Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Clark takes Noyes off table

posted by Jeremiah 4/26/2006 07:13:00 AM

In response to the massive showing that Altadenans for Action mustered at last night's Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Percy Clark took a moment to speak on the non-agenda item.

Clark stated that he and the board officially withdraw Noyes as a potential site for a high school program. This proclamation was greeted by enthusiastic applause from the audience, and numerous Altadenans who had filled out public comment cards in anticipation of having to argue against the proposal, modified their comments to express thanks to the board for being responsive to the community's concerns.

During the comment period there was still broad concern conveyed by the community about the potential for segregation in the implementation of the proposed high school reform plans. It was evident that the board also strongly heard and agreed with this message in their discussion of Attachment R-1 titled "Priorities 06-07" which ensued later in the evening.

The board ended up approving a motion by Mike Babock to endorse the seven general priorities presented by staff, however specifically refrained from providing the weighted "A or B" prioritization staff was requesting. Noteably, they did make a special point of setting the high school reform plan aside as the one priority of the seven that specifically needed more study before it could move forward. It seemed that those on the board who had expressed concerns about the high school reform proposal at last month's meeting were emboldened, an any who may have been neutral or positive about moving forward for fall of 06 are taking a serious second look at the issue.

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At 1/09/2009 9:14 AM, Blogger DeAnna said...

I know this is an old post, but I hope this comment will reach you by email. We are now facing exactly the same scenario you faced with your battle over Noyes Elementary. I read with interest your posts on this short saga, and I'm keen to know what arguments and tactics you found most persuasive with your school district. If you have a few minutes to respond, you can reach me by email at my cox.net address: ddburghart. Many thanks!

 

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[greatschools]: "uncle!"

posted by Jeremiah 4/15/2006 07:44:00 PM

After three days of having his Yahoo! Group email list deluged by me, Rene Amy sent me a polite back channel communique requesting a cease fire. He peppered it with minor digs and rationalizations such as
"it seems that you don't know a lot of answers to simple questions about the district that longer-tenured members are already somewhat painfully aware of"
"I hesitate to respond to many of your posts because I do not
wish to alienate list members by boring them with the answers"
But for the most part it was a respectful and tactfully worded letter full of phrases such as
"I don't want to appear to limit you"
"your enthusiasm and concern are most welcome to the list"
In a follow up email in which I agreed to contain my "flood of politeness", Mr. Amy consented to my publishing of his request, saying, "I've always adhered to the principle that one should never put anything in print that shouldn't be expected to show up on the front page of the newspaper."

By way of comparison, I posted 24 times during the flood, often with complex lengthy topics. My first post was Thursday morning, and his flag of truce came Saturday evening. In a public "housekeeping" letter that came to the list at the same time as the back channel request, he offered some statistics.

He said that his list had record volume last month averaging 23 posts per day. In the course of my three day deluge, there were about of about 90+ posts between the time I started and the time he asked me to stop. 24 of those were from me. The group has 288 members, but only a small fraction of those post with any regularity. By far the most prolific poster is Mr. Amy himself. During my onslaught, he posted 22 times, (mostly just pasting in news items with a topping of commentary). About 9 of those were responses to me.

For three days I kept up a relentless stream, reflecting back most of the open ended negative sentiments with posts like this:
"So are you advocating... what?

It is clear that you are good at pointing out problems. As I think we agree, watchdogs are a critical cog in a healthy democracy. But isn't it a bit like shooting fish in a barrel at this point?

Rather than glibly sounding off about the problems, what do you propose be done about this particular situation?

If you are at a point where you are utterly fatalistic about it, why do you waste your time?"
and
"Clearly the big picture is important. Thanks for fleshing out the details.

Belittling people attempting to engage in constructive discussion hardly seems useful though.

Would it not be best if we all consider what you requested of me, "that simple opinion not be the focus, rather that facts and educated analysis rule"? What do you hope to achieve by implying that Jerry, myself and others are "foolish" IYHO?"
I fully expected to take it in the neck from him, but amazingly, he restrained himself, and now has extended an olive branch of sorts. I am almost stunned. It could just be me getting acclimated, but I do believe, at least temporarily, the edge of hostility has been blunted in everyone's posts. Frequent posters, who freely sprinkled dyslogisms into their posts earlier in the week, are sounding much more constructive. If nothing else, I think I can say I was successful at pinning them down for three days using what hackers call a Denial Of Service (DOS) attack. Just by keeping everyone busy for three days, I managed to modulate the acerbic tone of the discussion. Now lets see if it will stick as I ease off the throttle.

