Dissecting the SAUSD

Earlier this week, the OC Weekly  and OC Register published articles that the state has declared three SAUSD schools as failing. Those schools are Century High School, Valley High School and Willard Intermediate. These schools have had dismal test scores in Math and English proficiency for the past 8 years and have consistently rated in the bottom 5% year after year according to the California Department of Education, and the state has now demanded that drastic changes be made.

Once again, the SAUSD seeks to sugar coat the problem, claiming they have begun to implement some of the changes demanded by state and federal mandates. Here are some of the options they have in order to get some stimulus money to fix these schools: replace the principal, rehire no more than 50 percent of the staff and change the instructional program; close and reopen as a charter school; close and reassign students to other higher-achieving schools in the district; or replace the principal, increase instructional time and make other changes. So what kind of drastic changes will they make.

I decided to do a little digging into the test scores for 2008 and 2009 for schools where a majority of the student body is from Santa Ana(this includes the ones in Garden Grove USD, Tustin USD and one in Orange USD). Some of the best performing schools are the ones where students go to Tustin or Garden Grove Schools. The top schools in SAUSD who scored above an 800 API in 2009 are almost all Fundamental or Charter schools. You can view the website HERE.

I re-did the file, which you can read here to include only Santa Ana schools. I included one school outside of Santa Ana, JUVENILE HALL. As you can see, kids in Juvenile Hall are doing better in English and Math than six mainstream Santa Ana schools. This is an absolute disgrace. Wasn’t the recall of Nativo Lopez, which happened over 7 YEARS AGO supposed to fix the problem. Yet time after time, we see things are worse than ever.

I am going to take a minute to talk about Valley High School and their magnet program run by the Santa Ana Business Alliance, High School Inc. What High School Inc is essentially is a fancy way to say they are encouraging young Latinos and Latinas to seek careers in Home Economics, Auto Shop and other blue collar positions, no encouragement for college. They just found a fancy way to package it and tout it every chance they get in Cityline, their publication, or what I call PRAVDA SANTA ANA. To hear them talk, one would think Valley High School is the greatest success story in the county, yet the API scores tell a much different story, they show it is the lowerst performing mainstream school in the district. How could this be, wasn’t High School Inc. supposed to fix all this? One of the Feds’ options that concerns me is the closing and reopening as a Charter School.

Chris Prevatt and I have different feelings about Charter Schools. My son attends one, El Sol Academy. My views are very moderate on this issue, I support them but believe districts should grant charters in moderation and scrutinize carefully the real motives of some outside groups who come in seeking charters. What is happening with High School Inc. and Valley High School failing is one of those situations where I am wary of the district’s intentions. Will the Santa Ana Business Alliance gain full control of Valley High School in order to push all those students towards nothing more than dead end blue collar jobs? Considering the school district’s past track record, I am very wary of this.

The final issue I have is with all the recall activists who pontificated endlessly that recalling Nativo would fix the school district and he was holding back the students. Where are you all now? All those Floral Park residents who packed the school board meetings and would call the old majority names, where are you now? Where is your outrage at these latest reports? Where are your demands to recall Richardson, Hernandez and Noji? Silence says it all.

It is time to demand change in the Porfiriato of El Norte. It is time to demand a new majority who truly looks out for the needs of the students. A majority who will not give contracts and experimental schools to the inner clique of friends. A majority who truly seek to make education their first priority. There are people with great ideas out there to make SAUSD a better school district, and I will be discussing these ideas in future posts. We need one more to listen besides John Palacio and Roman Reyna. Lets end the SAUSD Porfiriato, only then will we truly see success in Santa Ana schools. Lets elect people and hire administration who will face the problems head on and create REAL SOLUTIONS.

  10 comments for “Dissecting the SAUSD

  1. Repulsed
    March 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    How many more rediculous articles like this will be written. How many more times will the blame for student under achievement and failure be placed on anyone other than the students and their parents. Claudio can’t you grasp the fact that the longer the blame is misplaced, the longer it will take to fix the problem.

  2. Jo
    March 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Failing schools are led by liberal educators who vote Democrat and have a main interest in perpetuating their largess and lining their pockets. These large union corporations have held our children hostage to their own agenda, tenure shoud be eliminated. We do not allow incompetent Doctors to practice medicine, we should not allow incompetent teachers to teach. It is a vicious cycle at the expense of children. Throwing money at union educators is not the answer, everyone of the teachers in failing schools need to be fired and reapply for their positions after taking a competency test on the subject matter they are teaching. If these progressives would quit spending time on pushing and indoctrinating students into mindless lockstep of their own agenda and start teaching relevant material grounded in real science and real history instead of Al Gore faulty science and revisionist history, only then will outcomes improve. Parents at every level need to demand textbooks be used and followed in schools so it can enable parents to see what children are being taught. Parents also need to call to task any and all drivel that is being passed off as legitimate material and demand school board accountability. California, looking at your situation from over 2000 miles away in a more objective view, you need to change the status quo to survive. Do not expect the rest of America to bail you out, Californians you need to take responsibility and get yourself out of the mess you have created or you will not survive.

  3. Mike Tardif
    March 14, 2010 at 7:11 am

    No doubt there are serious problems within SAUSD. However, my friend, you could not be more wrong about High School Inc. at Valley High School.

    The students in the career technical education Academies there are enthusiastic about and dedicated to learning. I am certain that this group of students has a GPA well above that of the general student population.

    You say that blue collar jobs are a “dead end” occupation. Many of these jobs provide excellent pay and benefits exceeding $100K per year. Additionally, students are encouraged to further their educations, through attending apprenticeships and college.

    I invite you to attend the High School Inc. frosh orientation on March 24th or 25th for an hour either morning. I think that you will be convinced that this is a pathway to rewarding careers AND higher education for Valley High School students.

  4. Santa Ana Teacher
    March 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Try and get people to come here and comment Claudio, it is not going to work. The renegades are scared silent after what that “other joke” blog did to them.

    In case you have not heard, Sean Mill ratted all the renegade teachers he could to Claudia Alvarez and Sal Tinajero, who in turn gave the list to Audry Yamagata-Noji. Those who were outed have been harassed by the district ever since and will likely receive pink slips any day now. We were told by Jill Puich that Orange Juice was a safe place to speak out, that we wouldn’t be outed.

    Apparently Sean Mill and company have a price. We would like to trust you Claudio, but we are suspicious of you as well. We would like to believe you will not sell out, but after seeing Sean Mill and Art Pedroza sell out to the bad guys, well we just don’t believe anymore.

    If you all know why Red Vixen left AKA Jill Puich, she had so much egg on her face after the outing she just dropped off altogether. She got us into this mess and defended her buddies even after many of the teachers were outed. She doesn’t dare show her face to any SAUSD teachers. And Sean Mill, shame on you you scumbag. People like you end up burning in hell. How do you sleep at night knowing you may have gotten dozens of teachers, some with children, fired. All so you could be popular with your buddy Sal Tinajero, who I knew was a snake from day 1.

  5. March 15, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Sean Mill just emailed us and threated us with a libel suit over the comment left by Santa Ana Teacher. I refuse to be lectured to about issues of libel by the Orange Juice. Is Ms. Alvarez, Mr. Tinajero or Ms. Yamagata-Noji wish to refute this comment, we invite them to comment here to do so.

  6. SA Preservationist
    March 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    There is a similar discussion going on at Art’s “New Santa Ana” website which I also responded to. That one included a lot of Fundamental bashing. Here is part of my response to that chain. Note that I agree that this is in the hands of SAUSD Board and Russo, and they need to be dumped for anything to improve.

    Claudio I agree with your stand on the Charter’s, as long as there is true oversight and their missions include something relevant to the SA population. That is why the Fundamentals are good, sort of a “charteresque” approach–students from anywhere in the district can join the lottery and get a good education if admitted. The problem is that we need more Fundamental structures in place in the district, so more kids have a chance. Regarding High School Inc., like you I am wary of the motivations, but agree with Mike that can lead to a great career for many of the students. But that should not keep Valley off the hook from pushing and helping kids there also go to college. Here is my rant from the other blog:

    “My child is a senior at a Fundamental High School and I know first hand that these successful students are from the same types of families all over the city. While parent involvement is very important, it is not everything. I know students at this school whose parents are not very involved, yet the students are motivated and succeed because of the atmosphere at the school–a good program, fine administrators, teachers who still love to teach because they have not been beaten down by lack of support or lack of discipline on campus. Kids at Fundamental schools know the rules, know the consequences–the key is that the schools actually enforce these rules. They are pushed, coached, helped to apply to college–and the expectation is that every one of them will go on to higher education.

