Roosevelt Parents

School and PTA Resources for all Roosevelt Parents

Month: May 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Week of May 30 – June 3

Make sure to mark your calendars for the following events at Roosevelt this week:

Tuesday – Friday
After school Bake Sale! Members of our PTA are hosting a daily bake sale each afternoon at 2:00. All items will cost $1. All proceeds will go towards technology upgrades at Roosevelt. The PTA would like to be able to purchase document cameras in 2 more classrooms, 2 more computers for the computer lab and cords to connect the document cameras to the teacher laptops. If you would like to contribute baked items, please drop them off at the school office.

Monday, May 30
Memorial Day Holiday – No School!

Tuesday, May 31
Last day to turn in Box Tops! As of Friday, the total collected was 1899 – just 101 Box Tops to go! If the the students bring in 2000 Box Tops by Tuesday, EVERY student will win an ice cream party! So turn in those Box Tops!

Wednesday, June 1
Sarah Coyle’s 4th & 5th grade TIG reading group will be presenting scenes from William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing under the direction of Broadway by the Bay’s Tony Gapastion. The performance will at 6:00pm in the cafeteria. Ask your children about the scenes they saw during last Friday’s award assemblies – they were transfixed! Come and show your support!

Friday, June 3
Hat Day! Have your child come to school with their favorite hat!

11:00 Kindergarten End of Year celebration. Dismissal for Kindergarten at 12:10.

Minimum day dismissal times for grades 1 – 5.

Dinner and a movie! Come and enjoy pizza, nachos and corn before the showing of Tangled! All food and beverages will be $1. The doors to the cafeteria will open at 6:15 to put down your pillows and sleeping bags and then go outside to enjoy a bite to eat! Come back inside at 6:45 to enjoy the movie. Popcorn, candy and water will be available during the movie. Popcorn and water will cost $1 and candy will cost $2. We are asking that you DO NOT eat the pizza, corn or nachos inside the cafeteria to make the end of the movie cleanup easier for our volunteers.

Dismissal Times…
Beginning Friday, June 3, all Kindergarten classes will start at 8:00 and end at 12:10. Monday, June 6 – Wednesday, June 8 will be Minimum Days for grades 1 – 5.

Thursday, June 9 will be a Super Minimum Day – all classes dismissed at 12:00!

What’s New on the Parent Blog…
I’m hoping to add pictures from last week’s Field Day and pictures from this week’s Much Ado About Nothing performance and Kindergarten celebration. If anyone has pictures that they’d like to share, I’ll be happy to post them. www.rooseveltparents.com

Upcoming Events…
There’s a lot coming up as the school year winds down:

May 30 – Memorial Day (No School)
June 1 – Much Ado About Nothing
June 2 – Cooking contest
June 3 – Hat Day, 5th Grade BBQ/Swim Field Trip, Kindergarten End of Year Celebration, Outdoor Movie Night
June 9 – Last Day of School!

I try to keep the calendar on the Yahoo group as up to date as possible, so if you need to take a look, go to the Yahoo calendar

PTA Pledges…
These are the last two weeks to turn in any pledge money to the PTA. The PTA still needs your donations to support our P.E. program. Please stop by the office or send your pledge money in an envelope to school with your child. Thank you for supporting the extra curricular programs here at Roosevelt!

Art in Action for next year…
Volunteers for Art in Action are needed for each grade level next year. You can sign up to be a teacher (docent) or assistant. If you are interested in being a docent, training is provided and you don’t need any previous art experience. Art is such a wonderful addition to our school’s curriculum and, like music instruction, develops areas in the brain that are responsible for creativity, critical thinking skills and language. The time commitment is about 1 hour per month. This is one of those volunteer opportunities that is a low commitment with big rewards! If you are interested, or have questions, please contact kazberg66@yahoo.com

RCEF…
The RCEF is once again trying to raise money to keep music education in our schools. At Roosevelt, the RCEF has paid for the Music for Learners program in grades 3 -5 and with our 6th graders next year, they’re hoping to keep funding instrumental music. It costs $270 per year per child for music instruction. Music has been proven to develop areas of the brain that increase a students ability to think creatively and solve advanced math problems. Any amount you can give gets them closer to their goal of funding music for ALL children in the district. For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.rcef.org

The RCEF will also be hosting the July 4 Fun Run in downtown Redwood City. The RCEF needs volunteers, runners, and sponsors. Proceeds go to Save Our School Music. Contact event co-chair Tommy Vargas at cheftommyv@gmail.com. Register for the event and RUN: www.rcef.org/funrun

Volunteers Needed for Movie Night…
At last week’s PTA meeting, it was decided that pizza, nachos and corn would be available at a small cost before the June 3 movie night so that families can come and enjoy something to eat before watching the movie. Water, popcorn and candy will also be for sale during the movie. Volunteers are needed both before and during the movie to help. Please contact Aurora Gallardo aurora.gallardo@yfes.org or Kim Schiff kbschiff@sbcglobal.net

Bake sale items needed…
Valerie Romero has been busy selling items for the bake sale after school. If you have any baked items that you would like to contribute, please drop them off in the school office. If you have any questions, please contact Valerie Romero romero.valeriagomez@gmail.com

Next year’s after school program…
Roosevelt is switching after school care providers next year. The new program will be offered by the YMCA. Applications are available in the school office.

Speed bump meeting update…
PIA, Second Baptist Church, Roosevelt parents/teachers/principal, a Roosevelt neighbor, Councilman Bain and Redwood City Engineer Hammack all were present at the meeting. It was determined that a speed table will be installed some time in August, 2011, for an approximate six month trial period wherein the city of Redwood City will run data to see if the tables are working to decrease speed and increase safety on Vera Avenue.

Have a great week!

 

Mid-week Update: Events at Roosevelt

There’s so much going on over these last few weeks of school, that I need to send out a mid-week update.  Many of the events need parent volunteers or participation, so please read through all of the following carefully and please offer to help out where you can.  If you’ve wanted to volunteer for something, but haven’t been sure what you can do, here’s your chance!  Any time you can give will truly be appreciated by everyone.

The PTA wants to raise money for technology purchases and upgrades at Roosevelt, so they’re holding a few end of the year fundraisers.  Two teachers still need document cameras in the classroom and all of the teachers need the cords that connect their document cameras with their computers.  The PTA would also like to purchase two more computers for the computer lab to accommodate the larger class sizes.

Volunteers Needed for Field Day…
Field Day is tomorrow!  The students will be divided into teams and will participate in games and activities. This is such a fun event for the whole school.  The teachers will be busy directing their groups to the next station/event, so parent volunteers are needed to help lead activities.  Everything will be provided for you.  Please contact Emily Devitis emilydevitis@gmail.com if you are available to help from 9:45-11:30.

Meeting…
There will be a meeting about the need to install speed bumps on Vera Avenue to slow down traffic making the front entrance of the school safer for our children.  The meeting will be in the Faculty Lounge at 7:30pm on Thursday, May 26.  Council member Ian Bain will be there to listen to your concerns.

Volunteers Needed for Movie Night…
At last night’s PTA meeting, it was decided that pizza, nachos and corn would be available for sale before the June 3 movie night so that families can come and enjoy something to eat before watching the movie.  Water, popcorn and candy will also be for sale during the movie.  Volunteers are needed both before and during the movie to help.  Please contact Aurora Gallardo aurora.gallardo@yfes.org or Kim Schiff kbschiff@sbcglobal.net

Bake sale items needed…
Valerie Romero has been busy selling items for the bake sale after school.  If you have any baked items that you would like to contribute, please drop them off in the school office.  If you have any questions, please contact Valerie Romero romero.valeriagomez@gmail.com

That’s it for now!  Again, please offer to volunteer your time.  The more volunteers we have for Field Day and Movie Night, the more fun it will be for everyone!

Week of May 23 – May 27

Make sure to mark your calendars for the following events at Roosevelt this week:

Monday, May 23
After school Bake Sale begins!  Members of our PTA are hosting a daily bake sale each afternoon at 2:00 starting this Monday and ending June 8.  All proceeds will go towards technology upgrades at Roosevelt.  All items will cost $1.  If you would like to contribute baked items, please drop them off at the school office.

YMCA program meeting at 6:00pm in the Cafeteria.  Roosevelt is switching after school care providers, so please come and find out what the new program offered by the YMCA will be offering.

Tuesday, May24
Wake Up California!  Rally for education funding downtown at the Courthouse Square at 7:30am.  Students that attend this rally with their parents will not be marked late until 9:00am.  More information about this below.

Last PTA meeting of the year at 6:00pm in the Faculty Lounge.  All are welcome to attend and Spanish translation is available.  Free childcare is provided in the Champions room.

Thursday, May 26
Field Day!  Come and enjoy the fun!  The students will be divided into teams and will participate in games and activities.  We need parent volunteers to help lead activities and guide groups of students from one activity to the next.  Everything will be provided for you.  Please RSVP to emilydevitis@gmail.com if you are available to help next Thursday from 9:45-11:30

Speed Bump meeting in the Faculty Lounge at 7:30pm.  Please let Councilmember Ian Bain know that you are concerned about the speeding on Vera Ave and that you support the installation of speed bumps.

Friday, May 27
Backwards Day!  Have your child come to school with their clothes on backwards!

Student of the Month Assemblies in the cafeteria.  Kindergarten – 2nd grade will have their assembly at 11:00 and 3rd – 5th grade will be at 1:00.  Sarah Coyle’s 4th and 5th grade TIG group will also be performing scenes from Much Ado About Nothing.

Box Tops Contest!
Turn in those Box Tops! As of Friday, the total collected was just under 1300!  If the the students bring in 2000 Box Tops by May 31, EVERY student will win an ice cream party! There are so many products now that participate, so be on the lookout.  Just some of the products I’ve found them on – Welch’s grape jelly, Juicy Juice boxes, Ziplock bags, Cheerios, Kix, etc.  Box Tops can be turned in to the office.

Rally to Support Education Funding…
Educate Our State, a grassroots organization started here in Redwood City, will be hosting statewide rallies on May 24 to show that parents and citizens support quality education and to draw attention to the budget crisis affecting our schools. The Redwood City rally will be at the Courthouse Square at 7:30am this Tuesday, May 24th.  Please come and show your support. Students that attend the rally will not be marked late until after 9:00am.  We are making signs for the children to hold that say,

I WANT TO BE A _______________ (fill in what your child wants to be.  For example, teacher, police officer, doctor)
GIVE ME THAT CHANCE!
EDUCATE OUR STATE!

Also, organizers are asking for 12 parents from each school to bring a dozen donuts or pastries or energy bars for the other attendees.  They will provide coffee and water.  If you will be attending and can bring something, please let me know so that we know that we have enough.  trishreillytaylor@gmail.com For more information, go to the Educate Our State website www.educateourstate.org

Dismissal Times…
Beginning Friday, June 3, all Kindergarten classes will start at 8:00 and end at 12:10.  Monday, June 6 – Wednesday, June 8 will be Minimum Days for grades 1 – 5.
Thursday, June 9 will be a Super Minimum Day – all classes dismissed at 12:00!

What’s New on the Parent Blog…
I’ve added pictures from the ELAC dinner dance (Thanks Dora Bejarano!) and the Patch.com article about the 5th grader Valerie Romero and the Much Ado About Nothing production.  I also post articles or videos that I think other parents will find interesting. If anyone has pictures from last week’s Open House, I’ll be happy to post them.

Upcoming Events…
There’s a lot coming up as the school year winds down:
May 28 –  Groovin in the Grove at Woodside High School to raise money for music programs in our schools (sponsored by the RCEF)
May 30 – Memorial Day (No School)
June 1 –  Much Ado About Nothing
June 2 – Cooking contest
June 3 – Hat Day, 5th Grade BBQ/Swim Field Trip, Kindergarten End of Year Celebration, Outdoor Movie Night
June 9 – Last Day of School!

I try to keep the calendar on the Yahoo group as up to date as possible, so if you need to take a look, go to the Yahoo calendar

PTA Pledges…
These are the last few weeks to turn in any pledge money to the PTA.  The PTA still needs your donations to support our P.E. program. Please stop by the office or send your pledge money in an envelope to school with your child. Thank you for supporting the extra curricular programs here at Roosevelt!

Art in Action for next year…
Volunteers for Art in Action are needed for each grade level next year.  You can sign up to be a teacher (docent) or assistant.  If you are interested in being a docent, training is provided and you don’t need any previous art experience.  Art is such a wonderful addition to our school’s curriculum and, like music instruction, develops areas in the brain that are responsible for creativity, critical thinking skills and language.  The time commitment is  about 1 hour per month. This is one of those volunteer opportunities that is a low commitment with big rewards!  If you are interested, or have questions, please contact kazberg66@yahoo.com

RCEF…
The RCEF is once again trying to raise money to keep music education in our schools. At Roosevelt, the RCEF has paid for the Music for Learners program in grades 3 -5 and with our 6th graders next year, they’re hoping to keep funding instrumental music.  Music instruction has been proven to develop areas of the brain that increase a students ability to think creatively and solve advanced math problems.  The RCEF will be hosting Grooving in the Grove on Saturday, May 28 at Woodside High School and the July 4 Fun Run in downtown Redwood City. For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.rcef.org

Have a great week!

5th Grader Victoria Romero in Patch.com article

For anyone that missed the Patch.com article, here it is.  For the original Patch article, check out the story on their website – www.patch.com
 
Whiz Kid Performs Shakespearean Comedy
10-year-old Victoria Romero will play the leading role in Much Ado About Nothing.

By Audrey Arthur, May 19, 2011

BINGO Night!

For centuries the most pristine, proper and pompous actors have attempted to master the beauty of Shakespearean theater, only to become lost within the languid Elizabethan language of the iconic playwright.

For 10-year-old Victoria Romero, the words of the Bard simply flow trippingly on the tongue.

Romero will be portraying Beatrice, a feisty, quick-witted and sharp young woman, in Roosevelt Elementary School’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

“I think of it as when you’re in character it’s just like being yourself but with a mixture with another person,” she said.

The show, set to premiere June 1, has three casts in order to allow students to take on the role of their liking.

Romero knew without hesitation that the fiery role of Beatrice fit well for her theatrical debut.

“Let’s see… I’m bratty, I’m bossy, I’m sassy,” she laughed. “So, I guess it works.”

Sarah Coyle, Romero’s fifth grade teacher, began teaching “Much Ado About Nothing” through a creative learning experience.

“We did read it for an entire semester in class and we had the Elizabethan language side-by-side with the modern English version,” Coyle said. “I set it up by first acting out playground behavior, before even reading Shakespeare.”

The fifth and fourth graders of Coyle’s class were asked to play out scenes similar to ones in the famous late 16th century comedy, such as the Act III scene when two girls, Hero and Ursula, gossip about Signior Benedick liking Beatrice. So when Romero began the journey through thee’s and thou’s, she was well prepared.

“I like that she’s sassy,” Romero said. “I like the fighting scenes, it’s fun fighting with people, especially when you win like Beatrice.”

In several scenes, Beatrice and Benedick must strike quick quips toward each other, a game of wits that Romero knows well.

Romero recites one of her favorite lines. “I wonder that you’d still be talking Signior Benedick, nobody marks you” she performs in a sarcastic tone. In other words, she explains, Beatrice is saying, “Why are you talking? No one’s listening to you.”

In her spare time Romero also likes to sing, dance and write. Romero has already authored two plays. Her first, “Diary of a Wimpy Chick,” was inspired by the popular children’s book and movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” She wrote the play because she wanted to have the perspective of a girl, Romero said, but not a “girly girl.”

“I did my own little theory,” Romero said. ““It was just made up because I was being coo-coo.”

An exceptional student, she surpasses her grade level across the board, Coyle said. Romero enjoys math and science more than any other subjects but has a special place for acting in her dramatic heart thanks to “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Coyle, the producer of the production, works with director Tony Gapastione, an accomplished actor from the Bay Area, to direct the 12 fourth- and fifth-grade cast members. Gapastione is in association with Broadway by the Bay and the organization has agreed to cover the costs of costuming the young actors.

“It’s definitely a community effort,” Coyle said.

The community effort has made a significant difference to Romero’s future. The young performer said she hopes to pursue a career in acting in the future and study theater in college.

Romero beams with excitement when she thinks of her first opening night.

“It’s kind of like a mixture of nervousness with excitement, and then I really love to get into my character,” she said. “When I know I’m in my character it’s easier to be me.”

Article: What Standardized Tests Miss

Mother Jones
What Standardized Tests Miss
Students and teachers at Mission High School weigh in on the California STAR Test.

By Kristina Rizga | Thu May. 19, 2011 10:00 AM PDT

“The big bad California STAR Test is in 27 days, everyone!” Mission High School history teacher Robert Roth [1] announces at the beginning of an honors class in March. “The way you are going to feel this is we are going to go through events really quick. But don’t worry, we’ll look at some things more deeply after the test,” Roth explains as 25 juniors trickle in. “I’m hecka bad at these tests,” Marilyn* says out loud; she puts her head down on the desk. Roth walks over to Marilyn and puts his hands on her shoulders. “No, you are not!” he says. “You are not bad at anything that’s important.”

Every spring since 2001, students in 3rd to 11th grades in the US sit down to take standardized tests [2], which are federally mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act [3]. But how standard can standardized testing really be, when each state decides which basic “standards”—or lessons—to teach, and how to test students’ knowledge of them? In California schools, standardized tests consist of multiple-choice questions only (except for a short written assignment in fourth and seventh grade). Ideally, standards and tests are rigorous. In reality, Mission High teachers believe the quality of the “multiple choice” tests in California is very low, and doesn’t measure the achievement of its diverse student population. But since punishments—including school closures and staff firings—are attached to these test scores, many students and teachers here say they have urgent recommendations for “fixing” what Principal Eric Guthertz [4] calls the “broken scales” of NCLB.

As Roth passes out a preview sheet of the California Standardized Test [5], Brianna* rushes in and takes her seat. “I’m hungry. I’m always hungry,” she says. Diana* finds a red apple in her backpack and gives it to Brianna, who takes two buses from the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood each morning to get to school. As students take their seats, Brianna and Diana come up to the front of the class. “How many of you have heard of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921?” Brianna asks her classmates before she gets started on her presentation. Two hands go up.

A few weeks ago, Roth offered students their choice of research projects. Most of the options were topics that won’t appear in the STAR multiple-choice questions, but Roth believes they make history relevant and interesting to his students. The Tulsa Race Riot jumped out at Brianna right away. Her boyfriend’s grandmother, Edna Tobie, is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Tobie was six when the riot happened in 1921. Brianna spent a day at Tobie’s house talking to her and her sons about it. “It was the second-largest African-American community at the time,” she tells the class now. “There were black-owned businesses, a real sense of pride in people, but the local government didn’t want to keep it going like that. So they attacked the community. The federal government didn’t come to defend Tulsa residents from the violence. No justice was served, and some older folks blame it now on young men’s disrespect for the law and the police. Even though it happened a long time ago, there are deep, deep scars in Tulsa. Edna’s sons couldn’t stop talking about it even though they weren’t even alive then.” Brianna’s classmates clap as she takes her seat, a big smile on her face.

“I want to be a social worker,” Brianna tells me after class one day. “Where scars come from is important for me to understand.” She didn’t like history at all in middle school, but seeing why bills like the 14th Amendment got passed, and how long it took to make those words on paper real, fascinates her now. “A lot of people struggled before me so I can be a free black woman. It was very touching to hear,” Brianna reflected after hearing Tobie’s story.

If you spend a day at Mission High, it’s hard to miss Brianna. She walks straight-backed, with a big smile on her face. She looks after people. “Why weren’t you in class yesterday?” she says to two Latino girls while rushing on her way to volunteer for a prom fundraiser. She has her hand up with questions or comments more than anyone else in Roth’s class. “Mr. Roth, what was the Truman Doctrine?” “What’s the Dream Act, again?” “How do you spell Guantanamo?” Roth says Brianna will get a high grade in his honors class, but she tells me she struggles with the standardized tests. “Why do they write them like they’re trying to trick me? Who writes instructions for them?” she wonders.

A week before the STAR test, Roth was covering the Civil Rights Movement and played “I’ve been to the Mountaintop [6],” Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech before his assassination. Most students haven’t seen this speech before, and as the clip ends, there is a heavy silence in the class. During lunch that day, Marvin comes back to Roth’s class. “I just want to play that speech over and over and over again,” Marvin says. “Even though King knows he will die, he is blossoming. He knows people will continue the fight. Makes you really think about what’s important in life.” He wrote the strongest essay after this documentary, Roth told me recently.

In 2005, when Roth was teaching at Thurgood Marshall High School, a consultant from the California’s Department of Education came in to observe his classes and suggested to him that he concentrate less on writing assignments like these and more on multiple-choice exercises to prepare for the standardized test. “‘After all,” Roth recalls being told, “the test has no writing component.”

“If California is serious about measuring real student achievement, we have to ask students to show what they understood about why an historical event took place, and how that connects to their lives,” Roth argues. He is resisting the pressures to cut out project-based learning like the Tulsa Race Riot or cut out reflections on the civil rights or discuss the implications of the 14th Amendment on immigration today, but there is no denying that the “hammer” of the sanctions is on his mind. Mission High’s test scores have been going up, but that didn’t prevent it from landing in the bottom 5 percent [7] of the 843 “persistently lowest-performing” schools in the nation.

That meant the school qualified for much-needed federal funding through the Race to the Top School Improvement Grant [7], but it comes with increased scrutiny, and the school lucked out this time around. Since Principal Guthertz just became a principal–after working as vice principal for three years and English teacher for five at Mission High–the district didn’t have to “replace” him as the grant requires under the “transformation” model.

During one recent lunch break, Brianna’s classmates Marilyn and her boyfriend Miguel* linger on in Roth’s class, as students often do. Miguel and Marilyn are undocumented. They talk to Roth about “Secure Communities [8],” a controversial law that requires local authorities to report fingerprints of anyone arrested with the federal agencies, which could lead to eventual deportation. Marilyn’s friend, another student at Mission High, was arrested in San Francisco and detained in Washington, DC, for eight months because of this law, she says. “Marilyn was just educating me about this issue yesterday,” Brianna says on her way out of the class. “I had no idea that this issue was such a struggle for her.” Marilyn and Miguel are now gathering petitions to repeal Secure Communities in San Francisco, and they’re talking to students in different schools about their rights. Miguel is excited because a radio reporter said he wants to interview him about the law. “What will you talk about?” Roth asks Miguel. “The 14th Amendment,” he says without a pause, and “the need for due process.”

Marilyn moved here five years ago from El Salvador to reunite with her mother, who moved here to support her extended seven-member family: “I was raised by my auntie, who got killed by a gang member.” Since Marilyn and her mother were separated for 12 years, they aren’t that close. “We don’t talk much,” Marilyn says. Five months ago, she didn’t raise her hand or say much in class, even though her writing was always good. By the end of school year, she speaks out and has her hand up often. “Mr. Roth always tells me that I need to trust myself and be strong,” she tells me recently. “I don’t have a lot of self-confidence, but I love debating and expressing my opinion.”

A few days earlier, Marilyn took a review test designed by Roth. About half of the test was multiple choice. The other half consisted of short, written responses. Marilyn got a “C” in the multiple-choice section and an “A+” on the written responses. Even though Marilyn has been in the country for five years and can no longer take a modified test for English learners, words like “escalate” or “initiate” on the standardized tests make her nervous, and she gets stuck. In other respects, Roth thinks she does really well: Marilyn can analyze and connect dots. Her critical thinking and problem-solving skills are very strong. Her self-confidence has been growing.”Do we really need kids who can memorize in modern society?” Roth, who has been teaching in inner-city schools his entire 23-year career, asks me on the day we look over Marilyn’s test results. “I think our society needs history students who can think: research, analyze different primary sources, write well, detect biases. The standardized history test doesn’t measure any of these skills.”

By mid-April, the testing pressure was in the air around Mission High hallways. Brianna, Marilyn, Miguel, and Marvin had been working with their “advisory” teachers for months to prepare for the exams. Principal Guthertz performed a cover of “Stand by Me” with new lyrics he wrote about the importance of tests. He also promised to fundraise for a boat party or eat live worms in public if scores go up this year. Last year, the school was promised gourmet lunch served by a famous chef, and when the scores went up, Mission High delivered [9].

“Listen! One more day before the big bad test, everyone!” Mr. Roth announced on April 8. “All I’m asking you to do is take it seriously. Do it for the school.” “Are they all just multiple choice, again?” Marvin asks. “That’s it,” Roth says, “but it doesn’t show exactly what you know.” “What does it show?” Marvin asks. “Just what you remember. This is not how it will be in college.”

“Let’s do a quick review together.” Students pick their own partners and move seats. “Give me two things about the 14th Amendment!” Roth asks Darrell, as he walks around the class checking on groups. Dozens of students shout out the answers before he has a chance to respond. “What were the Palmer Raids? Who was the first Catholic president? Give me three things about the New Deal?” The back and forth turns into competitive shouting and laughter takes over the classroom. Marvin has his hand in the air permanently. “You are going to nail this test! Don’t let them trick you!”

Once the test is over, the students are circumspect about their experience. “I think I did well on the history test, but they should add more questions on Black and Latino history,” Brianna tells me. Marilyn thinks that teachers from schools like Mission High should help testing companies choose the passages for the English reading part. “All the reading sections for English were so boring! I had to get up several times not to fall asleep,” she tells me while three other students around her chime in and agree. “Our English classes have much better readings,” another student says.

“This is my dream job,” Betty Lee, who has been teaching math for three years at Mission High, tells me a week after the test. But she, too, believes that there is a misguided disconnect between what she thinks students should know and how the state chooses to measure and grade their success. “I teach them the big picture and concepts of mathematics. This is where problem-solving skills come from. The test looks at their procedural fluency. It emphasizes memorization over reasoning skills.” Lee says that most of her students are immigrants, and if they misunderstand one word, it throws the whole question off.

Roth wants to see more writing in the tests, more open-ended questions, and he wants at least some judging to be done by teachers in the district, not just distant bureaucrats who have never met any of his students. Lee agrees and adds, “The instructions should be written in a more accessible language to different cultures, and teachers from diverse backgrounds should be paid to provide feedback when these standards and tests are developed,” Lee offered. “Instead of asking for the date and summary of the Mills Act, why not give the Act itself and have the student analyze it and compare it to others, which you can still do with bubbles,” Guthertz offered as an example, recently. Since colleges don’t look at these standardized test scores, it’s hard to make them meaningful for students. Some students, like Brianna, feel a deep sense of pride about Mission High and want “to do well” for the school or a teacher. “Some bubble in randomly or draw patterns on the tests,” Roth says.

When teachers and Principal Guthertz talk about these challenges, NCLB and Race to the Top come up often. Sometimes NCLB is associated with George W. Bush, even though it had civil rights groups behind it and was strongly supported by liberal stalwarts like the late Ted Kennedy. Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond [10] wrote in The Flat World and Education that the law was a “major breakthrough” for flagging inequalities in education in terms of race and class, and it triggered attention for many historically neglected schools. For the first time, the federal government said that states had to meet the minimum standards for all students, especially students of color and special education students, and not mask their scores with the overall averages, Time’s education columnist Andrew Rotherham [11] explained. “We moved from really stale conversations with generalities to fairly empirical conversation. The accountability system is not perfect, but the data is much more fine-grained,” he argued.

Ten years after the law was passed, a growing number of advocates now argue that the law has too many brutal unintended consequences [12] and must be reformed. Organizations like the NAACP [13] and the Community Strategy Center [14] claim that failed measurement policies have actually pushed more students of color and low-income students into prisons than colleges. In a recent report (PDF [15]), these groups argue that some schools are “increasing” their test scores by “punishing” failing students through suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests. Over 150 organizations have endorsed the report, urging federal policy makers to fix NCLB.

John Burke with the Achievement Assessments Office at San Francisco Unified [16] has some good news. “There is no doubt that the measures need to be broadened, and there is an agreement on the state and national level that assessment systems need to include more writing, expository information, and open-ended questions,” he explained. That’s why last year, California, along with 45 other states, adopted “Common Core [17]” academic standards initiative. The US Department of Education allocated significant funding for two multi-state consortia to create new standardized tests based on the Common Core standards in reading and math. Both consortiums of organizations (PARCC [18] and SMARTER [19]) claim [20]that they plan to involve teachers in designing and scoring the new assessments. Unfortunately for teachers at Mission High, these potentially improved tests won’t hit classrooms until 2015, and won’t affect tests used by Roth in social sciences. For now, teachers are stuck using the same old “broken” scales, while all “punishments” are attached to them. President Obama acknowledged that using current scales, four out of five schools could be labeled as failures, and is lobbying [21] to overhaul NCLB this year.

While most educators, including Principal Guthertz, don’t believe that NCLB should be thrown out completely, all the Mission High teachers I talked to want to see more nuanced, broader measures. They want more local control over “quality” definitions and a more nuanced approach to measuring “success” of a school. The law should be rewritten to include broader measures in calculating “adequate yearly progress” of schools, Guthertz told me. “We need to attach real weight to other measures to supplement data that states and federal government use: grades, attendance and suspension rates, drop out rates, college acceptances, student, parent and teacher satisfaction surveys, Latino and African-American students in Honors and AP classes.” This, Guthertz believes, will help states send a strong message to schools on how these benchmarks should be met: encourage not just higher scores, but also healthy and supportive learning cultures. “We send more African-American students to college than most schools in the district. Our student and parent satisfaction surveys are very high. Why isn’t that considered?” he wonders about the numbers that landed Mission High School on the “lowest-performing schools” list.

“In my middle school, my teacher once told me that I’ll never go to college,” Marilyn tells me in between classes last week. “Then I came here, and Mr. Velez made me feel welcome and connected me to scholarships. Mr. Roth expects more from me than anyone. Why did they put us on that list of worst schools? Why doesn’t my opinion about this school matter?”

*Editors’ Note: This education dispatch is part of an ongoing series [22] reported from Mission High School [23], where education writer Kristina Rizga [24] is embedded for the year. Names of some students are changed. Sign up for our weekly newsletter [25] to get all of the latest Mission High dispatches.
Source URL: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/05/students-teachers-obama-NCLB

Links:
[1] http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/closing-achievement-gap-one-time
[2] http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/NCLB-standardized-tests-explained
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
[4] http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/tattoos-no-child-left-behind
[5] http://www.startest.org/cst.html
[6] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0FiCxZKuv8
[7] http://www.educationsector.org/publications/portrait-school-improvement-grantees
[8] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/secure-communities-ammiano-trust-act
[9] http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/05/delfina-bi-rite-mission-high-test
[10] http://ed.stanford.edu/faculty/ldh
[11] http://www.eduwonk.com/2004/04/about-andrew-j-rotherham.html
[12] http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/04/truancy-test-scores-los-angeles
[13] http://www.naacp.org/content/main/
[14] http://www.thestrategycenter.org/
[15] http://advancementproject.org/sites/default/files/Federal%20Policy%20ESEA%20Reauthorization%20and%20the%20School-to-Prison%20Pipeline%20-%2003%2009%2011.pdf
[16] http://www.sfusd.edu/
[17] http://www.corestandards.org/
[18] http://www.achieve.org/parcc-announces-launch-new-website
[19] http://www.k12.wa.us/smarter/default.aspx
[20] http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/02/11/21consortia.h30.html?qs=Catherine+Gewertz
[21] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/us/politics/15obama.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1300846702-88VF6KATBr+JieKGjgJu9w
[22] http://motherjones.com/mission-high
[23] https://mhs-sfusd-ca.schoolloop.com/
[24] http://motherjones.com/authors/kristina-rizga
[25] http://motherjones.com/about/interact-engage/free-email-newsletter

TED Talk: Jose Abreu on kids transformed by music

A powerful TED Talk on the power of music instruction for our children. Our district’s music program has been battered by budget cuts and is now largely funded by donations made to the RCEF.

This year the goal of the Save Our School Music Campaign is to raise $150,000 by July 31, 2011 to fund Instrumental Music for the 2011/12 school year. The school district has already given termination notices to 2 of the 3 music teachers, effectively cutting the program for next year.  Please donate what you can and/or attend Groovin’ in the Grove on May 27 at Woodside High School.  For more information or to donate to the cause, go to www.rcef.org

 

Week of May 16 – May 20

Make sure to mark your calendars for the following events at Roosevelt this week:


Thursday, May 19
PBL Fair / Open House! Come and see the what the students have been working on! Each class/grade has been working on a final PBL project, so take a tour of the classrooms to see the work that they’ve done.

Classroom doors  will open at 5:30.  Kindergarten Open House will be from 5:30 – 6:15.  1st – 5th grade classrooms will be open from 5:30 – 7:30.  There will be an orientation in the cafeteria for new Kindergarten families from 6:30 – 7:30.

Students and parents are invited and encouraged to tour the other classrooms on campus as well as their next grade level. (5th graders may visit any grade)  As your child tours a classroom at the next grade level, your child will be asked to fill out a slip of paper and write three things they learned or noticed in the room.  Kinder students may have their parents fill out their slip.  A completed slip will earn them a blue ticket and they will also be entered into a raffle.

Friday, May 20
Pajama Day! Have your child come to school in pajamas! Remember that regular dress code rules apply – no strappy nightgowns or tops, and pajamas must be appropriate for regular school activities. Also, students must wear shoes.

Box Tops Contest!
Turn in those Box Tops! If the the students bring in 2000 Box Tops by May 31, EVERY student will win an ice cream party! There are so many products now that participate, so be on the lookout. Just some of the products I’ve found them on – Welch’s grape jelly, Juicy Juice boxes, Ziplock bags, Cheerios, Kix, etc. Box Tops can be turned in to the office.

Where is your child going to school next year?…
In last Thursday’s folder you should have received a form asking if your child will be returning to Roosevelt next year. The office needs those completed forms to help determine class sizes and how many teachers will be needed for each grade level next year. Please turn in your form as soon as possible.

Expansion Committee Update…
Last Wednesday, the school board approved our request for 6th grade for the 2011/2012 school year!

Dismissal Times…
Beginning Friday, June 3, all Kindergarten classes will start at 8:00 and end at 12:10. Monday, June 6 – Wednesday, June 8 will be Minimum Days for grades 1 – 5.

Thursday, June 9 will be a Super Minimum Day – all classes dismissed at 12:00!

What’s New on the Parent Blog…
I’ve added two new sections to the blog. The first is a Roosevelt FAQ. I’ve written and answered questions about Roosevelt that I’ve been asked over the past few years. If there’s a question and answer that you would like to see listed, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it. The second is an Events page. I hope this makes it easier for all of you to keep track of upcoming events at school and in Redwood City. If there’s an event that you think should be posted, let me know. Thanks to Shari Tsuchiyama and Mrs. Boone for providing pictures of events in their classrooms! Just looking at all of the pictures makes you realize that there are so many wonderful things happening every day in the classrooms! I’m hoping to get more information and pictures from the teachers this week as they prepare for Open House and the PBL Fair, so I’ll post whatever I get as I get it.

Upcoming Events…
There’s a lot coming up as the school year winds down:

May 24 – Rally to support education funding, Last PTA meeting of the year
May 26 – Field Day
May 27 – Backwards Day and Student of the Month Assemblies
May 28 – Groovin in the Grove at Woodside High School to raise money for music programs in our schools (sponsored by the RCEF)
May 30 – Memorial Day (No School)
June 1 – Much Ado About Nothing
June 3 – Hat Day, 5th Grade BBQ/Swim Field Trip, Kindergarten End of Year Celebration, Outdoor Movie Night
June 9 – Last Day of School!

I try to keep the calendar on the Yahoo group as up to date as possible, so if you need to take a look, go to the Yahoo calendar

PTA Pledges…
These are the last few weeks to turn in any pledge money to the PTA. The PTA still needs your donations to support our P.E. program. Please stop by the office or send your pledge money in an envelope to school with your child. Thank you for supporting the extra curricular programs here at Roosevelt!

Art in Action for next year…
Volunteers for Art in Action are needed for each grade level next year. You can sign up to be a teacher (docent) or assistant. If you are interested in being a docent, training is provided and you don’t need any previous art experience. Art is such a wonderful addition to our school’s curriculum and, like music instruction, develops areas in the brain that are responsible for creativity, critical thinking skills and language. The time commitment is about 1 hour per month. This is one of those volunteer opportunities that is a low commitment with big rewards!  If you are interested, or have questions, please contact kazberg66@yahoo.com

Rally to Support Education Funding…
Educate Our State, a grassroots organization started here in Redwood City, will be hosting statewide rallies on May 24 to show that parents and citizens support quality education and to draw attention to the budget crisis affecting our schools. There will be a rally at the Redwood City Courthouse Square at 7:30am on the 24th. Please come and show your support. For more information, go to the Educate Our State website www.educateourstate.org

RCEF…
The RCEF is once again trying to raise money to keep music education in our schools. At Roosevelt, the RCEF has paid for the Music for Learners program in grades 3 -5 and with our 6th graders next year, they’re hoping to keep funding instrumental music. Music instruction has been proven to develop areas of the brain that increase a students ability to think creatively and solve advanced math problems. The RCEF will be hosting Grooving in the Grove on Saturday, May 28 at Woodside High School and the July 4 Fun Run in downtown Redwood City. For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.rcef.org

School Calendar for Next Year…
At the May 11 school board meeting, the board ratified the calendar proposed by the Redwood City Teacher’s Association for the 2011-12 school year. The number of days school will be in session for 2011-12 depends on the amount of funding provided by the State of California, which remains uncertain, so the board approved two possible calendars – one that assumes 180 days of instruction for students and one that assumes 175 days of instruction for students. Calendar A will be the school calendar if the budget Governor Jerry Brown proposed in January prevails; calendar B will be used if the Governor and Legislature pass an “all cuts” budget. On both calendars all students will start school on August 22 and their last day will be June 7, 2012. Winter and spring breaks align closely with the schools in the Sequoia Union High School District on both calendars.

Have a great week!

Roosevelt is K-6!

At last night’s school board meeting, the board unanimously voted to expand Roosevelt to a K-6 school beginning next year!

The district is forming a committee in the next month to look at space allocation, enrollment, grade configuration, enrollment trends and the community needs and wants. Any decisions about Roosevelt adding 7th and 8th grade will be made after this committee makes it’s report to the school board next Fall/Winter. This committee will be using a lot of the research that our Expansion Committee gathered about K-8 schools vs Middle Schools.

We had a great turnout of parents and some of our 5th graders spoke to the school board and gave very compelling testimony about Roosevelt and PBL.

For more information, you can read the article on Patch.com.

Expansion Committee Update – Board Vote Wednesday

The following is the Superintendent’s memo for the board vote on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00.

i. Roosevelt School Expansion Request

Recommendation
The Administration recommends that Roosevelt School add 6th grade for the 2011-12 school year, becoming a K-6 school. The Administration wants to state clearly that this recommendation does not mean that Roosevelt will become a K-8 school in the future. Any future decisions regarding grade configurations at Roosevelt, or any other schools in the district will be made in the context of an analysis to be conducted by a Capacity/Facility/Grade Configuration committee that will study enrollment trends, existing school space and expansion options, and program demand from the community.

Pertinent Facts

RATIONALE:
The Administration wishes to acknowledge the thorough research and hard work conducted by the Roosevelt Expansion Committee, a group of parents who invested significant time and energy in studying the potential benefits and drawbacks of expanding the grades offered at Roosevelt School. In forming her recommendation, the Superintendent read all of the research compiled by the committee, as well as a Rand Corporation analysis of U.S. middle schools that was particularly helpful in providing historical context for decisions regarding grade configurations for 6-8 students.

