Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011-03-01 "Experts: Improving graduation rates would revitalize Vallejo" by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen from "Vallejo Times Herald" newspaper
It will be hard to sell Vallejo as a great place to live, work and raise a family unless and until the school district improves. But plans are under way for an innovative transformation that could do that and more.
That was the main thrust of a Vallejo Chamber of Commerce-sponsored gathering of business, education, city and other officials Monday.
Jowel Laguerre of Solano Community College and James O'Connor of Touro University spoke about what their institutions are doing to improve their programs and help the community in general. And Floyd Gonella, outgoing interim Vallejo City Unified School District superintendent, discussed positive changes under way in the district.
But the meeting's main focus was to update progress in a yearlong effort to turn the district into one producing graduates with marketable skills.
"The business community needs to say to the district, 'the product you produce has to be one I can use,' and that's not necessarily happening now," said Vallejo City Councilwoman Erin Hannigan who attended Monday's meeting. "We're doing our students a disservice now."
Cecelia Mendoza and Ian Kaiser of the Education Task Force, which formed about a year ago, said their group has completed its strategic master plan to expand the district's academy system.
Some career academies are functioning in the district, and new ones and other improvements will be added over time.
"Education is key to transforming Vallejo," Kaiser said. "For

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