Saturday, July 15, 2006


Marin Independant
Bill Evers and Paul Clopton

If we throw more money at the problem it will go away. Not really.
Quote from the
"THE SAUSALITO Marin City School District spends more than $22,000 per pupil and pays teachers an average of $71,000 a year. Based on 2004-05 figures, per-pupil spending is three times the state average, and teachers are the highest paid in Marin. Sausalito is the top-funded urban school district in the state.
But according to 2004-2005 California test scores, only 25 percent of Sausalito sixth-grade students are proficient or advanced in English and 13 percent are proficient or advanced in mathematics. Out of 1,025 districts in California, Sausalito is ranked 724th, which is at the 29.4th percentile. Why aren't students succeeding academically in a school district whose wealth makes almost every other district in California green with envy?

Decades of a different curriculum in every classroom, ineffective and unevaluated teaching practices and teacher training, overemphasis on student self-esteem and low academic expectations created an academic deficit that has been hard to repair.

District leaders have recently improved the coherence of the curriculum and adopted a high-performance reading program that emphasizes phonics first, rather than the district's previous whole-language instruction. District leaders also reduced the proportion of children designated as learning disabled. Much of the students' learning problems had been the result of the district's poor teaching of reading, and over-designation of students as disabled had contributed to the alienation of parents from the district. These recent changes have led to some gains in student test scores - principally in the lower grades whose students have benefited from recent changes.

Despite these improvements, the district is still being held back by a legacy of Progressive Education and a reliance on inadequate and misleading districtwide tests. Sausalito has a long history of using Progressive methods of project-based learning and student self-discovery in mathematics and other subjects. Teaching in the district's regular schools and, in particular, in its charter school is heavily influenced by ineffective Progressive methods."

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