Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safety at AE and New Haven Schools

On Monday, Dec 17, 2012, New Haven spokesperson, Rick LaPlante, released a statement regarding student safety at all their schools. An online brochure on Helping your Child to Cope was revealed to help parents talk to their children after a school emergency. This is a response to a deadly incident in Connecticut during which 26 children and teachers were killed by an intruder in an elementary school.

Every parent as they watch their child leave for school in morning assumes they will be safe. New Haven has various drills in place for fire, earthquake, and intruders. Fire laws actually state how many fire drills a school must have during the school year. In California fire drills are to be conducted and recorded at least once a month for elementary and intermediate and twice a year for, secondary. All students, staff, and volunteer parents are required to leave the facility during the drill. Each class has an assigned spot where they are required to stand with their teacher until the emergency is over.

Different states have different natural disaster drills depending on the types of natural disasters occurring in the state. Kansas and Texas have tornado drills. California has Drop or Duck and Cover drills for earthquakes with reminders not to be by a window. Students are taught to cover their neck and close their eyes. After the shaking subsides then everyone goes outside in an orderly fashion. In California these are twice a year. In some schools there is an earthquake emergency supply of water in each room. 

A Code Red is initiated over the PA system when there is a possibility of violence on the campus. This is a Lock Down. Teachers lock the doors. No one is allowed in or out until given the all clear signal. In a dangerous situation sometimes students are locked down for a very long time. Teachers keep students away from windows and sometimes cover the windows. Specific staff members are assigned to check the bathrooms and bring everyone inside. I can remember a student who had to urinate, but there was no bathroom available. So the teacher found a private space and the child went in the waste paper basket. None of the other students even noticed.

During a non emergency situation, students sometimes need to go to the bathroom. This can also be a safety hazard as during class time, bathrooms are sometimes unsupervised. As a precaution teachers usually send young children two at a time to use the bathroom. The safety hazard can actually be an older student not necessarily an adult.

For all these situations, teachers have an emergency back pack with first aide supplies and Emergency cards for each child. Only parents, guardians, or adults listed on the emergency card are allowed to pick up their students. Parents should always be sure their emergency card is up to date.

Principals and staff are looking at ways to improve school safety. Some schools have safety gates on the fences surrounding the school. New Haven is in the process of adding more safety gates as soon as possible. Some schools have volunteer or visitor badges which indicate the individual checked in at the front office. Alvarado has a visitor sign in sheet, but I believe not badges. Some schools require the door to each classroom is locked after students are inside except during passing time. This seems like prison to me but maybe in some neighborhoods a necessity. At elementary schools there are so many resource personnel, parent volunteers, and even school board members visiting classrooms, this may affect the ability of schools to function well. Doors should be able to be locked from the inside with a key or code. At this time this is not possible for Alvarado. If a Code Red signal is given, the teacher has to go outside to lock the door. Parents should attend the school site council meetings to voice their concerns.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

RACE to the TOP Grant

New Haven’s School District will receive a federal Race to the Top grant of more than $29 million over the next four-and-a-half years, to personalize student learning, improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare all students to succeed in college and careers.

According to Rick LaPlante, Director of Parent and Community Relations, New Haven plans to hire literacy, assessment and math coaches for all schools to provide in-classroom coaching in personalized learning for literacy, math and use of assessments. Summer teacher institutes will be expanded for reading, literacy and mathematics. Smaller class sizes for high school English Learners will be created. The district will purchase more K-8 library books and classroom libraries of non-fiction books and is thinking about expanding the positions of library media teachers. A full time librarian in every school is important to improving student achievement.

New Haven also plans to purchase mini-computer tablets for every 6-12 grade student and for every two K-5 students, as well as tablets, laptops and document cameras for all teachers. Additional IT technicians, a data specialist and technology trainers will be hired. All of the new technology will be phased in with strong teacher professional development to ensure usage.

The New Haven Unified School District was 2nd in the nation of 16 finalists for this grant. The focus of this grant is to take full advantage of 21st century tools to prepare students for college and careers. It is interesting to note that the American Association of School Librarians entitled their standards as 21st Century Learning Standards.

