• Please Check Your Work Before Submitting

    I received an email from my daughters' school today that contained a letter from Susan von Felten, the Director of Curriculum for LGUSD.

    I need to be brutally honest, I have never written anything on this site that I don't stand by. That said, I have never engaged in the comments bashing teachers and/or principals. Every resident is entitled to his/her opinion.
    My articles call out issues and problems; however, I stand behind my comments/articles with my name. I've had wonderful experiences with LGUSD, both as a student and as a parent. I'm not going to sugar-coat and say everything has been perfect because nothing is perfect--not even me! When I have an issue, I talk to those who can help and hope the issue will be resolved. People are people, we make mistakes and with constructive criticism, I believe we can change.

    When I received BH's email earlier, I sat in disbelief. Again, people are people and we all make mistakes; however, the following letter concerns me. In the past year, Susan von Felten was named LGUSD's Director of Curriculum. I don't have any personal experiences with Ms. von Felten; I can't say anything good or bad about her job performance. When she was named Director of Curriculum, I was hoping that changes would be implemented in our schools and our curriculum would expand. In my opinion, the Director of Curriculum at LGUSD is a proud position to hold. I'm sure it is well-paid and it must enhance the resume! That said, when the Director of Curriculum writes a letter and sends it to all LGUSD parents, one would hope that the Director of Curriculum would take the time to read it over before parents receive it. It was painful to read the following letter, not only because the 5th graders performance is cancelled, but because of the quality of the writing:

    1. Note from Susan VonFelton to 5th grade parents:

    Dear 5th Grade Parents,
    The informances previously scheduled for 5th grade music the week before break will be rescheduled as more formal performances for the Spring. We would like to showcase what the students have learned with a more formal performance this Spring that will allow the students the opportunity to shine on stage in alignment with the Visual and Performing Arts Standards. We appreciate your understanding as we move to a more formal performance structure for the 5th grade music students. If you have any questions regarding the change in schedule please feel free to contact Susan von Felten at 335-2230.

    I have to be honest, BH's email did contain the incorrect spelling of Ms. von Felten's name (in purple). We all make mistakes. And, at any time feel free to take a potshot at my writing because, guess what? I'm not the Director of Curriculum or a Principal! It's not my job - I don't make the big bucks! I will say, I reread all my articles at least three times before posting and, if I'm sending out a mass email, you better bet I triple check. Sometimes, I read my writing out load loud. I've been known to sing and dance to my articles. I'm a grammar freak.

    My open letter to LGUSD Staff: Please please please please please please check your work before submitting. I learned this quality as a LGUSD student. I know there are times when we're busy and times when we have to submit something asap -- I get it. However, what does it say about our schools when a member of the staff doesn't check his/her work before sending it out? Los Gatos has highly educated parents - I'm sure it's not an easy place to work. In my opinion, we need to practice what we preach: Check your work or you might not be taken seriously.
    Comments 75 Comments
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      You read your writing out load??
    1. kir's Avatar
      kir -
      Bawahahaha!! I'm so glad someone is reading! I'll include some red ink in my article now! Thanks for the laugh! I readily admit: It's a good thing I'm not the Director or Curriculum!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      They rescheduled this event because the kids have not learned how to play any music!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      They take money from parents every two weeks through H&SC, LGEF, parcel tax, bond measures and they always say that it's for music. but then the kids only get a 12 minute music lesson once a week.

      this district is morally bankrupt
    1. I smell a rat's Avatar
      I smell a rat -
      It seems clear the cancellation of these "informances" has everything to do with the recent criticism of the 5th grade music program. Why were no other grades cancelled? Really, does Ms. von Felten honestly think that parents won't find out that our 5th grade students are getting short changed because they cut a part time teacher? Why not fix the problem instead of hiding it?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I'm glad to see this shared more broadly. Everyone needs to know the quality level of our public school employees. And "informances" is not a word....what are they trying to say with that? That it's an "infomercial" for LGEF? That our kids can't "perform"? This fake word appeared a few years ago, and nobody has questioned it, until now.
      Thanks Kir.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      On top of the "informance" mistake, and the lack of punctionation, one should never capitalize a season unless it is part of a proper noun, e.g. "Winter Olypmics", so SVF made a gaff when she twice capitalized "spring" in her message. On the other hand, "Music" as a subject, should be capitalized as it is a proper noun. It does seem that our Director of Curriculum could use a little schooling.

