Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CVESD takes multilevel approach to attendance

Yolanda Sierra meets with a parent at Loma Verde Elementary about a child’s attendance. Misael Virgen

Student absences cause a reduction in revenue for schools, so it pays to hire someone to help fix the problem.

School district takes multilevel approach to attendance
Chula Vista Elementary School District works with families to cut student absences
By Caroline Dipping
Nov. 6, 2013

Truancy by the numbers:
Critical attendance referrals from school sites to the district level last year: 119
Cases that are scheduled each year to go before School Attendance Review Board: 50
Home visits made in a typical day by Yolanda Sierra: 7
Home visits made in the 2012-13 school year: 518
Of those, 265 were for attendance issues
Cases that went to the Truancy SARB Mediation program in 2012-13: 9

CHULA VISTA — Wearing sensible shoes and armed with the California Education Code, Yolanda Sierra starts most of her workdays knocking on doors as early as 6:45 a.m. If she doesn’t make contact with the family she wants to visit, she wedges her business card in the door.

If the card goes unheeded, she comes back within 24 hours. If she strikes out again, she sends out a letter.

“I’m very persistent,” Sierra said.

Sierra is the welfare and attendance technician/home visitor for the 29,200-student, 45-school Chula Vista Elementary School District. She is as responsible for getting kids into the classroom as she is working with parents to help them understand the importance of keeping their children in school.

In a typical day, Sierra may visit up to seven families. Since the school year began in July, she has visited 80 families where children have missed large amounts of school.

Sierra’s home visits are just one step in a multilevel approach the largest K-6 school district in California uses to ensure their students come to school every day. So often, it starts with educating and helping the parents.

“I think that our wraparound approach, trying to provide services, the home visiting, customizing the dialogue, that personal connection, is a big piece,” said Lisa Butler, student placement manager for the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “All the strategies happening have really created a culture in our district that we want kids at school.

“Administrators know it. Staff knows it. Everyone speaks to it.”

For their efforts, the Chula Vista district was designated earlier this year as one of 11 districts in the state as a model of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the state’s School Attendance Review Board, or SARB. The district has received the designation before, including in 2008 and 2011.

About 1 million elementary school students in California were truant in the past year, according to a report released earlier this month by state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Truancy in California is defined as a student missing school or coming late by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse at least three times during an academic year. Students who are absent for 10 percent of a school year are deemed chronically truant and at higher risk academically and socially.

Last year, the problem cost San Diego County elementary schools nearly $95 million — or about $211 per student — in state attendance money, the report showed. Missing large amounts of school during the K-6 years is among the strongest predictors of dropping out in high school, according to Harris’ report.

Depending on the statistics cited, between 82 and 98 percent of those currently incarcerated in state prison were truants.

In the Chula Vista district, the reasons a student may have a critical attendance issue are as many as the days of a school year. Some are as simple as a parent wanting to keep their child home on rainy days for fear they might catch a cold. Others are more complex.

Often, transportation is an issue. Occasionally, a child is afraid to go to school because of bullying. Sometimes a family is homeless.

There are parents who are reluctant to send their student to school if the child has a chronic medical condition such as asthma. Just as often, one or both parents have a health issue and they keep their child home to take care of things because there is nobody else to help out.

“We look to see if there are circumstances creating barriers for families,” Butler said. “What are the problems?

“We try to bring the support to the family. We try to look creatively at their barrier.”

For every reason, Chula Vista’s team works toward a solution.

Sierra has picked up students at their homes and brought them to school when transportation has been the problem. If it’s bullying, students meet with their principal and school counselor to discuss solutions.

CVESD works closely — so closely that some centers are on campuses — with Family Resource Centers that connect parents to needed medical care and social services. Accommodations are made with the school nurse if a child has a chronic illness and parents are reassured by Sierra and others that staff are equipped to handle medical situations.

With homeless families faced with the pressing reality of putting a roof over their heads, school is often the last thing on their minds. Sierra tries to get them to think outside the box.

“What I try to explain to them if the kids are in school, that is seven hours they don’t have to worry about what is going to happen,” she said. “I try to give them a different perspective.”

Chula Vista’s proactive approach has been practically perfect.

“Last year, 32 of our schools ended at 3 percent or less critical absence,” Butler said.

Yet, when all the district’s efforts don’t yield consistent attendance, the case is sent to Truancy SARB Mediation. The pilot program between the Chula Vista school district and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office began last November and is slated to expand to all the county’s school districts this year.

The program is geared toward families and children younger than 11. Meetings between a parent or parents, their child, a school district representative and a deputy district attorney are held the first Wednesday of each month in the law library at the South Bay Courthouse in Chula Vista.

“It’s been an amazing successful program for families when nothing else has worked,” said Cyndi Jo Means, the mediating deputy district attorney. “These families have been to a lot of meetings at schools with a lot of people sitting across the table from them that they perceive as ganging up on them.

“The whole goal of the mediation is to even the playing field. This is one on one. Kids get to participate as much as the grown-ups.”

Agreements are made, not just by parents and kids, but by the school district as well.

“We totally change the dynamic,” Means said. “Parents are given credence and power in the situation where they haven’t felt like they had it before. They aren’t the only ones who have to change. The school has to change, too.”

Butler cited an example where change all around has led to success.

Two years ago, a fourth-grader with critical attendance faced many of the aforementioned barriers. Her mother struggles with her own health issues, she has a special-needs sibling, and she simply didn’t want to be at school.

Meetings with the school counselor and multiple home visits proved futile. Frustration did not begin to describe it for Butler and her staff.

Then the family was referred to the Truancy SARB Mediation program last year. The student was asked, “What do you want to do? What could we do to make school better for you?” And she was told her classmates missed her when she was not in school.

“That changed her countenance, that sense of belonging,” Butler said. “She got excited.”

Now in the sixth grade, the girl comes to school regularly. She spends part of her day helping a kindergarten teacher and she works in the library. Per her request — that was written into the SARB agreement — she has a specific adult she can reach out to if she has any problems.

“Sometimes, it looks like we just want the kids in school,” Butler said. “That is the perspective.

“It isn’t just the attendance record. Our team is really motivated because we are very concerned about the loss of human potential when those kids miss school. We want them to want to be in school, to see what exciting things are ahead for them. That is our motivation.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pertussis Cases in San Diego Double from Last Year

Pertussis Cases in San Diego Double from Last Year
So far this year, 334 cases of whooping cough have been reported locally, up from 165 in 2012
By Monica Garske
Dec 26, 2013

There’s been a major increase in the number of cases of whooping cough across San Diego County this year -- up double from last year’s count, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

So far, 334 local cases of pertussis have been reported, including 12 new cases in local school districts. Compare that to 165 cases reported in San Diego County in 2012.

According to the HHSA, the one dozen new cases of whooping cough involved patients between the ages of six and 16. v This includes: a 12-year-old student at R. Roger Rowe School in the Rancho Santa Fe School District; a 6-year-old student at Cajon Park School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Sycamore Canyon Elementary School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Heritage Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District; a 14-year -old student at Hillsdale Middle School in the Cajon Valley Union School District; and two students – ages 15 and 16 – at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla.

The HHSA says additional recent cases include a person at Flying Hills Elementary School, two people who attend the San Onofre Child Development Center at Camp Pendleton, a person at Monarch School and a person at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church Preschool.

All but the latter case involved patients with up-to-date immunizations.

Given the uptick in pertussis cases, county public health officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., says it’s important for locals to be up-to-date on their vaccines and booster shot.

“It’s likely that activity levels will remain elevated in the region,” Wooten said.

In order to combat whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says children should get doses of the DtaP vaccine at the ages of two months, four months, six months, 15 to 18 months and four to six years. The CDC also recommends that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster shot.

Individuals without medical insurance can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

Health officials say pertussis symptoms include a cough and runny nose for one or two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. A mild fever may also arise.

The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Now, while cases of pertussis have doubled this year, the HHSA says the current number of cases is much lower than the record-setting number reported in 2010.

That year, a total of 1,179 cases of whooping cough were reported across the county, two of which resulted in infant deaths. In 2011, the number declined substantially, with a total of 400 cases reported in San Diego County.

For more information about whooping cough and local vaccination clinics, visit this website or call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966.

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-Cases-of-Pertussis-Whooping-Cough-Double-237339681.html#ixzz2ohuR0WPy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

South Bay school officials have entered a number of guilty pleas; trial Feb. 18, 2014 if any defendants remain

Former South Bay schools officials have day in court
Sweetwater and Southwestern administrators make pleas in corruption cases
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Dec. 7, 2013

On December 6, readiness conferences began in the South Bay courthouse at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 4:00. All of the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College defendants appeared in court with the exception Jeff Flores, former program manager for Southwestern’s Proposition R.

Judge Ana España issued a $25,000 bench warrant for Flores.

In those brief hours on Friday — as attorneys scurried between the judge’s chambers and the clients in the courthouse hallways — deals were hammered out for Southwestern College’s remaining defendants.

Former Southwestern superintendent Raj Chopra pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in October.

Former Southwestern trustee Yolanda Salcido pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on count 48, perjury in relation to her 700 form. Sentencing was set for April 22, 2014, and Salcido faces a fine of up to $5000.

Former Southwestern vice president Nicholas Alioto pleaded guilty to one felony count, penal code 32. Alioto admitted to aiding former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable to commit a felony by accepting a thing of value and failing to report it on his 700 form. Alioto will be sentenced on January 7.

The former facilities manager at Southwestern, John Wilson, also pleaded guilty to one felony, penal code 32, and will also be sentenced on January 7.

Both Alioto and Wilson face the possibility of a $10,000 fine and three years in a state prison. However, in pleading guilty, the court will consider alternatives to custody.

Earlier in the day on December 6, former Southwestern College trustee Jorge Dominguez pleaded guilty to a felony. In a related case, former superintendent Manuel Paul pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Next Friday, again at 1:30, all of the Sweetwater defendants will return to the South Bay courthouse for a continuation of their readiness hearings.

Courtroom locker talk suggests that the Sweetwater hearings will look much the same as the Southwestern hearings: a sprinkling of felonies, a handful of misdemeanors, and a stage swept clean.

Deputy district attorney Leon Schorr said in a December 7 email: “As to remaining defendants we have a further date for readiness on the 13th and a trial date confirmed for the 18th of February for any and all that we are unable to resolve.”

Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina's depiction of two cuddling penguins

Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina's depiction of two cuddling penguins will adorn holiday greeting cards sent out by the Chula Vista Elementary School District this season. — Photo courtesy of the Chula Vista Elementary School District

Student's art to grace holiday card to community leaders
Chula Vista Elementary School District has held student card contest for 25 years
By Caroline Dipping
Dec. 11, 2013

CHULA VISTA — Who needs Hallmark?

Not the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

As it has done for more than a quarter of a century, the school district is eschewing the business of buying and mailing out commercial holiday greeting cards in favor of issuing a more homegrown sentiment.

This year, more than 200 of the district’s “key communicators” will receive a greeting card adorned with art created by a Chula Vista student. Specifically, a colorful drawing of two cuddling penguins drawn by Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina.

Natalie took first place in the school district’s biennial holiday greeting card competition. Her drawing of embracing penguins received the most votes from district personnel and community leaders including Mayor Cheryl Cox and Sunset Rotary Club members who cast their ballots last week in the district office. She received $75.

Camila Natalia Gomez, a fourth grader at Heritage Elementary, took second place with her wintry snowman and won $50 in the competition. Finney Elementary sixth grader Melissa Holtcamp placed third and won $25 for her portrait of a group of people holding hands and a peace symbol.

Each school in the Chula Vista Elementary School District was invited to submit one schoolwide winning card for the competition, with each school-level winner receiving a cash gift of $25. The second and third place winners were also recognized and one of their cards will be used for the 2014 mailings.

The teachers of the districtwide winners will each receive gift certificates. Recipients of the cards will include Mayor Cox and city council members, advisory group members and superintendents in other school districts.

Per district tradition, printing, postage and prize money were donated so there was no cost to taxpayers. This year, Copy Link Inc. in Chula Vista is paying for the printing of the cards and California Coast Credit Union is defraying the cost for postage and prizes.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Chula Vista Elementary teachers once again require loyalty to the Castle Park Family at election time for CVE president

Former Castle Park Elementary teachers Robin Donlan and Peg Myers.

The self-titled Castle Park Family seems to have run Chula Vista Educators for over a decade.

Gina Boyd was the first CVE President who was a member of the Castle Park Family

Since Gina Boyd was CVE president, every person who has held the office has been loyal to the group of teachers who rallied to conceal the illegal actions of teacher Robin Donlan and her power-hungry cohort at Castle Park Elementary from 2000 to 2005.

Once CTA and CVESD make up their minds to cover-up problems, they stick to their guns. Fixing mistakes is not on the agenda. Doing the right thing is not a priority. Protecting themselves and their organizations (in that order) is their goal, even when they have to break the law and violate the contract to do it.

Jim Groth and Peg Myers worked hard to keep the lid on things after Castle Park Elementary teachers went out of control. But when Peg Myers fell into disgrace after a few years as CVE President, apparently due to some type of scam, and clambered clumsily across the bargaining table to work with the district, her followers claimed to be shocked and dismayed that she would do such a thing. I guess they forgot why they were following her in the first place.

Jennefer Porch was president for a while, obediently falling in step behind Jim Groth.

But now teachers have rallied behind Manuel Yvellez, who's major difference with Ms. Porch is that he is livid about teachers being asked to implement Common Core standards.

Mr. Yvellez' CVE election victory was made possible by his PERB complaint about election irregularities. Here is a partial decision from the PERB board that includes a mention of this and other CVE problems, including the bizarre mid-term exit of Peg Myers.

I do applaud Manuel Yvellez for having the courage to challenge the corrupt hierarchy of CTA. But Mr. Yvellez actually boasts of having worked at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz law firm, which has worked behind the scenes with CTA to conceal events in schools, including Castle Park Elementary, so he can hardly claim to be a breath of fresh air for CVESD.

Interestingly, Mr. Yvellez leaves out the name of Dan Shinoff when he refers to the Stutz law firm, calling it "Stutz Gallagher and Artiano." But Mr. Shinoff was a partner at the firm well before Mr. Yvellez was employed. Mr. Yvellez is correct that Robert Gallagher still allowed the firm to use his name at the time Mr. Yvellez was employed. It would appear that Mr. Yvellez was wise to use Mr. Gallagher's name to recall a better time in the firm's history. But how can Mr. Yvellez distance himself from Dan Shinoff when he is so closely connected to individuals who helped Mr. Shinoff conceal events at Castle Park Elementary?

Isn't there any candidate for CVE president who cares about kids, teachers, the rule of law and transparency in government?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Chula Vista Educators president Manuel Yvellez is wrong about Common Core, and how to teach sixth-grade math

Manuel Yvellez, President of Chula Vista Educators (CVE)

See all posts regarding Common Core.

CVE president Manuel Yvellez won office last August by promising to protect teachers from the District's implementation of Common Core standards. He said he'd insist on extra pay for teachers since they would have to design their own curriculum for Common Core.

But how does he propose to show that any given teacher actually designed an effective curriculum?

Here's an obvious way to figure out which teachers designed a good curriculum for Common Core: look at the test scores of their students. Would you agree to that, Mr. Yvellez? Unfortunately, the teachers union (CTA) has been reluctant to approve effective evaluations of teachers, with or without test scores.


I've been thinking about Mr. Yvellez' complaints about the strict timelines for sixth grade Common Core math lessons. This led me to ask myself why teaching math is so difficult for so many teachers.

Of course, there are many reasons, including the fact that most teachers were poorly taught when they themselves were students.

But another reason is that teachers simply don't want to be bothered. They have their way of doing things, and anyone who does things differently should get out of their school or, better yet, out of their district. I have noticed a couple of what I call "lazy teacher syndromes" among teachers at CVESD:

Lazy teacher syndrome #1: I can't be bothered with kids who are behind

At Castle Park Elementary, I was on the math committee with the Teacher of the Year. She stated, without embarrassment, "I don't have time to teach the kids who are behind." Many teachers can't be bothered to figure out how teach more than one level at a time. These teachers certainly shouldn't be paid by the district to develop curriculum.

