The Value of a Pacifica Education

Guest post by Allison Kephart, originally published in the Pacifica Tribune

As I enter my seventh week studying for a Master of International Relations degree at the Australian National University in Canberra, I’d like to take a moment to thank the educators who brought me to this point and to make one thing clear: Don’t underestimate Pacifica schools.

My current university is ranked sixth in the world for the study of International Relations and is the top university in Australia. I earned my undergraduate degree with a 4.0 from the University of Melbourne, the second-highest ranking university in Australia and again one of the top universities in the world. During lectures, I handwrite my notes using the structure I was taught in Jonathan Harris’ fourth- grade class at Ocean Shore School. When people ask me why I chose International Relations as my field, I explain doing my Oceana High School Sophomore Exhibition Project, through which I predicted the Syrian Revolution days before it broke out.
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What’s wrong with charter schools? The picture in California*

Guest post created by a longtime Northern California parent volunteer education advocate

  • Charter schools take resources away from the public schools, harming public schools and their students. All charter schools do this – whether they’re opportunistic and for-profit or presenting themselves as public, progressive and enlightened.
  • Charter schools are free to pick and choose and exclude or kick out any student they want. They’re not supposed to, but in real life there’s no enforcement. Many impose demanding application processes, or use mandatory “intake counseling,” or require work hours or financial donations from families – so that only the children of motivated, supportive, compliant families get in. Charter schools publicly deny this, but within many charter schools, the selectivity is well known and viewed as a benefit. Admittedly, families in those schools like that feature – with the more challenging students kept out of the charter – but it’s not fair or honest, and it harms public schools and their students. Continue reading

“Innovate Public Schools” está invadiendo a nuestras escuelas públicas y comunitarias de San Francisco

Miércoles, el 15 de noviembre por la noche, mientras varios padres de la Escuela Intermedia Everett se preparaban para “La Noche Internacional,” una cena y evento comunitario anual, una organización financiada por Walton llamada “Innovate Public Schools” tenía sus propios planes. Habían organizado una reunión con el Superintendente Asociado Interino Tony Payne en un aula de la misma escuela. Sin el conocimiento de la administración y el personal de la Escuela Everett ni del administrador Tony Payne, la reunión fue ampliamente publicada en las redes sociales. “Innovate Public Schools” tiene una agenda corporativa de privatización para disminuir los recursos para las escuelas públicas locales y usar los recursos para abrir nuevas escuelas de tipo chárter.
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“Innovate Public Schools” is coming to disrupt our community public schools

This past Wednesday evening, as several Everett parents were preparing for our annual International Night community event, a Walton funded organization called “Innovate Public Schools” had their own plans. They had organized a meeting with Interim Associate Superintendent Tony Payne at Everett Middle School. Unknown to the administration and staff at Everett Middle School or to Tony Payne himself, the meeting was widely published on social media outlets. “Innovate Public Schools” has a corporate privatizing agenda to diminish resources for local public schools and open charter schools.
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Integration – a story of a first year teacher, a special girl who learned how to read, a group of freshmen cheerleaders, and why we need to learn together

On my first day of teaching fourteen years ago, I welcomed 35 students to a first period high school Spanish I class. I cried by the time lunch happened. I could not believe that the state of California had entrusted the care of 160 students to me, and that each student would bring a different set of skills, experiences, attitudes, and abilities. It was an overwhelming feeling of responsibility. And not only did I need to teach all these teenagers how to communicate through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a new language, but one of my students had never learned to read or write, and physically struggled with speech. She was a 14 year old girl with cognitive and gross motor skills impairments. As a county special ed day student, she was to be integrated into two mainstream classes on the school campus. This was her mainstream class, along with art. She was also a Spanish speaker from a monolingual Mexican Spanish speaking family who understood everything I said in Spanish – much more than in English. But she was in my beginning Spanish class. How or what was I going to teach her?
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Tracking Students and GATE in SFUSD

In the past few days, the issue of tracking (separating students into different classes based on some measure of ability or aptitude which almost entirely replicates the inequities of our society in terms of class and race) and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) has been the hot topic among SFUSD’s guardians of social justice and the savvy, crunchy, funky, techie, gentrifying, intellectual parent crowd. The ensuing debate has been difficult and edifying for all of us at the middle school and high school level. A group of parents, a few of them my friends, went to this week’s Board Meeting to propose pathways (and clear accountability) to get more kids the challenging curriculum they need. The parents feel that the district has taken away 8th grade Algebra, thus creating difficulties for students to reach Calculus and STEM classes in high school, while replacing it with differentiated learning that seems more theoretical than achievable in the city’s heterogeneous classrooms.
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Why I am opting out – a guide for parents

I am a public school teacher in California and I am opting my 5th grader out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Tests this year.

Here is a link to the Opt Out form for San Francisco Unified.

Here is why:

The tests will not help my child’s teacher know my child’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Test scores will not be out until the summer. My child’s current teacher will not be able to use the information to improve instruction in any way for my child this year.

My child will lose many hours of instruction in order to prepare for and take the SBAC tests. This time could be used for more meaningful instruction, such as doing an interesting reading project, a social studies, math, art, music or science research project or doing an end of the school year play.
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