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October 27, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, Oct.. 27, 2010 11B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Turn on the light WHERE I STAND, TALETHA WASHBURN ACADEMIC DIRECTOR PLUMAS CHARTER SCHOOL Every spring, California public school students in grades 2 - 11 are subjected to a standardized testing program in hopes of assessing the effec- tiveness of California's public schools. The testing assumes every , student in each grade level is receiving the same instruction in the core areas and that their ability to assimilate and retain that instruction is universally reflective of the education they are receiving. For students who attend the same school for a period of , years and are exposed to that same system's approach, this may be an appropriate assump- tion, and thus the measure ac- curate, regarding the general success of their program. Since its inception, P1umas Chart School (PCS) has experi- enced lower and fluctuating Academic Performance Index (API) figures. API is a three- digit, computed number based on a school's STAR test scores for students in grades 2-11. APIs cab range from 200 - 1000, and "effective" schools should (in theory) experience growth in their API each year, m indicating their academic program is getting better and better. This year it was noted that based on our API, we are the lowest performing school in the district. While a quick glance at our API does verify this, that number does not accurately reflect our school's educational effectiveness and the success we achieve with our students. I want to take the opportu- nity to elaborate on our API history, to make clear the reasons our API is not an accu- rate measure of our success. You might remember the asterisk* next to our reported API this year. That * indicates fewer than 100 students were included in our API, rendering the sample statistically in- significant. In the words of the Depart- ment of Education, which calculates the API, "APIs based on small numbers of • students are less reliable and therefore should be carefully interpreted." To be precise,  students' test scores were included in our spring 2010 API calcula- tion. One hundred thirty-one students actually took the STAR tests with us last spring, but only 68 were included in the calculation because they standardized testing ,not always accurate were the ones enrolled with us a more accurate measure of time with us these achievements are not ev- before the Oct. 7, 2009 cutoff date). Put another way: 52 percent of the second- through llth- grade students enrolled with us at the time of the tests were induded in our API calcula- tion. Of the 68 students whose test scores were in our API, only 30 were with us more than a year. Using the earlier argu- ment, only those 30 students' performance could be said ac- curately to reflect the success of our academic program. This is not a large enough number to be statistically significant. Because our annual API scores are often erroneously used as the only measure of the effectiveness and performance of our school, we fmd our- selves facing unfair criticism. However, we stand behind the argument that our fluctu- ating API scores, in and of themselves, are not an accu- rate measure of the effective- ness of our program as a whole. In 2002 the Hoover Institution released a study that criticized the static nature of the current API calculation, suggesting schools (and the state of Cali- fornia) adopt a student change model: tracking the learning of each student, thus providing school performance. PCS is in fact doing just that, instigating a "gain model" based on individual student progress during her enroll- ment with us. To document the fact ours is an effective educational pro- gram, and our students are, in fact, achieving significant aca- demic growth, we have adopt- ed an in-house testing pro- gram, Scantron. Every PCS student is tested at the begin- ning and the end of theyear using Scantron. Instead of measuring the school as an aggregate, which because of our mobility level is not a useful measure, Scant- ron measures each student as an individual and reflects her actual academic gains. We have increased our use of this tool over the last two years, and have now integrat- ed it into our enrollment pro- cedure and educational pro- gram. It allows us to measure a.student's reading, language and math abilities upon enroll- ment, helps guide our curricu- lar decisions and provides a baseline to measure individ- ual student growth over the course of the school year. The program will accurately docu- ment the academic growth our students achieve during their For example: A 10th-grade student enrolls and completes the Scantron tests. Results in- dicate he has a fourth-grade reading level and a third-grade math ability. His program is planned for the year and in- dudes reading and math reme- diation, as well as access to grade-level texts that are corn: prehensible to lower level readers. When STAR tests come around in the spring, he is still performing below grade level and scores poorly. However, what the STAR test scores can't show is that while with us, his reading level increased from a fourth- to seventh- grade, and his math from the third- to fifth-grade. This student achieved acad- emic growth while enrolled with us, but his success went unnoticed by conventional measurement. We are currently tracking students' Scantron scores and aligning them with their STAR scores to more effective- ly display individual, student progress and progress of the school as a whole. With continued use of the Scantron program, we hope to continue to create an explicit representation of students' and the school's success, because ident in our API score alone. The 52 percent figure men- tioned earlier is a measure of the annual mobility rate of our students; every year haft or • more of our students are new. That level of m0bility is due in large part to the nature of our program; we attract students who need our help for only a short time fora variety of rea- sons: Their family lives may • be in flux, students at risk for dropping out graduate by com- ing here or students who sim- ply need an alternative for awhile.. We are not a standardized school and do not approach our students with standardized ex- pectations- quite the contrary. Our personalized learning ap- proach takes into consideration where the students are when they walk through our door:. their needs, strengths, weak- nesses, interests