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At 4/15/2006 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremiah:

I want to thank you publicly for your efforts! I tried, myself, to deflect conversations to more constructive vents than name calling but lacked your skill. The few short days that you "deluged" the greatschools list were by far the most productive the list has seen since I joined. I gained greater perspective over the past few days than I have in the month or two that I have been a member of greatschools. Funny, but Mr. Amy trumpets that his list has grown by leaps and bounds recently (the catalyst being a blind invite sent far and wide by some "unknown"). This being the case, why would you NOT want to "revist" information that is "readily available"? Most of don't know what goes on and that's why many of us newbies joined the greatschools list - to get another perspective. So, we have been shut out from receiving information once again. Although I don't often agree with some of the raw and sometimes uniformed opinions on the greatschools list, I have generally appreciated the alternative perspective because I believe it's important to hear all sides of an argument. So sad your voice has been quelled there. It was refreshing. I believe many on the greatschools list have a great deal to contribute if they would only agree to be a part of a larger conversation. I think their egos limit that possibility, sadly. Thank you for starting this blog. I will be a frequent visitor and will share it with others.

-Bethann Buddenbaum

 
At 4/16/2006 9:12 AM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Thank you, although I wouldn't say "quelled" or "shut out". I never could have kept up at that pace anyway. Let's just hope the 3 day flood had a cleansing effect.

 

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Surviving [greatschools]

posted by Jeremiah 4/13/2006 09:22:00 AM

In a (rather lengthy) open letter to Rene Amy which I recently posted to Amy's private Yahoo! Group called greatschools, and circulated to the media and other interest groups, I have consciously stepped into the debate with a challenge to all parties to reign in the rhetoric.

Amy's [greatschools] Yahoo! Group is archived online and can be searched by members of the group. Non-members cannot read the archives or post to the list, ostensibly to prevent spammers from polluting the list, although I am not sure why he also restricts read-only access to his archive. Anyone who wants to read it can subscribe to the Yahoo! Group for free. Access to the Yahoo! Groups archive requires a Yahoo! ID.

I was extremely ambivalent about weighing in on Amy's list, because he and his main supporters are often acerbic in their public and semi-public "discussions" which often seem more like drubbings. I came down in favor of engaging with him in the (probably naive) hope that I might be able to influence the general tone of things.

In his responses to my letter so far this morning, I find myself kind of looking down and patting all my limbs in amazement. I have not been eviscerated so far. The worst he has leveled at me this morning has been to mild chiding for violating his list etiquette by cc'ing addresses that are not subscribed to his group, and for the length of my letter.

He also asked "that simple opinion not be the focus, rather that facts and educated analysis rule." Fair enough. That's exactly what I am hoping to achieve by weighing in. Let's hope that all the members of his list can take heed of this.

He pointed out that "A diversity of analyses and of information helps make the list strong by allowing community members to read, interpret, analyze, and come to their own conclusions."

Here's hoping.

(photo: republished from Pasadena Star News bio piece on Amy
edit: 7/6/2007 Todd Ruiz pointed out that the photo was taken by Pasadena Star News photographer, Walt Mancini)

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Altadenans for Action takes shape

posted by Jeremiah 4/10/2006 01:33:00 PM

Steve Escovar, Isaac Garcia, and I represented the newly formed Altadenans for Action (AFA) at the Pasadena Education Foundation (PEF) meeting yesterday which (I think) was originally scheduled as a fundraising and general community outreach event.

According to the host, Jeanne Register, the turn out was much larger than predicted, most likely due to the heightened community concern about the proposed use for Noyes.

In attendance were, PUSD Superintendent, Percy Clark, President of the PUSD BOE, Ed Honowitz, the PEF supporters (somewhat bemused), the usual cohort of angry parents and rabble rousers that seem drawn to controversy, and neighbors of Noyes with an agenda.

I'm not sure where Isaac, Steve and I fall in that spectrum, but probably somewhere between angry parents, rabble rousers and neighbors with an agenda. The difference is, we are organizing the community and making a concerted effort to structure the discussion in a positive way rather than simply going negative.

AFA's primary tack is to address the issue on its merits (or lack there of), and work with the 7-11 committee and the district to find a more appropriate solution for the Continuation School. We also are committed to engaging in the process and helping to identify an appropriate use for the Noyes property. We see this crisis optimistically, and are hopeful that we can not only help resolve in constructively, but that the net result will be the organization and uniting of a new generation in our community.

If things don't go as we expect them to, judging from the response that was rallied on two day's notice at the first neighborhood meeting (last Saturday at the Escovars), I am confident that the resources and resolve are available in the neighborhood to bring a phalanx of much more aggressive tactics online if it comes to that.

