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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 15 ~ Oct. 25, 2000

Short meeting tonight. With little to decide, the board chit-chatted a bit more, which was actually kind of interesting. The main decision involved textbooks and their availability, or (Is it just my imagination?) the occasional lack thereof.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

KINDERGARTEN SAGA ~ Superintendent Louise Taylor gave a comprehensive report (Hey! I don't use adjectives like "comprehensive" casually, so when I do, I mean it.) on... uh, wait a sec. I lost my place. Oh yeah. A comprehensive report on the problems surrounding the closure of two kindergarten classes at Mayflower Elementary. I won't rehash the saga - see previous issues if you want that - but she made a few interesting comments. She said "there was an implied question" about whether ethnicity was a factor in reassigning a student to an afternoon class. She said there was "no basis at all" for that assumption. She said the classes that were shut were led by the teachers with the least seniority, and the students who were reassigned were in those classes. She added (not so comprehensively) that "the newspaper for the county area" (She forgot its name?) will be doing a story on the topic.

LOCKER MEETING ~ The official committee to examine the lack of lockers at Monrovia High and the two middle schools has officially begun examining. Well, at least it had an introductory meeting, with representatives from the schools. Taylor said that while there are no guarantees, "every recommendation from an established committee in my recollection has been supported by the Board." I think that means there's a pretty good chance of getting lockers back in the schools. Rah!

DID YOU HEAR? ~ Nobody spoke at the first public hearing I've seen since I started doing this newsletter back in January. The hearing, which was required by law (I think it would be nice if the board held an occasional public hearing without being required to do so), was to collect information about textbook funding and textbook availablilty. Now that it has held the hearing the district can collect state money. That's nice, but the question that occurs to me is: Did you know about this hearing? Did your child bring home an announcement that the hearing was being held? Was it announced at the last board meeting to the cable viewers? (That one is particularly a rhetorical question. It wasn't.) I go to these meetings and *I* didn't know about it. Maybe it was announced somewhere, but I've no clue where. It strikes me that it's all very well to have a public hearing, but if you don't bother telling people about it, it's kinda pointless.

TEXTBOOK SHORTAGES? ~ Now to the actual topic. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn said that he "will be vigilent" to ensure that students have textbooks. Board Member Bruce Carter said that he has "never seen evidence" of textbook shortages in Monrovia schools, but he has heard of such shortages in other districts in Southern California. Hmmm. Maybe. But I have heard rumors of textbook shortages at Clifton Middle School, though I really don't know. If you have had any direct experience with textbook shortages at your children's schools, I would really appreciate a note.

VOUCHERS ~ I think I can safely say the board doesn't like vouchers. Since it was a short agenda tonight, the members each took a jab at vouchers for the cable TV camera. Let me give you the arguments as fairly as somebody can who disagrees, along with my responses.

ACCOUNTABILITY ~ Roger Graziani said the private schools that would get voucher money would have no accountability. If they get public money, he said, they should live under the same rules as public schools. I see. So parents would willingly spend more money - yes, even with vouchers - to send their children to private schools where they get an inferior education. Hmmm. I don't think so. Parents already give private schools plenty of accountability. I don't see why this will suddenly stop.

ACCEPTANCE ~ I think it was Graziani who also made the point that private schools do not have to accept all students. I'm not quite sure why this is relevant as long as all children get an education. Is he saying that the kids who remain in public schools won't get *as good* an education?

IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE ~ Yolanda Gallardo said private schools can shelter a child so they "do not see what it's really like out there." I don't get this at all. Public schools are more real!? So private schools are what... a hallucination? Does she mean public schools are less safe? Or have more drugs? Or less drugs? What?

FAIR POINT ~ Someone (I think it was Bruce Carter) said that because vouchers would be given for all students - including those already in private schools who are not currently costing the state anything - there would be a drain on the state's educational funds. A fair point. My response is that the state has taken on the obligation to educate *all* California's children, and because the parents of private school kids have been paying taxes to support the public schools but have not been using those taxes, these parents have been giving the state a free ride. These parents should have the right to use their education taxes to educate their children just as everyone else does.

SUMMARY ~ In short, I think competition has done wonders for our country and I think it could do wonders for education as well. If FedEx and e-mail haven't killed the Post Office, I don't believe vouchers will destroy public education. In fact, I think the competition will force our public schools to get even better.

NAMEPLATES ~ Well, I noticed that the nameplates for the staff members who sit up front still don't show the staff members titles, so people watching on cable or from the audience will still have to guess who is the superintendent and who is the business services director. Oh, but I'm just being impatient. The plates are probably being made at the nameplate company right now.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next not-so-regular meeting is, according to the agenda, a "Jt. mtg. with Pers. Comm. - T.O.Y. Recog." at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. Here's where I get to show off. Most mortals would have no clue what a "Jt. mtg. with Pers. Comm. - T.O.Y. Recog." is, but I've got it nailed. It means "Joint meeting with Personnel Committee - Teacher of Year Recognition." See! I think I deserve a medal for figuring that out.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard