"If there is a Picasso in Pacifica, what is our responsibility to that kid?" asked S.F. school board member Rachel Norton in a front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 22. She was responding to a question about whether the school board should ban out-of-town kids from enrolling in the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA), a high-demand public school in San Francisco. (On May 26, the school board unanimously approved the ban.)
New lights (above) were installed in the upper parking lot at Oceana High School more than a month ago. I noticed them right away. They are too bright and absolutely way out of proportion for the neighborhood. The lights come on at 8:30 p.m. and go off at midnight, then come back on at 5 a.m. and go off an hour later. Jefferson Union High School District shows total disrespect for our neighborhood; the lights are invasive to the whole canyon area, ruining any enjoyment of the night sky in Pacifica, and actually serve no purpose, as the parking lot is seldom used after 9 p.m. Keeping the lights on actually will only attract people who have no business there. This is just real overkill on the school district's part. It needs to dim the lights and shield them to better direct the light to the parking lot instead of the entire canyon and homes in the vicinity; and especially, to turn them off at 9 p.m. I placed numerous calls to the school district and stated my complaint, but there has yet to be a response. The school district is on my list of most shameful!
Andrew Leone reports: "I was interviewed briefly on KPFA yesterday. They called me out of the blue. With no time to prepare, I tried to share some essential news. If you'd like to listen, the interview starts at about 02:38 on the media player (click link below):
The most essential points I can think of right now to tell folks:
1. City College is open and accredited, and it's time to register.
2. Class credits are transferable.
3. Quality of education is excellent and has never been an issue.
4. We are making good progress in reversing the unjust ruling by ACCJC.
5. If enrollment drops due to bad press and lies, classes will be lost for good.
6. We can win against the forces of austerity and save CCSF for the people.
San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) and sustainability? Fascinating. Sustainability of what?
Sustainably trying to destroy the historic half-century-old garden for a parking lot?
Sustainably removing more than 200 old-growth trees from the ridgeline and slopes of the College of San Mateo?
Sustainably chopping down additional mature trees to make way for a parking lot and an amphitheater with panoramic views of the bay after the recent court ruling, which stated that "SMCCCD failed to comply with CEQA when it failed to conduct mandated environmental review over 200 mature trees"?
Sustainably spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to fight two California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)-backed lawsuits filed by concerned community members and students?
Sustainably spending millions of dollars in false advertising about how much the district cares about the residents and doing the Right Thing?
The only thing SMCCCD seems to be sustaining is the never-ending, relentless level of spending public money on artificial turf and private athletic-club locker rooms built relatively recently.
SMCCCD's Sustainability Initiative is pure fiction.
I was surprised when my swim coach told me that the College of San Mateo has a new Olympic-size swimming pool. Then he said it costs $20 per drop-in visit!
I searched the college's website, which says to call the private, for-profit company that manages the pool to find out the drop-in cost. I did find that college staff get free use of the pool, which may explain why it was built at district headquarters on the San Mateo campus instead of the other campuses (Skyline, Canada), which don't have swimming pools.
When the voters approved the prior college bond, the money was supposed to go for "constructing and modernizing classrooms ... and the replacement of aging ventilation systems, removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos, and installation of alternative-energy programs."
The voters weren't told the college district was going to build a big swimming pool, much less charge us taxpayers who paid for it the highest per-visit charge in the state for any community college swimming pool.
The next time the college asks us to raise taxes for academics, its argument will be undermined by how it handled the new swimming pool, paid for by taxpayers but run like a private club for the moneyed and district staff.
Media Alliance Classes for writers, editors, photographers, designers, broadcasters, community organizers, computer wizards, dancers, actors, and other creative folks. Media Alliance has an interactive website for finding jobs, signing up for classes, and connecting to other media activists in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Robotics have long been the mainstay of factories and labs, but their surge in popularity is evident in our classrooms and homes, too. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire young people, is one reason for this popularity. FIRST brings together more than 65,000 high-school-age students annually to create local robotics teams. The teams build a robot – with the help of professional mentors – with the goal of competing at the FIRST Robotics Championship April 24-27.
Autodesk honors two 2013 FIRST teams: Team 6002 The Basilisks from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, California; and Team 4488 Shockwave from Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Oregon as its April Inventor of the Month. Both teams used Autodesk Inventor software to design their award-winning robots and successfully advance to the world championship.
The Basilisks, Shockwave, and hundreds of other FIRST Robotic teams receive free access to Autodesk software via the Autodesk Education Community, which provides students and educators with everything from personal design apps to professional-grade software. By leveraging the powerful modeling capabilities within Inventor, along with the knowledge of Autodesk employee mentors, both teams were able to finalize their robots while saving time and materials costs.
Photo above shows some members of Team 6002 The Basilisks and team mentor Kjersti Chippindale (far right).
Video animation of Team Basilisks robot (brilliant design, but the team could have used a little help with spelling of captions—a couple of glaring typos detract from the overall good impression):
Three Monday evenings in June/July; exact dates TBD, cost $150. The Internet and digital media bring organizations to life in unique ways: sharing stories about your work or engaging your stakeholders in campaigns to enhance your program/work. Digital media bring people closer while erasing boundaries of time and geography.
Week 1, Introduction: using Facebook and Twitter; Week 2, other social media tools: Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, what's next; Week 3, Bringing it all together.
State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has introduced legislation that would lower the threshold for voters to approve school parcel taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent.
If approved by the Legislature during the new session and voters on the statewide ballot in 2014, Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 would allow local school districts, community college districts and county offices of education to approve a local parcel tax with the same 55 percent vote required for local school bonds used for capital expenses.
School districts can use parcel tax money to enhance instructional programs, hire additional teachers, support libraries, STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, math), music, and arts programs— all reflecting local priorities in their local districts.
Hill noted that California lags behind all but a few states in per pupil spending and a parcel tax is one of the very few ways that local school districts can raise money for operational and discretionary expenses.
“This legislation provides local control for school funding and gives school districts flexibility to prioritize spending on programs critical to students, teachers and parents in each community,” said Hill, who served two terms in the Assembly before being elected to the Senate in November. “Voters in my district identified education funding as their top priority and I’m committed to addressing this critical issue which impacts the future workforce of our state.”
Under SCA 3, parcel tax increases would first have to be approved by a majority of the local school board representatives. The school board would also be required to perform annual independent financial audits of the parcel tax increase revenue and a citizen’s oversight committee would have to be created to review all expenditures. Tax proceeds would be limited to educational purposes and could not be used to pay school administrator salaries
SCA 3 builds on the efforts of former Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who introduced the reform six times over the past decade. “Senator Joe Simitian was a champion for improved education funding in California,” said Hill. “We have a unique opportunity to honor his legacy in the Legislature by finally giving voters the opportunity to decide this critical issue.”
Since voters approved Proposition 39 in 2000, reducing the voter threshold for approval of bonds from 67 percent to 55 percent, 80 percent of local school bonds have passed. By comparison, during the past two decades only 55 percent of parcel taxes have met the required two-thirds threshold.
Visit parade.com/homework for a list of apps to
help organize school assignments, create flash cards, and the new feature
called History: Maps of the World, which connects historical events to their
geographic locations. These apps are free, and they work on iPhone and iPad.