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By Doug Deane 

February 6, 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:

• C. Allen Paul Award Winner and the Chamber Gala
• We the People Competition (Granite Hills)
• California is failing at Civic Engagement
• GUHSD Superintendent Swenson’s newsletter
• Bullying Prevention
• Service learning: lessons beyond the classroom from Edutopia
• “Third Age” program proves interested education for the mature
• San Diego High to screen “Race to Nowhere” documentary
• Book rentals available for community college students (Grossmont-Cuyamaca)
• Incentive program aimed at raising test scores (Hilltop Middle School)
• School district maneuvers on the odd side (Sweetwater Union)
• Education: a matter of national security
• For teens, a decade of lost opportunities
• Plan offered to overhaul discipline of teachers
• To really learn, quit studying and take a test
• Few students show proficiency in science, tests show
• GOP governors take aim at teacher tenure
• It may be a Sputnik moment, but science fairs are lagging



C. Allen Paul Winner and the Chamber Gala

At the East County Chamber’s annual gala February 25th, the C. Allen Paul Award honors the one person in the East County who our committee believes did the most in the past year to bring the business and education communities together. The award’s namesake, C. Allen Paul, was one of the original founders of Grossmont College, and was the first Dean of the college’s Business Department.

This year’s honoree is Elana Levens-Craig. Aside from being the owner of Packaging Solutions in Santee, Elana is the President of the Santana PTA and the incoming President of the GUHSD Prop H&U Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. She is also our Vice-Chair for Entrepreneurial Activities, she works extremely closely and tirelessly with JA, and she is on the board of the League of Women Voters. In that capacity, she helped organize the GUHSD board candidates’ debate and made sure that the Chamber was one of the co-sponsors.

Elana works tirelessly on behalf of education in our region, and on behalf of instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in our students. She has more energy and spirit than five people, and we’re proud to be able to honor her with this award.

For details and tickets on the Chamber’s 100th annual Inaugural Gala at the Crystal Ballroom in El Cajon, click here:



We The People Competition

Granite Hills High School Social Science Teacher Ron Whitney and students showcase their trophy from the 23rd Annual Competition on the Constitution and Bill of Rights at the University of San Diego last month.

Students at Granite Hills High School will represent San Diego County when they travel to Sacramento this month to compete in the statewide competition of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program.

The Granite Hills students outperformed students from San Diego High School and Calvin Christian Academy at the 23rd Annual Competition on the Constitution and Bill of Rights at the University of San Diego on December 9, 2010. They will now represent the county in the state competition in Sacramento in February. If they win at the state hearings they will represent California at the national finals in April, 2011 in Washington, D.C. They need to raise $6,000 to cover the cost of the competition, room and board. Please contact Ron Whitney at or (619) 593-5605 if you can assist, or know someone who can.

Ron Whitney, Granite Hills High School Social Science Teacher, encouraged his students to participate in the We The People competition this year and has facilitated their preparation for this event. Participating students have studied the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights for months in preparation for their roles as experts testifying on selected constitutional issues. Through delivering formal oral presentations and working collectively as a class, students enhance their knowledge of the Constitution and develop a deeper appreciation for their rights as American citizens. The competition is modeled after a congressional committee hearing.



California is Failing at Civic Engagement

In a related story …

One government failure and apathetic citizen at a time, civic illiteracy is eroding the Golden State. That’s the forecast for California, according to data recently collected on civic involvement in the democratic process.

Start with the recently published California Civic Health Index that revealed that the state’s population is threatened by languor. Apathy is deadly for civic activity from volunteerism to voting to community service. Nonprofits California Forward, the Center for Civic Education and Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement collaborated to gauge civic proficiency statewide.



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:



Bullying Prevention


The Josephson Institute is paving the way for dissemination of ethics curriculum throughout the nation, and for the prevention of bullying. Their January 18th newsletter was devoted to bullying prevention, and contained these great articles which we thought we’d pass along to you:


Decrease bullying by increasing empathy
Is bullying like a disease? For which the only antidote is a little taste of social exclusion? The findings of a recent study suggest that those who haven't been bullied underestimate its effects.


Lesson plans to beat bullying and celebrate February’s holidays
In this lesson, students identify troublesome behaviors and use critical thinking to determine which Pillars they can lean on to counter them. Also: lesson plans for Black History Month, Valentine's Day, and President's Day.


A One-of-a-Kind Find
If you're looking for a gourmet bullying-prevention resource, try Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are, a spicy story about Lucy, a wide-eyed, curly-locked child with a uniquely flavored zest for life.


