December 14, 2007

Public Forum... El Foro Público...

Preuss School Parents Speak Out

Ten years ago, the community came together to solve a difficult problem. Too few San Diego students from the inner city were going to college. An important segment of our community was missing out on the opportunity for a brighter future for their children.

One answer for us was the Preuss School at UCSD. Parents of Preuss students have supported this school since its opening in 1999 and we have watched our children transformed into college-ready teens. Children from families that never went to college are going to some of the best colleges and universities in America. Preuss School has been an amazingly successful effort to spread opportunity among all families. And it benefits all of San Diego. Students who once might never have gone to college now return to their families and communities trained at the nation’s finest institutions. They’ll be ready to become highly productive people in the local economy who are giving back to the region and strengthening the future of San Diego.

The Preuss model is simple: Demand and expect more from your students, then give them the tools to meet those demands and expectations. Preuss School remains one of our county’s most rigorous academic environments. The school year is more than three weeks longer and the school day is one hour longer than traditional schools. Class sizes are small and academic rigor is great. Students receive intensive academic counseling, which kicks into high gear when it’s time for applying to college.

Our families have been transformed by the experience of Preuss School. Many of our children endure up to an hour’s ride on school buses each morning and afternoon to attend this remarkable school. Our Preuss students have become a role model for excellence in our families, neighborhoods, and churches. All parents volunteer a minimum of 15 hours a year at the school site.

The results have been nothing short of tremendous. Of the 2007 Preuss graduates, 96 percent were accepted at four-year colleges and universities. And 32 percent enrolled at a University of California campus. Ten percent of the 2007 graduates attend prestigious private universities such as Columbia, Duke, Harvard and Vassar. Of Preuss graduates over the last three years, 40 percent are now majoring in science, engineering or a health field in college.

Recent news about problems with how grades were recorded cannot change a very important fact for parents: Preuss School is the greatest educational opportunity our children have ever had. The audit results and events leading up to it have been a sad episode for Preuss families. It hurts when your children’s school is touched by negative news, especially when that school is so important in their lives. But frankly, we’ve never had any doubts that our children receive an excellent education at Preuss School and are fully prepared for the best universities. Our biggest worry has been that this disruption might taint students themselves.

Now that the audit is concluded, it’s time for everyone to recognize that the academic excellence achieved by students and graduates of Preuss School remains intact. The recent recognition by Newsweek Magazine and U.S. News and World Report on our students’ achievement on standardized tests proves that the quality of instruction taking place at Preuss School is superb and has shown results. Swift measures are being by taken by UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox to make sure the problem is corrected and never happens again. We are confident that there is now clear and consistent oversight and accountability. The overwhelming balance of student achievement at Preuss remains solid, and so does its integrity.

One positive thing for parents has been to watch with pride how Preuss students have taken this problem in stride. They knew it wasn’t about them. They knew they were continuing to achieve at their very best and get a great education. Teachers and staff at Preuss also did not let these events hinder them. The mountain of homework, the commitment to honors and advanced placement courses, the intense focus on college prep, the high quality of instruction and counseling – all that remains undiminished. Everyone in the Preuss community knows that this was a short-term problem.

A strong future lies ahead for Preuss School, and for each succeeding graduating class. When nearly every student who receives a diploma from a high school goes on to college – and to some of the best colleges in the country – that itself is a definition of success. Translating that success into a future of opportunity and achievement, well, that’s the ultimate goal of the entire Preuss community.

Denise Anguiano
Pruess Parent of 7th and 11th graders

Fernando Lomeli
Preuss Parent of a 9th grader

Martha Gil
Preuss Parent of 9th and 12th graders

Peaker Power Plant is just to close residents!

The current 44-mw peaker power plant at the end of Albany Ave. south ofMain Street in Chula Vista has residents living within 350', a pre-K within 1200feet and 14 other schools, including 3 Headstarts, 2 Recreation Centers, a Community Health Clinic, and a Library within a mile. This number of sensitive receptors are not found this closer to peakers anywhere else in the state. The high percentage of Latinos and the lower median income of residents within a one mile radius of this peaker make this siting a social, economic, and environmental justice issue.

The people in this area of Southwestern Chula Vista and South San Diego across the river are already disproportionably bearing the negative air quality effects of industrial pollution. Some of them live right next-door to a warehouse built with no regard to their health and safety. They already must bear the health risks of the trucks coming and going from White Cap Construction in this warehouse and the numerous other trucks going up and down Main Street all hours of the day and night, as well as the visible particulate matter from Hanson’s cement operation that clings to cars and outdoor furniture. With all these negative air quality affects the cumulative effect from the additional pollution from a new 100-mw peaker becomes very significant. This is especially true since the way they intend to meet the minimal state air quality standards and get a permit is by buying air pollution credits.

Not only must we bear the added negative air emissions but there will be two 70-foot tall stacks cooling this plant with emissions clearly visible across the river, from Hilltop Dr. and over the tops of buildings whenever it operates. We know this for a fact because we can see these emissions from the one 40-foot stack of the existing 44mw plant whenever it operates.

We are not opposed to a peaker power plant. We just want it placed further away from residents and schools, as is done elsewhere in the state. There are many more appropriate locations in the San Diego area. As Councilman Rindone said in his guest editorial in the UT on 8/14/01: “Most agree that peaker plants adversely affect the air quality in the location where they are built.”

We ask all elected officials and residents to support us in insisting that any new peaker plant be sited much further from residents and schools. For more information and video please see http://chulavistaissues.org/CVEUP.

Theresa Acerro
President Southwest Chula Vista
Civic Association

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