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By Doug Deane
Education Committee Chair, San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce


April 28, 2011 – Latest local and national education news headlines include:



• Worst-case budget could shorten school year
• Community colleges prepare for bigger hit
• Four school districts warn of financial distress
• GUHSD Superintendent Swenson’s newsletter
• Curriculum must assess student tech skills
• Music really does boost your IQ!
• Save great teachers
• School could lose majority of teachers
• Hard cap on charter schools isn’t ‘reform’
• Our vision of schools must change
• More pupils are learning online, fueling debate on quality
• STEM to STREAM: Why the arts and writing should be added to science education
• Obama official cites poor quality of education, effect on military
• Community service touted at Clinton event
• Library addition at Cuyamaca College marks end of Proposition R
• Mark Miguel students shine at competition—congratulations Jeff Wood!
• Spring Valley 4th graders dance their way to fitness
• Bloggers challenge President on standardized testing
• Risks: focus on heart deaths in student athletes
• For some, getting into college is the challenge



Worst-Case Budget Could Shorten School Year


Teachers and parents throughout the region and state have grown accustomed to significant cutbacks in their public schools, increased demands for fundraising and threats to layoff faculty as California copes with its relentless fiscal crisis.


But schools could face a financial hit so severe in the coming school year that many may be shut down as many as six weeks early, under an extreme cost-cutting measure that was first suggested in January with little fanfare and has been gaining traction ever since.


That means children could be cut loose from school in April next year, just after Easter.

Community Colleges Prepare for Bigger Hit


San Diego-area community colleges will have to turn away tens of thousands of students in the coming academic year as a result of the breakdown in budget talks in Sacramento, leaders of the state’s two-year colleges said Wednesday.


“This is a tragedy for these students,” said Jack Scott, chancellor of the state’s community colleges, in a conference call with reporters. “It also means a deep blow to the California economy.”



Citizens Group Suggests Work be Frozen on Alpine High School


A citizens group voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend to the Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board to freeze work on a proposed high school in Alpine except for acquiring property to build it.


Whether the board will take up the recommendation by the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee for consideration is another question. The oversight group, which monitors the district’s Proposition H/U bond construction program, plans to present its recommendations to the governing board at its April 14 meeting.


Read more by clicking on


There’s a related article at


Four School Districts Warn of Financial Distress


Four school districts in San Diego County have made a state financial warning list — a signal they may not be able to pay their bills through the 2012-13 school year, the California Department of Education announced Monday.


Read the rest of the story at


GUHSD Superintendent Swenson’s Newsletter

There’s a link below to the latest edition of Superintendent Swenson's Newsline.

You can check it out by clicking on:

Curriculum Must Assess Student Tech Skills


In 21st-century classrooms, students are coming in with tech knowledge that surpasses most of their teachers, yet they have yet to learn to use it in practical, educational ways.


John Wahl, instructional technology coordinator, and Phil Gouveia, information technology supervisor, reviewed the two tech policies in place: and


Those polices address access by minors to inappropriate content; unauthorized access and/or hacking; unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of information regarding minors and safety and security of minors.




Music really Does Boost IQ!


This is far from the first study to explore a possible relationship between music lessons and school performance. However, the way it was conducted deserves special attention.


Many previous studies of musical training have connected it to specific intellectual skills, like mathematics or spatial reasoning. The theory behind these studies is that music shares many things in common with math and geometry: the relationships between notes and different keys, for example, can be expressed in spatial or numerical terms; music is written in a numerical-spatial code; and music involves precise numerical timekeeping.

Save Great Teachers


Great teachers make a tremendous difference in students' lives. This year we risk losing some of the best teachers in America.

• At least 160,000 teachers face layoffs.
• Most layoffs will be based solely on seniority, not on performance.
• The result: many of our most effective teachers will lose their jobs.
• Even if there have to be layoffs, we can save great teachers.


Read more at the website by clicking on

School Could Lose Majority of Teachers


Seniority still rules when it comes to teacher pink slips.


The San Diego Unified School District issued layoff warnings to 1,335 educators this week to help offset its deficit of up to $114 million to next year’s $1.04 billion operating budget.


The last time the district issued mass teacher pink slips was 2008, and Jackson Elementary School was the hardest hit campus when 24 of its 26 teachers were tapped for possible layoffs. Jackson has since closed and its teachers and students moved into the new and nearby Fay Elementary School. But once again this staff has been the hardest hit with layoffs — 25 of its 26 permanent teachers received pink slips this week.


“We just can’t believe it’s happening to us again,” said Principal Eileen Moreno. “The teachers are in shock.”


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Hard Cap on Charter Schools Isn’t ‘Reform’


The annual battles in Sacramento over charter schools have eased in recent years. Charters continue to have some high-profile flops, but in general they’ve made headway in establishing their bona fides as a K-12 alternative, and the enthusiasm they generate among many parents and students is impossible to deny.


…The Assembly Education Committee is scheduled to take up AB 401, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, in conjunction with the California Federation of Teachers. It would place a hard cap on the total number of state charter schools and, as of July 2012, ban any new charters in school districts in which charters already made up 10 percent or more of total schools. So much for any new charters in San Diego Unified, where charters make up nearly 20 percent of all schools.


