Letter: Morgan Hill Unified among the worst performing schools - Morgan Hill Times: Letters To The Editor

Letter: Morgan Hill Unified among the worst performing schools

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Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 3:32 pm

Morgan Hill schools among the worst – trustees please vote for Navigator Charter School

Dear Editor,

Morgan Hill's charter school debate is about much more than an API score or the test dujour. These tests and methods will clearly continue to change and evolve, and hopefully Common Core standards will improve our testing regime. This debate is about parents and children wanting the best educational options available to them, right here and now. Why?

Morgan Hill has the worst performing schools in Santa Clara County, and California is among the worst performing states in the U.S.  See pages 10, 18 and 19: http://innovateschools.org/files/IPS_Report-2013_v10-ONSCREEN.pdf

The Board of Education meeting the other night was a symbol of the fundamental shift our educational system needs to go through. Thankfully, we have a democratic process to manage these transitions, and I was proud to be a part of it with our community.

The real issue at hand, judging by the volume of teachers that attended the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board meeting, and their passionate and emotional pleas, seems to be teachers’ pensions, about $40 million worth. Assuming an average teacher in Morgan Hill earns, say $79,000 year the last year before retirement, and teachers can retire as early as age 50 with at least 30 years of service credit, and a teacher can collect their pension over 32 years, she could collect $1.3 million in pension earnings over her retirement, plus social security payments. 

With an average pension payout of 53%, a MHUSD teacher is earning 42% more than the average woman in Morgan Hill, not a bad gig. With so much money on the line, no wonder the teachers came out in force to protest the charter schools at the last Board meeting. I would have a hard time voting down a $1.3 million pension too! (Sources: http://www.morganhillreview.com/2008/08/09/are-morgan-hill-teachers-actually-overpaid/, http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/california/teacher-salary-in-morgan-hill-unified-school-district/, http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/teachers-salaries_teachsal-table-en)

If Navigator and Rocketship do absorb 600 kids, resulting in the closure of an elementary school and layoff of 30 teachers, according to President Theresa Sage of the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers

("MHFT"), that would equate to about $40 million in future pension savings for the district. Yes, it would result in less current funding for an already sadly underfunded district with a rapidly growing population, but Navigator would also bring in new grant funding and re-hire most of those teachers, as they have in Gilroy and Hollister, at 20% higher pay and performance-based bonuses. Imagine if we reallocated that $40 million in pension savings across 30 of our best teachers NOW to provide performance-based pay? 

That would be worth $67,000 more per teacher per year over the next 20 years that we could use for higher salaries and performance-based pay. I would pay more in taxes now to align teachers’ current interests with current school performance and student achievement.

One teacher said at the Board meeting that a favorable vote for Navigator charter is a vote of no-confidence in MHUSD teachers. I’m sincerely sorry, but that vote has already been cast with our lowest school performance ratings in Santa Clara County, combined with the hundreds of kids on the Morgan Hill Charter wait list and Navigator wait list, and the uncounted parents that want to be in our community but won't because of the poor performing schools, or those that want to leave for better performing districts but can't afford to move.

If more could vote with their feet, I’m sure they would. Conversely, I’m sure more people would love to live in Morgan Hill if we just had better performing schools.

So, who has the most to lose now? Clearly, the MHFT teachers. Who has the most to gain? The kids. Who is going to vote for them? Who represents the students’ interests? Students don’t have a union or pensions to defend, they have a future and a strong education will ensure their freedom to achieve anything they can dream. They only have our votes and the MHUSD Board to represent their interests.

Yes, Charter schools do block out kids because of the lottery system, and that is insanely annoying and unfair for the community. Charter lottery systems, regardless of how truly random they are, still by their nature exclude other kids. Let's figure out a way to partner with Navigator and other leading charter schools to improve education for everyone. I do think they have something to teach and value to add to MHUSD. 

Yes, charter schools focus on performance and tests, but in a measured world its all we have to go with. Schools should produce performance first, ideally with a balance cultural and social education as well. It’s hard to have both, but I would choose performance first and try to supplement their education with extracurricular social, sport and musical activities if needed.

