Dear Editor-It is about time the district do something about “DeLapp’s most significant observation was that the District operates more like a federation of individual schools than a unified district and that autonomy leads to inconsistencies and a lack of cohesion.” Each school in the district is run differently. Some principals require teachers to use the adopted instructional materials as well as require the teachers to stick to the districts suggested pacing plan while other principals don’t. This lack of cohesion allows for certain teachers to either teach the students at an accelerated pace while others don’t teach at all and make it up as they go. It was very clear to me that this was the case at our school this year with the two fifth grade teachers. Each class looked different. In one class, each child read the same book and discussed the literary elements while in the other class, they hardly read at all. In fact they spent over a month on pre-writing and poetry. The teacher didn’t focus on reading comprehension strategies or skills. As a teacher myself, in another district, we clearly stick to the pacing plan to ensure that we cover all of the key standards for California in a timely manner. We focus heavily on the comprehension skills and strategies with our students. The reason for the pacing is that if a child is to move from one school in our district to another the student won’t feel too lost because everyone is on the same page. One recommendation for the SMMUSD is that they implement the same practice and enforce it. This way each student is receiving the same quality education in each grade level. This will hopefully force the principals and teachers to collaborate and plan effective instruction based on standards and data from test scores. In addition this will eliminate teachers of the same grade level teaching drastically different topics that may not correspond to the state standards.Marie RobinsonSanta Monica, Ca* * * *Dear Editor,The critical issue before society regarding the homeless is Housing First or Safety First. Has government been way too focused on permanent housing and real estate acquisition? Or instead should we be providing safe shelter, sanitary conditions, storage and caseworker support for as many people as possible. On January 27, 2009 the City, according to its own self heralded homeless count, found 490 people sleeping on the ground. Now that the Winter Shelter is closed we have more people on the ground increasing the total to between 550-600.In stupefying contrast consider the recent opening of Step-Up on 5th, a new permanent housing facility for homeless people that sleeps 46 people in small 300 sq.ft. one room apartments. In the March 21 issue of the Santa Monica Daily Press writer Melody Hanatani says the total cost added up to an estimated $17 million dollars! Step-Up, a non-profit support access program with caseworkers for the homeless who admit to having mental problems, bought the land. The City chipped in $7.1 million dollars. Other financial players were the Bush appointed US Dept of Housing and Urban Development and the Annenberg and Ahmanson Foundations who provide tax deductions for wealthy donors. This sounds more like a real estate deal where the Foundations give tax deductions to their rich donors while government and the homeless agencies acquire major capital permanent assets on their books. For the last 8 years the George Bush government victimized government bureaucrats and their homeless support agencies by imposing a wasteful policy that has proven to be unwilling or incompetent to deal realistically with street homelessness. Remember “No Child Left Behind?”Safety First means the focus is on the number of people forced to sleep on the ground and what that percentage is of the total homeless population when considering any support programs. A Safety First model should provide safe private sleep, sanitary and storage facilities linked to caseworker support. For instance, in months we could literally be providing Safe Organized Overnight Shelter with Caseworker Support (SOOS) for all Santa Monica’s 550 homeless at just $2.5-2.9 million. This is only $4,600 per person vs. $370,000 per person at Step-Up on 5th. It would take 45 to 55 small shelter sites of 500-600 sq.ft. where the space is used at night only but can be used daily for other purposes. SOOS simply utilizes the Japanese style capsule hotel system adding security and caseworker oversight administered by the County Department of Mental Health, their caseworker agencies, and the Sheriffs Department. The huge cost of real estate oriented permanent housing policy boils down to trickle down housing for a very, very small priority homeless population. Last year OPCC, Santa Monica’s homeless access facility Samoshell reduced their beds by 40 from 110 beds to 70. This year Step-Up on 5th added back 46 beds for a net gain of 6 beds for $17 million dollars!Join Side By Side, a local homeless advocacy group of homeless and non-homeless people Tuesday May 5 on the lawn at City Hall at 6PM to demonstrate for safe shelter now.Shelter delayed is shelter denied! Let us pad the abyss our fellow citizens have fallen into with safe, economical, practical support. Where there is a will there is a way! Safe Organized Overnight Shelter with Caseworker Support is before its time but not before its need. For more information email me Randy Walburger at email@example.comRandy WalburgerS.H.E.L.T.E.R.
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