Let’s Pay Attention to the College-Bound Students, too

I’d like to congratulate Craig Gartman, Dion Bracco and Peter
Arellano on securing seats on our Gilroy City Council. I would also
like to thank Charles Morales and Bob Dillon for their service to
our city.
I’d like to congratulate Craig Gartman, Dion Bracco and Peter Arellano on securing seats on our Gilroy City Council. I would also like to thank Charles Morales and Bob Dillon for their service to our city. They will be missed on Council, but I am sure they will both continue to contribute to the community. All five candidates ran great campaigns, there were no personal attacks and I feel confident that all these men are ready to work together.

I was very disappointed in the low turnout of voters. The majority of Gilroy voters did not vote. We send a terrible message to our children when we don’t take the time to exercise our right to vote. I have seen a steady decline in the number of politically active young adults and very few students have a sense what public service means. People are very quick to criticize elected officials; I wonder how many of the complainers actually participate in elections.

Finally, I hope that the defeat of all the state ballot initiatives will convince the powers-that-be to stop putting forth so many partisan propositions. When I think of all the money spent on promoting or derailing these propositions, I almost forget that we are living in tight budget times.

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I read with interest the story on the high number of local students enrolled in private schools. I am sure that the numbers as reported are on the low side. There are Gilroy students enrolled in private schools from Mountain View to Monterey. There were a few things omitted from the story. First, there was no count on the number of Gilroy students attending public schools outside of Gilroy. There are probably hundreds of kids whose parents are not opting out of public school, just opting out of the Gilroy Unified School district. I personally know more than 20 Gilroy students enrolled in Morgan Hill public schools. One of the reasons that some people choose Morgan Hill Unified School District over GUSD is that nearly all Morgan Hill schools outperform Gilroy schools. I myself have been tempted, but I have chosen to keep my kids closer to home and work to change the status quo in GUSD. It is difficult to affect change in GUSD by walking away. Choosing Sobrato or Morgan Hill Charter School might be a good choice for a Gilroy family; it might mean that their child has a better experience in the classroom. But staying in Gilroy Unified and raising the bar seems like it would be better for all families.

I was alarmed by notion that “there is not enough room for more students in GUSD anyway …” I was alarmed because if our schools can keep improving, I’d wager that more students will return to GUSD. There needs to be room for them. We can no longer have many of our schools bursting at the seams before we address the need for expansion. The second high school needs to be fast-tracked; we simply can’t sit by and allow Gilroy High to get any larger than it is now.

Of course, the premise of all this growth is improvement. The area in most dire need of improvement in GUSD is mathematics. The recent story about the changes in the math department at the high school was very informative. If you are the parent of a freshman who comes into Gilroy High not knowing multiplication, there is a plan in place to address the needs of your child. If you are the parent of a child who failed Algebra I or pre-algebra in middle school, there is a plan in place for your child as they enter Gilroy High. These plans are necessary because without successfully passing Algebra I, a student will not be equipped to pass the California High School Exit Exam and graduate.

Improvement is certainly being made in the most basic levels of math at Gilroy High.

If you are the parent of a student who was advanced in algebra I in middle school, there is no plan in place for your freshman. These are students who have the skills necessary to pass the exit exam upon entry to Gilroy High. For them, there is a no math plan. These students have the opportunity to take either geometry or honors geometry as freshman. At this point, student improvement becomes less of an expectation and more of a prayer. Algebra II brings the downward spiral to the forefront, and by the time you can spell trigonometry, you can count the percentage of proficient math students on one hand. By senior year at Gilroy High, the number of students who can pass an Advanced Placement statistics or AP calculus exam could fit comfortably in the principal’s office.

I applaud the improvements that have taken place in the school, especially with those students who are most at risk of not graduating. Now it is time to work on improving the lot for those college-bound students who have stayed in GUSD.

Denise Baer Apuzzo has lived in Gilroy for 5 years. She is married and is a parent of three children who attend Gilroy public schools. You can reach her at [email protected]

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