Editor's Note: School reform on the horizon

By Richard Wiens, The Triplicate December 01, 2011 03:36 pm

You’ll be hearing a lot in the coming months about efforts to reform Del Norte schools. Meetings have been held, visits have been made to other school districts that might serve as models, and more meetings are on the horizon.

Upcoming articles will focus on where our schools and students stand in comparison to the rest of California, what types of reforms we may be looking at and the timeline for adopting and implementing them.

The newspaper’s on-line poll at triplicate.com recently sought opinions on Del Norte schools. A little over half the respondents, 353 (66.9 percent), said the schools are not doing well enough and need to be improved. The other 174 (33.1 percent) agreed with the statement that the schools are “generally doing a good job of educating our children.”

The majority of students responding to a recent survey of their own said they’d like tougher coursework and more advice regarding their vocational futures. You can read more about that in the first installment of our upcoming report on Del Norte education.

Here are some other recent results from the on-line poll, which, keep in mind, is not a scientific sampling like some of the million or so polls you’ll hear about leading up to next year’s presidential election:

• Break-ins: We’re also preparing a report on burglary statistics after all the recent concern about crime in Del Norte. The current poll asks people if their residences here have ever been broken into. So far, 199 (59.4 percent) have said “no,” and 136 (40.6 percent) have said “yes.”

• Recycling: Are we recycling more now that Recology Del Norte is supplying those big blue containers and accepting additional items at curbside? Apparently so; 257 respondents (65.6 percent) said “yes” while 135 (34.4 percent) said “no.” That’s in line with the collection company’s own statistics, which show it collecting tons more recycling every month.

• Tsunami Landing: The real barn-burner in recent on-line polling was over the city’s decision to tear down the covered pedestrian walkway downtown. Was that the right move? Respondents were split, with 296 saying “yes” and 295 saying “no.”

Less debatable is the fact that, with the Landing gone, Tsunami Plaza enjoyed something of a coming-out party last Saturday as hundreds of people converged on downtown to kick off the holiday season. And why not? Santa landed in a helicopter and led the light parade that concluded with a tree-lighting, entertainment and kiddie lap consultations in a plaza blazing with color.

Hopefully, residents will continue to think local as they do their holiday shopping. Some stores are keeping longer hours, and there are special events coming up tonight through Sunday.

Want your gifts to say something about the scenic paradise Del Norters live in? Check out the inventory at the redwood parks’ Visitor Center on Second Street, where an open house and book signing will be held tonight from 4 to 7 p.m.

From Friday through Sunday, about 80 vendors will be selling their wares at the annual Holiday Fair at the county fairgrounds.

Santa is expected there as well. Think about it: If the big guy in the red suit endorses local gift-giving for the holidays, who are we to disagree?