Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jim Groth and Peg Myers avoid Castle Park Elementary when they welcome CTA vice president Dean Vogel to Chula Vista

Dean Vogel

Former Chula Vista Educators president Jim Groth (now on CTA board of directors), and current CVE president Peggy Myers avoided Castle Park Elementary, where they had been involved in illegal actions that cost CTA a lot of money to cover up, when they took CTA vice president Dean Vogel on a guided tour of CVESD schools.

I met Dean Vogel a few years ago at Asilomar. He seems like a nice guy, but then Jim Groth also is a nice guy. In CTA, unfortunately, nice guys have to do what head counsel Beverly Tucker wants them to do, and that sometimes involves some pretty nasty stuff.

Who's in charge at CTA? Not the elected officials. I had to laugh a few years ago when Barbara Kerr, president of CTA, was named as the third most powerful person in California. Barbara ran herself ragged doing what she was told. She even changed her political party registration. It should have been Beverly Tucker who got the title. By contrast, the California Federation of Teachers actually has democratic elections for top officials.

At the October 20, 2009 board meeting Superintendent Lowell Billings thanked Peg Myers for conducting the limited-purpose tour.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

25 Chicago middle school students jailed after food fight; lounge food fight by Chula Vista teachers

A comparison of two food fights, a recent brawl by students in Chicago and a 1999 outburst by teachers belonging to the "Castle Park family":

It took two janitors over a week to clean walls and shampoo rugs and upholstered furniture in the teachers lounge at Castle Park Elementary School after a small group teachers went wild after the students left on the last day of school in 1999. (The teachers never reimbursed the taxpayers.) The teachers brought the leftovers from class parties to the lounge, including lots of fruit punch and whipped cream.

These teachers ruled the roost at the school, getting rid of principal after principal that didn't do what the "family" wanted. One principal acceded to so many demands for spending that he plunged the school deep into debt and was fired. Another allowed teachers to engage in so many jailable actions that the district ended up in court for years defending those teachers. Principal Ollie Matos was hired to get the teachers under control, but the teachers union, Chula Vista Educators, prevented him from doing so.

25 Chicago Students Arrested for a Middle-School Food Fight
New York Times
Published: November 10, 2009

CHICAGO — The food fight here started the way such bouts do in school lunchrooms most anywhere: an apple was tossed, a cookie turned into a torpedo, and an orange plunked someone in the head. Within minutes, dozens of middle-school students had joined in the ruckus, and spattered adults were ducking for cover.

By the end of the day, 25 of the students, ages 11 to 15, had been rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail. A spokesman for the Chicago police said the charges were reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

That was last Thursday afternoon. Now parents are questioning what seem to them like the criminalization of age-old adolescent pranks, and the lasting legal and psychological impact of the arrests.

“My children have to appear in court,” Erica Russell, the mother of two eighth-grade girls who spent eight hours in jail, said Tuesday. “They were handcuffed, slammed in a wagon, had their mug shots taken and treated like real criminals.”...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chula Vista Elementary School District Aid Asks To Withdraw Guilty Plea In Molestation Case

It's lucky this girl called the police. At Castle Park Elementary in 2001, two teachers reported a possible school shooting, and the district never investigated.

School Aid Asks To Change Plea In Molestation Case
Vincent Matthew Lopez Was Arrested In February
10 News
October 28, 2009

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A judge Wednesday appointed a new attorney for an ex- Chula Vista Elementary School District instructional aide who indicated he wants to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of molesting a teenage girl.

South Bay Judge Timothy Walsh granted the motion by Vincent Matthew Lopez to replace his lawyer and scheduled a status conference for Tuesday.

A different judge was supposed to sentence Lopez to a year in jail.

The defendant was arrested last February, after a 15-year-old relative called police to report that Lopez had sexually assaulted her. Lopez was subsequently also charged with molesting another girl of similar age.

Last month, Lopez pleaded guilty to one count of committing a lewd act on a child.

The defendant, a part-time employee for the school district, was placed on administrative leave following his arrest. There were no indications that any of the assaults occurred at Halecrest and Tiffany elementary schools, where Lopez worked, authorities said.

If the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea is denied, he will be sentenced to 365 days in custody and ordered to have no contact with both victims for five years, according to prosecutors.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Matt Osborne analyzes the San Diego ACORN videos

The following article includes videos of Juan Carlos Vera, Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe

ACORN San Diego: Mucha Dificultad Sobre Nada
by Matt Osborne
September 24, 2009

Today, I finally got around to watching the San Diego videos, and once again there's a Faux Edit™ going on. Apparently, that's a habit with filmmaker James O'Keefe, the "pimp" in these videos. The first minute is going to make you squirm, but then the video will start at the beginning and you'll get a completely different sense of context...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera really said: full transcript

See all ACORN posts in this blog.
See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

In the dozen pages at the beginning of the transcript of the Giles-O'Keefe-Vera conversation at the National City ACORN office, the fake pimp-prostitute pair did all the talking about prostitution, and ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera responded with "yeah" and "okay", as if he were taking it all in. But Juan Carlos' English isn't so great, and when he finally seemed to understand what was going on, he said he would consult with lawyers and contact the visitors by email. He even mentioned that he worked with prosecutors.

Throughout most of the conversation, Juan Carlos spoke at cross-purposes to the visitors, giving information about ACORN seminars.

On page 12 O'Keefe prompts Juan Carlos with suggestions about tax fraud. Juan Carlos continues to say "yeah", but his understanding of the questions is in doubt because he clarifies the issue by saying, "Because you need a house."

O'Keefe tries again to get Juan Carlos to agree that O'Keefe's tax fraud ideas are good, and Hannah also tries to get Juan Carlos to repeat what James has said. Juan Carlos responds, "I think it's good, too, because we have two lawyers working for our program--and if you're interested come to our seminar" (pages 12-13) Clearly, Juan Carlos is not on the same page as James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.

On page 13 Juan Carlos goes on, "If you have your own business you need to prove your income."

On page 13 O'Keefe to Hannah, "...and the tax form is something so I'm explaining to him [Juan Carlos] is something you can classify not as prostitution but as performing arts. That way we can clear that first hurdle. We can declare all income."

Juan Carlos, as is his habit, responds with "yeah." But did he understand? Did he agree? Or was the "yeah" actually a reflex response to acknowledge that O'Keefe had said something and Juan Carlos was trying to keep up with the conversation? Fortunately, Juan Carlos explains his position clearly in the next exchange.

O'Keefe: Do you think that's something we can do?

Juan Carlos: The problem first time buyers is good because you never have a house before.

Clearly, we now know what Juan Carlos is trying to tell O'Keefe. He's trying to tell him how to buy a house.

Page 14

O'Keefe: Can this be a legitimate business? This prostitution?

Juan Carlos: You need to check...You need to check. You need to check. Because the program for first time buyers is for the people that never have a house.

O'Keefe says there will be 12 underage girls. [I doubt that a limited speaker is going to understand the word "underage." It's not usually found in your beginning English instruction. The word was probably Greek to Juan Carlos. Also, I don't remember seeing the word "prostitution" in beginning English instruction.]

Juan Carlos says: they gonna be probably 4 or 5 persons. [Juan Carlos is clearly not in sync with the idea of twelve girls.]

Hannah asks, "Could they be like my sisters or something like that?" [Of course your sisters can live with you, Hannah!]

O'Keefe: Could we get a child tax credit for them? Claim them as dependents?

Juan Carlos: Yeah. [My guess is that Juan Carlos thought they were talking about actual siblings.]

For the next few pages Hannah and O'Keefe do all the talking again, and Juan Carlos responds with his usual rote response of "okay."

Page 19

Juan Carlos understands that El Salvadoran girls are coming: "What day are they coming?" He is told they'll come on Saturday.

But Juan Carlos has a feeling that these people have wandered into the wrong office.

Juan Carlos: So you never heard for this organization? ACORN?...Okay, let's do this. Let me see, let me see anything about it. See and let me contact to you. Because this program is, this Saturday happen?

But O'Keefe doesn't want to be contacted later, he wants to talk about it now. Juan Carlos tries to get an email address, but doesn't succeed until page 23.