We're left with three choices: 1) unaffordable private schools that don't provide transparency or accountability, 2) emerging and innovative charter schools like Navigator that will partner with MHUSD, and 3) status quo and the poorly performing – MHUSD public schools. MHUSD trustees, please vote in favor of Navigator charter schools for our incredible kids and our community.

Ray Blanchard, Morgan Hill

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  • webster3 posted at 2:15 pm on Wed, Nov 6, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    How Navigator games the API

    “The Highest API in the State” is the cornerstone claim for Navigator Prep. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a different explanation for Navigator’s high scores—a game plan with several questionable practices.

    Compared to public schools, Navigator enrolls a higher number of students with parents who have a college degree. It has many English Learners (EL’s), but enrolls those who are nearing fluency. It enrolls very few special-education students and avoids those with moderate to severe disabilities. It enrolls almost three times the rate of Asian students as Gilroy Unified and 13% fewer Latino students—all the while claiming to serve the neediest students.

    In the area of English Learners, Navigator enrolls an extremely disproportionate number of EL’s who are highly fluent—an improbable result if their lottery system is truly random without selective recruiting. This has an enormous effect on the API score. EL’s are rated based on their CELDT exam scores with 1 being “beginner” and 5 being “advanced.” In Morgan Hill Unified, CELDT 5 students have an API of 1000, CELDT 4’s are 910, CELDT 3’s are 770, CELDT 2’s score 582, and CELDT 1’s are at 499. But the INITIAL (that’s before Navigator provides instruction) CELDT test statistics for Navigator show that they are enrolling 83% “advanced” English Learners compared to a State and Morgan Hill average of 10%. They also enroll 3 times as many CELDT 4 students. This enrollment move alone spikes Navigator’s API by 117 points. And the real kicker—the similar group of EL students from Morgan Hill Unified with the same CELDT scores actually outperforms Navigator 961 to 948!

    But the game apparently doesn’t stop there. Despite an overabundance of high scoring EL’s, Navigator’s data does not indicate that those reaching fluency are reclassified as fluent. Instead, they remain categorized in the EL subgroup where they continue to inflate that subgroup’s score. In MHUSD, fluent EL’s are reclassified as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) when they reach a CST level of mid-basic and a CELDT level of 5. Those remaining classified as EL’s will always have a lower subgroup score because unlike at Navigator, the highest achieving students are constantly moved out of the subgroup into the mainstream student population. Leaving these students classified as EL accounts for the “closing the gap” effect which Navigator claims is due to their instruction, but is really just an effect of continuing to claim these language proficient students as EL. Could it be that this shell game not only inflates subgroup scores but also unethically qualifies Navigator for EL concentration grants worth thousands of additional dollars per student under the States new Local Control Funding Formula?

    There is a similar effect due to the enrollment practices of special education students. By avoiding those students with moderate to severe disabilities, Navigator has distanced themselves from a group of students who struggle with very low API’s. That practice accounts for up to a 40 API point difference between Navigator and MHUSD schools

    The combined API effect of EL and special ed. enrollment practices alone can account for the reported “student achievement” difference between MHUSD and Navigator. In fact, API scores based only on those groups selected to match the demographics of Navigator would show that MHUSD outperforms Navigator student for student—a fact lost in the summary reporting of the API which represents a much wider student audience in Morgan Hill.

    So the question remains: Does Navigator truly offer innovative curriculum and instructional practices that are worthy of collaboration in the school improvement effort? Perhaps this data can shed some light. James Dent, the director of Navigator, served as Principal of Eliot Elementary in Gilroy. Eliot struggled with an API in the mid 700’s, but under Mr. Dent quickly shot up to 836.and 831 in two successive years before Mr. Dent left to launch Navigator Gilroy Prep. Unfortunately, his educational magic and instructional leadership didn’t seem to have much staying power as Eliot immediately fell right back to the mid 700’s. This rapid rise and fall in API with the coming and going of a Principal is not only a “red flag” for district offices and external test auditors, but it is definitely not the pattern in schools that have implemented an innovative and sustainable curriculum. This is highly suspicious.

