Friday, September 19, 2014

Resolving homework problems

Radio Commentary

Homework hassles can often be avoided when parents value, monitor, and guide their children’s work.

But sometimes this help is not enough. Problems can still arise. If they do, teachers, parents, and students may need to work together to resolve them.

You may want to contact the teacher:

  • If your children are unwilling to do their assignments.
  • If the instructions are unclear.
  • If you can’t seem to help your child get organized to tackle the assignments.
  • If neither you nor your child can understand the purpose of an assignment.
  • If the assignments are frequently too hard or too easy.
  • Or if your child has missed school and needs to make up work.

Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a problem. Give the teacher a chance to work out the issue. Be sure to give the teacher’s suggestions a chance to work.

Approach the teacher with a cooperative spirit, understanding that the teacher wants to help your child, even if you disagree about the method.

It’s easier to solve problems if teachers and parents view each other cooperatively.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Parent help with testing

Radio Commentary

Public schools have always strived to fulfill their mission of helping students improve their skills and reach their full potential. Accountability has always been an important priority.

In current times, accountability is focused almost exclusively on test scores.

Supporters of testing contend that tests will lead to increased accountability and measurable results.

Opponents argue that average scores on high-stakes testing do not indicate how far a given teacher or school has taken a group of students from where they started. The scores don’t show the progress that was made for the individual student.

We also hear of strong political support balanced by some grassroots opposition. Clearly, there is controversy.

Nonetheless, right now high-stakes assessments are the most influential measure. They are required of all schools and students in our state, and there are rewards and sanctions depending on the average outcome.
Some young people are “naturals” at test-taking. They can sail through tests without stress. For many others, the taking of national and state standardized tests can be a time of high frustration and anxiety.

Four traits can help children feel confident about tests throughout their school careers: Being Receptive, Relaxed, Ready, and Rested. Parents who help nurture these traits can help their children succeed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Das Williams interviews CEO of Dons Net Café at Santa Barbara High School

News release

Assemblymember Das Williams helped the Dons Net Café select a new student CEO last week. Williams interviewed student Amazing Grace Llanos for the position of Dons Net Café CEO, modeling current best practices in the business context. The Dons Net Café is a unique program that enables students to “start up” a variety of philanthropic businesses and ventures that serve people around the world. In this two-period class at Santa Barbara High School, each student has his or her own position in the DNC’s governance and operation structure, as well as a venture they support.
At the beginning of each term, the students of the Dons Net Café participate in interviews to determine their roles and responsibilities in the class. All interviews are conducted by local business partners in the Santa Barbara community. Das Williams was chosen to interview the CEO candidate in the presence of classmates, school administration, and business supporters. Before the interview, Williams gave a brief lesson on interview etiquette, how to conserve water in the current drought, and strategies to obtain financial aid students may need for college.

The Dons Net Café, a Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is a student-run business that represents a 21-year commitment to inspire students to create positive social and environmental change through ethical commerce. These efforts are represented through participation in Virtual Enterprise, Voluntary Income Taxes Assistance (VITA), Roots and Shoots, and Service Learning. All profits benefit students and associated projects because they believe in “Doin’ Some Good in the World.”

Further information is available by contacting Lee Knodel (Mrs. B.) at 963-8597 or by email at

What parents should know about HS

Radio Commentary

What do parents need to know about high school?

Beyond the school calendar and what classes your students will take, you should also be familiar with graduation requirements and which classes prepare students for college and careers.

It’s important for parents to understand the school’s academic and social standards.

Here are some tips for staying informed:

  • Obtain and read everything the school offers. Gather newsletters, handbooks, notices and course descriptions, most of which is also available on the school’s website. Read it all.
  • Get to know the staff. Know everyone from the principal and school support personnel to the teachers. Make an appointment for face-to-face meetings. Plan your questions before you arrive.  
  • Talk to other parents. Information about special programs, scholarships and required classes can all come from other parents. It is especially helpful to talk to parents who have older children.
  • Ask questions. That’s your right. And the staff at local high schools are eager to answer all your questions.
  • Finally, check homework. You can get a lot of information by seeing activities and assignments.
Looking at schoolwork not only lets you know what your child is doing, it also tells him or her that you believe school is important.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Avoid spoiling

Radio Commentary

Parents want to provide the best they can for their children, but many of them don’t know how to go about giving their children what they want without spoiling them.

Some well-meaning moms and dads can’t bear to see their children sad or disappointed, so they give them everything they ask for.

Remember that it’s possible to set limits so that children are less likely to become overly indulged.
Children are not always able to make the distinction between what they want and what they need. Parents have to do it for them, even if it makes children temporarily unhappy.

First, make sure that “no” means “no”  — not “maybe.”
If you’re at all ambivalent, children will easily pick up on it. They sense when you are uncomfortable saying no to them.

When you don’t send a clear message, you actually reinforce pleading, whining, and even tantrums.

Remember that all children test their parents. That’s their way of finding out if you really mean what you say. So act secure about saying ‘no’ when you have to.
Of course it can feel very uncomfortable to deny children their desires. But children who get everything they want are not necessarily happier for it. Life will not always be so kind over the long haul.

In fact, children feel much more secure when boundaries are clear and parents are consistent about the decisions they make.