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Folsom Cordova Parents United Website


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#1 Michele Zumwalt

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 11:53 AM

Dear Friends in FCUSD,

I wanted to send you some information on a website that has been established to provide information about the issue of instructional minutes as it relates to early late programs in our district. The parents that put this website together envision its usefulness as a tool for parents when considering issues that affect our children.

The name of the group is Folsom Cordova Parents United and the website is: www.fcParentsUnited.com

On this site you can reference articles written on the issue of our short school day. (articles which support change and those that do not) District Staff, Board of Trustee Members and City Council Members (RC and Folsom) are listed as contacts and their email addresses are also provided.

There is statistical data and detailed reports, such as FCUSD API Scores, Instructional Minute Comparison Studies, etc. There is a very informative letter sent from District Staff to Assemblymen Dave Cox explaining the districtís history with the early late program. Log on and check it out.

Also, you can subscribe to a free newsletter and receive important updates on information like announcements of school board meetings where this issue will be heard and legislative related efforts.

There are many ways to get involved and help make a difference for our children. So log on and register and be informed.

Have a wonderful day,

Michele Zumwalt


PS Thank you to the dedicated parents who spent many volunteer hours building this website and assembling relevant information.


#2 cathy

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 09:28 PM

Thank you for posting this topic. I am sure that many parents in Folsom and Rancho Cordova don't realize how our children are being shortchanged by the school district. Most schools in California (and most other states as well) have their 1st and 2nd graders going a full day.

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#3 apeman

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 09:34 AM

Just an FYI - The Empire Oaks elementary 4th grade class last year scored the highest on the state STAR testing in all of Sacramento county. These kids were all the product of the early late reading program. Just food for thought. Maybe the system isn't broke? Is throwing more hours at the kids the answer? Maybe quality not quantity is the way to go. I don't claim to know the right answer but being a parent of a 5th grader I have no complaints so far about the Folsom School system other than too much outside interference from parents which make it harder for our hard working teachers to focus on the job at hand.

I moved here from Antelope which I thought had pretty good schools. Now after 3 years of Folsom schools I realize that Antelope's schools pale in comparison.

Parents do make a big difference. Volunteers are wonderful. The music and art programs are awesome. Anything we can do to free up time of the teachers to teach seems to be the best place to put our efforts as parents.

#4 DalOwnerX3

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 10:41 AM

I saw the scores for Empire Oaks and the sample size is much smaller than the other schools in the district. Didn't the school just open up recently? Maybe the high scores are a result of the education from their previous school. It would be interesting to see if Empire Oaks can sustain the high scores.

#5 apeman

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 02:12 PM

This is Empire Oaks 3rd year and yes it is a very small school although it has room for more kids - it's just that the district will not fill the empty classrooms until all the other schools in the district are maxed out. New people who move in are not guaranteed a spot. Many of the kids, as is the case with my daughter, went to other Folsom schools until this school was opened so there is not a huge # of kids from other school districts although there is certainly a large # of new residents and students in the area.

Before I moved to the Folsom area I did check the test scores for reference. It should not be the sole judge of a school but it helps. Personally I feel the STAR testing takes far too much time away from our kids and teachers. That time could be much better spent teaching but I suppose my child is a good test taker since that is what they are taught for a few weeks a year - how to take tests. My kid spent a year at Blanche Sprentz and although the scores were not as high and the campus not as pretty it was certainly a great environment with some wonderful teachers.

I guess my point is that from my experience the Folsom schools have been great. If I were to make changes it would be for things like after school programs / clubs, fundraisers to lessen the burden on teachers begging for money, increased curriculim in art, sports etc.

I would be against any drastic changes in the classroom. Part of our advantage being in Folsom is the ability to attract great people to teach. We need to keep it that way.

#6 cathy

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Posted 17 September 2003 - 09:24 PM

Are you aware that this school district is not providing the 1st and 2nd graders with the state minimum standards on minutes? Each day these children receive 34 minutes LESS than state standards.
We as parents should be furious about this. If you take the time to look at school bell schedules across the state and nation (I have), there is not a single school district ANYWHERE that offers children less time than Folsom Cordova Unified.
All I want for my children is the minimium minutes. We can still offer early/ late and meet the state standards.
Many parents have spoken about this subject to the school board and we don't seem to get any response back. We are told such things as:
1. We offer quality over quantity-
The fact is that teachers are so strapped for time that they can't teach everything, or are so rushed that the kids don't have the time to grasp everything. We are not receiving the quality we think we are. Look at our schools on www.greatschools.com and you will see how poorly we rank compared to like demographics.

2. We need early/late to help our immigrants to read-
So these kids lose an hour a day with an English speaking instructor and then get sent home to finish class work they didn't have time to complete (and their immigrant parents who can't read or speak English are expected to help them?)

3. Our children cannot handle and extra hour a day -
Why is it that the rest of the nation's children can go 1-2.5 hours longer than us every day and they can handle it, but our kids can't? Did we all have children with Attention Deficit Disorder? No. This arguement is futile.

