Archive for Public School

Inappropriate talk on daytime TV for teens, children and young adults.

HUMANE EXPOSURES explores the quality of daytime TV for young mothers with children at home, or for children and teens coming home from school and turning on TV as they have a break between school and homework. Or are all kids in afternoon sports?

The Doctors, CBS daytime one-hour show, had topics about “mental orgasm,” “vaginal discharge,” “swamp butt,” “anal sex,” “going gray down there,” and other embarrassing, personal, female issues that children and teenagers coming home from school, grabbing a snack and turning on the tube, do not need to see, hear about, become aware of, or add to other inappropriate viewing on daytime TV.  Is this valued information for young mothers to view? Is this what we want young mothers and their mothers to talk about as critical issues of today? This show airs in San Diego from 4:00-5:00 p.m. opposite Oprah.

HUMANE EXPOSURES is interested in your thoughts.

Get My School Bucks: An Innovative Web Effort Supporting Education

Get My School Bucks

Did you know that you can help a struggling school simply by shopping? Chad and Melinda Reist of San Diego have created a way for you to do just that, on a website called GetMySchoolBucks.com.

Back in April, KFMB TV Channel 8 ran a story about their efforts, which explains how it all works:

‘We don’t want our younger ones to not have the education they should have,’ Melinda said.

Their solution: a web site that offers discounted gift certificates. Any company interested offers its services on getmyschoolbucks.com at 20 percent off, and any customer interested purchases it at five percent off. The web site takes its cut and the rest goes back to the schools.

‘Essentially it’s money you are already going to spend, so before you head out to dinner with the family, might as well save five percent and give five percent to the schools,’ Chad said.

Sounds like the Reists are on to something. Everybody likes to save money, particularly when the economy is such a mess, so offering coupons is a great way to get people to participate. Adding in the socially conscious element that so many Internet-based efforts are exhibiting these days should really give it legs.

The Reists are not the only parents concerned for their children’s educational future, especially in San Diego, where the state of the school board is continually chaotic. As we’ve stated on numerous occassions, many of the social ills we face are directly related to poor education. There is a plethora of studies linking it to both crime and homelessness, and, while not the sole cause of either, it is still cause for grave concern.

Source: “San Diego couple’s web business to help schools,” KFMD TV Channel 8, 04/01/10
Image of GetMySchoolBucks logo, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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San Diego’s School Board: A Long and Winding Road to Change

Old schoolSo many of our societal ills can be traced back to failures in the American educational system. Thus it is vitally important that we take an interest in that system and how it’s functioning.

In San Diego, one of the obvious problems is the continuing changes in the school superintendent’s office. The electoral process for the school board in San Diego is both archaic and unusual, and, in addition, it is unlike any other electoral process in the city.

Emily Alpert, a blogger for Voices of San Diego, recently presented an in-depth analysis of that odd system as well as the critiques it has drawn from both sides of the political aisle. Here is a small sample:

Here is how the unusual system works: Candidates like Rosen and his opponents have to survive two elections. In the June primary, they battle in one of five smaller subdistricts. The top two candidates then advance to the November election, where the entire school district votes.

The system might seem strange: No other K-12 school district in San Diego County is elected this way. It is a hybrid of district elections — in which voters in a small slice of a city or school district elect their own representative — and at-large elections in which the whole area votes.

But it was actually the same way that San Diego used to elect its City Council. Even though the city has no power over the school district, schools’ election rules have been laid out in the city charter since 1939.

Voters scrapped that system for City Council 22 years ago, replacing it with district-only elections to ensure that minorities had a better shot at being heard.

But the system stayed the same for the school board — and attracts the same criticisms.

Alpert then goes into a detailed examination of views on all sides of the equation. Here are a few that  she shares in her article:

San Diegans 4 Great Schools, a group that includes philanthropists, business leaders and parents, argues that the existing school board system is outdated and blames it for the revolving door of superintendents that San Diego Unified has suffered in recent years.

Organizer Scott Himelstein says a small school board with five members can swing too easily in a single election, changing the whole direction of the school district in a snap. His group has quietly discussed the idea of adding four new, appointed members to the board.

This would bring it more in line with the rest of the state:

Most school boards in California have five members, but almost all of the large school districts elsewhere in the country have larger boards with seven or nine trustees.

Anyone interested in social issues should take a look at Alpert’s article (link below under “Sources”). Most social ills seem to be rooted in childhood, and education is a vastly important part of that. Issues at that level all too often blossom later in life into homlessness, criminal activity, and substance abuse. As a result, examination of the system and exploration of the methods that can improve it are vital.

