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Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore gets ready to kiss Snowball

Paul Wellman

Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore gets ready to kiss Snowball


Principal Kisses Pig as Reward for Improved Test Scores

Casie Kilgore Makes Good On Pledge to Franklin Elementary School Students


Thursday, April 25, 2013
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It’s timeless knowledge that nothing motivates an elementary school student like promising to kiss a pig. The rub for any educator making that promise, though, is following through.

Two years ago, Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore told her students that she would engage in some porky puckering if they raised their Academic Performance Index (API) — based on Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores — by 25 points. She got a reprieve the first year when they only managed a 19-point jump, but this year they made the 25-point leap, bringing the school’s API up to 768 on a 1,000-point scale.

Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore kisses Snowball
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore kisses Snowball

Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore after successfully smooching Snowball
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Franklin Elementary School principal Casie Kilgore after successfully smooching Snowball

Franklin Elementary School students get a kick out of their principal kissing a pig
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Franklin Elementary School students get a kick out of their principal kissing a pig

So on Thursday afternoon, the Franklin student body tittered as Kilgore ascended the school’s auditorium stage next to Snowball, a 130-pound miniature Vietnamese potbelly pig. As the pig’s owner, Marty Fast — who runs a small pig sanctuary in Ojai — lifted the top of Snowball’s crate, the kids started chanting, “Kiss, kiss.” Kilgore got down on all fours, hesitantly leaning in towards the oinker’s mottled snout when Snowball lifted her head and the principal backed away. Her second approach, however, was more successful. She diverted Snowball’s attention by feeding him a fig Newton and gave him a smacker right on the snout. After celebrating, Kilgore gave Snowball one more smooch for good measure.

The last time a principal in the district kissed a pig, it was to reward Roosevelt Elementary School families for raising $107,689 at the annual Rose Run jogathon. “Some schools…can do it for jogathons,” said Kilgore. “My concern is less about money and more about college attendance.” Considering that 93 percent of the students at Franklin Elementary School live below the poverty line, Kilgore doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.

A combination of parent involvement, teacher dedication, and student engagement led to the bump in scores, said Kilgore. While the correlation between standardized test scores and the learning that happens at a school is arguable, Kilgore acknowledged that the tests have real-world implications. Not for much longer, however. In two years, as California phases in the new Common Core State Standards, STAR tests will be replaced by “Smarter Balanced” assessments that require narrative answers and won’t be timed, among other changes.

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93% of the students live below the poverty line @Franklin!

Such a shame. I hope the kids at least get a good meal at school. I recall reading some kids are poor performers because they go hungry at breakfast. This is why SB Foodbank can always count on a check from me.

Kudos to the principal for her efforts. I bet a lot of her charges will remember that kiss when they're old and gray.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 10:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They get like 3 free meals at school EB. Maybe, just maybe, the parents should consider feeding their own kids like all of our parents did. Heck, go crazy and read to them at home too...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 5:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ms. Kilgore also works with the school's kitchen staff and parents to encourage healthier, whole foods to be eaten.

She discourages juice boxes, energy drinks, cheese doodles, flavored milkfruit roll ups and other processed foods laden with high-fructose corn syrup. She supports alternatives to sugary, processed foods. She set an example for her students and staff by changing her diet and slimming down her 6 ft frame.

sez_me (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 11:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

growing up in the San Fernando Valley in a family of seven, we were very near that poverty line below which 93% of the Franklin students live. When you write, "Maybe, just maybe, the parents should consider feeding their own kids like all of our parents did" you have a point about self-sufficiency and self-reliance, Italian. However, I'm quite glad the YOUNG Franklin students "get like 3 free meals at school" -- I celebrate this. Having taught almost 3000 students in a variety of environments, and countries, it's tough for a child to learn when s/he is hungry. We can't put the clock back, Italian, and I'm glad to be a part of a society that tries to be sure young humans have food. Your comment's pretty hard-hearted, but heck, that's how you are.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 7:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Seven kids? The Irish breed like Italians.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 8:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That four-footed creature is not a "pig", it's a "Porcine-American".

sez_me: I'm curious. What does her being 6 feet tall have to do with anything?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 8:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wish that we Italians still bred like Mexicans, but alas our native numbers are no longer sustainable. The problem with the traditional Irish breeding rates is that their viability index was so damn low; having the English intentionally starving them took a toll on the number of newborns that made it to adulthood.

