Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stuff the Bus in Monterey County

It's probably too late to donate items to the Stuff the Bus campaign -- pencils, backpacks, etc.

But I'm sure it's not too late to donate money! Or to sign up to be a volunteer!

If it takes a village to raise a child, it surely needs a platoon to sort and stuff backpacks for the more than 5,000 homeless children in Monterey County.

From 12 to 3 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 1, volunteers will be needed to sort all the items that have been donated at cute buses all over the county. Then, on Saturday, volunteers will be needed again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to stuff the backpacks.

I helped last year and it was a fun, heart warming activity. You should definitely consider it. Remember, you're helping some of our most vulnerable students.

For more information, visit the United Way website here.

On expulsions and the rights of students

Trustees with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will have a study session on Wednesday to learn more about expulsion hearings. Presenting will be Dora Dome, law adjunct professor at both Mills College and the University of California at Berkeley.

It promises to be an interesting presentation. The topic of discipline, particularly among black students, is increasingly being discussed nationwide, with some districts changing their practices to prevent black students from being expelled as frequently as they are. Civil rights advocates claim expulsions and detentions start students on the path of delinquency.

The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the district's office board room,700 Pacific Street, Monterey.

Salinas teens: become a youth commissioner!

The City of Salinas is looking for students between thirteen and eighteen years of age to serve on the Youth Commission.

The Youth Commission is comprised of twenty-eight members selected by the Mayor and City Council members to make recommendation regarding recreational programs and activities affecting youth. The Commission generally meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30pm.

Interested persons may obtain additional information or an application here or by contacting the Salinas City Clerk’s office, 200 Lincoln Ave. Salinas, 93901, 758-7381, Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Return completed applications to the City Clerk’s Office.

Common Core, a Trojan Horse for Education?

Orlean Koehle, president of the Eagle Forum of California, and author of "Common Core, a Trojan Horse for Education" will be the guest speaker at the Southern Monterey County Republian Women Federated monthly luncheon meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Stravaganza Grill, 611 Canal St., King City.

Koehle, a former teacher will discuss the Common Core Standard Initiative, an educational program of national standards and curriculum adopted in California in 2010 and way on its way to be implemented in most school districts. For reservations, call (831) 385-5843 or (831) 382-4230.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Salinas teens: here's your chance to learn about the restaurant business

Bill Taylor from the Shoreline Culinary Arts Program will talk about the restaurant business and what employers are looking for today in new hires. He will also talk about the culinary arts program in Marina and do a simple cooking demonstration to show you how easy and delicious cooking can be.

The workshop will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25 in the Teen Lounge of the John Steinbeck Library in Salinas, 350 Lincoln Avenue in Salinas. Free.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

MPC's Dave Clemens on Mark Edmundson

Check out Dave Clemens' latest blog post. It's about Mark Edmundson's most recent book, "Why Teach?," hot off the press.  

The blog -- and I'm assuming, the book -- is provocative, depressive and timely, not just for college professors but for all teachers. After all, all teaching professionals are at the receiving end of widespread efforts to "corporatize" education.

Somehow, the mere effort to exercise your brain for a few minutes is worth the reading, even if you feel a little hopeless at the end.

But maybe you'll be inspired and energized. Like Clemens concludes in his blog:

"Teachers must resist the corporate temptations, discipline Satan, and embrace real education—the formative education of personal growth, values, and tastes leading to a fulfilling life."

Happy reading! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges visits Hartnell

Barbara Beno and Susan Clifford, president and vice president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, will make a presentation to the Hartnell Board of Trustees at 5 pm. today, July 16.

Beno and Clifford will focus their presentation on accreditation standards and the role the trustees play in the accreditation process. The meeting will take place in Building B, room 208 of Hartnell, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. 

Hartnell was placed on probation earlier this month by the ACCJC. The college community will have to address 12 recommendations in the upcoming two years to have its probationary status lifted. While on probation, the school remains fully accredited, so the students education is not in jeopardy.

The college has put together answers to frequently asked questions. You can see them here and here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

School boards election watch in Monterey County

For those who want to represent their communities at the various school boards, we're almost a month away from Monterey County's deadline to file for candidacy.

A few interesting races are shaping up so far.

Maricela Cruz will take on Lilia Cortez-Garza for her seat the Alisal Union School District. Cruz co-owns a soccer store in the Alisal, which means she's probably well known among the area's soccer fans. Cortez-Garza, like the rest of the board, is a strong supporter of Superintendent John Ramirez and the current status quo, which some folks are unhappy about.