This grant lasts for 4 and 1/2 years. The real question is sustainability. Once the grant is gone can New Haven sustain the personnel, equipment, print resources, and drive to keep this effort moving forward. Now that New Haven has the Grant, the education sharks (businesses), such as the Wireless Generation, will move in and try to sell the district testing and resources they may not need. Whoever is watching the $$$ is going to have to fight to maintain the district's integrity. However, I am not going to say give the money back. New Haven and all schools are in dire need of financial support. Districts have to do what they need to do and worry about sustainability later. Certainly when the money is gone, New Haven may need to get other grants to keep afloat unless the state of California is more forthcoming with money.

There is no question fulfilling the goals of this grant is going to be similar to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The  superintendent down to the principals, teachers, and resource staff are going to have to hang on for their life. Hopefully it will be fun and rewarding for the staff and especially the students.

School Librarians in Common Core Standards

Thrilled to see school libraries in the California Common Core Standards. However, as I looked at them for each grade level they seemed to be very watered down, especially those for grades 3, 4, and 5. CCCS generally states that school library standards are aligned with content standards of each grade. A school librarian often works with the classroom teacher on gathering materials suitable for the class. However, in the California standards there is no mention of having a qualified credentialed teacher and credentialed librarian or MLIS librarian in the library. MLIS is Master of Library and Information Science. In California librarians who work in schools should have both a teaching credential and a librarian credential. A credentialed librarian is prepared to engage students in higher level thinking skills by teaching students to find, interpret, and organize information. Don't you want someone with these qualifications for your child?

There are standards for for school libraries. The American Association of School Librarians has Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. New Haven School District's own last plan for school libraries went through 2010.

According to the national Common Core Standards starting in 4th grade students will have to have to read the same amount of non fiction text as literary text or fiction.  All 5th grade students will begin to be trained to read to learn by gathering information. Realistically this should begin much before 5th grade. This means reading non fiction.  Readers have to be trained to find and synthesize useful information. By the time students are in the 12th grade 70% of their text reading will have to be informational. A credentialed librarian is most suited by training and skill to provide this service. Just like fiction, all non fiction is not created equal. Plus building up to the 4th and 5th grade a credentialed librarian will identify excellent non fiction for students to read; can give non fiction books talks to all grades even kindergarten; identify non fiction features, such as bold fonts, bullets, and captions; text cues; and graphics (diagrams, cross sections, charts, graphs); Text organizers, index, table of contents, glossary; and teach students about online hoaxes, by using sites such as These should be done long before students reach the 4th and 5th grades.

At this time Alvarado has an excellent duel credentialed librarian, Alisha Valine.  However, she is only at AE 2 days a week and all students do not go to the library. With the requirements of the Common Core Standards it is important to have her full time, 5 days a week.

Changes at the Top

It's time to look at some of the changes of personnel in the administration of New Haven Union school district. In May of 2012 Chief Academic Officer, Wendy Gudalewicz, notified the school board she was leaving New Haven. She was leaving to become the Superintendent of the Cupertino Union School district. She came to New Haven in June of 2009.
Wendy Gudalewicz

On June 6th, 2012, Dr. Arlando Smith was appointed by the New Haven School Board to be the new Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Smith was previously an assistant professor of educational leadership at San Jose State University. Dr. Smith was familiar with New Haven as in the past he provided professional development for New Haven teachers and had coached the district principals. He is married to Wendy Gudalewicz.

Dr Arlando Smith

In April of 2006, Chris Hobbs joined the New Haven School District as excutive director of technology. He has faced overwhelming cuts to the techology department while keeping up with the challenges of ever changing technologies. On November 27, 2012 the Pleasanton school board appointed Chris Hobbs as Director of Technology. Mr. Hobbs will leave New Haven on Jan 12, 2012.

Chris Hobbs

The District Communications Director, Rick La Plant will be officially retiring from full time work in the district.  He will still be working on an on call bases for the district. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Education's Public Defender

Education's advocate, Diane Ravitch is revealed in an article in the New Yorker by David Denby. At one time she was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, but due to disappointing results for students, she has tirelessly fought for a better system for our nation's children and grandchildren. According to Ravitch the reform movement took on a business format when test-based accountability (NCLB) spearheaded a detour from professional teachers to teaching technicians by turning schools over to non-union for-profit charter school, including some that are totally online charter schools.

