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Original post made
on Aug 25, 2009
Whisman Schools have low API scores. What's wrong with our neighborhood kids?
It is not the kids.
MVWSD opened a new school because of increased enrollment? uh, ya right..okay...wait a minute ...so didn't they just recently CLOSE Slater School due to DECLINING enrollment?? Go Figure....
It's unfair to blame the teachers for the low API scores. Most of the population in Mountain View is transient. So many children miss school, have parents who work full time and often education in some households (in even Mountain View) is not viewed as important. Look at which schools have the higher scores. Castro and Theurkauf are the lowest and Bubb and Huff the highest. What does this tell you? Children in the Huff neighborhoods are lucky enough to be raised in households where often only one parent works and education is valued.
So children in poor neighborhoods are destined to under perform forever? That's awefully deterministic. How about decreasing the economic segration of the schools? It's a proven fact that struggling kids will perform better when surrounded by higher acheivers. So how hard would it be for Huff and Bubb parents to give up half their seats in their neighborhood schools and bus them to the poorer performing schools.
Spin Doctor: Slater closed several years ago, which in the world of education is a long time. Los Altos and Palo Alto have also had to make quick about-face decisions on school closing/opening because of enrollment increases or decreases that they did not anticipate. Demographic studies are only so good -- they are best-guesses, but can't take into account things like upswings/downturns in the economy that they can't foresee (during boom years, rents are often too high in MV for families, enrollment goes down; during downturns (like now) families can no longer afford private school, or they move from an expensive rental in a Los Altos-type community to a more-affordable one in MV, etc.) Back in the 60's schools used to have more money to maintain more campuses on a regular basis. They could probably weather increases better because it was spread over more campuses, and money wasn't so tight that they had to close a school when enrollment dipped. Now they can't afford to run a school that is not full, so when enrollment spikes they end up crowding them in. Part of the giant funding mess that is California education.
Emily: I don't know that the transiency rate is all that high, really. It does account for some of the issues, certainly. It is true everywhere that, in general, the greater the education level of the parents, the higher-achieving the students. I don't know that it's so much that parents in lower income levels don't care. It is true that often they are both working, often long hours, without the flexibility of those in higher-income brackets to adjust hours to help out at school, etc. Upper income kids also have a lot more opportunities for learning outside of school, whether it's more books in the home, visits to SCORE or Kumon, educational software on their home computers, parents who have time to read to them daily, trips to museums, educational summer camps, preschool, etc. Those things have a huge impact on kids' performance, I don't see how they can't.
If parents have less education and literacy skills, it may be difficult for them to help their kids with schoolwork. Culturally, they may feel that it's not their place to get involved with school. These are all barriers that need to be overcome. But I believe that, with very few exceptions, all parents want their kids to succeed in school.
Toby -- we have neighborhood schools. People want that. Not every family even in the lower-performing schools wants their kids bussed across town. Some do, and that option is available. People from every neighborhood (even the Bubb and Huff neighborhoods) transfer to schools other than their own, for different reasons. Bubb is around 30 percent low-income; Huff, around 20 percent. If the district didn't offer transfers and bus transportation, neither school would have any where near those numbers. In a perfect world, would we balance every school to be no more than 50% low income? Sure. In the real world? Not so easy.
Closing the achievement gap is always a focus for teachers, principals, and district staff. Go to school site council meetings and see what they all talk about when they are developing their site plans. If you know the magic answer to this problem, please tell the district -- and every other diverse school district in the nation. They would love nothing better than to find an easy fix to this problem.
Huff and Bubb remain open by busing kids in. There's too much political power to shut them down over opening schools on the other side of town. Hmm, guess which schools are affiliated with the longest tenured board members. You guessed it, Huff and Bubb. PACT moved out to get away from the low income element.
This city and district tends to accepts the low income's condition as unchangeable. The logic always shifts to a comparison of the higher income neighborhoods. But guess what? Districts of comparable low socio-economic are performing better than MVWSD. The problem is, is that we've all got this built in default escape hatch in our logic to blame everything in this community on the barrios.
We need to change our way of thinking about this problem.
The elephant in the room is children of illegal aliens. Ten percent of all births across the US and 25% in California are to illegal alien women. And the percent in Mountain View is probably even higher but, of course, the schools won't require parents to show they are here legally. Why do the taxpayers here have to pay for the education of non-legal residents who snuck across the border? Our school system is crumbling under the burden. The medical system is also broken with emergency rooms that have to provide service to anyone who shows up closing down because they are bankrupting the hospital.
Stephanie: Huff and Bubb would fill up even if they were not on the bus routes. They are the most-requested schools for transfers and I think they usually have a waiting list. They are not open because the school board members have kids there, that is just absurd. And PACT did not move out to get away from the low-income element. PACT fought hard to keep Slater open - and guess who made up most of the non-PACT classrooms at Slater? Kids from low-income families. PACT moved because it is a self-contained school (it IS actually an alternative school according to the State, not just a program like Dual Immersion) and can move en masse, keeping the teachers, families and classrooms together. Moving them meant that the district did not have to re-draw boundaries, since PACT is a choice program and kids from all over the district go there. That is a big reason why Slater was the school that was chosen to close, because half of the student body (PACT) would stay together. That would not have happened with any other school.
And no, I'm not a PACT parent, just sick of people spewing the hate I see on these forums.
I just love this last argument for unequal access to education
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