and goals. With all of this in mind, we map each program, which may include intensive remediation to build reading or basic math skills before the introduction of content-rich, grade-l.evel ma- terial for which they may not be ready. The approach for each student (even ffthey have the same teacher) is different and responsive to the specific needs of that student. The effort to eradicate polio is alive and well and ongoing WHERE I STAND JOHN DE SELI.E QUINCY ROTARY CLUB Many of us in the United States in 2010 don't know much about polio (if we are relatively young) or think that polio was wiped out many years ago. The fact is that polio is a very disabling disease and is still alive in some parts of the world. As long as the polio virus is still present in the world, there is the possibility that it can flare up anywhere, any time. Polio (poliomyelitis) (some- times called infantile para- lysis) is a crippling and poten- tially fatal infectious disease that strikes children mainly under the age of five. The poliovirus can cause paralysis within hours, and polio paralysis is almost always irreversible. In the most severe cases, polio attacks the motor neurons of the brain stem causing breathing difficulty or even death. Historically, polio has been the world's greatest cause of disability. The history of polio begins with records from antiquity mentioning crippling diseases compatible with polio. The first modern record of the disease dates to 1789 when Michael Underwood first de- scribed a debility of the lower extremities in children that was recognizable as polio- myelitis in England. The first polio outbreaks in Europe were reported in the early 19th century, and polio out- breaks were first reported in the United States in 1843. The most famous case of po- lio in the United States was • President Franklin D. Roo- sevelt, who contracted polio in 1921. Prior to that time, he had been an active, athletic man who loved to sail and swim. The disease took its toll and paralyzed his legs. Dur- ing the time he was President, • from 1932 to 1945, he wore .heavy steel braces on his legs. Most of his time was spent in a wheelchair. Polio in the United States reached a peak in 1952, with more than 21,000 cases. Doctor Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio in 1953. The vaccine was widely distributed in 1955, and the incidence of polio dropped dramatically. An oral vac- cine was introduced in 1961. The last case 0fpolio con- tracted in the U.S. was in 1979. In 1985, Rotary, a volunteer service organization of 1.2 mil- lion members, made a com- mitment to immunize the world's children aghinst polio. Three years later Rotary joined with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention, and UNICEF. Thanks to Rotary and its partners, the number of polio cases has been cut by 99 percenL When Rotary began its eradication effort, polio infected more than 350,000 children each year. In 2009, 1,597 cases were reported worldwide. The polio cases represented by that final 1 percent are the most difficult and expensive to prevent for a variety of reasons, including geographi- cal isolation, armed conflict, and cultural barriers• Be- cause the poliovirus is so contagious, it is sometimes transmitted from a country that still has the wild polio-. virus, to a country that may not have seen a new case for years. Outbreaks can then occur in the previously polio free countries• This is why it is so important to completely stamp out the virus in every country, As long a.s polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, all children, wherever they live- remain at risk. In recent years, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have given $ 355 million to this effort, in the form of a challenge grant• ffRotary can raise $200 million to match the Gates Foundation contribu- tion, this will help greatly to provide the needed funds to complete the eradication of polio in the world. As part of the effort to raise these match- ing funds, each Rotary club has been asked to raise at least $1,o00 from their commu- nity for three years. 2010 is the third year of this fund raising effort. During the past two years, our generous community, at the Plumas County Health Department's annual drive- through flu clinic, contributed in excess of $2,200. Quincy Rotarians will be asking for your help again this fall, at this event, to be held in Quincy, on Friday, October 29, 2010, from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. Your donations will be greatly appreciated. LETTERS to the EDITOR Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an address and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week, per person and only one letter per person, per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited tO a maximum of 300 words. The ed- itor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words.The deadline is Friday i i at 3 p.m. (Deadlines may change I due to holidays.) Letters may I be taken to any of Feather I Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-ma ed at mail@plumasnews.com Not a good time Due to the fact that there are many Plumas County cit- izens and businesses that have had to close their doors, people have lost their jobs, homes and savings to stay afloat through these troubled times, this is not a good time to approve a large rate hike for the garbage collection. It is true that both garbage companies have a 10 percent profit margin built into their contracts with the county. The newspaper pointed out that I had left the board meet- ing during the discussion on the rate hike. The board chair and other board mem- bers knew I had to leave by 2 p.m to travel for other county business. Terry Swofford Plumas County Supervisor District One Stop sign They should make the stop sign on Third Avenue (A15) bigger• We live in the apartments on Main and Fourth and com- ing down out of our driveway many people do not stop. We • do not have a stop sign. It's on a hill. I'm surprised there hasn't been more accidents. No one looks up on Main Street to see if anyone is coming down. One lady didn't stop at the sign. We al- most hit her, got her license number and reported her to the sheriff's department• Please make the sign bigger and patrol more. Dianne Hale Portola Voting chickens I believe that it is right for one to vote left and wrong for one to vote right if one earns less than $100,000 a year. As one comic put it, "A working person voting for a Republican is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders." Salvatore