good problem to have."

Not to say they're all exactly alike. How could they be? Yes, they're all highly qualified. Angela Fairchilds, Kathryn Jeffery, and Larry Buckley have all shown they have strengths. They all seemed to have done their homework about MPC. Another candidate will be interviewed tomorrow, and I expect his abilities will at least be comparable. 

They all have performed differently before a large audience, though. And you won't find anybody who tells you who's the strongest in their mind so far. They'll have to work with the winner, no matter who s/he is.

But after witnessing the forums, I wonder: will stage performance translate into good leadership?

In other words, if a candidate performs less stellarly than another, does that mean she or he is less qualified to lead?  Can a good leader be a poor stage performer?

Or is "charming personality" another characteristic we're seeking in a leader?

And I'm not talking about Mitt or Obama.

of overweight TV anchors, bullies, and the people who influence them

It's National Bullying Prevention month, and I came across an eloquent video that touches on the subject. It's been making the cyberrounds, so you've probably seen it too.

TV anchor Jennifer Livingston  took a moment of her morning show to address an offensive email she received in which she's called fat and a bad example for youth.

To which she responded: "You don't know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family. And you have admitted that you don't watch this show. So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale."

I have to admit, I almost cried when I watched this woman standing up not just for herself, but for millions of people who get bullied every day, including children. To me, she's an example of people who want to achieve their dreams. If you want to be a TV anchor, even if you're not meeting society's idea of what's "right" for television, you can still do it. Bravo, Ms. Livingston.

But the most important message I heard from Jennifer was this:

"If you are at home and talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat."

Yes, bullying could begin at home, so we should be setting the example for our children. Let's not forget that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

North Monterey going the route of area district elections?

Top Monterey County education officials, namely Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski and trustee Harvey Kuffner, are scheduled to make a presentation Thursday to the board of the North Monterey Unified School District  on the process to change their electoral system.

Apparently, some folks up north are unhappy with the "at large" system, which seems to limit the election of Latinos to the board.

The presentation will take place at the regular board meeting Thursday, Oct. 4,  7 p.m. at the district offices, 8142 Moss Landing Rd., Moss Landing.

MPC and the meaning of "shared governance"

I'll confess. "Shared governance" is a concept I hear often, but I'm never quite sure what it means. Or what college administrators mean by it.

So I decided to be a good reporter and I looked it up. And found this excellent article about the topic on The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Worth noting: "'Shared' governance has come to connote two complementary and sometimes overlapping concepts: giving various groups of people a share in key decision-making processes, often through elected representation; and allowing certain groups to exercise primary responsibility for specific areas of decision making."


Monday, October 1, 2012

Monterey hosts a "deferred action" talk

I heard some Monterey teachers wonder why a presentation about this topic wasn't given in their back yard.

Well, now it is. 

The Global Majority Student Club at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and Amnesty International will co- host a presentation on the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, facilitated by immigration attorney Blanca Zarazua.

The new policy, commonly referred to as "deferred action," allows immigrants brought to this country illegally as children to obtain a work permit as long as they meet certain requirements. This presentation is designed to provide information about the policy and the application process, as well as immigration in Monterey County in general.

 This event is free and open to the public.  It will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in Room B109 of the Morse building at 426 Van Buren Street in Monterey. For more information, click here.

Happy birthday, MPC!

It seems fitting that MPC is interviewing candidates the same week it's celebrating its 65th birthday.

A big bash is planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.  There will be music, food for purchase, demonstration of what's happening in the college, and free tickets giveaway for a football game.

The Alumni Association will host its annual BBQ. $30 per person, including a ticket to Saturday's game, MPC vs. Diablo Valley College.

For more information, click here.

Filling Byrl Smith's seat at MCOE

Officials with the Monterey County Board of Education are planning to fill the vacant seat of Area 6 with a provisional appointment.

Byrl Smith, former trustee, resigned last month for health reasons.

The person appointed will serve until the current term expires in Nov. 2013.

Applicants must be registered to vote within Area 6, which encompasses Marina, Seaside, and Sand City.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Oct. 19.

Candidates will be interviewed at a public meeting of Board of Education in early November.

Interested? Request an application package at 755-0301 from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. The packet is also available on line here .

MPUSD wants you to know what they're up to

Administrators with MPUSD will host a community forum Tuesday, October 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Instructional Materials Center 540 Canyon Del Rey Blvd.

Come hear what district officials have to say about student achievement, Measure P bond projects, the new Monterey Early Childhood Center, and district finances.

My guess is they'll also talk about Proposition 30 and how that will affect the money picture of schools if it fails to pass.