On page 21 the talk turns to where each of them comes from. O'Keefe is from back east, which, Juan Carlos notes, is too cold. Juan Carlos is from Mexico City, and he is a lawyer in Mexico.

On page 24 Juan Carlos says, "...I want to call you tomorrow." [I think that's what I'd say, too, in an effort to get rid of these bizarre people.]

Pages 25-26

Juan Carlos wants to explain that lawyers will be involved: "...dis is you say private...I ah because we work before with the lawyers."...

O'Keefe: You're working with the prosecutors?

Juan Carlos: Yeah.

O'Keefe: Well then that's not good.

Juan Carlos:...I think we want to send an email to you.

Hannah: Honestly I don't feel very comfortable right now. I just gave you a bunch of information and I don't know if we trust you like...

Juan Carlos: No, we help people. [Juan Carlos is trying to get information about Hannah and O'Keefe, not scare them away.]

Page 27

Juan Carlos tries to get a location for where the girls will be on Saturday. He recommends that the girls go to Tijuana where Juan Carlos has a lot of contacts. [My guess is that he wants to help the girls, to prevent them from falling under the control of unscrupulous people like Hannah and O'Keefe.]

Page 28

[Now we find out how much Juan Carlos understood of the earlier conversation.]

O'Keefe: There's twelve girls but they're like there's like thirteen to fifteen years old.

Juan Carlos: Oh, yeah?...I want to contact you now only for email.

Hannah and O'Keefe keep talking, but Juan Carlos no longer responds with his reflexive "yeah". Instead he repeats, "I going to contact you by email."

O'Keefe apples pressure: Just give me your cell phone number.

Juan Carlos complies, but says, "Well it's better I can send you an email."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Minister Doug Giles is a proud dad to pretend-prostitute Hannah Giles

Doug earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas Tech University and studied for his Master of Arts in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

See all ACORN posts.

See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jim Groth and Peg Myers antics continue at Chula Vista Educators; bizarre election results announced more than 3 months late

Now I understand why Peg Myers and Jim Groth didn't want to release the Chula Vista Educators election results in June. What kind of election is it when you end up with two empty positions before you even announce the results?

See all posts about Peg Myers.

President 09-11
State Council 09-12
Peggie Myers

Vice President 09-11
Tim Kriss
Salt Creek Elementary

Treasurer 09-11
Kathleen Fernandez

Secretary 09-11

[Barbara Dunwoodie ran unopposed for this position. What's up with the open position? Dunwoodie is still teaching at Hilltop Elementary with Robin Donlan.]

Area Director A 08-10
Maureen McNair

Area Director B 08-10
Norma Pacheco Davis
Los Altos

Area Director C 08-10

[The above position was held by Tim Kriss, who is now vice-president. When I heard a rumor that a close friend and Salt Creek Elementary colleague of Tim Kriss was going to replace him, I wrote to Peg Myers asking if this were true. Instead of answering me, Peg apparently got her pals up in Burlingame to demand that Google censor my blog. Why is this such a touchy subject?]

Area Director D 08-10
Jayme Rodgers

Area Director E 08-10
Jenna Ritchey

Bargaining Chair
Susan Skala
Vista Square
State Council 08-11

Jennefer Porch

State Council 07-10

Jim Groth
CTA Board

ACORN says that Hannah Giles and pal O'Keefe committed a felony; videotaping pair seems confident of large defense fund from conservatives

A lawsuit filed by ACORN?

“Bring it on,” secret videotaper James O’Keefe said on Fox News. It sounds like he's already got a large war chest to help him get away with a crime.

See detailed analysis of transcript of Juan Carlos Vera/Giles/O'Keefe.

ACORN mulls suit against Fox News

Facing intensifying scrutiny after the release of several disturbing hidden camera videos, the community organizing group, ACORN, is threatening to sue Fox News, the website and the two conservative activists who produced the exposes.

ACORN is alleging that the filmmakers committed a felony by shooting the footage of ACORN employees in the act of providing advice on how to falsify tax forms and set-up a child prostitution business—to a man and a woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute.

A lawyer for ACORN said Monday that statutes in Maryland and the District of Columbia made the undercover filming illegal and that the same laws should prohibit the rebroadcast of the tapes by the Web site, where they were first posted last week, and on Fox News, which aired clips of the videos., which launched last Wednesday, is a project of Andrew Breitbart, the founder of The videos show James O’Keefe, a conservative activist, and Hannah Giles, who is listed as a contributor on the right-leaning website,, visiting ACORN offices in Baltimore and Brooklyn and an ACORN Housing Corporation branch in Washington, D.C.

“It is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist ‘filmmaker’ O’Keefe and his partner in crime,’ ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis said in a statement over the weekend. “And, in fact, a crime it was—our lawyers believe a felony—and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators.”

After the videos surfaced two ACORN employees in Baltimore and two others at the Washington office of the off-shoot housing corporation, a separate organization, were fired.

“I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video,” Lewis said in her statement. She added that the “scam,” was also attempted but failed at other ACORN offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia.

Breitbart said Monday that the release of a new video from Brooklyn disproved ACORN’s claims that the activists made failed attempts in other cities.

“ACORN was wrong in their initial defense that it succeeded in only one place because obviously it worked in a second and third place,” he said. “Their defense is as hapless as the behavior witnessed on those videos. This is clearly an organization in internal turmoil over James and Hannah’s exposure. The longer that the mainstream media ignores this massive story, the more that ACORN has to accumulate data in order to form a line of attack to annihilate the messenger.”

Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer for ACORN, said he planned to file a lawsuit in federal court in Baltimore on Thursday against O’Keefe and Giles that would “probably” also include and Fox News...

Read more:

Monday, September 21, 2009

This couple didn't set up Newt Gingrich, but were criminally charged for secret recording

See all ACORN posts.

Florida Couple Are Charged In Taping of Gingrich Call
New York Times
April 24, 1997

The Justice Department today filed charges against a Florida couple who said they had intercepted and recorded a conference call last December among Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders.

The Federal authorities in Jacksonville, Fla., announced this afternoon that the couple, John and Alice Martin, had been charged with an infraction, violating the Communications Privacy Act by using a radio scanner to intercept the radio portion of the conversation. It is the mildest criminal charge the couple could face in the case and carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine.

The Government said the Martins had agreed to plead guilty to the charges, and said the couple would cooperate with a continuing investigation into how a recording of the conversation wound up in the hands of a New York Times reporter.

The conversation the Martins taped took place on the same day Mr. Gingrich admitted he had violated House ethics rules by failing to get adequate legal advice on the use of tax-exempt money and then giving the House ethics committee inaccurate information in its investigation. During the call, the Speaker and several colleagues discussed how best to handle the political fallout of the ethics charges.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello to turnaround guru Harborside principal Matthew Tessier...Goodbye to Union Tribune reporter Chris Moran

Tessier has done exactly what I have long suggested: carefully evaluated teachers. This is a terrific reform, but it could be abused. I suggest that evaluations be supplemented with observations by out-of-district professionals.

Principal gets credit for turning schools around

Chula Vista's Tessier got one out of U.S. sanctions
By Chris Moran
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
September 19, 2009

Chula Vista's Harborside Elementary was in pieces when he arrived as its principal two years ago. The school next to a mobile-home park in an impoverished neighborhood had failed to reach federal benchmarks for so long that the menu of remedies included shutting it down.

But Tessier, 35, is a turnaround specialist.

Before he arrived at Harborside, Tessier had done what only a few dozen principals in the county had ever done: He led a school — Loma Verde Elementary — safely out of federal sanctions with two consecutive years of dramatically improved test scores...

Profile Matthew Tessier

Age: 35

Education: Bachelor's in communicative disorders and a master's in educational leadership from San Diego State University

Experience: Teacher, five years; assistant principal, two years; principal, four years

Family: Wife, Alma; daughters — Gabriela, 8, Alixandra, 5, and Tristan, 2


What is it about Houston?

Voice of San Diego
by Emily Alpert

...Chris Moran, longtime education reporter at the Union-Tribune, is leaving the paper after 12 years to go to Houston. He's not following Superintendent Terry Grier -- he's following his wife, who got a new job.

Moran did some remarkable reporting in his time with the newspaper, where he was most recently assigned to cover schools and colleges in the South Bay. He has an amazing human touch with complex stories -- and I hear he is also a superstar mentor.