Showing kids the way
We can combat bullying by punishing bullies, but we also need to prevent kids from becoming bullies in the first place. In a November column in the New York Times, David Bornstein writes about Roots of Empathy, a Canadian program that teaches children to be compassionate.


Additionally, Edutopia ran these articles:


Bullying: How Educators Can Make Schools Safer
Schools can reduce incidents by adopting a schoolwide anti-harassment policy with a social and emotional perspective.

Find it at



Service Learning: Lessons Beyond the Classroom from Edutopia


There is a great series of blogs in Edutopia regarding service learning in our schools:


How to Bring Service Learning to Your School
Edutopia blogger Maurice Elias offers easy tips for fostering civic engagement in our students.

Find it at


Academic Gains from Community Service
One school district weaves farm-focused service learning throughout the curriculum.

Find it at


Service Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.
The Freedom Project helps teachers use the hard-fought history of racial equality to inspire power and perseverance.

Find it at



“Third Age" Program Provides Interesting Education for the Mature

Not even all of those who attend the University of the Third Age at the University of San Diego are quite clear on what the “third age” is.

But Professor Pierre Vellas, who created the program in 1973 at a university in Toulouse, France, defined it as the stage of life after age 55. And his intention was to ensure that vital educational opportunities existed for retired people.


San Diego High to Screen "Race to Nowhere" Documentary

San Diego High School on Tuesday night will screen “Race to Nowhere,” a documentary that focuses on issues public schools have grappled with in recent years.

The film covers topics like cheating, burnout and stress found in American classrooms as students feel pressure to achieve. The documentary’s release follows that of “Waiting for Superman,” another high-profile and somewhat controversial education documentary.



Book Rentals Available for Community College Students

Students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges in El Cajon are now able to rent many textbooks rather than purchasing them.

The partnership between the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and Barnes & Nobel College Bookstores allows students to rent a book for about 45 percent of the cost of buying one, according to district officials.



Incentive Program Aimed at Raising Test Scores

Hilltop Middle School’s 200 top performing test takers were treated to a barbecue celebration last week as part of the school’s new Power Pass incentive program. Those who scored 80 percent or better on two or more final exams qualified for the event.

Read more by clicking on


School District Maneuvers on the Odd Side

The leaders of the Sweetwater Union High School District deserve praise for deciding not to follow through on plans to borrow $58 million in voter-approved bond funds to pay operating costs this fiscal year and to then backfill the bond borrowing with state funding arriving early in the 2011-12 fiscal year. But their willingness to entertain the scheme is alarming.

Dianne Russo, Sweetwater Union’s chief financial officer, cites language in the California Education Code allowing a temporary transfer of funds. But the Education Code is trumped by the California Constitution, which says school bond funds cannot be used for operating expenses. What’s more, district auditors had already warned the district over similar borrowing in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscal years.


Education: A Matter of National Security

A continuing surge in patriotism among young people – coupled with high unemployment – has made military service increasingly attractive to thousands of young adults entering the work force.
But there is a challenge. A report by the nonprofit Mission: Readiness estimates that 75 percent of young Americans are not able to join the military – and one of the leading reasons is a failure in our education system.



For Teens, A Decade of Lost Opportunities

If you hopped into a time machine – DeLorean or hot tub, doesn’t matter which – and traveled back to a fast-food operation at the start of the decade, you’d probably notice something different, but you might have a hard time putting your finger on it.

Prices might be marginally lower, but that probably won’t be what’s bothering you: a value menu is a value menu, after all. The packaging might be a little bit different, but that’s not it either. It’s the staff that’s caught your eye. They seem so much younger than they are now, and there are so many more of them.



Plan Offered to Overhaul Discipline of Teachers

Teachers accused of misconduct should have their cases decided within a speedy 100 days by a special examiner and not be cast into an interminable limbo of waiting, said Kenneth R. Feinberg, the arbitration expert, who investigated teacher discipline at the request of the American Federation of Teachers.



To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.


Few Students Show Proficiency in Science, Tests Show

On the most recent nationwide science test, about a third of fourth graders and a fifth of high school seniors scored at or above the proficiency level, according to results released Tuesday.

Only one or two students out of every 100 displayed the level of mastery that the federal panel governing the tests defines as advanced, the government said.


G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure

Seizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.

The momentum began over a year ago with President Obama’s call to measure and reward effective teaching, a challenge he repeated in last week’s State of the Union address.



It May Be a Sputnik Moment, but Science Fairs Are Lagging

Rarely have school science fairs, a source of pride and panic for generations of American students, achieved such prominence on the national stage. President Obama held one at the White House last fall. And last week he said that America should celebrate its science fair winners like Sunday’s Super Bowl champions, or risk losing the nation’s competitive edge.



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