Join Focus on Change in Education and Esolution

Monday, May 11, 2009

Breakthrough Collaborative

Here is another Solution: Breakthrough Collaborative

We have been arguing for a PARADIGM SHIFT IN EDUCATION. That shift must include a transition from the traditional COMPETITIVE model to a COOPERATIVE model, where students and their families work together to maximize their potential, instead of tearing one another down to make themselves seem superior.

The Competitive model of education has failed miserably over the last thirty years, as our students learned not how to learn and create, but how to test and cheat. This is why our society now suffers from historic corruption in every sector of the economy, and our citizens are no longer competitive with students from abroad. If we can replace our A-F grading system with and evaluative system (1-4, Mastery - Not-sufficient) we can encourage students to work cooperatively and educate not only themselves but each-other.

Some would argue that competition is part of life, an thus necessary for a well rounded education, and I would agree. Once every child has the basic literacies necessary to learn and survive in this information age, we should take the gloves off and have full competition. However, in our public school system we have failed to provide even those basic literacies to the majority of students before they exit the system. The crisis in education is taking down our country one generation at a time.

In a cooperative K-12 education system, competition is inappropriate as children develop, so there would be no competition between elementary students. Limited competition would begin in Middle School, between teams and classes of students. Ideally by 8th grade, ALL STUDENTS SHOULD HAVE MASTERED THE BASIC LITERACIES NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL IN OUR INFORMATION AGE. But in today's public education system that isn't the case, many students fail to complete their education, and even graduate without basic literacies.


Basic Literacies include English Language Skills (reading and writing) of course, but must include math and financial literacy, health (i.e. sex ed. and nutrition) and fitness education, social and political literacies, and the fundamentals of information technology. These are not abstract abilities but skills necessary for survival in our changing world. Without them competition is not possible.

Any student unable to complete their literacy exam at the end of 8th-grade would be held back one year for intensive education with re-doubled resources and intensive mentoring. Those still at risk would be tracked to special High Schools, to bring them up to levels adequate for self support before it is too late.


Of those who do graduate, most find it difficult to pass an 8th grade levl exit exam. In our major cities the situation is worse. Unless and until we begin to work together, and insure that ALL CHILDREN ARE GIVEN the chance for survival, the ability to support themselves, the skills necessary to teach themselves, then we have no right to ask them to compete.

"The PURPOSE of a Public Education is not to prepare the gifted for university, but to set the fundamental foundation necessary for all people to survive in this brave new world."

As long as parents prefer their own child over others we are doomed to battle for scarce resources. The wealthy, the gifted, and the strong all believe that competition is in their short term best interest, as the poor, the slow, and the weak, become dependent upon the others. This strategy seems efficient, until you realize the longterm costs, and inefficiencies. When children compete, they learn to manipulate, to cheat, to steal, and to destroy others to protect their advantage. When kids cooperate, they learn to communicate, to understand, and to teach, to work together to achieve goals greater than those they could accomplish alone.

Enlightened educators understand this problem, and struggle with their own bias as they compete to keep their job as the burden of education falls on them. Ignorant administrators and politicians spin the data, manipulate public opinion, and cheat our kids to produce test scores. Unenlightened parents love only their own, but the fundamental question remains, would you rather your child survive in a world where all people can achieve their potential, or leave them to rule a dying planet?

The Breakthrough formula is simple. Take a community that believes in children, add young people who will give their time to change the world, and throw in a delightful combination of kids at the most vulnerable time of their lives - middle school. And then, set deliriously high expectations for everyone involved - for the community to give more than seemed possible, for the teachers to work harder than was dreamed necessary, and for the kids to learn more than seemed available. It works. It’s wonderful. It’s Breakthrough."
- Laura Noyes, Former Director, Summerbridge Sacramento

Monday, April 20, 2009

This I Believe: a valuable educational project

A few years ago I wrote an essay for "THIS I BELIEVE" a program inspired by Edward R. Murrow's This I Believe series from the 1950s. My essay, lets my neighbors know what I believe in, and by sharing our philosophy of life we begin to understand our social environment, but the process of declaring publicly your beliefs is an enlightening journey of self-discovery.

The Focus On Change in Education: K-12, started by the La Jolla Democratic Club, is exploring new methods of solving the problems of public education. The Dropout Crisis is one such problem, and this group has identified Middle School as a critical point in which children choose the direction they will follow. If Eighth-Graders are encouraged to take on the project of defining their personal philosophy, then their identity can be channeled into positive growth, rather than floundering on the waves of despair in an indifferent world.

The THIS I BELIEVE project is now off the air, but their web site will persist and I encourage you to take the time to contribute an essay for their archive. But the most important I want to communicate to those educators out there is that this project will continue to support educators with tools for bringing This I Believe into the classroom. They provide free downloadable curricula for middle school, high school, and college educators so they may share this essay-writing assignment with their students.

Please Join our SOCIAL NETWORK at

Saturday, April 18, 2009


On Tuesday night, the San Diego School Board took action to save our schools in the midst of a $147 million budget shortfall for next year.

We will not lay off teachers to balance the budget.

We will get our fair share of the federal stimulus dollars.
We will look at cuts with the least direct effect on children's education. This is a strong challenge to the status quo and means a thorough look at what is essential and non-essential.

Yes, education is under funded, but we are still going to get the most out of available dollars.

Three principles that the Board has agreed to:

1) Cuts must be as far away from the classroom and school site as possible. We have already given priority to funding school sites over central administration.

2) Our teachers and support staff form our most valuable resource and we depend upon them for the success of our schools.

3) Any employee sacrifices will be shared by all, from the top to the bottom of the organization.


Attend our Town Hall Forum on how to save our public schools. We will invite all San Diego area legislators to meet with us and hear our concerns. Come show your support for San Diego schools. This is for everyone in the community who believes our city needs a great school system.

Where: Kearny High School, 7651 Wellington Way, San Diego CA 92111 (Near Mesa College)
When: Thursday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m.

Contact Carol Hunter to join our contingent of progressive school supporters for this town hall at:

Thank you for your support,

John Lee Evans, Trustee
San Diego City Schools

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Intrinsic Incentive: Three Solutions from Edutopia

Hi, Everyone,

We visit a lot of schools where empirical evidence joyfully refutes the oft-heard contention that public education is imploding. Admittedly, because we seek out what works in public education, we see fewer schools in crisis. But what we do notice is one common denominator that explains the presence of bright, curious, engaged children in any classroom: motivated, energetic teachers creating learning environments where students thrive because they are given the opportunity to care about what they're doing. Each of the three schools we highlight below fosters, in its own way, an enthusiasm about learning for learning's sake. Drop in for a look.

-- David Markus
Editorial Director, Edutopia

Multiple Intelligences Leave No Child Behind
Edutopia revisits Indianapolis's Key Learning Community.

Immigrant Students Aim for College
A Texas high school on the Mexican border settles for nothing less than success.

Project Learning Creates a Win-Win Situation
Students' project presentations drive greater motivation and achievement.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I have a partial solution to the immigration problem.

The so called "DREAM ACT" gives amnesty to the undocumented children of illegal immigrants, who have shown academic promise, and allows them to go to college in the United States. The unjust action of their parents have put them in the position to be deported right when they are about to qualify to go to a US University, but can't apply without legal status.

I have a solution, for those willing to listen.

Create the American University: in partnership with any willing country. Use a 9 square mile parcel of unused land in their country of origin.

  • The US will create a $1-billion endowment for each university. $100-million will be used to build the school, in the center square mile of the parcel, using 1/2 local contractors and 1/2 American Workers. 
  • These Universities would be under US Military Protection, and include an airport. 
  • They would use Sustainable Energy and Architecture, grow their own food on campus using Permaculture, and have a Teaching Hospital. 
  • They would take 1/2 of their students from the USA, and 1/2 from the home country. Any undocumented kids here in the USA would get a full scholarship if they have the potential. 
  • 1/2 the teachers would be from the USA, 1/2 from the other country. 
  • They could create economic trade zones around the campus. This would create opportunities for both nations, solve the immigration problem, broaden American's understanding and interaction with the world, and return educated minds back to the countries that need them most. 
  • And would cost the USA less than $300-Billion world wide, and we would probably recoup that in income taxes. 