Lazy teacher syndrome #2: It's not cool to know math

At other schools I taught at, teachers frequently boasted about how they couldn't do their own offspring's elementary math homework. They felt no shame, no embarrassment. They didn't sit down and study their kids' math books. It was apparently considered cool to be a college graduate and math teacher who couldn't do elementary math.

Another teacher at CVESD announced at lunch that there was a problem in the third-grade math book that she couldn't do, her students couldn't do, and none of the parents could do. "It can't be done," she stated. I offered to help her, and after school she showed me a word problem. As soon as I explained to her that the problem involved a number sequence, and that she just had to figure out what number came next, she immediately knew the answer.

This teacher wasn't lazy. And she appreciated the help I gave her.

But other teachers resented my thinking that I could solve a third-grade math problem. It is simply not considered cool among many CVESD teachers to be able to do elementary math. Being clueless is the way to popularity.


Mr. Yvellez complains in his campaign speech (see video below) that Common Core sixth-grade math topics such as fractions and decimals are taught in a different sequence than in his text books.

The Common Core timelines will work just fine if teachers teach basic number concepts in depth, WHILE TEACHING KIDS SIMPLY TO VARY THE WAY THE NUMBERS ARE WRITTEN, AS SEEN HERE:

There is no need to do advanced fractions before starting decimals and percentages and ratios. In fact, each concept can easily be combined, and should be combined, with the other concepts.

The sixth grade math Common Core standards that Mr. Yvellez rants about in his video (see below) specifically instruct the teacher to use VISUAL AIDS.



MATH CAN BE BOILED DOWN TO ONE SIMPLE GOAL: finding different names for a number.

2 plus 2 is one name for a specific number. 4 is another name for that number. If you draw a picture, you see that 2 is half of 4.

The relationship between any two quantities can be expressed as a fraction, decimal, percentage or ratio.

And teachers should constantly use number lines, all kinds of number lines, showing fractions, decimals, whole numbers, etc.


ALL students can benefit from review of basic concepts. After the teacher has presented the basic concept, the advanced students can be challenged with more complicated problems on one side of the whiteboard, while proceeding with more basic ideas for the kids who are at or below grade level.

It can be done. I know, because I did it for years.

It's simple. You just divide the whiteboard in half, and let kids decide which problems they want to do, the easy ones or the hard ones. I liked to put my low-achievers in the front of the room, and the high achievers in the back. I went from side to side of the whiteboard, teaching one type of problem while the other group worked on its own.

I also had a clipboard with every child's name on it. I'd instruct the kids to cover their answers as soon as they were done. I'd come around and they'd show me, and I'd mark down if they had it right.

Then I'd go to the front and give the right answer. (Kids need feedback right away, right at the teachable moment.) I'd tell them to give themselves a star if they had it right, and to change the answer and then give themselves a star if they had it wrong. I wanted right answers, not wrong answers, on their papers.

My kids did terrific on standardized tests.

And we had fun. We all loved math.

Here's the 9 minute 16 second campaign video of Mr. Yvellez from YouTube. In it, Mr. Yvellez talks about how Common Core math standards might hurt students:

No teacher should teach in a way that harms students, and then blame Common Core. There is simply no excuse for such behavior.

And what about the District's responsibility?

The school district insists that teachers carefully evaluate their students' abilities, but the district doesn't even bother to find out if the teachers can do elementary math. Why not give teachers a math test? Then the teachers who do well can give some classes to the teachers who do poorly. But for heaven's sake, CVESD, don't do what you usually do: bring in some consultant and give him huge amounts of tax revenue to do what your teachers can do.

Note: Mr. Yvellez' CVE election victory was probably also helped by his PERB complaint about election irregularities. Here is a partial decision from the PERB board that includes a mention of this and other CVE problems, including the bizarre mid-term exit of former CVE President Peg Myers.


Are some school districts misusing Common Core, rejecting the idea that concepts should be taught in depth?

I've been thinking about this issue, and I believe that Common Core is NOT being misused. Teachers can and should teach basic concepts in depth. They just can't go on and on for months teaching the details of a single basic concept. They have to create a broad understanding in their students of multiple basic concepts.

Common Core timelines can work is to teach basic concepts in depth by teaching the relationships between a variety of numerical conventions, such as fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios at a simple level for kids who are behind, while at the same time giving advanced students more difficult problems. It can be done. I know, because I did it for years. ALL students can benefit from review of basic concepts. Then the advanced students can be challenged by presenting more complicated problems on one side of the whiteboard, while proceeding with more basic ideas for the kids who are at or below grade level.

Comment on "Teachers can be bullied, too"
by Margaret Berry
Teaching Tolerance
3 November 2013

No one ever said teaching would be easy, but I never dreamed that with more than 27 years under my belt I would be treated like an outsider.

When I first read Common Core Standards I thought they would free me to teach my students what they needed when they needed it. I thought that with careful scaffolding and time, they would make progress. Little did I know that my school district would make Common Core more restrictive than a basal reading program. Who knew that someone with years and experience would be told, "not to worry, that mastery isn't necessary.... they will catch up next year or the next".

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tie teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.

Teacher quality matters more for student achievement, so we should quit certifying teachers who can't teach.

"Finding a way to guarantee an effective teacher in every classroom has vexed reformers for decades." So why not try thinking outside the box? Here's my simple plan: a great teacher in every classroom right now, without firing anyone.

See all posts regarding Common Core.

Common Core turns focus to teacher training: Column
Laura Vanderkam
October 1, 2013

Tie teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.
45 states have signed on to the Common Core idea.
A growing research consensus finds that teacher quality matters more than any other school-based factor.

Shortly before school started this fall, New York parents got some grim news. Student scores on old tests looked decent, but once the state aligned its tests with the more rigorous Common Core standards, proficiency rates plummeted.

Most likely, it will happen in your state, too, because 45 states have signed on to the Common Core idea. Soon parents nationwide will see just how much more students need to learn to succeed.

The good news is that changing one variable could change a lot. A growing research consensus finds that teacher quality matters more for student achievement than any other school-based factor (such as class size). Economist Eric Hanushek has calculated that replacing the bottom 7%-12% of U.S. teachers with average teachers would rocket the U.S. to the academic company of the world's highest-performing countries.

The bad news is that finding a way to guarantee an effective teacher in every classroom has vexed reformers for decades. If American schools want to clear the new bar set for them, they'll need a new idea, and they have at least one promising option. A few innovative programs are tying teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.

Alternative certification programs (think Teach for America) have blossomed in recent decades, but most new teachers still come from traditional schools of education where course work in these programs covers the theory, history and politics of education. Even great grades don't give principals insight into whether a new teacher will command the attention of 30 third-graders.

"Every time principals hire a teacher, they make a gamble," says Christina Hall, co-founder of the Urban Teacher Center. "They don't know if a teacher will improve student performance or not."

Competent teachers

As the stakes get higher, that matters. Students deserve teachers who are "competent in the real challenges they will face," says Stig Leschly, of Match Education, a training program in Boston. How do you explain complex content clearly? What does it mean to have high expectations for students in terms of how you comport yourself Monday morning?

These skills can be taught — and measured.

Match Education, for instance, puts its trainees through an intense program involving hundreds of student simulations. Halfway through the first year, these prospective teachers are scored on mini lessons presented to students. After several months of student teaching, they become full-time teachers but are granted a "Master's in Effective Teaching" only after an assessment of their first year on the job — using principal evaluations, student survey data, expert evaluations and student achievement data.

The Urban Teacher Center trains teachers in math, English language arts and special education, then places them in about 50 schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. To be certified, these new teachers must demonstrate student achievement over their first few years on the job.

For principals looking at a UTC-certified teacher's résumé, Hall says, they'll know "we cut the tail off the bell curve."

Rookie teachers

To be sure, such accountability puts pressure on rookie teachers, but "there's this mythology in education that your first year is just something you live through and then you become a real teacher," says Tim Daly, head of TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project), which trains thousands of new teachers across the country. In reality, performance in training and your first year is fairly predictive of future performance.

Of course, what "performance" means for teachers is an ongoing debate. While UTC focuses on math and English — for which there are tests that show whether a teacher has added value — not all subjects have such assessments.

