Category Archives: education

Cookies for Admissions Equality (2003)

Welcome to another edition of Highlander Archives, these are pieces that were submitted to the newspaper. Many articles were printed, but this one was not.

In February 2003, the Berkeley College Republicans challenged the dominant political establishment on their campus by participating in a demonstration by having an affirmative action bake sale. The bake sale offered baked goods on a sliding scale price structure depending on what ethnicity and gender you are a member. The organization’s president believes that holding people to different standards based on their race is inherently racist. The demonstration at UC Berkeley and UCLA were inspired by the impending Supreme Court case in April regarding the University of Michigan admissions policy retaining affirmative action.

Demonstrations regarding wedge issues do not escape controversy unscattered. Former State Senator Art Torres, chair of the California Democratic Party took offense of the actions of the College Republicans of California. Art remarked that, “Once again we see hard working students of color subjected to racist Republican rhetoric for simply seeking a good education and equal opportunity” and that “These college Republicans have opted to perpetrate the legacy of Trent Lott.” However, Affirmative Action is indeed reverse racism because assumes depending on your race or status you need a leg up. Democrats are not perfect angels either where race relations are a factor. Our Lt.Governor used the n-word accidentally during a Black History Month presentation while presidential candidate Al Sharpton perpetrated racist and anti-homosexual remakes at Kean University in New Jersey. Continue reading Cookies for Admissions Equality (2003)

Two Ideas for Chaffey Joint Unified School District

Two different magnet school proposals I would like to propose and expand on if given the opportunity to be a representative of the governing board of the district of the Chaffey Joint Unified School District.

First proposal: Chaffey Middle College High School – This would be a school organized with a partnership with Chaffey College. Students would earn earn credits towards an AA degree in addition to their high school diploma. We would likely need to do this in collaboration with the other feeder districts of Chaffey College. If there are students who want to collaborate and enrich themselves with expanded learning this would be a perfect opportunity. This also is an opportunity for students also to get a second chance with their education as well.

Santa Ana and San Bernardino both have this program and it would be worth the consideration for us to implement this for the students in our communities.

Second proposal: Vocational Magnet School – This school would be designed to get students interested and involved with various career fields such as auto repair, carpentry, computer repair/networking, cooking and fashion design. This would mix standard high school classes with an emphasis in the skills needed to do various trades and vocations the students want to explore and get involved in.

I am thinking ahead for the people of our community.

What Would I Do For Chaffey College

If I ran for Chaffey College this would be my platform I would of talked about during the November 2015 election. However the filing period ended and I will likely cover that election in a future posting.

As Governing Board Member I want to think for the future of our college and work towards novel solutions to make the campus better for the stakeholders involved. Students, Staff/Faculty, Taxpayers and the Business community work together to make Chaffey College what it is.

Quality of Life
I support having food trucks to visit the Chino and Fontana campuses to provide food service at regular times Monday thru Friday with arrangement from the college bookstore to coordinate the service.
I support working with mobile phone providers to add any needed towers on our campuses to make sure our campus community has needed and reliable mobile phone coverage.
I would like to see the campus library be opened further during Finals week. Study rooms should have white boards so study groups could work out problems and organize their sessions.
General Public
I support investigating the idea of having our governing board divided into trustee districts as done in Riverside and Mont San Antonio Colleges which would prevent costly litigation and be forward thinking in response to future legislation that will likely force us to make the change such as the recent bill  AB 277 that is happening and we need to move ahead.
I support the idea of moving our elections to even years so it would be cheaper for us to run the elections which would provide the college more money in the bank to provide services.
Students
I support initiatives to bring forth more educational opportunities to our students. With Common Core it has reduced access to advanced mathematics courses. We should be able to host classes at the member high schools in our community college district where students of the high school districts and the campus community could both partake in added mathematics sections. We should be able to expand access to mathematics and provide improved chances for our youth to get into the best colleges they can attend.
Integrated Math may be a good idea for most of the students, but we should still keep the pathways open for those who want to accelerate their mathematics studies.
Business Community
We need to work with the workforce investment board to figure out what industries need in their workforces and work towards helping businesses in our district to have an educated workforce.

If new programs need to be developed we can work each five years to re-evaluate our course catalog to offer classes and certificates in new subjects.

Day of Silence

I entirely support GLSEN’s Day of Silence initiative. 2015’s event is on Friday April 17th. Students participating are being silent in solidarity against bullying and harassment in our schools of LGBT students.
When students are bullied and harassed in our schools it inhibits the educational potential of countless students. Students are afraid to admit the reason why they are being bullied and that helps create the unneeded silence to help provide an affirming educational space.
I can remember the time during my senior year when I left my fifth period class early because my bully did not like the fact that I was perceived to be queer. Other students and the teacher were bewildered why I was so eager to bolt out of the door. My bully also had class in the same building as my sixth period class and I was bolting out so I could go to my next class without much harassment.

