Friday, September 27, 2013

Financial relief coming South Monterey County High School District's way

Governor Jerry Brown has signed a budget trailer bill to reduce the interest rate on South Monterey County High School district emergency loan. The bill includes language that will allow it to repay its debt to the state in a shorter amount of time that originally designed. School districts in Oakland, Vallejo and Contra Costa County have already benefitted from refinancing their emergency state loans.

The school district received a $13 million emergency loan in 2009 as it was projected to be fiscally insolvent. By law, the school district was forced to finance with the state-run California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-Bank). At the time, the interest rate for I-Bank was at 5.44 percent. In California, only three other school districts have emergency loans and their interest rates are below 2 percent.

"This is a huge victory for the students of South Monterey County," said Sen. Anthony Cannella, co-author of the bill. "The school district is paying $1.2 million annually in debt and carrying the highest interest rate any school in California has ever paid. This relief means major savings to the district and will allow it to restore programs focused on student achievement."

MPUSD trustees to talk about superintendent search

Maybe it was the summer. Or the fact that, after the last superintendent search, the community was so exhausted there was no energy left to give.

But nothing like a good rest and a bit of controversy to spark things up.

MPUSD trustees will meet at a special meeting Monday to talk about the search for a new superintendent. They won't be the ones choosing, but rather, they want to set the wheels in motion so a new superintendent can be picked by the new board.

The meeting's open session is set to start at 5:45 p.m. at the usual place -- Instructional Materials Center, 540 Canyon Del Rey, Monterey.

It'll be interesting to see how the latest upheaval related to a proposal to change the math requirements at the high school level plays out. Math teachers are not happy, and they have not been shy about publicizing their concerns.

Stay tuned. 

Free tutoring to students at the Salinas Union High School District

The Salinas Union High School District is hosting a "provider fairs" to inform families about free academic tutoring available to them.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Federal education reform law, many public school students from low income families are eligible to receive free tutoring under a national program called Supplemental Educational Services (SES). In SUHSD, the schools that offer SES are Alisal High, El Sausal Middle, Everett Alvarez High, La Paz Middle, North Salinas High, Harden Middle, Salinas High and Washington Middle School.

Through SES, a child is eligible for extra help in English, Math, and Science if he or she is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch at school or attends a Title 1 school that the state has identified as not making adequate yearly progress for two years. Parents choose a tutoring service from a list of approved educational providers developed by the state. The tutoring services are paid for by the school district and are available before or after school or the weekends.

The provider's fairs will take place:

From 5:30p.m.-6:30p.m. on Tues., Oct. 8 at the large gym room at Everett Alvarez High.

From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 9 at the cafeteria of Alisal High.

From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 15 at the large gym of Salinas High.

From 5:30 to 6:30 pm. on Wed., Oct. 16, at the small gym of North Salinas High.

Monterey Peninsula College candidates set to debate

Marina in Motion, a non-partisan, no profit organization established to discuss local and regional issues, will host a candidates forum for the race to represent Marina on the board of trustees of Monterey Peninsula College.

MPC's President Walter Tribley announced recently he's seeking to cut $2.5 million from the college's budget, one of the many pressing issues the college will be facing in the upcoming months.

Three candidates are challenging incumbent Margaret-Anne Coppernoll:  Charles Fuller,  a translator and editor; former Mayor Gary Wilmot, and Attorney Leigh Rodriguez. At least three candidates will appear at the forum.

The forum will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at the City Council Chambers, 211 Hillcrest.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Major reshuffling at Pacific Grove Unified

It's like musical chairs at Pacific Grove Unified.

Mariphil Romanow-Cole, principal of Forest Grove Elementary School, resigned after accepting a position at the Monterey County Office of Education.

So Craig Beller, former principal of Forest Grove Elementary School and current principal of Pacific Grove Adult School and Pacific Grove Continuation High School, will replace Romanow-Cole.

To replace Beller, Barbara Martinez will leave her assistant principal position at Pacific Grove High School and become Interim Principal of Pacific Grove Adult School and Pacific Grove Continuation High School. 