That doesn't mean accountability can't happen. TNTP evaluates teachers based on student surveys, principal evaluations and feedback from observers who score teachers on classroom performance. These scores are compared with other teachers teaching similar students. The goal is to certify only those TNTP teachers who are "better than most of their peers," says Daly. If teachers are not on a trajectory to be effective, "we part ways."

Used broadly, such accountability will help students meet the Common Core's standards. The key is to recognize, as Ellen Moir, founder of the New Teacher Center puts it, that "we don't have to certify every person that goes into a program."

Students deserve teachers who have data to show they can bring out their best.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.

CVESD superintendent Francisco Escobedo and the UCSD and CSU San Marcos joint doctorate in Educational Leadership

Does all the education theory go out the window as soon as a UCSD/CSU graduate meets the board and--more importantly--the board's lawyers? Or are "practical strategies" taught in the UCSD/CSU program that don't show up in the course descriptions--sort of like what's taught in some law schools? In fact, do "education leadership" programs even claim to deal with problems of law and ethics?

See all Francisco Escobedo posts.

Dr. Francisco (“Frankie”) Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District, is a graduate of the UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. He was previously an assistant superintendent at the South Bay Union School District.

UCSD won't let the public see his dissertation:
Jose Francisco Escobedo (2008). Implementation of a district-initiated inquiry process in a Southern California School District.
Advisor: Janet H. Chrispeels

Here is a description of the UCSD program: Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (downloaded Dec. 3, 2013):
The University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos offer a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership. This cohort-based three-year (including summers) doctor of education degree is designed to enable education leaders to participate in a research-based program while working in an educational setting. Please select the About tab above for more information.

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership functions on a cohort based learning system. Our students represent groups of great depth in diversity and professional experience. Students include Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Principals and Assistant Principals, Program Directors at the Pre-K to University program level, Learning Specialists and School Counselors.

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership has three foci. First, we are committed to a program of study that addresses issues of social justice in all aspects of education.

Second, we teach and use a strengths and asset-based inquiry approach that enables you to embrace your own strengths and to identify and build on the strengths of others as stepping stones to powerful leadership.

Third, we engage you in exploring cutting edge research and practices that will enable you to design and lead educational systems in and for the future.

Currently most educators are preoccupied with repairing a 19th century model of education. We believe we need leaders who know the past but envision the future and are prepared to design and lead in ways that meet the needs of 21st century learners. We envision a community of learners, who strive to critically review and engage in research as a way to contribute to knowledge, improve practice, build theory, and shape the future of education in the region.

Faculty and staff in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
UCSD Affiliated Faculty:
Frances Contreras
Alan J. Daly
In addition to his K-12 public education experience, Alan has most recently...collaboratively supported the delivery of high quality services and research to 5 school districts focusing on the rigorous examination of strengths, building leadership capacity, and facilitating the potential of systems for transformation. Alan has presented at the local, state, and national level around conflict mediation, the creation and maintenance of positive school cultures, and the impact of current accountability structures. As a licensed educational psychologist, he has also provided consultation to school districts working to build and sustain systemic leadership capacity, district reform, and implementation of adult and student conflict mediation systems. Alan’s research interests include social capital, the analysis of social networks, trust, educational policy, and the building of strengths-based systems of support.

Amanda Datnow
Carolyn Huie Hofstetter--
Carolyn Huie Hofstetter works primarily with the Educational Leadership Program. She focuses on evaluation, assessment, and research methodologies, with special emphasis on the validity of assessments for English language learners and adult education students... She has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on several educational projects, including an evaluation of a K-5 transitional bilingual education program (San Jose USD), evaluation of an analytic procedure to align content standards with test items (AAAS/Project 2061), and an evaluation of a professional development program for mathematics teachers of English learners (LHS/EQUALS)...

Currently she is overseeing a federally-funded evaluation of the Striving Readers Initiative at the San Diego USD, which provides intensive literacy instruction for middle and high school students.
Jim Levin
Paula Levin
Alison Wishard Guerra

CSUSM Affiliated Faculty:
Mark Baldwin
Erika Daniels
John Halcon
Kathy Hayden
Jennifer Jeffries
Delores Lindsey
Robin Marion
Grace McField
Sue Moineau
Patricia Prado-Olmos
Lorri Santamariã
Patricia Stall
Laurie Stowell

Friday, November 29, 2013

How did CVESD's Peg Myers spend over $700 per day in Long Beach?

In Chula Vista Elementary School District, Human Resources director (and former CVE President) Peg Myers easily wins first place in the high maintenance category for most expensive inservice/travel request ($2,124) in the January 23, 2013 board agenda. M. Saucedo went to the same Long Beach CABE conference, and stayed for one day longer, but came back with a travel request of $1,020, less than half of what Myers spent.

The following people were even more thrifty while attending the same conference for the same length of time:
N. Rojas $550
S. Johnson $879
R. Ponce, R $100 (perhaps stayed with friend/relative)
M. Stoneburg $879
S. Velazquez $879

Really, how many people can you take out to lunch or dinner at one time? And what purpose is served by taking out lots of people? Or, if Peg wasn't spending on others, how much was she spending on herself?

Myers, P[eg] Annual CABE Conference Long Beach 02/13/13 02/15/13 $2,124 District Admin Human Resources

The Superintendent and one board member also put in expense requests:

Luffborough, D 2013 NSBA Annual Conference San Diego 04/13/13 04/15/13 $1,215 District Admin Supt and Board

Escobedo, F 2013 NSBA Annual Conference San Diego 04/13/13 04/15/13 $1,030 District Admin Superintendent

Monday, November 18, 2013

Teachers who don't know how to teach are complaining about Common Core in Chula Vista Elementary School District

A parent protests at CVESD (apparently motivated by negative attitudes of teachers toward Common Core)

See all posts regarding Common Core.

Good grief, teachers! You're supposed to be professionals. If someone gives you a concept to teach, you should be able to teach it.

For years, teachers thought they were doing their jobs as long as they tore through the curriculum, making sure they were always on the highest page possible in the book. They weren't giving the kids--not even the fast learners--a deep understanding of concepts. If they had focused intensely on basic concepts they wouldn't have left so many kids behind.

Now they're complaining because no one is spoon-feeding them with lesson plans by pointing to a page in a textbook.

Common Core is nothing more than the type of teaching that all these teachers should have been doing all along.

Parents should be pleased. The school district is finally doing the right thing.

School officials have been cashing in on education programs as far back as I can remember. At last they've got a program to be proud of. It's time the US caught up to the teaching methods of higher-scoring countries.

Chula Vista school admin moves forward with Common Core Standards
Resistant parents say they are ignored and harassed
By Susan Luzzaro
Nov. 18, 2013

The Chula Vista Elementary School District had their first public hearing November 13 on how to deploy 4.6 million state dollars to implement “Common Core State Standards” and the “Smarter Balanced Assessments.” The rollout of these new standards and obligatory computerized testing generated a variety of concerns from district parents.

Mothers with young children waited hours to give their input because the district agendizes public comment last. One mother prefaced her remarks by quoting the head of the Chicago teachers’ union, Karen Lewis, who said, “We’re flying the Common Core airplane as we’re building it.”

[Maura Larkins comment: If a teacher didn't learn how to fly the teaching-a-concept airplane in teacher preparation classes, he or she certainly should have figured it out after a year or two in the classroom. If you don't manage to teach everything in the Standards, so be it. But don't pretend you don't know how to get to work and create the hard data that will help refine the time frames for the Standards.]

The quote refers to the fact that Common Core Standards were not field-tested prior to implementation and state-approved materials, and some Spanish-language testing material is still in the process of being designed.

Part of the district’s discussion the night of November 13 dealt with how best to use the one-time-only state money to get schools wired, purchase laptops, train teachers, acquire materials, and get students keyboard-ready for tests.

The district is considering apportioning $2.2 million to purchase laptop computers for the assessments; this will include 2759 laptops and 89 carts. The district considered iPads but determined the keyboard was not the best match.

In addition to state funding, technological upgrades for the school sites will come from district funds, Proposition E, and Community Facilities District Funding. The remaining money from the $4.6 million will be divided between teacher training and educational materials.

Parents who spoke in opposition to the Common Core Standards and Smarter Balance Assessment addressed several themes.

