My Turn: Why the recall is necessary | SierraSun.com
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My Turn: Why the recall is necessary

Robert MowrisMy Turn

A recent Sierra Sun poll reports 77 percent of respondents do not approve expanding North Tahoe Middle to include grades 4-5. Trustees Kraus, Ducey and Olk approved Configuration B to bus Kings Beach Elementary grades 4-5 to North Tahoe Middle and K-3 to Tahoe Lake Elementary. Configuration B will promote Kings Beach Elementary from Program Improvement by combining it and Tahoe Lake Elemntarys California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results. Program Improvement is the designation for schools failing to meet California Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years. Kings Beach has been in PI four years. Kings Beach is only 0.9 percent below AYP in English based on 2008 STAR results showing 34.3 percent proficient or above and AYP of 35.2 percent. Kings Beach grades 4-5 are 45.5 percent proficient or above in English, but grades 2-3 are only 23 percent proficient due to lack of English instruction in Two Way Immersion primary grades. English STAR results for Kings Beach improved by 37 percent from 2007 to 2008. Kings Beach is 24 percent above AYP in mathematics based on 2008 STAR results showing 61 percent proficient or above and AYP of 37 percent. The No Child Left Behind Act requires statewide standards in reading and mathematics. Sanctions are imposed on districts that do not exit PI status within two years. Sanctions include external governance, alternative district leadership, new curriculum, or other restructuring. Sanctions could jeopardize Kings Beach Two Way Immersion. Trustees Kraus and Olk have children attending Kings Beach Two Way Immersion which is unaffected by Configuration B except for Two Way Immersion grades 4-5 going to North Tahoe Middle.In March 2009 without adequate justification, Kraus, Ducey, and Olk proposed to: 1) reconfigure all middle school students to Alder Creek and all high school students to North Tahoe; and 2) lay off approximately 46 percent of full-time equivalent teachers (136.2 FTEs reduced to 15 percent or 42.7 FTEs on April 23). These proposals caused concerned citizens to publish a full-page advertisement in the Sierra Sun. On April 22, 2009, Trustees Kraus, Ducey, and Olk approved Configuration B at a Budget Workshop noticed 24 hours in advance without time for public review. Configuration B will: 1) increase busing expenses and bus drivers;2) increase fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions; 3) increase class sizes; 4) replace highly-qualified teachers with bilingual teachers at Tahoe Lake Elementary; 5) bus students from Kings Beach to Tahoe Lake Elementary and North Tahoe Middle; 6) reconfigure grades 4-5 from Kings Beach and Tahoe Lake Elementary to North Tahoe Middle which is not configured to serve them;7) reconfigure Kings Beach to Two Way Immersion only; and 8) make it difficult for Kings Beach parents to volunteer at distant school sites or transport children to after-school activities. Configuration B will not improve mathematics education in a district where 26 percent to 62 percent of high school students are currently below or far below basic competency.Research findings indicate that bus riding time reduces academic achievement. Numerous studies show small classes in local elementary schools increase English and mathematics achievement. Research studies demonstrate that parent volunteers have a positive impact on attitude, behavior, and academic achievement regardless of the parents educational or English-language skills. The following suggestions will improve English-language achievement: 1) increase professional development;2) reduce class sizes by hiring more bilingual and highly-qualified teachers; 3) increase intervention strategies to accelerate English-language learning in the Two Way Immersion primary grades;4) increase parental involvement; and 5) help non-English-speaking parents improve their English-language skills. The following suggestions will improve mathematics achievement: 1) increase professional development and collegial interaction; 2) reduce class sizes by hiring highly-qualified math teachers; 3) increase parental involvement and math tutoring; 4) focus on high standards and student assessments; and 5) tailor instruction to enhance student learning and understanding.The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is the 12th richest district in California with 27 to 32 percent more funding per student than average districts its size. The district has enough funding to reduce class sizes and improve academic performance for all students in the district. The recall petition offers registered voters an opportunity to demand an election of successor trustees who will properly govern the district. Proposals to lay off 15 to 46 percent of teachers, increase class sizes, close or reconfigure schools, and lower academic performance are threatening to tear the district apart. The recall election will bring the district back together so voters can decide who will best represent the majority of constituents to provide quality educational opportunities for all students including English-language learners.Rob Mowris is one of the leaders of the petition effort to recall three school board members.

1. Sierra Sun (2009). http://apps.sierrasun.com/utils/polling/poll_full.php.2. California Department of Education (CDE). (2008). California Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/3. CDE. (2007-2008). California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR). http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2008/, and http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2007/.4. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). http://www.cde.ca.gov/nclb/.6. Y. Lu et al. (1973). The Impact of Busing on Student Achievement Growth and Change, Volume 4 Issue 4.www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=EJ085917.6. J. Finn et al. (2005). Small Classes in the Early Grades, Academic Achievement, and Graduating From High School. Journal of Educational Psychology. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/edu972214.pdf.7. Cotton, K. Wikelund, K. (2006). Parent Involvement in Education. School Improvement Research Series. http://www.nwrel.org/archive/sirs/3/cu6.html.8. Taylor, P.M. (2004). Encouraging Professional Growth and Mathematics Reform Through Collegial Interaction. In R.N. Rubenstein andamp; G. Bright (Eds.), Perspectives on the Teaching of Mathematics (pp. 219228). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=ED495227.9. Noyce Foundation (2009). Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative. 2009. http://www.noycefdn.org/math.10. Education Data Partnership. (2009). http//www.ed-data.org.


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