• 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 -
      Does the board report on "how corrupt things truly are"?

      Not that I think that going to the board meetings is a bad idea. I've just never heard anyone lay it on the line quite like that. And to recognize the difference between reality and whatever is said in a board meeting, you'd have to be pretty deeply involved in reality. I do hear the LGEF representatives trying to hold the board and administration accountable, so more power to them.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carol T. View Post
      Joe, I wish you hadn't chosen to give up on the establishment. We need more people like you attending board meetings to get themselves informed on how corrupt things truly are and then working together to fix issues. You are respected and people listen to you. IMHO we don't need parents working just for their own kids benefit, we need parents working together to solve problems for all children. That doesn't preclude the things you want for the classrooms but we desperately need organization and not more fracture.
      Just wondering what you mean by "we desperately need organization". What kind of organization?
    1. Carol T.'s Avatar
      Carol T. -
      Look, hopefully fresh blood on our school board will mean positive change, but if you attended even one board meeting last year you would have seen that there are significant systemic issues with the establishment. Before 2011, I had only been involved at the school level, but last year I began attending board meetings regularly. My eyes were popped wide open with more problems than I could have ever imagined. In the last year alone there were significant violations involving contractors not substantiating their time for bond fund expenditures, lack of parcel tax oversight, SARC reports alterations and the list goes on. All of this is indisputable. So, that's what I mean about corruption. As for organization, I mean that on multiple district and parental levels. It is only an organized effort that will have the weight to make change.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Carol, thanks for a good perspective on this. It's clear that organization is needed. People are confused about multiple organizations funding the same activities such as Art and Music. It's clear that a lot of parents would like to see changes but LGEF has been ineffective at even getting the BoT to invest the money instead of putting it into reserves.

      Are you thinking of some kind of umbrella "organization" that would be totally independent of the BoT, to help in directing parent efforts in multiple organizations? This sounds difficult to achieve.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      To return to the original topic of this thread, I'd like to make a couple of points. One, Ms. VF did not create the fake word "informance." That gem came from the much lauded and respected LGEF, so we should not blame school and district personnel for using it in their communications to parents. Two, this was a simple memo to parents, not a formal communication, and personally I think you should cut her some slack and not rake her over the coals for her grammar. Myself, I am much moe concerned when I see errors in my children's teachers' writing, that my kids might actually see.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Oh well, missed a typo in my last comment. Go ahead and have at me, grammar police!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      If they pull that SARC stunt again I'm simply going to report them to the state agency that administers these things (for all the good it will do).
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Joe what do you mean when you say that Foss kits have different levels? Do you mean 1st grade, 2nd grade, etcetera?
    1. Joe Madden's Avatar
      Joe Madden -
      The FOSS investigations include multiple steps. Here's an example for you:

      http://lhsfoss.org/fossweb/teachers/...ion_Guide.html

      For Magnetism, "Part 1" involves simply observing the effect of permanent magnets on iron filings, not measuring anything. It's a great way for kids to observe magnetic fields but there is no measurement.

      Part 2 involves observation of the impact on magnets on other materials. Kids can compare iron to other metals and observe how iron can be magnetized to transfer the magnetic force.

      You have to get to Part 3 and Part 4 in order to get into measurements and quantitative Science where you can make a prediction and compare your measurement to the hypothesis.

      So far, I have observed that Mary Fran Archer helped teachers to push to the higher levels, but without her as a resource the teachers are reluctant to do Part 3 and Part 4. It's easier to just do Part 1 or Part 2 and stop there.

      I hope this information is useful and answers your question...
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I would like to see a report from lgusd on how many science lessons reach part 4
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      What if there was an organization called Science Docents, like the Art Docents to have parent volunteers do this routinely?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Jerry Brown thinks it's all good here in LG, so he can take away more of our state $$ to "redistribute"....so much for the big push to vote yes on Prop 30, people. I hope you are pleased with where your tax dollars are going....

      "Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," he said of his redistribution plan. "It is controversial, but it is right and it's fair." - actual Jerry Brown quote, on KQED.com
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Los Gatos parents -

      Recently announced - Saratoga High School has 3 Intel Science Talent Search Semi-Finalists this year. This is one of the most prestigious science awards that a High School student can earn. Check out the list of California (and Bay area) semifinalists at this link:

      http://www.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=442

      I am really asking anyone who can tell me why Los Gatos doesn't have any students on this list? We have lots of bright and capable kids here. We also have a whole lot of brilliant and high achieving parents in this town. Please explain!!!! This kind of achievement goes well beyond the school curriculum. Is it just that students aren't trying to get this kind of award? Maybe people don't know it's out there? Any thoughts?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      you should ask the superintendent.....he is responsible for both schools, and he can tell you if these students had any kind of help from the school in doing their science competition work.

      it's true, this is a very big award and whether you win or not, it's an effort which is very worthwhile. if we want something like this in lg, then we should not rely on the school to make it happen...it has to be parents setting up a program.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      This is encouraging - LGHS has several winners in the Synopsis Silicon Valley Science Fair. Not bad! Check it out:
      http://www.science-fair.org/database...hool_year=1112
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