    Blaming Fundamental High Schools for a brain drain is a red herring. Before these were built, families who could afford it were pulling their kids out of the distict to other districts or private schools. That’s one of the reasons I fought against the year delay in opening the second Fundamental HS–we need more of these schools. These programs work not because the students are better or richer or more motivated, but because the progam is clear, disciplined, and fully supported by administration and teachers,including the enforcement of consequences.

    A conservative friend recently tried to sell me a line that Latino families “do not place the same importance on education” as other cultures. This is completely false (and racist) and I told him so. Any parent knows that good education=good/better job=success, whatever culture they come from. Parents in SA are far from stupid. The problem I see is one of economics–parents who are working 2 jobs, struggling with the language, have little education themselves. How many of them really know the Fundamental schools are accessible by all students? How many of them understand how to get into the lottery? And even if their children get in, there are the struggles with getting them to and from a school that may be well outside their neighborhood. Struggles with knowing what homework needs to be done and following up with their kids. Trying to attend parent conferences during work hours.

    I believe Century was supposed to be “transitioning” to a Fundamental program by grade level a few years ago (an effort I thought was futile). What happened to that? Schools need to fully transform to a new program. Yes, it will be chaos for the first 6 months, kids will be in detention, parents and teachers will be frustrated. But in the long run, SAUSD will benefit from programs that work.

    The School Board and the Superintendant have dragged their feet for too long. With the exception of John Palacios, the Board is perfectly happy to do nothing and dodge the criticism. We need to clean house at the top, get some leadership that will support the teachers so they can do what they do best–teach, not act as baby sitters and wardens.”

  7. March 17, 2010 at 8:01 am

    It’s interesting to read the analysis of High School Inc. Of course, the trojan horse in the crisis of education are the market principles that are seeking to inject themselves into a pillar of democratic society; public education. However, if they are wanting to funnel Santa Ana students into the blue collar economy, than they are merely and explicitly replicating the model already in place. Six of the state’s worst schools are in Santa Ana, not Irvine or Newport Beach. And that’s not by accident.

    It’s an elementary poverty cycle in play where the demographics of class (and racial intersections) are reproduced. Public high schools in Santa Ana will send a thin sliver of students to higher education as pours exist and students will excel despite the challenges. However, the majority will be funneled into the ‘blue collar’ economy (which should be properly respected as is done by the work of Mike Rose) as it were if the juvi-industrial complex doesn’t snatch them up first. The youth are under assault (even if they manage to get to college)We can bemoan administrators, teachers, etc but what is really lacking is the courage of vision and the understanding of circumstances.

    Critical pedagogy, bilingual instruction and culturally responsive educational theories would go a long way, but none of that is being articulated. Instead, school districts are genuflecting for Obama/Duncan’s ‘race to the top’ chump change. Nothing will essentially shift.

  8. art lomeli
    March 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Our nations educational system’s ability to educate the general student population, according to public and private sources. has been failing steadily for several years.

    Along with this general failure in education Santa Ana and similar communities are affected with an additional problem that produces the Failing schools amongnst other failures.

    The problem producing the failure in question iis poverty and the particular marginalization, demonisation and neglect the majority Hispanic population in Santa Ana is subjected to.

    The issue is not the Hispanic culture but rather a culture of poverty. Poverty can affect any race in the same manner. The disease(poverty) produces many symptoms. Attacking the symptoms only does not cure the disease.

    Marginalization, neglect and demonisation of a population,race, community or neighborhood affected with poverty only worsens the disease and without correction will make the disease fatal.

    Economic, educational and cultural development of all residents in Santa Ana is the cure of the disease.

    I am not saying that Hispanics have a poverty mentality. I am saying that poverty is the problem.

    Santa Ana has a large working class population that immigrated poor and uneducated. this does not mean they have a poverty mentality.

    In fact we immigrants are here for opportunity that translates into financial prosperity. It just takes time, history shows a generation.

    Hispanics are the future majority of the USA. We as a nation need to develop this most precious natural resource . This is a requirement for the future economic stability of our great nation.

    Marginalization, demonisation and neglect of this population will create no opportunity for Hispanics and so will produce a Third World Country.

    We Hispanics need to take the leadership so this does not happen.

  9. junior
    March 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    GSR said: “Critical pedagogy, bilingual instruction and culturally responsive educational theories would go a long way ..”

    Do you mean to turn Santa Ana and So Cal into a State of Mexico?

    I don’t think that is going to help much.

  10. March 18, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Junior: You’re in need of a better education…

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