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Are our school leaders truly selecting the best and brightest to teach our children?

Original post made by Concerned on Jul 7, 2008

My husband and I relocated to Pleasanton because of the quality of our schools. Top schools should recruit top talent, don't you think? I know of two schools in our area, elementary and middle school, who have hired teachers with out of state credentials and/or emergency credentials. Is the talent pool of teachers dwindling or does someone with an emergency credential really meet the Pleasanton standards? Do administrators even check the credentials of our teachers?

Comments (89)

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm

How ungrateful can you be? You know that honorable mediocrity is the norm in America...where have you been?

If all you can do is complain, go back to where you came from!

signed,

speaking from the heart...


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Cholo, Having just begun our entry into Pleasanton schools, I expected more. I'm not sure if you are just being funny-I hope so. I didn't pay $250K more for our home expecting mediocrity.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Hey, Concerned, don't let Cholo bait you so easily. He is picking up on your the "between the lines" things in your first post. (Like implying anyone with out of state credentials is inferior or if there is as much as one example of an emergency credential out of the hundreds of Pleasanton teachers you are soooo indignant.) After your second post, just watch him jump on your how much more you paid for your home statement and in turn demanding some expectation to be me. He loves to chew up people with that attitude.

He does it all the time in these posts.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Frank...lets take the high road! My suggestion is that Concerned meet with the principal, join the PTA and meet other parents. Find supportive parent contacts so that you can get a balanced picture of what's happening.

You will likely encounter some parents that believe that Plutonian schools have to dumb it down for everybody else because of the "illegals".

HOLA Concerned!


Posted by Call me crazy..., a resident of Downtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 8:42 am

Concerned: RE credentials, depending on the state and the teacher's background, they may very well be better trained. I have more concern about the emergency credential. These are usually granted for positions that are harder to fill, like science and math instruction. Our administrators check credentials and put prospective teachers through extensive interviews and background checks.

Of more concern to me is the power of teacher unions - CTA, NEA, et al. This is one of several core issues with public education in California (and I suspect in most other states as well). Once teachers are granted tenure, often after just a couple of years on the job, administrative oversight is severely limited. With the current power teacher unions have, administrators avoid real supervision of performance because they fear union retribution against administrator and school board members. Administrators are very highly paid. In Pleasanton, more than 15 administrators make over $165,000 per year in total compensation. Several make over $200,000, with generous retirement benefits for life. As a logical consequence, these managers fear for their jobs and prefer compromise over true supervision. Underperforming teachers are typically shuffled from one school to another or given countless opportunities for retraining. Rarely is a teacher fired, unless the offense is so bad that even the unions won't defend it (sexual misconduct, grand theft, etc.). The citizens of every community need to hold their school board, school administrators and teachers accountable for poor performance.

Finally, we, the people (remember this concept?), need to hold ourselves accountable. Far too many parents don't take an active role in guiding their children during their development years – the day of birth through high school, if not beyond. Being a quality parent is a full time career that can't be passed along to someone else. Many parents in Pleasanton understand this, and we have schools that perform in the top 10 percent in the state (we can do better – how about the top 1 percent, like the district I graduated from – Palo Alto Unified). Pouring more money into the system is not the answer. Holding all stakeholders accountable is.

By the way, call me crazy - I'm currently studying to get my teaching credential… go figure!



Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:36 am

Here here Call me crazy...you do make sense! Well done...


Posted by Mary, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:43 am

I agree that the teachers' unions are extremely powerful---too much so. But not just here in Pleasanton, or California, but in the entire U.S. We do have many great teachers here in Pleasanton. But every once in a while you encounter a below-mediocre one that I believe would not be able to keep their job if performance reviews were done as in other business sectors. Where else can you find the type of job protection that tenure gives? The system of tenure needs to go! Here in Pleasanton, we pay well as far as the teacher scale goes. We should be able to have the best and not have to keep those teachers that just skate by.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

How come so many average parents trash teachers? You never quite figure in how toxic your comments are, parents like you rarely offer much more than complaints and what's the first thing you do but whine? Ms. Average Mother newcomer, are you just flexing your muscles, looking for like minded average citizens? Have you ever said thank you to the teachers that taught you how to read and write? Reach out to the teachers and figure out a way to work with them instead of focusing your negativity on a complex situation that you don't understand. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeez...how come so many parents like you give teachers a bad rap?

