October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010
I have read the Mendocino Coast Educational Master Plan for the
Mendocino Coast Education Center College of the Redwoods. I attended
the public forum for the report on Friday October 8, 2010. I made a
statement during the meeting about the strengths and weaknesses of the
report. I said that I appreciated the planning process. It is essential for all
organizations to plan for the future so growth and improvements can occur. I
indicated that many of the recommendations in the report were good and
could improve the Mendocino Coast Education Center. I also expressed
how vital the College has been to the education of our students. I was the
Principal of Mendocino High School for 13 years and the Superintendent of
the District for 9 years. We began using the College for our students in
1976, the year after it was created. There have always been classes offered
by the college on our campus and our students take courses at the college.
Many of our graduates have their first year of college complete before they
graduate from our High School thanks to the college courses they have taken
at the Education Center.
My criticism of the report is in the attitude it expresses about the educational
beliefs of the students and people on the Mendocino Coast. In the second
paragraph of the Executive Summary it says, “In general, the Mendocino
Coast area does not have a historically strong college-going culture and/or
mindset.” This statement is completely incorrect. But it is referred to at
other times in the report and is used to establish a negative attitude about the
students, parents, education staff and the community in general. You have
basically created a false sterotype of the coast. We believe education is
extremely important. Our students want a strong education. Our parents
demand a strong educational system. Our teachers and administrators
deliver a strong educational program for our students.
On page 5 of the report you say 80% of high school students are not
college-ready in either math or English and fewer than 30% of local high
school students are taking college-prep classes. Both these statements are
incorrect, and again are designed to degrade the local schools, students, and
parents. I cannot understand why you feel a need to misrepresent the facts in
order to make our region look bad.
On page 8 of the draft report you repeat the same statement quoted above in
paragraph 2 and go on to give other facts about our area that are incorrect.
You state, “While College of the Redwoods is a logical choice for young
adults many first-generation college students are finding themselves to be
under prepared for higher education.” You go on to say that 80% of entering
students are not college-level in both math and English. You make it sound
like all our students are not prepared when it is only the few who go to the
College of the Redwoods you are using to get your 80% figure. The reality
is that a large percentage of our children go on to college and are prepared.
You must be using statistics for the whole county. Historically the
Mendocino School District has sent between 60 to 80% of our graduates to
institutions of higher learning. We have traditionally scored significantly
higher than the State average on all standardized tests. I have heard the
Superintendent of Fort Bragg talk about the success of his students in being
accepted to very good institutions of higher learning.
On page 10 you claim only 17% of Fort Bragg and Mendocino graduates
have enrolled at CR. You make it look like our students do not want to
attend college. The fact is they do not want to attend CR and have chosen
other colleges where the offerings are more predictable and fit their majors.
Traditionally the local school graduates have not gone to CR in large
numbers. This does not mean that CR is not providing important programs
for our students. Most of our students have benefited from taking CR
courses while they have been in high school and many have been able to
transfer 30 to 60 units of college level courses to the college they are
attending. The excellent courses offered by CR have helped our students
succeed in college. Instead of emphasizing the good CR has done, you again
have taken a negative approach which makes our area look to be unprepared
and uninterested in higher education.
I do not understand the purpose of your misuse of information and your
negative attitude about the Mendocino Coast, but it has definitely colored
the entire report and I recommend you start over and get your information
correct before you adopt the report and the recommendations that will affect
our area for a long time.
Kenneth Matheson
707 937-5164 [email protected]