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Suburban mom reports substandard ACT administration at West Oakland high school

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 11:23 am in college, high schools, students.

Sharon Fingold’s family lives in Los Altos, but by the time her son registered for the June 12 ACT, the only testing center available was McClymonds High School in West Oakland.

Fingold figured the administration of the college entrance exam at McClymonds would be no different than it was for the SATs and ACTs her children had taken in more affluent areas, such as Los Altos and Palo Alto. Afterward, she was so concerned about what her son and other students experienced that she wrote me (and the ACT) about it.

She outlined the problems in greater detail, but here’s how she summarized what happened:

When we picked him up after the testing, we learned that the testing started 1 hour late, the proctor refused to post start and end times for each section of the test, and the proctor cut off each section of the test 5 minutes early.

I’m concerned that the ACT organization doesn’t ensure fair treatment
 for all students and that because the test site was in a poor part of
 town the students who take the test at that school are not getting the same
 quality of test administration. If they lose 5 minutes on each section 
of the test, then they have less opportunity to perform as well on each
 section as students who get the full allotted time.

I forwarded Fingold’s letter to Troy Flint, the Oakland school district spokesman, who asked people at the school for answers. LuPaulette Taylor, a McClymonds teacher who served as the test site coordinator, responded that three proctors were no-shows and that the test started late as a result. She didn’t address the assertion that one proctor refused to write the end times on the board, despite numerous student requests, saying only that “Most rooms had the times listed on the board, if a board was in the room.”

Taylor did confirm that the students — at least, in Fingold’s son’s room, which had a first-time proctor — weren’t given the full amount of time to complete the test. “… after review of the time for the last multiple choice test in Room 200, the proctor did short the test by five minutes,” she wrote. “I have notified ACT of this irregularity. They will decide what should happen.
”

After acknowledging errors that might have cost students points on the test, Taylor concluded her e-mail by defending the integrity of the testing at Mack: “I have been involved in the ACT administration at McClymonds for at least fifteen years and our procedures have been in compliance with ACT guidelines,” she wrote. “I have also visited and assisted SAT sites in Oakland and our procedures at McClymonds have ensured that students have been in a secure, fair, and compliant testing center.”

Here is the automated response Fingold received from the ACT:

If you feel that your performance on the ACT Assessment was negatively affected by something that occurred on test day, and you wish to take the ACT again, please contact our Registration Department in mid-July to register for the test date of your choice. Do not wait for your complaint or concern to be resolved. A resolution may not be possible by the close of the registration deadlines for the next test date. If you have requested your test scores to be sent to colleges please note that you may not receive a response in the time frame allowed to cancel those scores. If you would like to cancel your score report choices to await the outcome, please login to your student web account or call ACT Registration, M-F, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Central time at 319/-337-1270. The deadline to do so is the Thursday after the test date by 12:00 PM, Central Time.

If you wish to register, you should make the necessary arrangements (by phone, paper folder, or web registration) and pay the required fee before the registration deadlines pass. If the registration deadlines for your chosen test date have already passed, standby testing may be an alternative method for you to test (see page 5 of Registering for the ACT Assessment in one of our registration packets or visit our website at www.act.org).

If our investigation of your concern determines that a free test is warranted, you will be contacted (in writing) with the options available to you. If you have already paid a registration fee for a future test, you will be able to apply any available refund or free test options toward that fee.

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  • Shawnbo

    One thing is for sure….Oakland will keep coming up with ways to screw kids out of an education and future progress!

    Lets hear the excuses rollin in!

  • oakey

    The more I learn about how OUSD operates, the more I want my child as far away as possible.

    Particularly rich is Taylor’s defense, essentially saying we’ve been operating at this (low) standard for a full 15 years. Somehow doing things this poorly for so long justifies it.

    How many teachers in OUSD have been fired in the last 15 years for poor performance?

