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04 October 2017



George….you've used two different spellings for "Ghidotti". You probably want to edit….yeah…that's the ticket…edit your post, lest a certain former Union editor suffer an aneurysm .

George Rebane

fish 352pm - Many thanks Mr fish; aneurysm prevented (postponed?).


What troubles me that education is a key to economic development in Nevada County, yet it's importance is not recognized. Companies move to areas with a trained workforce. To my knowledge, little has been done by the ERC to bolster the educational performance of Nevada County Schools which are in decline, yet the education performance in a community is a vital element of economic development.

A research study of education and economic development shows that:

• There is a clear consensus among researchers that education enhances productivity.

• Research indicates that quality public schools can help make states and localities more economically competitive.

• Public schools indisputably influence residential property values.

• Emerging evidence suggests that the quality, size, and shape of school facilities themselves affect economic development.

The number three item in the decision tree for moving to a new community for a job, or to move a business, is the quality of the schools, this is especially true of Millennials Nevada County needs to focus on improving their public schools if they are serious about economic development. This should be an ERC priority. No, it should be the priority of the whole community!


First, yes, Ghiddotti (sic) does a good job teaching cherry picked kids, leaving behind Nevada Union and Bear River schools hollowed out. The kids who got in should do well (and their parents assured they are indeed above average) but even Ghidotti cripples the kids with Common Core math, at least until they move into the Sierra College curriculum.

At least for the 23 years I've been witness to the schools in Nevada County, they've stunk, held up only by the whiteness of the kids and their facility with the English language... yes, it is easier to learn in English if you're a native speaker and those test results Terry McAteer used to hold up to the county showing us beating even Marin County was only because they had many more English Language Learners to educate. Middle Class White vs. Middle Class White, Marin beat us every time. Badly.

But now, with the statewide STAR exams and the companion Academic Performance Index dead for years, with only the wretched "Smarter Balanced" exams designed as companions to Common Core given, the continuing drop in academic preparedness is hard for parents to see and easy for the school apologists to paper over. And as a result of the CSU system continuing problem with incoming high school grads being waylaid with a year or more of remedial math and language classes before being able to take for credit classes, the CSU system has responded... by eliminating the remedial classes and placement exams, instead using a combination of grades and other exams to determine who might need extra help when they jump right into the shallow end of the academic pool.

This will be getting worse before it gets better. It's not yet so bad that everyone can see it.




Amazing news from "Jeff Pelline's Sierra Foothills Report"... Ghidotti doesn't cherry pick students!

The proof is from their application... "you will not be disqualified based solely on test scores or grades.”

In other words... it won't just be because your grades or test scores suck, they will find something else.

Jeff, they cherry pick students. The 45 students that defined the 'best high school in the state' had high scores to begin with.


"In Nevada County, where we attempt to halt the departure of our tech and manufacturing companies and attract new ones, our schools are not helping, save for an outlier, the exemplary but very selective Ghidotti Early College High School. For example, Nevada Union High School students’ performance in mathematics, critical for all STEM related careers in technology and manufacturing, 70% did not meet standards. In English literacy, two out of five performed below standard. The Bear River High School students scored better with one out of six failing to meet the literacy standard, but still had half of their students unable to meet the math standard." -GR in the post above

Let's be clear... all of those exemplary kids at Ghidotti would have been attending Nevada Union or Bear River if they hadn't been plucked out to fill out the manufactured #1 high school in an otherwise lackluster county in one of the poorest performing states.

Let's also be clear what meeting the "standards" are aligned with... supposedly being ready for "college level work" in uncompetitive colleges. The colleges that are the bottom of your list safety schools... not UC Berkeley, not UCLA, not CalTech, not Harvey Mudd, not Stanford. CSU Chico. Sac State. Sierra College. But even the faculty at the CSU are fighting the changes that are being rammed down their throats, to accept the Smarter Balanced exams and forgo their own placement exams that have placed over half of the kids starting in the CSU into remedial math and language classes.

It is getting worse, not better.

Don Bessee

How about a side of grade inflation with that? While SAT scores are on a downward trajectory the students who are getting scores below their predecessors have significantly higher GPA's. Snowflake enablers? ;-)


Grade inflation? I really don't think it's the issue, outside of the 5 point scale for AP classes, rationalized because they're generally more difficult and colleges generally know what schools pad the GPA more than others.