Anyone who is interested in staying informed and participating in this effort can find information and resources at http://pasadenaschools.info

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At 5/04/2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT'S NOT TIME TO GO TO SLEEP RE NOYES. At the 4/25/06 School Board Meeting we heard that Noyes did not appear to be a proper site (reasons stated) for a high school. Additionally it was stated that the merits of a separated continuation HS had not even been discussed with the Board, therefore, any location consideration, if needed, was premature. At the May 2. 2006 Board meeting, the same HS continuation plan, without Noyes but with "Location: To be determined," was submitted. Additionally, there was a presentation for the Board which was singly directed toward a dedicated site for a continuation HS, with implementation plans for a dedicated site in the works. There does not appear to be a viable alternative proposal from the Superintendant's Office.
Even though the issue of whether there is a dedicated continuation HS and whether that is located at Noyes are two issues, they are related and both issues to be determined. The Superintendant submits the proposals and recommendations to the Board. The Board decides on whether a dedicated continuation HS is appropriate and where it will be. Even if Noyes is not submitted as a proposed site consistent with Dr Clark's stated determination that Noyes is not an appropriate site, the Board members knowing that Noyes was once considered appropriate, may still vote for the Noyes site for their respective reasons: i.e. it's a done deal.
Fot those who stayed to the end on 4/25/06 we had heard some of the "complaints" about some of the condition of some of the schools by members of the public. However, since there is an official complaint procedure which is to be followed regarding "complaints about schools" and complaints to the Board at Board meetings is not part of the process, it was determined for the in question reporting period that those complaints were not lodged and not referenced.
ADDITIONAL PROBLEM RE THE NOYES SITE
There was a reference to a LAUSD program (I believe LAUSD((my ears don't work as well as in the past)))which is similar to Rose City but has a requirement of at least 14 days in jail (among other requirements) to go to the school. Apparently PUSD uses the facility for some of its qualifyng students from time to time. They said the lease for the facility was running out and that inquiry was made to Pasadena or PUSD for possible sites. The name I heard for the existing school was Alta Pasa or something like that. I was unable to find reference to it on the internet. It was mentioned shortly after reference to a Noyes reference re a continuation HS on 5/2/06. There were a few snickers and hidden/unheard comments among some of the Board members which logically would have been along the lines of "How about Noyes" or "If they didn't want a continuation school, how is this for an alternate." If a lease or sale is made for this out of LAUSD district site, some of the constraints such as renovation costs or community input may be avoided.

 
At 7/01/2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous Janet Castro said...

I attended the 4/25 PUSD meeting along with others from the Noyes neighborhood. I also spoke to the board during the public comment session and remained at the meeting until some time after 10:00 I also contributed money to AFA that evening as I take your efforts seriously and appreciate the work you folks have done. I was disconcerted by the massive walk out that occured right after Percy Clark made his "cart before the horse" statement and withdrew Noyes as a candidate. As a committed and united neighborhood, there should have been no mass exit as soon as our immediate worries were alleviated. There also should have been no whooping or laughter. It was not respectful to the Board or district. We, as members of a larger community should have remained in our seats and listened politely to the other speakers and heard their concerns even though they are not the same (necessarily) as ours. I was embarrased as I watched many of my own neighbors high fiving and beating a path to the door. We looked like complete NIMBY's and as there is still much to do related to the Noyes property and the district in general, we would have served ourselves better to have behaved in a more attentive and dignified manner. A simple "Thank you for hearing our voices" would have sufficed and while that was accomplished during the comment session later in the evening the original impression had already been set. If there is another such meeting for AFA's in the future, I am hoping you will encourage attendees to demonstrate a deeper and broader commitment to the big picture. There would be no downside to that. Incidentally, as I stated at the PUSD meeting and at the Community Center meeting the night before, my now college age son attended Noyes, I was on PTA and Site Council during my son's K through 6 years there and I believe that Noyes represents a wonderful opportunity for an outstanding neighborhood school within the PUSD or otherwise. Thank you for your time and your efforts. You folks have set an excellent example. Unfortunately it wasn't necessarily followed by all of your neighbors. Let's hope for better the next time as I have to assume this isn't close to over. Janet Castro, Homewood Drive

 
At 7/01/2006 5:02 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Janet,

Thanks for participating. I assume you know about the website dedicated to PUSD issues at pasadenaschools.info. Make sure you subscribe to the email list if you are interested in this sort of discussion.

 
At 7/01/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Point of clarification... I am referring to the pasadenaschools email list, not the stonehillnews email list, although you are certainly invited to join both. The stonehillnews list is much lower volume and focuses on neighborhood issues rather than PUSD issues.

 

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Coordinating opposition to Noyes proposal

posted by Jeremiah 4/07/2006 01:11:00 PM

Isaac Garcia set up a "Central Desktop" for collaborating and coordinating opposition to the proposed use of Noyes.

I contributed pasadenaschools.info as a shortcut in case anyone finds it an easier name to remember than the direct url.

Please forward any factual information you may discover (with complete provenance please) to Isaac or me if you don't see it on the site already and can't figure out how to contribute directly.