Replacing Ms. Martinez as Interim Assistant Principal of Pacific Grove High School will be Sean Keller, current English teacher, recently awarded his California Administrative Services Credential.

And now for the punchline (attention teachers in neighboring districts who want to flee -- you know who you are). Pacific Grove  is recruiting for a highly qualified English teacher to replace Keller’s classroom position for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year. Cross training is currently taking place with the anticipated start date being Monday, September 30, 2013.

Architectural tour to benefit Carmel Unified School District.

The Carmel River School PTA, with support from Carmel Realty Company, will host a home tour open to the community at large. The home tour is intended to provide a glimpse of the varied architecture, design and craftsmanship that exists in Carmel today. The proceeds will be used as seed monies for an endowment that benefits Carmel Unified School District students.

The tour will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. The homes are located throughout Carmel-by-the Sea, Carmel Point and nearby areas, including Casa Felice and homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Julia Morgan.

Each home will be staffed by volunteers, primarily CUSD parents. The number of homes on this year’s tour is six. Tickets will be sold to participants in advance at Carmel River School (Corner of Monte Verde & 15), Carmel Realty Company (Dolores between 7th and 8th). Advanced purchase: adults $30, children 16-8 $10. On the day of the event: adults $35, children 16-8 $15. Children under 7 can attend for free.

Volunteers Needed: The PTA is seeking volunteers to staff the tour. Contact the event co-chairs Lisa Talley Dean,, 831-521-4855; Madigan Ahn, 415-290-3655,; or or Victoria Beach,, 831-915-5093.

Volunteers needed for Seaside's "Walk of Success"

The yearly “Walk of Success" spreads the word about Imagine College and the $4,000 scholarships available to freshmen at Seaside High.

Will you volunteer to spread the good news?

On Saturday, Oct. 19, volunteers will visit the families of eligible students, letting them know about the program and how to make the dream of college a reality. The day will begin at 8 a.m. with a brief orientation and breakfast at Seaside High. Home visits will get under way at 9:30 a.m. and run through 1 p.m.

Imagine College is held at CSUMB each summer. Several hundreds students spend a week on campus, taking a class and learning about what it’s like to be a college student.

For further information or to volunteer for “The Walk for Success,” contact Christina Frazier, AmeriCorps coordinator at, call 392-3530, ext. 2070, or sign up by visiting and clicking on the volunteer registration link.

Learn more about Imagine College at CSUMB here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Boys & Girls Club Salinas Clubhouse

 The Salinas clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County celebrated its 10th anniversary Thursday with a star-studded breakfast.

There they were, politicians and donors, admiring the fabulous voice of Carlota Ciandro, a club member who sang God Bless America. And the story of Erik Zamora, a former club member who now works for the Boys & Girls Club in the accounting department and is a real state investor.

The club is just full of success stories.

There was the urgent plea from Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin, who encouraged people to get involved with Salinas youth to help curb gang violence.

Then there was Donna Ferraro, proud mama of Carlotta, Erik, and thousands more, promising more help to 30,000 children in Monterey County who need after-school type of services, if folks dig deep and contribute to the worthy cause.

So dig deep.

On literacy, childhood education, and the future of Monterey County

The numbers are not very encouraging. In Monterey County, two out of every three children do not read proficiently by the end of third grade, the year when they are making the important transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." And we all know how important it is to read for our future prospects as wage-earners.

Two out of every three are low income. In the Salinas Valley, the numbers are even more dire.

Members of the Monterey County Children's Council lay it all out for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in this video.  The annual report starts around minute 20.

Well, the demographic reality is not very rosy, and you probably know some of it already. The good news is, there's many community leaders trying to push initiatives aimed at making a difference.

And I'm going to tell you about one that's near and dear to me. The Literacy Summit.