Time to go...pack your bags, it's Time to go! Ta-ta...


Posted by Sara, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Dear Concerned,
Please ignore this Cholo character. Very odd and not worth a response.
Pleasanton school district has higher teacher salaries than most school districts. You would think that would mean more competition for jobs, and better teachers as a result. I was surprised myself by one of my children's elementary school teachers. This teacher was not only very young, s/he behaved much younger. S/he was incredibly immature and unprofessional. Clueless about children. I felt like I was talking to my child's bratty, immature babysitter, (who I would've fired), instead of a mature professional.
I'm surprised s/he was hired. Is the applicant pool for teachers, even in Pleasanton, that pathetic?
Do you know that substitutes get a cursory, group interview before being hired? There are some real wack-job substitutes in Pleasanton schools. Each substitute teacher applicant should have a one on one interview so they can weed out the weirdoes. They don't, and some are just creeps.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

It appears that this is the thread to trash teachers. I find it curious that Sara advises Concerned and the proceeds to trash a young teacher...bird of a feather...


Posted by Parent, a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 8, 2008 at 5:36 pm

If you are having an issue with a teacher, you should talk with the principal AND talk to a school board member (or all of them). The administration and the board cannot fix problems that they do not know about. I have done this before and found the school board members quite attentive and the principals attentive some of the time.

This is especially important when there is a new teacher as new teachers are on probation for the first two years. The principal can work with the teachers in question and if the teacher does not improve to the necessary level, the teacher is let go. Being they are on probation, all the district has to do is not renew the teacher for the next year. No union intervention.


Posted by Grace, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

What I would like to know is a good way to deal with the fact that most of the English teachers my daughter has had throughout middle school and high school use some of the worst English I have ever seen. These are all native speakers of the English language, yet when they send home the class syllabus/class rules at the beginning of the year for parents to read and sign, or the written explanation of major assignments, the sheet is sprinkled with grammatical errors or examples of common mis-spellings: "there" instead of "they're"; "there" instead of "their"; "your" instead of "you're"; "then" instead of "than", etc.

I feel as if I should correct these mistakes in red pen when I send the signed copy back; after all, this is the teacher who will be standing in front of the class all year, asking the students to pattern their use of English after the teacher's usage. On the other hand, I don't want to be rude. If it were just one mistake, I'd consider it a possible typo, but when it's 8 or 10 on a single sheet, yikes!

Has anyone else experienced this problem?


Posted by MainStreetDiva, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Concerned,
Please ignore Cholo.
He/she posts on almost every forum topic, usually with inflammatory statements.
And Cholo states that he/she resides in Livemore, not even a Pleasanton resident.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Sara and Grace-You have validated some of my worst fears. I was naive to think just because Pleasanton has some of the highest paid teachers/best test scores they would have the market on the best teachers. I know I cannot just sit back and trust the administrators. I'm saddened that given what is offered in Pleasanton, we have weak-link teachers.

P.S. Cholo, I've ignored your threads since the first one...


Posted by Sara, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Dear Grace, I have seen that, but it's not ubiquitous. We had one teacher in particular who was a poor speller. She was also the nicest teacher we ever had, I liked her too much to say anything!
Concerned, your decision not to sit back is a smart one. When my child was in second grade, he complained about a teacher, (not his main one.) It did not occur to me that she could actually be abusive. It turned out she was, she frightened my child badly. I then found out that many parents had, and were having, serious problems with her. People moved their children out of her class, and one parent (that I know of) sought therapy for their child because of her. She was friendly with the principal. Teacher and principal are now gone.
I spoke to a woman on the school board about this teacher's abusive behavior. I wanted something in her file to warn other school districts that she might apply to. The board member told me the file does not follow the teacher to a new job.
The lesson I learned was--don't assume anything. I wish I had not assumed that the teacher could not actually be abusive. She was.
Don't assume. Stay on your toes.


