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By Doug Deane

October 29, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) -- The following local, state and national education news items are excerpted from a very informative e-newsletter published by Doug Deane, chair of the Business Education Committee at the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce.

Our picks for Deane’s top education stories from the latest issue include:

• GUHSD boundary study community forums
• GUHSD Superintendent Swenson’s Newsline
• State looks into loss of funds by start-up charter schools
• California gears up for extra year of kindergarten
• Students need supervision to make online learning work
• The forever recession (and the coming revolution)
• How to break the cycle of remedial college classes
• Definitions, models and characteristics of gifted students
• Designing schools for 21st century learning
• A trigger to disaster at schools
• Young superintendent has district on rise
• West Hills to commemorate 50th anniversary with Gala Nov. 4
• Report calls for new oversight of school construction
• County teachers of the year named
• Weighted AP grade will cost you at Helix
• A new yardstick to measure schools
• Bill would overhaul No Child Left Behind
• Online educators gaining both classes and critics


GUHSD Boundary Study Community Forums

The Grossmont Union High School District is rolling out the draft of its final boundary recommendations to the public, in order to solicit feedback. The last of three community forums will be held on November 1 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Monte Vista High School gym, 3230 Sweetwater Springs Blvd. in Spring Valley.

GUHSD Superintendent Swenson’s Newsline

The current edition of GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson’s Newsline gives us a look at the District’s new Assistant Superintendant for Education Services, Theresa Kemper, and at the new principal of Grossmont High School, Dan Barnes.

You can link to the current edition of Newsline by clicking on

State Looks Into Loss of Funds by Start-Up Charter Schools

The California Department of Education is looking into the loss of upwards of "tens of millions of dollars" in federal and state funds from start-up charter schools that either never opened or failed after their first year or two of operation.
Read more at:

California Gears Up for Extra Year of Kindergarten

School districts around the state are gearing up to offer an additional year of "preppy kindergarten," a term that could become an integral part of the California education lexicon.
Read more at:

Students Need Supervision to Make Online Learning Work

The Fresno Unified School District has figured out a relatively simple way to dramatically increase the pass rates of high school students who enroll in online courses to make up for classes they have failed in a traditional classroom setting.
Read more at:

The Forever Recession (and the Coming Revolution) by Seth Godin

There are actually two recessions:

The first is the cyclical one, the one that inevitably comes and then inevitably goes. There's plenty of evidence that intervention can shorten it, and also indications that overdoing a response to it is a waste or even harmful.

The other recession, though, the one with the loss of "good factory jobs" and systemic unemployment--I fear that this recession is here forever.

There's a race to the bottom, one where communities fight to suspend labor and environmental rules in order to become the world's cheapest supplier. The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win...

PLEASE read this amazing blog from Seth Godin at:

How to Break the Cycle of Remedial College Classes

This month, more than half of community college freshmen and at least a third of university students started college already behind. They're in at least one remedial course that does not count toward a degree, thus beginning at least four months—and sometimes years—delayed in getting the degree they enrolled to earn.

This colossal disappointment is largely avoidable. Students need not toil in remedial courses that cost precious time and money.

How do I know? The proof initially emerged with many students transferring from San Diego’s West Hills High School to their local community college. Like many of their fellow freshmen nationally, a whopping 95 percent of high school graduates from West Hills who received As and Bs in their senior English courses did not "pass" the placement test. Yet when allowed to enroll in college-level courses instead of remedial classes, 86 percent successfully completed college-level English, lost no time in their progress, and stayed on course toward earning a degree.

Read more from this interesting article by Brad Phillips at:

Definitions, Models, and Characteristics of Gifted Students

Andrea is a kindergarten child, full of energy and excitement like most children her age, except that she is already reading at a fourth-grade level and understands mathematics concepts at a fifth-grade level. She likes to play games with the other children in her classroom, but she is interested in black holes, a topic most children her age don’t understand. Since she is social, she has established a learning center about black holes for other children in her kindergarten classroom and has become the editor of a schoolwide newsletter. While very accomplished for a 6-year-old child, Andrea is quite humble about her prodigious abilities and appears to enjoy each day with her classmates.

After failing two grades in his elementary school, Burton is 13 and has finally made it to the sixth grade. While Burton doesn’t turn in much work, his sixth-grade teacher has noticed that he seems to have a mathematical mind and catches on to new concepts easily. In fact, he aced a nationally normed analogies test and enjoyed talking about how each of the items was designed. His friends know that he has built a working roller coaster in his back yard out of scrap lumber and electronic equipment. However, because of his lack of interest in grades and schoolwork, the teacher did not refer Burton to the gifted and talented program because he doesn’t do the work that will prepare him for the mandated state test.

