Sweet Home Alabama

Didn't quoting numbers get a certain losing presidential candidate into hot water a few times?

The scathing report by Novato Unified School District staff presented Tuesday night criticized North Bay Educational Foundation’s charter petition on several points. Novato Patch Editor Brent Ainsworth has a story that reports that out here.

During both the presentation and subsequent questions and comments by trustees, I was struck by criticism leveled at the expectation that 75 percent of charter students would score at proficient or above. Having paid attention to test scores far too much over the years, I couldn’t see what the complaint would be.

NBEF Board Member Robert Verhoeff spoke at the conclusion of the presentation and trustee discussion to take staff and, in particular, Trustee Derek Knell to task for criticism of that goal. Knell made a comment along the lines of, “Where are we? Alabama? Who wants just 75 percent proficient?”

Verhoeff pointed out in his comment where NUSD falls below that number. And that's true for many of the scores for the district as a whole.

Before Verhoeff even began speaking, I already knew the numbers and was showing those around me. Why, there are links posted and tables posted right on the district’s website. Fancy that! Last spring's scores show the district ranging from a low of 64 percent proficient or above (in sixth grade) to a high of 80 percent (fourth grade) for English-language arts. For math, NUSD ranges from a low of 50 percent proficient or above (in eighth grade) to a high of 78 percent (in fourth grade). (You can see the summary data on the state's site here.)

If you’re like me, the first thing you did when you got home last night from the meeting was — on a lark and because you were pretty sure you knew what you’d learn — find out what Alabama’s numbers look like. You can see on the PDF I uploaded that, according to Alabama’s State Department of Education, 87 percent of third graders and 77 percent of eighth graders meet or exceed the standards in reading. For math, it’s as many as 89 percent (in fifth grade) and as low as 71 percent (in seventh grade) meeting or exceeding the standards.

All of which brings to mind a paraphrasing of a line from an amazing rock ballad.

Well, I heard Mr. Knell sing about her.

Well, I heard ol’ Knell put her down.

Well, I hope Derek Knell will remember ...

a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”

There were lots of other reasons the staff issued its scathing report of the charter, but the number 75 percent shouldn’t be referenced again. You know, glass houses and all, y'all.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina McMillan December 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Since Amy and I post under our real names it is a stretch to say we are the same person. Mr. MacDonald is an incredible teacher. Over the years the comments about his class reflect the work of a man who cares a great deal about education and the children he teaches. Mr. Knell's behavior is what I found offensive, not his beliefs. Board members have a code of ethics that includes promoting a constructive dialogue about controversial issues. A 10 minute presentation is not a dialogue and leaves no room for discussion. The district got exactly what they wanted. They chose not to give the NBEF board time to present their curriculum. This eliminated the possibility of clarity about the approach. What they would have learned about this program is its existence in CA schools and schools throughout the country and its efficacy with ED, ELL and LD students. I doubt Amy is blinded by anger. I on the other hand sat through the presentation where there was absolutely no acknowledgement of the success of the CK program and the need that exists in our district to find a curriculum that benefits all learners. So my words have been without any empathy for board member Knell whose rude behavior made the entire process that much more of a farce.
D Rex December 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Tina or Amy or for all we know you could be Rob Verhof or MJ Lonson....you do seem to be pretty involved here. That would make sense if you had a vested interest, right?. Venting anger since so much time was spent on the flawed plan. Its never easy to ge panned. Oh well, while we are asking questions of people, why not as Kevin MCDonald why he gave $200 to a politician in Colorado. Kevin was a Novato resident when he made the donation, seems odd, especially given the issues. Amazing stuff I have found.... Tancredo pushed for a three-year moratorium on all legal immigration to allow those immigrants already in the country to be assimilated. Tancredo called for the deportation of the family of Jesus Apodaca, an undocumented immigrant child in a Denver high school.Tancredo criticized the Denver Public Library system for purchasing reading materials written in Spanish and for offering space for classes to be held for these library users, on the grounds that putting Spanish-speakers in a 'linguistic ghetto' would delay their integration into American society. I wonder if NBEF has a code of ethics regarding this stuff?
D Rex December 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Tancredo sponsored legislation to eliminate H-1B visas for temporary workers in 2005.Tancredo was the sponsor of a successful, bi-partisan amendment to a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would withhold federal emergency services funds from 'sanctuary cities. sendning this guy money, on a teachers salary (or any salary for that matter)....seems, oh, fishy?
Will Johnson December 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I'd love to watch the tape back, Tina, to hear Knell's comments again. But, "oops" the district didn't record it. Honest mistake probably. No reason not to want all this great fodder on tape, right?
Will Johnson December 15, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Who's calling who a what? The lady doth protest too much, methinks. (anyone "Culturally Literate" would immediately understand this reference...) I gave money to the ACLU last year to help overturn DOMA and fight Prop 8. I must be gay. (shhh, don't tell my spouse about all that bathroom toe tapping I've been up to) Core Knowledge and this charter school has a real shot at helping ELL families if only they could get a fair shake at their outreach plan (which is supposed to happen AFTER authorization which is looking a tad unlikely for Tuesday, I'd say). Let's keep doing what we are doing and accept that 2/3rd of our disadvantaged kids are below proficient for Language Arts. A 71% or 75% proficient rate would be a dream come true for these families. If not the charter, what tricks does NUSD have up its sleeve? What is going to happen at Lynwood as we go another year in PI status. Waiting for a parent to pull the trigger law (like in LA) or are we just Waiting for Superman.


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