4. We want our children to have more time to be kids -
They don't have more time because it takes a parent twice as long to cover subjects than a trained professional can do. When children are in school they are in learning mode. When the dismissal bell rings, however, they don't want to do more school work.

When you look at the big picture, you have to look at more than just reading. Our children are losing out on irreplacable time with their teachers.

If you want more information, check out www.FCParentsUnited.com.


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#7 apeman

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 10:18 AM

Sorry I'm just not worried about it. I do want quality over quantity. I don't hear the teachers complaining that they want longer days. In our little yuppy world of Folsom the kids have plenty going on already. Most kids I know are in the aquatic center swim club, sports, gymnastics, cheerleading. Locking them away for an addidional hour in 1st and 2nd grade isn't going to accomplish much. Providing more options at school for students and teachers would. How about a homework and reading club before and after school. On site tutors. Afterschool supervised sports or play. Parents clubs to discuss ideas?

My daughter is extremely dilligent about homework. I am a single father who can't always be there for her. When she is in daycare she does her homework there. When I am home when she gets home from school she immediately does her homework. I don't even have to ask. I owe that discipline taught to her by our wonderful Folsom teachers.

When the teachers start picketing for longer days I will support them. For now my efforts will be focused on QUALITY.

This weekend is our first outing in my daughter's school hiking club started this year by a dedicated energetic teacher. They meet once a week after school to learn about maps and the great outdoors. Once a month a bunch of us parents volunteer and we carpool up to the Sierra for an all day adventure. I don't know how this teacher finds the time or energy but he is blessed with a love of seeing the children learning new things. It is teachers like him that make our schools great. He teaches and lives in Folsom because he loves it here. We need to remember that the teachers are what it's all about and we need to keep this a great place for them to work.



#8 cathy

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 01:23 PM

I think you missed my point all together. These kids are in class 34 minutes LESS than the state standards! Don't you think that is a problem?

The school board says that the way they are counting minutes (while these children are not in class) is legal. Is it ethical? No.
Our schools get money from the state based on the minutes that our children are in class. In first and second grade, because of the current early/late situation, the school can report that these kids are there from 8:25-2:37. My kids can't go all day, yet the school is paid as if they are.

This quality / quantity argument is beside the point. We can have quality and quantity together. It is not one or the other.

I am happy to hear that you have a successful daughter. For those parents who's children are not as diciplined as yours, the story may be different.
I happen to have 3 children and let me tell you that with each child the homework and outside activities become that more challenging.
I also work at the school as yard duty, volunteer in the classrooms and drive in multiple carpools trying to get these children to school on time. I have an early and a late bird. It is not easy to travel to the school 4 times a day, but this is to be in the best interest of the children. Right?

#9 apeman

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 03:21 PM

I'm sorry Cathy - I did ignore your point. It's just my opinion and in my opinion I'm not bothered by it. You are right - there is a lot going on with kids these days. Having them in school longer just gives them less time at home to do the other stuff. I don't know enough about the issue to argue whether it is legal or ethical. If they are breaking a law then the school district should be held accountable. I don't feel as strongly about it obviously as other people. If you think it will improve your childrens' education then you are certainly justified in pursueing this.

Volunteering is great and rewarding and helps the kids. Speaking of volunteering have you noticed the sorry state of the landscaping at Folsom Schools? My kid's school usually has an annual volunteer day to pick weeds and it looks like it's time to organize another one.

I do feel for you. As a single parent it is a challenge to deal with all the logistics for just one kid. I don't know how people with more kids do it. With the help of grandma, parents I have met through school and the wonderful neighbors I have in Folsom I have managed to give my kid all the chances to do what she wants - well not everything. Currently she is playing soccer, the flute, piano, hiking club and catechism and she is one of the less active kids in her class. Keeps me in shape though running around.

Good luck to you in your efforts and I know they are appreciated by many.

#10 Richard Hunter

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 10:03 PM

I believe that it is disgraceful that this debate even has to take place. All children should have access to the minimum number of minutes prescribed by education code(280 minutes per day). Folsom-Cordova Unified School District defines a minimum day as 240 minutes; a full day of instruction for a first and second grader is only 6 minutes longer. By the end of the year, each child has been denied access to 5 weeks worth of quality instructional time with the great teachers of FCUSD. If a child missed this much time during the year for any other reason, they would be considered habitually truant, and their parents would be referred to the Student Attendance Review Board.

District employees and many teachers, including early elementary school teachers, have quielty supported the effort to lengthen the school day for our youngest students. When asked to speak publically, they refuse, because they fear retribution from their fellow teachers and administration. As is the case in many environments, the loudest and most hostile people intimidate others into submission. I remain steadfast in my belief that most teachers would agree that all children should receive access to at least the minimum state standard.

Don't let the school district off the hook too easily. They could offer a staggered schedule that also offers the minimum number of minutes. Elk Grove did it, so why can't we?