Source: “The Unusual Road to the San Diego School Board,” Voice of San Diego, 09/06/10
Image by Adam Pieniazek, used under its Creative Commons license.

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“Race to the Top” Winners Overwhelmingly East Coast

Schoolhouse“One size fits all” is not an adage that applies to social issues. It’s especially true in the case of education. Most of the issues we at HUMANE EXPOSURES cover in our books are affected by access to quality education. From the homeless issues presented in downTownUSA: A Personal Journey with the Homeless to the inside view of female imprisonment shared in Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time, we see education as a frequent backbeat to the overall story.

Thus it is with great interest that we follow news of innovation in the realm of education. Unfortunately, the news is not always good. Last Tuesday, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the most recent states to win the “Race to the Top” competition. While that would seem to be good news, there do seem to be a few troubling details. There is an odd geographic footprint to the awards distributed by this Obama Administration’s signature educational initiative.

You see, with the exception of Hawaii, all of the states that were awarded major grants under the program are east of the Mississippi, and the majority of them hug the eastern seaboard. Oddly enough, my home state of Louisiana, which was considered a shoe-in for funding, has received nothing under the program.

Some good arguments are made by these states that chose not to vie for the funds, as Sam Dillon reports for The New York Times:

Educators in many of the states that did not win, or did not even participate in the competition — which includes every state from Tennessee west to the Pacific — said they were hamstrung from the outset.

They said the competition’s rules tilted in favor of densely populated Eastern states, which tend to embrace more the ideas that Washington currently considers innovative, including increasing the number of charter schools and firing principals in chronically failing schools.

But those rules have seemed a poor fit for the nation’s rural communities and sparsely populated Western regions, experts said.

In small towns, for example, there is often just one school, so setting up a parallel charter school might not be feasible. It can also be hard to attract principals to such communities. And many of rural states do not have the resources or staff to write sophisticated grant applications.

While adding funding to our strained school system is something that is obviously needed, the needs and resources of the communities in question need to be evaluated before we declare that something is “the right choice,” for everyone. One size does not fit all.

Source: “Eastern States Dominate in Winning School Grants,” The New York Times, 08/24/10
Image by Nicholas T., used under its Creative Commons license.

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Troubled Education in San Diego School District

SchoolSo many issues trace back to childhood. The opportunities, the lack thereof, early life traumas, and all the other factors that can impinge on early life, create the building blocks from which the adult is sculpted. Educational opportunities are particularly key, especially during the early years when the mind is so hungry for knowledge.

The Constitution of the State of California guarantees free education. In 1984, the state Supreme Court handed down a decision that refined the legal interpretation to include extracurricular activities offered by public schools. It is an interpretation that the ACLU claims many schools are ignoring.

Tanya Sierra, a staff writer for Sign On San Diego’s Watchdog blog, tells us more:

This month, the ACLU wrote to the San Diego Unified School District in response to a report by The Watchdog that highlighted how fees for uniforms, spirit packs, gym clothes, cheerleading outfits and other items persisted despite a district policy saying such charges violate the state Constitution’s guarantee of free schooling.

[If you'd like to read the letters the ACLU sent to Poway, Grossmont and San Dieguito school districts there are downloadable PDFs of them on the same page as the Watchdog article.]

Corey G. Johnson, a reporter for CaliforniaWatch who specializes in K-12 education, notes that this is not a fresh issue. He has been reporting on it since early this year:

As we wrote in February and in June, numerous instances of school districts disregarding this law has surfaced. Earlier this month, ACLU legal director David Blair-Loy sent the San Diego Unified School District a letter asking for officials to stop several examples of ‘pay to play’ that were found at local schools. The group also asked for the money collected to be refunded to the parents.

The request followed a San Diego Union-Tribune investigation that found schools openly charging fees on their websites, despite a recent local grand jury investigation that slammed the practice.

San Diego superintendent Bill Kowba agreed that the practice was wrong and said the district will cease charging the fees and offer refunds where appropriate.

Situations like these need to be brought into legal compliance. The socialization entailed by extracurricular activities is an important part of childhood development, and access to them is already protected by law.

Source: “ACLU takes school fee effort north and east,” Sign On San Diego Watchdog blog, 08/18/10
Source: “More schools accused of pay-to-play catch ACLU’s gaze,” California Watch, 08/23/10
Image by House of Sims, used under its Creative Commons license.

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