  • Hot R

    Let’s put this in context. You have the “creme” of the crop in one of the poorest areas and schools in Oakland, motivated enough to come to school on a Saturday to take a test that 95% of their peers consider to be a total waste of time. But three proctors care so little about their students (I assume the proctors were teachers) or the stipend they receive to even show up. Then the “substitute” proctor is allowed to do “whatever” he/she wants without supervision. Ninety-nine percent of the “creme” of the students at McClymonds are so used to this administrative incompetence and so sure no one cares and no one will do anything even if they did complain that it takes someone from a suburban high school, not used to the discrimination of low expectations to complain.

    How about this as a response by OUSD. “We have investigated the complaint, found that testing procedures were violated, and as a result have removed the test coordinator at McClymonds, and issued an apology to the students, refunded their test fee, and will give training to all proctors before the exam to assure this will not happen again.”

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogpost.com maestra

    There is no reason to assume the proctors were teachers.

  • J.R.

    Teachers almost NEVER get fired for poor performance, you have better odds of winning the lottery.

  • J.R.

    Low expectations and no real mechanism for accountability equals job security for even the most horrific teachers. That is why you hear the bad ones say ” I’ve earned it”, “I’ve paid my dues”, and “I’m entitled to it”. This is yet another factor in the grim state of education in the USA.

  • HS Math Teacher

    I teach at an Oakland high school. In my experience, proctors are rarely teachers and more likely to be whoever the counselor can get. It is a one-time gig so there is not much training or screening. We try to teach our students to use their time wisely and leave problems blank when they have no idea. After nearly every SAT, some students report that the test started late, there was a problem with materials (like not being allowed to use a calculator on a section which allows calculators), not being given appropriate breaks, or finishing early/late. We had one year where the proctor told the students they had to answer all questions and should guess rather than leave the problem anything blank. I do think most of the proctors are decent at administering the test. But when students are allowed only 2 fee waivers, each test administration is extremely important to the student and it is unfair that any of the students have to suffer through poor testing conditions that would cause outrage in other communities.

  • Nextset

    What’s amusing about Fingold’s behavior in taking her kid to that “school” is her thinking that the ghetto “school” was a school. Even as an adult living in Los Altos she doesn’t “get it” about the differences. Just why does she think she lives in Los Altos and not Oakland? Or East Palo Alto? Is she living off the earnings of a husband or her father so she has not had to learn the lessons of reality?

    If you go into any establishment that services the underclass – all the norms and different. A ghetto bank branch, a ghetto store, a ghetto policy facility, a ghetto library, a ghetto DMV office, a ghetto hospital or medical facility, most Californians know this. Foreign tourists do not. Fingold is no foreign tourist.

    Failing to “get it” and to teach your children the differences – can get you all killed.

    And the sad thing is people like this vote and would impose their cluelessness on other people and get them killed also.

    She thinks that complaining will change anything. She thinks the administration doesn’t know the standards are nonexistant. She projects her own childish (sorry, that is the word that makes the point) notions of reality on the ghetto and thinks it’s just a matter of calling some attention to this particular problem and the ghetto will stop being the ghetto.

    Dangerous.

    I would like things to be better (more middle class?) for the people trapped (another subject, they’re really not trapped, they’re “home”) at McClymonds. For that to happen you’d have to send in a Trouble-Shooter with a mandate to impose middle class standards. That would be a declaration of war on the culture of the ghetto and they would fight back. Sounds fun to me. Most California politicians are into pacification and have no intention whatsoever of doing anything of the sort.

    When you do have such people they may sound like Sarah Palin, or maybe Barry Goldwater. You will hear them coming and it won’t represent happy times. More like a lot of acrimony.

    And we all want to “get along”, don’t we?

    Brave New World.

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    Nextset: Haven’t you read the starfish story (http://www.starrbrite.com/starfish.html)? As individuals, we may not have the power to change conditions in these communities, but we CAN make a difference in the lives of our students. I can’t believe that you’re decrying a parent advocating on behalf of West Oakland kids–something she can do from Los Altos. I suppose she should have just shrugged and blamed institutionalized racism/classism without taking any action?