A big problem I see is that the CSU system, with standards going down the tubes, are where most of the K-12 teachers in California get their degrees. There isn't a demand for teachers who had high SATs... as McAteer told my first wife's cohort of the freshly credentialed circa 1999... the local schools like their newly hired teachers to be "young and stupid".

Don Bessee

While it may not be THE issue Gregory it is a national issue and an unsatisfactory trend. If the grades are inflated then the kids and families think everything is fine. That is until they hit the bonehead English and math wall. I am reliably informed that the Dark Lord of Liberal Lament Land has issues with my 1229. Let him disprove its accuracy. ;-)


I hooked a flounder!

Pelline, referencing my 12:19 above, writes

Small towns are a hoot, with all the self-appointed know-it-all’s. Our self-appointed small town “academic” know-it-all is Gregory Goodknight.

In the latest misconception, he writes with confidence: “Let’s be clear… all of those exemplary kids at Ghidotti would have been attending Nevada Union or Bear River.”
No, Gregory. Other options exist for these smart kids too, such as Jesuit or St. Francis. And more kids are going to these schools from the foothills.

You really have to hate the local public schools to send your kid on a 2 to 3 hour round trip to a boy's or girl's Catholic high school... is that what you would have done with your kid had he not gotten accepted into Ghiddotti, Jeff? No, before NU and to a lesser extent Bear River got hollowed out, that really wasn't on anyone's radar.

Gregory doesn’t “get” Ghidotti admissions process either. ““If there are more qualified applicants than spaces available, selection will be made through a LOTTERY.” LOTTERY does not equal “CHERRY PICK.”

Jeffie, if they were just taking all the kids who applied and putting them into a lottery, it wouldn't be cherry picking... it's the bar set for "qualified applicants" that constitutes the cherry picking. Claiming a lottery if there were so many they couldn't accept them all, that's just window dressing for the social climbers.

Ahhh, to have one's child to get one of the golden spots. You must feel so very special, Jeff.


And another false spinning by Pelline the Fabulist:

Gregory responds, that wasn’t on “anyone’s radar.” Ha! In a nutshell, that sums up the myopic views of old timers like Gregory and Don. Their idea of worldly is a weekend jaunt to Solvang. All politics are local. ROFLOL.

Yes, Jeff, there wasn't anyone with their head on straight that would subject their kid to a 2 or 3 hour round trip to a Catholic high school down the hill rather than send their kid to Nevada Union or Bear River high schools, unless there was something else besides academics driving them. At least before Ghidotti hollowed out the college prep tracks at our community's accept all comers comprehensive high schools.

Bizarre how he stuck Solvang in there out of the blue. "Worldly" isn't the issue, having good schools for all, is. Nevada Union has been hollowed out and Nevada County is the worse for it.

Barry Pruett

Of course test scores are going to be higher when you have better students selected for a school that is a college prep school. Most kids at Nevada union could not handle the curriculum at Ghidotti. Kudos to get Ghidotti. It's wonderful that we have such a good school and great students in our small quaint County. Based on the selection procedure for the students though, it seems like the school is better not because it's a better school only, but because they have better students. You should not argue with the Pelline. You know he's always right and the debate will continue endlessly until you finally give up and give him the last word. Lol

Bill Tozer

I remember reading Palo Alto High (?) scores fell drastically in the State rankings in a recent year. The story told how the students walked out of class when it came time to take the Commin Core tests. Why? Because the tests could be used to rate their teachers, which would be most unfair in the students’ eyes. No teacher left behind.

The shocking discovery reading the article was that the State of California decided not to release the score tests that year. The school scoring was based on test participation rate! Being a transitional year to Common Core, the teachers unions and Education Bureaucrat Bigwigs thought it best to not release nor judge the actual results. In lieu of facts, we got scores based upon test participation rates. Maybe your school scored 95% that year. Palo Alto High’s score sunk like a rock that year, ROFLMAO.

Robert Cross

Another factor is student motivation to take the tests in the first place. Kids who don't care about school (probably because their parents don't value education) just walk in and mark the score sheet without reading the questions.


"Most kids at Nevada union could not handle the curriculum at Ghidotti"-Barry P

Most kids at Ghidotti would have a hard time handling the curriculum my son tackled at NU. So did he at times.

"Kudos to get Ghidotti. It's wonderful that we have such a good school and great students in our small quaint County."

The students were here before Ghidotti school started scooping them out of the track leading to the comprehensive high schools, and there's the rub, Barry... NUHS has had the core taken out.

"Based on the selection procedure for the students though, it seems like the school is better not because it's a better school only, but because they have better students"

Perhaps not for long... here's a blurb from a Ghidotti document describing the curriculum:
"In the 2014-15 school year, our math teacher adopted College Preparatory Mathematics’ “Geometry Connections.” Not only is the textbook aligned with the new content standards, but the curriculum fully incorporates Common Core’s “Standards for Mathematical Practice.” Each lesson challenges students to persevere through difficult problems, construct written and oral arguments, and reason both abstractly and quantitatively."

The Ghidotti math teacher didn't actually major in math (and to teach it at Sierra College takes a Master's in math or a finding of equivalence) but then neither did the author of the Common Core's "Standard for Mathematical Practice", one Phil Daro and when he arrived at UC Berkeley fromm the East Coast, he was raring to go to become a particle physicist... but as Barbie might have been programmed to say, "physics is hard!". So Daro became a math major but, well, math is also hard. He ended up graduating with a BA in English.

He weaseled his way into writing math standards for the State of California in 1992, and that started the Math Wars in the mid '90's. By the time Whole Math was pushed back out of the schools, it was 2006 and Daro got hired... to be the CHAIRMAN and chief author of the Common Core math standards. Despite not having any degree in math or a math based subject. Yes, dear friends, Phil Daro could not be hired to teach Math at Sierra College (or Nevada Union High School which also requires a "real math degree"), but the year Bill Gates funded the Ghidotti Early College High School (2006) was also the year Bill Gates' money hired Phil Daro to do to the entire country what he did to California in the '90's... put math learning into the dumpster.

Look, Gates is a very smart guy for a Harvard dropout. He's won a lot of battles by hiring experts and doing what they tell him works. But he hired the wrong experts to tell him what is needed in education.

Bonnie McGuire

Ask the students. The one I know that graduated from Ghidotti was very motivated...like her two brothers who were bored with regular high school. One attended a charter high school because of the higher standards and others who wanted to learn.


Ask the students who moved into the area after selections for Ghidotti's ninth grade class were made. Pretty much forever blocked from the school before they got here... before (in the case I'm thinking of) their dad got a job in Grass Valley and moved here.

The one who attended "a charter high school"... which high school was that, Bonnie?


The floating fat man writes,

If Greg Goodknight had earned his master’s in EE from MIT, Cal, Harvard or Cal Tech instead of Loyola Marymount, his opinion on higher education might carry more weight! lol.

A classic ad hominem... he couldn't fault me for my statements here, so he claims my opinion would carry more weight if I had an MSEE from some other school. Well, Jeff, we all can't warm a Northwestern seat for a year for a useless masters in journalism, and we can't all warm a UC Berkeley seat for four years to learn "rhetoric". one of the original trivial arts (look it up).

Perhaps if Jeff had earned his degrees at Cal State Hayward or Chico, but in math, physics, chemistry or engineering, he'd have something to say about math, physics, chemistry or engineering and the preparation to study them.

Barry Pruett

...and he might have a job. Lol.


Posted by: Barry Pruett | 06 October 2017 at 03:02 PM

...and he might have a job. Lol.

Coffee Retrieval Technician is a job.


Now Jeffie is throwing a list of popular undergraduate majors taken at Loyola Marymount, a fine regional university run by the Jesuits and the largest Catholic university on the west coast, and remarking how Electrical Engineering isn't one of them. Nope, EE is hard. While I'd not bothered to apply there as an undergraduate (and neither did my kid despite both his mom and dad earned Masters degrees there, nor would I have counseled him to do so) was just down the block from my office at Hughes Aircraft and, while Hughes hired engineers advertising for "BS in EE or Physics", I decided to earn at least one degree in Electrical Engineering or Computer Science to round my BS in Physics from that bastion of all the Liberal Arts, Harvey Mudd College. After all, with Hughes paying for it, it didn't cost nuthin' but my spare time. I also worked at Hughes with a couple of the professors, who, unlike professors who weren't actually working for a living, you could ask questions like "what sort of problems do real phase lock loops at that frequency pose?" and they could talk about it without skipping a beat. I remember talking about my reasons for doing that with a manager of mine a few years later, a few years older and just a BS Physics from the same HMC. He said, with some resignation about his experiences getting past HR that was a real good idea.

LMU is #3 in western regional universities. Santa Clara U is #2. CalPoly SLO is 11th.

LMU is #19 on the list of undergraduate Engineering programs (no doctoral program), by US News. CalPoly SLO is 7th.

Harvey Mudd is #1 on that list.

Mudd is also #12 on their list of Liberal Arts colleges... you see Jeff, Mudd is a liberal arts college of math, science and engineering. In fact, the liberal arts included math and science. Always have.

Now, none of that really means anything. I can think you under the table, Jeff, which is why you won't let me post on your blog directly.

Bill Tozer

There is dignity in all work. Sometimes it is just not readily apparent to the most discriminating eye. Somebody has to lack the plates clean when the dog is under the weather suck and somebody has to suck the farts out of restaurant cushions after our food and wine....and wine....and more wine....and mountains of food and tankers of wine critic leaves the formerly clean and tidy eating establishment.

Hmm. What we have here is a guy who chose not to send his kid to public schools (a sign of a caring parent). Oddly he sure defends the government run public education system as well as worshipping the ground D. Terry McAteer walks on. Weird. Do as I say, not as I do. Typical lefty MO. It gets really real where the rubber meets the food...er, where the rubber meets the road.

Don Bessee

What's left for the dark lord of liberal lament land Gregory? Whipping out his mensa score? That is if he has one. ;-)


Jeffie's cow is about fully dilated...

Greg Goodknight and his endless stream of B.S. is almost too much to bear. For an “independent software engineer at his place” who fancies himself as “thinking people under the table,” Mr. Science got a big, fat “F” when it came to understanding what basic science concepts such as “vapor lock” mean.

Aw, shucks, Mr. Creosote is now bringing up my one airplane accident that the NTSB did not find me at fault for. And while understanding "vapor lock" is easy, predicting it is hard... and it isn't a basic science concept.

And no, Greg, electrical engineering is not part of the liberal arts curriculum. https://opa.berkeley.edu/approved-degrees-university-california-berkeley-0 roflol. Small towns are a hoot!

I wrote "in fact, the liberal arts included math and science. Always have".

You see, Jeff, you hallucinated me claiming the artes liberales involved engineering. Kinda like you hallucinated the name of the one real math class you took as being "engineering calculus".

George Rebane

Gentlemen - I don't want to seem irreverent, but are we still poring over the vicissitudes of the crisis in Nevada County education?

Don Bessee

One could argue that the false presentations and bullying of lefty opinion bloggers on the subject are part of the problem. ;-)


Following up on DB's 726 comment, I tend to agree with him. The rotund fellow in question does bully and distort the issues of education in Nevada County.

Let's revisit the claims by Pelline... that, if it were not for Ghidotti, the "smart kids" would be going down the hill every day in a 2 to 3 hour round trip to one of the separate sexed Catholic high schools... and the single largest Catholic University on the west coast (like the boy's high school, operated by the Jesuit order) wasn't worth talking about, apparently only because my first wife and I both earned Master's degrees there.

I'm pretty sure it was only the very occasional die-harder Catholic booster or malcontent who did that before Ghidotti started operation.

Personally, were my son in the 8th grade I'd be searching for a school that did not use the misnamed College Preparatory Math Geometry or any other CPM text, which all date to the 1989 NCTM "Standards" that, at the time, like the Common Core "Standards for Mathematical Practice", were standards not for what mathematics a student should understand well enough to use but rather, how to teach it. It didn't work in the '90's and it isn't working now.

Ghidotti has scooped out the top students, 4 or 5% of the total in the county, for special treatment. That's all the testing has really shown. Countywide, 70% of 11th graders are below the standard set for mathematics, and that means 70% aren't prepared for even Sierra College's entry level math, let alone a UC or especially any of the top three for a Bachelor of Science leading to a PhD... CalTech, Harvey Mudd and MIT.

The comprehensive high school model dies when the academic core is shuttled off for special treatment, the cream skimmed off the top. This is the sad result.


