Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Choosing a High School In Carlsbad

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Residents living in the City of Carlsbad have several choices when it comes to high schools. Parts of southeastern Carlsbad are in the San Dieguito High School District, such as residents of La Costa Valley and neighborhoods in the La Costa Canyon High School vicinity, but for those living in other parts of the city the choices are worth investigating, as each offers something different for your student.

images-2Carlsbad High School: Carlsbad High, or CHS, is a public high school that has been around since 1957, having just undergone major redevelopment that was completed in 2012. It is the main high school in Carlsbad and is home to over 3,000 students, grades 9-12. CHS offers a typical public high school curriculum and is on a semester system, with finals in January and June. CHS classes are split up, so that a student takes 3 classes every other day, alternating with 3 different classes on the remaining days. Each week switches off, so there are “odd” days – where students take periods 1, 3 and 5; on “even” days students take classes for periods 2, 4 and 6. Each class is 2 hours long.

CHS offers many different electives, a large athletic program, and honors/AP classes. It also has strong music program, award-winning dance, choir and dramatic arts programs (including drama, television, production, and art). The football program is a big part of the school. If your student does well in a traditional school this is a great place for him or her. Click here to visit the CHS website.

Sage Creek High School: Sage Creek is the newest public high school in Carlsbad, imagescurrently in it’s second year. At the present time it houses only freshman and sophomores, but will have a junior class in the Fall of 2015 and a senior class in the Fall of 2016. Sage Creek does not currently have a large athletics program, but plans to have one in the future as the student body grows. There are some sports available at the current time, as well as drama and other classes.

Sage Creek runs on the trimester system, with each trimester lasting 10 weeks and finals at the end. Many current students like the fast pace of this system, which mirrors that of many universities. Sage is already known for it’s dedication to academic excellence, and many of the brightest educators comprise the staff. At the present time students feel as if they are attending a private school, due to the small student body and class sizes. It is a great opportunity for students who want to be part of a growing school where they can start future traditions. Click here to visit the SCHS website.

Carlsbad Seaside Academy: Also known as CSA, Seaside is not as well known because it is a self-study school. Created for those students who needed to get a high school education but had other interests that were making that a challenge (skateboard/snowboard  champions – Sean White was a student, professional ballerinas and other students who needed time to dedicate to other areas have attended), CSA has become more popular in the last few years as an alternative to or in conjunction with a traditional high school education.

CSA students meet with their assigned teacher every few weeks, are given work for their classes, and complete it on their own in time for the next meeting, where they review it and discuss with the teacher. Classes like science have additional labs that students must attend. CSA is not open for general admission – students must apply. Students can also be enrolled as concurrent students, where they attend both CSA and either CHS or Sage – upon approval. It is a great alternative for those who do not learn well in traditional systems, or for those who have schedules or situations that make attending traditional school difficult. Click here to visit their website.

Carlsbad Village Academy (CVA): CVA is a continuation school for those who need to recover credits toward high school graduation. Students are allowed to earn up to 90 credits a year via the trimester system, which allows them to either transition back to conventional high school or remain at CVA and graduate. For more information click here to visit the website for CVA.

images-1Pacific Ridge School: This is a private school located in the Bressi Ranch neighborhood of Carlsbad, housing students in grades 7-12. This school is a top-rated school that offers exceptional learning and access to sports, the arts, clubs and annual travel. All the classes are connected and the teachers relate them to the real world, using seminar style learning, otherwise known as “Harkness” learning. If you are looking for a completely integrated learning style where your student will be immersed in discussions that will teach them to use their voices to make a difference, this is a school you must visit. Class sizes average 15 students and push the button on both creativity and interest. For more information visit their website by clicking here.

Other high school options: There are other high school options outside of the city limits, including several more private schools and home school programs. Depending on your child there is a program that will be just right, so investigate and visit schools before making a choice.

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An Historic Day For California Public Education

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Today is the day that will finally change public education here in California for the better. A landmark case was decided that, if upheld, will send the tenure system as we know it to death row, and allow for firing of ineffective

A California judge ruled that tenure violates a student’s basic rights to public education, especially minority children. Personally, I have seen many ineffective teachers in our own local public school system, and I participated in a successful effort to remove an ineffective Principal a few years ago – not an easy battle (and I had to resort to writing a legal memorandum pointing out all the reasons the district could possibly be sued in the future for letting the Principal stay in the position in order to get noticed).

