August 24, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

IS THIS DISTRICT A PIECE OF WORK OR WHAT?

By Orville G. Brown

Blueprint. Institute. Sounds so nice, so progressive, so innovative and so out of the box. WRONG! They are only new names for same old same old. The graduates of San Diego City Schools go on to college, a large portion of which are 4 year colleges and universities, others to junior colleges and then 4 year colleges. Still others go to tech schools. They graduate from these institutions of higher learning because they receive a good education in our schools, based on a rounded curriculum that creates a citizen that can cope in today's modern, complicated society. Check out the SAT scores, not just the SAT9 scores.

This education is no longer rounded or balanced. Now our students will need to put off college, if they go at all. High stakes tests, not really an accurate gauge of a student's abilities or progress, will condemn many students to a course of studies that does not allow for high school graduation. Students could take a full schedule, pass all their classes yet not have the proper credits to meet the California requirements for a high school diploma, let alone the A to G requirements for the UC system. Genre studies classes, although they have some good applications, will prevent a large segment of our students from graduating. Students are placed in these classes and must read, which is good, but 2 to 3 hours a day to a student that already dislikes reading and hates school is draconian.

The requirements, and these requirements are not unreasonable, of the UC system are used as a bench mark for being a successful school district. There is a problem with this. The UC system is not the only higher education system in the United States. There are many more colleges and universities that are as good, but they don't count for this district. Junior colleges are also good. Tech and trade schools? They are not even counted as valid. Our society also needs skilled tradesmen. Many of these professions earn a high salary.

Not all high school students should go to college or university. That is not necessarily bad. Forcing all students to this track of higher education will cheapen the value of a college diploma. The diploma will come to mean nothing, just a piece of paper. This inflation will not help our students. We need to go back to a truly comprehensive high school, where students get a wide selection of courses and disciplines. A high school education used to prepare a student for the working world, but no longer. As late as the 1950's and 1960's a student could graduate and go into a career, not just a job. Today they are prepared for college and cannot go into a career, only into a job to help with college expenses.

With Bersin's Blueprint and Alvarado's Institute this will not happen. They are too busy acting omnipotent and playing the gods of education. The ancient gods were evil and corrupt, relishing in the pain and misery they could inflict on their people. These gods are no more. When will this happen to Bersin and Alvarado? Their reign of terror is exacting a heavy price on their subjects. These gods need to be replaced with people, people whose interest is in doing what is good for the sake of their subjects, but I guess that is too difficult. They like the feel of their uncontrolled power and the way it causes pain and misery. This is where they succeed.

Teachers do not have the power that Bersin and Alvarado have. Their power lies in their talent to teach kids. Their power is being eroded slowly and thoroughly by an educational contaminant that eats away at the foundation upon which a good educational foundation could be built. The Blueprint being used is like a builder that is asked to build upon sand. The finished building will not stand. The Blueprint architect needs to consult the proper consultants and build upon a rock that will stand and last.

The proper building blueprint is not the Blueprint for Success. The proper blueprint is the input from the teachers in collaboration with the Board and Superintendent. Create a good, properly designed blueprint and move education forward in the San Diego Unified School District. Give our schools back to all educational stake holders: teachers, students, parents and communities.

Orville G. Brown is an educator with 24 years of experience.


In 2001, Low Income Student Performance in San Diego City Schools Declined In Reading, Math and Language

During the past school year, under Alan Bersin's so-called reform plan — "The Blueprint for Student Success"— a higher percentage of San Diego City Schools' "economically disadvantaged" students scored in the lowest quartile on the SAT9 achievement tests. In other words, students from low income families did worse under Bersin's one-year-old plan in all areas - Reading, Math and Language, despite the fact that the Superintendent promised otherwise. Initially, Bersin and the Blueprint received support from hopeful leaders of minority groups across the city. However, during the past school year, leaders, parents and teachers alike noticed that something was terribly wrong with the Blueprint. The test scores confirm that they were right.

