I am offended by a booklet that I just received from the Vallejo School District


By Britt Sandkulla-Sinclair

I am offended by a booklet that I just received from the Vallejo School District. It was sent home with each of my two children. Every student in the district apparently was sent home with one of the booklets.

I am offended because the district obviously spent a great sum of money for this beautiful 21 page booklet at a time when we can’t afford to pay our teachers a decent salary. I wonder how much this public relation campaign to make the district and the school board look good actually cost.

I am even more offended because this very slick booklet is filled with distortions. It presents a wonderful picture of what we would love to have our district be. The problem is that it is not an accurate picture. What is actually happening in our classrooms is a far cry from the description given.

The picture presented on the beautiful, glossy pages of the booklet would have you believe, for instance, that our high schools are exemplary models. Yet every parent that I know is concerned about the issue of safety for their child when they reach the high school level. Whenever possible, parents are sending their children to private schools or out of district through transfers or falsifying addresses. Many choose to move to another city. I have friends with children who considered moving to Vallejo but decided not to because of the condition in our schools.

The words rigorous and relevant curriculum, restorative justice, full service community school, all sound great but are just words. The condition of our schools is a far cry from the description given in the booklet.

I hold the school board members and superintendent responsible. I urge everyone to vote in three new board members in the upcoming school board election. Enough is enough. New leadership is needed to turn our schools around. Let’s take a positive step forward and elect new leaders.

Everyone that I know is aware of the problems students face, especially as they approach the high school level. My children are still in elementary grades and are in a good learning environment at Penny Cook. However, I am faced with a huge problem as they move into the higher grade levels. The bullying, intimidation and violence on our middle and high school campuses makes them unsafe. Everyone I know who can afford it puts their students in private school. Others apply for transfers to other districts. Many simply use a false address to have their children attend school in another city.

The booklet doesn’t mention that teachers don’t want to work in Vallejo. Not only are the classes filled with disruption but the pay is 10 percent lower than the next lowest district in the north bay area. When school began this year there were nearly 50 classes without a regular teacher. Substitutes were hired, sometimes given 30 day contracts even though they may not have had a credential in the subject that they would be teaching. Some substitutes were not even credentialed teachers at all.

The school board and superintendent need to be replaced with new blood, new leaders with real solutions and the ability to make changes, not just “pull the wool over our eyes” with untruths and propaganda.


Note: All opinions expressed in the “Primal Scream” column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin.


'I am offended by a booklet that I just received from the Vallejo School District' have 9 comments

  1. September 29, 2014 @ 11:50 pm Salty Dog

    Here is a letter sent by a Next Door Neighbor member to the Board. I would love to see Shusshel explore/confirm/debunk the content:

    Dear VCUSD Governing Board,

    I am baffled by the Celebration Report. Using the data available from the California Department of Education, there has been no progress toward VCUSD 2011-2014 goals. I have outlined my concerns below:
    (Unless otherwise noted, I’ve used 2009 as a baseline year for growth. For comparison, I used unified school districts with enrollment of at least 5,000. I use the term “disaggregated data”. I want be clear that it means the presentation of data broken into segments of the student population instead of the entire enrollment in order to compare the progress of different demographic groups. 2/3 of VCUSD schools are under Williams Case monitoring. This act requires that students have the right to have a permanent, qualified teacher by the 20th day of the school year.)

    All students performing at grade level on 3rd grade STAR testing program NO EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS
    There was no overall progress toward this goal and the disaggregated data shows in Math and English there continues a 30 point gap between the percentage of African-American/Hispanic and Filipino 3rd graders performing at grade level.

    All students performing at grade level on 6th grade STAR testing program NO EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS
    There was no overall progress toward this goal and the disaggregated data shows a nearly 40 point gap in Math and a 35 point gap in English between the percentage of African-American/Hispanic and Filipino 6th graders performing at grade level.

    All students graduating with A-G requirements met EVIDENCE to the CONTRARY
    Since 2009, the overall percentage of 11th grade students enrolled in a college track math class has hovered around 50%. The percentage of 11th grade students demonstrating proficiency in a college track math class has hovered around 13%. Disaggregated CST data shows for Filipinos ~80% are enrolled and ~30% demonstrate proficiency in college track math. Between 45%-and 60% of African-American/Hispanic 11th graders are enrolled and 6%-7% demonstrate proficiency in college track math.