Parent Kristin Phatak said she is concerned that the new standards and computer assessments are driven by profits rather than what is good for kids. She asked the board: “Do any of the school-board members, their businesses, or nonprofits stand to make financial gains from the Common Core industry that has been built around our children?”

Phatak went on to say that in January 2013, the president of the board, Douglas Luffborough III, was a speaker at the Common Core Institute professional learning series “where his credentials included Common Core Blackbelt” a title which Phatak said offered lucrative speaking engagements.

[Maura Larkins comment: Good for him. Is Phatak suggesting that Common Core is a plot by Doug Luffborough to make money? Hardly. Sara Marie Brenner writes for the Washington Post, "Many people were invovled in the creation of the standards, including teachers, administrations, members of the business community, and even people with the ACT exam. You may see the entire list of people who took part in framing the standards on the National Governors Association website. The claim that teachers were not involved in framing these standards is blatantly false."

I think a more interesting question about Dough Luffborough is the one I discuss HERE.] ]

Phatak continued, “In February 2013 the president of the board presented a workshop at the Common Core Institute for the National Conference on Common Core Assessment where he was a keynote speaker. His title for this event was vice president for the Center of College and Career Readiness.”

In June 2011, Luffborough was scheduled to speak at the national conference on career and college readiness. His title at this event was vice president of Common Core Services West.

In a November 15 interview, Luffborough stated that he does not work for any of the companies listed in his bios and he does not have a "black belt" in Common Core Standards. He said the bios are mistaken and he will review them more closely in the future. Luffborough said he is a motivational speaker and that he was paid to speak at these conferences through his own motivational speaker business.

He said he has done educational consulting work for the past 20 years. From 2005–2009, he worked for Renaissance Learning, Inc. According to the LinkedIn website, “Renaissance Learning is the world's leading provider of computer-based assessment technology for K–12 schools. Renaissance Learning's tools provide daily formative assessment and periodic progress-monitoring technology to enhance the curriculum, support differentiated instruction…."

Luffborough was appointed to the school board to fill a vacancy in February 2009 and elected 2010.

Luffborough said he has three children in the Chula Vista school system, which was part of his incentive to be on the school board. He said he supports Common Core Standards and, as a parent, “I have seen my kids learning and growing.”

Phatak also pointed out that high-level administration in the district, cabinet members, received merit or bonus pay for student test scores. When the Reader asked her to verify that assertion, she forwarded an email from superintendent Francisco Escobedo that reads in part:

“Merit pay is not part of our compensation package for principals, teachers or administrators, however my cabinet does receive a merit pay depending on their overall evaluation. The evaluation consists of a multi-metric set of standards, which includes overall test scores as one measure.”

Another district parent named Anntoinette spoke about children experiencing stress and called it a tragedy that children who had once loved school and were successful now dread going to school.

[Maura Larkins comment: Whose fault is it if children are experiencing stress? The teachers are either venting their anger in their classrooms or simply don't know how to teach concepts. Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves for making kids suffer. But the fact is that the district has long used the most rigid, negative, unimaginative and controlling teachers to run the political machines in school staff lounges, so this is a case of chickens coming home to roost. Board members Pam Smith and Larry Cunningham have behaved the most egregiously in this respect.]

Parent Audrey read a letter she had written to her child’s principal asking to opt out her kindergartener from testing and test preparation. The letter said she has “watched with a breaking heart how her daughter’s love of school has dwindled by the inappropriate standards placed on her at her tender age.”

[Maura Larkins' response: My students always liked taking tests. I never made them worry about how they did. Tests are fun--an intellectual challenge, like playing a game. No matter what standards are in place, the teacher is always responsible for keeping kids motivated and confident. If a child isn't ready to master a specific skill, that child shouldn't be made to suffer. The child should be taught the skill at an introductory level, a level compatible with the child's readiness.]

Audrey then read a response from the principal that read, “your message has been received, the school takes the initiative to provide assessments in order to measure and monitor the progress of student learning, this must continue to provide a basic educational program…”

Parent Amber said she volunteers in her daughter’s kindergarten class because “I love to interact with the children and support my child’s hard working teacher.”

But, Amber said, “Earlier this week, a five-year-old was crying because she was frustrated with the day’s assignment of paragraph-mapping. Most of the children are struggling with learning the alphabet and they are being asked to deconstruct a paragraph….”

[Maura Larkins comment: I have listened for years to teachers attacking their colleagues who did not push kindergarteners to read. At Castle Park Elementary, a kindergarten teacher was fired, at the insistence of her fellow teachers, for giving kids the verbal background they needed before starting to read. But in the story above, it was the teacher who was at fault if she was expecting a child to read and write when mapping a paragraph, or to do anything else that was beyond her developmental stage. A 5-year-old can have lots of fun discussing an interesting story that is one paragraph in length. This teacher might be hard-working, but she doesn't seem to know how to make concepts accessible to 5-year-olds.]

Amber said she is also planning on opting out her child from all state and local testing because “that is where the money is being made and the data is being collected, and these tests will have no bearing on our children’s future.”

Cindy said, “My child has also been having difficulties with Common Core, starting last year. We had her crying, confused, utterly upset anytime she was given homework and I couldn’t help her with it. And I am a university graduate….”

These parents assert that they have been ignored by the board and some say the district has harassed them when they have attempted to share their point of view at district meetings.

Read more: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/nov/18/ticker-chula-vista-school-admin-common-core/#ixzz2l3Nb7j4K be able to teach it.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Castle Park Middle School: I can't believe they painted over the windows

I can't believe they painted over the windows. Do they want the kids to feel like they're underground?

Less than a year ago Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced $60 million in grants to the Castle Park area. More recently, Castle Park Middle School wanted the place to look nice for Mr. Duncan's recent visit.

See all posts re Castle Park Elementary School from this blog and from CVESD Reporter.

Chula Vista school hurries to get ready for Arne Duncan
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Sept. 4, 2013

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is paying Sweetwater Union High School District a visit. Duncan is on a Southwest bus tour and will be at Castle Park Middle School September 13.

Why Castle Park Middle? In 2012 the U.S. Department of Education awarded $27.8 million in Promise Neighborhood grant money to a section of west side Chula Vista, which includes Castle Park Middle School.

South Bay Community Services is the lead agency in administering the grant and provides “wrap around” social services to students and families.

The agency is funded through the Sweetwater school district to provide after-school programs for students—which comes into play at Castle Park.

The principal of Castle Park Middle is Robert Bleisch. He is credited with turning schools around with a model he developed at Granger Middle School, although critics say the teachers, not Bleisch, turned the school around.

The model, now being applied to Castle Park, emphasizes attendance. The policy is enforced by escalating repercussions for students beginning with Saturday school, followed by after-school hours, and ending with appearance before an attendance board at the local police department.

One source for this story says, “Kids are rounded up at 2:30 and taken to the O room for the after-school program, some respond negatively.” Another source said, “Parents on the east side would never stand for this program.”

Preparation for Duncan’s visit to Castle Park Middle is frenzied.

First the media. On August 23, the Chula Vista Star News carried a story titled: “Attendance Numbers are up at Castle Park.”

Then Castle Park Middle got a facelift. New solar panels are being installed; new red flags wave in front of the school, and new banners bearing the name of every college in the country are draped around the campus. But the most sensational accoutrement is the fresh red paint—right over the windows of classrooms facing Second Avenue.

According to trustee Bertha Lopez, several teacher and constituents complained to her about the painted windows. She emailed Superintendent Brand on August 23 about constituent concerns regarding student headaches and safety. She contacted board president Jim Cartmill. Neither of them responded.

Over the Labor Day weekend two sources contacted the Reader. Beyond the concern with the red windows, sources raised concerns that either the student body or district money is being spent to the tune of $40,000 to gussy up for Duncan. One item, sources reported, was a stage that allegedly cost $25,000.

Principal Bleisch did not return phone calls by September 3.

Manny Rubio, spokesman for the district, responded to a public record request about the expenses on August 28 with these words, “The district is not making any additional expenses for Secretary Duncan's visit.”

However, on September 4, Sweetwater’s Chief Financial Officer, Albert Alt, responded to an email query with this update: “Some of the purchases are general fund, some are ASB funds….In any event, all of the expenditures are legal expenditures.”

