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Castle Park praised for turnaround Robert Moreno | Fri, Sep 13 2013 05:00 PM

Middle schoolers screamed, a mariachi band played and local dignitaries welcomed the United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who wrapped up his 500 mile-long, 12-city “Strong Start, Bright Future,” back-to-school tour Friday at Castle Park Middle School.

Duncan made his final stop at the Chula Vista middle school to discuss the success of the Promise Neighborhoods program, a program headed by the Department of Education to improve the educational outcomes and opportunities for students in low income and rural neighborhoods.

Castle Park Middle School has a Promised Neighborhood partnership with South Bay Community Services.

Duncan praised Castle Park Middle School for their turn around in attendance figures and improved academic scores.

“Castle Park’s turn around has been driven by an assistance on setting high expectations for students and refusal to make excuses for students missing school or failing to do homework despite the real challenges students face in their daily lives in the homes and in the community,” Duncan said. “It might be easy to forget now but just a couple years ago, there were tremendous challenges right here. This school had the worst attendance record in the district, some days 75 children in this school.”

Castle Park Middle School went from being the school in the Sweetwater District with the lowest attendance figures, to the one with the highest attendance in a span of three years.

“Castle Park’s turn around is just one more example that when adults raise expectations, children will rise to meet them,” Duncan said. "You guys are setting a profound, profound model here. The whole country, the national implications of what you’re doing are very significant. I hope you understand that each and every day."

He also told students the United States ranks 12th in the world in college graduation rates; he said that is not good enough and that needs to change.

Kathryn Lembo, president and CEO of Southbay Community Services said Duncan understands that it takes more than a school to build a foundation for good education.

“I loved it,” she said about his speech. “I think he really
understands that it’s about building communities, because we can make a beautiful school but we have to build the community and we have to make education really valued in a community.”

Castle Park Middle School’s Intervention Advisor Richard Grove said having Duncan at Castle Park Middle School is a stamp of approval that the school is doing great things.

“This is validation for all the hard work that (principal)Bleisch and this team and this community have done the last few years,” he said.

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anniej Says:

Sun, Sep 15 2013 08:45 AM

It is clear that Duncan is part of the problem. The information that was provided to him is a matter of record - his name and that documentation undoubtedly will prove to be a major source of embarrassment.

I was approached at a basketball game at AIU, the person who approached wanted me to know they and those they associate with will be voting all board members up for reelection out. We then stepped outside and spoke for a long while. We spoke of the future and potential candidates that are rumored to be running - then the comment that had me laugh aloud 'Burt Grossman is testing the waters - he is going to find them frigid cold'. "What you wouldn't want Grossman?" I replied. 'Read his book' said my new contact. I advised "I have, hard to believe that any person would write such things and then expect to be elected for any public office EVER, ANYWHERE!" Perhaps I might take this opportunity to recommend that our community read his book, I have no doubt quotes would become public in any election.

It is getting closer, only 5 months til the trial. How many will make it that far? 'The largest corruption case in San Diego City/County history' - all thanks to the Sweetwater School Board - don't it just make you proud?

sosocal Says:

Sat, Sep 14 2013 04:30 PM

What could have been a great opportunity for honest dialogue unfortunately turned into something quite different: the Secretary of Education being spoon fed Ed Brand's scheme of the hour. Yes, principal Bleisch has created quite a stir, but what is the substance. Some might say, as long as the kids go to school and the district gets the funding, it's all ok.

But is it? We need honest answers regarding the finances of this district. We need honest answers from those who purport to represent us, but who really represent their own careerist issues.

What are the students learning from this? I hope the public is learning that they need to be involved.

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