EDITORíS DESK: The Westside: educational test tube

       The big experiment is about to begin. Westside schools, which had padded along, for better or worse, for years and years with their historic little buildings and small enrollments, are now supposedly going to find out what the 21st century is all about. The first day of the 2009-10 school year will be Aug. 18. No predictions from this quarter, although my gut feeling is that not too much will change. Maybe a few kids, possibly spoiled a bit by the old ways, will hit a wall because they feel as if they're getting less individual attention. We'll just have to hope the school staffers stay on top of that, and parents too. On the other hand, we are told by District 11 there are positives to be gained from being in larger schools - chances to experience a wider spectrum of educational opportunities and to learn from more than just one teacher per grade level.
       From a personnel standpoint, at any rate, it seems as if District 11 has made an effort to ease the blow. With all the construction and logistic issues at the new West Elementary, I think the best man possible is at the helm in Terry Martinez. Why do I say that? Not because I'm any kind of expert on principals. It's just that, having gotten to see him in action as Washington's principal, he seems to know his stuff and - here's the best reason - he's got a ready sense of humor. He'll need it. Manuel Ramsey brings an eye-opening academic track record to Bristol, which has almost exactly the same percentage of Title 1 students that Pike had when Ramsey was there and overseeing its high test scores. I think he'll know what to do. And Buena Vista's Montessori parents got to keep the principal they liked from last year, David Brilliant - which is very key when we consider that Buena Vista is navigating uncharted waters. First it was the only public school Montessori in the region; now it's exclusively Montessori, at a new site, with no attendance area to bolster enrollment. Yet word is its numbers are up from last year... Hopefully, just the start of upbeat Westside educational news.

- K.J.