.

Does Kensington 'Support' the WCCUSD?

In this guest feature, Kensington parent Charles Reichmann questions Kensington's strong support of tax measures for West Contra Costa schools in contrast to low support for sending Kensington kids to the district's middle and high schools.

By Charles Reichmann

Last month voters in Kensington cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of a bond initiative (Measure E) and an extension of a parcel tax (Measure G) that will raise funds for the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Even though school bond tax rates are already far higher than those in any other school district in Contra Costa County, the measures passed with greater support from Kensington voters than from those living in other areas within the District. According to the County’s Official Results, the bond measure was approved by 64.39% of the electorate but by 67.13% of the voters in Kensington.  At 75.61% the parcel tax extension also won broad support across the District, but in Kensington 84.53% of voters supported extending the tax. 

The results at the ballot box show that Kensington supports WCCUSD with its dollars beyond other areas within the District.  But do Kensington families “support” the WCCUSD in a different way, by actually enrolling their children in its schools? 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that once Kensington families enter the public school system they don’t stay there for long, but I wanted hard evidence. I first turned to 2010 U.S. Census information to see how many children live in Kensington. (A copy of the U.S. Census’ Demographic Profile Data for Kensington is attached to this article.) In 2010 there were 230 pre-school children (aged 0 to 5) counted as residents in Kensington. Interestingly, the population of children spiked upward once the kids hit school age: there were 40% more children (322 v. 230) in the 5 to 9 year-old age group.  This suggests families move to Kensington for the public schools.

This population gain is, however, short-lived. In the next cohort (ages 10 to 14) the number of Kensington residents declined to 250, a drop of about 22%. The population decline accelerated among older students: in 2010 there were only 185 people aged 15 to 19 living in Kensington. This fact can be explained partially by the likelihood that some of those in the upper reaches of this group headed off to college away from home. But why were there only 250 children in the group of students comprised of fifth through ninth graders (ages 10 to 14) as compared to the 322 in the group of kindergartners through fourth graders (ages 5 to 9)? Some families apparently move away from Kensington once their kids are in sight of middle school.

Number of Children in Kensington – 2010 US Census

 

<5

230

5-9

322

10-14

250

15-19

185

To find out how many Kensington children attended WCCUSD schools, I sent a California Public Records Act request to the District asking for an enumeration of Kensington residents attending District schools by school of enrollment and grade level. (A copy of the District’s response is attached.) Of the Kensington children enrolled in District grade schools, records show that virtually all attend Kensington Hilltop. Over the past three years enrollment of Kensington kids in Hilltop’s seven grade levels has stood at about 350, or about 50 students per grade level. There is typically not an even distribution among grade levels with enrollment in fifth and sixth grades generally lower than in other grades.  For example, in the 2011-12 academic year 58 Kensington children attended Kindergarten at Hilltop whereas only 28 were enrolled in sixth grade.

The Census data tells us only the number of children in Kensington and does not tell us what percentage of Kensington children attends WCCUSD schools.  Recall there were 322 children in the 5 to 9 group and 250 in the 10 to 14 group. Perhaps three fifths of this latter group (those aged 12 to 14) were too old to be enrolled in Hilltop, leaving a balance of approximately 100 children still of elementary school age. When we add this number to the 322 students the Census enumerated in the 5 to 9 group it appears there were about 422 children in Kensington eligible to enroll at Hilltop of which 346 (82%) actually attended Hilltop during the 2010-2011 academic year. 

But how many of the approximately 350 Kensington kids who attend Hilltop in a given year will go on to Portola and El Cerrito High School? (Substantially all Kensington children who go on to WCCUSD secondary schools go to these two schools.) Over the past three years enrollment of Kensington kids at Portola has stood at 24, 17, and 28 and enrollment at ECHS has stood at 53, 59, and 51.  Total annual enrollment of Kensington kids in the six grades serviced by these schools has thus stayed constant between 76 -79 students a year, or about 13 students per grade level. This number is only about one quarter of the 50 Kensington kids who enroll in an average grade at Hilltop. 

