Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Austin Eaton, Angelique Kidjo, what's not to like?

UPDATE: As promised, Austin attended the Angelique Kidjo concert to distribute information about "Imagine no Malaria." Here's Austin, sporting his good curls, at his table outside the concert hall.

Followers of this blog may remember I wrote about Austin Eaton, a senior at York School, who's been very creative in raising funds for medical services in Angola (hint: he got to keep his hair.) If you need a refresher, he's a link to my previous posts.

Austin is back in the fundrasing circle. This time, he'll promote "Imagine No Malaria" during Thursday's concert of Angelique Kidjo in Santa Cruz. Imagine No Malaria is a non-profit of the United Methodist Church to end preventable deaths by malaria in Africa, and raise funds for the cause. You can find more information about it here.

And Angelique Kidjo is a wonderful performer, committed to social justice and women's well being. I'm a big fan, so I'll get to see Austin in action tomorrow night. Come check out Angelique! You won't be disappointed.   For more information about her concert, click here.

Palma middle schoolers visit Artlington National Cemetery on D-Day

On the 70th anniversary of “D-Day”, Palma junior high students made a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC to pay their respects at the gravesite of Corporal Bernard Paul Corpuz, Palma alumnus, Class 1995. Corpuz died in 2006 in Ghanzi, Afghanistan, when an improvised exploding device detonated during combat operations.

Palma junior high students take a trip to Washington D.C. every year. Arlington National Cemetery is but one of many stops along the journey where students’ lessons in US History are realized. Students stop, pray and honor this nation’s fallen heroes, especially those who were former Chieftains.

This year’s week-long trip was organized by Palma History Teacher Nick Noroian along with Palma History Teacher Victor Plata.

"This has been an amazing trip, and being a Palma alumnus myself, this is always the stop I look forward to the most," Norian said.

CSUMB's social work program earns national accreditation

California State University, Monterey Bay’s master’s degree in social work is now nationally accredited after recently passing an extensive accreditation process.

The Council of Social Work Education has spent four years examining the program, reviewing benchmark documents and making suggestions for program improvement. Evaluators recently issued their report, granting initial accreditation through February, 2018.

Accreditation means that students are now eligible for national and state scholarship programs and federal loan forgiveness programs. To the public, accreditation means that the school underwent rigorous review by an external group of professionals, and that programs meet standards set by the field at large.

The MSW program at CSUMB started in 2010. The three-year program offers evening classes for working adults. In addition to classes, students must complete 16 hours a week of field experience during the second and third years of study.

Learn more about the program, click here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Monterey Peninsula parents: these events are for you.

Here comes the Parenting Speaker Series, an effort to support good parenting and good students, brought to you by Friends of Parents' Place.

Coming up Sunday: Beyond Burnout - An Interactive Discussion for Working Parents
Katrina Alcorn, Author Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink
From 2 to 4 p.m. at the Marina Library, 188 Seaside Ave., Marina.
$5. For tickets, click here.

Topics to be discussed include juggling work and family, why parents burn out, why businesses should care, why this is a public health issue, what’s wrong with work, and how to fix it. Alcorn will relate her personal story while weaving in research about the dysfunction between our work and home lives and the consequences to our health, ultimately o ffering a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to work and live.

Next Sunday:  Star Parenting author Elizabeth Crary
From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 21, at PG Middle School.
 Crary helps parents deal with trying behavior in a positive way that reflects their own values and their child's temperament. Attendees will discover five points of healthy guidance, learn tools to guide children's behavior, explore a process to make guidance easier, and understand the impact of a child's age, temperament, and experience on his or her behavior.

Seating is limited and attendees are strongly encouraged to purchase a ticket in advance. Tickets are $5. A limited number of free tickets are available. For more information, visit Parent's Place here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MPC's "Great Books" recognized by national organization

The American Council of Trustees & Alumni, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization that promotes academic excellence in higher education, is highlighting Monterey Peninsula College’s Great Books Program as an "oases of excellence."

The organization has encouraged alumni and donors for many years to support programs it calls “oases of excellence” -- which are defined as promoting the study of Western civilization, political theory, economics, leadership, and the Great Books.

The organization has now launched an online directory of over 50 “oases of excellence,” and the Great Books Program at MPC is among those featured. This directory is designed to encourage supporters and the interested public to learn about and support the Great Books Program.

For more information about the MPC program, click here.

Congratulations, founder David Clemens. Big kudos to you, your team and your work.

Young Assemblymembers Program seeking high school applicants

Are you in high school? Are you interested in community service? This program may be for you.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) is taking applications for the 4th annual Young Assemblymembers Program for local youth. The four week program is focused on developing leadership skills and empowering high school student to become community leaders. The program meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from July 8 to August 1, at Alejo’s Salinas Office.

