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( myvellez )

Comments made by myvellez

The Fronteras Vote 2012 Election Special

I just wanted to say how consistantly disappointed I am in KPBS covering educational issues. There is simply no challenge or vetting in any way to what the so-called experts of the day are selling. There is also no countepoint offered. Today the guests were allowed to state that "research" has shown that a dual immersion model of education actually improved English Language Learners in the long run more than other models. They described other models as "sink or swim." This is just an out-dated sound bite of proponents of bilingual education, a model that did persist well beyond the proposition that tried to eliminate it but never established its effectiveness. Structured English Immersion which is now more commonly used is not a "sink or swim" model. Additionally, dual immersion schools, such as the first one in Chula Vista Elem. School District, are often charter schools which have an application process. In this way, such schools generally get better students (higher achieving, more motivated, more parental support, etc.). Educational research is so terribly vetted that often "researchers" will make direct comparisons with the progress or achievement of these screened students in dual immersion schools with the general population. To assume that the guests' citation of the conclusion of some "research" must be true is tantamount to state run media advancing state propoganda without question. KPBS needs to have someone like Diane Ravitch (sometimes a guest) on call to check out these claims. I am not against dual immersion schools. But the idea that such a model is the answer to close the "gap" for English Language Learners should be looked on with great suspicion. My 14 years in elementary schools as a teacher tells me that most of these ELL identified students still speak English better than they do Spanish (many don't really speak Spanish at all). They are identified as ELL because their parents marked a box that they spoke a language other than English first. These facts destroy the whole premise of the guests' rationale for dual immersion (which is the same for bilingual education): namely that they can succed better because they can learn better in their dominant native language while acquiring English. English is most times their dominant language. The idea that a model that teaches such a child in English for half a day is going to produce greater English achievement than me teaching the full day in English is nonsensical. This is right up there with the idea that teaching kids music for a half hour will increase math scores more than teaching another half hour of math. KPBS needs to meet these ideas with skepticism and find a way to put them to a real test of debate with counterpoint speakers. I am available.

May 23, 2012 at 10:56 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

State School Chief Says Unequal Funding Could Lead To Lawsuit

Thank you for exposing SOME of the inequities in education. This issue does not address the inequity caused by PTAs of wealthy neighborhoods being able to provide great amounts of extra money to their schools. It also does not address intra-district inequities. Go take pictures of the schools in Chula Vista District. Then guess which ones are in the more wealthy neighborhoods. Hint, it will not be hard to guess.

Who had the primary responsibility to make sure that these inequities did not occur? Of course, it was the California Department of Education. So Superintendant Torkelson's lack of disgust is outrageous, but expected.

Kiindergarten Teacher

June 8, 2011 at 5:05 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

San Diego Unified Board Asks Teachers To Postpone Raises

I found Mr. Evans sincere in facing the dilemma of increasing class and letting some teachers go or cutting teacher pay (yes, not providing a contract yearly pay increase is the same thing as a pay cut). Nevertheless, I believe he suffers from the common misconception that lower class size in grades k through 3 makes a big difference in the effectiveness (note: class sizes are already 30 plus in grades 4 through 6 and no one is questioning their effectiveness). In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch reviews the two big studies on class size reduction and explains that one suggests no difference in effectiveness and the other suggests that class size reduction can increase effectiveness, but only if the class size can be held to 15 or lower. So I am not aware of any study which suggests that a class size of 24 is more effective by its nature than a class size of 29 and I challenge Mr. Evans to provide any evidence to the contrary. Additionally, it should be pointed out that while class size in california has been increasing for the last few years, California's CST scores has still been increasing. If you believe the CST scores are not inflated and represent real growth (I do not), then this would be further evidence that class size is not the critical factor of classroom effectiveness.

Reducing teacher pay could also very well create problems not immediately obvious. A lot of middle class college students decided to become teachers based upon representations that the job would be secure (if you proved yourself in through the tenure process), that the pay would steadily increase to provide slow but sure entry into the middle class, and that a secure retirement would be provided. All three of these pillars are being attacked. This will likely create two responses. First, teachers, feeling unappreciated, will cut back on all the volunteer work that they do. Second, the more advanced college students who have more options will decide not to become teachers. Over time, the quality of teachers will decline. By the time that this is realized, it will take many years to bring quality teachers back into the classroom.

It is too bad that some new teachers will have to be let go or have to wait until positions open up through attrition. However, the district could have prevented this problem by having a hiring freeze and slowly increasing class size a long time ago.

June 8, 2011 at 1:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

California Could Face Lawsuit Over Inequities In School Funding

Thank you for exposing SOME of the inequities in education. This issue does not address the inequity caused by PTA's of wealthy neighborhoods being able to provide great amounts of extra money to their schools. It also does not address intra-district inequities. Go take pictures of the schools in Chula Vista District. Then guess which ones are in the more wealthy neighborhoods. Hint, it will not be hard to guess.

Who had the primary responsibility to make sure that these inequities did not occur? Of course, it was the California Department of Education. So Superintendant Torkelson's lack of disgust is outrageous, but expected.

Kiindergarten Teacher

June 8, 2011 at 12:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD College Prep School Named Top In San Diego By Newsweek Magazine

Surveys such as this one by Newsweek and reports such as this by KPBS imply that "high ranking" schools are providing a better education to their students than other schools. The implicit assertion is that test scores are high because its teachers and program provide a superior education. It is certainly possible that the Preuss School UCSD has excellent teachers and a strong academic program. However, these rankings based on test scores are hardly evidence of that. The report fails to mention that unlike most other schools, the Preuss School UCSD recruits and selects its students through an application process. Its website states, "The Preuss School will recruit and enroll the most promising youngsters . . ." Handpicking the very best students, even those from socioecomonmically disadvantaged households, guarantees an extremely high test score average. Even the lowest performing schools have students that consistently score advanced in their state test scores. Filling a school with only such students and then comparing test scores with other schools whose enrollment is based on neighborhood boundaries is hardly a fair contest. Steven Levitt's examination of school choice in the Chicago public school district in his book Freakonomics suggests that what school a student attends does not have an impact on his or her test scores. In the study referenced, even students who did not get into their preferred school were equaly successful. Levitt surmises that the students and families applying into the program likely already valued education so much that their sucess in terms of test scores was already likely. One way to examine the real effect of the Preuss School UCSD is to look at the success of the students who were not selected from their applicant pool. When delivering a resport such as this, KPBS or the originating newsource should at least point out that the school's admittance is by application, only the best students are selected, and so a high score ranking would be expected.

June 19, 2010 at 5:08 p.m. ( | suggest removal )