The constant test prep in reading and math has required schools to cut back on science, history, languages, art, and in some cases physical education. A 2009 survey, conducted by Stanford, concluded that only 17% of charter schools outperformed the local public schools in math and 37% had worse results than the public schools. Plus cheating scandals were found in some states and some states made the tests too easy so students would pass.

Even Rupert Murdoch, of the British News Corporation phone tapping scandal, has put his wallet into the education game by forming an education subsidiary in the US called Amplify. Education is a place to make millions or billions in the software business for testing and Charter schools. If you look at the website, it looks really amazing. But when you see what they do, they develop technological software for devices. It's all about the money. The rest is smoke and mirrors. Do we really need a guy who ran a company that invaded people's privacy for profit involved in our educational system for our children?

Miss Ravitch believes that poverty is one reason that student achievement is low. That does not mean that poor students can't learn. It means that their needs may be different and need to be addressed. We have immigrant children, who may not speak English, students with disabilities (some which may be caused by lack of nutrition), and kids with no quiet place to study or even sleep. Combine this with the growing number of autistic children with special needs in public schools, educationally motivated families moving to charter schools, and increasing class size due to lack of funding, and it is not rocket science to see why public schools are at a disadvantage.

Although the future is uncertain, Diane Ravitch believes in public education. She believes in tenure for teachers and believes that union representation gives professionals a seat at the table when state legislatures try to make cuts in school funding. She does not believe  merit pay should be the primary measurement for teacher performance.  She is tentatively supporting Common Core Standards which began to be implemented in 2010 in some states (not California), but reminds us that they have not been field tested anywhere. If you are a teacher, Diane Ravitch believes in you. She believes teachers are highly dedicated. She believes neighborhood public schools fulfill a democratic function where those of all faiths, races, countries, ethnicity's, and social status can meet, learn, and support each other. Daily, as teachers teach each subject, they help children learn to work and play together in peace. If you are a parent or grandparent, she believes American public schools are not failing your child. Need more information take a look at Diane Ravitch's blog.

Common Core Standards

On March 12, 2012, State School Chief of California, Tom Torlekson,  introduced a plan to Implement Common Core Standards in California.

What are Common Core Standards and where did this come from?
These are a set of standards for Math and English Language Arts that were designed for all states to adopt so learning could be more uniform across the country.  In 2010 the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association released the standards that spell out what children are expected to learn in those two subjects from kindergarten through the end of high school. To find these standards through high school go to Common Core Standards for San Francisco and the bay area. These are very detailed and you have to go through many pages to find the standards for each subject and grade level. The high school standards are set to provide students with the skills to compete in the global marketplace. The idea is to uniformly boost student achievement across the country. President Obama and his education cabinet member, Arnie Duncan, both support this effort to improve public education.

What are these standards for elementary school?  The California Common Core Standards from the California Department of Education for elementary is specifically for each grade k-8. They are much easier to read and include history, art, science, physical education, music, visual and performing arts, and school libraries. The link I have given you in this paragraph states that standards unique to California are in bold print, such as write fluidly and legibly in cursive or joined italics in fourth grade. Some schools stopped teaching cursive a while ago.

How do these standards affect our children? Many of the standards are the same standards that students have had in the past. However, there seems to be more emphasis on creativity. This is fantastic for students and teachers. Creativity puts the joy back in schools and makes students critical thinkers. The writing standards for 3rd grade are higher than in the past. Students will be expected to use technology to produce and publish writing, gather information from print or digital resources, take notes, and write over extended time frames for specific purposes. Implementation will begin in 2013-2014. However textbook materials will not be ready until 2016.

