Friday, October 04, 2013

With $60 million in grants, troubled Castle Park Elementary is trying to climb out of the mire created by Libia Gil, Richard Werlin and Jim Groth

Castle Park Elementary, the troubled school I attended as a child and taught at as an adult, deserves a break. But I'm not sure that's what it's getting, even with $60 million in grants to the neighborhood.

Here's the problem: the culture of the school district and teachers union is as bankrupt as ever. Improved attendance has little impact when the dysfunctional culture of the district and the teachers union remains the same.

Here's a comment by a reader of the Chula Vista Star-News:

Sosocal says:
Sat, Sep 14 2013 04:30 PM

What could have been a great opportunity for honest dialogue unfortunately turned into something quite different: the Secretary of Education being spoon fed Ed Brand's scheme of the hour. Yes, principal Bleisch has created quite a stir, but what is the substance? Some might say, as long as the kids go to school and the district gets the funding, it's all ok. But is it?

We need honest answers regarding the finances of this district. We need honest answers from those who purport to represent us, but who really represent their own careerist issues.

What are the students learning from this? I hope the public is learning that they need to be involved.

I agree with the commenter. The network of corrupt officials in San Diego schools is fostered by San Diego County Office of Education. SDCOE protects officials who should be long gone. Why can't some of the $60 million in grants be used to clean up corruption in South Bay? Because the people involved in the grants are closely connected to the school districts, and they all protect each other. The public needs to know more about what's going on in schools, behind the red-painted windows.

See all posts re Castle Park Elementary School from this blog and from CVESD Reporter.

A Promise Neighborhood staff member works with students after school in the Castle Park Elementary computer lab in Chula Vista, Sept. 19, 2013. The software, paid for by the Promise Neighborhood is helping students improve their reading skills. Photo By Christopher Maue

How A Federal Grant For Promise Neighborhoods Is Changing A Chula Vista Community
By Kyla Calvert
October 3, 2013

CHULA VISTA, CA — Ten-year-old Emily Jimenez Ayon wants to be a doctor. To do that, she knows she’ll need to go to college. And to get there she’s willing to make some sacrifices. For the moment that includes giving up her QiunceaƱera, which is kind of like a coming out party that many Mexican-American families throw for their daughters’ fifteenth birthdays.

Last year, a partnership of almost 30 organizations in Chula Vista's Castle Park neighborhood received a five-year grant to provide "cradle-to-career" support for the neighborhood’s children and families.

“I want to save the money for when I get into the university," she said.

That’s right – she wants the money to go toward the cost of college. Her mother, Gladys Ayon, said this is a new outlook for her daughter that came after a few weeks of summer camps provided through a program called Promise Neighborhood.

“Before, we didn’t talk a lot about it," Ayon said in Spanish. "But the people from Promise came with the mentality of helping the mothers from the time they’re pregnant and helping them so that their children do well, and little by little, get to college.”

Castle Park’s Promise Neighborhood program is one of about a dozen Promise Neighborhoods operating across the country. The federal government has set aside about $100 million over the last three years for programs like these. Last year, a partnership of almost 30 organizations in Castle Park received a $28 million, five-year grant to provide what’s being called "cradle-to-career" support for the neighborhood’s children and families.

“We saw a lot of gaps in services and we saw a lot of what was keeping kids from being successful in school or keeping kids from going to college,” said Kathryn Lembo, CEO of South Bay Community Services, the group leading the Promise Neighborhood. “You had parents – 96 percent of the parents – saying they wanted their children to go to college and they talked to their kids about it. But then when you asked them what they were talking to them about, it was that, “we can’t afford it, you can’t go to college.”

But changing that mentality is a tall order in a neighborhood like Castle Park, where English proficiency is low, two-thirds of adults don’t have a high school diploma and more than half of households do not have a full-time breadwinner. That’s why they have to start early.

“There’s an early learning network and that has to do with preventing any gaps or getting rid of the gaps kids have even before they enter school," Lembo said.

A preschool that opened this year on the Castle Park Elementary campus where students are learning in English and Spanish is part of that network. It also includes newborn home visits by staff from family clinics and parenting classes called Universidad de Padres, or Parent University. Those classes are giving Gladys Ayon tools to get involved with her daughter’s education...

See more HERE.


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