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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 36 ~ Jan. 30, 2002

Well, for the API rankings there's good news and bad news. Overall, though, I'd say it leans on the good side. Plus, a suggestion by Joel Shawn about maybe, possibly, someday - shouldst Providence smile upon us - a public hearing to which the public is actually invited. May it be so.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

API ~ Okay, here's what's going on with the API rankings. As you may remember, the API scores came out around October of something of last year, but what's new is the *rankings* of the schools. Now we have the statewide rank (how the school did compared to all other California schools) and the "similar schools" ranking (how the school did compared to, uh, similar schools). So, whaddaya want first, the good news or the bad news?

GOOD NEWS ~ Just what I thought you'd say. Okay, good news first. Bradoaks, Mayflower, Monroe and Plymouth elementary schools, and Monrovia High School, all rose for at least one of their rankings. And remember, this is not easy because all the other schools in the state are trying to rise as well. They had to rise faster. So excellent work! (I'll give the details shortly, but let me do the bad news next.)

BAD NEWS ~ Both middle schools and Wild Rose Elementary dropped in the ranks. (In fairness to Wild Rose, it beat its API goals, but not by enough to maintain its ranking.) But I just can't think of any nice qualifiers for Clifton and Santa Fe. Clifton just sat there. It didn't advance a single point. Nevertheless, it did better than Santa Fe, which lost 14 points. Not surprisingly, they both went down in the ranks.

DETAILS ~ Here are the rankings broken down by school, The first number is the 2000 rank, the second the 2001 rank. The scale is one-to-ten for both the Statewide and Similar Schools ranks. High rank is 10.

Bradoaks
Statewide: 4 to 5
Similar Schools: 2 to 8 (Wow!)

Mayflower
Statewide: 7 to 7
Similar Schools: 7 to 8

Monroe
Statewide: 4 to 5
Similar Schools: 4 to 4

Plymouth
Statewide: 3 to 4
Similar Schools: 1 to 3

Wild Rose
Statewide: 4 to 4
Similar Schools: 4 to 3

Clifton
Statewide: 6 to 6
Similar Schools: 8 to 7

Santa Fe
Statewide: 5 to 4
Similar Schools: 7 to 6

Monrovia High
Statewide: 4 to 5
Similar Schools: 5 to 5

Entire District
Statewide: 4.6 to 5
Similar Schools: 4.7 to 5.5

COMMENTS ~ In his report on the API rankings, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn wrote that he was "extremely pleased with the results." Board Member Monina Diaz said some people may compare Monrovia High to neighboring communities and say it's the "worst in the world," so it's nice to know that the school is now ranked in the middle of all California high schools. (Wow. MHS is average. Be still my beating heart.)

SATISFIED ~ Like Shawn, I'm also extremely pleased, but only with Bradoaks, Mayflower, Monroe and Plymouth. For Monrovia High, I'm pleased; for Wild Rose I'm sympathetic but disappointed, and for the middle schools, I'm disgusted. So, since the district as a whole has made progress, I guess it averages out to my being satisfied.

A SECRET? ~ A letter: "We are parents of a child in one of the MUSD schools. How come we never get notices about upcoming School Board meetings? Don't they want parental involvement? Ok, I could look somewhere, I'm not sure where, for a calendar of school board meetings, but we're busy people just like everyone else and a little reminder would be helpful. My child brings home all sorts of notices. I work once a week in his classroom, so I know what kind of information is sent home with the kidlets. I actually read it. But I've never seen any mention of school board meetings." - Curious and Confused

CURIOUS ~ Dear Curious: If I didn't already go to the meetings, I wouldn't know when they were held either. I suppose the district meets the minimum notification standards required by law, but I wouldn't say it is exactly *trying*. But in fairness, I think most boards are the same way. Finally, your question about whether the board wants parental involvement. Hmm. The lack of publicity kinda suggests not, doesn't it?

DIVERSE ~ But then, on the other hand, tonight the board finally adopted its "Governance Standards," one of which says the board shall "ensure opportunities for the diverse range of views in the community to inform board decisions." And another which says the board shall "involve the community, parents, students and staff in developing a common vision for the district..." Take it for what it's worth.

HEARINGS ~ And to drag this on even further, in response to a question by Board VP Frances Cash about how to let the public know about the API rankings, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn suggested to the board that it "might want to consider public forums or public hearings." Preach it, Joel!

MONEY ~ Regarding education money (or rather, lack thereof) from the state, another correspondent suggests a letter writing campaign to Governor Davis urging him not to cut school budgets. Also, she adds: "Didn't you write that the school district pays for part of a lobbyist in Sacramento? [Yup.] Maybe that lobbyist could help in such an effort." I should hope so.

GRADING CALIFORNIA ~ Superintendent Louise Taylor quoted a ranking of US schools in the publication, Education Week. It said California is now 48th in spending per student ($5,603), so it gave us an F grade. At the other end of the scale, Wyoming, in rank 2, got an A for spending $8,657 per student. And why am I dragging in Wyoming? Because the publication also showed a ranking of teacher quality. Interestingly, California's teachers got a C while Wyoming's got an F. I don't mean to minimize the importance of funding, but clearly there's more to a good education than money.

EQUAL ~ While we're on funding, Board President Bruce Carter said that because of Governor Davis' proposed education funding cuts some districts may decide not to participate in the class-size-reduction program. Nobody said this would apply to Monrovia, but still, this is pretty sucky. As I mentioned last issue, in the interests of equality the state was given the duty of collecting and disbursing what was once a local school tax. The problem is that the state now seems to regard the money as its own, and keeps a big fat chunk for itself. But whew! At least we're all equal.

DEAD ~ Apropos of nothing in particular, did you hear the one about the two guys out hunting? First guy keels over on his face, motionless. Second guy calls 911 on his cell phone: "Help! My buddy just died." Operator: "Stay calm. First, let's be certain he's dead." Guy sets his phone down. "Bang!" "Okay," he says to the operator, "what next?"

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ Next board meeting is on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2002, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com