      Although the message is poorly written, the content is even more troubling. There were supposed to be two Music performances by our shining 5th grade students and now there will be only one in the spring, when it is too late for parents to recognize/do anything about the shoddy music program this year and perhaps after they've put more money in donations to LGEF to support such shoddy program. Parents, please ask questions. Find out why 5th grade was the only grade cancelled.
    1. LGEF Bd Member's Avatar
      LGEF Bd Member -
      Diana Abatti has asked that this issue be discussed tonight at the LGEF Board Meeting for those of you who might have a care to attend. 7:15 Van Meter.
    1. c. geffins's Avatar
      c. geffins -
      This is the most ridiculous excuse I have heard from the school district. I had a 5th grader last year, and they did a year end performance. Why can't they be honest with parents about the real reason. It is not for some alignment to standards.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I have 2 kids at BH (including a 5th grader) and I received this message as well. Kir - I think your posting is really too harsh. Does Ms. von Felten really deserve to be publicly tarred and feathered in this way? It is possible that she used the term "informances" intentionally. So her punctuation is a little weak. Big deal. This punishment is out of proportion to the perceived infraction. A little more empathy and benefit of the doubt is in order all around.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      The information in the message, that the 5th grade doesn't get to perform, is the problem here. Yes she said it very poorly, but that is not the point. With last years cry of "SAVE MUSIC" why is the performance/informance/showcase being cancelled? Why only 5th grade? And why is that ok with LGEF? It's not ok with me, a donor. How is music saved if the program is clearly less than it was last year, and nobody cares?

      I've heard the same message at BH, VM, and DA. I'm guessing Lexington still gets to do their performance, since it's a combined 4/5 and only 5th was cancelled elsewhere? It's a guess, I'd welcome the facts from someone in the know.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      IS it really okay with LGEF? What was discussed at the LGEF Board Meeting?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Most LGEF donors don't really care about music. If they did, there would be more people upset by the poor outcome of the music program.

      LGEF donors are giving money for the general idea of better schools, and most of them don't get into the details of how the money will be spent. How many LGEF donors even know that half their money is not granted, so that the district can have their "reserves"?

      This is just another example of the schools failing to achieve something, and most people don't even see it.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      On top of the "informance" mistake, and the lack of punctionation, one should never capitalize a season unless it is part of a proper noun, e.g. "Winter Olypmics", so SVF made a gaff when she twice capitalized "spring" in her message. On the other hand, "Music" as a subject, should be capitalized as it is a proper noun. It does seem that our Director of Curriculum could use a little schooling.

      Although the message is poorly written, the content is even more troubling. There were supposed to be two Music performances by our shining 5th grade students and now there will be only one in the spring, when it is too late for parents to recognize/do anything about the shoddy music program this year and perhaps after they've put more money in donations to LGEF to support such shoddy program. Parents, please ask questions. Find out why 5th grade was the only grade cancelled.
      Just in time for them to fool you into voting on another parcel tax increase. This is a game that Diana is playing to win over a parcel tax that will do just what our last parcel tax did- not much - more students in class, h and sch donations, LGEF. Now along with the prop 30 she duped us into voting out of fear of cutting special services. Remember we are basic aid, she will lead us into fear of losing something in an attempt to give our teachers the raises and benifits they deserve or demand (you decide) on the backs of our children's education quality (aka music program). So now the great residents of LG will not only pay higher income tax (prop 30) for non basic aid schools they will pay more money on property tax along with the math tutors, music instructors, etc. I am not trying to say we do not need a parcel tax. In fact I support renewal of our $290 parcel tax but not an increase. Who wants to pay more for the the same mediocracy. Look at our current parcel tax and the review in the November board packet, almost all of that parcel tax goes toadministration/staff/benifits and very little to the students, our children. Also, they didn't reduce class sizes as much as they should have and that is one of the deliverables. Not to mention the music which is supported largely on LGef dollars. Maybe this is part of the reason for Susan's letter. Maybe if they brought parents to see how much our little musicians know in the watered down version of a k-5 program we have, parents will question not only supporting LGEF but renewal of parcel tax and or increase with what should support music.