Ryan, a high school student, is a challenge for his parents and teachers alike. It’s not unusual for him to wear Christmas lights to school to attract attention from his favorite girlfriend, to dye his hair several colors, or to wear red gloves to a band concert. Although he scores well on national tests, recently making a 1350 on his SAT, he performs at a minimal level in his classes and is not even in the top 10% of his class. He loves music, playing three different instruments proficiently: the tuba, the cello, and the bass guitar. Outside of school, he has organized and leads two jazz bands, recently cutting his first CD. The summer following his senior year, he has been accepted to the Drum Corps International before beginning college.


Designing Schools for 21st Century Learning

This is a very interesting 17 minute video presented at the CEFPI 86th Annual World Conference & Expo. It’s produced by the Pearson Foundation and the Mobile Learning Institute with Randall Fielding, Chairman; Founding Partner, Fielding Nair International.

You can watch it at

A Trigger to Disaster at Schools

With every new downbeat report on state revenue coming out of Sacramento, state leaders’ gamble in crafting a 2011-12 budget – their hopeful assumption that state revenue would rebound – looks increasingly like a losing bet. Supporters of the gamble said it was defensible given Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to require “trigger cuts” – predetermined spending reductions – if revenue fell short.

But as detailed in a grim Sept. 15 letter to Brown by leaders of six professional organizations of California school officials, including the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators, the trigger cuts in education won’t cover the full shortfall in many districts. In other districts, they will be highly difficult to implement, making bankruptcy a real possibility.


Young Superintendent Has District on Rise

A star is rising in the desert.

Beyond the mountains, Carmen Garcia, at 34 the youngest – and only Latina – school superintendent in the county, is on a fast track.

The tiny Borrego Springs Unified School District offers daunting challenges: 75 percent of the 500 students are Latinos who speak English as a second language; 80 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

You couldn’t design a better laboratory for a future urban superintendent to hone her skills.


West Hills High to Commemorate 25 Years With Gala Celebration Nov. 4

Teachers, parents, alumni and supporters from throughout the community are anticipated to attend the 25th Anniversary Celebration of West Hills High School.

This event will be held Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the Carlton Oaks Country Club, 9200 Inwood Drive, in Santee. A ribeye steak dinner will be served; entertainment will include live music from Ramshackle, along with dancing and a live auction.

For more info, check out this link:

Report Calls for New Oversight of School Construction

A study released this week calls for a total revamping of how California schools are built and asks the state superintendent of public instruction to take over the school construction system.

Tucked inside the [90-page report], called "Schools of the Future," is a proposal that would wrest control of school construction oversight from the state's engineers at the Division of the State Architect and transfer it to the state Department of Education.

For more, click:

County Teachers of the Year Named

This year’s county winners come from a variety of backgrounds. Some knew they were going to be teachers since they were children, while others took more varied career paths. Despite how they got there, they all share one thing in common: They all love what they do.

“As a teacher, I am entrusted with the most valuable resource our community has, our children,” Alicia McBride, a teacher at Reflections, a juvenile court and community school in La Mesa, wrong in her application for the county honor.

Read more at:

Weighted AP Grade Will Cost You at Helix

Want your grade in an Advanced Placement class to count on a 5.0 scale, instead of 4.0? At Helix Charter High School, it’ll cost you.

The school only grants the “weighted” grade-point scale to students who pay to take the AP test — a requirement that may run afoul of the state Constitution’s guarantee of a free education.

A fee is a fee, according to David Blair-Loy, legal director for the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.


A New Yardstick to Measure Schools?

California’s traditional yardstick of success in public schools may be broadened beyond the existing method solely driven by test scores.

Legislation sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk would scrap the state’s reliance on the Academic Performance Index — a measurement that ranks school performance based on a series of standardized exams.

In its place, the state Board of Education would be directed to adopt a more comprehensive set of high school accountability benchmarks that would include graduation rates and career and college readiness.


The governor vetoed this bill. Story at

Bill Would Overhaul No Child Left Behind

A senior Senate Democrat released a draft of a sprawling revision of the No Child Left Behind education law on Tuesday that would dismantle the provisions of the law that used standardized test scores in reading and math to label tens of thousands of public schools as failing.

The 865-page bill, filed by Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate education committee, became the first comprehensive piece of legislation overhauling the law to reach either Congressional chamber since President George W. Bush signed it in 2002.

Read more by clicking on

Click on this link for a related editorial in the U-T:

Online Educators Gaining Both Classes and Critics

The school day was difficult, said Will Clarkston, a soft-spoken 20-year-old who, in his own words, can’t sit still.

His dyslexia sometimes leaves him grasping to text the right acronym to his friends. He often loses his train of thought because of his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Though he graduated from a public high school here two years ago, he was not prepared to go to college.

“The maturity level, his frustration threshold — he just was not ready,” said his mother, Carol Clarkston.

Six weeks ago Mr. Clarkston began taking online courses in financial management. Now, he can have his course materials read to him. Or, when his mind wanders, he can hit pause and take a walk. If he does not understand something, he can contact a teacher. He has done so well that he now plans to attend community college in the spring and, eventually, to open his own process-serving business. Ms. Clarkston said she has seen a transformation in his self-esteem.

Read more at:



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