Solving problems in education - May 23, 2008
Re "Rewriting the Locke story," May 20
This article does not explain how Green Dot, or any charter school operator, will make such drastic changes immediately. Please do not give false hope that Green Dot will go into Locke and fix all that is wrong with that high school.
Charter schools have the luxury of getting rid of any student they wish. I agree that reform is needed, especially in schools with a high population of impoverished students. I just don't believe that handpicking the population of students and comparing them to the less fortunate is the way to do it.
Walk into any of the despondent schools in Los Angeles and you will see the same issues you see at Locke -- issues that will exist even after it becomes a charter. But Locke will be able to send problem students back to the warehouses we call low-performing high schools.
Donna Foote's astonishingly naive or disingenuous statement, "I can honestly say that I never met a student there who didn't want to learn," must be countered with common sense.
If a young adult has the desire to learn, he or she will find a way to make that happen. In my 19 years with the LAUSD, I've worked with a small percentage of students who are hostile to learning. At the top, there's an equally small percentage (in mainstream classes) of students ready and willing to make a strong effort to learn. The majority in the middle behave as if learning should always be fun. If it's not, they refuse to partake of it.
Foote steps right into the problem when she writes that "only 3% of Locke students are receiving the education required," as if education is a commodity to be received passively and not earned.
Forced fundraising - May 24, 2008
For those of us with children in school, it's not news that there's no money for field trips. That's what those catalogs with $10 rolls of wrapping paper, forgettable trinkets and chocolate bars that parents bring to work and children take to their neighbors are all about.
Across California, PTAs and booster clubs have been paying for field trips and assemblies because school districts can't afford to provide them.
School parent groups work hard to ensure that all students have access to the kind of enrichment a child gets from a field trip to a hands-on science museum, a local art museum or, if they're lucky, a historical reenactment center that brings Colonial America to life.
PTA moms never set out to be fundraisers. But we see the greater good and find ourselves enthusiastically hawking wrapping paper because we have no other way of raising the funds.
So the next time the neighbor kid shyly asks you if you would like to buy one of those chocolate bars, remember back to your grade-school field trips and go ahead and buy one. No, make that two bars, and one roll of wrap.
Denise Clary Wilson
The writer is the president of the PTA at El Rincon Elementary School.
I find it hard to accept that schools don't have money for field trips. In the worst of economic times, the district that I worked for always had money for:
* sending administrators on expensive weekend conferences;
* hiring consultants to advise on matters that could have been handled by any reasonably well-educated individual already being paid by the district;
* repairing the front office, when classrooms needed it more;
* creating Taj Mahals at the district office or county offices;
* keeping the buses running for sporting events but not for academic field trips;
* buying out the contract of an incompetent superintendent.
Bill D. Holder
There is no substitute for introducing children to works of art through a visit to a museum. Each year, the Getty Museum hosts nearly 115,000 students, funding bus transportation for more than 32,000 students from Title I schools. For many of these children, this is their first visit to a museum.
The Getty is fortunate to have the resources to help, but we cannot assist every school in need. To expand our ability to reach students directly, we offer free workshops and curricula for teachers at all levels, geared to the state content standards. But the best classroom programs in the world cannot match the experience of seeing a Rembrandt or a Gauguin for the first time.
In an era when schools are struggling to provide the basics for students, field trips might seem like a luxury. But we believe that cultural awareness, creativity and aesthetic enjoyment are essential to a child's education. We applaud the efforts of corporations to help fund field trips. We hope more companies will follow their example.
J. Paul Getty Museum