I happen to be a school psychologist in another school district, and a part-time lecturer at CSUS in the Dept. of Special Education. I consider myself an advocate for children, families, and the public school system. Children who learn at a slower rate (learning disabled, ADHD, second language learners, etc.) need more time with their teachers, not less. They generally need repetition of instruction, more practice, and more time to transition between activities. These students do poorly when rushed. It is extremely rare when I recommend a shorter day (such as in FCUSD) for students with learning challenges. I may make this recommendation for children with very severe attention, health, emotional, or behavior problems, and then it is still a team decision.

Well, in the case of FCUSD, it has not been a team decision to offer a short day to children based on extreme circumstances. Not only do our schools offer less than the minimum state standard, our children are not allowed to be in school when the school is counting instructional minutes, and receiving compensation from the state.

While some are complacent regarding this issue, very few would disagree that there needs to be a minimum standard. The parents most involved in advocating for longer days love the teachers in FCUSD. What is wrong with wanting our children to spend 34 more minutes per day with them?

Professional educators outside of FCUSD are shocked that FCUSD continues to implement early-late programs since class size reduction. They are even more shocked when they find out that FCUSD is offering only 246 minutes of instruction to children per day. Talk to people in other communities. Tell them how long the school days are. I'm sure you will hear the same response that I do, "How can they get away with that?"



#11 Mike Hilscher

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 10:23 PM

I havent read much of these posts becuase there really just way to long for my attention span, but it sounds like something about school days being really short. So lets assume that all the FSCUD teachers are on salary, and not hour based. So if the district extended the school days. That would cause some teachers to want a contract negotiation for the extra time becuase they are on sallary, and not paid per hour. So that would initate a union thingy asking for higher wages, and then people start getting pissed off people fcusd most likely can't afford pay raises.

More Time = More $ - which fcusd doesnt seem to have much of right now

#12 Richard Hunter

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 11:10 PM

This is a good question that many people ask. The fiscal impact for the district is zero. When FCUSD extended the school day for 3rd graders at the beginning of the year, the district reported that there would be no fiscal impact. The length of the school day is only increased for students, not teachers. The teachers are already in the classroom for 306 minutes. We are only advocating that they structure the day differently, so that the staggered schedule is shorter. If they want to keep a longer staggered schedule and offer the minimum minutes to all students, then this would be an issue for collective bargaining.

Teachers will likely argue, however, that any change is a working condition issue, because they now have 10 students in their class for 2 hours per day, and any change would result in more students for a longer period of time. In Fairfield-Suisun, a school administrator dropped early-late at his elementary school (no fiscal impact), and the teachers filed a grievance based on their working conditions changing. The teachers lost in that case, and the school administrator roports a positive experience for children who now have longer days.



#13 cathy

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Posted 20 September 2003 - 10:10 AM

I agree Richard. I have a 1st and 2nd grader now and the teachers are doin LOTS of repetition in reading and math. These are the years that are the basis for all the rest. If the kids don't learn the basics, they won't be able to excell later.
The more I think about it, the more I want them to go all day.


#14 enjoylife

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 06:15 PM

Interesting comments from both sides of the discussion. Unfortunately Mr. Hunter it is my understanding that your movement does not have much support from the community of Folsom. It is also my understanding that the only reason that San Juan and other surrounding districts returned to the longer day was financial reasons. Busing was the main component in the decision making process. As it stands, early/late makes 100% sense. This is done so that students can have a smaller class when working on language arts. A teacher can focus more on the needs of their students with a smaller group. As you know Mr. Hunter, it is about quality education and not quantity. It is about utilizing the best teaching practices in the classroom. Common sense tells you that having a smaller class makes for more one on one instruction. Furthermore, our schools seem to score higher than other districts and programs. Finally, I have not yet heard that you were once an educator with a class of his own. A classroom where you had to work with twenty or thirty students. No, it is my understanding that you are a School Psychologist. This means that everything you envision is theoretical in practice. Not to mention, when was the last time I saw a School Psychologist working with a large group of students. No, when you find someone with emotional, behavioral or learning difficulties you work one on one. If FCUSD can find a way to bus students to and from school, then they should continue with the early/late program which helps students in the formative years of reading.

Just some thoughts, I hope I haven't offended or hurt anyone's feelings!!!

#15 enjoylife

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 06:21 PM

I happen to be a school psychologist in another school district, and a part-time lecturer at CSUS in the Dept. of Special Education. I consider myself an advocate for children, families, and the public school system. Children who learn at a slower rate (learning disabled, ADHD, second language learners, etc.) need more time with their teachers, not less. They generally need repetition of instruction, more practice, and more time to transition between activities. These students do poorly when rushed. It is extremely rare when I recommend a shorter day (such as in FCUSD) for students with learning challenges. I may make this recommendation for children with very severe attention, health, emotional, or behavior problems, and then it is still a team decision.

Interesting quote Mr. Hunter. It is my understanding that FCUSD provides specific programs and support for these students. There are many federally mandated programs in place to serve these students, 504's, IEP's, ELP, etc. One other thought Mr. Hunter, when working with these types of students large numbers in the classroom make learning difficult and in many cases impossible. These students especially need smaller programs. Hence, why we have pullout programs, RSP support, ELP support and aides to name a few of the avenues used to help educate students with various challenges.

Just another thought...




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