Former Salinas Union High Superintendent Fernando Elizondo will throw his hat in the ring on Aug. 8, when he'll announce his candidacy at a Salinas restaurant. His election website is up and running, and you can find it here. He's running against Lila Cann, who has been on the board since 2005 and who's well liked among his constituents, I'm told. Cann announced she's running for re-election a few weeks ago, along with all the incumbents seeking re-election.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Election season is upon Monterey County

Oh yes, we're going to have elections this year. And judging by the excitement already in the air, they're going to be more exciting than ever.

Deadline for candidates to file their paperwork is Aug. 9, but many have already announced their plans. At MPUSD, Trustees Helen Rucker and Regena Lauterbach already said they're not running, so there will be brand new trustees in those spots. Bettye Lusk will run for re-election, and I'll be interesting to see if anybody steps up to challenge her. Tom Jennings will have to run if he wants to keep his seat.

The list goes on and on. At the Alisal Union School District, where some constituents are not happy with decisions being made at the top, Lilia Cortez-Garza will have at least one challenger. Also up for re-election are Sarah Garcia and José Castañeda -- who's facing a lawsuit from the City of Salinas to give up his school board seat.

The office of Monterey County Elections will host a candidate's seminar from 9 to 11 a.m. this Saturday. So if you're interested, here's your chance. You can find more info here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Of parenting, adolescents, and monitoring social media

I came across a very disturbing video on the Internet. It's about a man who discovers his teenage daughter has been posting incredibly insulting comments about him on Facebook.

First, Dad makes a video of himself explaining in detail how he found the offending information on his daughter's page. Then he proceeds to insult her extensively, calling her an ingrate and saying he's going to post this video on Facebook for the world to bear witness. Then he proceeds to destroy her computer in a very violent way.

Bone chilling. You can find the video here.

One of the reasons why adolescence is one of the most perilous periods in human development is because the brain has not fully developed. The part of the brain that precisely needs to form is the one that allows us to foresee the consequences of our actions. It's the time when young people do really stupid things -- like posting really offensive comments about their relatives on Facebook -- without thinking how is that going to play out in the future. How that's going to really hurt Mom, Dad and Auntie; and how perhaps it's not a good idea to post it to begin with.

It's a modern-day dilemma that I consider dangerous. In the old days  if you wanted to badmouth your teacher or your former best friend, you wrote a note in class and passed it to your new best friend, or you whispered in her ear. Now, you post it on Facebook or Twitter for the world to see.

What's worse is that, precisely because of the lack of brain development, young people believe they're so clever, so much smarter than their parents, teachers, tíos, etc, and therefore safe from scrutiny.

They're not. None of us is.

There are so many examples of how social media is getting young people in trouble, namely for posting inappropriate photos, comments, etc., things they should learn early on they're a bad idea to do. No, it's not OK to rant against ANYBODY on social media. No, it's not OK to threaten somebody and think you're going to get away with it.

Just this week, a Texas teenager was jailed because of a sarcastic comment he posted on Facebook in which he said he was going to go "shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts." You can read more about it here.

Justin Carter then wrote 'LOL' and 'JK' online acronyms for "Laughigh out loud," and "Just Kidding."

Apparently, the woman who reported him to the police did not share his sense of humor. 

And that's the problem. Young minds are still too immature to realize social media is not their "private" bubble, whether or not they've allowed you to "friend" them. Parents now have the added responsibility of turning their children into responsible citizens AND cybercitizens.

But not by force, for crying out loud.

That's where I found fault in the Dad making the terribly hurtful video of how he destroys his daughter's computer. Children at this age have limited planning capacity, so we need to help them in that arena. We need to be their pre-frontal cortex. How would you like them to treat you if their brain was fully functioning?

Do not lash out at them. Go to your room, take a deep breath, and show them by example, not by revenge.

And insist upon them Facebook is not private. No electronic media is.

Master Calendar for all Monterey County Schools

You have to be a nerd to like something like this; so I guess I am.

Now I'll have a central location to go find out if MPUSD is in session or if Alisal is already on vacation. So grand. You can find it here.

We have to thank the friendly folks at the Monterey County Office of Education for this one. You guys rock! And by you, I mean Marci!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Literacy Lab at MPUSD wraps up another year

Twenty teaching credential candidates from Cal State TEACH took part in the yearly Summer Learning Lab at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. This year, the lab took place at Martin Luther King Elementary, where limited English speaking children were given specialized attention by teachers in training.

The students receive one-on-one support two hours a day. Later on, the children take other enrichment classes through the summer program MPUSD runs.

The results achieved through the lab are "phenomenal," according to organizer and former MPUSD principal Roger Dahl. "Students in many cases make progress equal to what they achieve during the school year in only three weeks of focused instruction."

Yay for attacking the "summer learning loss"

Monterey Peninsula College awards nearly $250,000 in scholarships

The Scholarship Program at Monterey Peninsula College helps students with grants for costs such as tuition, fees, textbooks, and other necessary expenses. The Monterey Peninsula College Scholarship Program is sustained through local and nationwide donors.

