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02 September 2004

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I was shocked to read that Wendy Gudalewicz was hired to be the principal at Independence High School. I am just trying to figure out why she took this job, given that Independence offers Honors classes. When she resigned from Gilroy, it was "against her principles" to offer honors classes. I guess her principles can be bought for whatever Independence is paying her.

I am also wondering if she is only opposed to honors classes for Gilroy students, or for all students. I wonder if she will now work to disband the honors classes at Independence. I wonder if the parents, teachers and students at Independence are familiar with Wendy Gudalewicz's view of honors classes. Here it is:

[doug's inserted comment: the full text of Wendy Gudalewicz' "courgageous" letter, written 24-jun-2002, shortly after her departure from GHS, appears on the Enid Lee Consultants' website newsgroup -- http://boardserver.superstats.com/read.html?id=29&thread=29&f=1&u=enidlee]

"I was going to let last night be my last words, but Last night I was too emotional to say what I really wanted to say. I have spent four really great, actually FANTASTIC, years at Gilroy High School. They were tough years in that every change that has been made has been made with a fight. I have been willing to do whatever it takes to make Gilroy High School better for ALL students. My motto for the last four years has been that "we will make it work". We have made it work. By every indication, Gilroy High School is a better place for ALL students. We truly are on the path to excellence and I more than anyone else I know believed that we would meet our goals in 2004.

"It was hard for me to hear last night that there was a recommendation being made for honors classes at the 9th grade level. The hardest part was to hear that it was being made after reviewing the data, which data I cannot figure out, and after hearing all those affected by the decision. The only people who were heard are those who will be positively affected by the decision and that is sad. If anyone really wanted to hear from those who might be negatively affected, the discussion would have been opened up to ALL families not just GATE families. Many will argue that "people" did know, but I beg to differ. A notice about Monday's meeting was sent home to GATE families only and it was advertised in the Dispatch as a follow-up meeting to the GATE parent meeting on June 4. My staff received a note in their boxes about the meeting, but it did not describe the issues. I was being loyal and trusting of the District and the "process" and therefore, did not rally the troops, I could have and now I believe that I should have. I feel I have done a disservice to the students, parents and staff of Gilroy HIgh School by not informing them about this issue.

"I believe that everyone of us knows that this decision is not in the best interest of ALL students. Research tells us that tracking students is ineffective. Students in this District have been tracked K-8. In in fact this system of tracking is so effective then why do over half of our 9th graders come to us below grade level? Why is it that year after year the numbers of students in the "honors" classes at the middle schools stay relatively the same? Mani Corzo said that if we maintain open access policies the numbers will grow. I would like someone to show me the data that proves that true. We have fought to increase the numbers of students taking Advanced Placement classes and going on to college. This is not easy work because many of the students we have believe that they are not good enough. They have been educated in a system that continuously reminds them of this by segregating them from the "smarter" kids.

"Diane Elia, Bob Bravo and I are being sent to the Harvard Principal's Institute by the Stupski Foundation. We received a packet of informamtion last week which contained a number of articles that we were to read prior to attending. Here is an excerpt from one of those articles:

"Maslow's hierarchy of needs not only reminds us how essential it is for people to live within the context of a community, but it also shows us that the need for self-actualization necessary implies that every person has abilities that warrant specific development within themselves. In our educational system, however, it is often assumed that only a minority of students are gifted or have an individual calling and are capable of self-actualization. Yet this minority has been artificially created to a large degree by the fact that most schools only see those students with exceptional academic, athletic, and artistic abilities as being deserving of the opportunity to develop these talents...........Consequently, it is only a few priveledged students who are granted the luxury to work and concentrate in areas in which they naturally excel. Ironically, because of the prevailing paradigm of our educational system, the pursuits of children identified as "gifted and talented" often occur in segregated programs that can have a negative impact upon the child's sense of belonging."

"Why would our District send three of its principals to a program that would encourage us to NOT track students and one month prior to sending us tell us that we need to implement tracking at the 9th and 10th grade levels? I know it is easy to say that we are not tracking because it is "open access"; however, there is plenty of research out there to prove that open access is merely a way of making those who want to close access feel better about themselves. The argument is that if it is open then no one is responsible for locking anyone out. If a student doesn't "choose" the class then it is the students fault. Have any of you asked students how they feel about choosing into honors classes? I have and I know just how hard we have worked to convince students to try an Advanced Placement class and this is after they have been heterogeneously grouped.

"Last night Mani Corzo posed and argument for homogeneous grouping. He appealled to the coaches in the room by stating that high school athletic teams are homogeneous. I loved his analogy because it actually supports heterogeneity. Think about the Gilroy High School Football program. We have a Freshmen team, a JV team and a Varsity team. Think of these three teams as an English 1 team and English 2 team and an English 3 team. Now think of the Varsity team with the elite players. Mani wants you to believe that they are somehow all the same; however, try operating a football team with 40 lineman. A lineman cannot be a wide receiver and a wide receiver cannot be a lineman. Each player on the team has a unique talent and when they all come together they make the team. I told people today that the Lakers could not have won the playoffs with only 5 Shaqs!

"I want you all to know that I love my job, I love this high school and every student in it, but I can only implement what I believe in and what I believe in has to be good for ALL students. What we have done at this high school in the last four years has been great for ALL students and I am proud. I will leave this school with me head up high knowing that under my leadership this school is safer, has more students attending everyday, we met our API, we have more students taking Advanced Placement classes and more students passing the AP tests, we have more students being admitted to four year colleges and more students receiving scholarships. We have more Latino students than ever before enrolled in upper level science courses and meeting the A-G requirements for UC admisssion. I can also leave knowing that I will not be the one who has to re-track Gilroy High School.

"I am committed to working through the summer to ensure a smooth transition for next year and will do anything that needs to be done. I want to thank you all for your support over the years and wish this District and ALL of its students the absolute best. I will definitely miss the students, the GHS staff and all of the beautiful human beings that I have been blessed to get to know over the past four years. "

The letter written above was posted on Enid Lee's site. I wonder how Enid and company will feel now that their "courageous principal" has seemingly jumped ship. I must add that she sold out sooner than I would have predicted.

I'll be following this story closely. I intend to write about it further as I get more information.

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