  • Catherine

    Thank you Sharon Fingold for bringing this issue to light.

    When one lives and works in Oakland it is easy to get bogged down in the system and save your own child without attempting to expose an unfair system. For many of us who have taken standardized tests and specifically test prep for those standardized tests we know that setting time goals for specific portions of the test is critical in scoring well.

    I would like to know how to become a proctor. I know of several other college educated parents and community members who would also like to become proctors. We all have the common goal of helping all students in Oakland have the same chance of success that is routinely given to students in other areas.

    Katy: Would you please post the information for becoming a proctor for the standardized tests? Responsible Oakland Citizens please step up and become a proctor.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Thank you Catherine for posting the only POSITIVE approach to news like this: Taking personal action to improve the situation.

    It is astonishing what an effective individual who decides to “adopt” a school can bring to the table.

    The money California schools were given in the post-WWII period is probably never coming back, so roll up your sleeves.

  • winnipeg nancy

    “How many teachers in OUSD have been fired in the last 15 years for poor performance?”

    0!

  • Nextset

    Lacy: You’re right of course. Despite my exasperation people need to keep on trying – at some level – to try to stop the train wrecks. But not by exposing their dependents to risk. This is why Teachers at ghetto schools usually don’t enroll their own kids there.

    I’m weary of the wreckage where people walked into situations with eyes open, should have known better, and put themselves and their families into danger by not paying attention to (taking seriously) the “differences”. People who insist that all people everywhere are just like them get themselves and their dependents in terrible trouble, all the while claiming they had no warning that the realities of what they walked into were not the same as back in Kansas (or Piedmont, Belmont, or some other “mont”).

    I have relatives who think it’s just great to go sightseeing in Mexico and South Africa. And friends who like to sightsee at disasters. Go figure. It’s not that they’re going to be kidnapped and held for ransom – although it certainly occurs. It’s just all the little things that can go from bad to deadly… A friend just got back from an inexpensive weekend at a nice resort in Mexico. They have days of explosive diarrhea. I asked them if the price seems so cheap now. (and some things take a long time to Dx – drug resistant TB or Hepatitus for example). They could have gone to Portland.

    If you go there (McClymonds), you just have to expect these things and not act so shocked. You knew you weren’t in Kansas.

    And if you think you can make other people run their territories your way by compaining about them – you are wrong and tilting at windmills. McClymonds is never going to run well as long as they are allowed to “be” themselves and not Kansas. If you get my point.

    So I find Ms Fingold’s story exasperating. She put her kid at risk by getting him involved with a ghetto school even to this extent. Then she wants the ghetto school to change their ghetto ways and be more like Los Altos! This time she has only contaminated her child’s test score. If she persists in this behavior the hit in the future can be far more than the inconvenience of a ruined test score.

    I agree that McClymonds and the college bound students there should not have to live under these conditions. I feel that strongly. I believe the only practical solution is an OUSD school with selective admission and retention policies that would be run to compete with Piedmont and Lowell High Schools – open to application from all city students including those trapped in McClymonds or Castlemont. I believe that Testing at those campuses would be done to standards. Standards are not and cannot be maintained at schools dedicated to lower class (present oriented) pacification.

    So Cranky: I disagree with you. No amount of “adopting” a failure (pacification) factory is going to change the manana behavior, you’d only be trying to plug a leaking dyke with a finger. To make stable systematic change you’d have to make the “school” a real school. And the majority of people there and their families don’t want it which is why they don’t have it. They really do like things the way they are. They pretend to study and OUSD pretends they are becoming educated. Everybody’s happy and the test scores show the truth unless the tests are rigged.

    A real school hands out “F’s”, flunks & expels students and disenrolls truants. Is that what you want? Is that what OUSD wants?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Winnipeg Nancy you are incorrect. I personally know of several teachers who have lost their jobs at OUSD due to poor performance at one school alone, and three were long-term district employees. Firings require an administrator who does careful documentation, and there are steps that must be followed to provide the employee with due process, but firings do take place. Overstatements do not further the discussion on this blog.

