News

Teachers take their homework grading, lesson planning work to Stoneridge Mall

'Students are being used as bargaining chips,' they say

Nearly 100 teachers gathered at Stoneridge Shopping Center Tuesday afternoon to show the public the work they do after school lets out.

One of several actions to draw attention to a "state of emergency week," teachers from Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville graded homework and displayed placards that read "Ask me what I'm doing."

"We want to make sure that we've done something, that we won't just stand idly by for the budget that will basically kill us," said Ann Katzburg, a second grade teacher and vice president of the San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA).

Katzburg and her colleagues were demonstrating their concern about a projected all-cuts budget, which could mean a potential loss of funding ranging from $10 million to more than $25 million for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD). The cuts could result in increased class sizes and a significantly shorter school year.

"The bottom line is we're at a stalemate when it comes to convincing republican representatives about tax extensions," said Laura Finco, a teacher at Stone Valley Middle School in Alamo. "Students are being used as bargaining chips."

In order to raise awareness about the need to extend temporary taxes, which are set to expire in June, teachers are participating several local demonstrations and an area-wide rally in San Francisco's Civic Center on Friday.

"The budget cuts that we're facing are unprecedented and our schools are at a point where we're falling off a cliff," said San Ramon resident Nancy Vandell, vice president of education and legislation for the 32nd district PTA.

"We're trying to raise awareness among the public, help them understand that this isn't business as usual," she added. "If we don't extend the temporary revenue set to expire June 30, our schools are facing another $5 billion worth of cuts to education, on top of $18 billion worth of cuts that have happened over the past three years."

Vandell said the PTA is also spearheading a letter-writing campaign to those legislators who aren't supportive of the tax extension. Local legislators are supportive of the tax extension.

"We're trying to raise awareness among the public, help them understand that this isn't business as usual. I think what's important for the public to understand is they won't be paying any more taxes then they have in the past two years," she said.

SRVUSD teachers will also take turns "camping" in front of the state capital from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to "promote as much alertness and activity as possible so the legislators can see how serious we are and how concerned we are about an all cuts budget."

"As a teacher, I can no longer meet the individual needs at the level that I did before. We're doing more with less because we have great teachers, but it's taking its toll," Katzburg said.

California is already ranked 43rd or 47th (depending on the source) in per-pupil spending in the country. If taxes aren't extended, Superintendent Steven Enoch said the state could lose an additional $300 to 900 in funding per student.

"At some point, it could be soon, we will see the impact of these cuts. We have managed to hold them off because we've received federal stimulus money. We have been very prudent in the management of this district, so we've built up some reserves, butů we would completely burn through those next year," he said.

"I think this is potentially a turning point for this state. I worry that we're perhaps being short sighted by not adequately educating our population in the way that this state and this nation is clearly going to need for our kids to compete in this world."

Comments

Posted by tim, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 12, 2011 at 7:36 am

most people who work (corporate or owner) average 50-70 hours a week-just to keep their job or business. these long continuous hours occurs w/o benefit of furlough days, winter break, spring break,conference days, every federal holiday and summer vacation. how many actual days are worked?

if the amount of teacher time spent with the students is so important, do away with 1/3 of the days off (summer included) and open school to learning.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

Give less homework! Students get too much of it, and most of it is not graded by the teacher but by their own classmates! Plus it takes weeks to get back some of the essays that the teachers do grade.

How difficult can the teachers' work be when they can sit at a busy mall to "work" while chatting with their co-workers?

Thanks for the pictures, PW, it helps to see the teachers' "workload"


Posted by Robert, a resident of Birdland
on May 12, 2011 at 8:16 am

There are some wonderful teachers!

The teachers union is the worst thing that has ever happened to kids!
Pleaseanton teachers are well compensated for a part time job. I will put your part time job hours up against my 10-14 hour days, with almost no days off to keep the company running, any day.

This kind of drama only loses my support for the profession. "It's for the kids" pahlezzzz!!!


