Dolores de Vera 
Member since May 13, 2016



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Re: “Prop 123, Tucson Area Schools, and Salary Hikes

Of course, if you are a TUSD sub your compensation was cut this year. Retirement benefits were eliminated, access to health care was delayed and blocked, and if you were one of the subs willing to work at tougher schools or who worked the most days your pay was cut 8 to 14 percent.

If any subs are reading this the ESI contract is on the July 12 agenda. I hope some of you are willing to show up and express your opinion.

14 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 07/05/2016 at 10:21 PM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

Supporting Public Ed,
I'm not sure how you concluded that students who received National Merit Scholarships sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation are somehow in some "top" category over the other scholarship winners. Many of the University-sponsored scholarships and corporate-sponsored scholarships are more lucrative (though the press releases will not specifically state how much each student earned). Remember, all the scholarship winners (and the finalists and semi-finalists) scored in the top one-percent of the state! They are virtually ALL impressive scholars. They all write on a college level, they all have significant extra curricular accomplishments. I've met and written about many of them (where I used to live), and they ALL knocked my socks off.
Also, if you read the news releases on the National Merit Scholarship Corporation web site, many include bold-faced disclaimers warning the press (and public) not to draw conclusions about school quality from the number of semi-finalists and finalists. I'm sure they've put those disclaimers on there precisely because so many people out there do try to draw conclusions.

0 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/16/2016 at 8:31 PM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

Why is TUSD's,

Fair enough. I'll check back to see what you find, as I don't know everything. (I never heard finalists were guaranteed to receive $1,000; it was not stated in any of the news releases I received. Students and counselors told me it was possible to be a finalist and receive nothing, which would be a huge let down for a competition that carries as much prestige as this one does. I mean, these young folks scored in the top 1 percent! Some families are under the impression that a National Merit Scholar is a shoe-in for a full ride scholarship, but unfortunately that is not the case.)

I really think the link below tells me what the definition of a National Merit Scholar is, though I am interpreting: A National Merit Scholar is one of about 7,400 students who are awarded a National Merit Scholarship, and there are three types of Merit Scholar Awards.

More importantly, congrats on your scholar's success! Hope for you it results in an avalanche of money!

1 like, 6 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/15/2016 at 1:31 PM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

Why is TUSD's percent,
You are mistaken. All the scholarship award winners have NOT been announced. Kids who win University-sponsored awards that are announced by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation ARE and WILL BE official National Merit Scholars who will factor into the national and local ratios. Only about 3,000 of the 7,400 names of winners nationwide have been announced. Go back and read the quote from the press release.
Believe me, I've written up these news releases for years, I have a good idea of how the program works. It is confusing to many people.
To complicate matters, PSAT scores and National Merit designations like "Commended Scholar" and "semi-finalist" are used by schools and private organizations as a screen to identify and award scholarships. You say U of A gives $12K to any semi-finalist. Ok. Such scholarship winners cannot properly call themselves "National Merit Scholars" even though they received a scholarship on the basis of a score on the National Merit test.
You say U of A offers $18K to National Merit Finalists. Ok. My guess is their names WILL appear in a future press release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Finalists whose awards are announced through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (including those to be announced June 1 and July 18) ARE part of the total number of 7,400-7,500 official National Merit Scholarship winners, or National Merit Scholars.
In short, there almost certainly will be more winners announced from the Tucson area, and yes, they are official National Merit Scholars if the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announces them. Some of these kids and their schools have already been told of their awards, by the way. I used to deal with parents calling up the paper asking "Why haven't you written a story about my kid's National Merit Scholarship?" The answer was I was waiting for the official announcement from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, so I didn't leave names of winners out.

2 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/15/2016 at 10:59 AM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

Supporting Public Ed,

You say in your post above "Nationally, there are 16,000 semi-finalists and 7,400 scholars.. . . . ..Whether or not other scholarships (corporation- and university-sponsored) will be announced in future press releases does not affect the ratio of semi-finalists to scholars locally or nationally: that has already been determined and announced."

Actually, there WILL BE around 7,400 scholars announced AT THE CONCLUSION of this year's competition. We know the ballpark number of how many scholarships will be awarded, but the full list of winners has NOT been released.

