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February 25, 2005

Comments

Fiona

Stephen's article - http://www.smdailyjournal.org/article.cfm?issue=02-25-05storyID=40196

Also two important letters in the newspaper - http://www.smdailyjournal.org/opinion_article.cfm?issue=02-25-05&storyID=40217

Thanks, Jennifer for the update on the meeting. It seems from the article that the teachers would teach 15 percent less time in each class. Even that "small" part of the change does not seem to be helping the students.

Thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy lives to attend.

Jenn

One issue that I wanted to bring up, but couldn't (because the room was so packed that I couldn't make my way to the podium with a blue slip) was an article that appeared in yesterday's Chron about Bush's "No Child Left Behind Program," upon which I believe many of the decisions leading to this 7 period proposed change, are based. In brief the article stated that a bi-partisan committee has found that the law itself is so flawed, that it needs serious reform, that in it's present form, it may be unconstitutional for its "one size fits all" premise. Lack of funding to help those very kids that need remedial classes is the most serious issue. When schools don't make the cut, they are penalized and threatened with more cuts and eventual closure. There is another editorial on that very article in today's Chron, as well.

sue

I, too, am proud to be a part of such an amazing community of articulate and passionate people. If only one of the board members had a high school aged student, or spent a week with one of our children, they might have a better understanding of the pressures these kids feel and the already unrealistic work load they have before them. To remove the core staff from the high schools, like counselors and librarians, and decrease the number of minutes of instruction will surely have a negative impact upon these students. With regard to those students who are underachieving...some of the work has to be done at home, as it can't all be up to the teachers. Those students who are truly struggling with the academic demands are only going to become more frustrated by the additional load, as well, be it tutorial or otherwise. There has to be another way to go.

Cathy Baylock

I hope the School Board takes a "wait and see" approach. We have fought and fundraised so hard to keep credentialed librarians in the elementary/middle schools. It would be a complete waste to not continue this excellent instruction at the High School level. I agree with Sue: our kids are already extremely pressed to meet all of the demands placed on them. And personally, (though this seems to be off the table) I think the approved starting dates for the "Fall" is a bad idea. The idea of having our kids in finals until December 23rd adds even more pressure to a very hectic season. Do any of the trustees have high school aged kids?

concerned BHS Parent

I, too was there last evening listening to a resounding, empassionate plea from all constituencies. Please know that Mr. Johnson is a very linear individual. If he wants something approved, it will get approved. Mr. Johnson has been attending as many parent meetings, most recently the Latino Parents Meeting at San Mateo High School this week indicating that this program will directly affect all the Latino students. Isnt' that a racist remark? What about equity for all students? Also, Mr. Johnson has been working on this for years, this is now the implementation. He has dealt with discention before so the outpowering of concern last evening is not a bump in the road for him, just a four hour exercise is policy making. I have no doubt that Mr. Johnson's proposal will be approved. I'm certain his early Saturday a.m. golf partner, Mr. Robert Griffin (SMUHSD Board Member) would agree as well. I emphatically, disagree with Mr. Johnson's tactics, but, I've seen this before with Mr. Johnson; he is a man who believes in a dictatorship not a democratic governing body.

Jenn

One thing I definitely noticed was that the Trustees asked Mr. Johnson just one or two questions, before going into the public comment period. I was amazed that they, too, hadn't come with a plethora of concerns, but maybe the Trustee position doesn't function that way (or maybe such questions were asked at a previous, unattended meeting?) Please somebody enlighten me. Also truly amazing was the speech from student rep. Eric Showen, that he composed after talking to several members of the student body. It was so articulate and thoughtful. I also appreciated the PTA voicing their negative opinion of this plan with another very articulate speech. And yes, Cathy, the issue about all the parent fundraising and Bonds enacted recently for the schools and libraries definitely came up several times, in light of the librarian cuts. This just seems like a slap in the face to all those who worked tirelessly to get those bonds passed, only to see these positions disappear. I wonder if they would have ever considered building a science complex (and music building,) like the newly built one at the BHS campus, and then fire the science and music teachers and replace them with student teachers. It all just doesn't make sense.

Amanda

I'm glad that I was able to touch somebody with my-i hesititate to call it this-speech. Teenagers-especially ones with problems-are rarely taken seriously. This plan was created to make student's lives easier academically but what no one took into consideration was how it would affect us mentally. I'm in honors and AP classes-and it's BECAUSE of the pressure and stress to succeed in these classes that I first began to spiral out of control. Adding another class means more homework, which means less time to sleep, which means less energy for class, which means having trouble staying awake in class, which means falling behind in class, falling farther and farther until there seems like everything is hopeless. I don't want to seem redundant, but my counselor saved my life-if this plan had been put in place last year, I have no doubt that I wouldn't be alive today.
I know I should have said this last night but, to anyone who reads these words, think about this: is taking away a counselor-to save MONEY of all things-worth a life? Is it worth the lives of your friends and family? Try and imagine what it would feel like if your best friend committed suicide because s/he wasn't able to get the help s/he needed because the school counselors didn't have enough time to talk with him/her? It might sound a bit far-fetched but trust me on this: it happens all the time.