What challenges are ahead? If students are expected to use computers to write over extended time frames and gather information, schools will need to update computers and provide plenty of them. With 30 kids in the classroom the logistics of providing time for all students to have access to computers, could be a nightmare. They will also need to have access to Google Docs or some form of digital saving that is easy to set up and use. Ink will also be necessary as teachers will want to print some. New Haven has applied for the federal grant Race to the Top. New Haven is one of 61 that has made it to the next round of approval. One of the things New Haven have asked for is mini ipads for every 2 elementary students. This would certainly help with the technology needed. However, schools will need to expand their technicians to keep all these computers or mini tablets running without delay. Just the updates on mini ipads will be demanding. Technicians are going to cost $$$$.

 Maureen Tecson's students using 
ipads and itouch's in the classroom.

I also see committees on new report cards being formed. This is just my initial post on what lies ahead for children and schools. I am sure I will have more to say about this. Having common goals with the rest of the nation is good. However, schools still have to fund it (provide resources), provide training for teachers, and figure out some kind of sensible testing or portfolio system to evaluate the child. Hopefully this is goodby to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's the American Way: Vote 11/6/2012

Another great video from the students at Alvarado Elementary. Produced and directed by Keith Guernsey.

Proposition 30 passed. Thanks to all who supported California schools.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jog-a-thon September 28th

Here are the students doing the jog-a-thon to raise money for extra school activities.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicken Little

By Rebecca Emberly
No the sky is not falling, but there are many challenges for AE due to California school budget cuts. One at Alvarado is class size. Class size in all grades can be up to 34 students. This includes kindergarten. In the last few years kindergarten and 1st grades had been limited to 20 students. This is a huge change for teachers and students. Last year 2nd and 3rd grade were limited to 25 students. This is no more. Because of the size of classes are so large, it means fewer regular teachers are needed. Therefore some familiar faces around AE will be missing. Some teachers received pink slips and were released from New Haven. Some were assigned to other schools in the district. The smile of Rachna Lindstrom will be missed by students and staff. She will be teaching 4th grade in San Leandro School District. Matt Speakman and Junelle Mallari will no longer be at Alvarado at this writing. However, there are no empty classrooms as 6 new classrooms are now occupied by special education students. Some of these students come from the Cabello facility which was closed at the end of the last school year 2012.

Clinton Puckett

Clinton Puckett will be the new Assistant Principal. Clinton has been teaching a variety of grades for the last few years. He also taught the after school dance class and the Color Guard. Vince Lindain, a long time 1st grade teacher, will teach 3rd grade this year. Cathy Hampton, a long time 3rd grade teacher, will be teaching a 3/4 class this year.

After much discussion by district personnel about how to handle library cuts, media/library classes will be non existent for grades k, 1, 2, and 3.  Fourth and fifth grades will have somewhat regular media classes. Alisha Valine, the media specialist/librarian will only be at AE on Monday afternoon, Tuesday all day, and Friday afternoon. On Monday mornings she will be a Kitayama and also all day on Thursday. On Wednesday she will be all day at Pioneer and then again in the morning on Friday. She will do her best to maintain services for the teachers and the classes she teaches, but at this time only 4th and 5th grade students will be able to checkout books. This may still be somewhat tenative because often prep schedules need to be adjusted. Keep an eye on Mrs. Valine's website at Miss Media, to see any changes.

Monday - KIT in the AM, AES in the PM
Tuesday - AES all day
 Wednesday - PIO all day
 Thursday - KIT all day
 Friday - PIO in the AM, AES in the PM

It's going to be a challenge for teachers and students to adjust, but Alvarado teachers know they have a job to do and they will do it to the best of their ability.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome Back to School 2012-2013

There are always going to be changes in schools. Some good and some more challenging, but let's see what's happened to those coming back to school this fall. The staff will be happy to see Sonia Wong back from her year long tour. She took a sabbatical to learn more about Asian world. Sonia visited Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea and more.

Cathy Hampton is back from her summer "Great Americana"  train trip to see some of the US National Parks. Visiting every national park is on her bucket list.  She went to Tucson, Saguaro National Park; San Antonio, the Alamo; New Orleans; and Monticello, Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah was her 31st national park to visit.  She also visited Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and in Maine, Acadia National Park. Going on she went to Niagara Falls, Lake Michigan, and in Montana, Glacier National Park.