While these numbers show that enrollment of Kensington kids in District secondary schools is only about 25% of that of Hilltop, it probably isn’t safe to conclude from these calculations that fully one quarter of the students who matriculate to Hilltop will go on to secondary school within the District. That number is likely smaller as is evidenced by the larger number of students typically found in Hilltop’s earlier grades. And given that not all Kensington kids of elementary school age ever attend Hilltop, the percentage of kids resident in Kensington who end up attending Portola and ECHS is lower still.

The numbers don’t explain why only about a quarter of Kensington kids continue within the District on to middle and high school. What the data do show, however, is that “support” of the District at the ballot box does not mean that Kensington families keep their kids in the District through high school. For current purposes it will be enough to have shown that some families move to Kensington for Hilltop and some move away before Portola, and that although the voters in Kensington have overwhelmingly supported the WCCUSD at the ballot box, only a minority continues to “support” the District when it comes time to decide where their children will attend secondary school.         

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El Cerrito Patch welcomes guest columns from members of the community. Those interested in contributing can write to elcerrito@patch.com. To see past guest columns, please click here.

ECFamily December 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
You are right, Charles. We Kensington families love our neighborhood school. We support it with active parent volunteers, funding for "extra" programs, field trips, and so on. Our daughter, now in the fifth grade, has been told by a few of her friends that they are currently in the process of applying for private school for middle school. Many (if not most) of the children DO NOT want to go to the private school; their parents want them to. Many of these parents will not consider Portola, despite a huge jump in test scores, a wonderful, new principal, and a solid record of Portola students doing extremely well at El Cerrito High School and at the universities they attend afterwards. These parents are not interested in hearing from families who have had successful experiences at Portola. They do not want to question or consider that they are willing to pay $25,000+ a year for what some feel is a rather mediocre education at the private school (sheltered, little to no diversity, isolated), rather than send their child to our local public school. The irony is that if ALL of the Kensington and Madera families opted to attend our local public middle school, and offered some of their money to support programs there, they could easily recreate their successful and treasured elementary school experience. I suspect fear is a part of it (Portola's former reputation is hard to compete with) and perhaps race (though no one will admit it). Things won't change until this stops.
Paul December 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Charles' statistical analysis is consistent with what I've observed, and I agree with the comment of ECFamily. There are some wonderful teachers at Portola and at the high school. There are also some real duds - but I suspect this is true of most schools. Our public schools are exactly that - ours. If they aren't what "we" as a community want, it's our job to make them into what we want. That means working with the elected (yes, we hired them) school board to make our opinions and ideas known, getting involved in the District's decision making processes, volunteering, donating, and most importantly, supporting the WCCUSD by sending your children there.
John B. December 04, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Right on! Both our kids "made it through" Portola and ECHS ( our son was Student Body President his Sr. year ) and received huge benefit from going to real schools.. Both are now attending Universities here in California ( Sonoma State and UCSB ) and doing fantastic. Also our bank account is much better off for this all! We took the family to Europe this summer ( great education tool for the kids! ) with the money we saved by going the public schools route.
Susan December 04, 2012 at 06:32 PM
My two children attended Kensington K - 6, Portola two years, and ECHS. They are now in their 20's. At the time, after Kensington, there were numerous kids who opted to private school such as Windrush, and Prospect Sierra for 7th & 8th grades in order to avoid Portola. There's no doubt that grades 7 and 8 are difficult ages - no matter where you go to school. So when my kids' friends got into 9th grade, they all transferred back to ECHS. Lemme tell you: what difference did it make in high school? absolutely no difference, except that the parents who paid those two years of private school tuition were short about $30K which could have been used for college. Ninth - Twelfth grade they were all back together again, most in AP classes, and my kids have graduate degrees from the UC's. So while I understand that parents try to protect their kids as teenagers, honestly I think it's a mixed bag and transferring to these private schools does NOT guarantee success.