Posted by Jan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:38 pm

My friends and I, (in separate meetings), talked to our middle school principal about unprofessional and derogatory behavior exhibited by one middle school teacher. The principal told each of us he had never heard a complaint about this teacher before, obviously a lie (he didn't know we were aware of each other's meetings) and, speaking of lying, implied that our children were lying about the teacher by saying the teacher would not have said what they reported.
I was very disappointed and disillusioned with the principal.
I actually thought he would take some action, and make the teacher improve his behavior.
No, he just wanted us to go away and to do nothing. Nice salary for doing nothing.


Posted by High Standards, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:11 am

Jan, read Call me crazy's comments, they explain some of the reasons why principals protect underperfomers.

Grace, I was shocked with the grammer and spelling errors I saw when reviewing course outlines during elementary school orientation sessions. Since my kids have moved up to middle and high school, I see less issues.

However, watch out for middle school grade inflation - we have only experienced Harvest Park Middle School, but the problem is huge - typically 60-75% of 6th and 7th graders sail through with perfect 4.0 GPAs.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:54 am


I'LL bet the dishonest principle was at a middle school with the initials PMS. Covering up for bad teachers a very common concern for too many years.

Fortunately most of our teachers are wonderful, unfortunately not all.... but most of our principles are also.





Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:08 pm

High Standards...are you crazymaking...again? On the one hand you want kids to perform and when they do, you explain their high performance marks as "grade inflation". What does it take to satisfy a crazy parent like you? Kids: You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. What gives? Parent: What do you mean by "but most of our principles are also..."? Also what?

Where do you born? I been had the impression that you're from the south or you're here illegally?

Are some of you related to Henny Penny?


Posted by Jen, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm

If there is a problem with a teacher or principal, then you could write an email to the superintendent and the school board, making sure you document the problem in writing.

Make sure what you complain about is always in writing. Start with emails and then if that doesn't work, send certified letters to the District Office.

If the problem is not resolved, file a complaint with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing at this website--

Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Good advice Jen! Most of the cry babies on this thread have no intention of following up on anything. This is a blog for them to whine a get some attention. They like to complain and then go pig out on a double bacon cheese.

A few are are fuss budgets like Miss Pitty Pat! Not truly interested in the education of their kids. Sad.


Posted by Timmy, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Too bad who ever edumecated you cholo did such a bad job.


Posted by Sara, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jul 10, 2008 at 9:21 am

To the writer who has had concerns about locating to Pleasanton for the good schools:
You will in fact find this type of situation with teachers in all cities in the State of CA.
I resided in Pleasanton for 20 years, attending Walnut Grove Elementary, Harvest Park and Amador. I also have my degree in teaching and see first hand your concerns about the standards of an emergency credential. Keep in mind standards don't equal talent.
Many times, teachers (out-of-state/new teachers with emergency credentials) are deemed talentless. This is not a valid statement. Just because a teacher has an out-of-state credential, or emergency credential, does not mean they are talentless. I know of many seasoned teachers who don't have any passion for teaching and many teach for summers off. The best way to go about your concerns is with follow through. If a teacher is really having problems and under qualified, you won't be the only parent with complaints. The more complaints, the more attention that will be brought to the situation.
Pleasanton has the very best public schools, which score high on testing and are very safe for our children. I now live in Sacramento, and let me tell you, public schools are bad, and almost seem unsafe. One more thing, I work at a PK-12 private school in Sacramento with very high standards and excellent recognition. Most of the teachers that we hire, come from out-of-state and their talent outweighs our CA teachers with credentials.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:17 am

Timmy: Go to your corner! Are you the devil's baby?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:26 am

Concerned: Now that you reside in PTown, do you suppose that the best 'n brightest think that you measure up?