Catalano Northridge Robbing Seniors Who does Obama think he is? God? I have news for him, he is a human like the rest of us. But that doesn't give him the right to take the medical treatments we, the seniors, have coming. Nor does he have the right to take away any of our small income from us. But I bet the government still pays for pays for the medical expenses for the ille- gal immigrants. Prices keep going up, but he makes sure our income goes down more every year, when it is supposed to go back up to a decent amount, to where it belongs. He is still taking our livelihood away from us. If we lose our in- come, we won't be able pay the doctors or for our med- ications, hospital bills, or even food. That in itself will make sure we aren't around too much longer. Then he can freely use our money. Re- member, we paid into Social Security from our wages when we were younger, so we would have some in our old age. I am tired of him using the elderly like some,wide-open bank for him to take from. The money he has already taken from us, he should re- place ASAP. Let him take it from the traders on Wall Street, they can afford it much easier than we seniors can. Margaret Duncan Quincy Local support I completely agree with the letter from Lynn Rickman, that the community needs to support local businesses. We are in jeopardy here in Chester of gaining more vacant storefronts. This would be damaging to resi- dents and tourists alike. Merchants like Jeff Ogle of Jefroe's Produce have been supporting many local chari- ties, social groups and the Chamber of Commerce for many years• They also have a friendly smile and take time to say hello to everyone. We need to support all of our local businesses so that Chester remains the destina- tion town that everyone wants to see. Shirley Friedrichs Canyon Dam Disappointed As a homeowner at Gold Mountain and chairperson of a committee of GMHOA/ GMCSD directors that worked on the sale of the Nakoma bankruptcy assets, I was disappointed in some of the negative connotations, in Ms. Jorgenson's article in the Oct. 20 newspaper, imputed to Mr. Schoff and the Schomac Group. What Ms. Jorgenson's re- port does not comment on, in any significant detail, are the obvious benefits to Plumas County that the Schomac Group will provide from tax revenues (sales, TOT and property taxes) as the result of the continued development of both Nakoma and the Feather River Inn ("FRI"). Additionally, the future em- ployment opportunities for construction workers, golf course maintenance, lodging staff, real estate sales and other service related jobs will create job opportunities for eastern Plumas County workers. During the five years I worked on the sale of the Nakoma bankruptcy assets, we conducted negotiations with individuals and busi- nesses ranging from North Carolina to South Korea•. Most of those interested" parties were looking for short-term gains, whereas the Schomac Group has a long-term vision and plan for both Nakoma and FRI. The significant capital improve- ments that Schomac Group is making in those two resorts will increase tourism and as- sist in improving the overall economy in Plumas County. As for the reduction of the property tax values of the Nakoma assets -- welcome to 2010! The reduction is warranted based on present market and economic con- ditions; I would venture a guess that Feather Publish- ing's building has benefited from similar reductions in as- sessed tax values as have many residents and businesses in Plumas County. Finally, with the demise of both the timber industry and railroad jobs, Plumas County needs more businesses like the Schomac Group; reduced tax assessments not with- standing, these companies are the ones that will lead the county out of the economic quagmire we now find our- selves in. I believe most, if not all, the residents of Gold Mountain sincerely appreciates Mr. SchofFs efforts along with the dedicated employees of the Schomac Group in their dili- gent efforts to the continuing development of both Nakoma and FRI. Jack Carlson Gold Mountain Yes on 23 This fall, there will appear on the ballot a California ini- tiative called the California Jobs Initiative (Proposition 23.) It is designed to suspend AB32 which was passed in 2006 at the height of the global warming scare and it is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. AB32 requires that by the year 2020, California CO2 and other greenhouse gas emis- sions be reduced to 1990 levels, or by about 25 percent. The governor says this requirement will force Cali- fornia into the forefront of green technology, spurring job growth in that sector. Force indeed. Spain took the same decision several years ago with the same dream. They are now having second thoughts after having found that for every green job created, the higher energy costs have destroyed 2.2 jobs. A 2009 study by economists at the California State Uni- versity at Sacramento says AB32 would eliminate 900,000 jobs due to increased costs to consumers and 1.1 million jobs due to increased costs to small businesses. The study put the cost of AB32 at $49,000 per small business in Cali- fornia and for households at $3,800 per year. Statewide, the burden on California citizens is estimated to be 52 billion dollars. AB32, as passed by the state legislature, is a paean to the global-warming juggernaut which is finally starting to show cracks in its manufac- tured framework. To hitch our wagon to that failing star is a huge mistake in an econo- ,my that can't afford another huge mistake. Higher energy costs and yet higher taxes will chase even more businesses and jobs out of state. The California Jobs Initia- tive simply suspends AB32 until California has four straight quarters of unem- ployment at 5.5 percent or less. I think that's pretty rea- sonable and prudent. Please find the California Jobs Initia- tive, (Proposition 23) on your ballot and vote for it. Gary Vogt Quincy Support Kennedy I and the following long time residents of Plumas County, Norma Wood, Ber- nice Dean, and Calla Marshall support Jon Kennedy for Dis- trict 5 Supervisor. This is just some of what we have to say: "What impressed me most about Jon was his positive and respectful attitude to- ward his opponent. One of the supporters of his oppo- nents had a very question- able way of convincing some of us to place signs on our property, and Jon knew this. He had every opportunity to rightfully bash the "other side" but chose not to. He stuck to the issues of our See Letters, page 12B