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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 1 ~ February 10, 2000

My wife and I have two children in Monrovia schools and are happy to have them there. It's a great district - I think. Mostly I hear good things but sometimes not-so-good. Because I don't know what's rumor and what's fact, I thought a good place to start finding out would be to watch what the school board is doing. This newsletter is free and comes out after each board meeting. It's work, but I'll do it if enough people want it, so please pass it along.
~ Brad Haugaard

GRRR! ~ I wanted to start this newsletter off on a fairly positive note. I don't want to be an attack dog, but as I sat through the discussion about Monrovia's standings in the California Academic Performance Index, I began to get a bit annoyed.

Well, yes, the board said, the district will have to do better and, in fact, it welcomes the challenge presented by the API. But I didn't get the feeling the challenge was very warmly welcomed. In fact, the focus of the discussion was on the board's perception that the state's scoring system is unfair.

Board Member Bruce Carter said the system of assigning schools a 1-10 scale was "deceptive." Francie Cash joked that the state legislators should be ranked on a 1-10 scale, then see if they could get elected. Everybody laughed.

Certainly Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Richard Hill's presentation convinced me that (however unlikely it may be) if all schools in the state improve the same amount next year then the rankings would remain the same, and I understand that children in different economic groups perform differently on tests, but what I didn't understand is why nobody said anything about the poor performance of Bradoaks School compared to Mayflower School, two schools that I thought were in both economic and cultural terms about as similar as two schools can get. Yet Mayflower ranked first among the district's eight regular schools (a 7 on the state's "deceptive" 1-10 scale) while Bradoaks ranked sixth (that's a 4 on the deceptive scale). Maybe there is a wonderfully simple explanation, but if so that explanation wasn't given, and nobody asked. I really think it is the job of a governing body, such as a school board, to ask tough questions. I didn't hear any.

THE SCORES ~ If you missed the school scores, here they are in descending order. The first number after the school name is the school's specific ranking (on a scale of 200 to 1000). The second number is the school's ranking on the 1-10 scale. Note: Plymouth School apparently filed some paperwork incorrectly and as a result its score may have been negatively affected.

  SCHOOL                 RANK   1-10 RATING
  Mayflower Elementary   698      7
  Clifton Middle         647      6
  Santa Fe Middle        601      5
  Monrovia High          569      4
  Wild Rose Elementary   563      4
  Bradoaks Elementary    553      4
  Monroe Elementary      537      3
  Plymouth Elementary    531      3

GAME SHOW ~ Canyon High School and Clifton Middle School principals Manuel Gonzales and Bill Card reported that things are going well at both their schools. But Card, along with Byron Greer (I hope I spelled your name right, Byron), took the presentation a step further, putting on a mini game show, with members of the board and staff as participants. How do you spell "jeremiad?" If all the Clifton students can spell that, they're smarter than I am. Oh yes, and, "What is a quarter of a third of a half?" PPS Director Yolanda Lopez-Head answered, "The train arrived at 8:30 p.m." I like that answer.

COUNSELOR WEEK ~ You'll be happy to know that (retroactive to Feb. 7), the board has proclaimed the week of Feb. 7-11 as National School Counseling Week. The vote was unanimous. The board members pinned badges on eight district counselors and none of them squeaked, so I assume nobody got poked. Then everybody said nice things about each other for about 20 minutes.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ~ My first impression of the Monrovia School Board meeting was that it was pretty well organized - but long. The agenda was logical and easy to follow and there is even a place in the agenda for anybody who happens to wander in off the street to get up and speak his or her mind. Please do that; I was getting lonely out there all alone.

HONORS ~ Okay, after that little critique above, I have to be fair and say that Superintendent Louise Taylor and Clifton Principal Bill card both mentioned that several district students have done particularly well in a number of recent academic competitions, including one sponsored by Coca Cola (Something to do with how many you can drink in ten minutes. No! Just joking!). Unfortunately, I must admit that my pen wasn't quick enough to catch all the names and details.

PASADENA ~ By the way, did you see the article in the Star-News about a judge slamming Pasadena Unified School District. U.S. District Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian said: "The PUSD should be utterly and completely ashamed of its apparent inability to provide its students with the same level and quality of instruction as its immediate adjoining and neighboring school districts." Ouch! In response, school officials complained about the judge. Be glad your kids are in Monrovia schools.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ If I'm reading this agenda correctly, it is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28 at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington. It will be preceeded at 6 p.m by a study session (which means they talk a lot but don't decide anything). Next on my agenda is to take a bath and go to bed. I'm pooped!

SUBSCRIBING ~ To subscribe to Monrovia School Link, please send an email to brad_h@iname.com and say you want to subscribe. (Actually, I guess I'm just talking to people who may get this second hand, since if you get it from me I guess I already subscribed you for you, or something like that.) And let me know also if - heaven forbid - you should want to unsubscribe. And please pass this along.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard