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No Child Left Behind a failing program, Pleasanton school chief says

Original post made on Sep 29, 2011

Pleasanton school Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi is joining with other Alameda County superintendents in taking a stand against the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 29, 2011, 7:58 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

"The county letter in support of Torlakson said schools aren't looking to avoid accountability" Total B.S.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

Steve, I take it that you are in favor of the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) program then? To me it seems unfair that our schools should be penalized because "some subgroups such as African American, Latino, the socio-economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities" have problems performing as well as their classmates. With the exception of students with disabilities, it seems that the parents are mostly responsible for the underperformance of the children in these subgroups.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

Stacey is a registered user.

When average year-to-year NCLB gains hover around 4% over the previous year, expecting a 12% improvement in one year is unrealistic.


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Posted by Debbie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

The NCLB should be balanced by also emphasizing improvements in accelerating advanced children. I am a parent that has two exceptionally bright students and think that the NCLB has limited potential academics by focusing class work towards the lower end of the spectrum. Yet, for years, I heard from my children (now High School aged) that they are bored in school and they would like more challenging and captivating curriculum. It makes me wonder: how [as a nation] are our children going to strive and advance in a global economy when our nation's education system is mainly focused on lower achieving students?

I think the concept of NCLB should only be ONE element of a national education policy. The preponderance of the educational system should be the advancement of ALL of our children's potential.


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Posted by Paula
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Sep 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Regarding required D-TaP vaccines - Think Twice Global Vaccine Institute "Many of the letters and telephone calls that we receive from concerned parents indicate that multiple vaccines -- several shots administered at once -- are responsible for a large percentage of serious adverse vaccine reactions. In fact, there are no valid scientific studies -- NONE -- to support the safety of giving several vaccines at the same time. Vaccines are administered simultaneously for convenience, not safety, because medical policymakers realize that "the number of visits to a healthcare provider [for vaccines] is an impediment" to receiving all of the recommended shots."


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Seems like the District just can't seem to get its act together, and rather than fix their problems, they don't want to be held to any standards.

If the management and administration don't provide any oversight of the standards and teaching practices, no wonder the district is doomed. They just cross their fingers that "highly qualified" teachers can go off unsupervised and meet the objectives.

Has the District ever considered even having an parent focus and oversight committee consisting of parents of African American, Latino, socio-economically disadvantaged students or students with disabilities so that they can help the District figure out what the problems are? No, of course not.

They'd just rather write protest letters saying NCLB is too hard to comply with.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Fred said: "Has the District ever considered even having an parent focus and oversight committee consisting of parents of African American, Latino, socio-economically disadvantaged students or students with disabilities so that they can help the District figure out what the problems are?"

LOL! Yeah, that will work, Fred. It's not often that I find myself in agreement with the more conservative members of our community, but on this point I am. The problem is pretty obvious. There's nothing to "figure out". Why is it that many first-generation Chinese families or Vietnamese families in this country raise children who excel in school (despite the handicap of having to learn English) whereas members of other ethnic groups (e.g., African-American and Latino) have so much difficulty? It's because certain parents and certain cultures stress education and achievement. There's nothing that the school can do about that. Scholastic underachievement here is clearly a matter of parental responsibility - or perhaps parental irresponsibility. You're way off-base trying to pin this problem on the schools.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I had African American and Latino college professors at universities I attended. In public school, I had many African American and Latino principals and teachers. I have worked with many very talented African American and Latino colleagues at work.

Many African American and Latino families stress education and achievement.

Sam, to demonize an entire ethnic groups saying parents are irresponsible is inaccurate and shifting the blame away from the public school systems failures to the parents.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Fred, I'm not "demonizing" anyone or any group. I'm just stating facts. And the fact that there are African-American and Latino families that do stress education in no way disproves the assertion that African-Amercan and Latino families as a whole tend to not stress education as much as other groups.

If you have another explanation for why African-Americans and Latinos, as groups, tend to academically underachieve relative to other groups (such as Chinese-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, and Korean-Americans), then let's hear it.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

The answer probably lies not so much in an oversight committee of parents of underperforming students, but in an outreach program of parent education about the importance of education and a parent's role. It's a "teach a man to fish" approach. Educating the parents about their necessary role in their child's education will have a direct impact on the generations that follow. If you don't actively work to break the current cycle, the uninformed approach will be what is passed on instead.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Kathleen, thank you for your suggestion. I do believe that, though, there has been an under-representation of Hispanic and African American participants selected for participation in School District-related committees by School District management. With that kind of record, what type of diversity or non-diversity environment is the District really setting? Are there any Hispanic or African American principals?