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 8:30 am

All government workers are like this. Look at the new police chief. He is going to cost us countless millions in retirement and yet refuses to take a 10% pay cut. This is in a very affluent low crime town. He has hardly any job to do at all but retires at 50 with well into six figures. Enough is enough! Stop picking my pocket. They can easily be replaced by private security guards at minimum wage!


Posted by Chris, a resident of Stoneridge
on May 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

I would be inclined to approve tax extensions if our governor also included real reform for the government state employee unions pension system. Otherwise, I will vote no.


Posted by A Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 8:34 am

Teachers are making a big mistake by saying "its the Republicans" and that the solution is raising taxes. California is already in the top 3 states with the highest taxes, and in the bottom 3 in spending per pupil on education. That should tell you something! The state is taking in lots of money but they are spending too many other things, such as feeding the bureaucracy, feeding the unions (and believe me, teachers are NOT the ones gorging at the slop trough), paying the huge cost of illegals, and outrageous welfare payments. So, teachers should focus on the left-wing loons that are spending us into bankruptcy instead of saying those meany Republicans won't increase our tax burden.


Posted by newmom, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

I have to laugh when people complain about taxes here. We just bught a house here in January. The previous owner was paying property taxes of $4800 a year and she lived there 20+ years. I will be paying property taxes of approximately $10500 per year for an $850K proerty value. I moved from a houes valued at $440K in the Midwest and paid $7800 per year in property taxes. I don't understand why everyone thinks the property taxes are so high. IF you've owned your house for any length of time, you are not even paying your fair share of taxes. No wonder the state has no money.


Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of Downtown
on May 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

This sort of grandstanding is just what helps those of us paying the salaries to ask why we should vote for any tax that only goes to S & C raises.
Pleasanton teachers have some of the highest wages in the country. No they do NOT all pay for health insurance -- only 39% do and that was put into the contract by the union to get the rest a huge pay raise.
Teachers work less than 170 days per year. They have every evening, weekend, holiday and summer off. The CTA has painted a "poor me" picture that is just not true. I agree, if they have time to "grade papers" while chatting with mall walkers and co-workers then grading homework is surely an easy job and does not deserve the talk that they give to it.
A person in any other job would not expect to work part time, have every holiday off, and don't forget personal days while using paid sick leave, while arriving at work at 9 AM and leaving at 3 PM. Real jobs require real work, not sitting in a mall making a play for sympathy.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

Just as in any workplace there are good workers and not so good workers. School systems are no different. However, if you are protected by a union (and that includes professions other than teachers) you can basically get away with anything. I see it daily at both the elementary and middle school my child has attended. We have some terrific teachers who take their job of teaching very seriously and then there are the ones that do the bare minimum.

In our years at Pleasanton Schools, we've had both kinds of teachers. I cannot tell you how many times my child has had a substitute this year; every week! I wish I would have kept track this year (and in past years too) If you say anything to anyone (teachers, adminsitration), however, your kid is 'thrown under the bus'. If you don't believe it, try complaining or asking or whatever, and you too will see. Very sad situation here in Pleasanton. It wasn't like that when we moved here.

I can assure the Core folks that I won't be contributing to the schools via that portal. I don't want to save the library assistant who does nothing but scowl at the kids and offer zero help. Do we really need a library at school with all the on-line resources and our great Pleasanton library in town? Not in my opinion. And before all hate in reply, yes I am involved and have been since kindergarten and give generously, voted Yes on parcel measures, but I have reached my limit. Stand up to these unions now or continue down the same path. C'mon PUSD board, get on board and fix the real problem.


Posted by ?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

It is a misnomer that Prop 13 has starved the state of revenue. Even post Prop 13, revenue from property tax has far outstripped inflation/population growth.

Education is being starved because of the gross inefficiencies of the rest of the state. Why is it we have one of the highest aggregate tax rates in the country yet have these issues?

Teachers/teacher unions, if you truly care about the education of our kids, stop asking for higher taxes and instead start demanding a better run state govermentment and a portion of the revenue that will come from those savings.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on May 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

"no more" said: "They have every evening, weekend, holiday and summer off."