  • J.R.

    Stephen,
    Nancy’s number, although inaccurate is far closer to the truth, when you take into consideration the sheer number of poor teachers in this or just about any district. This system was created as a “status quo” arrangement, helped along by draconian rules and procedures that go far beyond simple “due process” and border on the absurd. The consensus is that it takes 18 to 24 months average to get rid of a bad teacher. this means that by the time parents get a heads up school is half way over, and by the time they really clamp down the school year is over, and those batch of parents move on. Then the next year a new batch of parents doesn’t suspect the awful surprise that awaits. We need to put an end to the idea that teachers have the right to their jobs, and realize that students have a right to a great education and students rights come first(and if you don’t like those terms, you can find another profession). Below is a link to a debate where the unions are faced to answer some of these questions, it is very informative:

    http://vimeo.com/10396620

  • Hot R

    Thanks for sharing that very interesting video J.R.

  • Steven Weinberg

    JR, I am working my way through the video you recommended. It will take me a few days to watch all 120 minutes, so let me pose a question now for you to consider in the meantime: What rules and procedures would you set up to govern the removal of teachers for poor job performance? Should a teacher be subject to immediate dismissal by a principal at any time with no notice and no appeal? Should a teacher be allowed to complete the school year (as is done in most private schools)? Should a teacher with many years of positive evaluations be subject to dismissal because of a single year’s negative evaluation? What appeal procedures should exist to protect a teacher from an unfair evaluation?
    As you are thinking about the rules you would put in place, please consider whether anyone would be willing to take a job under those rules. It would be nice if all supervisors (in schools or in private industry) were fair, reasonable, and intelligent, but everyone knows of situations where they are not, so your rules should address this possibility.
    I’m looking forward to your thoughts. The current system is less than ideal, but it was developed to avoid real abuses that were very common. Any modifications to the system should include protections from those abuses.

  • J.R.

    Steven,
    Thanks for having an open mind a watching the video. I do have some procedural ideas to govern the removal of teachers:

    1. A joint panel comprised of parents/staff/admin who use multiple criteria to decide teacher competence and possible dismissal.

    2. The abolishment of seniority rights, because to be honest a teachers only right is to educate kids to the best of their ability. They do not own their jobs.

    You need to decide which abuse is bigger:
    One teacher harming thirty kids academically or…..
    One Principal firing one teacher(if this is a good teacher the principal is just hurting him/her self just to be abusive, this just doesn’t make sense. I have seen scores of principals who were pressures by parents and they left, because they weren’t protected like the teachers are. I have yet to be personally aware of even one teacher who has been fired(not moved to another school).

  • Steven Weinberg

    JR, the devil is always in the details. How would the members of your panel be chosen? How would the panel conduct its business? If they decided a teacher should be dismissed would he/she complete the year and not return, or would he/she be removed immediately?

    With the abolition of seniority many teachers would face lay offs for reasons not related to poor performance. An administrator might decide a pregnant teacher’s leave would be too disruptive for the school and dismiss her. Another administrator might decide to release teachers at the top end of salary schedule to save money for some other project. I have known several principals who were under heavy criticism from many of the best teachers at their schools, and who would have used this procedure to remove all their critics.

    The question is not which abuse is bigger, a bad teacher retained or a good teacher fired, the question is what set of procedures will be most effective in attracting and retaining excellent teachers. I doubt many good teachers would be willing to work in a system with virtually no job protection except the good will of whoever might be his/her current supervisor.

  • J.R.