Good luck Chris.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Juan Carlos Vera Says Statements In Video Were 'Taken Out Of Context'

See details of actual transcript of Giles-O'Keefe-Vera conversation.

Hannah Giles, 20, (left) apparently does a very convincing imitation of a prostitute. And the most fun part of Hannah's illegally-videotaped deception was that she managed to drag several ACORN workers into her fantasy. She elicited the sympathy of Juan Carlos Vera by telling him she "needed to escape her controlling pimp, who wouldn't let her start a new life."

See all ACORN posts in this blog.
See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

One commenter notes:

Playing devil's advocate, I could see the man wanting to collect as much information as possible if he had the intention of turning James and Hannah in to law enforcement. He did get James' cell phone number, collected details about times and places, and could have easily set them up. So it should be a simple matter to determine if the man reported the trafficking James and Hannah were attempting to engage in to the responsible authorities (he does, after all, make a claim about working with the district attorneys)...

Maura Larkins' response:

It turned out that Mr. Vera did report the incident to the police.

Furthermore, I just watched the videos, and it looks to me that Mr. Vera is trying to get information about the location where the "underage Salvadoran girls" will be so that the police could get involved. If you look at Mr. Vera's body language as he talks to the couple, you can see that he is feeling very uncomfortable with them, and seems to be reluctant to talk to them. However, as they are leaving and they ask if he will tell the police about them, he tries to be more friendly, to get them to come back or at least stay in touch. He urges them to trust him. Afterward, he went to the police and reported the incident. He also clearly states that he is not interested in being Hannah's client. It seems clear that he is interested in helping her and the Salvadoran girls, not helping the pimp. He seems to be trying to get the pimp arrested.

ACORN Worker Fired After Appearance In Undercover Video
Juan Carlos Vera Says Statements In Video Were 'Taken Out Of Context'

September 17, 2009

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego ACORN employee who appeared to give human-smuggling advice to a pimp and prostitute in an undercover video made by conservative filmmakers has been fired, 10News' Juliette Vara reported.

ACORN's David Lagstein issued the following statement regarding Vera:

After release of the second San Diego video by the unscrupulous partisan videographers, we have reevaluated our assessment of the incident that occurred last month. No paperwork was filed, but the video reflects unacceptable conduct that contradicts the earlier statements of ACORN Organizer Juan Carlos Vera. He has been terminated. San Diego ACORN and ACORN offices around the country are continuing to halt our service programs pending the results of the evaluation of the independent Advisory Council and we are continuing to fight on our campaigns: stopping foreclosures, affordable, accessible health care, and a strong education for all children.

In a press conference Thursday at ACORN's National City headquarters, Vera said statements he made in the video were taken out of context.

The now-former ACORN worker said he was merely trying to help the pair because he thought they were in danger.

"I never done anything wrong in my life," Vera said. "They destroyed my family."

In the footage filmed in July, filmmaker James O'Keefe and his partner, Hannah Giles, posed as a pimp and prostitute, and asked Vera for housing help.

O'Keefe is heard in the video saying, "I want to buy a house and this is my girlfriend, and she's a prostitute."

Vera said he was told the woman needed to escape her controlling pimp, who wouldn't let her start a new life.

Immediately, Vera said he offered to call the police but the filmmaker quickly stopped him.

"Don't call the police because I'm gonna be a lawyer," O'Keefe said in the video...

James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe [James E. O’Keefe III, 25] is an activist filmmaker. He credits include the "Bailout Prize Patrol" produced for Right.Org in 2009. He also directed, scripted, produced and acted in a series of undercover videos showcasing racism and statutory rape at Planned Parenthood in 2007 and 2008.

Before that he served as Publications Coordinator at the Leadership Institute, where he helped initiate 22 independent newspapers and magazines on college campuses nationwide. He also gave lectures on campus strategy and fundraising, preaching the gospel of Saul Alinsky...

His work has been featured on CNN and Fox News...

[Maura Larkins comment: Apparently anti-ACORN forces are outraged that Mexican nationals were buying homes in the U.S. It's okay if Chinese, Russian and Saudi Arabian citizens buy homes and property here, but not Mexicans?]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New principal Lee Romero at Montgomery High School in Otay is under pressure to raise scores

The Battle for Montgomery High
Aug. 30, 2009
Montgomery High School does not feel like a school in trouble. It is a seemingly ordinary school south of the Otay Valley Park, ringed by modest homes and big box stores...

And yet Montgomery has become a battleground for Sweetwater Union High School District. It had the lowest test scores among all the South County high schools last year, even lower than neighboring schools with far higher poverty levels than Montgomery, where roughly one-third of students are impoverished and one-third are learning English...

The pressure is on to turn Montgomery around. It has been under the microscope for the last three years to ramp up its state scores this year or face added penalties. Montgomery was one of six Sweetwater schools to accept state money in exchange for extra accountability for its test scores. It is the only school that faltered, its scores essentially flattening over the past four years.

That could have big consequences. If the scores do not rise, the state board of education could decide to take over the school, sending someone to work alongside or replace the principal. Teachers invoke the idea that Montgomery could transfer them away...

[Maura Larkins' comment: Why do do many teachers abhor the idea of a transfer? Because teaching staffs are often similar to high school cliques. There is the fear of not fitting in.]

So Sweetwater made some big changes. It yanked the principal and brought in a new one, Lee Romero, to turn the school around this year. He is pushing teachers to make common tests and to stay at the same pace. And it scrapped the old schedule of four quarters with four classes each and replaced it with a more traditional schedule, arguing that the old calendar sometimes hurt struggling students who only took English or math for half of the school year or ended up spending less time at school entirely.

That, in turn, angered the teachers union, which contends that the schedule needed to be negotiated. Romero said that Montgomery had no time to wait. The tests and penalties hang over his mind...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

CTA's Jim Groth asks to slow down educational reform as Schwarzenegger visits Chula Vista Learning Center

Jim Groth, my former colleague at Chula Vista Elementary School District, should be suggesting effective methods for evaluating teachers instead of nixing Obama's efforts to allow schools to include student scores in teacher evaluations.

But apparently the California Teacher Association is taking a page from extreme right-leaning Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford in thumbing its nose at stimulus funds.

CTA doesn't want California to participate in the Race to the Top at this time because it wants to protect the current inadequate teacher evaluation system. Longtime loyal Democrats are getting sick of CTA's opposition to school reform.

Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford were overruled by their legislatures. But who will overrule CTA?

Chula Vista Teachers Protest Schwarzenegger Visit
Voice of San Diego
Emily Alpert
Aug. 27, 2009

The Chula Vista teachers union used a visit from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a platform to protest his education plans, chiefly the push to link standardized test scores to teacher evaluation so that California is eligible for added stimulus dollars from the federal government.

Schwarzenegger was scheduled to visit Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School this morning. The union held a press conference at the school to explain their opposition to his plans. I couldn't make it to their meeting, but I phoned Jim Groth, a Chula Vista teacher and a board member of the statewide California Teachers Association, to talk about their announcements.

"What we are saying is, 'Let's slow down,'" Groth said as he left the Chula Vista school. "Changing the laws at the state would affect all districts. We're talking about local control. Local school boards would not have that control -- it would be dictated by Washington, D.C."...


Embattled South Carolina governor vows to finish term
Aug 26, 2009

Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a conservative once seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, rejected a call from his deputy to resign Wednesday in the wake of a sex scandal...

Sanford was a prominent opponent of Democratic President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill and rejected $700 million of South Carolina's portion of the funds on grounds it would undermine the state's fiscal stability...the state Supreme Court later overruled his opposition...


Sarah Palin won't stop complaining that the media has portrayed her unfairly. Apparently this is because the media talks about things that Palin herself would prefer not to discuss, such as Palin's using the fact that Russia is within sight of Alaska to prove that she is ready to handle international foreign policy.

Chula Vista Educators' Peg Myers won't stop complaining that this blog has portrayed her unfairly. Again, this seems to be because this blog talks about things that Peg herself would prefer not to discuss, such as her actions against teachers at Castle Park Elementary when Peg was working on behalf of administrator Richard Werlin and some of her other friends.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

He might not be punctual, but Phoenix taxi-driver saves woman's life

Are some things more important than being on time? This woman thinks so.

