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Community Based

A Permanent Recession

Community Based

When a new volunteer turned in a completed petition last week, it inspired a question: "How many people have turned in petitions?" Here's something truly amazing: we've now received petitions with completed affidavits from 83 volunteers! That's a phenomenal rate of participation, even as our base has grown to over 140 volunteers!

And while we're told it's always a handful of people who do the bulk of the work in a community effort, any way you look at our numbers, they're good! For example, we no longer have just a few "star" petitioners collecting all the signatures. In 2006 our top 10 petitioners collected 4 out of every 5 signatures. But today, with more volunteers working hard for our cause, the top 10 petitioners are only responsible for 2 out of 3 signatures. That means more and more people in the community are getting involved and getting the job done. Talk about moving in the right direction!

So who are all these wonderful people? They come from all walks of life and are just as diverse as the Altadena census. Since petitioning is naturally a solitary activity, we rarely get to see our fellow Altadena School activists. But they are from all parts of the community and now represent almost 25% of the electorate!


Some have asked about the banners that started popping up on Pasadena Unified School District campuses almost as soon as the 2009 California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exams were turned in a few weeks ago. The 2009 STAR results won't be published until mid-August. The banners you've been seeing fit the usual pattern of PUSD pre-positioning their academic progress prior to the CA Dept of Education's release of the STAR data. If prior years are any guide, you'll be seeing more positioning activity as we get closer to the 2009 STAR release date.

Some of these banner's assertions of academic progress are predictably silly. Others twist well-intentioned efforts to rank schools nationally in the absence of national standards. PUSD's current interpretation of Marshall Fundamental's presence in a Newsweek ranking is an example of the latter.

To explain: several years ago, Washington Post Education columnist and Work Hard Be Nice author Jay Mathews came up with a simple metric for ranking high schools that could be applied to all 50 states. To summarize, this method takes the number of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Cambridge exams given and divides them by the number of graduating seniors for each school. Offer lots of AP, IB, and Cambridge exams and keep those seniors in their seats all the way to graduation and one can make it onto Jay's Newsweek list.

But does getting onto Jay's list prepare students for success in college? Does it close the academic achievement gap? Does it provide equal opportunity? Does getting onto Jay's list by itself prepare students for an economy that, even before the current recession, was providing opportunities only for people with a better education? You be the judge! Click on this link: Marshall Fundamental in Newsweek (5 pages, PDF).

A Permanent Recession

Have you ever wondered what the academic achievement gap might be costing in terms of lower earnings, poorer health, and/or higher rates of incarceration?

Whatever its size, common sense tells us that the economic impact of our huge achievement gap must also be huge. In a recent study McKinsey & Company attempted to quantify the impact of the achievement gap. According to McKinsey "These educational gaps impose on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession." To see a summary of this study, click on: The Impact of the Achievement Gap (24 pages, PDF).

If you have not yet joined us as a volunteer, you're running out of time to help collect signatures! We are now collecting our last 575. Even if you can only collect a few signatures, your participation counts! Please click: Get Involved.


Official website of Altadenans For Quality Education (AFQE, AUSD Now!)