More importantly, it would create understanding and relationships between peoples, and spread the ideals of American Justice, Democracy and Economics world wide. Thus exporting our true value to the rest of the world.

Just a thought.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mercenary Education produces Mercenaries

We have made education, as has no doubt been noted before, mercenary in nature. Students buy their success by performing specific tasks. Accordingly, learning has effectively been stripped of both its beauty and its intrinsic value. Standardized testing, high-stakes examinations, and quarterly grades all detract from what we should be pursuing in schools. They train students (and their parents) to believe that education is nothing more than a purchasable reward. Thus, the teacher, who rightly recoils when asked if such-and-such an assignment is worthy of credit, has no line of defense. Even the most well-intentioned and high-minded appeal to the intellect is reduced to utter pontification. The villainy taught has been executed, and they, the students, have indeed bettered the instruction.

Eliminating our present evaluative system would do much to reverse the suffocating climate in many of our schools. This change requires neither an exceptional degree of innovative thinking nor a supplementary allocation of funding. What it does demand, however, is the recognition that the process of learning is intangible and immeasurable. When we attempt to quantify that which is unquantifiable, we destroy.

Education as Ritual
Uncovering Standardization's Depths

By Christian M. Bednar

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stimulus Package gives Direction to Education

Breaking News: From Education Week
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan just announced how states and school districts can begin receiving the first installment of education stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Read the full story. is hosting an Open House through April 8, so you can get this type of breaking news and access to all of the vital coverage posted recently on the stimulus. Some highlights you won't want to miss while access is totally FREE:

States Eye Education Stimulus to Fill Budget Gaps
Local officials are crying ‘foul’ as a growing number of governors make a play for federal economic-stimulus aid for schools.

Stimulus Providing Big Funding Boost for Early Childhood
Advocates are betting that the billions of dollars for programs like Head Start are just a “down payment” on future expansion.

K-12 Taking Primacy in Use of Stimulus Dollars
Many states are targeting the new education aid at elementary and secondary schools, rather than toward higher education.

Exclusive Video Interview: Duncan on States That Reject Stimulus Money
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talked with Education Week about the stimulus, school reform, teacher issues, and his pick for deputy.

For complete coverage and to keep fully up-to-the-minute, visit our Schools and the Stimulus page. Stay easily updated on all of the stimulus news: download the Stimulus widget and place it on your Web site, blog, Facebook page, or other personal page. Or get the RSS feed on the stimulus.

In addition to providing you with the best, most breaking coverage on the stimulus and other education issues, there are many ways to interact with Education Week and your colleagues via live events, webinars, chats, and online discussions.

Live Events: Education Week Leadership Forums
Powering Through the Recession: Strategies to Help District Leaders Navigate the Downturn and Tap Into Incentive and Stimulus Funding

Join top school leaders—including Joel Klein, Ramon Cortines, Arlene Ackerman, Carlos Garcia, Paul Vallas, and others—for a daylong, hands-on event that will help you make the most out of the stimulus and minimize the impact of the recession on staff and students.
Sign up now to get the special recession-busting early-bird rate—up to $200 savings!
Two dates and places to choose from:
May 11, 2009, Jersey City, NJ
May 15, 2009, Newport Beach, CA

Review the recent webinars and chats on the stimulus topic, and find other archived webinars of interest to you.

In addition to digging into the stimulus, you should also visit our annual report on how well states are incorporating technology into their schools, Technology Counts 2009: Breaking Away From Tradition: E-Education Expands Opportunities for Raising Achievement. Read about the latest research on e-education, find out how to search the internet for quality content, see how your state compares nationally, and download your state report.

During the Spring Open House, all articles are available FREE. You'll see what premium subscribers see every day -- breaking news from around the country PLUS an extensive archive of K-12 education coverage spanning more than 25 years. Whether you are interested in getting a great perspective on topics like curriculum, special education or accountability, or you are researching a specific hot-button issue, you will find it all easily in our archives. You can even review current and past annual reports from Quality Counts, Technology Counts and Diplomas Count.

