HomeDistrictOpinion: CUSD public schools remain top tier despite recent controversies

Opinion: CUSD public schools remain top tier despite recent controversies

Published March 4, 2024

BY AVERY PALSHAW

Despite understandable frustration, primarily among adults, surrounding some of the Carmel Unified School District’s recent decisions, it’s still important to recognize that CUSD schools remain financially advantaged, have a variety of educational opportunities to support students’ passions and are undoubtedly a privilege to attend. 

Of course, by no means is CUSD a perfect school district. Following several sexual harassment lawsuits against the district, frequent overturn at superintendent, controversy around stadium lights and the dismissal of Carmel High School’s former principal, many have become skeptical of CUSD. And rightfully so. Parents generally want to have full confidence that their children are attending exceptional schools, and local taxpayers want to be certain their money is being put towards good use, an assurance that has widely diminished in the district over the past few years.

Still, Carmel schools remain unparalleled to other public schools in Monterey County. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, CUSD spends on average over $25,852 per student each year, while the California Department of Education shows that California’s 2022-23 average spending rate per student was $22,893.

When averaging statistics of Monterey County’s public high schools–including Carmel, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Monterey, King City, Greenfield, Alisal, North Salinas, North Monterey County, Marina, Everett Alvarez, Marina, Gonzales, Soledad and Seaside–the average percentage of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses is 37%, while Carmel’s is 84%. CHS’ reading proficiency is 81% compared to the county average of 54%. CHS’ graduation rate is 98% compared to the county’s 92%, as reported by U.S. News. And according to CHS’ school profile from the upcoming WASC report, in 2023, 72.4% of CHS graduates met UC or CSU requirements.

In addition to the district’s impressive statistics, Carmel schools offer abundant opportunities for students to explore their interests, whether they be centered around the arts, athletics, clubs or academics. Carmel High School alone has over 50 clubs for students to participate in, including Poetry Club, Mock Trial, Feminist Club, Global Youth Finance Club and even Rock Climbing Club. 

The CHS athletic department listed 21 athletic programs offered on campus, which a sweeping majority of students participate in. Last year, 295 students participated in a fall sport, 178 participated in a winter sport, and 406 students participated in a spring sport. 

The involvement of Padre Parents, a group of parents that often provides students and staff members with food and other events, also demonstrates how CUSD schools will go the extra mile to enhance the learning experience of their students. 

As a student who would not be able to attend CUSD schools if my father weren’t working for the district, I understand that I am fortunate to have been able to attend school here. If given the option, I’m positive many parents around Monterey County would not hesitate to send their children to a CUSD school, for Carmel has rigorous academics and enables students to thrive in their future endeavors. 

Based on impressive statistics, financial advantages and abundant academic and athletic opportunities, Carmel public schools prove to be high-level public schools, with the resources and programs to support students in whatever passion they might uncover. 

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