Castle Park Promise Neighborhood gets a visit from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan--but has there really been a turnaround?

Less than a year ago Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced $60 million in grants to the Castle Park area.

Castle Park Elementary, the troubled school I attended as a child and taught at as an adult, certainly deserves a break. But I'm not sure that's what it's getting, even with $60 million in grants to the neighborhood.

Here's the problem: the culture of the school district and teachers union is as bankrupt as ever. Improved attendance has little impact when the dysfunctional culture of the district and the teachers union remains the same.

Here's a comment by a reader of the Chula Vista Star-News:

Sosocal says:
Sat, Sep 14 2013 04:30 PM

What could have been a great opportunity for honest dialogue unfortunately turned into something quite different: the Secretary of Education being spoon fed Ed Brand's scheme of the hour. Yes, principal Bleisch has created quite a stir, but what is the substance? Some might say, as long as the kids go to school and the district gets the funding, it's all ok. But is it?

We need honest answers regarding the finances of this district. We need honest answers from those who purport to represent us, but who really represent their own careerist issues.

What are the students learning from this? I hope the public is learning that they need to be involved.

I agree with the commenter. The network of corrupt officials in San Diego schools is fostered by San Diego County Office of Education. SDCOE protects officials who should be long gone. Why can't some of the $60 million in grants be used to clean up corruption in South Bay? Because the people involved in the grants are closely connected to the school districts, and they all protect each other. The public needs to know more about what's going on in schools, behind the red-painted windows.

See all posts re Castle Park Elementary School from this blog and from CVESD Reporter.

A Promise Neighborhood staff member works with students after school in the Castle Park Elementary computer lab in Chula Vista, Sept. 19, 2013. The software, paid for by the Promise Neighborhood is helping students improve their reading skills. Photo By Christopher Maue

See all posts re Castle Park Elementary School from San Diego Education Report Blog and from CVESD Reporter.

How A Federal Grant For Promise Neighborhoods Is Changing A Chula Vista Community
By Kyla Calvert
October 3, 2013

CHULA VISTA, CA — Ten-year-old Emily Jimenez Ayon wants to be a doctor. To do that, she knows she’ll need to go to college. And to get there she’s willing to make some sacrifices. For the moment that includes giving up her Qiunceañera, which is kind of like a coming out party that many Mexican-American families throw for their daughters’ fifteenth birthdays.

Last year, a partnership of almost 30 organizations in Chula Vista's Castle Park neighborhood received a five-year grant to provide "cradle-to-career" support for the neighborhood’s children and families.

“I want to save the money for when I get into the university," she said.

That’s right – she wants the money to go toward the cost of college. Her mother, Gladys Ayon, said this is a new outlook for her daughter that came after a few weeks of summer camps provided through a program called Promise Neighborhood.

“Before, we didn’t talk a lot about it," Ayon said in Spanish. "But the people from Promise came with the mentality of helping the mothers from the time they’re pregnant and helping them so that their children do well, and little by little, get to college.”

Castle Park’s Promise Neighborhood program is one of about a dozen Promise Neighborhoods operating across the country. The federal government has set aside about $100 million over the last three years for programs like these. Last year, a partnership of almost 30 organizations in Castle Park received a $28 million, five-year grant to provide what’s being called "cradle-to-career" support for the neighborhood’s children and families.

“We saw a lot of gaps in services and we saw a lot of what was keeping kids from being successful in school or keeping kids from going to college,” said Kathryn Lembo, CEO of South Bay Community Services, the group leading the Promise Neighborhood. “You had parents – 96 percent of the parents – saying they wanted their children to go to college and they talked to their kids about it. But then when you asked them what they were talking to them about, it was that, “we can’t afford it, you can’t go to college.”

But changing that mentality is a tall order in a neighborhood like Castle Park, where English proficiency is low, two-thirds of adults don’t have a high school diploma and more than half of households do not have a full-time breadwinner. That’s why they have to start early.

“There’s an early learning network and that has to do with preventing any gaps or getting rid of the gaps kids have even before they enter school," Lembo said.

A preschool that opened this year on the Castle Park Elementary campus where students are learning in English and Spanish is part of that network. It also includes newborn home visits by staff from family clinics and parenting classes called Universidad de Padres, or Parent University. Those classes are giving Gladys Ayon tools to get involved with her daughter’s education.

“This helped me a lot because in my daughter’s classroom everything is in English and the teacher gives me all the work in Spanish so I can explained it to her," Ayon said. "Now I communicate a lot with the teacher. It helps me with my daughter because I struggled a lot with English.”

Ayon is also spending more time on the school’s campus. Not just in classes – but planting and tending a once-neglected garden that parents took over as a result of those Promise Neighborhood classes. She says her two daughters are eating fruits and vegetables they would have refused before - or that she never would have thought to give them.

Evidence of Promise Neighborhood programs is everywhere on campus, from in-class and after-school tutors to an after -school computer lab where students catch up on reading skills.

The school’s resource teacher, Kim Callado, said they're also getting a direct connection to important services.

“We had a family that needed immediate help with shelter, so we went through the Promise Neighborhood, we ask them if they could do a referral then they helped them through the whole process,” she said.

Those connections have only been in place since school started at the end of July, but Callado said they’re starting to pay off.

“We’re still working on it, but yes, we’ve already seen a difference because we’re getting so much support on calling parents, asking them why they’re absent," she said. "So last week we were celebrating that we did really well with our attendance.”

But being on campus isn’t enough to make the Promise Neighborhood idea work.

On a recent afternoon the Promise Neighborhood’s Promotoras were getting ready to go knocking on doors to recruit for one of their programs. Cyndi Gonzalez became a Promotora after years of volunteering at her son’s school, Castle Park Middle, which is one of the four other schools that are part of the Promise Neighborhood.

“We are the eyes, the ears and especially the voice of the community," she said. "We’re there to inform the community of everything that we’re learning and we’re also there to navigate them through all of the programs.”

The Promotoras are neighborhood residents – so Gonzalez believes parents trust them in a way they may not trust school administrators. If parents are more comfortable, they’ll open up and let Promotoras know what services they may really need.

Gonzalez saw first hand what the influx of support and extended school day programs meant at her son's school.

“I would hear every morning, ‘I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to go to school.’ And it was a struggle,” she said.

But – along with Promise Neighborhoods came a new philosophy.

“It holds them accountable for not going to school, for not doing their homework," she said. "And he would have to make up his days on Saturdays. I stopped hearing that every morning 'I don’t want to go to school,' because he knew – there’s consequences.”

Now, he’s in high school outside the neighborhood, but he knows college is in his future. Gonzalez's family is planning for him in ways they didn’t for his older sister.

“We didn’t have all the information," she said. "I’m sure the school had it, but it wasn’t accessible, readily accessible to us at the time and I think that’s one of the reasons why I got involved also, because I wanted to share that information with the community also.”

When the five-year grant ends, the schools and organizations will have to find other ways to keep the successful programs running, Lembo said.

They’ll be gauging success in a lot of different ways -- tracking things like how many infants and toddlers have access to medical care somewhere other than an emergency room, asking parents how much they read to young children and harder data like high school graduation, college enrollment and test scores...

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to hold town hall forum in Chula Vista
Forum held at Castle Park Middle School
Channel 10 News

SAN DIEGO - Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior U.S. Department of Education staff are scheduled to conduct a town hall forum on education Friday morning in Chula Vista.

The event at Castle Park Middle School will conclude the officials' fourth annual back-to-school bus tour, which has included 15 events in 11 cities in the southwestern United States.

Duncan is scheduled to kick off the forum with a pep rally at 9 a.m., when he's expected to make remarks on the role communities plays in educating children.

"The strength of America's economy is inextricably linked to the strength of America's education system," Duncan said before beginning the bus tour.

The town hall topic will be "Promise Neighborhoods," which the Department of Education describes as "cradle-to-career initiatives that call on the entire community to provide comprehensive place-based supports such as high-quality early learning, rich after-school activities, health and wellness services, and crime prevention."

Breakout sessions on a variety of topics will follow.

Castle Park Middle School is one of four schools in Chula Vista that belongs to the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood, which received a federal grant last year of almost $5 million.

Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood

South Bay Community Services provides the most comprehensive range of services and programs for families, children and individuals in South San Diego County. Our programs are for everyone at anytime in their lives when they need it the most. With the continuous support from community members and generous sponsors, we are able to respond to the overwhelming needs of our community . . . touching the lives of more than 50,000 annually.

South Bay Community Services (SBCS) has been part of the community since 1971 providing the most comprehensive range of services and programs for families, children and individuals in South San Diego County. Our programs are for everyone at any time in their lives when they need it the most.

SBCS began as “Our House”, opened by the City of Chula Vista in an effort to combat the groups of “long-hair” teens who were using and dealing drugs in Memorial Park. Our House was a drop-in center where teen drug users could go for counseling and drug rehabilitation. Its success brought about the need for growth and a board of directors. And grow we did. Soon, Our House came to be called South Bay Community Services and has been growing with the needs of the community ever since. Today, we have a staff of more than 400 with many stationed throughout South San Diego County at shelters, clinics, police departments, schools, affordable housing facilities and family resource centers. SBCS is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) with a main office located at 1124 Bay Blvd.

There have been many notable milestones reached throughout the years...

1982 Kathryn Lembo takes role of Executive Director...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CVESD sues federal government over teacher accused of child molestation

CVESD has hired Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost to sue the United States Department of Justice. In its Freedom of Information Act complaint asking for a copy of the immunity deal teacher John Kinloch received in the late 1990s for testifying in a case about child pornography, the school district states, "The public interest in knowing those details far outweighs any privacy interest..."

I couldn't agree more. But CVESD has made clear over the years that it believes its own secrets about illegal actions of staff are not the public's business. CVESD reflexively pays lawyers to quash subpoenas seeking information information about serious problems.

Why didn't CVESD fire accused child molester John Kinloch after Victim #1, a former Feaster student, revealed five years ago that he had been molested for years by Kinloch? Why did he stay in his classroom until his recent arrest?

Who made the decision to keep Kinloch in the classroom? The Superintendent and board have a habit of looking away whenever any employment decision with legal ramifications must be made. They rubber stamp whatever decision the HR head presents after receiving instructions from lawyers. They don't like to know too much or think too much about such things, so they'll have plausible deniability when the decision turns out to be harmful or illegal. The public doesn't know what went on, so the board members are returned to office.

The principals I have worked with in CVESD didn't know most of the teachers on their staffs. Only a few teachers were close to the principals, and those few practically lived in the principals' offices. They served as the principals' eyes and ears. These powerful teachers were often motivated by school politics to sabotage many of their colleagues at the expense of children's well-being and education.

If Raymond Kinloch's principals had met with each member of their staffs for an informal 10-minute chat once a month about what was going on in the teachers' classrooms and the teachers' minds, I believe that CVESD would have found out years ago that something peculiar was going on.

Does CVESD now suddenly believe the public has a right to know? Can we now expect that Chula Vista Elementary School District is going to start seriously investigating problems, and producing information in court cases? Or can we expect more debacles such as the handling of a report by two teachers at Castle Park Elementary that a school shooting might be imminent? Instead of investigating, the board called in lawyers to conduct "investigations". But then the lawyers refused to produce their information in court, claiming attorney-client privilege, and--get this--LOST a slew of documents. Shame on the board, particularly Pam Smith and Larry Cunningham, for showing so little concern about student safety and the education of students. Their neglect caused my school to spin out of control due to the incompetent and malicious handling of the "imminent shooting" hoax. The school ended up having 11 principals in 11 years, and two separate embezzlements by PTA officials, before the district managed to push out the problem teachers and administrators.

Ironically, the federal judge in the infamous Moser v. Bret Harte High School District case ordered Fagen Friedman Fulfrost partner Howard Fulfrost to take ethics training because of "lying and obstruction" by his former firm, Lozano Smith. Apparently Mr. Fulfrost has a higher opinion of truth-telling now that the shoe is on the other foot.

See all posts about arrested CVESD teacher John Kinloch.

By Greg Moran
Sept. 21, 2013

Chula Vista Elementary School District officials are suing the federal Department of Justice, trying to figure out why no red flags came up when the district went to hire a teacher who had been involved in a child pornography ring.

The lawsuit filed in San Diego federal court on Tuesday says the government has refused to acknowledge it made an immunity deal more than 15 years ago with the man, 42-year-old John Kinloch.

The deal had been reported in the media as far back as 1998, and Kinloch himself testified about it in court.

Kinloch was arrested in December and charged with molesting a former student and persuading other boys to send him nude photographs. He pleaded not guilty and is on unpaid leave from his job as a teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary School.

The district says it needs the federal documents to figure out why Kinloch’s past did not come up in the background check it conducted before he was hired, and determine whether any legislative fixes could prevent a repeat in the future.

The Justice Department cited a provision of the federal Freedom of Information Act that said confirming or denying any records of a deal with Kinloch would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The department refused requests to turn over information, and last week declined to comment because of the pending litigation.

“We would hope the Department of Justice would share our concerns of preventing this from ever happening again,” school district spokesman Anthony Millican said. “Why did the background check fail? We need their records to explain how this happened, so we can change it and stop it from happening again.”

Kinloch was hired by the district in 2000 and taught at two schools, most recently at Wolf Canyon.

Two years before he was hired, Kinloch testified in a trial in England against a man charged with what was then the relatively new crime of transmitting child pornography over the Internet. The investigation into the man in England led police to Kinloch, who would later testify he had traded child pornography with the man since 1995.

Kinloch struck a bargain with U.S. authorities: He would get immunity here from child pornography charges, so long as he went to England and testified. The agreement wasn’t really a secret, since Kinloch spoke about it in open court.

“They said they would not prosecute me if I told the truth and cooperated,” he testified, according to a news account of the trial in a British newspaper.

Also, the San Diego Reader in 1998 published a story about the case and Kinloch’s role, quoting Mitchell Dembin, the prosecutor who arranged the plea deal and is now a U.S. magistrate judge in San Diego.

When Kinloch returned to the states, he completed his course work at San Diego State University and got a teaching credential. When Chula Vista hired him in September 2000, nothing about his involvement in the ring, or the immunity agreement, turned up in his background check.

That could be because Kinloch was never formally charged here, so no court or arrest record would be in the system. The news stories did not turn up because the district did not conduct Internet searches then on potential employees and does not now.

Background checks for teachers in California are handled through a program administered by the state Department of Justice when applicants apply for teaching credentials.

The exact reason the background check didn’t uncover Kinloch’s past isn’t known, and the district wants to find out. It wants copies of the immunity arrangement as well as any correspondence with the department and with officials from Great Britain.

The public interest in knowing those details far outweighs any privacy interest, the district contends. Millican said that the public relies on the integrity of background checks to identify people like Kinloch, who testified that he was attracted to boys who were teenagers, and younger.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CVESD teacher John Kinloch to be tried in child sex case

John Raymond Kinloch (Photo from Crime Voice.com)

See all posts regarding CVESD teacher John Raymond Kinloch.
See also "California Teachers Association protects child molesting teacher."


Preliminary Exam scheduled for May 28 2015 8:45AM at the San Diego Superior Court, North County Division, Vista Regional Center in Department 5. Event Felony Jury Trial Location San Diego Superior Court, South County Division, South County Regional Center, Dept. 16 Defendant John Raymond Kinloch Defense Counsel Kerry Armstrong Court No. CS261258 DA No. BBQ194 Click Here to request automatic e-mail notifications about this case.

Update 2014
Former teacher gets new trial date
Neal Putnam
Aug 28 2014
A former Chula Vista elementary school teacher accused of molesting five boys has received a new trial date of Nov. 10 after the prosecutor was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to be a judge. The appointment of Enrique Camarena to the San Diego Superior Court bench may not be related to the trial delay as the attorney for John Raymond Kinloch, 43, had planned to seek a delay. Kinloch was to have stood trial Aug. 25 in Chula Vista Superior Court but it was moved to Nov. 10. Defense counsel had sought delays before as he has a number of other cases in trial. The new prosecutor is Harrison Kennedy. Kinloch has pleaded not guilty to 35 counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts, attempted lewd acts with underage boys and one count of possession of child pornography. He was arrested Dec. 5, 2012, and remains in jail on $1.9 million bail.