But don't wait! The Open House ends next Wednesday, April 8.

If you are like other top educators, you will need more continued, unrestricted access to once the Open House ends. Get started now with a 4-week free trial of print and online access.

So stop in and visit the Open House today. Check out the breaking news on the stimulus and all of the other great coverage and pass the word along to your colleagues.

Stimulus coverage sponsor: VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

Technology Counts online sponsor: CDW-G

Leadership Forum Sponsors:
Platinum Sponsor:

Blackboard, Inc.
Gold Sponsors:
SMART Technologies
CTB / McGraw Hill< A>
Cambium Learning
Lexia Learning
School Messenger

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Education Week Leadership Forum, May 15th

Dear Education Leader:

It's clear that the president's economic stimulus will not be a silver bullet for the education-budget woes of California and other Western states. As a district leader, you not only need to know the ins and outs of the stimulus legislation, you need to find ways to identify and maximize other, less-well-known funding sources.

That’s why you should attend “Powering through the Recession: Strategies for District Leaders to Keep Achievement on Track,” the elite Education Week Leadership Forum being held on May 15, 2009 in Newport Beach, CA.

Reserve your spot today and take advantage of recession-buster savings. You get 40% off ($200!) the on-site rate if you register by April 20th!

Education Week Leadership Forums are intimate, highly interactive gatherings of top-level colleagues and other K-12 experts. Seize your chance to learn valuable best practices from experienced school leaders who have successfully powered through past recessions and those with bold new ideas, including these confirmed speakers:

  • Ramon C. Cortines, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Carlos Garcia, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District
  • Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
  • Marguerite Roza, Research Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Washington
  • James R. Carlson, President, Educator Compensation Institute
  • Lawrence O. Picus, Professor, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

Expand your knowledge base and your range of contacts at these sessions:

  1. Leveraging the Stimulus: How to Turn One-Time Federal Stimulus Dollars Into Lasting Benefits
  2. The Fierce Urgency of Recession: How and What to Cut
  3. Walk the Line: Maximizing Human Capital
  4. Tapping Fresh Wells: Identifying And Establishing Enduring Streams Of Outside Funding
  5. Interactive discussions with other top education leaders from around the country

Learn more about our engaging agenda

Panelist Highlight:
Los Angeles schools Superintendent, Ramon Cortines, ran school systems on both coasts, including New York City and San Francisco, before being selected as head of the nation's second-largest school district. Known for his steady hand in turbulent times, Mr. Cortines will be speaking on "Leveraging the Stimulus: How to Turn One-Time Federal Stimulus Dollars into Lasting Benefits" at our Leadership Forum in Newport Beach.

Register today to assure your place at the table for this premiere event. Remember, you’ll save $200 off the on-site registration rate of $495 when you reserve your spot before the April 20th deadline. Time is running out!

Marriott Newport Beach is conveniently located near Long Beach Airport and Los Angeles Airport. A reduced room rate of $189 plus tax per night has been negotiated for the Forum attendees wishing to stay overnight.

Please plan to join us on May 15. I look forward to seeing you there.

Virginia B. Edwards
Editor and Publisher, Education Week

P.S. If you are unable to attend our Newport Beach event, we will also be hosting a similar Education Week Leadership Forum in Jersey City, NJ on May 11, 2009.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We need a National Academy of Teacher Education to set higher standards

U.S. News and World Report may be a mouth peace for the American Enterprise Institute, but you have to love any reporter that is willing to stir up the muck and question the established thinking.

Merseth says that of the 1,300 graduate teacher training programs in the country, about 100 or so are adequately preparing teachers and "the others could be shut down tomorrow."

Read the article and check out what's going on in our schools.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next Meetings

If you are passionate about Public Education in San Diego, or you just want a chance to fix the problem, join one of our groups and attend the next meeting. Our new google calendar can be found at the bottom of this page, and you can import it into your own online calendars.