Each spring donors and recipients are honored at the college’s Scholarship Awards Ceremony. This year 192 scholarships totaling $246,467 dollars were awarded to 154 MPC students, including $132,000 funded through the Monterey Peninsula College Foundation.

The MPC Foundation gives donors the opportunity to contribute or set up their own endowments to support causes they believe in. For instance, the MPC Foundation’s newly established Robert K. Bullock Journalism Scholarship fund awarded $37,000 to students pursuing a career in journalism communications and/or mass media at MPC. Of the funds, $4,000 to four high school scholarships, $12,000 to six MPC students returning in the fall and $21,000 to five MPC students transferring to four-year institutions.

For a full list of recipients, click here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hartnell changes course -- and meeting could not get tenser

In an earlier post, I speculated somebody had to change his/her vote in support of Project Labor Agreements. Otherwise, it would have not come back to the full board as it did on Tuesday.

Mystery solved. The swing vote was Elia Gonzalez Castro. Here's a partial video of her remarks explaining why her change of heart.

It was a tense meeting, without a doubt. Ron Chesshire of the Building Trades Council insinuated somebody must have received a threat. He also talked about coercion, intimidation, what not.

Paul Farmer of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce said revoking the Project Labor Agreement was the right thing to do for the entire community, not just for labor.

Then Super Construction Magnate Don Chapin came to the podium and said he "never threatened anybody." At that point, I don't recall anybody mentioning him by name. Too bad I had ran out of memory in my iPhone.

Demetrio Pruneda told Board President Candi De Pauw "When we went to Las Vegas, you asked why our board is dysfunctional. Here's your answer."

For more on the decision, click here.

Hartnell seeking nominations for its athletics hall of fame

Hartnell College is now accepting nominations for its inaugural class of the Hartnell College Athletics Hall of Fame. Honorees will be inducted during a special luncheon and ceremony on Saturday, November 16, 2013, and will be presented to the public during a half-time ceremony at the home football game against Monterey Peninsula College that evening.

Eligibility rules and nomination forms and guidelines are available here. at the college’s website at . Deadline for submission of Hartnell College Athletic Hall of Fame nominations is July 12, 2013.

Questions about nominations, the Hall, or the induction event should be addressed to Joanne Trevino in the Athletics Department at (831) 755-6884 or jtrevino@hartnell.edu.

Monterey County Office of Education to host teacher recruitment fair

The Monterey County Office of Education will host a teacher recruitment fair to help school districts in the tri-county area (Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties) fill vacant teacher positions. Employment opportunities for public and private school teachers, as well as other credentialed professionals, will be available and job fair participants can speak first-hand with district representatives about open positions.

Visit www.montereycoe.org and click on the “teacher recruitment fair” link to see current listing of participating districts. List will be updated regularly as districts confirm participation.

The Tri-County Teacher Recruitment Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at the Monterey County Office of Education, Rooms A/B, 901 Blanco Circle, Salinas.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Two meaty items on Hartnell's agenda for Tuesday

They're baaaaack.

Opponents to "project labor agreements" which limit the pool of construction applicants to those who are union friendly, will have another shot at defeating the measure Tuesday, when Hartnell trustees consider whether to revoke an approval they issued in May.

If you recall, trustees have been moving the process along to build the new science building: they approved the "lease-lease back" method of construction, approved the project labor agreement, and appointed Trustees Ray Montemayor and Demetrio Pruneda to the ad hoc committee that would negotiate the PLA. (See more on that here and here.)

The PLA was approved with a 4-3, with Trustees Elia Gonzalez Castro and Bill Freeman joining with Montemayor and Pruneda in the mayority. It'll be interesting to see if the vote holds up. 

The committee met last week, and at the end of it, it was announced that the entire board would consider turning back the clock and going another route to build the science building.

That, and the fact that trustees will hear a presentation on the refinancing of their bonds, promises to make it an interesting meeting. Stay tuned.

York School board of trustees elects new officers

Jane Paulsen of Carmel, a former journalist and public relations professional, is the new chair of the board of trustees for York School. Paulsen is the parent of a current student and of a 2010 York graduate.

The board of the independent school also elected Mary Adams of Pebble Beach, president and CEO of the United Way Monterey County, as vice chair.

The board also re-elected Gary Ray of Monterey board secretary, and elected Marilyn Calciano of Santa Cruz board treasurer. Ray, a partner in the Salinas law firm of Ottone Leach Olsen & Ray LLP, is the parent of two York students. Calciano also is the parent of two York students. Newly elected to the York board were: Drew Gibson, Carmel Highlands; Matt Simis, Monterey; Kirsti Scott, Aptos, and Gordon Howie, Redwood City.