Not true. I'm sure that a considerable amount of time is spent in class preparation, homework grading, and test and quiz preparation. My wife, who is a part-time language teacher at a private school, spends about as much time preparing lessons and grading tests and quizes as she spends in class. I had a little experience in teaching as a "teaching assistant" while I was a grad student in physics at an Ivy League university. Even though it was just part-time, the teaching load was rather heavy. It wasn't just the hours spent in-class with the students. That was the easy part. It was the hours spent preparing class discussions, thinking up test and quiz question, and then grading the tests and quizes that was the real time-killer.


Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of Downtown
on May 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

Well, Sam if you were the TA doing the real work where was the prof and how much were they being paid to have you do their work? I also have several grad degrees from a prominent private college and I value education, just not pay raises for no reason. Pleasanton has some fine teachers and many who need to be fired, tenure will not allow that.
Am I the only one to wonder about the photos? -- if I was part of group trying to sell my "professionalism" why would I show up dressed in jeans, sweatshirt and flip flops? Geez people, dress the part of a professional. You go into a public place, get the press out to take pictures and every one of you looks like you just finished cleaning out your garage or working in your yard. Casual Friday looks like dress-up compared to these pictures. Would you go to a job interview dressed like that?


Posted by Jack, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 10:01 am

" Would you go to a job interview dressed like that? "

You haven't ever worked in silicon valley, I'm guessing.


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Country Fair
on May 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

Sam
The expensive textbooks that we (taxpayers) pay for, come with the lesson plans and the tests, scantron corrects them. Students correct one anothers work not the teachers. Newer teachers spend some extra time until they get down the monthly plan, then they go on auto pilot, there is a rare exception.


Posted by Another Teacher, a resident of Val Vista
on May 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

To "no more teacher raises"
I have not had a raise if 4 years, have taken additional cuts in the form of "lay-off" days, and have class sizes of 38 amounting to over 200 students this year. I work with students before and after school in order provide them some sort of individual attention (38 students in a 43 minute period amounts to 1.13 minutes per student!) Add in planning time, grading-with useful feedback, answering/initiating parent & student emails, and conferencing throughout the year, I can assure you my day does not begin at 9 and end at 3 with evenings, weekends, and holidays off.

I arrive at school by 7:30 each morning, and am on campus until 5:30-6pm most days, with exactly 30 minutes for lunch (bell to bell) while I still take work home to do in the evening. Then, I am often back on weekends. I am paid for 186 days per year, not 170 and am paid form 8AM-3:15PM - no such thing as overtime.

Holidays? Summers off? Many of us take workshops, classes, and attend conferences during the summer--and on our own dime, by the way. Finally, I scan the shelves at Target every summer, purchasing materials for my classroom so my students will have the necessary materials to be successful.

I understand I am venting, but there is so much misconception around the work dedicated teachers do.


Posted by to Another Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

To "Another Teacher", how many years have you been teaching?


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on May 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

To 'Another Teacher' - Your dedication is admirable and greatly appreciated. I could list many teachers and staff who are like you. I can also list many teachers who are not dedicated and are ineffective in the classroom.
What do you recommend should be happening to improve or remove those ineffective teachers?
What do you recommend should be an appropriate merit pay system so you can be rewarded for your hard work and dedication?


Posted by davis, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

Ok ... everyone look busy and downtrodden. One, two, three SMILE! NO WAIT! >>> DON"T SMILE!!! Thanks for showing up for the photo-op. Propaganda never sleeps!


Posted by Bowled Over, a resident of Birdland
on May 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

Most of the above comments provide rationale for the nation's need to further liberalize its immigration policies. Our white native population was once able to get by on little education. Times are changing. Many of the commentators here can barely write a coherent thought. No wonder the United States is declining compared to the rest of the world. I've got to tell you: I'm not hiring from this crowd. Hey India, Hey China: please send us more of your well-educated, well-spoken, and competent citizens. We are in desperate need!


