Wednesday, February 06, 2013

an open letter to CUSD

Dear Cupertino Union School District,

I'd like to commend the behavior of the principal of Meyerholz school. She has done an exceptional job of enforcing district policies in order to further the CUSD mission. As we know, the district has a primary mission of maintaining property values.
Alas, many of the past principals of the school had become sidetracked and decided to focus on students and education instead. Unfortunately, this can provide a detrimental impact on fulfilling the primary mission. If teachers spend time caring and instructing students, then the families may feel they can have all their educational needs fulfilled at school. This could have significant negative impacts. It could draw less-qualified students into the school district, bringing down the test scores. It could also discourage parents from enrolling in sufficient after school and test-prep programs. The snowball effect would be catastrophic. Many small businesses providing "After-school" services could find themselves bankrupt. Teachers, on the other hand, would be expected to pick up the slack. They would be pressured to work more. The district could also be required to employ more teachers to provide for the additional students. While this may seem to help to provide more jobs, it will also have negative financial impact on the district.

The Meyerholz principal has done an exceptional job at discouraging families from "mooching" off of the free school service. The school restricts children from traveling home by themselves. This restriction makes it difficult for parents to send their students to school without sacrifice. The school day is also scheduled to maximize parental involvement. While younger children get out of school 30 minutes before older children, they are prohibited from playing or doing homework by themselves. Even when parents are present, physical activity is strictly prohibited. By limiting free play, the school helps support the many youth sports leagues and activity programs. It would be a shame if the school facilities were used for free play at the expense of hard-working entrepreneurs. The scheduling and after-school prohibitions discourage large families from enrolling in the school. If a parent has a large family with young children at home, they are pretty much required to employ somebody to watch the children at home or pick up the children at school, thus driving more money to the economy.

The principal has helped to ensure children don't fall victim to the many detrimental impacts of the playground. Free play could encourage children to be independent. It could encourage creativity. This could all be very dangerous. Children could also get a minor injury on the playground. By suffering an injury, they might be discourage from doing riskier things later in life. (Later in life, there is a higher likelihood of sever damage, thereby helping insurance, healthcare and other industries.) Also, by limiting play time and activities, physical activity is limited. They wont get in the habit of "free" exercise and will be on the proper path to obesity, thereby supporting the medical-industrial complex. And of course, if children are allowed to play freely, parents will not learn the proper paranoid helicopter behavior.

There was a brief scare when the school announced a "homework club" program. This could have potentially allowed the children in different grade levels to leave school at the same time. It could have also used school personnel provide academic assistance that should be provided by external parties. Luckily, the school implemented it in such a way to maximize benefit to the district. The funding was provided by parent organizations, thus it provided an extra "bonus" for certain teachers without added expense. The "club" groups were timed to be an hour. And as a great act of genius, the school required students to stay the complete hour. This prevented any people taking advantage of the program to allow their kids to get dismissed at the same time.

The principal has also done an exceptional job of taking credit for the awards that the school has garnered. The previous principal filled out all the paperwork to get the school honored as a "blue ribbon school" and a "California distinguished school". These awards help to attract smart, wealthy families to the school that are willing to spend the money to ensure the test scores remain high. This benevolent cycle weeds out the low-performing students who drive down the test scores. By attracting the best students and most dedicated parents, the school can count on high scores without wasting significant resources on education. Over the past few years, the API (Asian Percentage Index) has increased. The demand for the school has also increased. Now there are fewer "wasted" spots at the school. We do know it is horribly inefficient when teachers have fewer than the maximum number of students and it is great when a school can adequately fill them.

Placing the Chinese Immersion program at Meyerholz has also been a wise move. It attracts students from elsewhere in the district, thus alleviating pressure on expanding schools. It is also a significant distance from the two "reserve" schools in the district. If it were too close to these schools, then there might be temptation to open the school to reduce crowding. This could have had a negative impact in school income as rental revenues would decline. It could also hurt the many businesses that occupy the school sites. If the Chinese program were at Nimitz school, there may have been extreme pressure to reopen Serra school, thereby putting many fine businesses out on the street. Luckily, there are no schools near Meyerholz that could be re-opened, and the district can continue to support the modular classroom builders at their other school sites.

To succeed, the school system must be optimized to provide a positive day-care service for single-child families. This allows for a maximum number of households to be "involved" with minimal cost to the schools. While "standards" seem to require education at the schools, education should not be the focus. As long as parents make the commitment to enroll their kids in the proper test-prep programs the test scores and property values are high. The schools can then ask parents for more money to provide MacBooks and iPads. (It is vitally important that the district support Apple - even if it is one of the wealthiest companies in the world, it is based in Cupertino. Much better to spend money on Macbooks and iPads, even if chromebooks and androids could do just as well for a small fraction of the price.) While the school may have floundered previously, it has now been succeeding brilliantly, thanks in part to the current administration.

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