We would like to make a special point of avoiding all speculative, unsubstantiated, un-attributed, mean-spirited, or generally useless information.

Let's stick to the facts and play nice. Many of us feel strongly about this issue, but it is still early, and I am optimistic that the practical problems are so obvious that this plan will founder under it's own weight. This is not to say we shouldn't speak out strongly and quickly, but again, let our voice be constructive and solution oriented.

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Convert Noyes for 700 Troubled Teens?

posted by Jeremiah 4/05/2006 06:19:00 AM

An article in yesterday's Pasadena Star News reports that PUSD "officials want to turn the Noyes Elementary School campus into a continuation school for struggling high school students."

This is a major problem as far as I am concerned, and yes, I admit I am exhibiting NIMBY syndrome here, but an influx of "
600 to 700 students in grades 10 to 12" into this neighborhood is not to my liking. Even if they can somehow find enough parking for that may high school students and support staff, it will still mean huge neighborhood parking overflow. This is not to mention the incoming commute-time crush of vehicles converging on Allen and Altadena. The thought of 700 teenage drivers flowing out and around this neighborhood does not make me happy.

Then I worry about collateral damage (graffiti, vandalism, petty crimes?) which has been on the rise around here as it is. 700
high school students of any sort are bound to come with the associated adolescent behavior and mis-behavior. This bunch is characterized as "struggling." It may be an unfair stereotype, but at least when I was in high school that was a euphemism for "bad." Before anyone jumps on me for this, I am not saying they are all bad kids. I am just pointing out that introducing 700 struggling high school students to a quiet residential neighborhood raises the probability that there will be problems.

Finally, it seems a shame to convert Noyes to accommodate teens rather than children. All the bathrooms and playground equipment will have to be torn out in favor of appropriately scaled replacements.

If any or all of these issues concern you, please contact your Town Council Member and let them know your opinion.

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At 4/05/2006 11:15 AM, Anonymous Isaac Garcia said...

I've already emailed my Town Council representatives.

I am guilty of NIMBY and proud of it.

My family and I moved to this particular area of Altadena to avoid the inner city, not to get closer to it.

Consider me a VERY STRONG advocate AGAINST this proposition and I plan on being very vocal on this issue!

Isaac Garcia
1537 E. Loma Alta Drive
garciahouse@gmail.com

 
At 4/05/2006 7:34 PM, Anonymous Norah Small said...

Having spent a lot of time at Noyes in the past (I went to school there) and also some time there recently, (one of my best friends teaches at Noyes), I would have to say that I am pretty familiar with the campus. I find it laughable that PUSD would even suggest that they could put 600-700 10th to 12th grade students at that site. It currently houses less than 300 students and on any given day there are about 25 staff members and they already have parking problems. The campus is designed to be an elementary school and I don't see how a financially strapped district can spend the money which would surely be in the 10s of thousands to make the campus ready for high school students. How can that cost be justified when the largest high school campus in the district, John Muir, has an enrollment (according to a 2006 PUSD publication) of only 1290 students vs. the 2787 at PHS. The Pasadena Star News states that one of the reasons that the Rose City campus is not suitable for high school students is that it has no athletic fields, labs or meeting spaces - neither does Noyes. Why not move these students to an appropriate location where they can have access to all of these things, plus vocational programs and extracurricular activities which just might pull these students out of their "struggling" status.

There are so many reasons beyond the strictly NIMBY ones for why this is a really bad idea. I plan to email these reasons not only to each and every Town Council member (including Justing Chapman who heads the education subcommittee of the Altadena Town Council) but also to Percy Clark, the superintendent of PUSD. I hope that everyone in the neighborhood who is against this plan does the same.

Norah Small
2870 Stonehill Dr.
norah@stonehillnews.com

 
At 4/26/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger Denise Johnson said...

I have worked at Noyes Elementary for 22 years. In that time, our campus has changed dramatically. When I was first hired, many of the students came from the Noyes neighborhood and their parents were extremely active in PTA. It was a very special, dynamic school. We had monthly sing-a-longs, dedicated PTA families, and a wonderful reputation. When our popular and extremely well-liked principal, Mr. Bill Rosecrans, was transferred to Sierra Madre School and a new principal replaced him, the school began to lose families due to the change in leadership. When that principal moved on, the district made the wise decision to hire Dr. Isaac Hammond. This principal, like Mr. Rosecrans, was highly popular among families and the school began to flourish again. After Isaac left, a series of other principals were brought in, but they lacked the leadership skills that attracted families to the school. It is my feeling that we need to encourage the district to carefully choose principals, teachers, and programs that would make schools attractive to families. Noyes could be the wonderful school it once was if the families in this community were vocal about the kind of a school they want to see for their children. Perhaps Noyes could be reopened in the near future as an elementary site if we can communicate our ideas and visions for its future to this district.

Denise Johnson

 

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