Anybody that publicly brags about having paid $250K over the asking price for a home is an idiot! Especially when the asking price was only $41,000! Tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

Catch you later Miss Pitty Pat!


Posted by raven, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jul 10, 2008 at 4:30 pm

My son graduated from this school district in 2006. The teachers were for the most part, on top of their game, given the circumstances in which they are working there were a few exceptions in which we did have to go to district office to take care of. District staff although not wanting to accept responsibility for the behavior exhibited by staff at the schools, they did follow through with our requests. But it was up to us as a family that had to relentlessly pursue this "bad behavior" by the administrators. If we did not be our child's advocate, nothing would have been done. My feeling is this, the direction in which these administrators work come from the top. The "hands off" management style Supt. Casey created in this district has caused discourse throughout the district for parents. Did my child graduate with a good "education", yes, he did. But for a district that continues to claim that kids come first and stand behind the Community of Character, my child will attest this did not happen. In the end, my child learned from the interactions with the administrations of the schools attended is that fighting for what is right rather than what is easy is the best way to live, something they all need to work on.

Should there be changes made to how the administrations deal with parent concerns? Absolutely! But that will not happen until a new superintendent sits in his chair.

I moved from Fremont to have my child in PUSD and for the most part in was a great decision However the bumps along the way should have been dealt with more style and grace. As parents, we have to be our child's advocate, their is no one else that can do it for them.


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2008 at 6:37 pm


If you want top talent then you have to be willing to pay for it. Consider the cost of commuting (with current gas prices) as well as housing, and it is going to be difficult to find people willing to teach in this area.

I don't think that "out of state" credentials are a bad thing. If you can find someone qualified, what should it matter what state they come from if they can teach well? Even more so considering that for many areas, arriving in the bay area means a cost of living increase for most people.

Emergency credentials aren't necessarily something to be wary of either. I know several very smart people from major research labs (who also happen to be good teachers) who were interested in taking a sabbatical to teach in the public school system but who cannot because the system won't allow a "non-credentialed" person to teach in the public schools. If someone has taught successfully before and has degrees from institutions from UC Berkeley, Yale, MIT or Stanford, I think it would be safe to say they know their material. Furthermore if they have demonstrated that they can teach well in other environments, then they should be qualified to teach in the public schools. The problem with the "teaching credential" (one problem anyway) is that it does not make exceptions for people with qualifications obtained elsewhere. How many people have the time and money to go back and spend $$$$ to get a credential when their degree and prior experience already says they are qualified?

Although I have a PhD myself and a lot of teaching experience, I couldn't teach in the public school system even if I wanted to, simply because a don't have a "credential". I think the program was originally design to prevent "unqualified" people from teaching, but the rules are so restrictive that it makes no allowances for special cases and so the school systems, and the students suffer as a result.


Again, if you want good teachers, pay them well and make it easier for qualified people to teach regardless of some of these petty rules. If you can prove you have the knowledge and qualifications that should be sufficient.














Posted by Dvorak, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Just to let you know, our teachers make up to $98,000 per year and they have summer, spring break, and winter break off. We do pay our teachers good in Pleasanton.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:54 pm

To go a bit further with the main point that Qwerty states about people who have demonstrated themselves as good teachers and who are established experts in their specialty, but are "uncredentialed", and therefore are not permitted to teach in public schools. Nearly every professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and graduate student in all four year universities throughout the United States fit this description. And, you as parents, put great pressure on your kids to get into these universities and then you pay huge sums of money if they do get accepted, while not caring one iota whether the teachers are "credentialed".