Liberty Bell

Brooklyn Bridge

These staff members took a short but fabulous vacation.  Here is Maureen Tecson, Vince Lindain, and Letty Munoz-Gonzales snorkeling on their holiday in Bermuda.

Maureen, Vince, Letty

Greg Snelling has returned from his first family backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierras, Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness, enduring mosquito bites and rain, but enjoying the beautiful lakes and valleys.

Greg Snelling and family

Betty Silva is ready to go back to work after returning from her Yosemite trip with her grandson, Michael.  They had a great time enjoying the beauty of the park.

Sukhy Gill spent a wonderful family vacation in India and visited some of India's famous landmarks.

Suhky Gill and family

Dave Trier and Rachel Saucedo Jones both had babies. Dave's wife actually had the baby. Dave's son, Luke, was born on June 27th and Rachel's son, Xavier, was born on Aug. 12th. Congratulations to both of you!

Someone reminded me that AE's 4th grade teacher, Laurie Koehler, got married in Hawaii at the beginning of the summer. How could I forget?  What a lovely bride! Best wishes to you and your new husband.

Now its back to work. School begins on Wednesday August 29th.  The Alvarado Family Potluck is on Monday, the 27th of August. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joy of School Library Lessons

There are few moments more joyful for the students and the librarian than when the class has finished a Readers Theater where EVERY student has successfully read his or her part. Each student's part is carefully selected by the librarian to push the student just a little above his or her reading level. Sometimes the student is assigned a choral reading with 2, 3, 4, or 5 classmates. For some this is a necessary confidence builder. Sometimes the student has a part alone. The first few readings are a little nerve racking for some, but once students see that no one will make fun of their skills or their voice they enjoy the process. Students learn the strategies for effective readers theater, namely reading with expression, reading loud enough for all to hear, standing up straight, listening while others read, and following all the parts, not just their own. After experiencing a few Readers Theaters with their class, students often burst out clapping at the end. By the end of the year when they have a choice day, they may choose to do a readers theater. They gather a group of students, pick a script, sit in a circle, assign parts, and read with expression, all without assistance of the librarian. As a community of learners, students go back to class with a smile on their face. Can you think of other strategies to help students appreciate the joy of reading?

Speech and visual and performing arts are part of the new California Common Core Standards.  I soon realized it was best to write or adapt an online readers theater so that there were parts where a group of students could read together. Sometimes the group was as small as two students and sometimes as many as five. This ensured that every student had a part. This is really critical for readers theater. There should be no students just listening. Having everyone read ensures students are following the script and listening to the class.  Plus students learning from other students is the best way for the class to realize how to use their voice effectively when reading.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Partially Open Media Centers

As of this date, it looks like the libraries/media centers will be open part time in the elementary schools. Some of the media specialists have been assigned to 3 schools so the schools will have 10 hours of media a week, basically to check in and out books in 20 minute periods, or have teacher signups for checkout. Alisha Valine has been assigned to Alvarado, Pioneer, and Kitayama.

 Alisha Valine

Carol Engberg from Eastin has been assigned to Hillview Crest, Searles, and Emmanuel.  Beth Morris Wong from Hillview Crest will teach 20 periods of science and 10 periods of media at Eastin. Carolyn Vranjes of Kitayama has been assigned to teach science at an elementary school. Paula Figdor from Pioneer is going to be a classroom teacher. Media specialists will checkout textbooks to the students. Textbooks are now barcoded.

It will not be usual media classes that students have had in the past. Perhaps principals can figure out how to make time for lessons, which in the past have included the Dewey Decimal System, alphabetizing, readers theater, technology, such as Photoshop, Goggle Earth, or Internet searching and safety; author studies, non fiction research and the development of new knowledge, and building a student network of connections with the teacher's core curriculum. This is still up for discussion. Students in K-2 will probably not be able to check out books.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Budget Cuts Affect Academics

School begins this year with a minimum day on August 29th. The school year will be again 175 days the same as last year but less than the usual 180 days. Teachers have given up nine workdays to try to make up for the State of California's fiscal education cuts. Teachers will have no time to prepare for the beginning of school as two of their preparation days have been eliminated. All employees are taking an 1% paycut in addition to paycuts from last year. Classified employees also have a reducted work year.