    “The question is what set of procedures will be most effective in attracting and retaining excellent teachers”.
    I think that is a question from the wrong perspective, and I mean that we the taxpayers(via our representatives)should be laying down terms for employment of teachers, and not the other way around. This works in the business world because people looking for a position already have two positive qualities, they are eager to prove they can get the job done the way the boss wants it because they want the position, and they are extremely motivated to give their very best because they want to stay employed. I would say those qualities pretty much lay the groundwork for what a good teacher “should be”. Another thing, a good number(probably not all) of those new teachers who got “RIF’ed” across California would be more than happy to prove that they have what it takes to step in and do the job. When it comes to teaching, I would much rather have attitude, effort and determination than just experience. One poster once said a teacher who has twenty years can very well just be having that same year twenty times, and I agree with that. As much as you are scared of the possible abuses of rogue principals(whom teachers don’t trust), I fear that our system, which makes it extremely hard to fire tenured teachers consequently makes it possible for tenured teachers to “coast” and be minimalist’s(and taxpayers and parents are supposed to trust that this sort of thing will not happen, it already is happening)? You don’t want to be under a principals thumb, but we taxpayers don’t want to be dictated to by the teachers union in regards to how to handle what is best for our children either.

  • J.R.

    How would the panel members be chosen? By the people who are paying the bills with their taxes(everyone whose pay is derived from taxation should be grateful), the parents in the PTA. Since no one trusts anyone, let the people who make your salary and all of the education systems salaries possible, the tax paying parents! Who could argue with that, and on what basis?

  • Steven Weinberg

    JR, you continue to stress what you don’t like about the current requirements for terminating teachers, but you are still not setting forth a system to take its place.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Sorry,JR, your 21 didn’t show on my screen until I sent my 22.
    You want tax payers to select the panels to decide which teachers should be dismissed, but you don’t like the rules that have been made by the state legislature that was elected by the tax payers in the state, nor the rules set by the school board which is elected by the tax payers in the city.
    But let us say that a PTA is exists at a school that is large enough to be representative of most of the parents, and they elect a representative to serve on a teacher evaluation committee with a staff representative and an administator. Would that person then observe all of the teachers at the school? If the parent representative felt a teacher should be dismissed, but the staff rep and the administrator disagreed, would you be satisfied, or would you want the parent representatvies to outnumber the other representatives on the committee?

  • CarolineSF

    When my son took the SAT a few years ago at Riordan (Catholic) High School in San Francisco on a winter test date, the rooms were freezing and someone in charge explained to them that the heat was broken. One of his classmates challenged the test results (before getting them) for that reason — I’m not sure what the outcome of the challenge was. The cold didn’t trouble my son, but the girl who challenged the results said her hands were numb. Just pointing out that problems aren’t unique to Oakland or to low-income urban public schools.

    As for the digression into the discussion of firing “bad” teachers — an obvious problem is that parents with official power over teachers’ jobs are likely (to put it mildly) to use that power to pressure teachers to give their kids higher grades and no discipline. The threat to education quality and school safety is evident.

  • gee yu

    schools rent out their spaces to these testing organizations

    and someone is making the bucks…….it took a los altos parent/student to know that their testing rights have been violated.. are the exit exams administered in the same way????

  • JR

    Steven,
    I don’t trust politicians, they believe whomever gives them money and support, they don’t deal strictly with the truth. The unions have used politics to carve into law what is in the best interest of it’s members and not the best interests of the public at large. That is why I said parents,taxpayers should have more “direct” control of these local school matters. The taxpayers(parents) are going to have to make a stand and dictate terms because these petulant adults will not simply do their jobs.

  • J.R.

    “If the parent representative felt a teacher should be dismissed, but the staff rep and the administrator disagreed, would you be satisfied, or would you want the parent representatvies to outnumber the other representatives on the committee”?

    Well ideally you would probably want one teacher rep, one admin rep and three parent reps(who would look at the cumulative teaching history of that teacher):

    Has the the large majority of kids “progressed well” under his/her tutelage? Does he or she give enough homework/tests? Does this teacher re-teach or just let it go? Are lesson plan books filled wit relevant material or just busy-work? Is/was this teacher available for meetings with parents if necessary, either in person, by e-mail, or by phone.

    There are plenty of objective criteria to make an informed judgement, I just don’t think it has to be hard or time consuming and expensive to do whats right, and what is right is to let the best teachers teach, and let the rest find a profession that they are better suited to.