Posted by Another Teacher, a resident of Val Vista
on May 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

I have been teaching for 23 years, but in affluent and struggling districts. And I agree, we have effective and ineffective teachers in the profession, as in every profession. I have mentored many student teachers and new teachers throughout my career.

Currently, an administrator must determine within the first 3 years whether a teacher will be effective long term. It typically takes about 5 for a teacher to master their craft and have a thorough understanding of the skills their students come to them with and what they absolutely need for the next level. I would argue we need more flexibility in the use of probationary status so we can provide a newer teacher with the support they need to help them reach their potential, before tenure is attained. We will also need to better train/educate administrators in what to look for and how to recognize good teaching. This cannot be deduced in a 10 minute walk-through. Our administrators are also bogged down with so much paperwork, they don't have enough opportunities to be in classrooms and really understand what is happening in each classroom. Many admins have 10 years or less of classroom experience.

As far as finances, what really needs to happen is the convoluted formulas used for public education funding needs to be changed and more local control of dollars needs to exist.

Would love to speak to this more, but bell just rang---prep over.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

Dear Another Teacher,
Professionals, that is exempt status people, don't qualify for overtime. They are paid to get the job done, period. If you want paid for every hour, then be an independent contractor or consultant and charge by the hour. But then there will be no benefits or union protection.

Who gets automatic increases these days? Not me! Time off, ie furlough days does not equal a pay cut. A pay cut is working the same amount of hours, if not more, for less pay. That's what my hard working Silicon Valley husband does to keep the company going for not only himself, but all of his employees. PAY CUT not DAY OFF. I understand if furlough days were not your idea, but I'm just trying to make a point.

I liked the question posed above by Start Afresh. If you are a hardworking teacher, then it must frustrate you as well to see the lazy ones. How do you propose to handle it? Can you see our frustration when we see mediocre teachers getting the same increases as the good ones?


Posted by Really?, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on May 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

Dear Another Teacher,

Prep over? How is blogging on PW prep? Did you mean break or lunchtime over? AHHHH!!!


Posted by I Read Books, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

No More Teacher Raises states, "Well, Sam if you were the TA doing the real work where was the prof and how much were they being paid to have you do their work? I also have several grad degrees from a prominent private college and I value education, just not pay raises for no reason. Pleasanton has some fine teachers and many who need to be fired, tenure will not allow that."

Well, No More Teacher Raises, had you actually gone to and attained grad degrees from a prominent school as you claim you'd know that the professor was using his time to do research needed to write research articles and books. That is how knowledge is advanced in the university system. (And you claim to know what you're talking about regarding teachers? What a joke.)

Further, had you actually gone to and attained grad degrees, as you claim, your writing (grammar) wouldn't be as atrocious as it is.

Expressing hatred of the teaching profession is one thing. Attempting to disguise yourself as a well-educated critic is quite another.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

Govenrment workers are all the same. Bad. These "teachers" are no better than the over-paid under-worked Pleasanton police. They mainly sit around and take "coffee breaks" at Starbucks and never once take a call that any entry level security guard could easily handle. Then they retire at 50 with 90% pay or more, can you say spiking.

Now we have a new police chief who refuses to lead by example and take a 10% pay cut.

It is the same with the teachers and city workers. I'm taxed to death and sick and tired of it.


Posted by Ms. Sincerity, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

I want to commend some of the great teachers in Pleasanton. But I have to ask "Another Teacher," why is almost every single one of your colleagues so incompetent and lazy? I'm sure you're a great teacher yourself. But how does it feel to be drowning in a sea of incompetence? I want to thank you for your outstanding service. But why do you think you should make more money than a real man who does a man's work like my husband? So many of us in Pleasanton are grateful for your work. But why do you think you should be earning above minimum wage? Sincerely, Ms. Sincerity


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

To "I Read Books",

I would take street smarts over book smarts any day. You are an elitist. That's what you need in the private sector.


Posted by Just another one of 'em, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on May 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

Dear Another Teacher,

Please don't take our criticisms to seriously. Most of are badly educated yahoos and board out of our minds.