Traditional values advocates may not be happy about events such as Day of Silence, but if students were able to learn in peace without harassment then the school environment would not needed to be politicized. Bullied students are not able to learn their reading, writing and mathematics when they are being fearful about going from class to class, going to school or going home after class.

Say NO To Proprietary Education

I am sending two of my local legislators in California and in Washington DC my suggestions in helping to improve the cost of higher education for students in our district, state and nation.

We should require any private school who receives Cal Grants, Pell Grants and Federal Student Loans to accept any lower division coursework from any accredited school. Also the private school courses need to be transferable back to the CSU and UC systems at the same time.

Having to repeat classes all over again is an added expense for students who want to attend a school of their choice. If an Algebra class or an English class is accredited it should be accepted by the student’s new school. Such as people going to Chaffey College and wanting to transfer to a school such as Otis Art College in Los Angeles and they end up rejecting the majority of the lower division courses the student has taken which adds more cost.

For example I went to an online school such as Western Governors University, at the last minute on my last semester I realized that they did not prepare me well and I withdrew from my student teaching program. I think the first semester that taught education fundamentals should at least give some credit to places such as Cal Poly Pomona or UC Riverside as an example. Proprietary classes are not a good thing for our students and taxpayers as a whole.

Adding changes to our higher education system would be very helpful and help save future students money and time by improving reciprocity in coursework to help meet students educational goals. 

My Letter on Common Core

Just has the Affordable Care Act has rolled out to the general public, the introduction of the federalized Common Core education standards are coming to a California classroom near you. Despite the sugar coated platitudes from the textbook publishers, politicians and the education establishment it is going to lead our youth to a road of ruin.

One of the reasons why I am against Common Core is because it is designed to lead students to less than optimal educational standards. For those who are gifted or exceptional in Mathematics, Algebra II will be the highest they will let kids attain in high school in many school districts. Say goodbye to Trigonometry and Calculus which helps our students to become future scientists and engineers. Even Arcadia’s school board attempted to strip out junior level AP English class and have those students mixed into a general class instead. These actions are a strong disservice to gifted and talented students in our classrooms where they will just be mindless cogs in the educational system.

Feel free to ask the tough questions to your school districts and your political candidates running for office this election season. The future of your children is in their hands because they shape the educational policy that can affect their lives.

Matthew Munson

Ontario, California

School Bond Reform

School bonds are candy land to the interest groups involved where investment banks, teachers and contractors organize to make sure they win the enormous money financed. Recently my local school board decided to pass a porkulus of a school bond. Chaffey Joint Union School District sadly put 848m over 40 years on the ballot. And the other problem is the district already took out a 128 million dollar bond for 30 years in 1998 and we are still paying off the first bond for the next 15 years. Because of all this money that basically sold the taxpayers a white elephant, we will be facing so much fiscal waste with this bond.

First, items that will be obsolete way before the bond is finished should NOT be eligible to be paid for with school bonds. Fiscally irresponsible people buy tablet computers and paving parking lots with school bond money. Stuff that has a shelf life of 5 or 10 years should be paid for with a line of credit. If we want tablet computers for our schools, we work with the community to buy them as a community instead. School bonds are for building new buildings, adding earthquake reinforcement, improving the air-conditioning and heating systems.

Second, I would limit people who have a direct interest in the school bond from donating more than the amount people can donate to state legislators in a calendar year. Donate more than the given amount especially if you are the investment bank handling the school bond, architect ready to design the new building and you would be legally banned from taking the spoils for a five year period. This reminds me of the abuses with redevelopment agencies.

Third, we need limits on school bonds. School bonds should have a fixed credit limit based on the needs of the community. We need to ask the critical questions with the local districts so we know their actual needs.  Is there a high growth rate? Is there earthquake issues with the buildings, we get the needs appraised and fit the district with a fixed limit for the bond they want with an independent appraiser. The fixed limit would be 50%+1, if you go over the fixed limit the passage rate increases 5% for each successive school bond up to 65%. If a bond gets paid off, the district can lower their passage tier required. In a community such as mine, the real estate market collapsed real bad and I do not know what drugs the local school board ingested when they felt that the taxpayers in my area could absorb the bond payments.

There would be exemptions for districts to rebuild after fires and natural disasters, but only for those buildings needed.

Fourth, Capital Appreciation Bonds would be BANNED for any school district. It is a major rip off to taxpayers. Recently a school district in Poway borrowed 132m and will have to pay 800+m in 30 years which is utterly fiscally irresponsible. We may be helping the kids of today, but we are screwing our future generations in the long run.  Also locally the Fontana Unified School district did this as well.  I would like to see incentives for school districts to accelerate the payments so less interest would be owed. Deferring payments to 2029 is stupid. 2020 at the earliest would be appropriate.