The great thing about this ruling is that it benefits everyone in the education system. It obviously benefits students by eliminating ineffective teachers from classrooms, making way for caring, positive and instrumental teachers who truly want to teach to have the opportunity to educate our children. Also, the firing process will no longer be so difficult (one statistic I heard on a news report was that to fire a teacher in California it takes up to 10 years and half a million dollars…and we wonder why we don’t have more money to spend in our schools!) Just think – schools can bring back programs like music and art, instead of wasting money trying to fire tenured teachers – double whammy!

Teachers will benefit immensely from this new ruling because those teachers who really want to teach, want to make a difference, and are excited to do so – those teachers will have a better chance of actually teaching. If seniority is not longer a priority then the newer, enthusiastic teachers can replace those who no longer enjoy it and are just hanging on to collect a paycheck (and believe me, there are MANY of them, at least here in our district!).

My niece is a teacher in a tough neighborhood school in Los Angeles. A magna cum laude Stanford credentialed graduate, she has been teaching for only  two years and her students love her – she has challenged them to want to work hard, and they do it…scores have risen and she is an enthusiastic and exciting, positive teacher. With her credentials she could have worked anywhere, but chose that school. She is making a difference. These are the types of teachers we need!

This ruling also benefits school administrators because it obviously makes their jobs easier if they have strong groups of teachers at their schools; which in turn makes communities happier and stronger. Maybe violence in schools would decrease if students had strong teachers and role models (I know – a stretch, yet if you think about it, it’s not so far-fetched).

Of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The teachers union is of course very unhappy with the ruling. They say their job is to protect the teachers, but the problem is that the tenure system protects the teachers from being fired at the expense of students, schools and communities. Like many parents, I have lots of bad teacher stories from my childrens’ schools (in fact, I just met with the Principal this week to report more incidents, and suggested that an educational psychologist come in and train teachers how to speak to and respect students – you’d think most would know but not in our experience). It is time for the unions to realize that we are never going to better public education until they just give up archaic systems.

This ruling today is positive and true. I hope that it means we are finally on the right path to improving public education in this state, and even more so in this nation. Maybe in the near future America’s public students will finally be able to compete with those educated in other countries – I think now that such a goal is a light at the end of the tunnel, instead of just a dream.

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Ineffective and Bully Teachers Need to be Fired

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Those of you who know me or read my blog regularly know how strongly I feel about two issues that effect all of our lives and our communities: bullying and education. I have championed many causes over the years and fought battles in the name of making public education better and raising awareness about bullying in our schools. These battles have been difficult but I try to live up to the notion that change won’t happen unless you make it.

I wanted to write about ineffective teachers, here at the end of the school year, because they hurt us all – our children and families, other children, our schools as a whole, our communities, and the future as well. It is time to stop allowing ineffective teachers and administrators to continue working in the education system.

I will share with you a few personal incidents that really highlight what is going on in our schools…in great neighborhoods! One case: there is a teacher who singles out a student constantly, makes comments about the student under her breath, yells at the student for no reason and is generally mean to the student. The student makes good grades, follows directions and does not get into trouble. Yet this student, who suffers the injustices that the teacher throughout the year, is afraid to do anything because it will jeopardize her grade and make class time more difficult. Another student I know went through the same thing at another school and had to go to counseling because she would come home crying all the time.

There is another teacher who is just downright nasty to many students, making it very clear that she has favorites. If your student is one of the many she does not like, and your student gets put in her class (even if you had a run in with her in the past), you cannot move your student out of her class! This happened to my daughter, and the only way I was able to get her out was to downgrade her from an honors to a regular class. That is ridiculous.

There are teachers at the high school level who tell the students flat out that they don’t care, that they aren’t going to spend time teaching some lessons, and that they are protected from being fired because they have tenure! These teachers speak rudely often and the students can feel their lack of excitement for education on a daily basis…what do you think this says to our students? Yet we wonder why students in the USA are so far behind on many educational levels compared to other nations.

In defense of teachers, I must say that teaching is the most noble profession in my eyes, and always has been. Teachers should be paid more and should be placed on pedastals – other nations do this (like Japan). Teachers should be respected, BUT respect is not automatic, it is earned. The moment you lose the respect of the student body you have placed a noose around your neck.

Why do teachers stay with it if they do not care to influence students? Surely at some time they wanted to teach and be mentors, to help students get excited about teaching. I know there are unions and tenure to protect the rights of teachers, but I say let’s get rid of the ineffective teachers. Let the students and parents and communities decide who deserves to continue teaching. Let’s rate our teachers annually. Let’s let the student body know that it’s ok to file complaints, and that they don’t have to stay in classes if they are subject to verbal abuse or other unfair treatment.

I know this is a fine line, and I know there is room for abuse. But WE SIMPLY HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM, and we need to get rid of teachers who bully or do not teach effectively.

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