  • starshaped

    J.R.,

    I know that I’m just entering this conversation and its been going on for awhile but I wanted to give you my two cents worth on the issue of teacher hiring and firing as someone whom this has effected.

    I worked under an administrator who had favorites and who picked on at least one person per year. This fact was well known among the staff. My second year at this school, this administrator took a dislike to me. Not because my students were unruly (they were well behaved), not because I didn’t show results (highest scores in the grade level), not because the parents disliked me (I was the most requested teacher at that grade level), not because I didn’t turn things in on time (I made all deadlines). No, her reason for eliminating me was 1. I had changed my lesson plan when she had come in without warning one day (half my class was out sick and the lesson needed more people) and because my desk was not kept to her standards. After my changed lesson plan day, she humiliated me in front of the staff and acted as though I did not exist for the rest of the year. She actually smiled warmly when she let the news drop. ALL the teachers at the school supported me in writing. ALL my parents supported me. I went to the school board, the superintendant, all for naught because I didn’t have tenure. My firing did not hurt her ONE BIT because she retired that year. She fired me because she was unbalanced and vindictive, not because I failed to do my job. In retrospect, perhaps she did my a favor because I ended up in a great school after shuffling around a couple of times but I suffered A LOT because of her unjustified actions. It took a long time for me to get my confidence back.

    I’m sure my story doesn’t move you one bit but I wanted to show you that abuse happens on the administrative side too. That school and district lost a passionate and caring teacher.

  • J.R.

    Star,
    Like I told others, if we need to have parents/taxpayers step in and make sure everyone plays nice, then that is what we need to do. I can never, and will never support seniority/tenure over competence ability and effort. Vindictiveness happens in all occupations, and there are legal measures that can be brought to bear. I am very sorry you were treated badly, I know there are unbalanced people out there, and the last place they should be is in front of children. I am always saddened when kids lose a caring and compassionate teacher, I can only hope your life takes a good turn, because good teachers deserve “good fortune”.

  • On The Fence

    J.R.,

    I am not a teacher, not married to a teacher, and I am not an expert on school financing, but I am a taxpayer and I do have two children in OUSD public schools.

    I read this blog regularly and therefore have read hundreds of your posts. I wanted to post today because I feel so differently than you do about our teachers and the problems that plague our schools. Sometimes you fervently proclaim your beliefs on behalf of taxpayers and parents, and I wanted to voice my very different opinion.

    First, I just don’t buy the premise that there are all these horrible teachers out there driving down test scores and driving up costs! I have been really very satisfied with the teachers that my children have had. I have not found any notable difference between the teachers that they experienced in their private school (where there was not a union) or those in their public schools. For that matter, I have had both public unionized and private non unionized educators and cannot say that teachers were significantly different in either realm. I do not want to dismiss anyones bad experience with a public school teacher. But in my opinion, teachers tend to exhibit the same variability in work ethic and skill that a professional in any profession might.

    In addition, I think that we may all disagree about who is a “good” teacher and who is a “bad” teacher. Some teachers who I felt were truly amazing and stellar educators for myself or my children, left another family demanding a change of classroom and vice versa. In fact, it really is a bit over simplified to think of teachers or anyone in such concrete, black and white terms as all “good” or all “bad”. Certainly, I hope that no one is suggesting that we use test scores (or even change in test scores) to determine if the teacher is doing their job. In that case, if I were a teacher I would likely hightail it out of any school that had any significant number of potential under-performers who could leave me unemployed if they did not come to school fully prepared and able to learn. Thankfully, as it is now the teaching profession tends to attract pretty service oriented folks who are willing to work in economically depressed areas with challenging populations for mediocre pay, like Oakland. Wow, I sure hope that we wouldn’t do anything to drive them away!

    Finally, I don’t buy the whole idea that the business model churns out good hard workers with all the positive aspects that you claim, while unionized teachers pick their bellies and live off the largesse of their enviable paychecks. It’s just not what I see. Really, again it seems quite over simplified and does not take into account the variability that exists in every profession.