Were any Hispanic and/or African American participants chosen by the District to serve on the Bond Refinancing Committee I've been reading about in the newspapers? If so, please let me know.

And how about the District's other committees like the Budget Advisory Committees and Strategic Planning Committees?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

The students the letter implies are skewing the district's performance are the very students the NCLB program is designed to help by requiring districts to accommodate rather than ignore them.

I'm with Steve on this one.

Mike


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Fred, I don't know the diversity of the current administrative team. There was an African American principal who moved into the district office, but I have not followed where she is now after all the cuts. I don't disagree about a more diverse group of representatives in key committees, but if parents don't understand the importance of their roles in their child's education, they won't step forward to do committee work.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Asian students outperform white students in Pleasanton. Does the man our schools are doing a disservice (or not supporting) white students? It is a very hard road to go down when the under performing groups are very small. NCLB is a good premise, but a flawed implementation. I think we all want every student to reach their maximum potential, the problem is the NCLB assumes that every child has the same potential. There are students who are great sceintists that will never be great artists. There are some who excel at English, poetry, writing, etc that will never be able to do Calculus. Why do we insist that every child has the same skills? There are those that have mental challenges that may never be able to function on their own, yet NCLB assumes they meet the same standard as everyone else.

I think the biggest flaw of NCLB is that it assumes all students are the same when we should be acknowledging that all students are different and have different needs.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Kathleen said: "...but if parents don't understand the importance of their roles in their child's education, they won't step forward to do committee work."

Yes, and even many of us who DO understand the importance of parents in childrens education don't want anything to do with committee work. Good luck in trying to get parents who are less connected with their children's education to take the time and trouble to sit on a committee.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Sam, It's why it's important to reach out to parents who are not connected.


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Posted by tim
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

send your children to private schools


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

"send your children to private schools"

What private schools? All I can find are Carden West, Quarry Lane and they're terrible. They've got kids going there who couldn't handle the public schools.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Paula said,

" In fact, there are no valid scientific studies -- NONE -- to support the safety of giving several vaccines at the same time."

Stop giving out false information and endangering the public.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Web Link

"The available scientific data show that simultaneous vaccination with multiple vaccines has no adverse effect on the normal childhood immune system. A number of studies have been conducted to examine the effects of giving various combinations of vaccines simultaneously. These studies have shown that the recommended vaccines are as effective in combination as they are individually, and that such combinations carry no greater risk for adverse side effects.

"Consequently, both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend simultaneous administration of all routine childhood vaccines when appropriate. "


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Posted by reasonable parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

Ethnicity DOES influence how much families value education. A few years ago we were in a district that had limited busing from a disadvantaged area. I saw first hand a hispanic girl whose family took her out of school to go to LA for her cousin's birthday (really). That's a high priority on family over academics. I also saw an african-american boy, one of the brightest kids in the class, pulled out of our school because he wanted to be in the same (low-achieving)school as his brother. Again, family (and being more comfortable around other kids with the same background) ahead of academic opportunity. At the same time, I know lots of Asian kids who are expected to spend their after school hours on homework and maybe music but are not allowed to do sports. White families often stress sports equally (if not ahead of) academics. We admire the athletes and make fun of the nerds. Don't you think that affects the white kids test scores? It's all about family culture and priorities. Who is to say which are better? If we want to say academics are most important, we should all walk the walk.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

Having a hispanic child pulled out a class to go to a family birthday? Oh, the horror! (Must prove they value family over caucasian families, yes?)

I saw first hand African American and Latino children accepted into Ivy League schools, going on to receive their doctorates.

And I didn't realize Asian children are not allowed to participate in sports. I see plenty of Asian children participating in sports leagues throughout this city.




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Posted by reasonable parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

Fred, my point was not to say there aren't highly successful Latino academics or Asian athletes. The point was that on balance, there are cultural issues at play that are far more important than anything the schools can do to level the playing field.

Different cultures -- generally -- place different values on things like schoolwork, sports, family celebrations and ethnic traditions. T

How about a child from a tight-knit ethnic community whose parents insist she attend a local, less prestigiuos college so she can live at home, be closely protected and therefore more "virtuous" and marriageable within their culture?

Or a child who is home schooled so they can be "protected" from mainstream culture and maintain only a bible-centered view of the world?