    But how can this happen? Doesn’t anyone check on these things? The County Office of Education issued an annual report on charters last spring, indicating that their rate of approving charters is outpacing their staffing and ability to monitor them. Their own self-study recommends that “the SCCOE needs to identify how to provide the increased oversight to ensure that charters are legally compliant with regards to human resources, finance, facilities, and are delivering a quality curriculum. (SCCOE Overview of Approved Charters, pg. 6)” The study points out that the County Office, acting as the supervisor body over charter schools, doesn’t have a master plan for that task(pg. 6)!!! The report also warns of the collateral impacts of charters: increased segregation, massive shifting of resources and teacher layoffs top the list.

    But these are among the very issues that are addressed in our District’s reports supporting the denial of both the Navigator and Rocketship applications. The County Board needs to accept their responsibility to appropriately monitor and oversee charters by working through Districts and act accordingly. The County Board should support local Boards and Districts while acknowledging that their role and expertise is not in the area of direct charter oversight. Instead, under the direction of the County Trustees, County staff has been directed to spend countless hours and resources helping charters fix their petitions so that they can take a politically trendy bow for approving them. Not only has this diminished other important assistance and support to districts as resources have shifted, but the practice of altering petitions in anticipation of appeals is ethically questionable. To be responsible, rather than fast tracking additional charter approvals, the County Board should follow the data and the money and take a long hard look at existing charter schools, such as Navigator and Rocketship, with a far more discerning eye.

  • RayBlanchard posted at 3:03 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 67

    If you want Navigator Morgan Hill Prep to come to Morgan Hill to provide our kids the best possible performance, choices and educational experience, then sign our petition and intent to enroll. Within 1 day of launching the petition, we have 46 signatures:

    The Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/support-navigator-charter
    English Intent to File Form: https://app.box.com/s/dmygsrnx9e7m4m843qay
    Spanish Intent to File Form: https://app.box.com/s/gze7uo8rrmzdk4ffps4v
    Navigator performance and achievement gap information vs. Morgan Hill Schools: https://app.box.com/s/l70m48gr8tgg9wrlanmi

  • webster3 posted at 9:41 pm on Sat, Oct 12, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Barmando, numbers are the charter's game...without the broken and misleading accountability system which the State is now abondoning as obsolete, charters wouldn't even exist. For anyone who takes the time to investigate, the data clearly shows that high performing charters only "look" successful because they cherry pick the student population and then take a bow for students who were high achieving already. Navigator claims to work miracles with English Learners, but they enroll five times the rate of CELDT 5 advanced fluent students as the public schools to whom they claim to outperform. They enroll twice as many nearly fluent and only a third as many beginning English learners. The claim that they serve the most needy students is an outrageous lie. Gilroy Navigator Prep enrolls a higher percentage of high performing Asian students, a higher percentage of students with parents with college graduate degrees AND A LOWER PERCENTAGE OF LATINO STUDENTS THAN GILROY UNIFIED! Parents...do not be fooled by these businessmen seeking to drain millions from your public schools. Do you know that studying the data can reveal such charter school practices as dropping low performing students just before the spring testing window? Do you know that Rocketship has double digit turnover in its student population as student move up to fifth grade? That compared to just 1% turnover in San Jose Unified at large. We should be proud of our School Board Trustees who took the time to study this issue so deeply and made a well considered decision.

  • Barmando3 posted at 2:07 pm on Thu, Oct 10, 2013.

    Barmando3 Posts: 48

    Webster3, I will say you like to throw numbers out there like raindrops falling from the sky. At some point in time we stop paying attention to the rain and focus on our surroundings. No one is going to take time to investigate all of your data. Stay in the present. Compare Navigator's Gilroy Prep. that uses the educational model that will be used for Morgan Hill Prep. to our elementary schools. Your distraction to irrelevant comparisons to the real issues before us will not change the fact that Morgan Hill Prep. is going to be an excellent choice for parents who want and education model that will be best for their underperforming students.

