Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 15, 2010

News Digest

Gunn, Paly among state's top six in SAT scores

Gunn and Palo Alto high schools rank in the top six California high schools in average SAT scores, according to data reviewed at the Palo Alto Board of Education meeting Oct. 12.

But the schools fall short of their goals in boosting college-prep rates for minority students.

The board reviewed charts and statistics on high school academic achievement prepared by William Garrison, the district's director of assessment and evaluation.

Garrison measured statistical progress against two of the district's "strategic plan goals" — making sure at least 85 percent of all graduates meet entrance requirements for California's public universities by 2012; and boosting the percentage of minority graduates who meet those requirements by at least 50 percent.

The district has met the first goal.

Garrison's data shows that 85 percent of the district's 2010 graduates met UC/CSU entrance requirements, compared with only 76 percent of 2009 graduates.

Results are mixed on the second goal of upping college readiness for Hispanic and African-American students, who comprise about 11 percent of high school enrollment.

This year, 46 percent of African-American graduates and 50 percent of Hispanic graduates met the UC/CSU entrance requirements — up from 43 percent and 34 percent in 2009. However, the 2009 numbers were worse than those for the class of 2008.

Palo Alto lags several high-achieving California high schools on the college-readiness measure, including San Francisco's Lowell High School and San Marino High School, where more than 90 percent of 2008 graduates met UC/CSU requirements.

SAT scores for the class of 2010 averaged 1,947 — 1,942 at Gunn and 1,951 at Paly.

District-wide, the average score was 635 in critical reading; 672 in math; and 640 in writing.

Those compare with statewide averages of 501 in critical reading; 516 in math and 500 in writing, and slightly lower averages for the nation as a whole.

This means that a student who ranked in the bottom quarter in Palo Alto would still rank in the top 25 percent of students when compared with their statewide or nationwide peers.

U.S. Treasury's Geithner to speak in Palo Alto

Nearly two years after being tasked with bringing the U.S. economy out of the Great Recession, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Timothy Geithner will talk about the nation's financial health at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto Monday (Oct. 18) at 1 p.m.

Geithner will address the Obama administration's proposals to help get more Americans back to work and help reinforce long-term growth at home as well as efforts to build a more stable financial system and to strengthen the global economy, according to the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley, the event organizer.

Geithner, 49, will be joined by moderator Michael Moritz, managing member of Sequoia Capital and former San Francisco bureau chief for Time magazine.

When Geithner became the treasury secretary in January 2009, he was charged with deciding which banks and other financial companies to rescue and under what conditions the funding would be given, according to the Washington Post.

Within his first month on the job, he played a key role in creating the administration's $787 billion economic-stimulus package. More recently, he helped shape the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhaul package, which took effect in July 2010, the Washington Post reported.

Before assuming the role of treasury secretary, Geithner helmed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He worked in three presidential administrations for five secretaries of the treasury. He served as under-secretary of the treasury for international affairs from 1999 to 2001 for secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers and was director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 until 2003.

Tickets for the event range from $10 for students to $50 for premium seating and are available by calling 800-847-7730 or visiting tickets.commonwealthclub.org.

The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center is located at 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.

Cat burglars drive off with family car

In the third burglary of an occupied home in Palo Alto in recent months, one or more persons entered a home in the 1100 block of Hamilton Avenue between Friday night, Oct. 8, and Saturday morning in the Crescent Park neighborhood.

The burglar entered by a side window, stole a purse and wallet and drove off with a family vehicle while the two residents were asleep upstairs, police Agent Brian Philip reported this week.

The car was found a short time later by Menlo Park police, abandoned along Woodland Avenue — indicating the burglar or burglars either walked into Palo Alto or had been dropped off.

An earlier home burglary occurred in the 1500 block of Hamilton, where burglars stole a large flat-panel television and drove off with the family minivan while the family slept upstairs. The minivan was later recovered in East Palo Alto, Philip said.

Another occupied-home burglary occurred in the 100 block of Waverley Street in early September. One person was arrested in that case following an early morning manhunt.

Federal working group formed on high-speed rail

A high-level federal "working group" that meets weekly to discuss California's high-speed rail project has been created in response to growing concerns about the viability of the California project, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo announced Monday, Oct. 11, in an interview with the Weekly.

Eshoo said the working group was created by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood following a Sept. 30 meeting of six Congress members from California and several high-level federal officials. The 90-minute meeting covered growing concerns about the rail project, currently estimated to cost $43 billion, which will link San Francisco to Los Angeles in its initial phase.

Eshoo said the congressmembers expressed concerns about the viability of the California project and leadership of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, based on several authoritative studies that questioned basic cost, design, process and ridership studies of the authority.

Eshoo said her own position is that some federal funds need to be freed up and applied directly to upgrading and electrifying the Caltrain commute service, struggling to fill a $2.3 million budget gap. Federal funding is from the Federal Railroad Administration under the Department of Transportation.

She said the federal officials at the meeting include Roy Kienitz, undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation, who was raised in the Palo Alto/Mountain View/Sunnyvale area.

Members of Congress at the meeting included Mike Honda, Jackie Speier, George Miller, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson and Eshoo.

— Jay Thorwaldson

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