Saturday, June 18, 2005


The superintendent of Saddleback High School has told teachers to ignore a memo from the school's principal urging them to pass failing seniors so the school could meet federal graduation requirements. "I felt this was a serious violation," Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Al Mijares said. "Principals and teachers are expected to hold the line with regards to grades that are necessary to the high school diploma, and under no circumstances will teachers be pressured to change a grade." On June 9, Principal Esther Jones wrote teachers a memo asking them to reconsider the grades of 98 failing seniors. The note asked teachers to "please review your records for these students and determine if they would merit a grade of 'D' instead of a failure."

Jones added in the memo that the school needed 95 percent of its seniors to graduate to meet federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind law. In fact, the school needs a graduation rate of 82.8 percent and will graduate nearly 84 percent of its 500 seniors on Wednesday, school officials said. Jones did not return calls for comment. Teachers said they were outraged by the memo. "We do everything we possibly can to pass them. To be asked to go beyond that is ridiculous," social studies teacher Larry Collier said. "I've never seen anything like that in my 44 years of teaching."

Math teacher Barbara Peimbert said Jones asked her to pass two of the 12 seniors she had failed this semester. Peimbert said one student had a 51 percent in her statistics class, which requires a 60 percent to pass. "I said, '51 is not 60,'" Peimbert said. "She said, 'OK, I respect your decision and thank you.' So I assumed that was the end of it. I found out that his name's not on the non-grad list. ... This is ridiculous. It ruins our credibility."

School board President Audrey Yamagata-Noji said she needed to find out more about Jones, the incident, and her leadership of the school before determining whether discipline was necessary.


Top U.K. Private school opens city academy [Charter school]

Marlborough College - fees 21,000 pounds a year - is giving its expertise and experience to a failing comprehensive[government school]

It is an education that normally sets parents back 21,000 pounds a year but guarantees first-class academic results and a step up the ladder of life. Now one of Britain's leading public schools is offering its ethos and expertise to one of the country's failing comprehensives. Marlborough College is to become the first major independent school to sign up to the Government's programme for replacing failing inner-city comprehensives with city academies costing an average of 25 million pounds each. The boarding school in Wiltshire, which numbers Princess Eugenie among its pupils, is in talks with the Department for Education and Skills about sponsoring an academy in the Home Counties.

Nicholas Sampson, Master of the school, told The Times: "We are involved in preliminary discussions, and very happy to be doing so, which we think could be beneficial both to Marlborough and the national education system." Marlborough would not be investing the 2 million pounds required of sponsors of academies towards the construction costs, but would bring its "educational ethos and experience" to the project. Mr Sampson said: "We have given a guarantee to our parents that we would not divert fee income to any external project. But our community includes some people who are very enthusiastic about this matter and see it as an opportunity for Marlborough to incarnate its traditional view of the importance of service and take it on to a new phase. "Our sole motivation here is that for some children something must be done. We see it as a two-way process, since we are aware of the danger of being patronising. We know we have a great deal to learn from this enterprise. We would seek to gain a great deal of experience and professional development, and a wider understanding for our pupils."

Mr Sampson declined to identify the school that Marlborough will be linked with as an academy, but it is understood to be in talks with the United Learning Trust, which is already involved with six academies and includes Marlborough's former Master, Edward Gould, on its board of directors. The trust, a subsidiary of the United Church Schools Trust, has plans to open ten academies with up to 20 million pounds in sponsorship. Mr Sampson said: "We are looking in one specific area, this is not just vague talk. We are aware of the need to go to an area that is suffering educational deprivation. "These are intricate negotiations, particularly given the understandable sensitivities, but I know people are working very hard on this and progress is being made."

Marlborough's decision to back an academy will delight Mr Blair, who invited heads of dozens of fee-paying schools to No 10 last autumn to try to persuade them to join his crusade to create 200 academies by 2010. Sir Cyril Taylor, a key adviser to the Secretary of State and chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust, has also urged private schools to back academies as a way to protect their charitable status by demonstrating that they provide a public benefit.

The partnership of Marlborough and a failing state school is likely to prove a culture shock for both parties. Marlborough, founded in 1843 by Royal Charter, has three orchestras, a wind band, a chamber orchestra, a brass band, a chapel choir and a choral society. It stages 15 drama productions a year. Sports facilities include an indoor swimming pool, two trout lakes and its own beagle pack. Expeditions are a regular feature of school life, including "challenging adventure trips to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, the Andes, northern Canada and the Pyrenees" in recent years.

Princess Eugenie, 15, the younger daughter of the Duke of York, has been at Marlborough for 19 months. Past pupils include the Princess Royal's former husband Captain Mark Phillips and the late novelist Sir Kingsley Amis.

The disclosure comes a day after a report by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that academies were beginning to achieve "a break in the past experience of underachievement and low aspirations" in inner-city areas



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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