  • RayBlanchard posted at 8:32 pm on Thu, Oct 3, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 67

    Hopefully the Fed's will approve our waiver! All of this focus on our schools, adoption of MAPP and Common Core tests, charter discussion, etc...is awesome. Parent and community involvement in our schools is everything, and the new funding laws will actually give the community and parents more control and input into school funding. I really hope the combination of the more complete/comprehensive tests, charter competition, teacher and parent passion will fuse to help improve our schools and ultimately help our kids.

  • webster3 posted at 2:22 pm on Wed, Oct 2, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    The governor signed SB 484 today....no more star tests (except in Science) and no more API's for 2 years. (what will we argue about) until a new system can be designed. In the press release, the State superintendent of instruction characterized our past testing and accountablitiy system as "outdated policies of the past." I guess that sums up the API argument for charter schools.

  • webster3 posted at 8:48 pm on Sun, Sep 29, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Here's some more numbers to consider while learning how to make sense of all of this. Fisher middle school tested 1143 students, and Britton 659. Fisher had 30 students classified socio economic disadvantaged compared to 274 at Britton. Fisher had 17 English Learners compared to 127 at Britton. Fisher had 3students who have parents who did not graduate high school...Britton has 98. Fisher has 960 students who have college graduates for parents compared to Britton with 216. 591 Fisher students have parents with graduate degrees to Britton's 85. With those obstacles, I would argue that the educational program at Britton is every bit as strong as Fisher's...remember that half of the class on honor roll with an API of 935!

    Research consistently shows that the most important factor in student success is the value that parents place on education. That is exactly why charters seek to select their students by creating application hoops to jump through and even try to sneak in requirements for parent participation (a common though illegal trick that Navigator was caught doing in their first application). Pulling students who are already succeeding from the public schools to form their own school is just deceptive magic...it will only work if the public remains ignorant of the trick. The sad truth is that those parents who opt for the charter school will give up so much more in the way of a unified community and activities, sports, and arts for their students.

  • webster3 posted at 7:41 pm on Sun, Sep 29, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    For those who like numbers; instead of quoting more, how about we all learn a few things about how to interpret those numbers being thrown around. Fisher's Latino students are scoring 854 compared to Britton's who are scoring 729. Charter proponents would love us to stop there and foster the belief that MH schools are somehow conspiring to underserve Latino students. But a closer look at those numbers reveals that very few of Fisher's Latino students are also English learners and/or socio economic disadvantaged while the majority of Britton's Latino students face those additional challenges. Britton's fluent Latino student's are scoring 831 (while many are also taking a harder math test as well...I would say that a 23 point difference in API when your students are taking harder tests is a win anyway!) In an API calculation, the difference between an API of 700 and 875 is only one answer on a test of 60 questions! The API scale is not a precision instrument, it's a step function where the State grants the same status to any school over 800. Reading more into it than that has little valid foundation except in the minds of those wishing to use the scores to promote their own political or business agenda.

  • webster3 posted at 8:37 am on Fri, Sep 27, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Oh Barmando, you walked right into that one. Isn't it Navigator that has based their claims on projecting second grade scores out over all grades to sell their schools? You can't have it both ways! The fact remains that when you drill down to subgroup level, MHUSD schools are performing on a par with high achieving schools across the state. Your arguments based on API are merely a reflection of demographic differences. I appreciate the pressure and concern that you have for improving schools just like I appreciate the hard work that our schools put in toward that end every day. If you want middle school examples I can certainly give you those. A simple scan down the list of similar school reports show two things....schools are not so similar as we might like to think, and that the relationship between API and the strength of educational program is a very weak correlation at best. But since you like numbers so much, here's some our whole community can be proud of. The current 8th grade class at Britton is the highest achieving group in our history with a class API of 825. Just yesterday Britton honored 152 students for honor roll with GPA's over 3.0. The group GPA'S for this nearly half of the class is 935....and better yet, it was an extremely diverse group representative of our entire community. Our schools are already doing everything and more compared to what the charters are claiming that they will bring to our schools. Can we do better? Yes...are we doing that? Yes.MHUSD scores went up last year compared to a State average that went down...Navigator and every Rocket ship with at least a two year history had double digit drops! Want to play the data game? I'll dance, but it's a losing gameplan for charters...86% of charters Nationwide are doing worse than their public school. I recommend reading the book "Collapse" and some careful reflection on the tipping point of when good intentions become counter productive. This charter campaign is a classic example.