The next general meeting of the Focus for Change on Education is Sunday, April 26, 2009, at the La Jolla Library, 2-4 PM.
Register Here

Release Stimulus Money Now!

Release Stimulus Money Now!
Give San Diego Our Fair Share!
YOU can make the difference in this grassroots effort.

We need to take action NOW to Save Our Schools in San Diego. To meet the severe cuts we are reducing central administration, cutting transportation, increasing class sizes and offering early retirement to teachers and asking them for more concessions, as well as freezing most spending. Now we have to look at deeper cuts that could include closing schools and even eliminating arts and athletics. The bureaucratic cuts are fine, but the rest hurt kids and are unconscionable. We cannot stand for this.

The Obama Administration is sending stimulus money to California soon for education. Some people in Sacramento would like to hold onto it to fill the state’s budget hole. Tell your legislators that we want the money out the door NOW. Also, let them know that we want San Diego Unified to get its fair share of the money. In the recent cuts San Diego and other urban districts that have the neediest kids took the biggest hit. We need to insist that the new money is divided up fairly and that in San Diego we get our fair share.


1) Email/call every San Diego legislator to tell them we need a united San Diego delegation to pressure the Governor to release the money.
Sen. Christine Kehoe:
Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth
Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny
Assemblywoman Lori Saldana
Assemblywoman Mary Salas
Assemblyman Marty Block
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher
Assemblyman Joel Anderson

2) Join a group of parents, teachers and concerned citizens to make a personal visit to a legislator’s office soon. It could be worth millions. Contact Carol Hunter, our Volunteer Community Liaison, to sign up and make arrangements.

3) Write a Letter to the Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune about what we expect from Sacramento:


Dear Editors,
Our local public schools are in dire straits. Last year the SDUSD lost $100-million in funding, and this year they will loose another $150-million. These cuts on our kids are draconian, we must have time to adapt, but the State wants to hang onto the Obama Stimulus money to backfill their budget shortfalls. We need that money locally, for the children. Local parents should speak out for our defenseless youth.

Michael Russell

4) Contact us at: about the action you take or forward a copy of your letter. We need a united effort by parents, teachers, the general community and the Board of Education.

John Lee Evans, Trustee
San Diego Unified School District

Monday, March 23, 2009

Edutopia: What Works in Public Education

George Lucas, the guy who invented STAR WARS, has funded a new think tank to promote the solutions in public education.

They publish a magazine.

Their "Really Simple Syndication" (RSS) Feed is below in the right hand column.

Find out More about the George Lucas Educational Foundation:

Save Education, Public Schools Provide the Foundation for Change.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Focus for Change in Education

Next Meeting:

March 22, 2009
2-4 PM
La Jolla Library

Click Here to Register

We will use this meeting to create 'BREAK-OUT' groups based upon the sections of the Obama Education Plan.

- Invest in Early Childhood Education:
- Reform No Child Left Behind:
- Expand Opportunity for Choice and Innovation:
- Make Math and Science Education a National Priority:
- Address the Dropout Crisis:
- Expand Opportunities to Learn:
- Recruit, Prepare, Retain, Reward, Retrain Teachers:
- Improve College Access and Affordability

Watch Charlie Rose

A conversation with Secretary of Education, Arne Dunken.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Charter School Meeting

Meeting Time: Saturday, March 14, 10:30am - Noon
Location: Mission Bay RV Park, Clubhouse
(By swimming pool)
2727 De Anza Rd, San Diego 92109


(1) to increase awareness of charter schools, their innovations, and contributions to quality education,
(2) to support the formation of new charter schools,
(3) to develop an orientation/training center for charter school teachers and
(4) to promote the formation of a US Academy of Education dedicated to quality education, national standards and teaching leadership.








Direction: North or South on Interstate 5 to Clairemont Dr
West on Clairemont to Mission Bay Dr
Right on Mission Bay Dr to Mission Bay RV Park, 2727 De Anza Rd
Proceed on 2727 De Anza Rd to Club House, adjacent pool
(Plenty of parking adjacent Club House)

Invite your friends. All welcome.

