Education Matters: Clark Magnet is a snapshot of what's possible

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

Some of you reading this will be voting on April 5 for or against Measure S, the proposed school bond.

To that elite group — likely under 30% of eligible voters — I want to say thank you for being involved; thank you for having a stake in your community, instead of just being an occupant in it; thank you for seeing beyond your present needs and looking to the future, especially where our children are concerned.

Measure S is essentially a proposal that will, borrowing from the school district’s website, “protect quality of education at local schools, provide safe and modern school facilities, upgrade classrooms, science labs and libraries, update computers/technology, improve campus safety, increase energy efficiency” and more. It would not create new local taxes, but rather extend the assessments already being paid for an earlier bond, Measure K.

From the age of 5, when I entered kindergarten at Montrose Elementary School, to my present age of 61, I have either attended or worked for the Glendale Unified School District. Throughout those years, the one constant has been the excellent reputation that our schools have earned. It is a reputation that travels well beyond our community’s borders.

It is a reason why families over the years have chosen to settle here, why businesses have located here and profited from that reputation. All of us who live here have taken it as a measure of the quality of life we enjoy.

We have ample reasons to take pride in our schools, but it is something that we should not take for granted. Our children need our continued support and we cannot rely on Sacramento or Washington to provide it.

Communities and school districts throughout the state are being put on notice that their quality of life is a local matter and less the province of state control. That may be a silver lining to our state’s financial woes, as well as a suggestion of how we might find our way out of them. Bring back local control, decentralize, empower the people in each community who have a greater insight into their special needs to make their own decisions.

Visit any school in the Glendale Unified and see what great things are the daily fare of our children’s education. If you want to see the shining star in our local constellation of elementary, junior and high schools, drop by Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta. I’ve had a number of recent opportunities to see what goes on at that school and I’ve come away thinking that it’s one of the best kept secrets in the district.

This strikes me as a good time to spread the news.

For those who want to see an entire student body that takes pride in its school, let them come to Clark.

For those who want to see technology applied with ingenuity and creativity in virtually every academic discipline, let them come to Clark.

For those who want to see a truly collaborative effort of teachers and administrators and an entire school staff, let them come to Clark.

And finally, for those who want to see high school students involved in research projects that have captured the attention of professionals in their fields — as well as state and national government agencies — let them come to Clark and see awards and recognition more characteristic of an established college.

Clark’s principal, Doug Dall, can take a good deal of the credit for the amazing atmosphere at the school, but he’d be the last to say so. He and virtually everyone who works there are very proud of their high test scores, their immaculate campus and of graduating a steady stream of graduates with skills that match a rapidly changing workforce.

But despite the amazing accomplishments of this school, there is a critical need for upgrades, repairs and expansion. Obsolete computers, lack of storage, shared facilities and cramped lab spaces, keeping up with industry standards — these are only some of the challenges facing Clark on a daily basis.

I don’t mean to focus on just one school, but Clark Magnet has demonstrated what can be accomplished when a school is properly equipped and adequately funded. I can understand the reluctance to commit public money to any government agency — we’ve seen enough examples of waste and misuse of tax dollars — but Measure S proceeds would stay right here in our community and all expenditures come with mandatory taxpayer protections, including an independent citizens’ oversight committee and mandatory audits to ensure funds are spent as promised.

For those of you who have already decided to vote no on Measure S, I would urge you to consider that whatever your reason, it’s only a fragment, a snapshot if you will, of a bigger picture.

Our schools are among the top in the state. Give credit to parents and teachers (in no particular order), but also realize that that ranking comes from a longstanding commitment by a community dedicated to providing the very best education for its children.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@sbcglobal.net.
 
 

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