Woman's Taxi Driver Is Kidney Match
August 24, 2009
Rita Van Loenen had no idea that a trip in Thomas Chappell's taxi cab could end up being the ride that saves her life.

...But even more shocking to her was that doctors found they had the same blood type, that they were compatible.

"...If we were a closer match, we would've been siblings. I was ready to fall off the floor," Van Loenen said...

Last year, Van Loenen, an instructor in special education methods, began feeling ill and experiencing water retention in her legs. She went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with kidney disease. With kidney failure setting in, friends and family were tested but there was no match.

In February, she received her cousin's kidney but that transplant failed. One day, Van Loenen, 63, found herself telling Chappell, 56, about how her son was now going to get tested. Chappell decided to add his name to the list.

"I said 'Rita, your son's a whole lot younger than me. He's got a lot more years. I'm gonna go down and go through the process and see if it will work.' I don't think she really believed I was going to."..

It wasn't an auspicious beginning.

Chappell was half an hour late picking Van Loenen up for a dialysis appointment.
"When I got there she was not happy," Chappell said...

Why do schools (and teacher unions) have so little regard for gifted teachers?

When a Gifted Teacher Has to Jump Through Hoops Just to Keep His Job, Change Is Needed
By Jay Mathews
Washington Post
August 24, 2009

I am not a big fan of merit pay for high-performing teachers unless the entire school staff is rewarded. But I have no doubt that our current teacher pay upgrade and certification system, based largely on education school credits, is dumb and should be changed.

You disagree? Then let me introduce you to Jonathan Keiler, a social studies teacher at Bowie High School in Prince George's County, where school starts Monday.

It is difficult to argue that Keiler, 49, is anything but one of his county's best teachers. He is the only member of the Bowie High faculty with National Board Certification, having passed a competitive series of tests of his classroom skills that has become a gold standard for American educators. He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and history from Salisbury University and a law degree from Washington and Lee University. He served four years as an Army Judge Advocate General officer, then was a partner in a private law firm in Bethesda until, as he puts it, he "got sick of law and became a social studies teacher at my alma mater."

He teaches a survey course called Practical Law, as well as Advanced Placement World History and AP Art History. More students signed up for his classes this year than he had periods to teach them. He coaches Bowie's Mock Trial team, the most successful in the county. He has published articles on military history and law in several magazines.

He hates the education school courses teachers must take to be certified and qualify for pay increases. He says they "are generally no more useful or interesting than watching paint dry." But he dutifully accumulated three credit hours at Bowie State University, six through the county's continuing professional education program and three for going through the National Board process. That was more than enough, he was told, for his standard certification.

Then earlier this month, the county's teacher staffing and certification office informed him that previous officials counted his credits wrong. If Keiler didn't somehow produce three extra credits by the end of September, he would be decertified and any pay increases he received associated with certification would be retroactively revoked...

Friday, August 21, 2009

CVESD teacher Ric Ramirez takes Park View Little League all the way to the championship of the World Series


August 30, 2009: Little League World Series Chula Vista wins, 6-3 By Jason Owens, SDNN Kiko Garcia finished the game off in relief as Chula Vista's Blue Bombers secured the Little League World Series championship over Chinese Tapei on Sunday -- without hitting a home run.

August 27, 2009: Park View wins 11-10 after being down 10-5 "against the undefeated team from Robbins, Georgia. It was the first elimination game, meaning the losing team is out of the tournament's championship bracket."

August 25, 2009: Park View lost 6-3 to San Antonio’s McAllister Park
San Antonio upends Chula Vista’s Park View Little League in Tuesday’s final game of pool play. While both teams had already secured a berth in the U.S. semifinal round of play, the win gives San Antonio (3-0) the top seed out of pool B.
--By Jason Owens, SDNN

Sunday Aug. 23, 2009: Pitching its second straight Little League World Series shutout, Park View tops New England's Peabody LL, 14-0 to advance to the semifinal round of the LLWS U.S. bracket.

On August 22, 2009 the Park View Little Leaguers won 15-0 against the Great Lakes champions from Kentucky.

Park View Little League coach Ric Ramirez talks with catcher Junior Porras during the Little League Western Region finals at Al Houghton Stadium.

March to Williamsport
Something to cheer about
San Diego Union Tribune
August 2009

Chula Vista's moment in the spotlight has been delivered by a dozen 11- to 13-year-olds who have parlayed years of practice on the rough diamonds of Oleander Avenue into a Little League World Series berth in South Williamsport, Pa. At 5 p.m.Saturday, the Park View All-Stars take the field in their first game of the tournament.

Link: Interview with coach Ric Ramirez


Isaiah Armenta,
Oscar Castro Jr.,
Nick Conlin,
Kiko Garcia,
Bulla Graft,
Seth Godfrey,
Markus Melin,
Jensen Petersen,
Daniel Porras Jr.,
Luke Ramirez,
Andy Rios,
Bradley Roberto.
Manager: Oscar Castro.
Coach: Ric Ramirez.

This Teacher is also a Student of the Game
Finney’s Ric Ramirez Guides Park View LL On and Off-Field
by Scott Hopkins

Myrtle S. Finney Elementary teacher Ric Ramirez has been lifted from his classroom, swirled around in a euphoric tornado of peak experiences and awe-inspiring good fortune, and dropped gently in the middle of Pennsylvania.

However, it’s the location in The Quaker State that has Ramirez gushing with excitement and anticipation—South Williamsport, the world headquarters of Little League baseball.

Ramirez is the coach of Park View Little League’s All-Star team, a talented and dedicated group of 12 and 13-year-olds that has won the hearts of Chula Vista and Southern California by earning a trip to The Big Time, Little League Baseball’s annual World Series tournament.

But he’s also taking time away from his “other team,” a group of 31 fifth-graders at Finney School. A 10-year veteran teacher in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, Ramirez has also taught at Castle Park School...

Former Triton Ric Ramirez Set To Coach Chula Vista Park View At The Little League World Series
Courtesy: UCSD
Release: 08/20/2009

Ric Ramirez and current UCSD head coach Dan O'Brien helped guide the Tritons to the Division III National Championships in 1994.
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Former UC San Diego third baseman Ric Ramirez, a key member of the 1994 Triton baseball team that advanced to the Division III College World Series, continues to make headlines in the sport 15 years later. Ramirez is a coach with Chula Vista Park View and helped the squad reach the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. after claiming the West Region Championship with an 11-4 victory over Northern California on Sunday.

Ramirez was the starting third baseman on UCSD's 1994 squad that went 33-8 overall and lost 5-1 to Wesleyan University in the D-III Championship Semifinals. The Chula Vista High School product led the team with six home runs that season, while batting .303 with 11 doubles, 24 runs, and 27 RBI.

He was a teammate of current Triton head coach Dan O'Brien, who played first base in 1994.

"Ricky was an impact player much like his son," said O'Brien. "When Ricky transferred to UCSD, we knew we had a chance to win the World Series... He was that kind of player. Now he's making an impact coaching."

Ramirez and Park View will open the 2009 LLWS on Friday, August 21 when pool play begins. One of eight teams from the United States competing in South Williamsport, Park View is in Pool B along with Peabody, Mass., Russellville, Ky., and San Antonio, Texas...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Park View Little Leaguers to go to World Series

Click HERE for updates.

Luke Ramirez is literally head and shoulders above his Park View teammates. (John R. McCutchen / Union-Tribune)

Big, friendly giant
Park View player Ramirez's legend, like him, just keeps growing
By Don Norcross
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
August 20, 2009

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — In this sleepy little town tucked between the Bald Eagle and Allegheny mountains, the legend of Luke Ramirez grows...

When the 6-foot-2, 200-pound, 13-year-old Ramirez walked about the dorm cafeteria Tuesday, one rival player looked at him and asked in all seriousness, “Why is the coach wearing a uniform?”

Ramirez, a good-natured sort, shrugs off the attention.

“I don't let it bother me,” he said yesterday, swatting gnats off his face after a humid morning practice. “I'm kind of looking forward to some new lines from people here.”...

