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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 11 ~ August 23, 2000

Some really great test score news for Bradoaks School, which I tend to pick on a lot, though not without reason, and for Santa Fe. Also, I've put an archive of these newsletters on-line and Yahoo has added a link to them. Check it out at
~ Brad Haugaard (

CONGRATS SANTA FE! ~ The SAT 9 scores show that Santa Fe Middle School is one of the state's "most improved" schools, according to Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn. He told the school board tonight that Santa Fe was listed in the LA Times as one of the top 10 (Or was it five? I'm getting senile) improving schools.

BRADOAKS ~ Shawn added that he estimates Bradoaks Elementary will improve more than four times as much as expected. He said the school was expected to improve 12 points but he thinks the actual number will be around 52 points. (More on Bradoaks in a minute, but let me finish the parade of good news before I start raining.)

GOOD NEWS ~ The scores, he said, are "very, very good news," although he added that the district "may have achieved the easier gains." This means that everybody'll have to really stay focused to continue improving.

NEW PLYMOUTH PRINCIPAL ~ Welcome to Larry Fitzgibbons, the new principal of Plymouth Elementary School! Fitzgibbons, who began his educational career in Compton, is from Huntington Middle School in San Marino, where he served as assistant principal. For the life of me I can't remember the board voting to accept him as principal, but I guess it must have. From now on I'm going to read all those obscure personnel reports buried in the consent agenda and see what is being voted on without comment.

DEJA VU ~ Okay, here's an interesting item buried in tonight's personnel report. I dug around and saw that this evening the board released Plymouth Principal Debby Collins to become assistant superintendent of personnel services. Now this is a little odd since the board welcomed Collins to her new position as assistant superintendent way back in June. Oh well. Whatever.

TEXTBOOKS ~ You may recall in a previous episode that I raised a big fuss about the way the board approved some textbooks. Well, it approved some more tonight, but with a twist.

First, the textbooks: "Language Network" (for grades 6-12) by McDougal Publications; "Pre Calculus" (for grades 10-11) and "Calculus" (for grades 11-12) from Brooks/Cole Publications; "Active Physics and Earth Com" (I've no clue what the "Com" is all about) from It's About Time, Inc., and "AP Physics B" (the latest by John Grisham, I'm sure) from John Wiley and Sons Publications, both for high school.

Now, nobody asked any questions about the textbooks, and everybody voted for them, as normal, but what was different is that Joel Shawn said the district will move toward a system more common in other districts, which is to hold a public hearing on the books and have them on display in the board room during the hearing. It's a "more reasonable" way to handle textbook approvals, he said. Ya know, I'm really starting to like this Joel Shawn guy.

LIGHTNING ~ You know it. I know it. Everybody at the district knows it. Even if the board does hold hearings on textbooks, virtually nobody's going to show up. Nevertheless, I really think it is important to do this, if only to enforce the quaint notion that we live in a democracy and people should be given the opportunity to air their opinions, even if the chances of them actually doing so is about the same as getting hit by lightning.

MORE MONEY ~ The board approved a revised 2000-2001 budget tonight that was about the same as the original budget (which I forgot to mention when it was passed - oops), but this time I noticed in the report that the district will get an "unprecedented 10.9 percent revenue limit increase." I'm not sure how a "revenue limit increase" differs from a garden variety revenue increase, but I guess it does. Everybody seemed pretty comfortable with it - no screaming or anything - so it guess it's pretty good news. Also, most of that increase is "unrestricted," which means the district can do with it as it sees fit. Bottom line: The district estimates it'll get about $39.6 million for 2000-2001.

WET BLANKET ~ Okay, back to Bradoaks. While I think the score improvements are really super, I think Bradoaks was scoring a lot lower than it should have, so it was probably easier for it to make substantial gains. So who cares, right? The scores are better! Yes, but look at how Bradoaks is scoring relative to the other schools in the district. Bradoaks is the second most affluent school in the district, and since Superintendent Louise Taylor says income is one of the main factors in a school's performance, it should be frequently ranking second among the five elementary schools. It isn't. In fact, it comes in dead last on a number of occasions. Because it is tabular material that doesn't lend itself to email, I've put it on line at

I GET A LETTER ~ "I think you are right-on regarding the Bradoaks scores. As a former Bradoaks parent, I can attest to the fact that Bradoaks used to have the second highest scores in the district (before 'brain research' suggested that alternate methods of learning were better for the students). Despite the principal's assurances that the changes in teaching methods would result in higher test scores, the reading and math levels dropped drastically. Perhaps the scores dropped because concerned, involved parents chose to pull their children out of the school before their children's education was dramatically affected? Who knows... but somehow the 'socio-economic factors' were never a problem before!" - A parent who wants to remain anonymous

HOPEFUL ~ Well, hopefully this parent and I are both behind the times. Hopefully something fundamentally good is beginning to happen at Bradoaks. Certainly you've got to appreciate the upward trend in the test scores.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard