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Local opinion columnists

Fairfield High principal’s resignation strikes a chord

By From page A8 | June 07, 2014

Those folks who oppose my political views think I’m some sort of a nut. That’s their privilege.

I am a real nut when it comes to education of our children. I’m not just an observer of our education system, I founded and am CEO of the Tools of Learning for Children nonprofit.

A recent article in the Daily Republic about the resignation of Tim Halloran as principal of Fairfield High School caught my attention. It quotes Mr. Halloran as saying the Fairfield-Suisun School District is managed by fear, intimidation and bullying. Secrecy is the norm. After only two years under the leadership of Mr. Halloran, Fairfield High showed significant improvements in graduation rates, dropout rates and students going to college, plus the likely accreditation of the school.

In a companion article, Kris Corey, the district superintendent, denies all of the negative allegations and wishes Mr. Halloran well.

When I read the articles, I had a feeling of deja vu. I witnessed a similar situation several years ago at a district elementary school. The principal had made remarkable progress is three years using innovative and imaginative strategies. Her school was the only school in the district and perhaps the county to work itself off the No Child Left Behind watch list.

She was released because she was not compliant. District policy seemed to be, “My way or the highway.”

Halloran was also creative and innovative and not compliant. I have never been able to understand why, when someone succeeds, their managers don’t find the reasons for success and use them elsewhere., Instead, it’s “My way or the highway.”

Maybe I am wrong and this is only a coincidence. I’ll ask for your help to find out a little later.

The truth is that public education in America is in disrepair. The university systems over the years have provided one failed experimental “research-based” program after another. Education should be success-based. Find something that works and replicate it. Set reasonable objectives and don’t accept less. No excuses.

The latest example of experimental education programs is Common Core State Standards, much of which has yet to be designed. It’s a one-size-fits-all system that probably doesn’t fit anyone.

It’s no secret why this is true. Education is personal. Each human being is unique. We each have a different learning style and strength. We learn at different paces. The best education environment is one-on-one. Find what feeds the child’s curiosity. Let the child experience the joy of discovery. We are all children in that regard.

Common Core is about as far away from being personal as it can get. It is designed to create “workers.” It prepares children for junior college. The ACT and SAT tests have been altered to test for this objective.

School districts have had the program mandated upon them, so they have no choice. Parents can choose private schools or home schooling as the only ways their children can get a “personal education.”

Christel Swazey has posted a letter on the website www.whatiscommoncore.com from a teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District. The letter tells of the elimination of special education programs and the removal of all advanced placement teachers. One size fits all. Go to Swazey’s site for the full letter and a comprehensive history of Common Core.

Back to the condition of local education: I would like nothing better than to find that I am wrong, that our district is not compliance- and fear-driven, that there is no bullying and intimidation. You can help. Tell me what your experiences have been and what you believe. I don’t really want names if anonymity is your preference. My telephone is 427-0744, email [email protected] and my mailing address is 1006 Longspur Drive, Suisun City, CA 94585.

Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or [email protected]

Murray Bass


Discussion | 13 comments

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  • 11June 07, 2014 - 2:52 am

    Swasey is last name, not swazey, of person who wrote above mentioned letter ()

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  • 1June 07, 2014 - 2:57 am

    Also it is actually: whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com

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  • BobJune 07, 2014 - 7:35 am

    It's well known that the FSUSD is among the worst in California due to the mismanagement by the school board and stupidintendent, ( not correct but what I wanted)

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  • MikeJune 07, 2014 - 8:59 am

    Can you justify such a statement? It isn't well known to me. I would be interested to know all the things that make this District the worst in California. (Facts would be nice instead of feelings.)

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  • a different perspectiveJune 07, 2014 - 8:40 am

    From the perspective of one who works in a neighboring school district, FSUSD is the envy of many other districts. It has been recognized repeatedly with Distinguished School honors for many of its schools and has a relatively stable faculty and staff. There are fewer job openings in the district, because it is one of the highest paying Solano County. Teachers in my district make, on average, $10,000 less than FSUSD teachers make. The fact that the principal and a teacher chose to make their exit so public says more about their need for attention than anything. I'm sure the teacher going to Amador county has other reasons and wanted to jump on the principal's bandwagon to kick some sand at her former employer. Happy people don't behave that way. They both must be very unhappy people and should think about working on themselves before they work in another district. As for the principal's behavior, if that is his way of showing leadership, then FSUSD is better off without him. There is always more to the story and personnel information is not open to the public. The principal has all the protection and the district can't say a thing publicly.

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  • davis53June 07, 2014 - 9:57 am

    After reading this column, is it true that Fairfield High has no accreditation? Do the other high schools in the district have accreditation? This is disturbing news that I was not aware of.

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  • LarrJune 07, 2014 - 10:40 am

    The Superintendent needs to go.

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  • JagJune 07, 2014 - 11:48 am

    A little known secret some schools are below state standards and if your child is due to go to one you can opt out, at that point the school district has to move your child and pay for the busing, it did happen to me and I found this information and they did not like it, But you have to do it in the summer so please all you parents get on it right now find out if your school is testing to state standards and if not get down to the district and force them to move your child, if enough parents do this they will be forced to major changes,

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  • davis53June 07, 2014 - 1:06 pm

    I understand you can get your child transferred to another school, if the current school is below standards. I would like to get my child out of the FSUSD. It is not a over the summer fix to get these problem schools up to the standards we expect our schools to be. The children suffer for the rest of their lives because of the schools.

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  • JagJune 07, 2014 - 1:16 pm

    Oh no it is not over the summer fix but lets take one school my daughter was due to go a few years back way out on E Tabor, I made the distract move her to a school in west Fairfield, Can you imagine if all parents at one school in the next 4 weeks pull their kids out of a below standard school they would have to shut it down, and by the way I moved her to Travis district now and thank god she is my last,,

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  • davis53June 07, 2014 - 5:36 pm

    Jag, My daughter goes to that school on E Tabor, and I am working to get her in to the Travis district.

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  • JagJune 07, 2014 - 6:49 pm

    I could not remember the name ,,, Grange right? about 4 years ago they were below state standards, it is very hard to get into Travis school on a transfer because FSUSD wants to keep the money,, I mean child,, so they tried to transfer her to green valley middle school and I thru a fit so we ended up at Golden West middle school which was a blessing, please check the rating and very best to you and your child,,

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  • Community parent/laid off teacherOctober 19, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    FSUSD has multiple openings right now for teachers and several are immediate openings; meaning there are classes with no permanent teacher and a new substitute every day without lesson plans. There are always openings of some kind, just not always publicized. The dollar amount of pay in FSUSD is often more than other districts. But I'd venture if the teachers from outside the district were in the same situation, more teachers from outside the district would rather work where they currently are for less money in an happier/more supportive teaching environment than for FSUSD. I'm not sure why other districts would be envious of FSUSD... except if they're jealous of the "say one thing and do another to get money" skills FSUSD has developed! Half of the parents are part of the group "blissfully unaware" of the problems, while the other half are part of the group "continuously frustrated" at the "blissfully unaware" group. There are some really great programs in FSUSD! But there are also some eye sores. It needs to bring back its vocational programs to draw back in/identify with the kids that are not college bound; thus keeping them out of our justice system and creating productive members of our community. Draw them in by appealing to their skills (cooking, automotive, construction, etc) and then show them just how math, science, history, and all the other "useless" school classes actually benefit their future.

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