Said Ramirez's mother, Kasey, “It used to make me quite angry. I felt like people were calling us liars (about his age) and that used to frustrate me to no end. Since then, I've learned it comes with the territory. Deep down, I know he's my son. I know he's just a special boy.”

Every August some kids show up here looking like they shop in the men's department. Three years ago it was Aaron Durley from Saudi Arabia. At 6-9, 245, Durley is the biggest player in Little League World Series history.

Ramirez isn't even the biggest player at this year's tournament. That distinction goes to Durley's little brother, Cameron, who dresses out at 6-2, 233. The smallest player is Japan's Kenya Kawashima: 4-6 and 72 pounds.

After the Danny Almonte incident in 2001, Little League Baseball has tried to tighten its age-verification process. Almonte pitched the first LLWS perfect game in 44 years and helped eliminate Oceanside American 1-0. Though Almonte was not large in stature, he later was determined to be 14, two years over the limit. Players must be no older than 12 as of April 30. Ramirez turned 13 on May 15.

Since the Almonte flap, Little League has required leagues to submit players' original birth certificates rather than copies. At the first round of All-Star playoffs, the tournament director and each team's league president sign an affidavit, verifying the ages have been checked.

Ric Ramirez, Luke's father and a Park View coach, took extra precautions during the team's playoff run. Manager Oscar Castro kept Luke's original birth certificate. Ramirez carried one in his coaching bag and kept a third in his truck...

“For his size,” said Kelley, “he's got agility. He's not clumsy by any means.”

As big as he is, Ramirez is not Park View's most prolific home run hitter. At the West Region tournament in San Bernardino, pitcher/outfielder Kiko Garcia (5-6, 140) clubbed 12 home runs. Ramirez hit four.

But some of Ramirez's long, towering blasts have taken on mythical proportions. In a game at Park View's field, one sailed over eucalyptus trees estimated to be 75 feet tall.

“It was just manly,” said Kasey Ramirez.

At San Bernardino, one cleared a Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes concession stand at least 100 feet beyond the 200-foot outfield fence...

Local Little Leaguers headed to World Series
Chula Vista team wins West Region title, will go to S. Williamsport
By Don Norcross
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
August 17, 2009

SAN BERNARDINO — Three hours before Park View Little League's showdown with Northern California yesterday, fans of the Chula Vista team filled a parking lot, painting their faces green and white.

Two hours before the first pitch, the locals began filling Al Houghton Stadium.

“I'm getting a good seat for my brother,” Eduardo Garcia said.

Five pitches into the game, shortstop Andy Rios scalded a line-drive home run to right. Three batters later, Kiko Garcia, Eduardo's little brother, lofted a two-run homer over the scoreboard.

“It's over,” said one fan.

Soon enough, it was.

In a nationally televised game on ESPN2 and in front of an overflow crowd of 13,350, Park View erupted for eight runs in the final two innings and buried the team from Granite Bay-Loomis outside Sacramento, 11-4, to win the West Region title.

Park View's reward: a trip to South Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.

“Oh my, this feels great,” Rios said. “It's every little 11-and 12-year-old boy's dream to go there.”

Back in June, more than 6,500 leagues worldwide fielded All-Star teams in the Majors division. Only 16 make it to South Williamsport. Only eight of those represent the United States...

Jesus Gandara contract renewed at Sweetwater Union High School District and teachers aren't happy

Sweetwater Teachers Protesting Today
August 17, 2009

Teachers are planning to protest at the Sweetwater Union High School District offices this afternoon as bargaining grinds on over their contract, more than a year after their last one expired. Their union is planning to start "work to the rule," which would limit their work outside of the school day, in early September unless the school district makes progress toward an agreement with them. Many teachers typically work beyond the school day to meet with students, talk to parents and prepare lessons.

It is only the latest stage in the ongoing saga in Sweetwater, where the teachers union has petitioned to get rid of Superintendent Jesus Gandara.

Sweetwater Superintendent Gets Contract Extended
July 28, 2009
Voice of San Diego
Emily Alpert

The Sweetwater Union High School District board narrowly approved extending the contract for Superintendent Jesus Gandara until 2012. Board member Greg Sandoval, who voted against the extension along with Pearl Quinones, said he felt the existing contract was "valid and good enough." If the board had not approved the extension, the contract would have gone until 2011.

The new contract also includes a provision that seems to arise from Gandara having been eyed for a superintendent's job in Texas earlier in his Sweetwater tenure: If Gandara is solicited for another job or if he looks for one, he must report that news to the entire school board, not just the board president.

The proposal brought out both fans and foes of Gandara -- a controversial figure in Sweetwater -- to the Monday night school board meeting. Jose Preciado, president of a political action committee called the South Bay Forum, said he was concerned by the animosity being directed at Gandara and argued that the debates over what Gandara had spent on meals and travel were silly...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bejarano is new Chula Vista police chief, ends quest for San Diego Sheriff job

I wonder if David Bejarano will resign from the Chula Vista Elementary School District board. My guess is that he didn't much enjoy working with board members Pamela Smith, Larry Cunningham, Bertha Lopez or Patrick Judd. But his loyalty to them and Cheryl Cox (whom he replaced on the CVESD board) seems to have paid off. Now that Cheryl Cox is mayor of Chula Vista, her support probably was helpful when he applied for the police chief job.

Bejarano: Will reimburse campaign contributors

By Tanya Sierra
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
August 12, 2009


David Bejarano

Age: 52

Residence: Bonita

Previous jobs: San Diego police chief, from 1999 to 2003; U.S. marshal for San Diego and Imperial counties

Elective office: Won a four-year term on the Chula Vista school board in November.

CHULA VISTA – David Bejarano, Chula Vista's new chief of police, said Wednesday he would reimburse those who contributed to his campaign for sheriff 80 cents on the dollar.

Since he incurred about $22,000 in campaign debt that he must first pay off, donors won't get 100 percent of their contributions back, he said.

“We've run a very frugal campaign,” Bejarano said during a news conference outside Chula Vista City Hall. “I talked to a lot of donors and they are fine with that.”

His campaign raised $100,402, far more than any of the other candidates.

Bejarano said he could not endorse any of his former competitors in the sheriff's race because of his new position. Instead, he said, he will focus on making Chula Vista one of the safest cities in the state and country.

Major issues in the city continue to be traffic, auto theft and spillover drug crime and violence from Mexico. He also wants to enhance the Police Department's image in the city.

“I'll be out every day meeting with the community,” he said. “We truly want to engage the community.”

In the last 50 years, Chula Vista has had only three police chiefs. Bejarano, 52, is the first Latino, a status he also achieved during his time as San Diego police chief, a job he held from 1999 to 2003.

He is excited to be returning to a police department, he said.

“I feel like a rookie going out to academy again,” he said.

After leaving the San Diego Police Department, Bejarano was named U.S. Marshal for San Diego and Imperial counties. He currently runs a private security firm and sits on the Chula Vista Elementary School District board of trustees.

He collects one public pension from the city of San Diego for his 24 years with the city's Police Department...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

"Hasta los Gatos" blog tells it like it is regarding universal healthcare

Photo: James Galloway

A terrific local blog is Hasta los gatos quieren zapatos. It's a family-friendly blog by two sisters with common sense thoughts. I can't link directly to the health care post, only to the front page of the blog, so I copied the entire post here.

Common Sense in Congress? When Pigs Fly. Common Sense in America? When Pigs Tap Dance.
Hasta los Gatos Quieren Zapatos
August 9, 2009

Joseph L. Galloway over at McClatchy Newspapers wrote a thoughtful column about the lies, fear-mongering and distortions being fed to the American public by the corporate forces that feel that reforming health care would be ruinous to the country. It turns out that only THEY would lose. The rest of this highly enlightening and straightforward commentary is here. Also, do yourself a favor and go read about Mr. Galloway, linked above. You'll discover that he's not some crackpot picking on the right wingnuts, he has more credibility and is thinking much clearer than some of the bought and paid for muddle-headed people that have been elected to Congress. More is the pity.

If ever there were a time for comprehensive health care reform, it's now, and yet the forces of darkness are lining up against this urgent need, buttressed by lies, mobs inflamed by those lies and millions of dollars changing hands and changing votes in Washington, D.C.