As of this date students will still have Physical Education, Music, and Science. However a credentialed librarian, media specialist, will no longer be available for the students at any of New Haven's elementary schools. The librarians will be assigned to a classroom. This ends a thirty year tradition of librarians in all the elementary schools. High school assignment of a librarian will be 35% and middle school will be 25%. The rest of the time the librarian will be a classroom teacher. This comes at a time when the emphasis for students is critical literacy for which a qualified librarian is essential. This is a black time for New Haven students.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Zoe, Forever In Our Hearts

Zoe Inciong was a beautful 16 year old Logan High School student who fought against cancer with all her might. Her aunt,Tracie Noriega, at Zoe's recent 16th birthday called her the "Ultimate Warrior". Her friends and family at Alvarado joined her in that fight. Hearts are broken.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Fine Fine Teacher Retires

Penny Johnson leaves New Haven Unified School District after teaching for 41 years. Friends and family join to wish her well. Penny taught in Cabello and Alvarado Elementary. She taught kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. She came from a family of nurses. Her mom was a nurse. Her sister is a nurse, and her daughter is a nurse, but Penny broke the mold and decided to become a teacher.

A measure of Penny's skill was the attendance of three Principals, Louise Waters, Tracie Noriega, and Cheri Benafield, and one Assistant Principal, Donna Mana. Tracie, her principal at Alvarado Elementary, told the group how helpful Penny has always been with everything she has been asked to do.
Tracie Noriega

Alex Schwerin
thanks Penny
for her support.

Sukhy Gill reads from
a book for Penny
made by the third
grade teachers and
their students.

Keith Guernsey
shows a video of
students wishing
Penny the best.

Letty Munoz-Gonzalez
and Roxanne Ramirez
enjoy the festivities.

                Carol Engberg

                                 The party is ON!

                       ManYee Desandies
                       Cheri Benafield

                  Sukhy Gill and Cathy Hampton

                Chris Moriuchi, Sharon Chambers,
                                ManYee Desandies

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Libraries in New Haven

 Only time will tell how New Haven will handle the media centers in New Haven School district. Since Measure H did not pass, California budget cuts will affect all schools in New Haven. One program that may be drastically effected is libraries, commonly known in New Haven as media. The media specialist at the high school will be retained, but the middle schools and elementary schools will have some cuts. The severity of these cuts remain to be decided.

Monday, April 16, 2012

We Will: Bust This Test

Teachers, Keith Guernsey and Jeff Pickering, made this amazing video. Great fun with an excellent message for student success in California Star Testing.

2012 Teacher and Staff of the Year

Roxanne Ramirez

Long time teacher at Alvarado, Roxanne Ramirez, has been chosen as the Teacher of the Year for 2012. For many years she taught 4th grade and is now a 5th grade teacher.  She is well loved for her spirit of cooperation between teachers and her excellent work with students. She has been the after school leader of the Spirit Squad and has long been an advocate of bay area sports teams. As a fluent Spanish speaker, her class is often full of English learners.

 Yurani Mancotte DePerez

Yurani Mancotte DePerez, Office Assistant, has been chosen as the classified staff person of the year 2012. She is known as a hard worker, always gets her work done, and is helpful to everyone. Yurani is good with the students and everyone loves her. According to Nancy Mumm, School Secretary, Yurani coming to Alvarado has been a blessing.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Measure H Parcel Tax

Parents, students, teachers and community members gathered Saturday morning to show their support for Measure H. It was a very wet, rainy Saturday when teachers, administrators, and families gave up the morning to encourage voters to pass the parcel tax. Marchers assembled in front of James Logan High School with umbrellas and signs. Supporters of Measure H walked from James Logan High School on Alavarado-Niles Road to Union Landing where a rally was held.

"Yes on H!" was the clarion call. The $180 per parcel tax measure would raise $12 million over a period of 4 years to preserve classrooms from the California state budget cuts.

