Moms (and Dads) on a Mission–San Anselmo, California

Torri Chappell, a teacher and mother from San Anselmo, California, has written here before about her experiences advocating for homework reform. When something strikes Torri as being wrong, she doesn’t hesitate to speak up, either in letter or in person.

Recently, when her School District had a meeting to talk about the school facility, Torri was on hand to talk about the importance of not only where children learn, but also what they learn.

What and How our Children Learn is More Important than Where They Learn
by Torri Chappell

We have two facility issues in Ross Valley resulting from abundance…an abundance of children and an abundance of assessments.

The first facility issue is regarding the facilities WHERE our children will learn. We have an abundance of students.

The second facility issue is regarding the district’s facility in making uninformed decisions about WHAT and HOW our children learn.

We have an abundance of rote instruction and timed assessments. We also have some inspired teaching happening but the former seems to be becoming more the norm.

In the case of the first issue, the district has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into informing and including the community in the situation and decision making around where our children will learn.

    * 5 town meetings in the last 10 days to inform and answer questions

    * a place on the website with an abundance of information and a place to submit feedback.

Bending over backwards to inform and address concerns. All of this before the decision is even made, before it has even effected any of the children. I commend the district on this effort.

However, regarding the second issue of what and how our children learn there has been little or no involvement of the community and questions and concerns are avoided and even discounted. No town meetings, no information on the website, no solicitation of feedback. Decisions are made, programs are rolled out, children are affected, parents have concerns and the communication remains one way. This is not honest, respectful, responsible, caring, trustworthy or kind (combined pillars of Communication Philosophy and Character from the mission/strategic plan). But most importantly it is harming the children and eroding the community’s trust in the district.

The process of addressing the issue of where our children learn makes it clear that this district is capable of soliciting and honoring community involvement, providing clear communication and being responsiveness to community concerns.

What and how our children learn is far more important than where our children learn and deserves at least equal time and consideration.

One thought on “Moms (and Dads) on a Mission–San Anselmo, California

  1. It’s always easier to focus on facilities than teaching and curriculum. Our area just voted down an expensive high school renovation plan, probably mostly because of the bad economy, but it may have helped if the school put out a parallel plan — just as specific & strategic as the facilities one — on how they’ll move learning into the 21st century and ensure consistently high-quality teaching. They did bring those things up, but only to say “we need new facilities to deliver 21st century education.” It’s a leap of faith many were not willing to make.


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