In returning to the original subject and postings for this thread, I wonder how one reconciles out-of-state credentials, emergency credentials, and paying a premium in housing price as it relates to quality of education in Pleasanton schools. In my mind there seems to be some kind of disconnect going on between how the public school system works and how the rest of the world works, but I'm at a loss to explain it.

I was awarded my PH.D. in physics nearly four decades ago, and in all of this time I have not noticed any improvement in the quality of science and math education in the public school system. My public high school was not particularly outstanding in this regard, but I and my generational colleagues seemed to have risen above these shortcomings and we got ourselves accepted to good universities, where we did well.

Maybe it's the credentialing system itself that is defective.


Posted by Kathleen, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I think California's school systems are the worst! I grew up in Pennsylvania and the difference in the school systems are night and day. Yes, I live in Pleasanton and yes I had 2 children go through the school system here. I am just stating the facts. For those of you who might say well, go back to where you came from, be realistic you can't pick up and move when you have jobs here so get over yourselves!


Posted by Call me crazy..., a resident of Downtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Frank, you make a lot of sense, especially your point about college profs.

As I mentioned before, I'm currently studying for my credential. It will take me more than 12 months to complete the program. If not for my spouse, and the steady income provided, there is no way I could even think of doing this. With that said, I do hope to eventually teach in Pleasanton or the San Ramon Valley USD.

It seems like ineffective teachers feel emboldened to continue to be ineffective (incompetent/burned-out/uncaring) because they know there is bureaucracy created teacher shortage. Just think how a quality company in the private sector would handle this (or for that matter, a quality private school).


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Dvorak,

Your comment about the "$98,000" makes no sense unless you place it in context. "Up to $98,000"? Who is making $98,000 per year? Someone who has been in the system for 1 year, 10 years, 20 years? What level of teaching? For any kind of number to make sense we need statistics. How about a min/max, average, median salary etc. ?

Frank, I agree wholeheartedly that the "credential" system is flawed...but then trying to get big government to make major changes is a rant I will take elsewhere...


Posted by Melissa, a resident of Foothill Place
on Jul 11, 2008 at 7:09 pm

"union retribution against administrators and school board members..." That's a line from 'call me crazy's' post. Does anyone know what form this retribution would take?


Posted by Know from experience, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jul 11, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Melissa, retribution in the form of organized campaigns against sitting board members and board candidates that don't kowtow to the demands of very powerful teacher unions. This happens every year in this state and across the nation. Remember, school boards hire and terminate school district CEOs – the superintendants. Just curious, are you a teacher, naïve and not knowing or just acting like it never happens. Teacher unions are "serious business", just ask our governator!


Posted by Facts, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jul 12, 2008 at 1:12 am


Ed Data

Web Link

Pleasanton teacher salaries:

Lowest Offered $53,826

Highest Offered $94,838

Average Paid $78,760

These are good salaries especially if you consider the amount of days off.

Administrators are much higher.

Superintendent 227,000 annually plus benefits package

Assistant superintendents between 160,000 and 184,000




Posted by Melissa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

Dear Know from Experience, Thank you for the information. I'm not a teacher. Is this common knowledge? I guess you think it is, but in over a decade of talking to other parents about principals not doing anything about bad teachers, no one mentioned this to me as a reason. I thought the principals didn't want to be bothered making waves, out of ineptitude, laziness, whatever. You say you know from experience, but if a person isn't directly involved, how would they know?
I've never read an article about the teacher' union waging a campaign against a board member because they tried to do something about a bad teacher, or heard anyone talk about such a thing.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 12, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I was a public school teacher in the SF Bay Area, and I now teach one class at a community college for fun. I was neither impressed with the teacher education program I went through nor the district that employed me. The teachers themselves were a mixed bag, but I noticed an absurdly high concentration of lazy, bitter aging hippies and borderline psychotics in teachers' rooms all around the Bay.