UPDATE SEPT. 7, 2013:

It would be nice if Chula Vista Elementary School District were as forthcoming with documents as it wants other agencies to be. For example, it would be appropriate for CVESD to provide the police with documentation of any suspensions it may have imposed on Mr. Kinlock in previous years. The second story below states, "It wasn't until he was in 7th grade that the alleged victim spoke out." That was five years ago. So why did CVESD keep Kinloch in the classroom for several more years, until the police stepped in and arrested him?

Teacher to be tried in child sex case
U-T San Diego
Anthony Millican, spokesman for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, said the district has made two requests for records from the U.S. Department of ...


Teen Testifies Ex-Teacher Molested Him After School
By Sherene Tagharobi and R. Stickney
Sep 5, 2013

A young man testified in graphic detail Thursday, describing how he was molested by a former teacher after school in the classroom of a Chula Vista charter school.

Former teacher John Kinloch was arrested in November 2012 as part of a national child pornography bust, accused of posing as a 13-year-old girl to befriend boys ages 12 to 16 through a website.

At the time of his arrest on child molestation charges and child pornography charges, the 41-year-old had been teaching for 14 years and had passed background checks designed to protect students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

The alleged victim, identified in court as “John Doe 1”, met the defendant when he was a student in Kinloch’s 2nd grade class at Feaster Charter School on Flower Street.

The 7-year-old would often hang out in the teacher’s classroom every day until about 6 p.m. according to the teen's testimony. The two would sometimes go out to dinner together. After, the student would walk home or Kinloch would drive him home, he said.

Then, when the child was in 3rd grade, “John Doe 1” said Kinloch asked him to take off his clothes. The teenager testified he didn't want to do it but didn't want to get his former teacher upset.

“He told me that if I truly cared about him that I would get naked and he told me that his friends told him it was the best way for someone to show that they cared about someone,” the alleged victim testified Thursday.

The alleged victim, now 17, didn’t make eye contact with the defendant while testifying
. Kinloch shook his head as if in disagreement with what the teenager was saying several times during the testimony.

“I didn’t want to whatsoever but he just kept dragging it on and sort of getting aggravated where he’d sigh deeply and show that he was getting sort of mad so I didn’t want to make him too upset so I did,” the teenager testified.

The abuse continued as the child moved into the 4th grade with the defendant allegedly asking the child to expose himself “many times” but touching the boy’s genitals only occasionally, according to testimony.

The teenager stated the alleged molestation happened on school grounds at least twice when the classroom door was locked. The molestation continued for five to six years the teenager testified.

He lived at home with his mother and two sisters at the time. He said his father was never around much. The teenager testified that he started hanging out with Kinloch because he thought he was cool.

The teacher and his former student would tell each other “I love you” when others weren't around the teen testified.

It wasn't until he was in 7th grade that the alleged victim spoke out. He said he kept hanging out with Kinloch because he wanted to get past it and would attempt to delay the act of undressing when asked.

He admired Kinloch for other things and said the former teacher taught him manners and how to be a good person.

Under cross-examination, the teenager said he read several news accounts of Kinloch’s arrest and was angry about the allegations.

“John Doe 1” was the first of three alleged victims who were expected to testify in the case against the former teacher.

Kinloch faces an additional 12 counts of lewd acts with a child under the age of 18 involving a second alleged victim. The allegations involve situations that happened between August and December of 2012, investigators said. The alleged victim was under the age of 13 and not a student.

He also faces six additional lewd act charges involving a third victim who was 14 or 15 between 1996 and 1998 when he alleges inappropriate contact. The incident allegedly occurred when Kinloch was 24 or 25 and not working as a teacher.

Kinloch was teaching first grade at Wolf Canyon Elementary School at the time of his arrest. He was placed on unpaid leave of absence during criminal proceedings.

If convicted of all charges, Kinloch faces 450 years to life in prison.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CVESD Teacher Accused of Luring Children Online

In my experience, school politics plays a huge role in protecting bad teachers. There was an incident involving this teacher several years ago.

Teacher Accused of Luring Children Online
By Nicole Gonzales and Monica Garske
NBC 7 San Diego
Dec 1, 2012

John Kinloch, a first grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary School in Chula Vista, is accused of luring children online. NBC 7's Nicole Gonzales reports on his arrest and gets reaction from parents and the school district.

A local elementary school teacher was arrested Friday morning on felony charges involving allegedly luring children online.

Suspect John Kinloch, 41, is a first grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary in Chula Vista. He’s been teaching for the past 14 years.

Federal agents believe the veteran teacher lured children online in order to obtain nude pictures of minors. Kinloch is now being held at San Diego Central Jail on three felonies involving minors.

On Friday, the Chula Vista Elementary School District handed out 900 letters informing parents of Kinloch’s arrest. The letter reassured parents that none of their students were targeted and none of the alleged crimes were committed on campus.

The news left both the school district and parents in disbelief.

“It hurts me that the kids have established a relationship with this teacher, so I'm really going to be asking some questions,” said Wolf Canyon parent Denise Roldan. “My kids [have] only mentioned him a couple of times. They say he was a cool teacher; kids were really happy with him.”

Anthony Millican of the Chula Vista Elementary School District said Kinloch’s arrest came as a complete surprise, especially since there were never any red flags concerning the teacher.

“There's nothing in the individual's file to indicate anything of this nature, thus [we’re feeling] a sense of surprise and concern and shock,” said Millican.

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force says Kinloch posed as a 13-year-old girl online.

He has allegedly been in contact with boys between the ages of 12 and 16, getting them to send him nude photographs and videos.

In addition, Kinloch is accused of selling or sending the obscene materials.

Now, the well-liked teacher is under investigation and on administrative leave from his position.

“Anyone who harms children isn’t someone we want in our system,” said Millican.

Kinloch’s neighbors say the teacher was not married, lived at home with his mother and generally kept to himself.

He’s scheduled to appear in court and face a judge on Dec. 7.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Local 6th grader told he cannot take 8th grade algebra: School says boy would be truant

Chula Vista Elementarty School District supports teachers who teach math at only one level; a good teacher can teach at several levels at once.

Local 6th grader told he cannot take 8th grade algebra: School says boy would be truant
Parents say son passed algebra readiness test
Joe Little
10 News

A Chula Vista 6th grader has been told he will be truant if he goes to an 8th grade algebra class instead of his own grade level class.

10News was contacted by Myssie McCann shortly after she was told her 11-year-old son Grant would be punished for not attending Salt Creek Elementary's math classes.

"Never dawned on me in a million years that Chula Vista Elementary School District would say, 'No, you can't do this,'" McCann told 10News. "I was told by the principal [Lalaine Perez] that she was obligated to tell me that if I pursued him taking the Eastlake Middle algebra class, my son would be marked truant on those days."

McCann said Grant has excelled at math since 2nd grade. She said last year, the then-5th grader was placed in a 6th grade math course. This summer, McCann said he passed an 8th grade algebra readiness test.

Grant's parents contacted the nearby Eastlake Middle School, where Grant will be going for 7th and 8th grades to see if he can attend algebra classes. He would then go back to Salt Creek for all his other courses.

McCann said she petitioned the school district. She contacted 10News after she was told her son would be marked as "truant."

"I was not happy," McCann said. "I told her that was unacceptable."

Grant was not happy either.

"It would be challenging for me because when I'm not challenged, math is actually boring," the soon-to-be 6th grader said.

Grant's father is John McCann, who sits on the Sweetwater Union Board of Trustees.

Monday evening, a spokesman for the Chula Vista Elementary School District told 10News the district does not have a process in place for students like Grant to take classes out of district.

He said the district is looking at it and will make a decision on Tuesday just in time for school, which begins Wednesday.

The school district released the following statement to 10News:

"We were asked to make special considerations for the child of a Board Member in a neighboring district. We believe it is wiser to establish a process that would benefit any student in that circumstance, rather than just a one-time exception for the benefit of the child of an elected official. The public does not like special considerations for elected officials. So we will work with our counterparts in Sweetwater to establish a process for independent study agreements that would allow for any qualifying students in the elementary district to take classes in the middle or high school district. Our student-based decisions will be backed up by data. They will not be made on word of mouth or handshake agreements with elected officials in another district."