      Before we all give ourself another raise in taxes to support schools that in dire need of reform for efficiency, accuracy and accountability let's raise our expectations, educate ourselves on what is really being delivered and make sure that our children are receiving the education they should ( not just better than San Jose). Also ask how does the high school district ( yes this is a seperate district with it's own additional but seperate parcel tax) delivers their accredited education with higher teacher salaries on only $49 parcel tax. I remember when some parent knocked on my door to rally my vote on this. They informed that this parcel tax does not include teacher salaries or benifits. Well I did some research and it doesn't. We should make sure our renewal doesn't include salaries or benifits because if it does we will see very little improvement to what exist now. Our parcel should fund programs, services, technology, books, supplies, teacher development directly related to improving our students education.

      We need to stop throwing money on weak programs and stop the madness of parents dropping 30k down to purchase computers without an adequate program and staff in place. This is the case in my children's school, parents donating iPads and MacBooks for our teacher's to mysteriously not only find time but use them properly.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      IS it really okay with LGEF? What was discussed at the LGEF Board Meeting?
      Maybe you should attend them and find out.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      I have 2 kids at BH (including a 5th grader) and I received this message as well. Kir - I think your posting is really too harsh. Does Ms. von Felten really deserve to be publicly tarred and feathered in this way? It is possible that she used the term "informances" intentionally. So her punctuation is a little weak. Big deal. This punishment is out of proportion to the perceived infraction. A little more empathy and benefit of the doubt is in order all around.
      Let me get this straight, Pollyanna. You are fine with the head of curriculum using incorrect grammar, capitalization and punctuation?

      Mercy, me. Do you have any standards for education at all? I am horrified by the poorly written communication and more so the canceling of the performances. Even choir doesn't get to perform. How low us that?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I've got an idea, why don't we cancel final exams at fisher? seems like a good way to avoid any reckoning.

      while we are at it, lets cancel the SAT.
    1. LGEF Bd Member's Avatar
      LGEF Bd Member -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      IS it really okay with LGEF? What was discussed at the LGEF Board Meeting?
      No of course it's not ok with LGEF. LGEF has been working hard to find a fix.

      Here's what was discussed. You decide whether you feel these remedies are beneficial to students and worthy of your donations. Remember you can direct your donations this year.

      Janitors will set up the rooms for the Music teachers.
      The district was unaware that the "informances" were still taking place as they had wanted to discontinue them 2 years ago.
      There will still be two performances by 5th graders but they will be concerts. One around February and the other in the spring.
      The district was unaware that the Music teachers were using their collab time in previous years to give additional instruction to 5th grade students on Wednesdays and they will not be doing this any longeebas they really should be collaborating with other teachers during this time.

      Personally, I think the district is pegging the BS meter with these statements. Of course they knew the teachers were providing after school support. Of course they knew about the informances. They were on the district website for crying out loud.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      Let me get this straight, Pollyanna. You are fine with the head of curriculum using incorrect grammar, capitalization and punctuation?

      Mercy, me. Do you have any standards for education at all? I am horrified by the poorly written communication and more so the canceling of the performances. Even choir doesn't get to perform. How low us that?
      well said, 11:18. I am continually disappointed by parents in our public schools who promote our schools as "great" without any critical examination or evaluation. Many who do compare our programs to nearby districts or private school end up leaving for greener academic pastures. Those who cannot leave have tutors and after-school programs. But too many continue on like Polyanna above, without any real idea of what should be going on in a "great" public school. Let me give you a clue, this ain't it.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I do not think even one comment has been written without errors. It's comical, yet so tragic.
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