  • Barmando3 posted at 10:05 pm on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    Barmando3 Posts: 48

    Well, it is difficult to take Webster serious when he compares the API of Britton Middle School to the API of Los Gatos High and Palo Alto High schools. A better comparison would be to compare the API scores of Britton and Fisher Middle school, the feeder school to Los Gatos High. School wide the API for Britton was 802 and for Fisher 932. For Whites the API for Britton was 893 and for Fisher 933. For Hispanics the API for Britton was 729 and for Fisher 854. The 2012-2013 CST data clearly shows that, on standardized testing, Fisher Middle school outperformed Britton. If parents were given a choice between those two middle schools, it is easy to predict which middle school they would rush to enroll their children.
    If Webster were to compare Los Gatos high and Palo Alto high, the results would be the same. That he throws in APIs of elementary schools into the pile is a distraction. He should compare elementary schools with elementary schools and in an orderly manner. If he did, he would find that our schools do have serious challenges.

  • RayBlanchard posted at 9:50 pm on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 67

    Keep your eyes open for a feature on Navigator Schools next month on NBC Bay Area. In the meantime, check this out: http://media.nbcbayarea.com/documents/Broken+Promises+Report+Final.pdf

  • RayBlanchard posted at 11:25 pm on Sun, Sep 22, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 67

    Has anyone seen, "Waiting for Superman?"

  • webster3 posted at 12:25 pm on Sat, Sep 21, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Ray Blanchard’s latest letter to the editor vilifying teacher pensions does a great deal to expose his ignorance. It also fails to disclose his position on the Board of Directors of Navigator Charter Schools and background in privatization law and venture capital investments. Charter proponents argue their case based on three main points: that our local schools are in crisis; that innovative charters and choice are the solution; and now that teacher’s pensions are to blame. Let’s take a closer look at all three of these arguments to see just how misleading they really are:
    Myth #1: Morgan Hill Schools are in crisis and are the worst performing schools in the area…absolutely not true. I recently asked a group of parents what they wished for our schools. A recurrent theme was that they wished we had schools like Los Gatos or Palo Alto High School—they are certainly two high performing and highly regarded public schools with API’s of 893 and 905 respectively. By that measure, our highest performing secondary school is Britton with an API of only 802. Of course, charter proponents would like the comparisons to stop there…but let’s dig a little deeper:
    Britton’s white students outscored Los Gatos 893 to 882 (San Martin Gwinn’s were 881, Paradise’s were 896, and Nordstrom’s 920); Britton’s EL students outscored Los Gatos 711 to 702 (Barrett’s scored 740 and Los Paseos’ 783); Britton’s Latino students outscored Palo Alto 728 to 719 (Sobrato’s scored 723 and El Toro’s 725); Britton’s Socio-Economic Disadvantaged students outscored Palo Alto 715 to 703 (Murphy’s scored 718 and Walsh’s 723); and PACT’s secondary school Ace Charter with an API of 730 was outscored by Britton’s Latino students, EL students, and Asian students (a white student score comparison was not possible because Ace is very segregated and has less than 1% white students).
    This crisis is largely imagined and contrived as a marketing tool for a business take over; in reality our schools are performing as well if not better than the most highly regarded public schools in the area. The single number API is not an indicator of the strength of the educational program; it is more a reflection of the demographic make-up of the schools—and as it is being used by charter proponents, it is dangerously becoming a societal force promoting segregation (profit at any cost?). But even more profound, for those among us who fear that having strong students in the same school with struggling students will somehow hurt the strong students, the actual data shows that the strongest performing groups in our diverse schools are outperforming those in the most highly regarded and more exclusive schools—diversity really is a strength, not something to be feared.

