School Closures Heighten Opinions on School Choice

All of the blogs have been talking about school closures for the past couple of weeks. There are opinions, theories, conspiracies, options off the table, and options on the table. While I have attended meetings and read the reports I am not sure this blog has much to add to that process. However, while discussing school closures there has been a great deal of discussion about school choice. Back in August I posted about Flex Academy Public High School. Flex is a charter high school and had applied for a charter from MDUSD, only to be turned down. In October however, the Contra Costa County Board of Education approved the charter. Flex Academy now plans to open a high school in the MDUSD attendance area next fall that provides parents with students in grades 9-12, living in the county or surrounding counties, a choice for high school.
If you are interested there are two informational meetings planned this coming week: RSVP HERE
Monday, January 24
7:00 PM
Skipolinis
2001 Salvio Street
Concord, CA 94520

Wednesday, January 26
7:00 PM
Rocco’s
2909 Ygnacio Valley Road
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
S.F. Flex Academy Brochure - Same program as Mt. Diablo Flex
For more information about the high school and a list of courses offered please see the two page brochure attached: S.F. Flex Academy Public High School The Mt. Diablo Flex Academy will be very similar to the S.F. Flex Academy.

A New Blog on Education

A new blog on education has made a debut under the name K12 Reboot. The name K12 Reboot impies that education may need to “reboot” in order to successfully address the needs of our children. K12 Reboot explores topics that are national in scope and local issues that are unique to MDUSD. Topics include school choice, the closing of underperforming schools, online learning, teacher effectiveness, etc…

You can visit K12 Reboot at http://www.k12reboot.com

Can MDUSD and MDEA join the reform movement like Baltimore?

Wednesday Baltimore City teachers voted almost 2 to 1 to pass a contract that will change the way teachers are valued and compensated.

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) has six of the 188 lowest performing schools in the state and are at an impasse with two of their non-teacher labor unions. MDEA (the teachers union) and MDUSD have yet to even sit at the negotiating table. Do we have any hope of seeing sweeping change in this district? Is the California Teacher’s Association so strong in this state that our legislators will never have the political will to do what is right for our students and change the Education Code? I would strongly argue that reform would be good for our dedicated and effective teachers as well as for our students.

Here are excerpts from the Baltimore Sun:

“Baltimore is now one of a handful of cities that is leading the nation in innovative contracts and making teachers real partners in reform,” U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Under the new pact, teachers will no longer be paid based on step increases, which are automatic raises based on tenure or the number of degrees acquired. Instead, they will climb a four-tier career ladder, which will see an elite corps of teachers earning six-figure salaries. Teachers will also have the opportunity to vote on working conditions at their schools, such as longer school days.

In addition, in the last two years of the contract, teachers’ pay will be based on an evaluation system not yet drafted by the Maryland State Department of Education that would tie a proposed 50 percent of student performance to teacher evaluations. The contract could also serve as an example to other districts as the state works to reform how teacher evaluations are conducted.
Baltimore Sun 11/17/10

The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board salutes the city teachers who recognized that this contract — which establishes a new way of doing business by evaluating teachers more on their abilities and their students’ performance than on years of seniority — represents the wave of the future and launches our city into the forefront of the national school reform movement. Well done, Baltimore educators.
Baltimore Sun 11/17/10

Community Meeting Tomorrow – Lawrence to present plan to improve persistently low achieving schools

There will be a community meeting held on Nov. 2, 2010. This meeting will include a presentation by Dr. Lawrence, Superintendent for the Mt. Diablo School District. Lawrence will present, to the community, his plan for improving our failing schools.
Please attend the meeting at the Ambrose Center in Bay Point, 3105 Willow Pass Rd. The meeting will begin at 7pm and will be held in the Board Room. This is the community’s opportunity to ask questions and get answers about our school district and its future.