Education Unions Could Care Less About School Safety

There are a few reasons why I am not overtly friendly to unions, I understand that unions are there to protect worker rights and make sure their membership gets fair wages. However there are things that help reduce public opinion of groups such as the California Teachers Association, a political heavyweight in our political process.

Recently the CTA sent the call for the opposition to SB 1530, a bill by State Senator Alex Padilla, (D-Los Angeles) who wanted to make it easier to dismiss educators and classified employees who abuse the public trust by abusing children. The Miramonte scandal has affected Senator Padilla’s district and he wanted to carve a solution that would make it harder for another scandal to happen. We should not have to bribe an accused educator to resign if they allegedly abused students over 23 times as the case with Mark Berndt.

SB 1530 failed in the Assembly Education Committee in a 5-6 vote where Joan Buchanan, Tom Ammiano voted NO. While Betsy Butler, Mike Eng, Das Williams and Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto abstained because they likely knew voting NO would be fatal for their political careers and did not want to vote YES to lose out on the valuable campaign cash the CTA would provide.

We need to maintain the trust of our public school employees and for public education itself. If there is no confidence in the public education system then how will people support school bonds or tax increases to fund public education? This might not help the CTA and their friends in the quest for more revenue.

I could understand that the CTA wants to protect educators just in case if teachers are railroaded due to false accusations and hysteria as what happened in incidents such as the McMartin Pre-school incident in the 1980s.  Some elements of SB 1530 should be kept in a future version of the bill such as unpaid suspensions for serious charges, but I would make sure that educators who are declared innocent could get the money back from the suspension. Maybe the CTA may think this is another case of union bashing, but we should not have to pay for educators to be in rubber rooms when they are under suspension for serious issues.

As what the Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy stated how a teacher could beat a kid, smoke marijuana with a kid or even rape a kid and we still can not fire the teacher. It sadly comes to the conclusion that the CTA could care less about the students, because students and their parents are not paying dues to the CTA.

Personally as a future educator taking teacher education classes to earn my credential, I am embarrassed by what the CTA has done.  I am likely to get my liability insurance and pre-career guidance elsewhere until I am legally required to join the CTA due to state agency shop law. If the CTA wants to keep their monopoly they need to listen to the pulse of the average voter else they might get bitten to where the sun does not shine.

Discrimination Sucks

Even though California voters defeated a ban on LGBT educators from teaching in 1978, and California legislators wrote legislation against employment discrimination of LGBT employees in the public and private sectors, discrimination still does happen. Even though it may not be obvious, it does happen under the table.

There is an infamous case of employment discrimination in Covina, California in the Charter Oak Unified School District. A water polo assistant coach Mitch Stein got dismissed because a parent objected to photos in the assistant coach’s Facebook profile. Just because he associates with drag queens and eats corndogs in ‘suggestive’ ways does not mean that he should be thrown out instantaneously. Even Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann ate corndogs in ‘suggestive’ ways as well when they were campaigning in Iowa.

There is a double standard in the school district where if a straight teacher or staff member gets married it gets advertised on the school electronic billboard, but if you announce it to your students you get yelled to keep your personal life quiet.

Former Assistant Coach Stein was doing great, parents and students both loved his coaching ability. But a jilted parent who was upset that his kid was taken off the team retaliated by sending a missive  to the principal of the school. Unfortunately there is a double standard where straight people have one standard and LGBT people have another standard in this school district.

Hopefully there will be an amicable resolution at Charter Oak High School and the school district itself. Discrimination sucks and is a violation of the law in our state.

Student Loans Need Urgent Reforms

Student loans, can not live with them, can not live without them. We have a problem in congress where the rates will rise to 6.8 percent indefinitely without congressional action by the end of the month. Basically the cost of borrowing is going to double from the previous rate of 3.4 percent.

First, due to deficit reduction the subsidized graduate student loans were eliminated. So for myself personally I will have to pay interest on these loans while I am in school for the next year and a half in my program. I think there should be a compromise where student loan interest is at a partial percentage until graduation or when a student’s program ends due to withdrawal. Partial subsidy would be better than no subsidy at all.

Second, due to the Republicans dominating in congress asking for the full rate reduction is not likely. I was proposing that we should go halfway at 5.1 percent. If you borrow 10,000, you would be saving around 14 dollars a month in interest payments. If we want to be austere yet still give students relief the 5.1 percent rate could be a repayment incentive for 12 on time payments in a row.

Third, participate on Twitter with President Obama’s hash tag #dontdoublemyrate, call your congressional representatives in the US Senate and Congress and if you do not like your incumbent congress member ask the candidates running against them their opinions too.