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Gearing up for school board elections
Original post made
on Jun 12, 2007
Palo Alto school board elections are months away, but PTA Board President Melissa Baten Caswell, former 2005 board candidate Claude Ezran, and GATE Math Specialist Barbara Klausner have said they want to run.
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Posted by Jon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 11, 2007 at 11:19 pm
I understand fully that Mr Ezran's statements aren't policy declarations and that he wont be making decisions based on that article (which allegedly misquotes him), but usually candidates (or prospective ones) do present ideas that they possibly toy with and may use in their campaigns, and it is necessary to critique them for their plausibility/practicality. (see note to Mr Ezran below)
I am glad for your wonderful experience at Foothill and learning topics that you are passionate about. I myself may have that luxury as I head into my senior year, because finally I can choose courses that I want to possibly pursue in depth when I go to college. Thanks for the encouragement to show me and others that money is not necessarily the barrier and determinate for academic achievement.
I apologize if I was mislead by the article that misquoted you saying "free movies" as opposed to "free smoothies". Your free smoothies idea is brilliant, and implementing it would be beneficial to all, provided the smoothies followed state/district's nutritional policies, which can possibly pose as a roadblock.
Regarding healthcare, it is understandable (but useful?) to mention it, and I question the level of impact. Possibly the most I can envision is educating parents on the necessities of having it? Correct me if I am wrong for I am no expert in this field.
I would offer that closing the achievement gap requires examining socio-economic factors but then going beyond that because there are better ways to pursue and achieve your noble goal.
Ok another hypothetical. Kids, get a whole bunch of them, rich, poor, middle class, White, Asian, Hispanic, Black, etc. and put them in a class. Assume that they have all the "basic needs" we all desire for them. Now, give them books, pencils, notepads, a teacher, coursework. Now, get them started, and along the way, ask them what is motivating them to learn. Some will say it's the teacher and his/her inspirational teaching, some will say it's the books because they are clearly laid out, others will say because they enjoy the topic, others wont give a rat's ars. There must be a multilateral approach towards the issue of closing the achievement gap. We can fire and hire a few teachers to get the best ones (albeit costs), we can replace/upgrade the textbooks (again, costs), but what is the best way to deal with the students on the lowest end of the spectrum? How do we motivate the unmotivated? I personally believe that is one of the most serious factors in preventing the closure of our achievement gap. Unfortunately at times, STUDENTS DON'T CARE. Give them their million dollar facilities, their brand new books, their decent teachers. Motivating? No.
Last year I took some AP courses, along with a regular course. There is a stark contrast in the student's attitude. In AP, the discussions were lively, intellectually stimulating, and in whole a better experience while the regular science course had a teacher who was greeted with disrespectful, apathetic students one could say are undeserving of receiving such a fine education in this district. I believe that those students, given the right motivation and an attitude check, would have blended well with students in the AP class. Students in the regular course degraded my experience; some decided to walk around while the lecture was happening, some decided to watch as their lab partners did all the work, and to one point degraded to where the campus security was called in to remove a non-cooperative student. Yes, unbelievably in a Palo Alto District school. Like in my previous rant, giving students the motivation is the key to solving this dilemma. Should you, Mr. Ezran realize this and propose solutions that help solve this issue, you will stand a fair chance at winning and improving our district (on top of finding constituents who support your positions on mandarin immersion, school expansion, and all the other headaches).
I wish you best of luck in your election campaign.
~Sincerely to all mentioned,
Jon, Palo Alto High