Then again, as a self-employed individual making my six figures, I guess I fall into that group of people that has just a little more get-up than your average institutional employee.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jul 12, 2008 at 5:24 pm


It is concerning that most people don't understand that the teachers union agenda is not about our childrens best interests.
The teachers union is a very powerful special interest group. Their mission is teachers salary and the best interests of the teacher. It is a political group and I will never vote for a candidate that is endorsed by the union.
Teachers as individuals are for the most part good, hard working people but the teachers union is the worst thing that has ever happened to our kids.
The Pleasanton teachers union has been very vindictive toward board members and board candidates that have not bowed to them.





Posted by Jason, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 12, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Speaking of whining and getting attention, look who has more posts on the topic than anyone, yet again. Oh wise one from Livermore, show us the way!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Hi Jase...cheer up!

NOW THAT I HAVE MY OWN THREAD JEALOUS BUG, I'M TAKING THE HIGH ROAD...UNLESS OF COURSE IT JASE THE RIVER RAT...I SAY, cheer up!!!

ha ha ha ha ho ho ho ho he he he he...

Thank you teacher for a job well done...


Posted by Ashley, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm

I don't understand how the teachers union would punish a principal who talked to a teacher about improving their behavior. I have had experiences with more than one principal who refused to believe there was a problem with a teacher. Clearly, trying to invalidate the parent is the route they take, not trying to improve the teacher. Some posters are saying that if the principal talked to the teacher and said--"Change your behavior", the teachers union would somehow punish the principal.
Really?
Read the post from "knows from experience"
That seems unlikely to me.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 13, 2008 at 4:11 pm

All unions seek their own best interests, and they should, just as any other group does. The issue of the union going after an individual principal to protect an individual teacher in a no-questions-asked manner is part of a different dynamic.

For the most part, as is the case with any group, the individual usually gets short shrift unless the particular issue involved fits into the larger plan of the organization.

To wit: the union won't, for example, throw its weight behind an incompetent teacher who has been disciplined by a principal unless they are pushing for the district to start footing the bill for continuing education.

Unions, like a lot of other things, are generally good for the group they serve; but they aren't always good for the individuals they serve. The herd survives, but individual members get eaten all the time.


Posted by ciaorn, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jul 16, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Wow, I had no idea teachers and administrators make that much salary-wise in Pleasanton. I bust my a_ _ as an RN and I just hope my hard earned money is not going to "mediocre" to "slightly above average" education for my kids. As an immigrant, I strive for a better life for my kids, and as a parent I live to give them the best education possible. Is it too much too ask that we work with teachers to achieve those goals for all our kids?

Teaching, like nursing, is not a 9 to 5 job. It's a service-oriented changing/saving lives career choice. Teachers, just as nurses, have an ongoing duty to their students (patients) to make them better (healthier) human beings. I don't think parents are asking too much when they want the best to teach our kids. You wouldn't want an underskilled nurse taking care of your sick loved one, especially if you're paying good money for it.


Posted by PUSD Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Many of you who have commented thus far about the quality of teachers in Pleasanton seem to be basing your opinions on your limited views as parents. As a teacher in the Pleasanton School District, it is extremely disheartening to hear all of the negativity about what we do for your children. I will be the first to admit that there are teachers out there who should maybe consider changing professions or retiring, but not one of you has mentioned something positive about your experience in our district. It is frustrating to work with a community that doesn't seem to support their teachers.

Yes, we are lucky in that we get breaks throughout the school year, but I can promise you this: if teachers didn't get these breaks, you would be hard pressed to find teachers AT ALL. Try working with 33 children for six hours, five days a week, and you will see what I mean... we need a break! Per our contract, we start work at 8:00 a.m. and are required to work until 2:30 p.m., however most teachers arrive at school by 7:00, and don't leave until 5:30 or later. Even when we go home our work isn't done. We still need to plan lessons and grade papers. Imagine how much time outside of school hours teachers need to dedicate to thoroughly grading 33 four-page essays. So please stop insulting us by saying that we are over-paid and under-worked. I encourage any of you (blogging teachers discluded of course) to spend just one day in your child's classroom and pay close attention to what their teacher actually does. You will be surprised.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 16, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Psst... "excluded" ;)


Posted by Parent in Pleasanton, a resident of California Somerset
on Jul 17, 2008 at 9:55 am

The vast majority of teachers in Pleasanton do a terrific job, inspiring our children to be the very best they can be. In conversation I have with other parents, we absolutely support our teachers and believe that teachers play an incredibly important role in the development of our children.

