Thu09182014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Experts address state education reform at Mtn. View forum


Photo By: Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Photo Bruce Barton/Town Crier

Experts in education, from left, Terry Moe, Dean Vogel, Gloria Romero and Larry Sand addressed “How to Improve Education in California” at a Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley meeting in Mountain View last week.

Four experts on California education offered four distinctly different views on the subject at a March 5 meeting of the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley in Mountain View.

Guest speakers Larry Sand, Gloria Romero, Terry Moe and Dean Vogel addressed “How to Improve Education in California.”

Sand, a retired teacher and founder of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, said parents should choose where their children go to school. Romero, state director of Democrats for Education Reform and a former Los Angeles-based state senator, favors more parental choice in determining how schools are run. Moe, a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, sees the future of education completely directed by technology. Vogel, current president of the California Teachers Association, would encourage more parental involvement, but within the confines of the current system.

Sand said the teacher tenure system currently in place makes it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers, enabling a dysfunctional system that prioritizes faculty employment over children’s education.

“This is no way to run a school system,” he said, noting that “throwing money” at education has not improved it. Sand said 90 percent of students attending city or community colleges are taking remedial courses because they failed to learn subjects adequately during high school.

In addition to holding teachers to performance-based reviews, Sand suggested that parents select their children’s schools like diners choose their preferred restaurants.

“Parents should not be forced to send students to the closest school,” he said.

Charter schools, not bound by nearly as many state regulations, have improved traditional public schools through competition, Sand added.

“If (charter schools) don’t do the job, they close – unlike public schools,” he said.

Romero saw firsthand how neglected schools in poor neighborhoods produced dropouts, many of whom became criminals now clogging the state’s prison system. She noted that 70 percent of the state’s inmates do not have high school diplomas.

“We spend more to incarcerate than to educate,” she said. “If we do not educate, we will incarcerate.”

Romero gained attention as a state senator when she introduced a “trigger law” that empowered parents with the right to have a say in restructuring a school if it fails to perform to a certain level, contending that the state is “lacking a sense of urgency” about reform.

“The Ed Code has too many obstacles and barriers,” she said. “The rules favor the adults.”

Romero drew applause when she suggested those opposed to reform “get the hell out of the way and give the power to the parents.”

Empty talk about improving state education has been going on for 30 years with little progress, according to Moe. But the current way of doing things, he said, will soon be replaced by the technological revolution.

“It’s going to revolutionize K-12,” he said. “This is the tsunami that is too big for anyone to stop.”

Software programs and computers provide an inexpensive and more effective way to teach children, according to Moe. Students can learn at their own pace, with personalized programs tailored to their needs.

“The computer doesn’t care whether you’re white or black or living in Detroit,” he said. “You can have the best (online education) of what’s available.”

The education paradigm, Moe said, is shifting from a teacher in front of a classroom to online classes available to anyone, anywhere. He pointed to 275,000 students currently learning in “virtual charter schools” all over the country.

Vogel said he was not speaking as a representative of a teacher’s union but for all classroom teachers.

“If you want kids to be successful, you have to have a quality teacher in front of them,” said Vogel, a kindergarten teacher from Vacaville. “Otherwise, you’re in trouble.”

He encouraged parent involvement and said dialogue between parents and teachers was vital to a child’s education.

Vogel suggested that improvements to the education system have been hampered by debates over direction and people placing blame on one another.

“We have spent time trying to discredit each other instead of working on the problem,” he said.

Addressing the contention by other panelists that increased funding has not improved education, Vogel pointed to state-mandated class-size limits of 20 students in K-3 that could not have been implemented without the necessary funding.

For more information, visit www.theconservativeforum.com.

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