    I know that senority is one of your biggest pet peeves, but I don’t have much to say against it. Senority is taken into account in many jobs and in my opinion protects workers who dedicate themselves for many years to their employer and merit some recognition of their years of service. It is a factor that is often taken into account for promotion, raises, and lay offs even in the private sector. I realize that it has been much more codified in the teachers contract, but you must realize that teachers contracts have to give some actual security and benefits otherwise why would smart, young, college educated people opt for a profession that does not come with a high earning potential.

    J.R., thanks for listening to another opinion. I know that we see things differently and probably neither you nor I will change our views at the end of the day. However, I do urge you to keep your mind a bit more open to the voices that are out there. In particular, Steven seems to have some good questions and comments for you. Specifically, he said “the devil is always in the details”, and I hope that you will put out some details as this may actually help you to win some more support for your ideas.

  • J.R.

    On The Fence,
    In these times more than ever, we can neither afford a big educational bureaucracy or teachers who are burnt out,without patience, or just skating by(and there are plenty). More money wont do any good because attitudes will not change,there is essentially no accountability so why should anyone do or give more than they have to(correct)? It’s not like they are going to be out of a job, now is it? The Children’s rights to a good education supercede teachers rights, and if that is unacceptable anyone is free to find a different career. That and the ability to be judged on your own true merits and not on the color of your skin is what true freedom is all about.

  • Sharon Fingold’s Son

    Hey for all of the people saying my mom didn’t know anything and put me through a crap school just because she felt like it, you couldn’t be more wrong. I had taken the ACT before and wanted to improve on my existing score, which led me to sign up for another test. However, I waited until my SAT scores came in to decide whether or not to take another ACT, which left me signing up on the last day of the late fee sign ups (the absolute last day possible). At this point, the only school available was McClymonds in Oakland. If I could’ve gone elsewhere, I most certainly would have done that. However, I really did want that better score, so I went.

    After the test, I told my parents how much garbage it was (all the kids where from other areas who signed up late and the proctor was a joke), and my mom and I decided to complain. So here we are now. And to Nextset, a poster above me who said something along the lines of “your mom put you through crap just for a worse score,” you’re wrong. I did go through crap, but I had already had experience with the ACT that allowed me to gain an extra point above my existing score (30 to 31). Had I had five more minutes on the science section, I probably would’ve been able to finish those nine questions I guessed on and gotten a 32, but whatever.

    And if you don’t believe I’m her son then I’m sorry because I really can’t prove it to you. The reason I’m not putting down my name is because I don’t want some loser in the ACT organization having a vendetta against me because of my complaints (probably won’t happen but I want to be safe).

  • CarolineSF

    Hi Sharon’s son — don’t mind Nextset; he talks that way to everyone. I don’t think any reasonable person would criticize you or your mom, and those sound like valid complaints.

  • lizziejtv

    Test- taking procedures are supposed to be uniform.
    Why no monitoring across all test venues?
    if there were monitoring by the agency in charge of the testing,
    people might be more responsible.

    Its not about teachers, or even McClymonds.

    Most work has oversite to be sure that procedures are followed.
    People seem to need a boss to do the right thing. imagine how we would carry on at work with no boss in sight. ever

  • Nextset

    Post # 32 is interesting. The language, the emotion – I suppose that’s what age 18 is about to some extent. I would be concerned about ability to compete on a national level. The best students (at age 18) have emotional control and superior language skills. We need to improve that in our public school graduates.

    This has been said before – I’ll say it again for the benefit of someone who maybe is new to my postings.

    I don’t know the personalities who become discussion topics here. What I post is rhetorical not personal. For strangers to take comments here as personal slights is a reflection on their own insight and judgment.

    It’s especially interesting to see young people speaking about others (maybe?) having vendettas against them – I do see that nowadays. It reflects on the training they have been given to date. It seems young people like to believe it’s all about them. I think that is part of their conditioning in school. Maybe the educators thought that would help them in life to think this way. I don’t believe that is so.