The idea that doing nothing and going on without changing the way this country's health care is delivered works to the benefit only of the insurance companies, the giant health care providers and the big pharmaceutical companies.

That industry is now pouring $1.4 million A DAY into lobbying — read that buying or renting members of Congress — to water down or delay or preferably kill health care reform and hope it goes away for another 20 years or so.

Part of that high-dollar industry budget is going to the low end of Washington's K Street lobbying corridor, the firms and the folks who specialize in dirty tricks, panicking the uninformed and most vulnerable citizens, financing the creation and spread of lies written, spoken and spread like viruses by robot dialing machines.
The Republican Party, on life support itself, somehow sees an opportunity in encouraging and participating in this flim-flam operation. It ought to, and should, seal the GOP's fate.

Each night for the past week, we've been treated to the sight of mobs screaming and ranting and shouting down town hall meetings where congressional representatives had come to answer their constituents' questions.

No questions got answered. No information got provided. No one left more informed than he or she was when he or she arrived.

That's because they and their organizers were following on-line playbooks that are telling them where to go, where to sit, how to make it appear as if there are more of them than there are and, above all, to stop the program and allow no discussion of this issue.

They scream that any government-run health care is socialism or Communism. But look at them; look at their gray hair and thickened waists. At least half of them probably depend entirely on Medicare, a government-run program and a damned good one, for their own health care.

They scream that the bills still being written and amended in Congress will deny vital treatments for older Americans and doom them to an early and unnecessary death. Some dare call it euthanasia.

What utter, unadulterated BS.

The only outfits in America that have the right to refuse you treatment for an illness or deny you an organ transplant are the health care corporations, if you're unlucky enough to have to depend on that wonderful private insurance the right wingnuts are so loudly praising and defending.

This is the same wonderful health coverage that's driven hundreds of thousands of American families into bankruptcy because their private insurers refused to pay for urgently needed surgery or cancer treatment, or simply canceled their coverage.

All of us need some people in Congress who haven't been bought or rented by the pirates, liars and thieves to speak out in favor of filling those real needs.

What we need right now is a huge outburst of common sense and enlightened self-interest.

Those gray-haired Medicare recipients who're playing angry mob need to stop screaming and start listening and reading, separating fact from fiction and learning who’s manipulating them and why.

Common sense is difficult to come by for some when idiots with microphones feel that their useless and uninformed blather is important enough to bring to the table, when in reality it's nothing more than ignorant lies and distortions.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Peg Myers, meet Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin won't stop complaining that the media has portrayed her unfairly. Apparently this is because the media talks about things that Palin herself would prefer not to discuss, such as Palin's using the fact that Russia is within sight of Alaska to prove that she is ready to handle international foreign policy.

Our own Peg Myers won't stop complaining that this blog has portrayed her unfairly. Again, this seems to be because this blog talks about things that Peg herself would prefer not to discuss, such as her actions against teachers at Castle Park Elementary when Peg was working on behalf of administrator Richard Werlin and some of her other friends.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are CVE President Peg Myers and CTA trying to shut me down again?

NOTE TO GOOGLE: If the people who are demanding that you shut down my blog could get a court to shut down my blog, they would have done so. Some of them sued me for defamation on October 5, 2007. I hope you'll let the justice system take care of this matter.

UPDATE: Sitemeter says Google was looking at my site for 58 minutes starting at five minutes after noon today. I suspect California Teachers Association is demanding that they shut down my blog.


Google has me under a microscope. CVESD Reporter blog had five visits from the Google company this morning, from at least six different IP addresses on two continents (North America and Europe)! Someone must have complained about my blog. My guess is that it was California Teachers Association. They seem to do this every time Chula Vista Educators President Peg Myers doesn't like something about my blog.

Peg is probably mad because I found out who was elected in the secret union elections in May.

Peg seems to be very determined to prevent the public from knowing who the union leaders are. (She's not into transparency. She apparently decided to abandon the recently-begun Chula Vista Educators website in its infancy rather than post election information on it.)

The biggest secret of all is apparently not at the top of the ballot, but a little further down. The fact that the Castle Park Five seem to be taking over Chula Vista Educators is apparently a sore spot with Peg. Peg, her pal Robin Donlan and three other teachers were transferred out of Castle Park Elementary after this blogger filed suit against Robin Donlan and others for criminal actions at the school. The Chula Vista Elementary School District defended the guilty teachers, but then grew frustrated with their continued trouble making.

Here's the email I sent her six days ago, with a request that she forward it to Stephenie Parker-Pettit:

Hi Stephenie:

...I've been wondering for months what the big secret is that Peg Myers doesn't want revealed about last May's CVE elections. Recently a reliable source told me something that might explain it. The source says that you are an area director. It's just as well that CVE has dropped the pretense of being an open organization. Ironically, in this case it's the more honest way to proceed. It's more dignified to drop the charade.

I will be writing about events as I learn about them, and that may include you, so I'm writing to let you know that I will be happy to publish anything you want regarding your role in CVE. You can send me an email, or you can comment on my blog.

Enjoy your summer.

Maura Larkins

I sent a copy of the above email to Peg and asked her to forward it to Stephenie Parker-Pettit. Stephenie told me on the phone this morning that Peg never forwarded it to her. Maybe they talked about it on the phone. I'm sure Peg wouldn't keep a secret like this from Stephenie. She might hide such secrets during a deposition, but not from her fellow "Castle Park Five" teacher. I also sent a copy of the email to an email address of Stephenie. Stephenie said she couldn't talk because she was teaching. She didn't show any curiosity about the email, so I'm guessing she's read it.

More evidence that it was CTA that complained to Google:
Google also visited this article about former SCTU director Mary Kay Rosinski, who directed the cover-up of criminal actions at Castle Park School. On the other hand, Google also visited this article about San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).

Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning

The issue that concerns me most, and that is my greatest motivation for writing my blogs, is teacher culture. In over two decades of teaching I saw that many teachers were more interested in being thought of as good teachers than in actually being good teachers. The most powerful teachers weren't in a learning mode. They were in a political mode, fighting for influence, trying to force other teachers to be like them, jumping on bandwagons to appear as if they were open to new ideas. And they refused to learn anything from anybody outside their cliques.

Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning

By Kirsten Olson
Teacher Magazine
July 1, 2009

If you were asked about the learning culture of your school, how would you respond to the following questions:

• Is it a place that welcomes innovation and contributions about teaching and learning from everyone in the building?

• Do people talk about teaching, and can you rely on in-house discussions with colleagues to explore...

Are teachers wounding kids?

Are Schools Wounding Kids?
By Kathie Marshall
The Teacher Magazine
July 29, 2009

...Throughout the year, there was this constant tension between what I was supposed to be doing with students and what I was actually doing.

And what was I supposed to be doing? To me, hand-in-hand with the goal of improving reading was the equally important goal of providing my at-risk students with positive learning experiences. Many were already beaten down and convinced they were losers. Bringing some fun and win-win into the classroom equation would help them, however cautiously, to try once more. Was this not important, too?

Teacher-consultant Bill Page defines at-risk students as “Children who are expected to fail because teachers cannot motivate, control, teach, or interest them using traditional methods and prescribed curriculum.” ...

To shine a light on these issues, one day I had my kids sit in a large circle. One child at a time answered the question, “When did you turn off to school?” In my years as literacy coach, I met privately with intervention students who had the lowest grade point averages, and they always had an answer to this question. Most often they turned off in 3rd or 6th grade, when they realized they were struggling and others around them seemingly were not.

Interestingly, seven of my 7th graders this year had turned off to school in the 2nd grade, when they were part of a district experiment that retained the lowest performers. They still had not forgotten what it felt like to be left behind as their friends moved on...

‘Teachers’ Little Comments’

Recently, I came across Kirsten Olson’s new book, Wounded by School. I immediately devoured it and found more insights into the world of at-risk students.

Olson explains that her book began “with a desire to understand the experiences of highly capable learners, virtuoso explorers who showed unusual vitality in learning.” But she was “quickly diverted by the repeated and powerful descriptions among my research subjects of educational wounding and laceration in school.”

As I read this, I immediately saw an image of myself as a 6th grader. I was walking back to class after recess, and for perhaps the fifth day in a row I asked my teacher, “Can I go to the nurse? I have a headache.” “What’s wrong with you?” shouted Mr. Wright. “Why do you always have a headache?!” It was another 15 years before my migraines were diagnosed. I warily hid my headaches from others after my teacher taught me to believe something was wrong with me as a person.

Wounded by School delineates a dozen different types of school wounding and their effects, including:

• Feeling you aren’t smart and your ideas lack value.
• Feeling you don’t have what it takes to be successful in school.
• Feeling ashamed of your efforts.
• Suffering a loss of ambition, self-discipline, and persistence when faced with obstacles.

In a section called “wounds of rebellion,” I found my intervention kids and their defensive symptoms:

• The only way to protect yourself is to rebel.
• In response to being unsuccessful or told we are unworthy, we become hostile.
• We are unwilling to see another point of view.
• We act out, as an adaptive response and it becomes fixed, maladaptive, and self-destructive.

Olson quotes one student, who remembers a crushing moment in 7th grade that led him to declare, “I quit! I just really quit!”

The student saw himself as a screw-up: “Basically I became motivated to not do well—like what I could do well was not to do well. ... Kids that struggle are so much more sensitive to moments—especially bad ones. These moments shape their whole lives, their sense of themselves. Teachers’ little comments had a huge effect on me.”

...In an essay about three strengths of his, one of my students wrote: “I am good at three things. I can draw (graffiti), I like to be bad, and I get in trouble a lot.”

Olson’s book is not directed only at struggling students. Her research clearly shows that all students are vulnerable to school wounds...“Rather than making them more dutiful, more competent, and more disciplined, they grew weary of school and learning … risk averse, overly intimidated by authority, or likely to underestimate themselves … simply deadened—less enlivened by the world and its possibilities than they might be.”

See Also
Help Wanted: Leader to Promote a Culture of Learning
By Kirsten Olson

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stanford University turns out to be as clique-ish as any teachers lounge

The most amazing part of this story is that Stanford college graduate students actually told their professor that they didn't want to sit next to a certain person!

This story sounds like it might have taken place in a high school cafeteria or teachers lounge: places where conformity to group-think is frequently required. I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who thought universities were places where everyone was genuinely interested in divergent points of view. It turns out that even though academics might process information a bit faster than the average Joe, when it comes to personal politics, they're sometimes as bad as--or worse than-- the mean girls in high school.

I think it's quite likely that Michele Kerr might be wrong in many of her beliefs, but why do other students want to stop the discussion? They should articulate why she's wrong. Also, they could learn something if they seriously considered what she's saying. There are probably gems of truth in her diatribes. Don't throw the baby--free expression and open mindedness--out with the rant water. Kathy Marshall is someone who is expressing opposition to Michele's beliefs. Stanford students should step up to the plate and defend their beliefs, not relying on the power of their clique to do it for them.


They Messed With the Wrong Blogger

By Jay Matthews
Washington Post
July 24, 2009

...[Stanford student Michele Kerr sent an email] to her classmates after the program’s director, Rachel Lotan, said some of her fellow teacher trainees found her “domineering and intimidating” and didn’t want to sit next to her in class.

“For those of you who wish to continue requesting that you not sit with me in practicum, make sure you mention the reason so that Rachel can build her case for the next time we do our little dance. ‘Rachel, I do not want to sit next to Michele in practicum. It has nothing to do with her views; she’s just a domineering, overbearing bitch.’ DOB. We could print up cards or something. Don’t Sit Me Next to the DOB!” she wrote. “I’ll continue being me, and those of you who feel uncomfortable can maybe learn how to speak up. Or not. Your call.”

Lotan and Eamonn K. Callan, the education school’s dean for student affairs... said the email “could have the effect of silencing those who are wary of confronting” Kerr and that she “had not considered that her actions could have a chilling effect on other students, according to an email they sent to Kerr...

She was almost 46, much older than most other STEP program admittees. Single, with a son in college, she had a long career as a business process management consultant, but began to tutor high school students struggling with difficult courses and standardized tests. She found she was good at it. Why not teach full time?

She was pleased that a program as prestigious as Stanford’s had room for her...At the open house, a STEP instructor asked if she planned to accept the offer of admission. Anyone else would have said yes. But Kerr, who calls herself “fatally truthful,” said the tuition would be difficult to afford and admitted she was philosophically out of sync with the program...According to Kerr, Lotan looked for legal grounds to keep Kerr out, something Kerr said she discovered when another official mistakenly sent her an email that was meant just for Lotan...

The senior university counsel answered, saying Kerr would start the program in June...


But in September, Kerr’s blog, “Surviving Stanford,” which she had routinely referred to in her STEP classes, became an issue...

STEP’s displeasure was so great that Kerr finally took down the blog temporarily, renamed it, eliminated all references to Stanford, and gave it password protection so that only she and a few friends could read it.

That wasn’t enough for the STEP folk. Two months later, Lotan wrote that she was concerned that Kerr was “unsuited for the practice of teaching,” beginning a process that could have ended in Kerr being denied a teaching credential. Lotan complained that Kerr was late to some Stanford classes, and in turning in assignments.

Kerr learned to her dismay that a student could be denied a credential for any reason--even those that have nothing to do with teaching. Kerr’s supervisor told her in late November, without warning, that he was unhappy with her work and gave her low ratings in professionalism, she said. According to Kerr, he said she had lied to him, and made it clear her chances of getting through the program successfully were in jeopardy.

Kerr fought back, demanding proof of the charges. Kerr said the supervisor withdrew the accusation of lying. Lotan admitted that she had no idea if other STEP students were similarly tardy or why some didn’t want to sit next to Kerr...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheryl Cox's culture of childishness damaged CVESD and the City of Chula Vista

A surprised Mayor Cox was aghast to hear herself addressed by a member of the public as “Your Fatness” at one particularly heated meeting. “What does that tell you about how some people deal with what we’re facing here?” she says. “Somebody has to be the adult here.” from San Diego News Network July 14, 2009

It sounds like friends of yours, Cheryl.

Like your pals at San Diego County Office of Education. ("280 pounds"?!)

It sounds like the jaw-dropping childishness that you encouraged, or rather required, at Castle Park Elementary School.

It sounds like you, Cheryl. Firing your city manager for looking at racy pictures during his breaks? When the city is falling apart at the seams? Get your priorities straight, Cheryl.

And firing Mike Najera: In early May, Cox moved to force Chula Vista Port Commissioner Mike Najera’s resignation from the board that controls the bayfront acreage. Najera, she said, hadn’t done enough to get the project off the ground. Najera saw the move as payback for a fund-raiser he had hosted for Steve Castaneda, a political challenger of Cox. She denied the accusation.

Instead of blaming others for problems, Cheryl, why don't you act like a adult and take responsibility for making things better?

Note to writer Cathy Clark: Cheryl Cox was a teacher for two years. That doesn't seem to me to qualify her as a "longtime teacher".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chula Vista Educators website appears to be abandoned

About a year and a half ago Chula Vista Educators started a website. I was impressed, and waited for a new era of openness from CVE, thinking such an attitude change was better late than never. However, very little information was ever posted. The recent election was never announced, nor were the candidates and issues discussed. It was not clear at all what the purpose of the website was.

CVE president Peg Myers just doesn't seem to know how to function in an open environment. She has been loath to post the results of the election that was finished on May 20, 2009. In fact, nothing at all has been posted since March.

But who knows? One of these days maybe Peg will update the outdated list of officers on the home page.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Juan Vargas in South Bay--I don't want to see him, hear him or smell him.

I've been completely disgusted with Juan Vargas since he left his seat on a California legislative insurance committee to take a cushy job at--what else?--an insurance company. The guy smells like corruption incarnate.

The only good thing about his running would be the pleasure of seeing Mary Salas clean his clock.

Juan Vargas Coming Back?
Posted by BlueSanDiego
South Bay
March 16th, 2009

The Legislator of the Year honoree for this year’s Roosevelt Dinner is Mary Salas, the only announced candidate for this seat. Mary Salas replaced Juan Vargas when he termed out and went on to become much more popular with local Democrats within the party than Vargas was.

Vargas has a tough road ahead of him if he has his eyes on this seat. He has been out of office for a while and has to contend with running against a candidate that is loved by the local establishment.