The Young Assemblymembers will participate in a two-day leadership development training during the first week to sharpen and learn leadership skills.

After the leadership training, students will hear from guest speakers and tour local facilities where they will learn about important community issues for the remaining weeks. The students will also participate in a mock committee hearing to understand the legislation procedures. Students that complete the program will receive a special recognition certificate, a letter of recommendation from Assemblymember Alejo and the opportunity to tour the State Capitol on August 4th.

The Young Assemblymembers Program will include training on:

• Leadership Development
• Legislative Process
• Community Organizing
• Professional Etiquette

The Young Assemblymembers Program application deadline is on June 20. Application forms are available online here or or at the Salinas District Office located at 100 W. Alisal Street, Ste. 134, Salinas.

For more information please contact Laura Cabrera, Young Assemblymembers Program Director at (831) 759-8676 or via email at Laura.Cabrera@asm.ca.gov.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Del Rey Woods Elementary School students painted fruits, vegetables, and their favorite physical activities onto ceramic tiles. The collected "fruits" of their labor now grace the school as a colorful mural intended to remind students of the importance of eating healthy and staying fit.

Artist and retired educator Leela Marcum oversaw the student artists, muralist Chris King coordinated the installation of the tiles. On June 4, the completed mural was unveiled to the students and public.

Del Rey Woods Elementary students are learning from Health Educators like Nazarie Whipple of the Monterey County Health Department to start right by eating healthy and moving more. This event brought children, staff and parents from Del Rey Woods Elementary School out in force to celebrate the unveiling of this colorful reminder of the importance of living healthy.

CSUMB names new dean for newly created College of Education

Jose Luis Alvarado, who has served as associate dean for the College of Education at San Diego State University since 2010, has been named dean of Cal State Monterey Bay’s newly created College of Education.

Alvarado will begin his new duties July 14.

As part of the academic reorganization of the university that goes into effect July 1, the College of Education and the College of Health Sciences and Human Services were created from programs that were previously housed in the College of Professional Studies.

As associate dean at SDSU, Alvarado was responsible for the college budget, personnel issues, college governance, university relations, academic programming, technology security and system upgrades, and college policy.

Prior to joining SDSU, Alvarado worked as a behavior specialist for a county mental health day treatment program, taught in an elementary special education classroom, worked in program implementation for a regional special education office and served as an on-call crisis counselor.

His research is focused on effective personnel preparation, implementing efforts to close the achievement gap, effective instruction, multicultural education, and behavior support for culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities.

He has published in journals such as “Multicultural Perspectives,” “Remedial and Special Education, Behavioral Disorders,” “Rural Special Education Quarterly,” and “Assessment for Effective Intervention.” Alvarado has also been principal investigator and co-principal investigator for more than $2.5 million in projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the University of South Florida.

Alvarado earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in special education from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Araceli Perez' story of migration wins National Steinbeck Center prize

Everett Alvarez High School junior Araceli Perez was selected as the winner of the National Steinbeck Center’s “Tell Us Your Story” contest. In her winning story, Perez shared the gritty tale of her family’s migration from Mexico to the United States when she was 10 years old.

Perez’s essay was selected because it was a modern-day Joad family story. It followed the contest’s prompt to “tell a story from your family in which you faced a particularly challenging moment and how you got through it.” Although an English Language Learner writing in her second language, Perez told a powerful personal story in vivid detail that won the judges over.

“Walking through the dessert, it was lonely, it was dry. You could just hear the noise of animals around there. I could see snakes in the hot sand. We spent days and nights in the desert suffering in the nights because it was really cold and the food and water was almost done.”

Perez won an iPad Mini as part of her prize package, which also included a copy of the 75th anniversary re-issue edition of The Grapes of Wrath.

Elizabeth Welden-Smith, curator of education and public programs, said “The Grapes of Wrath 75th Anniversary Essay Contest was a great way for the National Steinbeck Center to engage the nation in a conversation about humanity’s capacity to overcome challenging circumstances.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Career Day 2014 -- I had a blast

I participated in two career days last week: at El Camino Real Academy in Greenfield, and at Walter Colton Middle School in Monterey.

It was great. Although students at El Camino Real appeared a bit shy, I was able to convince my guide for the day -- the fabulous Maria Dominguez -- that journalism is a good career. And I even convinced her to do a selfie!

I was also impressed by the Peer Leaders program at the school. The youngsters help with taking their itty-bitty peers to class as their parents drop the off -- to avoid parking nightmares -- and in several other school functions. They guided me and other career day guests to our classrooms, and they seem to be all around great kids.

