As You See It: Nov. 28, 2008

I was encouraged to read about the mayor's ideas on cleaning up Santa Cruz. Here are a few more: Design a major event to signal the city's transformation. Full Story
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RobtA

United States

#1 Nov 28, 2008
Say, here's a thought: No more Prop 8 stuff. It could (and will) go on for years). Boring.

Pacific Avenue is slowly being walled in. New construction is tall, and the street is not wide. As it gradually becomes a canyon, might as well just close off the street, to discourage loud motorcycles that are there for the echo.

As for school diversity, has anyone realized that people are willing to pay more for housing, in order to AVOID diversity? That's right, diversity is a loss factor. Here's another fun fact: While the USA has more and more "diversity," the source countries for all those people are not diverse, and their economies are growing stronger as ours grows weaker. Maybe diversity is a negative factor in business, just as it is in housing.
Ray in Santa Cruz

Vallejo, CA

#2 Nov 28, 2008
What is the matter Jack McHenry, you could not get your children into PCS? Bureaucracies are not designed to excel, they are designed to survive. Innovation is not taught in Public Administration courses, as innovation is taking a chance, and taking chances is not rewarded. The only reward the government sector offers a bureaucrat is for the size of the program they run, not how well it is run.

PCS is very successful, and as such a threat to other entities. These petty bureaucrats running SCCS can only make excuses for their lack of excellence by demeaning a successful school.
Freebie

AOL

#4 Nov 28, 2008
Right on Ray & RobtA. It's great that PCS has a school board consisting of people with children and a real stake in the school - doubtlessly part of the reason for the resulting excellence of PCS students. The board members tend to be wealthy? Beyond that class warfare tripe - look and see how many poor people sit on the school boards of local public schools. They just stick a few poor people on site councils for show. And please make a deal soon to to keep PCS on that campus. Otherwise the Santa Cruz City Council might grab it to create a sand candle and hemp macrame artist colony.
omg

Santa Cruz, CA

#5 Nov 28, 2008
Newsflash: PCS is serving "our children", Mr. McHenry. There is a need for some of "our children", if not all, to receive a quality education. PCS is deivering that. You bring up the absolutely miniscule sampling of board members kids being accepted. Please state how many board members kids go to the school. Oh, you didn't? Why? Because it's such a small number it's of no significance. What PCS is doing is incredible, and should be duplicated.

The public school "leave no child behind" is a complete travesty at this point and children are paying the price. No arts, huge classroom sizes, not enough attention to go around. I'm VERY happy that some of "our children" get to go to PCS. I'm sad that some of "our children" are forced to attend dumbed down reading and math instruction geared towards passing a test.

I don't have kids, but I support PCS, and any other school that is trying to provide a specific segment of "our children" with what they need and desire. I would support an esl school, an arts school, and a trades school as well.

Stop throwing stones at PCS and get the other schools back to a place where they are serving "our children" as good as PCS is.
Valley Boy

San Francisco, CA

#6 Nov 28, 2008
Re: "SCCS struggles with diversity, too" Amen! Santa Cruz is famous for demanding diversity in other parts of the county while lacking it at home. Logically speaking, the Pajaro Valley school district should be divided north and south so each area can focus on its particular needs. But any mention of that brings cries of segregation from progressive activists. So in the meantime, we consume huge amounts of time, money and fuel busing students back and forth. Sad thing is, given the population numbers, if every Aptos area Anglo student was exchanged for a Watsonville Latino student, Watsonville schools would probably still be 70 or 80 percent Latino and technically segregated.
RobtZ

Napa, CA

#7 Nov 28, 2008
PCS admits only half of its students via lottery. In order to enter the lottery, one must jump through hoops that essentially preclude blue-collar parents from participating.
Patti

San Francisco, CA

#8 Nov 28, 2008
Mr. McHenry, How many board members are there that would skew the population of the student body? It sounds like hundreds.
Born and raised

San Francisco, CA

#9 Nov 28, 2008
RobtZ wrote:
PCS admits only half of its students via lottery. In order to enter the lottery, one must jump through hoops that essentially preclude blue-collar parents from participating.
What are those hoops? Filling out the application and attending a 1-2 hour info night is all that is required to be in the lottery. The school offers several info nights (including 1 or 2 off campus at more central locations) each year.
RobtZ

Napa, CA

#10 Nov 28, 2008
Three meetings are listed, two of which are scheduled during the day. Even finding this information is not straightforward. As for the form itself, it reads more like a contract wherein the parent obligates himself or herself to several thousand dollars of tuition and 40 hours of service. The whole process is designed to select against those who do not have free time and disposable income. All this is for the 50% that aren't admitted via the back door.
omg

Santa Cruz, CA

#12 Nov 28, 2008
RobtZ wrote:
PCS admits only half of its students via lottery. In order to enter the lottery, one must jump through hoops that essentially preclude blue-collar parents from participating.
Wow. What an uninformed (or intentionally mistaken) remark.
PCS Fan not anymore

Santa Cruz, CA

#13 Nov 28, 2008
I think PCS is fine but just should not get money or anything from SCCS. The school should not be allowed to use any of Harbor's or the other schools facilities.