Note: This community interest group (as well as thousands across the country) are serving to reinforce and support the priorities topping the Administration's (President Obama's) list - Energy, Health, and Education. All involve jobs. Infrastructure and housing are addressed in the Stimulus packages.

Robert Byron
619 871 1763

Thursday, March 5, 2009


RESUMES are Dead. Enter the age of the E-Portfolio.

This concept is part of the transition to a new paradigm of learning, the old idea that the "Teacher" has expert knowledge and lectures, with one way communication, to the student is over. People have to be responsible for thir own education, teachers will be guides, learning with their students, and providing warnings of pitfalls and helping the learner maximize their potential and productivity.

Professors will still be experts, to whom you look to answer the questions about how to proceed to the next level, but their value will be as masters of specialized arts and science, not as educators.

Instructors will be the standard form of educator, they teach us the "HOW" of various technology, but not the "WHY".

Real teaching comes from a passion to learn and communicate with individuals, not as an authority, but as a mentor.

Without the ability to evaluate students directly, E-portfolios will give prospective employers the ability to judge the potential of employees and see sample proof of their abilities.

Turn down your speakers, then push play.

Life without art would be boring.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Ed: Meetings and Map

Focus for Change in Education
Group Meeting,
Sunday, March 8th
Time: 2-4 PM
Location: La Jolla Library
7555 Draper Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 552-1657

Obama Education Plan
Education Advice for Obama

Charter School meeting at De Anza
scheduled for March 14, April 4 and May 9, 2009
Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 Noon
Location: Club House, Mission Bay Park
2727 De Anza Rd
San Diego, CA 92109

We will be putting together the foundation for a Public/Private Think Tank too the end of extending our conversation for possibility of all the the topics we have addressed thus far. These meetings will be about the children and the teachers and a new Charter School as the platform. We want you to be clear that our agenda includes all interested in those aspects.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Member Info.

These are some of our founding Members:

Christa K. Govan, is an energetic organizer with a passion for education.
When inspired by the chance for change, she became an Obama supporter.

Robert J. Byron, a concerned educator, who has started and run Charter Schools.
a 501 (C)3 Non-Profit California Corporation.

And Michael E. Russell, a Lifeguard bent upon saving the world.

Bob and Christa study Obama's new Economic Stimulus

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Evolution - WGBH Boston, PBS Video -

This 8 hr series is required before anyone can participate in the debate about teaching science in public schools.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Prop 13, after 31 years

California Proposition 13, from 1978, has been a force that has shaped our economic environment. Over the last 30 years, the citizens of California, have suffered the effects and enjoyed the benefits of this referendum. First introduced to save the homes of people on fixed incomes as their property values skyrocketed, and their property taxes became onerous, this bill created a property tax loop-hole for corporations. Companies now avoid paying taxes on the current property values of their real-estate simply by setting up shell corporations as holding companies. The shell's can be bought and sold while never selling the real-estate itself, thus the tax value is never re-assessed, robbing the children of California of the resources needed for their education.

Below is a list of links and a printable brief on Prop 13. Educate yourself, and then take action. We must introduce a law to reform the California Constitution and close the business loophole. It is irresponsible to let Big Business avoid the taxes every other property owner must pay.

PROP 13 (1978) BRIEF [ .pdf printable ]

1) Wikipeadia - Prop 13


3) Senator Peace: Cure Prop. 13 'Sickness' by Reassessing Commercial Property, Boosting the Homeowners' Exemption and Cutting the Sales Tax


5) Full Text of Prop. 13, 1978

6) Learning Matters - The Merrow Report - First to Worst (Special Challenge of Prop 13)

7) Prop 13 Then, Now, and Forever - The CATO Institute

8) Ed-Data

9) The Truth About Prop 13

10) UCSD and UC Berkley video "Prop 13 at 30" (Max Issac, Sociology UCSD)

MLK Service Day 2009

On January 19th, we answered Obama's call to meet and become the change we need.

A small group of concerned citizens in San Diego are beginning by educating ourselves about the systems of education in our city. We will become a think tank, an action group, a political force, to advise our leaders about new ideas and better directions. This is the beginning of the Obama revolution.