On Wednesday, Adele Andrade-Stadler was reappointed to the Alhambra Unified School District school board, which she has been serving on for the past 12 years. Before that, she had served on a variety of school-related committees, such as the report card committee, and ran for school board in 2004 because she was concerned about how Alhambra’s schools were using their budgets to serve students. Andrade-Stadler reflects on what she’s done and what she plans to do with this next term.
Why did you decide to run for the school board all those years ago?
I had been part of a congressional office, working with a congress member, and we — on occasion — would go to different schools, and see the shapes that they were in, and clearly Alhambra, which she represented, clearly Alhambra needed a lot of help with the infrastructure. So when they had plans to bond, and it’s partly due to their oversight committee whoever that was, things just didn’t get done quick enough for me, and there were a few doors on the bathrooms that were not on, in the high schools, and things like that, after we had passed a substantial bond, and that was one of the things that thrusted me into running for school board, because maybe they didn’t know what they were doing in terms of spending the money.
What issues do you want to tackle in your next term?
For the last couple of years, the state of California and [Governor Jerry Brown] have really taken all the districts in California to task to make sure we’re reaching each and every student. So that means our homeless population, which believe it or not we have, our foster kids, who become foster kids if they become homeless. There’s almost a pipeline there. And, of course, our English language learners, which are our Vietnamese, our Chinese-speaking and our Spanish-speaking — both parents and students. They’re going through our programs. So now there’s money that was separated from the whole budget that needs to go directly to them and make sure that they’re identified, and make sure they’re getting all their needs met, along with their academic needs, like tutoring. And we have a wonderful gateway program that supports them as a student whose parents may be unemployed, and they need to know where the resources are.
Our test scores come out on Wednesday, so you’ll get to see what we’ve done. They removed the California State Standards Test, and now there’s a different term for it. And we’ll be able to get a better idea of how they’re doing under the new local control accountability class that we have put in place. So we just have the last word on it, but we have our administrators who are helping us find out what exactly needs to happen in order for kids to do better, along with the Common Core standards. So it’s called the California Assessment for Student Performance and Progress. This will be the second year that we’ll get the information about our schools. Looking at that, we need to check out why do those scores matter. And then also looking at, “Are they ready for college?” What percentages of students are prepared for college? Of course, career as well. Are they linked to the state’s accountability system? We’ll look at our science scores, which are the 5th, 8th and 10th graders. And then parents can take a look individually at their child’s scores. So we’re always looking for science programs, and the robotics, and I heard we have some new things coming out.
So that API is no longer there. I’m sure they’ll begin to rank schools, after they see how they’re doing, because this is only the second year.
The governor completely changed the way not only in how we receive dollars, but the way we’re teaching our students by adopting the Common Core. It’s all more project-based learning, rather than paper-pencil. Right? They’re tested on the computer. And if they don’t answer a question, it asks it differently, because it takes into account potential cultural differences. It also tries to get them to work a little bit more at finding the answer.
We’re [also] looking at policies to remove the combo classes. What are combo classes? That’s when you have the 3rd and 4th graders together. And usually that’s done because there are less kids per class. If you have three in 3rd grade, and 18 in 4th grade, you may put those 3rd graders in a 4th grade class, and vice versa. And then the state still offers us the 20-to-1 — I think it’s paid through 3rd grade. So if we maintain our classrooms at 20-to-1, then we get a lot more support than if we put too many more than that in a classroom. So the whole idea is to move towards that, making sure we maintain that, and removing combo classes is a way to do that.
Can you tell us what you think of Alhambra Unified and the amount of resources it has? I know there’s a proposition tied into school funding in California.
Right, Proposition 55 (Proposition 55 is on the November 2016 ballot, and would extend an income tax increase on those making over $250,000 to fund schools and healthcare for 12 more years. -Editor). What Proposition 55 will do is help us maintain the dollars that we got a couple of years ago under Prop 30. They were dollars that were paid back to school districts that happened to lend — at the time Schwarzenegger was governor. We let them take dollars from us for — well, let’s just say that the state of California was drowning in 2008, and maybe a little bit before then, and so we allowed them to take some of the dollars. We had no choice really. And they took them with the idea that they would pay them back. They just started paying that back. And that came in the way of Prop 30. And that runs out in 2017. So now you see Prop 55 to their idea of supporting us. However, it’s a little bit different in how it’s written. Not exactly everything goes back to the schools.
This interview has been edited and condensed.