On Oct. 25, we're all going to have a chance to hear from top demographer Dowell Myers about the importance of having our children read at grade level by the time they're in third grade. It's our future we're talking about. And he'll make a compelling case during the Literacy Summit. We at the Literacy Campaign for Monterey County (yours truly is a board member) are hoping to inspire many community members to get involved in our effort.

So please join us on Oct. 25. Here's more details. You'll also have a chance to hear more about what else other community members are doing to improve the lives of our children and the future of our community.

See you on Oct. 25!

Ciclovía: an opportunity for YOU to make Salinas safer

Mark your calendars: Oct. 6

Those of you who want to help make Salinas a safer place, here's your chance to do it.

Volunteer for Ciclovía, a morning full of wheels and fun through the streets of Salinas. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Alisal Street, beginning on Sanborn and ending on Salinas St. Alisal will be closed to through traffic, and enough adults are needed to make sure bicyclists, skaters and pedestrians can safely walk through the streets.

Here's further incentive. If there's not enough volunteers show up to help monitor traffic and close the streets, the event WILL NOT take place.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin told me this morning that he needs enough volunteers to make sure the streets are safe, but that, if not enough people show up on Oct. 6, he will cancel the event.

Thirty percent of people who say they'll volunteer usually don't show up, he said.

Now, it would be a shame, wouldn't it? Dozens of Salinas youth have been organizing for this event. They envision retaking the streets with an exercise zone, dancing, a bike decorating contest, and who knows what more. It's a way for the youth to say: we own these streets. And for people to have a fun day and build community.

Yes, I'll volunteer to close the streets. Will you join me?

For more information, check Ciclovía's Facebook page here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Anti-racism activist Tim Wise visits CSUMB

Anti-racism activist and educator Tim Wise will discuss white privilege and how it ultimately harms its beneficiaries when he visits CSU Monterey Bay on Sept. 18.

His lecture will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the University Center on Sixth Avenue and B Street. Tickets – $10 for the public and free to CSUMB students, faculty and staff with Otter ID – will be available at the door. Visitors must purchase a parking permit from the machine located on the parking lot.

Wise will examine what it means to be white in a nation created for the benefit of those who are “white like him,” and how privilege seeps into every institutional arrangement, from education to employment to the justice system.

Through storytelling and analysis, he makes the case that racial inequity and white privilege are real and persistent threats to personal and collective well-being, but resistance to white supremacy and racism is possible.

Wise has been called “one of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation.” He has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs, is a regular contributor to discussions about race on CNN, and has appeared on ABC's 20/20.

He is the author of six books including “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” and “Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.”

A question-and-answer session and a book signing will follow the talk.

The Otter Cross Cultural Center, Otter Student Union, Associated Students and the Service Learning Institute are co-sponsors of the lecture.

For more information or to arrange disability accommodations, contact rita zhang at

Monday, September 16, 2013

Anti-abortion group "Project Truth" to visit Monterey Peninsula College

Students from the Monterey Peninsula College received this email from Martin Johnson, interim vice president for student services:

Our campus was recently contacted by an organization called “Project Truth” informing us that they will visit our campus on September 16 & 17 , 2013, to practice free speech. Project Truth is an organization that will be handing out information to students and others “who are interested in discussing our issue of the sanctity of human life.” The organization has expressed that they “will be quiet and respectful, and will not hinder any foot traffic in areas open to the public.” Project Truth will set up displays that are considered by some to contain extremely graphic images that might upset those who see the images. Some images are of unborn fetuses in different stages of development.

While the images may be upsetting, the organization has the right to show these images as a matter of free speech. The group will be on campus from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on each of the days. It is important to note that they are acting within the boundaries of the Time, Place, and Manner Policy of the college. The First Amendment protects their right to engage opinions which may differ and they may confront those beliefs aggressively. It is important to note that our Time, Place, and Manner Policy does not permit the violation of lawful college regulations or the disruption of the orderly operation of the college. Security personnel will be observing the activities to ensure that the policies are adhered to by all parties.

If concerns need to be expressed, please forward them to my office by e-mail, in person or by calling 646-4190. Also, please refer to me any inquiries that you may receive from the media.