Jen Komaromi December 04, 2012 at 06:45 PM
One thing to consider is that El Cerrito and Kensington have had houses turnover and in the last ten years there are more kids in the neighborhood. From what I've heard, Kensington is the largest feeder school into Portola this year. It is funny to me that people are so concerned about the schools because as a fairly active member of the community I've had the opportunity to meet many people who attended Portola and ECHS. We have had employees that have passed through all EC schools, for instance a few that did the Harding, Portola, ECHS route. One is currently getting his PhD at Stanford. Almost all of our employees who went through the public school system were accepted to Cal and UCLA. I went to school district considered a 'great school' district but only a handful of students were accepted to the top-tier UC's, nowhere near the 25+ that ECHS sends every year to Cal. Thanks to my exposure of witnessing the incredible success of people going through this system, I am eager to send my children to our public schools. We are currently at Fairmont and my sons teacher is exceptional. The problem lies in the people who obsess and spread rumors about the schools without spending time in them. If you tend the garden, it will grow.
Carolyn December 04, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Mr. Reichman, Your provocative letter really got me thinking…. This is the first of 3 comments I would like to offer. From my read of census data, the flow of school-aged families physically moving away from Kensington after elementary school is not nearly the flood suggested by the 2010 census numbers alone. In fact demographics have been shifting in Kensington, with many new families moving here in the last decade. According to the 2000 census there were 258 children ages 5-9 in Kensington in 2010, versus 322 in 2010 (from your 2010 census data). That’s about a 25% jump in that age group over the 10 years. The more interesting observation may be to compare those 258 children aged 5-9 in 2000 to the 185 in ages 15-19 living at home in 2010. If you consider that some 18-19 year olds might no longer be living at home, an adjusted figure might be more like 220-230 in 2010 (vs the unadjusted 185) to compare with the 258 in 2000. Hardly a flood of families moving away after elementary school. To be continued…..
Carolyn December 04, 2012 at 08:47 PM
(Comment #2 of 3) However, you raise a real concern about Kensington families switching over to private school for middle school. As a current parent at Kensington Hilltop, I too have heard the anecdotes about families switching to private schools or seeking intra-district transfers in those years. I would like to point out that parents of children currently in grades 7-12 made their “what are we going to do about Portola” decision for their own child approximately 2-7 years ago, since those who left generally did so starting in 6th grade. The context for making that decision was in a time of a crumbling Portola school building that was also poorly configured for the student body, not to mention a school community stuck in limbo from seemingly-endless NIMBY debates about where to build a new building. Is it any wonder that a number of parents, during those times, sought a different middle school answer for their children? Today’s context for parents making a decision about “what to do about Portola” is different. Regular readers of the Patch have seen numerous articles about the transformation taking place at Portola while in the temporary campus. And others have commented here in this thread about the positive momentum at Portola. Just imagine the spirit of the school when it finally moves into the new building!
Carolyn December 04, 2012 at 08:48 PM
(Comment #3 of 3) To my mind, it’s important for parents to think ahead to the community that Portola is becoming, and stop “listening to the old tapes” of Portola horror stories. As others have pointed out, Kensington School is the largest feeder school into Portola today, and together students from Kensington/Madera/Harding/Fairmont account for almost 2/3rds of the student body (source for this data is Go Portola). This Thursday’s PTA meeting at Kensington is dedicated as the annual “Portola Panel.” If the last few years’ panels are any indication, it will be a great opportunity to hear from current Portola students, who previously attended Kensington, about their own experiences at Portola today.
Carolyn December 04, 2012 at 08:49 PM