    Back to the point I was making in the thread complained about. This Brave New World is getting dangerous. Walking through downtown Oakland, for example. There are very good reasons why the dangers are increasing and those reasons are connected to the US Public School system and the degradation those school have suffered as a direct result of the way the “Civil Rights” legislation and court cases post 1964 were implemented. Much of the problems we have with the US Cities (Detroit comes to mind) stem from this event.

    People who thoughlessly believe that everybody is the same and go about thinking that walk about into dangerous or different places. Then when the environment is sour, they are “shocked”. My point is that people should – especially when their children or their well being is involved – be more careful where they walk. And stop expecting everybody else to play by your rules. Other people went to schools that never used the same readers as maybe you did. And they have no intention of changing now. They like the way they are.

    If I were dictator – and I’m not applying. The schools would be run – black or white – with the same basic policies. If anything the black schools would be tougher in mantaining standards across the board. That’s not the way people seem to want things. The priority now is Pacification, allowing everyone to do their own thing and be happy. This is the result.

    Brave New World.

  • Sue

    “… It seems young people like to believe it’s all about them. I think that is part of their conditioning in school. Maybe the educators thought that would help them in life to think this way. I don’t believe that is so.”

    You *really* need to get some basic child-development and brain-development information – believing “it’s all about” oneself is *normal* in everyone until well into one’s 20′s.

  • Gordon Danning

    I’m guessing that Sharon Fingold’s son was raised too well to point out to Nextset how foolish it is to “be concerned about [the] ability to compete on a national level” of someone who scored 31 on the ACT, so I will: that’s the 97th percentile. http://www.actstudent.org/scores/norms1.html

    And, for an adult to launch an ad hominem attack on a high school student is contemptible, so if you’re going to do it, at least get your facts right. To come across as both contemptible AND ignorant is just plain pathetic.

  • Nextset

    Sue: (post #36) Of course it’s normal. It is trained out of them – or wears away with experience. If you have good teachers – or a good educational program – you don’t go around thinking you can do whatever you want and not pay the price.

    I see people going in and out of jail because they weren’t brought up as well as I believe they could have been. With a father in the home, for starters. That tends to shave off the self-centeredness of boys.

    Gordon: You have your opinion, I have mine. You disapprove of my point of view in this public discourse – good for you. The fact remains that this Brave New World California has crested is marching a huge percentage of black children into prison, early graves and abject poverty because we no longer teach emotional control and occupational and life skills in the public school districts dominated by black students. I get to see the prison remands. And yes, other ethnics are in the cattle chute also but are nowhere near the high percentages we see for the blacks. So I complain endlessly about how I believe the schools let down the kids.

    This thread started when the boy’s mother complained about the ghetto school’s failure to maintain standards when she sent her child into that facility for educational testing. She wants them to come up to the higher standards she enjoys at her white school. At least for the college testing. My response is that you’d better realize what street you’re walking on and not expect them to change to accommodate you.

    Now you react because you think I’m beating up on some poor child.

    I’m sure he will be fine – as long as he doesn’t think his high test score immunizes him if he goes slumming. I have seen people who never got that concept and got really hurt. It’s my point of view. You never sit in my chair – you are an educator I believe.

    Brave New World.

  • Marilyn

    WOW-a lot of concern…I graduated from McClymonds and we have lost great teachers to what they call the salary cap and have been able to retain one or two due to the salary cap which we all know as “Veteran Teacher” the salary the district continues to replace to slim line the budget. Regardless of the sucess rate that students receive over the years. LuPaulette Taylor is a great teacher and has always given 300 percent for all stuents. McClymonds High School just celebrated (7) students who graduated from UC Berkley 2010 and still counting from colleges are over the U.S. McClymonds High School send more students to college then any other high school within OUSD. McClymonds High School submits all of these accolades to the media to let them know that the only high school in West Oakland is doing a great job with students. Ironically a request was sent to this informational site for support in announcing McClymonds accomplishment and we are still waiting for it to be shared with the Bay Area. Is it true that OUSD has a very unique system of making sure that all schools in the flat lands fail?