Another story that may be interesting to report on. Stay tuned.

Math troubles brewing at MPUSD

At a recent meeting of the board of trustees of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, top leader Ruben Zepeda proposed making changes in the required math courses for high school seniors to graduate.

Well, the proposal did not sit well with some folks. Already, a Math teacher sent a letter to trustees, saying there's not need for the changes being proposed and accusing Zepeda of lying. The letter writing also suggests no changes be made until a new superintendent is on board.

"Here we go again.  Another unnecessary drama within MPUSD," the teacher writes (whose name was edited from the letter I received).

Well, the drama is up and running. Accusations are flying, trustees are taking sides, you name it. It deserves a full-fledged story, as time allows.

A few good questions to ask. Is this really a race issue, as the letter writer claims? Or is it an issue of higher expectations for everyone? What are neighboring school districts require? And what will the Common Core require once it's in place?

Something to chew on as I find a way to tackle this thorny topic. Stay tuned. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Salinas has a youth poet laureate

Miguel Angel Frias, "the Poet", is Salinas inaugural youth poet laureate.

Way to go, Miguel Angel!  I like your name for a character in my novel ;)

Salinas held its first competition ever to choose its youth poet laureate on Thursday, and sounds like it was quite an event. 

Eduardo Vasquez, a student of Alisal High School, was named runner up.

Read all about it on Mari Lynch's blog. Thank heavens for community journalists!

And expect a profile about the event by yours truly soon enough.

More on the saga of California new exams

By now, it's probably already water under the bridge. California legislators this week enthusiastically approved a series of measures designed to revamp education at California public schools.

Doug McRae, a local testing expert with national experience, is adamantly opposed to the new proposed exams, now awaiting the governor's signature, because they've not been 'tested' yet.

McRae's knowledge is too vast and exact to summarize sometimes -- and I'm afraid my stories sometimes can't completely describe all the nuances of his research and why he opposes the so-called Smarter Balanced exams. So here's a letter he wrote to the legislature, along with links to  (one) and (two) documents he's previously submitted for the record. Enjoy!

An Open Letter to the California Legislature on AB 484 (Bonilla)

Honorable Senators and Assemblymembers:

AB 484 (Bonilla), a measure setting direction for the California K-12 statewide assessment system for the next seven years, is scheduled for action on the floor of the Senate this week, and if approved it will be scheduled for concurrence in the Assembly before the end of the 2013 session this week. I would urge you not to support passage of this measure at this time.

There are two major reasons this measure does not deserve your support:

· The measure mandates that California use a “consortium” assessment system for the next seven years, through 2020, to measure the new Common Core standards. No one has seen the new tests yet, because the consortium tests have yet to be developed. Further, it is highly unlikely the federally funded consortium will be able to produce fully operational tests as promised for the spring 2015 testing cycle [see Attach 1, p 3 and Attach 2, pp 10-11 for details]. California’s timelines for implementing instruction for the new Common Core show Mathematics will not be ready for assessment until 2016 and English / Language Arts not until 2017 [Attach 1, p 2 & 6-7]. The consortium tests call for computer-administration, and California will likely not be technology-ready for assessments until 2018 [Attach 2, pp 3-4]. Finally, there will be competitive non-consortium tests that may provide better data and services for a lower price when California is ready to fully implement new computerized tests to measure the Common Core [Attach 1, p 13]. Mandating a single source for K-12 assessments for the next seven years before we know what will be delivered or what the costs will be for expenditures in the hundreds of millions of dollars is not a smart business decision.