The 6th graders at Ms. Adrienne Lara's class wanted a selfie, and I had to oblige. How did you guys know I love selfies?

No selfies for me at Walter Colton Middle School, although students played being a reporter and did some amazing videos. Overall, the experience of participating in Career Day was fun, but going to two in the same week is a lot. And I'd been asked to three! Next year I'll only attend one, so ask early!

And thanks for inviting me!

Monday, June 2, 2014

More on PK Diffenbaugh and Sacramento High School

As it would be expected, my previous column about PK Diffenbaugh, charter schools, and what was accomplished in terms of closing the achievement gap at Sacramento High during his tenure hit a nerve. If you didn't get a chance to read it, here it is.

Like I mentioned in the blog post, I'll have to do some digging -- and I'll get to it. But in the meantime, Monterey resident and researcher extraordinaire Joanna Greenshields did some digging for me. She also wrote a very interesting analysis of her findings, which she gave me permission to share with my readers. In the interest of having a balance of opinions, here it is.

I was trying to catch up on reading your blog and came across the enrollment figures for our new "Super" from his old charter school.

I pulled up their data as I too was curious on the falling enrollment numbers you reported.

I also wanted to see if I could find any patterns in the data to support my belief that this chap could be the "kick up the arse" for MPUSD that we have long felt was needed!

Here is what I have been able to surmise:

Sacramento High had an enrollment number of 1,919 in 1999-00.
The student demographic was as follows;
White 34%
Hispanic 25%
Asian 20%
African American 19%

The next year it dropped to 1,881 students with small changes in demographics.

In 2002, enrollment jumped back up to 2,025 with African American student numbers going higher and all other demographics dropping.

Kevin Johnson took over the school in 2003 and turned it in to a public charter under the non profit group, St. HOPE. I imagine that some families may have tried the charter model for a year or so and then probably decided it wasn't for them. It is a school of choice and as we found out when we opened BVA, slightly less than 50% of our families moved with us.

In 2005 there were 1,692 students enrolled at SCH.
The free and reduced lunch number was at 45.8% and the demographics were as follows;
African American 33.3%
Hispanic 27.1%
White 16.1%
Asian 11.3%
ELL 15%
By 2010 the demographics had changed considerably.
Total enrollment = 960 students of which 71.4% qualified for free and reduced lunch and 79.7% were socioeconomic disadvantaged.
Students with disabilities 12.3%.
African American 53%
Hispanic 29%
White 3.8%
Asian 6.6%
ELL 11%
I printed up the student exit records that were available on line with the exit codes. The exit codes gave reasons for moving from Sacramento Charter High, which included transfers to college, out of county, state, Adult Ed. etc. The largest numbers were to other CA public high schools, and from 2006 to 2009 there were 634 students who transferred in and out under that code.

I could only get three years worth of data.
Either way, from the numbers, I don't see how the school was able to be selective academically as some people may now be arguing. It's a public charter, and as such they have to hold a lottery if they are oversubscribed.

It is also virtually impossible to remove any student without due process, and you have to have expulsion processes outlined in your charter. All suspensions and expulsions are carefully documented, and the data doesn't support that happened at SCH. Looking at the school data on the CDE website, I didn't see there was a high expulsion rate, quite the opposite. The number of suspensions was higher than at the Sacramento City district level but if the school culture was positive, with a low or zero tolerance for certain behaviors, then I would expect to see a higher number of suspensions.

Parent education levels at the charter school have not changed much at all, statistically rising and falling by about 1%; however, the number of parents/students who responded to the STAR parent education survey increased dramatically every year.

Free and reduced lunch numbers have increased and the students are overall from poorer families.

The academic data improvements looked very good.

I looked at individual subjects over multiple years and several subject areas really showed large improvements from 2005-2010. What impressed me the most was the number of students graduating who had completed all courses required for the UC and CSU entrances. The numbers of total graduates meeting those requirements increased from 35.6% in 2005 to 90.6% in 2010 with 89.6% coming from low socioeconomic households. That data is amazing, especially considering it was over double the number of their district and almost triple the numbers of their county.

While I do agree with many of Diane Ravitch's ideas and theories, charter schools are not all the same, anymore than all public schools are the same.

PK and his staff were able to close the achievement gap at the school, and I believe the data supports that.

I know you and I want the same thing to happen in MPUSD and everywhere else for that matter.

I believe we can continue to keep them honest (well, most of them anyway) and hold everyone accountable, to include staff, parents and the members of each learning community. I personally really hate being called a "learning community" so perhaps that label can be one of the first things kicked to the curb??!

-- Joanna Greenshields