(postscript) Finally, your letter also poses a bigger picture question – “why do so many Kensington voters support WCCUSD by voting yes on tax measures? It’s important to note that the vast majority of Kensington voters are not currently parents of school-aged children – from the 2010 census figures there are 4070 adults 21 and older in Kensington, and ~750 school aged kids, suggesting maybe up to ~1000 parents of currently school-aged kids. So most Kensington voters are choosing to vote to tax themselves for our schools, despite not having children currently in the district -- 85% voted for the parcel tax. I’ll tell you what I would like to believe the polling results tell us: 1) That the Kensington community fundamentally supports public education 2) That the Kensington community has been listening to and reading the words of parents in our community who have come out to community meetings and written letters and comments here and in the Outlook explaining about the need to invest more in our schools 3) That the Kensington community believes we can and should do better for the education of children in our community. Maybe it has something to do with property values too. Whatever the reason(s), I for one am profoundly grateful for this community’s support for public education. Carolyn Day Flowers, parent at Kensington Hilltop
Tamsen December 04, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Kensington parents support tax and bond measures that support schools and kids. My children attended Kensington Hilltop, and I have two who are now at Portola and one who is at ECHS. Even our elementary school friends who chose private for middle school still vote yes on the recent tax and bond measures. I wish that all Kensington parents would have enough faith in Portola to send their children there. I wish that all Kensington parents would believe that the diversity of Portola is a good thing, and that by being educated along side students who may not look like them, may not be of their religion or race or economic status will enrich their lives. I wish all Kensington parents would understand that the role of middle school is to prepare students for high school--and our local public school does that. My son at ECHS was well prepared for all of his advanced and AP classes at ECHS. The NEW Portola is not perfect. But, together, we are improving it every year. And it shows. Many parents who have the means to buy their way out have chosen not to, and their children have helped to make Portola even better.
El Richmondo December 04, 2012 at 09:43 PM
A recent poster on a Berkeley Parents Network newsletter said that some parents become quietly dissatisfied with Kensington Hilltop school by about 4th grade... some subpar teachers, outdated teaching methods, stuff like that. According to that person, the exodus is partly the fear of Portola and partly that they just aren't happy with Kensington and want to switch before their child finishes 6th grade.
George McRae December 04, 2012 at 09:51 PM
On the other hand... A former member of the El Cerrito Planning Commission, who's name I shall discretely withhold, took up residence in Albany in order to have her kids go to those schools. After the kids were through school she returned to her primary home in El Cerrito. Another former member of the EC city council made sure to enroll her children in private school just outside the border of EC and East Richmond. Perception is everything. Say what you will about EC High, every afternoon at dismissal time most if not all the EC police units are parked either there or near there to make sure the students leave, and not terrorize the neighborhoods. As I said Perception is everything. As far as the references made by the above parents of successful students, love of and desire for quality education starts in the home. If it is valued by parents and good examples of the rewards for disciplined hard work are found in the home, I believe a child can be successful in spite of the school. Learning and a love of learning begins on the lap of a parent who takes the reins of learning into their own hands at the very beginning. A PHD is just as likely to emerge from a one room rural school room as it is in a 2,000 student semi urban environment.
Karin December 04, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I couldn't have said it better myself. I agree 100% with ECFamily and Paul!
evilincarKnit December 04, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Hi Charles, I encourage you to attend the annual PTA-sponsored Portola Panel meeting on Thursday night at 7:00 in the Kensington School library. We will have on hand a dozen of the approximately 65 Kensington alumni who are currently at Portola, along with their parents, and Portola Principal Matthew Burnham. Kensington support - and by 'support' I mean 'attendance' - of Portola is increasing every year, to the extent that the current campus is at capacity and has a wait list of students trying to transfer in. I understand that you're trying to get at facts that will help you, and others, make the right decision for your child down the road, but statistics certainly do not tell the whole story.
Bobbie Ohs Dowling December 05, 2012 at 02:16 AM
For those interested in an ongoing exploration of Portola as an option, please check out goportola.org This group was initiated in 2010 by a group of parents from Portola's feeder schools (Madera, Kensington, Fairmont, Harding, Stege, and Washington). As the tagline goes, it is "an inclusive forum for potential, future, current, and past families of Portola Middle School to share information and foster long-term community involvement in Portola." We are parents who are honestly exploring 1) How the community can support Portola, 2) What are the strengths and weaknesses of this school, and 3) Whether it is right for our individual kids.
