As a long time resident and a grand parent, I have been pleased to see the formation and growth of the Piedmont Makers organization. From my viewpoint, it is the result of the coming to our community of many families working in the High Tech Area: engineers, product managers, designers, marketing people, and entrepreneurs. They understand that the foundation of the Bay Area Economy is creativity, and that creativity is rooted in the arts, in engineering, and in the laws of physics that underpin engineering. You know that children needs to acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to thrive and contribute in that environment. Making things from an early age is a great enabler to achieve these goals.
PUSD needs to avoid the fate of many silicon valley communities where parents send their children to private schools as they perceive that public education does not meet their needs. The Master Plan is the opportunity to further enhance the quality of public education in our community.
A draft Facilities Master Plan has been presented to the School Board on February 10. There are two areas that deserve your attention:
- With regard to the High School Facilities, Option 1 Phase 1 of the plan proposes demolition and rebuild of the Allen Harvey Theater and the construction of a new building with 6 science and 6 standard classrooms. This new building offers a great opportunity to rethink science education and to host a high school level Piedmont Makers activities within that building. As you know, the availability of high quality lectures on many subjects, such as provided by the Khan Academy, has led parents and educators to examine whether High School classrooms should not be flipped: assign the lectures as home work, and have teachers led workshops during classroom hours.
- With regard to both the High School and Middle School Facilities, the draft plan is heavily focused on enlarging classrooms to meet state guidelines. Is this the right goal? I think that it is very important for the plan to clearly articulate the educational values for students of proposed building renovations and new constructions. By state law safety and handicap access are a given and therefore should not be the primary element in shaping the plan or in the campaign to gather community support.
I am pleased to see members of the Piedmont Makers on the Steering Committee for the Facilities Master Plan and their involvement has already made an impact.
The professional experience of Piedmont Makers is needed so that children in Piedmont can fully take advantage of the new facilities.