· While it has been widely asserted that California “must” implement assessments to measure the new Common Core by 2015, the fact is there are no federal or state legislative mandates for implementation by this date, only a commitment to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to implement their tests by 2015 . . . . a commitment that without AB 484 may easily be withdrawn. AB 484 as amended September 4 includes new language in Sec 60648.5 that the first full administration of consortium tests “shall occur in 2014-15 unless the state board determines that the assessments cannot be fully implemented.” This language would allow for indefinite delay for initial use of consortium tests, until all the necessary elements (tests, instruction, and technology) are in place. Under AB 484, the only option would be to continue participation in Smarter Balanced’s on-going test development work, which would not have federal support but rather be on California’s dime, and which would not generate valid and reliable individual student scores or statewide aggregate data. Without valid and reliable test data, California would not be able to generate the heavily used California Academic Performance Index (API) data for upwards of four years or longer [Attach 1, pp 2-3; Attach 2, p 14-17]. To have a four year hiatus from accountability data would not be well received by the California public-at-large [67 percent support the use of tests for accountability purposes, according to a UC/Stanford/USC PACE poll released just last week].

There are many additional reasons for not supporting AB 484 at this time, reasons discussed in the attachments to this letter but too detailed for lengthy discussion here.

I urge you not to support AB 484 (Bonilla) at this time, but rather wait until we are collectively ready to initiate a new computerized assessment system to measure the Common Core and have more complete knowledge of assessment systems, consortium and non-consortium, available for potential use for a new California K-12 statewide assessment system to measure the Common Core.

Douglas J. McRae, Ph.D.
Educational Measurement Specialist (Retired)
Monterey, California

[Doug McRae is a retired educational measurement specialist living in Monterey. In his 40 years in the K-12 testing business, he has served as an educational testing company executive in charge of design and development of K-12 tests widely used across the US, as well as an adviser on the initial design and development of California’s STAR assessment system. He has a PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.]

Monterey area high school students, this one's for you

This is the third year in a row I suggest one of our brilliant local students take on a statewide challenge: to represent students at the State Board of Education.

Any takers, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Carmel students?

It sounds like a lot of work, a lot of travel for sure, but a great experience. The state pays some expenses.

Here's more information, from the California State Board of Education: any student who is a California resident and enrolled in a public high school, will be a senior in good standing in the 2014–15 school year, and will be available to attend a statewide student leader conference November 2–6, 2013 in Sacramento, is eligible to apply.

The estimated time required for the Student Member will be at least two consecutive school days every other month to attend regular State Board meetings, usually in Sacramento; a one-day orientation; sufficient time to study the agenda materials in advance of the meetings which may include consultation with board staff for background information related to agenda issues; additional time for handling other Board-related business; and time to attend selected advisory group meetings, student meetings, workshops, and conferences.

All transportation costs will be paid by the SBE. Lodging and meal costs will be paid in the amount allowed by state regulations. The State Board’s Student Member receives a $100 stipend for each day’s service on official business.

I'm sure there's plenty of Monterey County high school students willing to take on the challenge. Any takers? For more information, click here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ciclovía Salinas: coming your way, volunteers wanted

This is a late notice, but Ciclovía Salinas needs many volunteers for an event that will close many  streets on Oct. 6 to make them safe for bicyclists. The event is being organized by Salinas youth to promote healthy activities that will foster community and spread a message of peace.

In order to volunteer for the closure of streets, you need to be trained. And it just so happens, the Salinas Police Department will hold a volunteer training meeting at 6 p.m.  today. The training will last about two hours, and will be held  in the field and street area directly in front of the Salinas Airport on Airport Blvd.

For more information, check Mari Lynch's informative blog post here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Berkeley professor to discuss social equity at CSUMB

“Social Equity: New Policies for a New Reality” will be the topic under discussion when Professor john a. powell visits CSU Monterey Bay on Sept. 17.

Professor powell (yeah, he does not capitalize his name) is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, housing, poverty and democracy.

He is a professor of law and African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, where he holds the Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion.

The free event take place at 6:30 p.m. in the University Center on Sixth Avenue.

For more information, click here.

Attention Salinas youth: become the first Youth Poet Laureate

Become the first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate for one year and receive $1000.00! The Salinas Youth Commission is inviting all Salinas residents aged 13-19 to compete for the honor at a live event at 7 p.m. Sept. 12.