May I December 05, 2012 at 03:24 AM
This article is spot on. While many parents want their kids to go to Madera and Hilltop, they dont necessarily want their kids to go to Portola and ECHS. As an El Cerrito parent, we have a 9th grader who had a very sucessful time at Madera, but we never even considered sending her to Portola. We heard that it had changed, however as one of my friends is a teacher there, she told me "if theres any way you can send your child anywhere else, I reccomend it." That coming from an actual Portola teacher. Once my child was out of middle school, I considered ECHS. On the day she and her friends went to shadow there, one had to use the restroom. First, the girls bathroom reeked of marijuana. Second, a fight broke out that was so violent that the police had to be called. I decided that I didnt care that private school cost $24000 a year, she wasnt going to be subjected to that. I tried to get an interdistrict transfer but was refused. Consequently, I now pay for her private school which precludes me from donating to the PTA (since her siblings still attend primary school) so the district loses money. I think many parents feel the way I do. Unless El Cerrito does the same thing as Albany and closes its borders, its going to continue to lose students whose parents can afford private school. Why do you think the housing prices in Albany are so high when the houses are in El Cerrito are comparable but the prices are much lower? Its all in the schools.
Tamsen December 05, 2012 at 04:05 AM
May I, thank you for adding the current grade of your daughter. That means that when she would have attended Portola, it was under the former principal, NOT our current principal. The NEW principal has really tightened up the academics, behavior, expectations, and is a constant presence at the school. It is NOT the same school as the one your daughter experienced. I know this from our own experience: I had a child there three years ago, and one there now. It is night and day. I also have a child at ECHS. He participates actively in the Speech and Debate club, two community service clubs, has won several state math awards, and plays on the soccer team. He has not experienced any violence (yes, there are sometimes fights, but none directed at him. It is most often between kids who have a long history. They don't go around randomly attacking students. This does not excuse the behavior, but my son is perfectly safe). I believe that my children are receiving a fine education, and will be well prepared for college and life. I do what I can to improve their education of ALL students (thus, my money that I donate each year is not spent educating just my child, but hundreds of children). Somehow, when drugs are found at private schools, it is quietly dealt with. Just like the mediocre teachers. But when it happens at a public school, it is used as an excuse to bash or not attend the school. We have a double standard.
CCResident December 05, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Interesting article. We only get part of the picture with quantitative data; let current parents add to the picture with their qualitative data. Equally accurate, and provides a more complete picture. As others have stated, our schools are changing. We still have a trek ahead of us, but the new Portola indeed is hardly the same school as it was even two years ago. I had a daughter there under the former administration four years ago (dismal), and a daughter there now (hopeful, supportive, and improving). Portola is still emerging (maybe we should change the name of the school, because it is not the same school some people believe it is), and teachers and students are adjusting to the higher expectations and tighter standards. We have a new administration, some new teachers, lots of involved parents, some top-notch academic programs, and a whole campus of pretty great kids.
Giorgio C. December 05, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Use Portola as a role model for all district schools. Demand from Superintendent Harter the same building blocks for your school. I say this as a Hercules resident-parent. Yes, the parents should do their part, but having the right leadership and good teachers is also key. The right leadership includes the right Superintendent and their associate staff. This district has the reputation of being hit-and-miss. You do not know which teacher or principal is behind doors #1, 2, and 3. Not every school is Portola, Madera, or Hanna Ranch. Until this district can attract and retain quality educators for every classroom, the next best thing this district can do is help our children succeed, regardless. The district must acknowledge its shortcomings and implement the necessary mechanisms to help a child survive a failing principal or failing teacher or failing school. Currently, much of the emphasis is on the "failing student", as if the district does not share responsibility for the struggles of many of our children. Many of our children are very bright, but instead, have fallen victim to this district. We need to spend more time assessing our district. For starters, I am attending this weeks CBAC meeting to seek clarification on how our parcel tax dollars are being used, specifically in regards to teacher qualifications and experience. Who are we placing in our classrooms with our children? Meeting information http://www.wccusd.net/site/Default.aspx?PageID=107