I'd be proud to live in that society too if only the families took responsibility for things they could control; just look at the dismal rates of reading to their own children among black and latino families in LA. This is not an "educating the parents" issue, it's an issue of having different values. These numbers came from your own CTA and even they found it difficult to make excuses for people that don't care.

You gotta' admit that the accompanying picture to this story was pretty gnarly.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 6:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah, Cromwell DECIMATED Ireland, or worse in 1700s...potato famine... it's a tough history... but then look how Italians got hammered in their Alps in WW I...
there is so much to clarify in your quasi-racist comment, "just look at the dismal rates of reading to their own children among black and latino families in LA", but your mindset is so closed I won't take the time...
yeah, it's a gnarly & very unflattering pic of Franklin's principal...yikes!!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I was fortunate to have been born and raised in beautiful Santa Barbara, I attended Franklin School K-6. That was many, many years ago; when the school was ethnically diverse. I'd have to say that as a hispanic female at Franklin during that time, I was the minority but again, that was a lifetime ago.
You now have a school with 531 children enrolled, 508 of those children are hispanic and the vast majority are English learners, as are their parents.

I have to disagree with the whole "this is not an "educating the parents" issue, it's an issue of having different values," comment. It IS about educating parents so they can speak and communicate in the same language that their children are learning. You can't read to your kids if you can't speak the language, you can't see where they are failing if you can't understand the teachers at conference time.
It is nice that the school is making progress and hopefully they continue to improve.

hrmom (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 2:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not quite the feast you imagined, italiansurg.

School children from qualifying families can have two free or reduced-cost meals in the SB School District:

http://www.sbsdk12.org/programs/nutri...

Good info sez_me. US schools could learn a few things from the healthy and cost-effective meals served in Japanese schools:

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/20...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

a thank you to EB, hrmom, and sez_me...gosh, urg, you are very harsh....checking the sbsdk12org site, it ends with "Except for the three grace period meals just noted, the [sbsd] cafeteria will generally not provide meals to students who do not have the funds to pay or do not have funds in their account."
So don't worry so much about the money, eh stallion, you aren't being bankrupted by it, miser.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

HrMom makes an interesting--and ignored point.

So much emphasis is placed on teaching "English learners" in the schools but it misses the bigger issue. If the parents are not learning the language of the land they live in, it will make it harder for the kids. (Not to mention the bad impact on the whole familys' self-esteem)

People may think having everything available in Spanish is doing people a favor, but having these services (although I DO feel emergency services should be available in both languages) is like the story I read about a famous fat lady (the term "fat lady" is the term that was used--so I use it only in historical context) named Celeste Geyer who weighed well over 500 pounds back in the 1930's. She ended up losing over 400 pounds--and keep the weight off, and lived into her 80's but recalled how her well-meaning mother would feel sorry for her when as a girl she'd get depressed about her obesity and bake her a cake to make her feel better.

The analogy fits perfectly.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 27, 2013 at 11:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Then please DD, instead of doing what was predictable for all Progressives when faced with facts, refute the FACTS. The CTA statistics PROVE that Blacks and Latino's do not read to their kids in nearly the proportion that every other group does.Yes DD, including ASIANS who I believe are a minority as well... And the single biggest indicator of childhood academic performance is parents READING TO THEIR KIDS.
And hrmom has got it wrong as well. If the Latino parents were reading to their kids in spanish that would be fine as well. They are not reading to them in any language. This has nothing to do with the failed and ridiculous language immersion and ESL programs we have thrown hundreds of millions at, it's about cognitive development and stimulation.
DD, if anyone is a racist it is you for throwing out bizarre ad hominen attacks implying bias since you cannot explain away the truth and the facts are kind of troubling to the "throw more money at the social problem without considering the facts" crowd.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 28, 2013 at 8:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"You can't read to your kids if you can't speak the language, you can't see where they are failing if you can't understand the teachers at conference time. "