The event will be held at the Salinas Performing Arts Center, 726 South Main St. Free

All styles of poetry are welcome-must be original art work.  The Poet Laureate will serve for one year. To register call 758-7217 or email

Click in the Salinas Youth Poet Laureate Facebook page here for more information.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

California high-stakes testing bill develops into a high-level head-butting

Well, sort of.

It will never be described as such in the media pages, but California's bid to end federally mandated testing as we know it is not making the feds happy.

In a terse statement, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan threatened with cutting funds to California if a bill that would stop testing for students becomes law.

"If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state," Duncan said in the statement.

As some of you remember, California top educators last week announced their support for ending all STAR testing as of this coming spring in order to help teachers have a smoother transition towards Common Core. Here's a story I wrote about it.

Apparently, the news did not sit well with Arne, who promised action on the eve of the vote.

California Supt. of Schools Tom Torlakson was quick to reply that California would do "what's right for California's children." Then he ginned support from his friends,  San Diego County Superintendent of Schools and the superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, who issued statements saying they have Torlakson's back.

Ah, this back and forth is fascinating. I'll have more on it in the print edition. Stay tuned.  

UC Santa Cruz gets $1.45 million to train STEM teachers

The University of California Santa Cruz has received a $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a teacher training initiative aimed at preparing future math and science teachers. The grant will be used to enhance the existing Noyce Scholarship program at UCSC, which supports students who are committed to teach math and science in local high-need school districts.

It's a known problem: there are not enough STEM teachers, partially because the salaries are low, and partially because the teaching profession has gotten such a beating lately, who wants to go into teaching chemistry in high school when you could have more prestige and money working in the private sector?

So maybe this grant will help.

As announced by the office of Congressman Sam Farr, the grant supports partnerships between UCSC, seven community colleges, and four high-need school districts to enhance recruitment and retention of new teachers in key areas of district shortages, according to Gretchen Andreasen, director of UCSC's California Teach Program (Cal Teach) and principal investigator on the grant.

The NSF grant will also support transfer students to UCSC from community colleges in the region, providing up to ten transfer students with three years of funding to attain a degree and teaching credential.

Although the grant primarily goes towards scholarships for UCSC undergraduates, it will also help fund a new UCSC program in Silicon Valley that will train and award teaching credentials to Silicon Valley tech-professionals wanting to change careers and become teachers. In addition, the NSF grant will help expand the Cal Teach internship program, which gives UCSC and community college students the chance to gain intensive K-12 teaching experience.

Pacific Grove and North Monterey County will ask voters to approve school bonds

Along with the myriad candidates seeking office at local school boards, two school districts want voters to approve bonds for infrastructure and technology upgrades.

Measure G will ask voters of PG Unified to let them issue $27.8 million in short term bonds.

Measure H will benefit North Monterey County Unified, which for years has decried the poor shape of some of its buildings. That bond would be $23.8 million.

Measure H campaign folks will host an information session at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, at La Scoula Building, 10700 Merrit St., Castroville. For more information, contact Lori Miranda, the campaign's chair, at 831-235-3842.

The wheels beging turning for the search of a new superintendent at MPUSD

Now that tempers have cooled off, it seems like a good time to begin the search for a new superintendent at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

Last night, MPUSD trustees discussed how the process will unfold, and what emerged was that K-12 Insight, the consulting firm they hired in November, will be asked to conduct public meetings and gauge community preferences for what they'd like to see in the next district's top leader.

Yes, MPUSD trustees will hire another consultant to help with the superintendent search. But somehow I doubt it will be Education Leadership Services.

The plan is to lay the groundwork so when a new board gets sworn in after the election, they'll get to pick the next superintendent.

It's going to be fun...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ben Jealous not coming back to Monterey Bay -- at least for now

Pacific Grove resident Ann Jealous, mother of NAACP national leader Ben Jealous, told me Monday she does not expect her famous son to return to the Monterey Bay area any time soon.

"As much as Benjamin loves this area, it’s my understanding that he’s negotiating with universities located near Washington. He’s interested in teaching on the East Coast, it's my expectation that he’ll continue to live there as least for a while," Ann Jealous said.