Measure H did not pass. Hopefully Proposition 30 supported by Governor Jerry Brown will pass.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grading on the Internet

In the past years Alvarado used CRX/carbon forms to produce report cards for students. Now Alvarado is finally up to date with the times with report card input being done on the internet by the teachers. However, it is a time consuming as teachers still have over literally 2000 little boxes to double check once you do the whole class. The classroom teacher also has to input the prep grades, such as media, physical education, music, and science. The prep teachers still just put the grades on a roster and give it to each teacher. Plus teachers still have to check over the grades after they are done to make sure the data is correct as there are still some hitches, as with all new things, with the computer. Once this process is clarified, the teachers will be happy not to get carpel tunnel syndrome as they once did with the old carbon process.

Family Nights

Alvarado will host a series of family night potlucks for each of the major ethnic groups at the school. Data pertaining to that particular group in comparison to the school will be shared. Everyone is invited to any and all of these evenings.

African-American Family Night- Feb. 22nd
Latino Family Night- Feb. 29th
European-American Family Night- March 28th
Asian American and Pacific Islander Family Night- April 11th

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Budget Crises

Financially this has been a tough year for education in California. New Haven Unified School district is no exception. The district weathered the storm of financial problems for the 2011-12 year by laying off teachers, furloughs, employees sacrificing a sixth day without pay on a non-student day, and increasing class size. With the year 2012-13 looming more cuts will be necessary. Teachers will be getting layoff notices as required by law on March 15th. The district already has notified teachers of the following cuts for the rest of the 2012 year. There will be no overtime for classified staff and any new positions will be frozen. There will be no new hires, no hires for vacancies, no Office Depot online print orders, nine furlough days in 2012-13, no more funds for travel and conference expenses unless they have already been approved, and no more funds for consultants. As of now, all non-salary accounts are frozen which means there will be no buying paper and cartridges for printers. These are just some of the cuts now put in place.

With 2012-13 upcoming, the New Haven Board of Education voted to place a parcel tax measure on the June primary ballot. The parcel tax will be $180 per parcel and if it passes, will generate $3 million for 4 years. This measure requires a two-thirds majority vote and includes exemptions for disable residents and senior citizens.

The passing of the tax measure will not alleviate all of the district's budget problems. The district is also hoping voters will also approve Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative in November. If the tax measures do not pass, New Haven could lose up to $10.7 million in the 2012-13 school year.

The possible impact of non passage of these measures could be: nine budget reduction days for 2012-13, increasing K-2 class size to 30, eliminating the Community Day School, eliminating media specialists and library technicians, eliminating stipends for co-curricular and athletics programs, reducing elementary specialist, and reducing middle school elective positions.

If you know a teacher, give them a hug and vote yes on the parcel tax. It's hard on morale to work in such an environment. In the last few years teachers have had to deal with layoff notices or being bumped to a new position. This is particularly hard on teachers with less than nine years experience as they are the most vulnerable to layoffs. Teachers buy supplies, spend time getting grants for supplies and equipment, and sacrificed a day of pay. Teachers have gone the extra mile to provide the best education possible for their students even as they watch their class size rise. Beside losing their job, the rise in class size probably hurts the most as every teacher knows how small class size provides the best school experience while increasing student learning and ultimately test scores.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy

AES - Chinese New Year Parade from Mr. Guernsey on Vimeo.

First graders and their teachers have a dragon parade for the whole school to celebrate Chinese New Years. Gung Hay Fat Choy means best wishes and congratulations for a prosperous New Year.

Alvarado vs Eastin: Staff Softball

Alvarado staff enjoyed a game of softball with the Eastin staff. Both teams are shown here. Alvarado won 5 to 3 but Eastin is going to ask for a rematch as soon as possible.

The AE Team 2012

Belkys Blackwell, Dave Trier, Maureen Tecson, Letty Munoz-Gonzales, Mistee Hightower-Guzman (Assistant Principal), Greg Snelling, Pam Ruley, Jeff Pickering, Clinton Puckett, Tracie Noriega (Principal, kneeling), Jessica Nunes (kneeling)

Photo by Keith Guernsey
who was also on the AE Team.

Friendly Letters

Students in Maureen Tecsons second grade class used techniques learned in their Writers Workshop lessons to write friendly letters to friends and relatives. They then took a short field trip across the street to mail them.