Susan December 05, 2012 at 05:56 AM
El Cerrito - I assume you mean the City of El Cerrito - cannot "close its borders", if you are reterring to the schools anyway because El Cerrito does not OWN these schools! Our public schools here are under the jurisdiction of West Contra Costa School District. That is the entity to which our property tax funds go, the major source of local school funding. "El Cerrito" (do you mean the city??) can't "close any borders" as we have transfer policies and laws governing such things. (I guess you are also implying that El Cerrito kids have or create no "problems" in school?! the problems are all from "other communities"?) As for comparing our WCCUSD schools to Albany, Albany is its own unified school district. El Cerrito is only one town of several in our District. Do you think that El Cerrito alone could have funded a new high school such as ECHS? Hardly. The District is the major funding base her.
Al Miller December 05, 2012 at 07:05 AM
George, I take issue with your statement, "every afternoon at dismissal time most if not all the EC police units are parked either there or near there to make sure the students leave." How many afternoons have you spent at ECHS observing this Police Unit assembly? I live right across the street from the front door of ECHS and have not observed the daily event you describe. The Police car for the School Resource Officer in parked there, several humongus AC Transit buses are parked there, several big and smaller yellow school buses are parked there, and, yes, rarely, during the school day four or five other Police cars will show up to quell a disturbance, but there is no "every Afternoon "assembly of EC Police units at ECHS. Talking with the School Resource Officers assigned convinced me that "most if not all" are not are not parked nearby, either. If you don't believe me, please go check with Chief Moir.
Local Parent December 06, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I have to agree with El Richmondo about becoming dissatisfied with Kensington Hilltop after spending a few years there, and the subsequent fear that things will only get worse. This has certainly been my family's experience. Many taxpayers understand the need for funding their local schools through bond measures and parcel taxes. However, supporting your local schools and supporting your child's individual needs are two different entities. Although Kensington is considered by some to be the Crown Jewel of the WCCUSD, there are certainly flaws (as there are in all schools, public or private) and flaws can sometimes be cracks your child falls through. Year after year, with each inaccurate report card and unreliable STAR Test result you receive, you become more and more dissatisfied with a public school system that does not feel like a fully cohesive unit working together with the goal of student success. The class sizes at most of the private schools are surprisingly large, about the same size as at Kensington. However, there are usually two teachers in the class, and usually one or two parent volunteers. I've been told that the teachers at Kensington Hilltop refused an offer from the Kensington Education Foundation to fund assistants in the classroom. I've also been rebuffed by most of my child's teachers when I have offered to volunteer during class time (not parties, field trips, etc.). I wish KHS, Portola and ECHS all the best, but they have a long way to go!
Susan December 06, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Dear Local Parent, Kensington Hilltop is not necessarily the "Crown Jewel" of WCCUSD. Madera and Valley View have scores just as high (Madera often higher scores). However, it is my understanding that class sizes are too big now all throughout the state and hopefully with Proposition 30 passing this may change. Not sure how relevant this is, but historically the KEF funded pull-out programs. They would fund a Spanish teacher, two science teachers ( grades 1 - 3 and 4 - 6) and at one point they funded a teacher specializing in reading problems, a pull out program using computers for reading. Additionally, KEF funded classroom teacher's supplies,so that teachers would not have to pay for supplies personally. My point is that historically I don't think they have ever funded classroom aids. As for parent volunteers, I personally know several teachers who think that parent volunteers are great but sometimes they are better off without them. I think everyone sympathizes with you though that our educational systems are greatly flawed. .