This is a quote from the May 11 news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation:

"Today’s release is the second announcement of winners in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship
Program. On April 20, more than 1,000 recipients of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship
awards were named, and on June 1 and July 18, some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship
winners will be announced. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,500 academic
champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $33 million."

I stand by my contention that more names are going to be announced, and that the total at the end of the competition is what you need to draw your conclusions. [However, if you read the earlier press releases there is a warning about drawing any conclusions at all about school quality based on number of scholars. I also contend if a finalist doesn't get an official National Merit Scholarship there are various reasons this could be that have nothing to do with the quality of the candidate's application or advising.]

I only wanted to provide that bit of clarification about how the competition works, as I covered it for many years in another community, and I know it can be misunderstood.

I don't have any close knowledge of changes at UHS. I can only tell you it is a wonderful place to sub! I happened to sub a creative writing class the last time I was there, and some of the kids were motivated enough to be working on novels. I had a pretty positive impression of the school.

1 like, 11 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/14/2016 at 8:17 PM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

I do not believe we yet have the data to show the percent of Merit Scholars is lower than it should be. (I used to be an education reporter in another state; now I am a substitute teacher in public and charter schools in Tucson.) When I was a reporter the National Merit Corporation sent out FOUR press releases with names of scholarship winners: one in April, one in May, one in June, and one in July, if my memory serves me. The last one might actually have come as late as August. I think we have AT LEAST two more lists coming out. The last list was always the list of those who won university-sponsored scholarships.

Counselors told me that kids who didn't advance from semi finalist to finalist usually failed because when they took the official ACT or SAT they did not score as well as when they took the PSAT. So their high PSAT score appeared to be a fluke rather than a reflection of their knowledge and ability. Some also failed because they were cocky and did not follow through to fill out the application in a serious way, or they did not seek/get good recommendations.

There are also cases where kids are named finalists, but they receive no scholarship. That does not necessarily mean they are unworthy. The Merit Finalist who applies to 14 different colleges probably has more of a chance at snagging a college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship than the Merit Finalist who applies to just one school (that may not even offer National Merit Scholarships, or only offers a small number). The corporations that sponsor scholarships will set criteria that their scholarship funds will go to a student who is interested in a certain kind of career; or their scholarship may only go to a student from a state where the company has an office. Those corporations have the option to decide "Gee, no one fits our criteria, so we think we'll just give our funds to the child of an employee who didn't do as well on the PSAT." Those or that National Merit "special" scholarships.

1 like, 12 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/14/2016 at 3:32 PM

Re: “TUSD's University High is Number One in Local National Merit Scholars! (and That Doesn't Mean a Whole Lot)

Nine area high school students were recently named National Merit Scholars. What some of you may be interested to know is that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation releases the names of National Merit Scholarship winners over several months, in, I believe, four different press releases. The press releases often do not tell you the exact amount of the scholarship, which can be one-time amounts, or renewable amounts. The awards can be as low, I think, as $500 to $2,500, but they can also be full-ride scholarships to prestigious schools. Some of these scholarships are sponsored directly by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, some are sponsored by private businesses, and some are sponsored directly by universities. Just to be a semi-finalist you have to score in at least the top one percent of scores for your state on the PSAT/NMSQT.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation also releases press releases about scholarships awarded in the National Achievement competition, which are awards for the top-scoring black students and the National Hispanic Recognition program, awards for the top-scoring Hispanic students. Finally, there is also something called a National Merit "special" scholarship. These are sponsored by corporations and they are awarded to students whose parents work for the company but whose scores weren't quite high enough to put them in the finalist category.
I would argue that 30 or 40 years ago being a National Merit Scholar was very prestigious partly because the scholarship awards were significant compared to tuition costs. However, I don't think the awards have kept up with costs, and I've known National Merit Scholars who received only small scholarships. It is prestigious, still, in that to be named a semi-finalist you had to get a very high score on a test, and that can serve to attract other scholarships. If the amount of the award determines prestige, there are other more lucrative awards out there that don't get the same publicity.

2 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Dolores de Vera on 05/13/2016 at 11:21 PM

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