South Bay continues to get more and more interesting by the week. Four big races in South Bay are keeping local party leaders busy: (1) David Alvarez versus B.D. Howard in SD City Council D8, (2) Ben Hueso versus Pearl Quinones in State Assembly District 79, (3) Humberto Peraza versus Jill Galvez for Chula Vista City Council and now possibly Juan Vargas lining up to compete against Mary Salas for the State Senate District 40 seat.

State Senator Denise Ducheny in 2012 for San Diego County supervisor?

Ducheny Vs. Cox in 2012

Posted by BlueSanDiego
July 10, 2009

The 2010 elections for the Board of Supervisors are already taking shape but I believe that we won’t be able to win the D4 seat (Ron Roberts) since we can’t even come up with a consensus candidate to take on Roberts in 2010. The district is nearly the size of a congressional district.

Sheila (sic)* Jackson has low name ID and limited legislative experience. Lori Saldana seems more interested in running for State Senate in 2012. You know how it is with politicians, send them to Sacramento and you have to send them home kicking and screaming when term limits send them packing. Saldana clearly doesn’t have the desire to serve as a supervisor. Donna Frye doesn’t seem to know what she wants at all. Some days she will say she is seriously considering it then other days she will seem lost in a daze and unsure of her future.

June 2010 is less than 11 months away. Neither of the three have mounted a serious fundraising effort and it might just be too late if all three are going to stay in the race.

That shifts our attention to 2012 which might be realistically the first time we can get a Democrat elected to the Board of Supervisor in years. Word on the street is that labor is actively courting termed out State Senator Denise Ducheny to run against Greg Cox in 2012. Ducheny has good name ID and a thick rolodex from her years in Sacramento. It also helps that her 40th State Senate district is nearly identical to the Board of Supervisor District 5 boundaries.

It will become more clear if Ducheny intends to run for the Board of Supervisor if she begins going all out for staffer David Alvarez who is running for SD City Council D8. D8 makes up nearly 1/3rd of the Board of Supervisors 5th District. It would be a big boost for Ducheny to have one of her own supporting her in 2012 just in case she faces opposition from Juan Vargas or Mary Salas if either one of them loses the 2010 State Senate race to replace her and decides to take a shot for the Board of Supervisors seat in 2012.

However it might just be a Ducheny 2012 race. If Cheryl Cox loses her bid for re-election for Mayor of Chula Vista, I could imagine Greg Cox wanting to forgo a potentially touch re-election fight in 2012 and simply retire in peace with his wife and enjoy plenty of rounds of golf at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista. Only time will tell.

*Maura Larkins' comment: It took me years to realize that it's Shelia Jackson, not Sheila. I made the same spelling mistake more times than I wish to remember.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dianna Carberry in the news again; this time she claims to be the victim of Sweetwater Superintendent Jesus Gandara

Photo: Dianna and Ed Carberry. Dianna fired a coach for reporting that her husband Ed told a student to use a substance. The student developed kidney failure.

It seems that the same people keep popping up in story after story about problems in schools. Dianna Carberry is one of the familiar names. She is the principal who fired coach James "Ted" Carter in Escondido because he had reported to his superiors that coach Ed Carberry, Dianna's husband, advised a student to take a substance. The student was later hospitalized with kidney failure. Carberry should have been fired by Escondido, instead, she left without being fired.

It is not surprising to me that she was hired in Sweetwater; the district has never shown much fondness for ethics, but it is amazing to me that employees would be protesting her demotion. What is surprising is that Carberry is now claiming to be a victim, and that employees of Sweetwater are rallying around her. It does seem, however, that employees are not terribly enthusiastic about Carberry; it's really Karen Janney that they like. Apparently they decided that it made their argument stronger to have two demotions to protest, but I think it's unwise to use Carberry as their poster child.

Another of the familiar names is Jaime Mercado. Perhaps this story should be called Jaime Mercado gets the last laugh.

Sweetwater's Miracle Worker Turned Lightning Rod
Voice of San Diego
June 21, 2009

Jesus Gandara was described as a miracle worker when Sweetwater Union High School District, the largest high school district in the state, hired him as its leader nearly three years ago...

But now, as he nears the end of his third year overseeing a district that encompasses the middle and high schools from National City to San Ysidro, Gandara is in the crosshairs of a campaign to unseat him. Four labor unions from teachers to custodians have joined forces, gathering signatures for a petition that argues that he "neither welcomes nor respects input" and "relies on intimidation to gain consent."

...And unions are not the only ones angry: Many principals and middle managers were stunned by his decision to demote two of his highest ranking employees in March.

The school board has largely stayed out of the fray after a member highly critical of Gandara, Jaime Mercado, lost his re-election bid last fall.

[Maura Larkins' comment: It appears that things have not improved at Sweetwater since Bertha Lopez replaced Jaime Mercado.]

...School district leaders are hopeful that the recent election of a new teachers' union president, Alex Anguiano, will cool the furor: Spokeswoman Lillian Leopold said that Anguiano has a better relationship with Gandara, who said that when the old President Sam Lucero was voted out, "he got his vote of no confidence -- and his was louder than mine."

But several sources within the union said that the vote indicated a push for "a wartime president" who will continue their fight, not call it off. Employees charge that the uproar is not about proposed salary cuts or layoffs, which have been canceled as Sweetwater found other ways to cut $11.6 million from its $348 million budget, but about Gandara himself.

One union leader remembered Gandara visiting her after she complained to the school board about a computer system.

"He yelled at me. Just chewed me out. '...You have an issue, you bring it to me.' He was yelling and waving his finger in front of my nose," said Julie Hitchcock, president of the Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association...

[Maura Larkins' comment: I'll bet he didn't yell as loud or as long as CVESD Assistant Superintendent Richard Werlin used to yell. But a very close colleague of SEA President Alex Anguiano from Chula Vista Educators (Jim Groth) and current SUHSD trustee Bertha Lopez supported Rick Werlin's questionable tactics. Rick Werlin yelled so viciously at one principal that the man had a heart attack right then and there in his own office. Sometimes I wonder if the teachers union really cares about all employees, or only acts when union leaders get offended. My recommendation to SUHSD trustees: next time, promote someone from within the district.]

...But a chorus of complaints focuses on Gandara's attitude toward employees. They are not confined to unions: Numerous employees in management positions declined to be quoted for this story, saying they feared for their jobs. A retiree has become their spokeswoman.

The demotions "were the tipping point," said Mary Anne Stro, who retired as a principal eight years ago. "If they can do this to Karen and Dianna, they can do anything to anybody."

[Maura Larkins comment: Why are all these people acting as if this is something new? What about Superintendent Ed Brand firing Mary Anne Weegar? Making an issue out of the demotion of Dianna Carberry is an odd thing for pro-employee groups to do.]

Stro was referring to the demotions of Karen Janney and Dianna Carberry, two assistant superintendents who lost their jobs after declining lesser positions in the school district. Demoting Janney, in particular, has inspired outrage from longtime employees who praised her as a competent and caring leader, citing the lofty awards she received and local projects she helped to complete...

Reasons for the demotions are unclear. While Sweetwater schools learned they had much room to improve in a critical report from the County Office of Education, the report was not shared with Gandara and other staff until weeks after Janney and Carberry were demoted. Janney's department was ranked highly in an internal survey last year of how managers felt about Sweetwater departments and their timeliness, communication and quality; Carberry was in the middle of the pack.

Board President Jim Cartmill said that decisions about the top personnel must be left to Gandara.

"We can't keep a superintendent accountable for results unless he or she is allowed to hire who they want," he said...

Business became [Gandara's] focus in Sweetwater, where he names the dysfunctional computer system that Hitchcock complained about as one challenge, along with dropping enrollment, budget woes and its $644 million facilities bond. Though most of the bond projects are in their infancy, Gandara prides himself on roughly $10 million in savings from three large projects where bids came in below estimates...

Critics and supporters of Gandara alike say he has largely left the educational side of schools, curriculum and instruction, to his subordinates. He now says that was a mistake and he will get involved. A County Office of Education study of Sweetwater schools that recently found that strategies to help lagging students were inconsistent, though annual test scores show improvement in Sweetwater over time...