Read more from this U-T editorial at

Our Vision of Schools Must Change


Is your vision of a classroom student desks in rows, a whiteboard and a teacher at the front? I think most of us have this vision. It is, however, a vision of education in the 20th century.


Until San Diego as a community changes that vision, we are never going to do anything but put bandages on an ailing education system.


Read more from this U-T commentary at

More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality


Jack London was the subject in Daterrius Hamilton’s online English 3 course. In a high school classroom packed with computers, he read a brief biography of London with single-paragraph excerpts from the author’s works. But the curriculum did not require him, as it had generations of English students, to wade through a tattered copy of “Call of the Wild” or “To Build a Fire.”


Mr. Hamilton, who had failed English 3 in a conventional classroom and was hoping to earn credit online to graduate, was asked a question about the meaning of social Darwinism. He pasted the question into Google and read a summary of a Wikipedia entry. He copied the language, spell-checked it and e-mailed it to his teacher.



STEM to STREAM: Why the Arts and Writing Should be Added to Science Education


Psychologists now believe that adding the arts and reading and writing to a science based education makes for better mathematicians and scientists.(just in case this link doesn’t work, I pasted the URL address below). Focusing on students' writing and language skills can help them develop the necessary "tools for thinking," according to Psychology Today magazine.

Efforts to better educate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are critical to U.S. prosperity. The STREAM model recognizes that innovation is at the intersection of disciplines and helps cultivate a world-class workforce that will attract business and investment.


Read more by clicking on



Obama Official Cites Poor Quality of Education, Effect on Military


Three out of four young adults are unqualified to join the armed forces, largely because of failures in the nation’s schools, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday.


A retinue of current and retired military officers, elected officials and others joined Duncan at a Miramar Marine Corps Air Station news conference after the secretary visited a school in North County.

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Community Service Touted at Clinton Event


Matt Severson taps his iPad, filling the screen with photos of smiling children. He’s selling the idea of hope in a country not known for it: Tanzania.


The east African nation is among the poorest in the world. Families struggle to raise money to put their children through public school. Severson, a senior at Brown University, sees that as an opportunity.


“We’re trying to get people to use our website to donate money to pay these kids’ school bills,’’ said Severson, who co-founded a nonprofit known as The School Fund. “It is a transparent and effective way to do things.’’


He is promoting the program this weekend at the University of California San Diego, where 1,100 student delegates from 90 countries are attending the Clinton Global Initiative University, a launch pad for community service ideas.



Library Addition at Cuyamaca College Marks End of Proposition R


The final Proposition R-funded project at Cuyamaca College has been completed.


The nearly 4,000-square-foot addition to the library’s Learning Resource Center is the last of the school’s new facilities and building expansions funded through the $207-million bond approved by East County voters in 2002 to address needs at both Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges.


The library expansion cost $4.1 million.


Read more by clicking on


Mount Miguel Students Shine at Competition – Congratulations Jeff Wood!


A group of business students from Spring Valley shined during a regional entrepreneurial competition Monday in San Diego, winning three awards, including a first-place finish.


The students from Mount Miguel High School topped 50 teams in one category and took home two second-place plaques at the 10th-annual Southern California Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair/Business Competition. Monday’s event brought about 800 students from all over California and from as far away as Oregon to the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center in southeastern San Diego.




Spring Valley Fourth Graders Dance Their Way to Fitness


For more than 300 fourth graders at four Spring Valley elementary schools who have been honing their skills in the tango, waltz, rumba, fox trot or merengue, the answer is “yes.”


The brainchild of La Mesa-Spring Valley School District resource teacher Ginger Radenheimer and physical education teacher Sharon Perry, the kids have been taking two, 55-minute ballroom dance lessons weekly for the past six weeks with EduDance out of Alpine.


Read more by clicking on

Bloggers Challenge President on Standardized Testing


President Obama criticized “high-stakes” tests last week at a town-hall-style meeting, contrasting them with less-pressured tests his daughters took in their Washington private school. Those remarks, which did not receive wide coverage at the time, have since prompted close followers of education policy to wonder whether the president opposes his own Education Department. Mr. Obama criticized “high-stakes” tests last week at a town-hall-style meeting, contrasting them with less-pressured tests his daughters took in their Washington private school. Those remarks, which did not receive wide coverage at the time, have since prompted close followers of education policy to wonder whether the president opposes his own Education Department.



Risks: Focus on Heart Deaths in Student-Athletes


Recent sudden cardiac deaths among high school athletes — including the death in March of a 16-year-old Michigan basketball player who had just scored a game-winning shot — have renewed questions about how common the risk is and whether athletes should be screened more carefully.


A new study, published last week in the journal Circulation, offers a partial answer, finding that there is one sudden cardiac death for every 43,770 National Collegiate Athletic Association student-athletes each year. Earlier estimates, which relied almost exclusively on news reports for information, had put the number as low as 1 in 300,000.




For Some, Getting Into College is the Challenge


The lack of resources and educational opportunities for our nation’s at-risk students remains a significant threat to America’s future. Nearly 30 percent of high school students in the United States fail to graduate, but of equal concern is that numerous studies show that even with a diploma, only half of graduates leave high school prepared to succeed in college and their careers.






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