    Myth #2 If charter schools take over, the district would save tens of millions of dollars on teacher pensions and that money could be used to improve the performance of our schools…this is a fantasy based on little understanding. Teachers pay into the State Teacher’s Retirement System all career long and at a rate that exceeds what everyone else pays into social security. STRS pays the pensions, not the district. The district share is half of the contribution paid monthly while the teacher is working just like every other employer pays into social security. If Charters moved in, there would not be a savings in pensions. There would just be fewer students, less teachers, and less funding coming into the district. The district would never receive the $40 million which Mr. Blanchard suggests, so they could neither save it our pass it on to the classroom. What would be lost is the economy of scale which supports such things as athletics, band, activities and all of the things which charter schools don’t offer.
    Suggesting that a teacher can retire at 50 with 30 years of service with a cushy retirement is misleading, the teacher would have had to start teaching before getting out of college and getting a credential—something that they could only do if teaching in a private school. Teacher age factors range from 1.5 to 2.4 from age 55 to 63 (or 67 if you’ve been hired recently). A teacher retiring at 50 with 25 years of service won’t happen unless there are extenuating circumstances…but if it did, they would retire at about 38% of their salary (which would not have been at the top of the pay scale at that point anyway). Mr. Blanchard’s numbers are grossly misleading. And of course Charter schools teachers can pay into STRS anyway, so the entire premise of Mr. Blanchard’s argument that Charters will somehow fix what isn’t even broken is a farce.
    But for those out there who still think teacher pensions are a villain, here are some facts. Last year, the California State Teacher's Retirement System paid out 9.2 Billion in retirement benefits. Of the 9.2 billion, teachers spent 7.6 billion in California. That spending boosted California's economy by an amount roughly equivalent to the entire California wine industry. The boost came in the form of income taxes paid, sales taxes earned, and jobs created (over 92 thousand jobs which all in turn paid income taxes too). These taxes equated to 50 cents out of every dollar that the employer contributed (the employer being government) being returned to the State's general fund. If public schools closed up shop tomorrow, the taxpayers would inherit the debt of the pensions owed teachers who are vested in retirement which is now being covered by the monthly contributions of the teacher’s who are still working. Be very careful vilifying teacher retirements...not only would everyone inherit the debt, but the State will lose a powerful economic engine that is a reliable and stable buffer that helps protect jobs and normalizes State revenue.

    Myth #3—Charter schools are the answer to our failing school system…absolutely not true. Nationwide, 86% of charter schools are either underperforming their respective public schools or doing no better. Rocketship’s flagship charter had the largest drop in performance in the County and Navigator fell 30 points. Sustainability of performance is an issue, so is the validity of projecting the performance of second graders out over all grades. Of the charters whose performance is portrayed as better, that claim seldom holds up under scrutiny of other variables such as parent involvement, student goals and motivation, parent educational level, etc. Case in point is our own Morgan Hill Charter which scored an API of 894 but whose Asian students are outperformed by Britton and whose white students are outperformed by Nordstrom. The MHCS Latino students are doing well, but again, that shows that students with parents who go the extra mile in applying, participating and making education a priority will have high achieving students--not that an educational program which is being outperformed in other comparisons is any better.
    The sad reality of our current charter promoting hysteria is that at least for the parents, it is fueled by genuine concern and is well intentioned energy; but that energy has been usurped by big business with $billions at stake. Parents are being fooled and led down a path that will do more harm than good. Is our goal to have a bunch of little segregated “gated community” like schools because that is where we’re headed? Wouldn’t it be better for all if this energy went into parents volunteering at tutoring/homework centers, serving as mentors, or assisting on school projects? If that were the case, we wouldn’t just be edging Los Gatos and Palo Alto; we would be looking at them in the rear view mirror!

    For those who still think that charters are the answer, consider this. Rocketship’s goal is to open 2000 schools in the next couple of years and to essentially purchase curriculum from themselves to the tune of a half a million dollars per school. They are mobilized, politically connected, financially organized to keep it all “technically” legal, and highly profit motivated. But how many school districts does anyone know with 2000 schools? This is very big business and a corporate takeover model.

    Although I am a long time public school teacher, resident, parent of three MHUSD graduates who are thriving, and currently serving as the Principal of Britton Middle School, the views expressed here are my own.

