Earlier this week, the OCÂ Weekly Â 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.Â 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 theÂ school district’sÂ 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.