Many,many people make cultural choices that do not maximize their education. However, they would (rightly) defend their rights to make their own choices for their own families. Unfortunately, these choices sometimes create differences in test scores. We can't blame this all on the schools.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

From what I see in the classroom, the kids who need extra help are "not be left behind" and get tons of attention and special support, which is wonderful. I'm happy we can and do provide this support in Pleasanton.

However, the ones who are left behind are the ones who are ahead to start off with and who don't get challenged. They are not given the teacher time or resources to achieve their potential (because everyone knows that they'll pass the tests anyhow) and that is very sad for the future of our country.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

Institutional racism is alive and well in the school system. You cite an example where a child from an ethnic community with high marks and grades chooses to attend a less prestigious college.

That is precisely what is happening in the schools --- school counselors are steering high achieving children that are black or hispanic to community colleges and trade schools rather than 4 year colleges where they should be. Please see the article Racism in Schools - Unintentional But No Less Damaging at Web Link


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

The children who need help in ethnic groups that score less well on tests get the most teacher time in elementary. I have seen so many children brought up to speed in the early years and this will change their lives forever. Definitely no racism there. Though the high achieving kids don't get the push they need . . . Teachers only have a certain amount of time in the day. And increasing class sizes are not helping at all.


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Posted by reasonable parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Fred, again you misunderstand me. My point was that the PARENTS often steer their kids into academically suboptimal choices for cultural reasons.

As for counselors, there are too few of them to offer ongoing academic or college advisement to kids whose parents are not taking the lead. There are many high-achieving kids not making optimal academic choices simply because no one is advising them. Especially if they are not failing or creating disciple problems, but just achieving adequate (but not stellar) grades.

Not to mention the continually reinforced misperception that poor families can't afford college. Children from truly low-income or middle/low income families can often get generous scholarships, ESPECIALLy at private schools, which the counselors usually steer them away from. Instead they end up at community college or commuting to second rate CSU's just because they don't think they can afford something better.

Like "parent" above, I think there are far too few resources provided to push the "good" to "great".


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Fred said: "Institutional racism is alive and well in the school system....That is precisely what is happening in the schools --- school counselors are steering high achieving children that are black or hispanic to community colleges and trade schools rather than 4 year colleges where they should be."'

So, Fred, you think that "institutional racism" is the culprit here. It's interesting how "institutional racism" in the school system so selectively targets some minority groups but not others, isn't it? For some strange reason, Chinese-American students and Korean-American students seem to be immune to this form of "racism". Why? I dunno. You know, Fred?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Sam, Chinese-American students and Korean-American students are not immune to racism. Have you ever had any discussion regarding this with any Chinese-American or Korean-American? Please read Far from Home: Shattering the Myth of the Model Minority by our Korean-American Assembly member who represents Pleasanton. Her name is Assemblymember Mary Hayashi.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Fred, no, Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans are not immune to racism. But, given the high level of academic performance by these subgroups, they don't seem to have been much affected by this "institutional racism" that you invoke to explain the poor academic performance of the other subgroups under discussion. So I think that you're going to have to look elsewhere for an explanation as to why these other subgroups perform so poorly in schools.

BTW, "Hayashi" is a Japanese name, not a Korean one.


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Posted by Vee
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

It is very sad to see that every topic in America seems to somehow always turn into a race debate. The real problem with the NCLB program is the long term effects. I have a 19yr old brother that was diagnosed as mildly retarded at the age of 6. Doctors explained to my mother that his IQ would never be higher than that of an average 8 to 9 yr old. He hardly ever attended school and when he did he would leave early.On any given day I can easily find my 19 yr old brother outside playing with the neighborhood kids. In his mind this is perfectly normal. The kids often get him to do things he shouldn't because he is very easily influenced. My brother should have been placed in special education classes. And should have never graduated with a standard diploma.Last year my brother graduated high school and received a standard diploma. Whats gonna happen now that he is a legal adult with a high school diploma. He can barely read. The only thing he wants to do is ride his bike. Now America can say "get a job" call him a looser. Pretty much turn him into the bad guy when he's actually the victim. The victim of an environment where the parents were not involved in his education. He is also a victim of this law; No Child Left Behind.


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Posted by Yovel Badash
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

We need to move forward to a more 21st century education reform.

This is why we started the No Child Held Back initiative.

Learn more or join the conversation @ www.nochildheldback.com.


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Posted by No more excuses. We want results
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I think the headline should be:

Parvin Ahmadi a failing superintendent, Pleasanton residents say


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