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  El Cerrito   Schools   Regional   History   Lifestyle   [Opinion]   Election  

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Smoke & mirrors again

Smoke & Mirrors Again or,
Through the Looking Glass Darkly II

By Jim Young


Just when you think the WeCCUSD can not do anything more deceitful or bad for children, all in the name of education of course, they do something truly unbelievable. Here’s the list, “For the Children”:

1. The RUSD and the WeCCUSD take 20 years to plan and build the new Hercules Middle/High Schools.

2. Institute Berkeley HS style “school reform” at ECHS in order to create “success for all”, by cutting classroom time 25%, enforcing campus wide detracking, and eliminating all remediation and enrichment (GATE) classes. This is specifically justified in order to help black and Hispanic students succeed. After six years ECHS has 80%+ of blacks and Hispanics reading below grade level, 25% of the graduating class is functionally illiterate, and ECHS has been designated an “under performing school by the State.

3. Crying about rehab, over crowding and lack of facilities the WeCCUSD gets $40MM for a “$16MM new middle school in Richmond and $24MM in much needed school rehab”. $36MM, a 225% increase, is allocated to the new middle school, it is called “in budget” and a new bond issue is needed to pay for the “desperately needed repairs of the unsafe conditions at our elementary schools”.

4. The WeCCUSD gets an additional $150MM to fund two ring binder volumes of desperately needed repairs, many identified during the Measure E approval process in 1998, which total more than $500MM. Measure M passes in November 2000, but through February 2002, not one dollar of Measure M funds are allocated to rehab. M money is spent on additional “studies”, new consultants and bond fund administration, and, the WeCCUSD acknowledges that $35MM of the M funds are being set-a-side for “programs” instead of “projects”.

5. School Board members and Superintendent Johnson declare pedagogical victory over low performance stagnations as , “34 schools API base scores improve in 2001.” WeCCUSD reps do not mention that the 2001 API scores were increased automatically when the State adjusted them by adding the California Standards Test in English-Language Arts (CST ELA) to the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Scores went up because of adjustment, not necessarily because of performance. Several WeCCUSD schools with declining API had increasing API base scores. Are we really on the move?

6. In January the WeCCUSD Measure D Road Show, lead by Vice Superintendent for Facilities Vince Kilmartin, tells both city councils in Pinole and El Cerrito that the “on schedule, in budget” Richmond Middle School will cost $32MM. The school board reviewed official RMS budgets in December showing the approved budget at $36MM. Hey, what’s $4,000,000?

NOW, in order to expedite mold removal, after 40 years of neglect, WeCCUSD lead by Kilmartin has installed toxic gas generators in our school classrooms, which are considered dangerous and/or ineffective by the EPA, Dept. of Health etc. Of course they are sold via the highly reputable pyramid scheme method by a company that has been fined $1.5MM for making unsupportable product claims. But that’s OK.

I can see one of two headlines on the Sunday paper before the election:
1. “WeCCUSD promises to remove toxic gas generators if Measure D passes.”, or;

2. “Mit your Children und your Money und das Toxic Gas Generators, Ve Vill Makes Das Vorld A Better Place!”

Vote any way you want on Measure D, the election is Tuesday the 5th.

Run dates: 2002-02-27 - 2002-03-05
 


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