Jenn

There were several people sitting there last night, but who actually has a vote? Does Mr. Johnson have a vote, does Eric Showen vote? How many are voting members?

Amanda

In response...I'm not sure. I THINK that it's the board members (or administration...?)-the ones that are elected. I THINK there are four...

sue

Even if Mr. Johnson is "linear" his proposal will be doomed from its inception, if he doesn't have the backing of the teachers. They are the ones who will provide the implementation!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jim

Amanda - you sound like a student who will go far.

You were lucky to have someone to help you and I am glad that you are doing so well. Hope your friends/students are as erudite and smart as you sound.

Fiona

Please read Amanda's letter in the San Mateo Times.

Jenn

Wonderful letter, Amanda!

Concerned

At the Feb. 24th Board meeting Mr. Avelar stated that adding a 7 period day would provide support to those students who need it. He said that having support classes durimg the regular school day would make those in need of support more likely to attend these classes. He also stated that if it were an afterschool class they would probably not attend. This type of thinking creates the "just show them until they get it" support class. But never really answers the question "why are these students struggling"? Are they struggling any of the following reasons:
language barriers,learning disabilities, poor learning skills, poor school attendance, physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse, emotional or psycholgical problems, relationships,visual or auditory disabilities, job conflicts?
These and many other questions need to be answered before any support program can have the desired outcomes. Such a proposal which recommends drastic reductions in support services for our students, less instructional time, athletic practices beginning an hour later, and more academic stress for those already struggling in school puts the cart before the horse and doesn't make sense.

JC

1. Only the elected members of the Board vote. 2. Sam Johnson has already filled them with faulty data on the success rate of this plan. 3. Johnson and Griffin do play golf on Sat mornings, and discuss policy.

This policy cannot pay for itself. The teachers will not support it and there will be a severe reduction in services to students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Mr. Johnson doesn't want to hear ANY of these comments. He does not take input from anyone. If Johnson has been working on this since 03, then where is the input from teachers, parents, and the community?

This is a clear case of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. (sorry but it had to be said) Some students will get extra courses (many will take the same course for two periods-support classes) at the expense of 70% of the population.

Mr. Johnson is bending the truth. There is no extra money for electives and extra AP classes. This is a "bait and switch" tactic.

One BIG question to the public.....If Sam Johnson pushes this proposal through the Board are you willing to allow him to stay as the Sup of the SMUHSD? You had better get ready to fight for the education of your children.

Was there ANY support for the proposal at the meeting????

Jenn

No, there was absolutely not one person who spoke who supported this program, not even the woman who represented the minority students, and that was frightening. Do you know if the vote will be public. I am very confused about what will happen (next week?)

JC

The vote is public. This issue most likely will be under the Superintendent's comments and it will have to do with "permission to release teachers" or something of this manner.

We may be required to "pack the house" once again to let the Board know that this action is not in the BEST interest of ALL students.

Jenn

JC, when would this "comment" appear? Is this all going to happen next week. Please let everyone know what the calendar is.

JC

Go to http://www.smuhsd.org/html/agendas_and_minutes.html to download the March 3 agenda. You will find the item listed under
F SECTION F SPECIAL REPORTS AND APPEARANCES

ITEM F-10
Adoption of Resolution for Modification of Certificated Services for 2005-2006 and Authorization to Send Notices At the meeting of February 24, 2005, the Board discussed potential certificated reductions to affect needed financial re-distribution in the 2005-2006 school year. The administration has reviewed the redirection of resources and is recommending the Board adopt a resolution to modify the delivery of certificated services. The adoption of the attached resolution will enable the Superintendent to notify all affected certificated employees of the elimination of their assignments and any applicable reemployment rights. RECOMMENDATION: It is recommended that the Board of Trustees adopt the Resolution for Modification of Certificated Services for 2005-2006, as contained in the attachment, and authorize the Superintendent to send the appropriate notices.**

YOU WILL NOT THAT IT IS ADVISED THAT THE BOARD PASS THIS ITEM.

Amanda

to: jim, jenn, fiona-
thanks!

Amanda

I'm not sure if any of you would be interested, but right now we (the students at BHS) are trying to rally the students from the other district schools-our plan is to get as many people as possible to show up on thursday to protest the plan (peaceful protesting, of course). Compared to the number of adults that attended, there weren't very many students at the board meeting. So what we're hoping is that, if a large number of students show up, the board will realize that the students DO care. Teachers, parents, and anyone else who wants to come are welcome, too.

Jenn

Thanks for letting us know. I was planning on going anyway. Good luck with support from your classmates and from the other schools. It is great to see kids get passionate about a cause and try to make a difference.

Amanda

Good news! Johnson changed the plan to include KEEPING counselors, deans, and librarians! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He still wants to make athletics after school, though. :(

Jenn

That is good news, but I continue to worry about the affects of cutting time for the AP courses. I wish that he would put this off for a year, to let those teachers access what to do with their classes, but it's a good start.

Carole

I have a grand daughter in 7thgrade at BIS.Amanda I think your concern for the school will pay off for my granddaughter,Keepup the good work.

As far as couselors go she told me that a girl at BIS was arrested for passing out Heroin.Another wake up call.Wonder if this is associated with the big drug bust recently.( it did mention Burlingame)

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