Mr. Creosote kept it up.:

Goodknight writes: “My one airplane accident …” Greg, most pilots have none. Glad you’re safe!

Awww, isn't that nice! Jeff cares! Nice virtue signaling there, Jeff.
Yes, Jeff, some of us, like Sollenberger, have taken off only to land much sooner than we planned. And some of us have been found innocent of error by the NTSB and FAA. No handslap. No retraining. Sweet.

It is unusual to have an accident and not get a finding of pilot error. And one investigator told me that it was very good to talk to me because most of the time with an engine failure soon after takeoff there isn't anyone to talk to.

And, while that accident was an E-ticket ride that I'd not have taken were the implications clearer, it did mean the plane got "sold" to the insurer for slightly more than the retail value at the time, making it possible to find a faster and more capable replacement and get it insured.

I'd offer you a ride, Jeff but there's no way the Weight and Balance would be within legal limits even if you could fit. Sorry!

Bill Tozer

Let’s muddy the waters. From the Santuary City and Bathhouse Chronicle:


Trends up, down, or flat, CA schools suck. The results are unacceptable. Period.


Toes, yes, California schools as a whole, as you say, suck, and it is getting worse. We now have a couple generations of teachers graduating from the CSU (and other schools that crank out the teacher corps across the country) that have bought into the project and exploration models of learning. The kids learn from each other and the teacher remains a "guide on the side" versus "the sage on a stage" most of us remember. In other words, the Socratic Model only without a Socrates guiding the inquiry.

In 1675, Issac Newton wrote "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Today's K-12 students are standing on the shoulders of their fellow children, and their teachers often don't know much more. Content knowledge's value by teachers isn't as valued as it was in Will Rogers' time... you can't teach what you don't know anymore than you can come back from where you ain't been but you can help a student feel good about their groping in the dark for the knowledge they think they're seeking.

We all sort of assume that a CSU student preparing for a career as a teacher would have mastered elementary school math, but multiple CSU math professors who teach the methods classes for, say, 7th grade pre-algebra have written that before they can teach the prealgebra teaching methods they have to bring the class up from the 4th grade level skills they have and bring them to the brink of being ready to learn algebra. It's a farce to think they understand even the basics and they're the ones "teaching" K-8.

Then they get to high school not knowing very much math and the high school gets to hold the bag despite not being the cause of their failure. And, in a school like Ghidotti that runs all their prospective students through Sierra College's math (and English) placement exams and gets to choose who will get in and who will be attending NU or BR, they know what they are getting. But don't call it "cherry picking" or Pelline might take exception.

But, even at NU and BR, kids will muddle through, make the minimum scores to attend a non-selective college and, yes, they will become teachers who just love teaching kids.

Paul Emery

George who should take the lead responsibility for upgrading our school system to your liking ? Should be local state or federal ?

George Rebane

PaulE 1017pm - Rebane Doctrine has always called for education to be as local as resources allow. And now that distance learning has advanced to a high level, and the quality of union-qualified classroom teachers has reached new lows, it seems that the time has come to get the state and the feds out of the public education business. This, of course, requires the restructuring the way taxes flow up and then back down. Redistribution of education monies between jurisdictions must also be addressed, but in a manner that allows the decisions to be made at county and municipality levels.

Any solutions to maintain the status quo must answer the Einstein insanity plea.

Paul Emery

I believe that education is a function of our culture and should be as local as possible. This seems to be a calling for more folks to run for school boards as a start.

George Rebane

PaulE 1033am - I'm not sure how you see "more folks to run for school boards as a start" to get things moving toward local control. The control of education and its involved monies is first and foremost a political problem of the highest order - i.e. enabling legislation originating in Congress and the state legislatures. The local school boards have proven themselves to be nothing more than high priests/priestesses of the educational status quo genuflecting only to the next politically correct prescriptions from on high to lower the bar and keep the system broken.

Maybe you can expand on your interpretation of "education is a function of our culture" (with which I agree), and tie it to a feasible turnaround.

Paul Emery

What does Congress have to do with local control of schools George? What I was referring to is electing school board members that support local control of schools. If that became the norm then it would be the beginning of a movement that could have effect because it would reflect desires for local support. Hopelessly naive of me I agree but it's a start.

I'll talk to you more about culture and education when I have a little time.

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