Sunday, May 30, 2010

News Round-Up

A couple of stories caught my eye this weekend.

One is a story about a woman who lived very, very frugally in Long Beach, OR. She died May 10th at the age of 98 and left behind $4.5M. She left behind no living relatives. From the story:

She donated $500,000 to a public-school endowment and another $500,000 to a foundation to be used for student scholarships and grants to teachers. The rest she left to the city of Long Beach to build an indoor swimming pool.

Bob Andrew, mayor of Long Beach, agreed it will take some study before the city accepts Oller's money. "It's a very generous offer, and we don't know in a small community what it takes to build the pool," he said. "We have to explore the process and talk to our citizenry. It's a wonderful surprise that someone felt that strongly about the community."

What a wonderful woman. What a gift to the public schools in Oregon and to the town of Long Beach.

The second story was from the sports page about a Seattle basketball player who wanted to play basketball in college but found he couldn't get a scholarship with his low grades.

Academics might be important to most high-school sophomores, but Roy was an all-star basketball player, so good and so ready, that the game would sustain him. The game would take care of everything.

He only needed math to tally up his stat sheets. And reading just took time away from the gym.

"I always thought that if you're good enough at basketball, you're going to make it and I'm good enough," Roy said sitting in an office Friday at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club. "But when Lute Olson told me that, I went home and talked to my mom for hours. I didn't know what I was going to do. It was close to being too late."

So a long-time AAU coach found tutors for this young man. He made it through high school, played for the University of Arizona and was picked 6th in the NBA draft in 2006. He is now:

A self-described spokesman for the new A Plus Youth Program, which combines basketball with academic tutoring and civic engagement workshops.

A Plus, a program of the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, is sponsoring fifth- and sixth-grade AAU basketball programs this year. Next season, A Plus expects to add more AAU teams.

This is a pretty important story to get out there to young people. Sports will not save you. The lack of ability to read (let alone understand a contract) could hurt you. Good for this man, Brandon Roy, for telling his story and supporting this program.

The last story is very sad for me. I had previously reported that the last remaining pre-school in SPS was likely to go away and it is. It's the Montessori program at Ballard High School.

It's sad because I know the woman who ran the program and Gail Longo is one of the finest educators I have ever met. The area at Ballard that she uses was created for a pre-school (low sinks and toilets). She pour much of her own money into creating the space. She worked with UW so that the Ballard students in the program might be able to get college credit. She created an after-school Chinese language program. But that's all done because Ballard needs the space for the autism program.

I totally understand the need for the autism program. However, several parents who had been in the program told me they were worried it would go away because the district had allowed many more students into Ballard and that their program would be pushed out. So the district pushed out another program.

Is it that important to have a pre-school at a high school with programming for high school students? Maybe not. But I recall that the district used to have about 4 programs where senior citizens would come to elementaries and interact with students. We had one at Whittier. That, too, got pushed out. It was really a joy to see those students and elders having fun and teaching each other. We had these partnership programs and without much fanfare, the district closes them. e

What is particularly disturbing about the story is the comments at the Times' website. There was a photo of a Ballard student working with a couple of children. She is wearing shorts and a camisole top. The majority of the discussion on this story was not about the validity of the program but about what this girl is wearing. I can't believe so many people made crude remarks about her (although I would agree that it's not appropriate school attire). This kind of remark worried me:

I am constantly asked for more money to help pay for things with the schools.

Lack of enforcing dress codes is one reason I continue to say no. Sure, you might think that is a petty reason, but to me, I cannot justify supporting any organization that doesn't think the BASICS are important - and what is more basic than teaching our kids appropriate ways to dress?

18 years old. A beautiful young woman, who evidentally hasn't gained a clue at all. This is a very sad statement of our Seattle school district.

3 comments:

Dora Taylor said...

I've got a story for you.

Ballard High School staff issued a vote of "No Confidence" on May 26th to the SEA.

To see the statement issued to SEA from the Ballard High School staff, check out:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/no-confidence-motion-whereas-dr-goodloe-johnson-superintendent-of-seattle-public-schools-is-an-ineffective-leader/

MapleLeafer said...

Brandon Roy attended the University of Washington, not the University of Arizona.

Rosie said...

I hope that Ballard also takes back its "high impact" program that it pawned off on another north end high school last year. The decision to move that special needs program out of Ballard was also blamed on the fact that Ballard simply had too many students. Just like the decision to remove teh preschool.

Perhaps this latest move is is a signal that the Board or someone in the District had finally decided that Ballard must be thwarted in its efforts to enroll accept as many of the "normally progressing," financially secure students as it could possibly hold, while letting other high schools in the north end deal with the students who do not fit the preferred BHS demographic.