Local Parent December 06, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Susan, you are correct. Historically, KEF has funded pull-out (enrichment) classes which currently are computer lab, science lab, art and music (for lower grades only), as well as the reading program and, I believe, Math Olympiads. There are no foreign language classes. KEF also pays for a parent to fill in as librarian four days a week, since the district librarian is only there one day a week. However, it is my understanding that KEF is so flush with cash that they offered to pay for assistants in each class this school year but the teachers at Hilltop refused the offer. Perhaps some teachers feel they are better off without parent volunteers in the class, but how do the kids feel about that? This is an example of what I feel is wrong with this system. All too often, teachers are accommodated at the expense of what's best for students.
Susan December 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I'm no longer a parent there but I was on the KEF board for a long time. They really do obviously have to honor what the teachers want, and I'm sure everything has to be approved by the principal. When we had enrichment programs though, it did make for small classes when the kids left (half the class, for instance) and therefore the teacher had a small class for a portion of time.( One of the most valuable programs I witnessed was the Spanish class).. I am not a classroom teacher, but I have heard a lot of teachers for years say that sometimes parent volunteers assist and sometimes they do not, depending on the skill of the parents. That's why they want parent volunteers for events such as parties and field trips, special projects. And frankly, I think that how the kids feel about it is irrelevant. Unfortunately we don't make educational policy on that basis. Also, have you considered getting on the KEF Board? They, along with the principal (I assume) are the ones who decide where the money goes and - in the past anyway - they were easy to work with , pleasant, and open to suggestions.
Local Parent December 06, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Educational policy SHOULD be based on what is in the best interest of students! How they feel about it is not only relevant but essential!
Giorgio C. December 06, 2012 at 08:32 PM
When I was a new teacher in this district, I was so swamped that it was impossible to make the time to coordinate efforts with volunteers. I was barely treading water. I could not coordinate efforts with volunteers because this meant everything had to be planned and organized ahead of time and that was often not possible. Even the school disrupted my plans with many spirit days and events. Tell the district to give new teachers what they need until they have a handle on things.
Laloba Solitaria March 01, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Why should I pay more taxes to support a mismanaged system? I sent my kids to private long ago. I did not want my kids exposed to unseemly behavior on the part of thugs who should attend their own neighborhood schools and whose only goal when they get off the bus, is to disrupt, behave worse than animals, destroy, and vandalize? The district seeks to spread the troublemakers throughout, the result is that yes, you have a new school, but it was not intended for the neighborhood kids. It is intended to bring in outsiders from other neighborhoods who detest the very ground they walk on because they possess a predisposition to amuse themselves at the expense of getting an education, have negative intentions, think they can get an education by osmosis, and, whose parents do not pay a cent in taxes.
Dorothy Coakley March 01, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Laloba, which school did you say you lived near? I live within a block of El Cerrito High School and I've yet to see "thugs...whose only goal when they get off the bus...is to disrupt,destroy, vandalize. " I'm wondering which of the schools you have observed so closely.
Tamsen March 02, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Good Lord! I certainly hope you are not a spokesperson for private schools! One might be led to think that all private school families are as racist, classist, and ill-informed as you. Spreading your incorrect rumors and stereotypes will not change the fact that local families have dedicated themselves to improving education in our schools for ALL students (not just those who can pay for it). Which part of the Patch or the local news have you missed lately? Did you miss the article where Mr. Burnham of Portola Middle School was voted Middle School Principal of the year? Did you miss the recent accolades given to the Portola Math Team, who beat SEVERAL LOCAL PRIVATE SCHOOLS (including Prospect Sierra) and came in 4th out of 19 schools at a recent regional competition? Did you miss the wonderful articles about the Writers Coach Connection, and the positive experiences from local volunteers and students throughout WCCUSD with this program? Did you miss the numerous recent articles about rising test scores throughout WCCUSD, despite functioning on a shoe-string budget? Perpetuating negative stereotypes will not change the fact that we are on a roll, and with our continued support of our local schools, we can improve education for all. That may not fit with your agenda (if all students succeed, where does that leave your kids??), but we can't be stopped.

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