Then, why are we hearing that things are getting better in San Diego City Schools? Mr. Bersin is "spinning" us away from the poor outcomes of his one-year-old "Blueprint" and comparing this year's scores to the test scores of 1998, noting scores went up since then. But what he isn't saying is that, in the entire state, scores went up since 1998, due to other statewide factors such as: students getting accustomed to the new (SAT9) test, teaching to the test, and the increasing focus on English instruction. This happened throughout California, where the Blueprint does not exist. But in the city of San Diego where the Blueprint was in place (with Bersin and Alvarado in charge), scores frequently got worse last year, particularly for low income students. By contrast, in Los Angeles, scores went up for the 4th year in a row, in the elementary schools, with significant gains, even for low income students.

Don't be fooled. The Blueprint has failed. The students do not have time to give Mr. Bersin more chances. He had three years to develop and implement his plan. The major problems with the Blueprint are evident—all our children are falling further behind those school systems where the curriculum has been aligned with California academic standards. Also, in some San Diego city schools, up to one-third of the students had to be retained. The test scores are telling you that something is, indeed, terribly wrong. Worse yet, the Superintendent is not telling you all the facts.

To check out this data, on the Internet, go to the site for 2001 SAT9 scores for SD City Unified, Economically Disadvantaged students:

http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2001/ report.asp?CDSCode=37683380000000000000&CL=06

and compare the scores to the 2000 test data for the same students found at:

http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2000f/reports/37/68338000/6040158000 /06.html

Let's give ALL our students the opportunity to learn. Anything less cannot be tolerated. Alan Bersin wants his contract renewed, but three years has been quite enough. The board members who have supported him with their 3 to 2 "rubber-stamp" votes should have been more responsive to those who warned about the flaws in the Bersin plan. The latest test scores are sending a loud
message. Accountability means that we must face the fact that the Blueprint has failed, and now Bersin must leave as he promised he would three years ago. The students deserve better — and NOW. They deserve what Los Angeles has been able to accomplish with its enlightened management and an approach that is the opposite of the Blueprint. All San Diegans need to rethink their initial support of Alan Bersin, Chancellor Tony Alvarado, and the puppet school board that hired them. It's time to take our schools back from the East Coast "carpetbaggers."

A Concerned San Diego City Schools Teacher
(Name withheld for fear of retribution)


Olmos Serving Time, to Save Vieques

August 16, 2001

I sit in the federal prison in San Juan, Puerto Rico serving 20 days. Others of us are serving 30, 40, 60, 90 and up to 120, days for a class B misdemeanor. Most of us are first-time offenders in violating any kind of laws in our lifetimes.

We've tried to peacefully bring awareness and the stoppage of the bombings on the island of Vieques. Today I have read an article printed in the Dallas Morning News by G. Robert Hillman quoting a political analyst, Charles Cook, stating "What do Mexican-American voters care whether the Navy bombs the hell out of a beach in Puerto Rico - The answer is, not in the least."

That statement leads me to believe that Mr. Cook thinks that Mexican-Americans and other cultures on our planet don¹t care about innocent children dying at a 40% higher mortality rate because of the mistaken use of depleted uranium bombs along with other deadly chemical pollutants which derive from the bombings of the small inhabited island.

I believe the president of Mexico, the presidents of Latin-America and other leaders of the world know and feel that this is something that should be stopped. There are plenty of places on this earth where the US navy can practice its military maneuvers that are uninhabited. I pray they find one soon. They've had sixty years to find one and they still continue to use the inhabited precious island of Vieques.

Please help resolve this situation by running my short statement and the information below.

Edward James Olmos

Act Now!

Tell the U.S. government that bombing an inhabited island for practice is obscene. Get the Navy out of Vieques.

President George Bush, 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111, 202-456-2461 fax, e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov Attn:Chief of Staff John Podesta. Web: www.whitehouse.gov

Your Congresspersons Phone, fax, email info at Web: www.congress.org

Note: E-mails are okay, but faxes and phone calls are most effective.

Demand a Healthy Vieques. 1-888-422-8737 Toll Free


Gephardt hyprocritical about trucking

It is extremely hypocritical for Dick Gephardt, the Democrat leader of the Congress, to criticize Bush for "rejecting important treaties" with Europe and Russia when he has voted to violate the NAFTA treaty with Mexico, on the issue of Mexican truckers.

Maybe Gephardt only feels that treaties with Europeans need to be up held and that treaties with Mexicans don't. Gephardt's attitude smacks of a racist disregard for our neighbors in Mexico.

Richard Amador Babcock
San Diego


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