The research on the benefits of middle schools versus K-8 schools is mixed and does not suggest a one-size-fits-all answer as to which grade configuration is best for students. Interestingly, according to the Rand Corporation study, the rapid formation of junior high schools for 7th and 8th graders around the turn of the century, and the later trend to convert the junior highs to middle schools serving 6, 7 and 8th graders, were both driven largely by the pressures of growing student enrollment. Overall, the research shows that the effectiveness of middle schools and K-8’s varies depending on local conditions, such as demographics. In considering the research in the context of our local conditions, e.g. Roosevelt School, and the current enrollment of schools within the Redwood City School District, the recommendation for Roosevelt to become a K-6 school is based on the following considerations:

* Philosophically, Redwood City School District has established itself as a “school of choice” district, offering a myriad of programs and grade configurations to local families. Research completed by the Roosevelt Expansion Committee indicated a demand for expanding the Project-based Learning (PBL) program beyond 5th grade.

* It will not cost the district additional money to operate Roosevelt as a K-6 school. Roosevelt has sufficient space to open two 6th grade classes, and still open additional kindergarten classes to accommodate the additional kindergarten enrollment from Hawes.

* The 6th grade can be offered either as two self-contained classrooms, or team-taught with 1 teacher offering language arts and social studies, and the other offering math and science.

* Roosevelt has the capacity to train the two new teachers needed in Project-based Learning.

* MIT Principal Ray Dawley has expressed interest in offering a PBL strand for 7th and 8th graders. This would allow Roosevelt students to matriculate into MIT similarly to how Adelante 7th and 8th graders matriculate into Kennedy for Spanish immersion.

* There is not a negative impact on the programs Kennedy is able to offer as there is still a substantial increase in student population. Enrollment analysis indicate that at most Kennedy will have one less teacher in 2011-12.

* The Administration has completed a thorough analysis of enrollment numbers at every school and we have concluded that this decision leaves us great latitude for other decisions.

Goals
Ensure that all students are prepared to be successful in high school and beyond.

Prepared By
Naomi Hunter, Director of Communications

Approved By
Jan Christensen, Superintendent

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of May 9 – May 13

In addition to all of the events at Roosevelt this week, the PTA of California, the Association of California School Administrators, California School Board Association and the California Teachers Association have declared this week a week of action to highlight the budgetary impasse in Sacramento. Redwood City schools will lose another $4 million in funding ($800 per student) in the next school year unless the current tax structure is extended. I’ve listed ways that we’ve been asked to help this week:

Monday – Tues
STAR Testing for grade 5 and makeups for other grades. Please make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, eats a good breakfast and arrives on time!

Monday, May 9
Contact our legislators and thank them for their support of the tax extension:
Senator Joe Simitian – www.senatorsimitian.com/contact
Assemblyman Rich Gordon – www.lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov

Tuesday, May 10
Community Budget Forum at Clifford– 6:30 – 8:30pm. All are encouraged to attend and Spanish translation is available.

Reach out to another parent or community member and let them know about the serious funding situation the RCSD is facing.

Wednesday, May 11
School Board Meeting at 7:00pm. Our request to add 6th grade for the 2011/2012 school year is an agenda item for the Wednesday night meeting. The school board will be voting to approve or deny our request. Please attend to show your support. Here’s a link to the agenda item memo Click on item number 11 – i to read the memo.

Friday, May 13
Crazy Hair Day!

Anti-Bullying / Teasing Assemblies

Perseverence Pizza Party for students in Grades 2-5 for completing the STAR test!

Potluck Dinner Dance at 5:00pm in the cafeteria! Come and join the fun and celebrate another great year at Roosevelt! Please bring a dish to share.

A rally will be held in San Francisco to support education funding between 4:00 and 6:00pm. Transportation details will follow later this week.

BoxTops Contest!
Start collecting those BoxTops again! There is one more contest, and this time it’s school wide. If the the students bring in 2000 BoxTops by the end of May, EVERY student will win an ice cream party! BoxTops can be turned in to the office.

Upcoming Events…
There’s a lot coming up as the school year winds down:
May 19 – PBL Fair / Open House Night
May 24 – Last PTA meeting of the year
May 27 – Backwards Day and Student of the Month Assemblies
May 30 – Memorial Day (No School)
June 3 – Hat Day, Outdoor Movie Night
June 9 – Last Day of School!

I try to keep the calendar on the Yahoo group as up to date as possible, so if you need to take a look, go to the Yahoo calendar

PTA Pledges…
Many of you chose the option to pledge money every month to pay for our P.E. program. Unfortunately, sending out reminder bills has proven difficult. The PTA still needs your donations to support our P.E. program. Please stop by the office or send your pledge money in an envelope to school with your child. Thank you for supporting the extra curricular programs here at Roosevelt!

PTA Nominations…
Do you have great ideas for Roosevelt? Do you want to get more involved? Do you want to meet more parents and feel part of something? The PTA needs you! There are still some positions available for next year’s PTA. If you’re interested, or want more information, please feel free to contact Aurora Gallardo or Bonnie Courtney-Rodriguez

Rally to Support Education Funding…
Educate Our State, a grassroots organization started here in Redwood City, will be hosting statewide rallies on May 24 to show that parents and citizens support quality education and to draw attention to the budget crisis affecting our schools. There will be a rally at the Redwood City Courthouse Square at 7:30am on the 24th. Please come and show your support. For more information, go to the Educate Our State website www.educateourstate.org

RCEF…
The RCEF is once again trying to raise money to keep music education in our schools. The RCEF will be hosting Grooving in the Grove on Saturday, May 28 at Woodside High School and the July 4 Fun Run in downtown Redwood City. For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.rcef.org

Have a great week!

 

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