Since: Feb 08

Santa Cruz

#14 Nov 28, 2008
RobtZ wrote:
Three meetings are listed, two of which are scheduled during the day. Even finding this information is not straightforward. As for the form itself, it reads more like a contract wherein the parent obligates himself or herself to several thousand dollars of tuition and 40 hours of service. The whole process is designed to select against those who do not have free time and disposable income. All this is for the 50% that aren't admitted via the back door.
You got it! This is a clever way to keep CRAPP out of the school so that those that attend can focus on education.
mbj

Scotts Valley, CA

#15 Nov 28, 2008
Mr. McHenry is misinformed about a couple of important points. The PCS Charter was approved on appeal to the COE. In this circumstance, the original district in which the application is made is the legal home of the charter. PCS could not legally be located outside of the SCCS boundary. This is the simple reason why 270+ PCS students are from families that reside within the SCCS boundaries. SCCS is legal obligated to provide space for these students.
As others have pointed out, the fraction of PCS students who got in the school through "Board preference" is tiny. This is a school of 440 students and 13 Board members who serve 3-year terms. Anyone can do that math.
A short response to the comments that have come up in the blog. As has been reported many times, no family is obligated to provide any funding for PCS. Because charter school students generate less funding per year from the state (by almost $2000 per student per year) than students in traditional public schools, PCS and all charters are forced to look for funding wherever they can find it. Parent financial support is crucial, but absolutely not mandatory.
There is a requirement for parent participation (~40 hours per year per family). This is one of the strategies for success at PCS--have a fully engaged community. A side benefit of the community service requirement is lots of work gets done (traffic monitoring, school clean up etc.) that allows the meager funding to be spent closer to the students in the classroom.
disabuser

San Francisco, CA

#16 Nov 28, 2008
Would you rather have a school board of interested parent or a school board elected through the political power of interested teacher's unions? The later is the dominant force in school boards throughout the state with some rare exceptions. That explains why publics schools real main constituency are its adult government employees. And they are not just the dominant force in local school governance, they are probably the most power political force in state politics.

I'd prefer that all government financed enterprises be managed by those not beholden to special interests but the way politics functions that is a rare and difficult achievement. Narrow and deep interests generally overwhelm wide but shallow interests.
RobtZ

Napa, CA

#17 Nov 28, 2008
omg wrote:
<quoted text>
Wow. What an uninformed (or intentionally mistaken) remark.
it is what we were told at the PCS info meeting.
mbj

Scotts Valley, CA

#18 Nov 28, 2008
RobtZ might be right about the "1/2 of the spots are available". I don't know the actual number and it must bounce around from year to year. But, the reason for that is not Board preference, it is the "sibling" preference. There are lots of studies that show that the younger students do better when they attend the same school as an older brother or sister. Teachers are familiar with the family, older siblings can more effectively help with class material and social settings and things like that. A side benefit is that it is also "greener" - all the kids go to and get picked up from the same location.

This is really no different than the situation we all enjoy with the traditional neighborhood school concept. When our kids went to Westlake, it was great to have the history with the teachers and to have the younger child experience the traditions (special field trips etc) that he had heard about from his sister.

But, as the Board preference numbers are small, the sibling preference is overwhelmingly used by families who got in via the lottery. The statements that get repeated in the Sentinel blogs and letters to the editor that the vast majority of students at PCS get in through some secret backdoor are simply false.
slightly salty

San Francisco, CA

#20 Nov 28, 2008
It's sad that PCS has become such a bone of contention. Of course everyone wants the best education for their kids, and they should have it. There should be other such schools or similar programs within existing schools so that more kids can benefit from what PCS has to offer. If their methods work so well they should be promulgated throughout the system.
RobtZ

Napa, CA

#21 Nov 28, 2008
Exactly. Why not have PCS run Santa Cruz high? The objections aren't with respect to quality, but rather access. I hope my kid wins the lottery. Odds are she won't. Why is quality public education something that we have to ration in this land of million dollar houses?
mountaingirl

Los Gatos, CA

#22 Nov 28, 2008
what an intellectually astute, thoughtful, informative and stimulating forum discussion. i love brains, don't you?

The authors here have provided much food for thought. Joy that command of language is so very powerful.

you've all raised the bar. what a wonderful way to start one's day.
mbj

Scotts Valley, CA

#23 Nov 28, 2008
rob

that is a question that should be directed to the SCCS Board

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