In a story written by my esteemed colleague Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post, the Herald announced Monday Ben Jealous is leaving the NAACP after five years at the helm.

Jealous, a York School alumnus, grew up in the Monterey area, where his family remains. In five years, he's become a super-star of the civil rights movement and has returned the NAACP to a place of national prominence.

Hartnell to update community members on accreditation status

Hartnell College administrators will host two town hall meetings to update the community on efforts to address the 12 accreditation recommendations by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

The meetings are open to the public and will take place:

From 3:45 to 4:45 p.m., Thursday, September 12, at Hartnell King City Education Center, 117 N. Second Street, King City.

From noon to 1 p.m., Monday, September 16, at Hartnell College Main Campus, Steinbeck Hall, 411 Central Avenue, Salinas.

The town hall meetings will provide community members with an opportunity to answer questions or express concerns. Presenters will include Hartnell College Superintendent/President Willard Lewallen, Vice President of Academic Affairs Lori Kildal, and Academic Senate President, Tony Anderson.

For the second time in six years, Hartnell College was put on probation by the Western Association of School and Colleges earlier this year after a recommendation by an independent team of educators.

A probationary statue is issued when the reviewing team finds the college is not meeting all accreditation requirements. Hartnell remains accredited while on probation .

For more information on accreditation status, visit Hartnell’s website.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"A Night in Hollywood" benefits the Olson PTA

The Olson Elementary PTA will host a fundraiser party called "A Night in Hollywood" with a live and silent auction. Proceeds will benefit Olson students through the PTA's programs.

Tickets will be available at the door for $20, which include free hors d'ouevres, a chance to win door prizes, and a Hollywood photo strip.

Items included in the raffle and silent auction are restaurant gift cards, hot air balloon rides, Disneyland family pack, Great America tickets, Gilroy Gardens tickets, San Jose Giants family pack, two night stay in Reno, ski lift tickets, Mexico/Carribean vacations, tickets to the zoo in SF and Wild Things in Salinas, sporting events, massages, dinners, movie tickets, and more.

For questions or comments, email or call Crystal Yates at (760)917.7254.

Here Comes the Common Core...

Ah, the Common Core Standards. Whether we like them or not, they'll be the guest of honor at Education's party for years to come.

The Common Core Standards, a nation-wide adopted series of expectations of what students should be learning, have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. They're designed to better prepare students for post-secondary education and the work force.

But even though they were adopted in California in 2010, and Monterey County districts have been working on implementing them for a couple of years now, the general public seems a bit oblivious about what they mean.

At least, that's what our good friends at the PDK/Gallup poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools concludes.

In a nationwide survey, 62 percent of respondents had never heard of the standards. Among parents with children in school, only 45 percent had heard of them. (Here's a story about the poll)

I actually don't blame anybody for knowing little about this complicated topic. I'd probably would not know about it if it were not my job.

But I'm here to make your life easier. Here's a list of some resources you can use to learn more about the Common Core. 

The original site of the Common Core Standards, with grade-by-grade information.

Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson talking about new assessments for Common Core

California Common Core Standards Math

California Common Core Standards English

Here's the most interesting one. The Hunt Institute and the Council of Chief State School Officers have put together a series of cute little videos designed to better explain different aspects of the Common Core.

"These videos were developed to help different groups – educators, policymakers, parents – better understand the breadth and depth of the Standards and how they will improve teaching, make classrooms better, create shared expectations, and cultivate lifelong learning for all students," according to the site. 

I've only watched  two of these videos, but they are short and to the point, so I expect I'll be returning for more. 

I'll keep adding to this list, so if you see something worth including, let me know.

Chartwell to host free workshop about students with learning differences

The Center for the Advancement of Language and Literacy at Chartwell will host a free community workshop titled: Accommodations for Students with LD: Negotiating the Differences between High School and College

In this workshop, the speaker will discuss the key differences in how college and high school support students with learning differences. Participants will learn about the different levels of support available for students at a post-secondary institutions and the process by which they can obtain accommodations at college.

