Pear serves up 'Slices'

Pear serves up 'Slices'


John Beamer/Pear Theatre
Alison Whismore and Kyl...
Here comes the sun: State OKs solar mandate

Here comes the sun: State OKs solar mandate


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Solar panels affixed...
Author's trilogy recounts life in war-torn Europe, escape to U.S.

Author's trilogy recounts life in war-torn Europe, escape to U.S.


Zebroski

Author and Los Altos resident Gisela...

New St. Francis track coach Pompei teaches athletes patience, persistence

New St. Francis track coach Pompei teaches athletes patience, persistence


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High tra...

News

Los Altos parks protection effort challenged

An initiative proposed ostensibly to protect Los Altos parks and open space has left some residents wondering about hidden motivations. Meanwhile, the Los Altos City Council may consider a competing referendum later this month.

At issue is the Los A...

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Schools

LASD hires new principals for Almond & Springer schools

The Los Altos School District has hired new principals to serve at Almond and Springer schools for the 2018-2019 school year.

Superintendent Jeff Baier informed the schools’ parents via email that the district named Raquel Matteroli as Almond’s prin...

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Community

Local students write prize-winning essays

More than 230 students in grades 3-6 entered the 34th annual Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest.

            This year’s theme – “Spread Your Wings and Fly” – highlighted the History Mus...

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Sports

With dramatic win, Pinewood makes baseball playoffs; LA, MV & SF also in

With dramatic win, Pinewood makes baseball playoffs; LA, MV & SF also in


Town Crier file photo
Pinewood’s Bo Fick keeps his eyes on the ball in a recent game. The senior drove in the winning run last week, sending the Panthers to the playoffs.

The Pinewood School baseball team’s seventh-inning rally Thursday resulted...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Foothill College led to book’s success

Reading Alexander Shebanow’s May 12 column, “I found my voice in community college,” reminded me how an intense five-day-a-week transistor course with lab at Foothill College in the earl...

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Special Sections

Foothill Boot Camp  celebrates 20th year of early-morning workouts

Foothill Boot Camp celebrates 20th year of early-morning workouts


Courtesy of Steve Smith
Participants in the Foothill Boot Camp work out pool-side on the Foothill College campus. Class members, who range in age from 40 to 70, work out five days a week at 6 a.m.

Waking up before dawn to attend a rigorous exerc...

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Business

Comings and Goings: New shops appear, while old favorites breathe new life

Comings and Goings: New shops appear, while old favorites breathe new life


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art of capital cities from countries that ring the Mediterranean has been arriving at Yusuf Tosun’s expanded space for Cafe Nur, above, a restaurant on Main Street with Turkish specialties.

A shop exclusively devoted ...

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People

Magazine

News

Los Altos parks protection effort challenged

An initiative proposed ostensibly to protect Los Altos parks and open space has left some residents wondering about hidden motivations. Meanwhile, the Los Altos City Council may consider a competing referendum later this month.

At issue is the Los Altos Protect Our Parks and Public Lands Initiative...

Readmore

Business

Comings and Goings: New shops appear, while old favorites breathe new life

Comings and Goings: New shops appear, while old favorites breathe new life

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art of capital cities from countries that ring the Mediterranean has been arriving at Yusuf Tosun’s expanded space for Cafe Nur, above, a restaurant on Main Street with Turkish specialties.

A shop exclusively devoted to Taiwanese tea and snacks has secured a spot in ...

Readmore

Sports

With dramatic win, Pinewood makes baseball playoffs; LA, MV & SF also in

With dramatic win, Pinewood makes baseball playoffs; LA, MV & SF also in

Town Crier file photo
Pinewood’s Bo Fick keeps his eyes on the ball in a recent game. The senior drove in the winning run last week, sending the Panthers to the playoffs.

The Pinewood School baseball team’s seventh-inning rally Thursday resulted in a 4-3 win over Thomas More and a return trip t...

Readmore

Community

Local students write prize-winning essays

More than 230 students in grades 3-6 entered the 34th annual Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest.

            This year’s theme – “Spread Your Wings and Fly” – highlighted the History Museum exhibition “Instinct Extinct: The Great Pacifi...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Foothill College led to book’s success

Reading Alexander Shebanow’s May 12 column, “I found my voice in community college,” reminded me how an intense five-day-a-week transistor course with lab at Foothill College in the early 1960s changed my life.

It was taught by Ben Lan...

Readmore

Schools

LASD hires new principals for Almond & Springer schools

The Los Altos School District has hired new principals to serve at Almond and Springer schools for the 2018-2019 school year.

Superintendent Jeff Baier informed the schools’ parents via email that the district named Raquel Matteroli as Almond’s principal and Robin Robinson as Springer’s principal.

Readmore

Special Sections

Foothill Boot Camp celebrates 20th year of early-morning workouts

Foothill Boot Camp  celebrates 20th year of early-morning workouts

Courtesy of Steve Smith
Participants in the Foothill Boot Camp work out pool-side on the Foothill College campus. Class members, who range in age from 40 to 70, work out five days a week at 6 a.m.

