“What’s Next for Hawthorne?” [Issue #668]
Hawthorne’s looming destruction involvesmore than gutting beautiful, irreplaceablebuildings. It swings the wrecking ball atcommon sense, educational achievement,and at the School Board’s integrity.This is a project in search of a justifica-tion. You’d think that safety issues wouldbe front and center. But unfortunately forthe knock ‘em sock ‘em building com-mittee, Hawthorne is structurally sound.Earlier, lack of storage space was floatedas trial balloon A in the why-are-we-doing-this derby. Evidently, that cubby didn’t fly.Flattening an entire school to add storagespace isn’t very sexy.I can only imagine the brainstormingsessions raging at district offices and atarchitectural firms eager for a share of the loot. The
’s article listed thefollowing reasons: modifying classroomsto accommodate “21st century learningcommunities,” moving bathrooms from thewrong places to the right places, removingan auditorium balcony inaccessible to non-stair climbers, adding a gymnasium, relo-cating the library to a more central spot, andunderground parking. To be helpful, I’vedone a little brainstorming myself. Howabout a movie theater? Giant video gameplayrooms? A Viking theme park with Leif Ericson boat rides?The Board should be congratulated fortaking steps to fulfill its mission. Accordingto BHUSD’s new mission statement, eachstudent should be, “empowered to achieveacademic excellence.” How any elemen-tary school student can achieve academicexcellence without underground parking isbeyond me.BHUSD.org proclaims, “Nothing willtake precedence over the elementary throughsecondary instructional program.” Well, oneschool razing reason actually relates to aca-demic excellence and instruction. But, it’sdetrimental to both. Learning communitiesis code for a failed education reform for-merly called student-centered learning. LikeMarxism and all edu-fads, student-centeredlearning sounds great in theory, especiallyto progressive teaching types. The troubleis that it hasn’t worked anywhere in real-ity. Hence the nuanced and brilliant namechange, kind of like canning global warm-ing in favor of “climate change”. You can’teven say, “21st century learning communi-ties” in anything but hushed tones of aweand respect.At the risk of being sent to the principal’soffice, I’m going to chuck the pomposityand call student-centered learning by itsreal name. For one thing, it’s more accurateand descriptive. Student-centered learningmeans that students learn primarily fromeach other; the teacher being relegated tothe role of facilitator, or perhaps catch-ing up on spider solitaire during class.Student-centered philosophy also embraces“discovery learning.” That is, students don’tsit around a circle taking turns reading outof a textbook and doing exercises. No sir.To learn about Boyle’s Law, they need todiscover Boyle’s Law from scratch. Asyou might imagine, actual learning in stu-dent-centered learning is quite slow, if ithappens at all. On the other hand, everyoneinvolved ends up feeling really good aboutthemselves. That, by the way, explains whystudent-centered learning is such a long-lived edu-fad. The only thing that educatorsfind more amazing than feeling good aboutthemselves is thinking that kids might befeeling good about themselves.So, in a nutshell (or a nut house, I’m notsure which), Hawthorne’s destruction willa) accomplish a series of follies like pre-venting able bodied people from sitting inthe balcony because physically challengedpeople need to sit on ground level, b) willlikely send Hawthorne’s API scores into akamikaze tailspin, c) breaks a promise tothe taxpayers not to raise tax rates ahead of
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Issue 668 • July 19 -July 25,2012
New office buildingandparkingstructure approvedat SpaldingandWilshire
Boardof Educationpostponesvote onhome lease withWoods
cover story • pages 8-9
Board of Education toconsider the merits of historic preservationversus new construction
Inside Beverly Hills—BHTV10
Inside Beverly Hills,
moderated by columnist Rudy Cole, will next air on July 26 at3:30 p.m. and July 27 at 10 p.m. about the Rodeo Drive Committee; July 27 at 6:30p.m. about Theatre 40; and July 30 at 8 p.m., July 31 at 6 p.m. and Aug. 1 at 5 p.m.about Beverly Hills Theatre Guild.
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