    Glen Webb

  • CowboyTerry posted at 12:17 pm on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    CowboyTerry Posts: 4

    In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, Mr. Blanchard should have noted that he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Navigator Schools Charter Management Organization. His epistle can hardly be considered fair and objective, neither in content nor position.

  • RayBlanchard posted at 1:27 pm on Thu, Sep 19, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 67

    I've been digging into specific actions and ways parents can constructively get involved in local education. One thing I've discovered is that the new education funding model gives parents the opportunity to provide more input into how funding is spent on local schools, as well as get more involved in our kids' education with our teachers and the MHUSD. The Local Control Funding Formula legally requires the development and adoption of a Local Control and Accountability Plan; an the Local Control and Accountability Plan must report Parent Involvement, specifically the efforts to seek parent input and the promotion of parental participation. California Education Code Section 51100 explicitly encourages parent and guardian involvement--so let's do it!

    Specifically, we can propose a Parent Resolution that would ask our Morgan Hill Unified School District Board to:

    1. Recognize parents and guardians of students as fundamental representatives for students, the primary stakeholders in education; and
    2. Direct the Superintendent to make substantive efforts to seek meaningful parent and student guardian input in the development of the Local Control Accountability Plan; and
    3. Direct the Superintendent to substantively promote parent and student guardian participation and publicly report these efforts as part of the Local Control and Accountability Plan; and
    4. Direct the Superintendent to actively engage parents and student guardians in a variety of roles, recognizing that parents and student guardians are the fundamental representatives of students, the primary stakeholders in education.

    Their is a non-profit that provides a bunch of useful resources I just learned about--its called Educate Our State. Here are some useful links for more information:

    Information on local control of funding model: http://www.educateourstate.org/lcff
    Prop 13 Resolution: http://www.educateourstate.org/school_board_resolution

    Current description of how property taxes are allocated was published by the California Legislative Analysts Office in November of last year: http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2670

    School funding overview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7q1YuxrdLc&feature=youtu.be

  • Jonathan Brusco posted at 11:05 am on Wed, Sep 18, 2013.

    Jonathan Brusco Posts: 6

    As a teacher myself, I wanted to make a few corrections here. First of all, state employees don't get social security because they don't pay into it, unless of course they have some contribution from a prior non governmental career, but even in that instance it is a sliding scale and they could become ineligible after X number of years working for the state. I also wanted to point out that while MHUSD schools do struggle based on test scores, public school teachers face a number of challenges that are simply outside of their control, specifically with the diverse demographics in our district. I also wanted to point out that MHUSD teachers are one of the, if not the lower paid in the county! While I welcome competition, I do believe that charters have an inherent edge. This edge does come from the lottery system. In such a system, a parent must be motivated enough to investigate and follow through with the lottery process, which involves filling out paperwork, meeting with school administrators, etc... For a lot of parents in MHUSD, language barriers and other social factors make this difficult. What we wind up with is a pool of students, who in most cases have engaged and motivated parents. When they are admitted to the charter, you wind up with a student body and set of parents who are active in the school community, engaged in their child's education, support them academically in the home, and support the teachers. I'm not saying that this is the only reason most charters are successful, but I do think that it plays a major part. The teacher is not the only one responsible for the education of the child, we play only one part of that process, when we are supported by active parents, we are twice as successful.

  • peet posted at 10:35 am on Tue, Sep 17, 2013.

    peet Posts: 5

    I strongly believe that each school and each grade must have at least 2 level and may be 3 level of class in the public schools base upon the assessment for each kid before the school starts or base upon previous year's performance/test score, etc. It is unfortunate to see same age kids in classes and many of kids are not interested in graduating from high school ( forget about college). Those uninterested students destroy anything what school has to offer. Unfortunately the thing what matters to most administrators in the MHUSD is narrowing the gap between good performing and bad performing kids. Those good performing kids and motivated parents want to have education for their kids with the kids with similar back ground. So, MHUSD, please bring some form of magnate program base upon assessment in each public school from grade one to twelve for each subject or be ready for the charter schools.