Quite frankly, I think reading to one's kids in Spanish (or whatever one's native language might be) would be preferable to not reading to them at all. I've had kids in local schools for years
(and still have one in HS) and have never observed any lack of Spanish language information, resources or bilingual staff.
I'm all for reaching out to (or "educating" if you will) parents, but there has to be an attendant willingness to receive the information and to act on it.

zappa (anonymous profile)
April 28, 2013 at 8:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

correction-I should have made it clear that the studies indicate American Blacks read to their children at the lowest of all rates and have the worst overall performance in school. Foreign born folks that happen to be black do not fit into this category, whether wealthy, poor, or having come as refugees from some African country practicing genocide.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 28, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@ zappa: I agree that there are plenty of resources and information in Spanish.

The unfortunate part is that while there is information available in Spanish, many parents are illiterate in their own language. I work HR in a manufacturing environment and I come across this every day, I can provide forms and information and translate but folks cannot read them in any language. The best thing they are doing is sending their children to school to learn and grow as people and hopefully, while some parents may not be able to assist with reading or homework; they are encouraging their children to obtain help from the school or outside resources that are available to them.

hrmom (anonymous profile)
April 30, 2013 at 12:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's interesting that people feel we need to provide written information in Spanish. I say this because if one is literate in one language, why can't they learn another?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 2:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Fabulous. In this day and age we are limiting immigration of literate and trained folks and opting instead for an unregulated horde of illiterates. This bodes well for the union...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think you're incorrect, stallion, when writing "the single biggest indicator of childhood academic performance is parents READING TO THEIR KIDS." -- the single biggest indicator of academic performance & success is the socio-economic position of the parents. Reading to the kids is terribly wonderful of course, I always did with my kid.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 2:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did the pig turn into a prince, or does that only happen if you kiss a frog?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Socio-economic status turns out to be a strong predictor of academic success:

http://news.ufl.edu/2010/03/22/school...

In reviewing the literature, it appeared to me that many studies seemed to narrow their search criteria to exclude more static variables like family wealth.

As far as reading to children, I'm convinced that's essential. But I also read studies that indicate parents with greater wealth have a tendency to read to their children in more "effective" ways than lower-income parents (wish I could find that link again). It turns out the more affluent parents have a tendency to contextualize the stories with their kids lives wheras the less affluent parents had a tendency to focus the kids more on objects illustrated in the books, etc. Fascinating stuff.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 10:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Funny attempt to convolute reality you two...sure all kids do better if their parents are rich, at about the same level according to race if they are poor.
AND, I suspect both of you know this but cannot help your knee's jerking, the major factor rich kids do well is because they are getting read to. SHOCKING, the inconvenient truth is that reading to your kid is FREE and the great equalizer and yet some specific groups with plenty of time on their hands just don't do it. Poor kids do very well when their parents are engaged with their kids. Yea, the illiterate hordes are great for this country when we are limiting Indian and Chinese and South Korean engineers from coming in...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2013 at 7:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

EB: "It turns out the more affluent parents have a tendency to contextualize the stories with their kids lives wheras the less affluent parents had a tendency to focus the kids more on objects illustrated in the books, etc."

So, is it about parents being "affluent" or being something else that oftentimes gets rather too dicey to discuss?
Sure, socio-economic factors may play a role, but they needn't serve always as an excuse. My family was dirt poor, not educated at all, but my mom read to me (I doubt she "contextualized" anything) and made sure I got a library card early on at my local public library because we couldn't afford to buy books. Those things changed my life and were instrumental in my being able to move up a few rungs at least on that societal ladder.

zappa (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2013 at 9:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the data is completely against your points, stallion, and there's plenty of data corroborating this....try http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/educati...
Further, the gap is increasing as the wealth inequaltiy increases.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I do take your point, zappa, and I am myself a product of the lower middle class, and there are plenty of counter-examples like the ones you cite... "your family was dirt poor" .... These exceptions go completely against the statistics.
Sean Reardon in the Apr. 27 edition of the New York Times goes into this issue, and he writes that "What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.
One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago."
Without a doubt, the greatest single indicator of academic success today is your socio-ECONOMIC background.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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