    Employees – attract and retain excellent teachers, administrators and support staff EVIDENCE to the CONTRARY
    –From 2009-2011, about 2% of VCUSD teachers had less than 2 years teaching experience. In the 2011-2012 school year (the last that data was available), that number jumped to 9.5%.
    — On the first day of the 2014-2014 school year, VCUSD had 100 certificated vacancies advertised on Edjoin which represents more than 13% of certificated staff. As of Friday, September 25, 2014, there were still 80+ vacant positions, a violation of the Williams v California settlement.

    Achievement gap eliminated EVIDENCE to the CONTRARY
    –In most cases, the gap has remained constant or increased as measured by California Standards Tests (CSTs).
    –District Academic Performance Index (API) was 714 in 2009 and 715 in 2013. However, disaggregated data shows that the gap between the lowest and highest performing groups increased from 161 points to 184 points during this period.

    Student attendance and enrollment rates increased NO EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS
    — According to Ed-data, http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/Pages/Home…. , percentage average daily attendance (ADA) compared to enrollment decreased from 89% to 84% from 2009 to 2013.

    Dropout rate significantly decreased NO EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS
    –According to Ed-data, http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/Pages/Home…. , VCUSD has the highest dropout rate and, with the exception of Oakland Unified, the lowest graduation rate of any unified school district in California.

    Additionally, in 2012, VCUSD’s base API of 725 placed it in the lowest 5% of California’s unified school districts. In 2013, it dropped an additional 10 points.

    I do not understand what cause there is for “Celebration”.


    • September 30, 2014 @ 8:28 am Vallejo Mimi

      Good for her calling out the BS! Geri Spearman wrote a response to this in the Rimes Herald. Spearman wants to raise our property taxes. And oh, Spearman is friends with Osby and Bishop.


    • October 1, 2014 @ 10:53 pm Cassandra

      You can check it yourself. All this information is readily available on http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/ and http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/welcome.asp . One thing that is intriguing is that Dr. Ubalde would say he raised the graduation rate to 80%. Why would he say this when it is so easy to check and see that it is a lie? Are there not laws that prohibit lying in an election pamphlet?


  2. September 30, 2014 @ 10:28 am rocketman

    There is one thing that must be done in Vallejo high schools–install video cameras with QUALITY audio in all high school classrooms and around the campus. And the videos MUST be presented to the public. We need to know and understand exactly what it is like in Vallejo high schools–what is going on in the classrooms and around the schools.

    What we have now is a collection of anecdotes and innuendo. What is needed is the unvarnished TRUTH about life in Vallejo high schools. And don’t let the nay-sayers and civil rights activist thugs have their misguided way and have such proposals denied. This MUST be done to save these schools.


    • September 30, 2014 @ 2:40 pm Bong Hit

      It might be more efficient to organize a team of activist students and supply them with small video cameras. They would be task with documenting the behavior and tactics of the bullies. I promise you it would shock Vallejo parents and probably drive scores of parents to pull their kids out of the district. There a very large elephant in the room here and the video evidence would make it almost impossible to deny.


  3. September 30, 2014 @ 11:08 am Publicus

    As a resident, I am offended by the glossy mailer I got in my mailbox recently. Obviously, the School District is engaged in a heavy propaganda campaign. It won’t work. Lipstick will not make this pig beautiful. All the “rebranding” efforts, both from the Economic Development and the School District are not going to result in a flood of new middle class families because NO ONE is buying that when all the evidence is that lots of investors have bought vacant properties cheap and are renting them to pretty marginal folks. I can take the temperature on my block and the median income has probably declined 50% with fewer and fewer owner occupied properties. 85% rentals does not crate a stable neighborhood. I am packing so make that 90% rentals.


    • October 2, 2014 @ 3:52 pm Vallejo Voter

      Same in my neighborhood. When I bought my house in mid 2000s, there were about 3 rentals on my block which consists of 41 houses. Now, more than 50% of the houses are rentals. There are now 23 houses out of the 41 on my block are now rentals, in less than 8 years. I don’t see it converting back to primarily owner occupied. 6 of those houses are section 8; 4 of which are well kept and nice families. The other 2… the kids and parents are dealing from the houses, causing problems in the neighborhood, with the kids not in school. There are 5 other rental “families” that have changed the safety of the neighborhood. And the median income has dropped significantly with that conversion to primarily a rental neighborhood. I’ll be moving this year. It’s not worth it anymore.


  4. October 3, 2014 @ 12:22 am Publicus

    My block has 16 lots with 34 dwelling units…historic mixed use. Of that only 5 are owner occupied so that is 85% rentals. Not sustainable or livable….


  5. October 3, 2014 @ 5:25 pm wharf rat

    District admin is clearly electioneering and doing so out in the open


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