Yes, it is late in the election cycle — and there’s certainly been a lot to keep up with as we get set to vote for a new Alameda mayor and two city councilmembers on November 2.
But if you want to help Alameda schools improve their academic and financial standing, it’s time to make an educated vote for two slots on the school board.
The website of the Alameda Education Foundation is the place to turn: The AEF and Alameda’s PTAs co-hosted a forum for school-board candidates on October 19, and the event can now be viewed online.
Candidates Mike McMahon, Clay Pollard, James Pruitt, Margie Sherrat and Rand Wrobel participated in the discussion.
The videos are very helpful for residents who want to get to know the candidates better before casting their votes. Within the first 10 minutes or so, it becomes very clear what the priorities are for each candidate and what each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are.
And after all the SunCal-related bickering in town, these discussions are a constructive change of pace.
Alameda’s PTAs and the Alameda Education Foundation are co-hosting a forum of candidates running for the Alameda Unified School Board at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 19, in the Alameda High School Cafeteria (not in the Little Theater).
Four candidates have confirmed their participation — Mike McMahon, James Pruitt, Margie Sherrat and Rand Wrobel. (Sheri Palmer withdrew from the election on October 12.) There are two open seats on the board to be filled.
According to the AEF, the format for the event will be as follows:
6:30 p.m.: Opening remarks from Christine Strena, president, PTA Council (PTAC); and introduction by Bill Sonneman, president, Alameda Education Foundation (AEF).
6:35 p.m.: Opening statements from the candidates (one minute each).
6:40 – 8:15 p.m.: Candidates respond to five questions from the public; these have already been submitted and reviewed by the AEF and PTAC.
8:20 p.m.: Closing statements of 2 minutes each.
For those who cannot attend the discussion, PTAC says the candidates forum will be video-taped and then posted on the AEF website.
Also, while some candidates for the Alameda City Council and mayor’s office are pledging to support the schools (always a good thing), it is the school board that has the greatest impact on the Island’s educational system.
Thanks to school trustee Mike McMahon for sending along this letter from the school district superintendent about the issues the district is facing. With the state’s sad financial dive, note the section about whether or not schools can survive solely on state funding.
McMahon also has an outstanding Web site that includes a number of resources for parents in addition to regular updates about the Alameda Unified School District.
No more breath-holding over the anti-bullying curriculum that polarized parents into clearly defined support and opposition camps. The Board of Education voted 3-2 last night to approve the 45-minute curriculum focusing on fairness and tolerance of children who come from non-heterosexual families. Patricia Spencer and Mike McMahon cast the no-votes. The Alameda Journal‘s Peter Hegarty has the story. And here’s more from Michele Ellson of The Island.
Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal is up online now. This week it’s about the Alameda Unified School District’s proposed anti-bullying curriculum…the one that has generated buckets of publicity in recent months. I write, in part:
…teaching about same-gender families is no more about sex than the words “marriage” and “husband” and “wife” and “wedding” are about sex. Yes, marriage is based in part on a sexual commitment, but we speak about husbands and wives all the time in a way in which sexuality is not the focus. To children, the word lesbian is no more about sex than the word marriage is.
You can read the whole piece here.
Tonight is the first of three Alameda Unified School District community meetings about the future of Alameda schools. The idea, as I understand it, is to create a master plan for the public school system in Alameda. The meeting starts at 6:30 and Superintendent Kirsten Vital as well as members of the school board will be discussing three possible scenarios for addressing the long term fiscal sustainability of public education in Alameda. They’ll be discussing how dwindling state funding impacts the district, the possibility of chartering the district as on whole, as well as the possibility of generating more funds for Alameda schools at the local level. The meeting is at Haight Elementary.
The Alameda Journal‘s report on Tuesday night’s Alameda school board meeting is here. Both KTUV and NBC came to town and did stories. Passions were high in the over-crowded council meeting room, and more than a hundred people who filled out speaker slips left without giving their two cents. At next Monday’s meeting, speakers will be given three minutes to talk…and who knows what will happen if more people show up wanting to weigh in. Here’s info about Monday’s meeting.
It would have been hard not to notice that there’s been a lot of heated discussion in Alameda about a proposed addition to the Alameda Unified School District’s anti-bullying curriculum. The Alameda Journal last week ran comments in support and against it.
Local Blogger Lauren Do has been tracing what specifically the curriculum will look like. And, for those of you interested, you can always find heated discussion in the comments on Do’s blog. Sometimes commentors make sense, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re nasty and contradictory, sometimes they’re not.
Opposition to the proposed curriculum runs the gamut. From those who believe that homosexuality is a sin, to those who fear that sexual terms will be introduced at too young an age. You can see all the lessons here. The Rev. Laura Rose, pastor of Alameda’s First Congregational Church, wrote this in a letter to the editor:
For those who object to this sort of curriculum on the basis that it is against a specific set of religious or moral beliefs, I would simply say that respect and tolerance for all people as children of God is the unifying and core principle of every world religion.
But more importantly, equality is the core principle of our Constitution and I believe a curriculum that enables children to see all people (and themselves) in a positive light is critical to AUSD’s mission of making Alameda a safe and welcoming place for all children and all families.
You can read Rose’s whole letter here (though you must scroll down). Happy Monday.
An Alameda County judge has issued a tentative ruling today in Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District, the suit filed last fall against Measure H.
Measure H is the parcel tax that passed last June with the support of more than two-thirds of Alameda voters. The tentative ruling in Borikas is good news for the school district, with the judge tentatively finding that Measure H applies uniformly and therefore does not violate Cal. Government Code section 50079, which requires that school parcel taxes apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property within the school district. The court will hear argument on the tentative ruling on Tuesday, March 17.
More info about the lawsuits against Measure H here and here.
Local property owner John Beery (who is suing the Alameda Unified School District over Measure H, the school parcel tax passed last June) is in the news with another lawsuit. This one against the City of Alameda over a lease dispute on a west end property. Michele Ellson of The Island has a report.