Re: School reforms pitched story, Sept. 22
It's a shell game to move IB program
Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen's "student achievement plan" sounds more like a shell game — let's just shuffle things around to make it look as though the issues in our schools across the county are being addressed — but in reality are accomplishing nothing and disrupting a program that has established a strong and credible record of success.
Why would you move Palm Harbor University High School's International Baccalaureate program to Countryside High School, only to add another program mid-county while "establishing the IB-like Advanced International Certificated Education" program?
A review of the overall proposal makes the consideration of a Palm Harbor move ridiculous! If the concern is truly overcrowding, then the addition of a mid-county IB program would allow for those students that reside in the midsection of the county to participate in an IB program and reduce the class size of both the Palm Harbor and St. Petersburg High IB programs. There, problem solved!
Additionally, I fail to see how the notion of an "IB-like" program accomplishes anything except to marginalize the achievement of students that work hard and make the grade to be accepted into a real IB program.
If I'm not mistaken, all Pinellas County schools currently offer Advanced Placement courses for those students who either do not meet the criteria to become a full-fledged IB student or make the choice not to commit to the rigor that is required to be a successful IB student.
This is a very bad plan that clearly has not been well thought out. I expect to lose my money if I gamble on a shell game. I don't expect to throw my money away on grandstanding initiatives that are destined to fail.
Karen P. Terry, Palm Harbor
Re: School reforms pitched story, Sept. 22
AP scores weigh more for college
Parents, wise up, you are being sold a bill of goods as far as the International Baccalaureate program is concerned. My son was a graduate of the Palm Harbor IB program in 2005. Participation in an IB program is way down the list of criteria that colleges consider when accepting students. Advanced Placement test scores and grade point average carry a lot more weight on a student's college application.
We were told time and again by many colleges and universities throughout the southeast and northern schools as well that they only use the IB criteria as a tie breaker. Parents should push their children into standard higher level classes that give them the edge they need to do well on AP exams.
If your child is math and science oriented, the liberal arts focus in the IB program is a waste of time. My son's "extended essay" in biology (needed for IB graduation) was considered "brilliant" by his teachers at Palm Harbor, but it was graded by a "scholar" in Russia who gave him zero credit for his efforts. What a waste of time!
Maybe the School Board should rethink its strategy and do away with the IB program all together! Put the focus on what really gives our kids a leg up on the rigors of getting a college degree. This just might solve the overcrowding and competition problem to get into these magnet programs, save some taxpayer money, and do the right thing for our children.
Dean Kuhne, Dunedin
Support CASA shelter programs
Thank you for the editorial on funding for the CASA Visitation Center. CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) is grateful to Sonia and Steve Raymund for their very generous donation of matching funds for our Peace Breakfast for the Visitation Center.
The Visitation Center is one of many services provided by CASA. While it is a relief to know that the Visitation Center is funded though most of 2011, many other programs at CASA have lost funding or face the prospect of losing funding with the various budget cuts that are happening.
Shelter is one of the programs that CASA provides. The current shelter is often full, so last year we had to make alternative arrangements for nearly 1,000 people. CASA has a goal to build a new shelter and must mount a capital campaign to raise $10 million.
Another program is Peacemakers, an education and prevention program that teaches dispute resolution and anti-bullying to preschool through middle school children. The Peacemaker program has been recognized as very effective and other groups have adopted the CASA Peacemaker program for use in their communities. There are other great programs and services that CASA provides to the community, all of them in danger of losing funding.
CASA is a well managed provider of services to the community, so about 81 cents of every dollar that CASA receives goes to programs and services. While the Visitation Center is safe for now, CASA still needs additional donations from the community for other programs like transitional housing, legal advocacy, outreach, youth programs and support groups. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It would be fantastic if the St. Petersburg Times featured a story about domestic violence each day this month. I also ask your readers to step up and continue to support CASA.
Bob Barnum, CASA Board of Directors, St. Petersburg