The event will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Charter school, 2511 Numa Watson Road, Seaside. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Landon Morgan is raising awareness about type 1 Diabetes

About three years ago, Landon Morgan of Corral de Tierra was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Previously known as juvenile diabetes, it's usually diagnosed in young people and it's caused by the body's inability to produce insulin.

Landon's mom, Stephanie Morgan, produced this video describing her son's illness. He has to check his insulin eight to 10 times a day, and could die if he's not watchful. But Landon's a champ, Mama Morgan says, and he does not object to the frequent pricking of his skin.

In honor of his son, Morgan's promoting "Claws for a Cause," an annual lobster dinner/dance/auction to help raise awareness and money for a cure. All proceeds from the event go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and last year, the event raised over $10,000.

"My son will never outgrow this," Stephanie Morgan writes. "He can't eat a magic diet or exercise more to reverse it. He will be insulin dependent for the rest of his life. That is the reason for Claws for a Cause- to being awareness to our area and help be part of funding research for a cure."

Like most third graders in Monterey County, Landon started school a couple of weeks ago. Unlike many of them, his mom was praying everything would run smoothly for him. This is what she wrote about the occasion on her Facebook page.

"The day after tomorrow Landon starts third grade. I'm so happy for him. But do you know it's not like sending my other son off to school. I have to meet with his teacher before school starts so that I can teach her about him checking his blood sugar, go over a schedule of when he needs to check himself, teach her about what a "high" and a "low" are and how to treat them, teach her how to use a glucagon shot to save his life, and hope that every paper I copied and placed in a folder for her to reference makes sense and doesn't scare her off . I'll drop him off on Wednesday in his cool new clothes and the excitement on his face of being a third grader, and I will pray. Pray that it goes well, pray that the excitement of the day doesn't mess with his numbers too much, pray that nobody makes fun of him, and pray that everything I keep trying to teach him will keep him safe. I will pray..."

"Claws for a Cause" will take place at 6 pm. Friday, Sept. 6,  the Amaral Barn, 23616 Parker Rd., Salinas. For more information, call Stephanie Morgan at 601-5721 or email her at

A new documentary on teachers is coming our way

Davis Guggenheim, of Waiting for 'Superman,''s fame, is back in the education beat. This time, he follows four teachers and their heroic work trying to educate our next generation.

You can read more about it here. The movie will air on CBS at 6 p.m. Friday Sept. 6.

Maybe this time we can have a viewing party? What say you?

Getting 'slammed' by a Monterey Peninsula College supporter

A gentle reader took me to task for "slamming" Monterey Peninsula College in a story I wrote about its proposed $2.5 million budget cut. You can find the story here, but here's the gist of it: The college has been flagged by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges because of its finances,  citing its declining enrollment, and excessive salaries/benefits packages.

The reader first challenged me for distorting the words of the ACCJC, saying the "excessive declining in enrollment" was my interpretation.

So there's no shadow of a doubt of what the ACCJC said in its letter, here it is, for your reading pleasure. And my apologies, I should have posted it up sooner.

 The gentle reader goes on to say that declining enrollment at MPC is due to many, complicated factors -- hinting that I should have expounded on those. True enough, I'm aware of the complications, and I plan to address those in a future article.

I'll take it a bit further. The decline in enrollment is not just at MPC, but nationwide. According to a report released by the US Census Bureau, college enrollment nationwide in 2012 plunged by half a million (467,000) from one year earlier. This decline, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment, follows a period of substantial growth ─ 3.2 million ─ between 2006 and 2011.

The decline was driven by older students, those 25 and older. Their enrollment fell by 419,000, while the enrollment of younger students declined by 48,000.

Those among you who know MPC well know its student body has a significant percentage of "life long learners" or older students. Since the decline was seen most sharply among the older population, it only follows that MPC was significantly affected.

Now, the question is, how will MPC tackle this challenge? Stay tuned.