Posted by I Read Books, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

Anti-intellectual John quips: "I would take street smarts over book smarts any day." Which is probably why you're unable to spell the word 'government' and why no one will hire you. Street smarts is a perfect solution for someone who is homeless and living on the street. Beyond that, it contributes to the kinds of ignorant ranting that have become common currency on these posts.

I pity the poor teachers who are assigned to teach the kids of people like John who think anything intellectual is elitist. Is that really what you tell your kids, John? That street smarts is better than book smarts? No wonder why we have to import foreign workers to do the heavy mental work in America.


Posted by REALLY!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

John needs to quit posting that the new police chief "refuses" to take a 10% pay cut, when the new police chief is making 14% less than the former police chief. Get a grip.

In regards to the chatter on this blog. I am SOOO tired of teacher bashing. Teachers are professionals and as such, do what is necessary to get the job done. This definition of a work day is a management tool to diminish what teachers do after hours. People think they know what it takes to teach and unless you have been in a classroom, you don't. Are there bad teachers, of course. There are people who are bad at their job in every profession. Sometimes they are fired and sometimes they aren't.

None of this addresses the fact that teachers are being asked to work harder for less money and produce better results. We are not dealing with widgets. We are talking about our CHILDREN. Some of the arguments against paying teachers is that they are not doing the job well and of course, one of the reasons they are not doing the job as well as when YOU were in school is because they have reduced the number of days and the number of minutes and the basic core classes that USED to be taught in California schools prior to Prop 13.

BTW furlough days are NOT a benefit. Teachers do not get paid vacation, in Pleasanton they pay their own benefits and do NOT collect Social Security.




Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on May 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Ms Sincerity said: "But why do you think you should make more money than a real man who does a man's work like my husband?"

Good point, Ms Sincerity! LOL! Why indeed should a teacher make more money than someone doing "real man" work? I'm all with you. I think that alligator-wrestlers are underpaid, too.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm

"John needs to quit posting that the new police chief "refuses" to take a 10% pay cut, when the new police chief is making 14% less than the former police chief."

That is not a pay cut! A pay cut is when YOUR pay goes down 10%. Not compared to someone else. This is no better than teachers and there fake pay cut. Do me a favor. STOP DESTROYING MY COUNTRY!


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on May 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

John said:"That is not a pay cut! A pay cut is when YOUR pay goes down 10%. Not compared to someone else."

OK, John, how about this: First, the new police chief starts work at the EXACT SAME pay as his predecessor. Then, after one day, he takes a 14% pay cut. That's essentially what he did, except his pay cut occurred at day 0 instead of day 1. Happy now?


Posted by Julie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Julie is a registered user.

"But why do you think you should make more money than a real man who does a man's work like my husband? So many of us in Pleasanton are grateful for your work. But why do you think you should be earning above minimum wage?"

It literally scares me that there are people who think that way. So "Ms Sincerity", do you even have children? If so, you must not care much about them if you want the person who spends (likely) more time with them during the week than you do to earn "minimum wage". I want the person in charge of my child for 6.5 hours, 5 days per week for about 9-10 months to be a highly paid, well educated professional. YOU want someone working at In & Out Burger to earn more? Disgusting and ridiculous. And just what is "man's work"? Are stuck in the 50's or something? My 83 year old mother is more progressive than that.

I am so thankful I opted to stay in my early child field and NOT to pursue teaching in PUSD. I had a sense a decade ago that the parents here might be "difficult". These blogs prove that some of you are well beyond "difficult". There is NOTHING you could pay me to teach your children.

Why don't all of you bashing the teachers disclose what amazing job YOU do for a living and what you are paid. Let's all dissect it and decide if we think you are worth it or not. Let's take our anger at the economy, the administration, the unions and vent it at you personally. Go on.


Posted by DJohns, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

Julie you do know that "Ms Sincerity" was not being serious don't you? Hence the moniker?

But really.. the unions are the worst thing that ever happened to our kids.


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