Waking up before dawn to attend a rigorous exercise class five days a week isn’t for everyone, but...

Readmore

Stepping Out

Cal Pops ends season Sunday in Cupertino

California Pops Orchestra caps its season with “American Jubilee,” a celebration of some of the greatest American composers and their most beloved songs. The concert is scheduled 3 p.m. Sunday at the Flint Center in Cupertino.

Carly Honfi and Matthew Hall will sing with the orchestra.

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Magazine

Make safety your top priority: What to do if disaster strikesclose to home

Make safety your top priority: What to do if disaster strikesclose to home

Courtesy of Ann Hepenstal
Carolyn Dupuis, second from left, briefs Block Action Team, Community Emergency Response Team and ham radio emergency preparedness volunteers during an October 2017 neighborhood drill.

Living in California, we’re all aware that emergency events can occur at any time. A...

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Stanford researcher finds vouchers don't improve student achievement

Proponents of school choice claim that voucher programs – which allow parents to use state education funds to enroll their children in private schools – promote learning by providing access to different types of schools and by fostering competition that motivates public schools to improve.

But there’s no evidence that voucher programs significantly increase test scores, according to a new report by Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Martin Carnoy.

At best, they have only a modest impact on high school graduation rates, Carnoy found – and the risks they pose outweigh any advances.

“The evidence is very weak that vouchers produce significant gains in learning,” he said. “They also carry hidden costs, and they’re distracting us from other solutions that could yield much higher returns.”

Assessing the impact

The report, published by the Economic Policy Institute, was initiated shortly after Betsy DeVos was nominated to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos, who was confirmed Feb. 7, has pushed for the expansion of school vouchers nationwide.

Carnoy analyzed research conducted over the past 25 years, including studies of programs in Milwaukee, New York City, Indiana, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Most studies have evaluated the impact of vouchers through test scores (as a proxy for student achievement) and high school graduation and college enrollment rates (indicators of school performance).

In Milwaukee, where the nation’s second-largest (after Indiana’s more recent) voucher program has been operating for nearly 20 years, only a quarter of students attend their neighborhood school.

“If choice were the answer, Milwaukee would be one of the highest-scoring cities in the country,” Carnoy said.

But test score data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tell a different story. Among black eighth-graders in 13 urban school districts, Milwaukee – where black students make up more than 70 percent of all voucher recipients – ranked last in reading and second-to-last in math.

In cases where test scores did improve, Carnoy said, the increase appeared to be driven by increased public accountability, not vouchers.

A four-year study in Milwaukee found no greater gains in state test scores among voucher students attending private schools until the legislature announced that all private schools accepting voucher students would be required to take the test and that the results would be made public. Researchers concluded that publicizing the results for the first time pressed the schools to focus more teaching on elements that might appear on the test, which helped increase their scores.

While research has found some small gains in voucher schools’ graduation and college enrollment rates, Carnoy said there’s no evidence indicating whether this was due to private school competition – as free-market proponents contend – or to private high schools’ willingness to shed less-motivated students.

Hidden costs

The report also disputes the common claim that vouchers cost less per student than traditional public education.

“The cost argument is flawed,” Carnoy said, because the savings that private schools enjoy couldn’t be sustained if voucher programs were implemented much more widely.

For one thing, a private school that accepts vouchers can ease out low-performing students, even if initially required to admit them by lottery. Also, administering a voucher plan is expensive: Carnoy cited research estimating that record-keeping, student transportation and other expenses associated with vouchers could raise public educational costs by 25 percent or more.

One alarming long-term cost of a voucher system, Carnoy said, is the impact it could have on the teaching pipeline. Public education’s tenure and pension system offers security that compensates for relatively low pay and helps retain experienced teachers. Without these benefits, he added, fewer young teachers would be likely to enter and remain in the profession. Private schools in a largely public system save money by hiring young teachers who seek training and experience and have the option to go on to competitive positions at public schools. A mainly private system would eliminate the salary and tenure benefits of the public system, he said, exacerbating the teacher shortage and diminishing teacher quality on average.

“Supporters make the argument that vouchers are still cheaper, even if they don’t produce gains, but they’re using a false measure of the real cost of these schools,” said Carnoy, who has authored more than 40 books and 150 articles on economics and education.

Proven strategies

The report also draws attention to policies and programs that have been shown to improve student learning.

“There are many policy changes that are likely to have much higher payoffs than privatization,” Carnoy said, including teacher training, early childhood education, after-school and summer programs, student health programs and heightened standards in math, reading and science curricula.

These strategies appear to generate far more meaningful results than those estimated for voucher students, Carnoy found. And given the potential downsides, he noted, expanding voucher programs just for slightly higher graduation rates “seems rather unreasonable.”

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