Tag 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)

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.

Friday Postings

It seems that my life experiences right now should prepare me for the potential of student teaching. If I can not handle complicated customers at my store, then how can I handle complicated students.

High Speed Rail is having another vote in the state legislature, but if we can not balance our budgets then why should we hold ourselves another 180 million a year in debt for it.

In my study of education at school I learned that education was originally formed with the churches, but with our diverse society education from one religious perspective did not work well due to the battle between Protestants and Catholics which led to the secularization of public education. In Louisiana they attempted to go back to the roots of education and give funds to religious groups for schooling children. One Louisiana state representative resents the fact that Islamic groups will also get money due to their vote. When we study history we can understand reality better.

Consider this post an open thread.

It Can Only Get Better

Started my first phone call with my WGU mentor. Got a brief overview about expectations and the process. I think it will be manageable. Despite the bad economy for public school teachers, I would like to have a career that has a better future than the retail store I work for that has canceled out many of the full time jobs they had available and most of the workforce is basically part time workers with low hours allocated for.

Things can only get better, as what the song on the video I posted above can allude to.

I want to inspire young people, use my writing skills to put out great instructional units and lectures in Economics, Geography, Government and History. I also aspire to perhaps get myself a MA in History to supplement my career as a future educator and writer.

I honestly do not want to speed it up where two semesters get consolidated into one where I would get to demonstration teaching by January. Even though saving $3035 would be priceless, I would like to save my sanity and do it right.

Personally I do not want to do student teaching at Chaffey High School, but I would not mind the possibility of working for the school in the future. It would be cool to have my former Geometry teacher as my boss.

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.