As a poster mentioned early in this thread, families need to take on the responsibility of being good parents, being involved in the development of their children, guiding and assisting with projects and homework as appropriate.

Most of us work in the private sector. Our performance is often evaluated on a daily basis. We can be terminated from our positions at any time. Needless to say, we don't have protected, tenured positions.

As the economy suffers, many of us have lost or are in jeopardy of losing our jobs. When the economy is good and people are making good money and feeling secure in their employment, we tend to look the other way when it comes to public employee (total) compensation. The current union contract was ratified under these circumstances. As the economy tightens up, we start to look closer at how we spend our tax dollars. This is a natural human condition.

Our teacher writes: "I will be the first to admit that there are teachers out there who should maybe consider changing professions or retiring…". This is a huge issue. Why are poor performing teachers protected? The damage they can inflict on our children can last a lifetime. We are still recovering from a poor third grade teacher – we realized our child wasn't developing effective math skills until too late in the school year. This child now works very hard for Bs high school math. We knew this was a teacher specific problem after discussing our situation with other parents and school administrators. We also learned that nothing but the word "sorry" was forthcoming. We still believe in our district and refuse to hold all teachers accountable for isolated poor performers. We are thankful we live in Pleasanton. Poor teacher performance is a much bigger issue in other California school districts.

Pleasanton teachers are compensated very well, with exceptional short and long term benefits entirely paid for by the tax-paying public. Reform the union and weed out poor performing teachers.


Posted by Marcia, a resident of Gatewood
on Jul 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm

It's frustrating when parents vent about a bad teacher we've had, and we've all had one, and people respond as if we're saying all teachers are bad and we don't support teachers in general.
I am in the process of getting my teacher credential and I am a parent. Becoming a teacher is not going to stop me, as a parent, from voicing concerns about bad teachers and trying to do something about them.
I'd like to say to all hard-working, good teachers--it's not about you. There are crummy teachers in Pleasanton and in all school districts. If you are not one of them, you know it, and we are not talking about you.
For fear of offending you, should we not discuss the problem of bad teachers? That would be failing our students.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jul 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

To PUSD Teacher: That is exactly what many of the posters are discussing when you reference "discluded". I certainly hope you are not an english teacher. Maybe the two months off will help you with your vocabulary.


Posted by John, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 18, 2008 at 4:54 am

Bob - Hope that you can find the time to work on capitalization skills - "english teacher." Fixing your own errors prior to taking shots would be a positive sign.


Posted by Marcia, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:15 am

I guess he or she meant 'excluded.' I don't think 'discluded' is a word. I've never heard of it. Maybe he or she mistakenly hit the wrong key.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 18, 2008 at 7:26 pm

No, hit two wrong keys plus an extra key, not just hit a wrong key. D-i-s-cluded versus e-x-cluded. How kind you are toward this "discluded" person.


Posted by Ancient One, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm

An old axiom:

"Those people who can do...do! Those people who cannot do...teach."

Corolary:

"The ethically challenged...become elected officials."


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jul 19, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Well that last part certainly got a laugh on my part!


Posted by Retired Pleasanton Teacher, a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm

To Ancient One...Be thankful that in Pleasanton those who can teach, do!

By the way, corollary is spelled with a double L.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 19, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Ancient One cannot spell, therefore cannot "do". And apparently is not a teacher. So, what are you?

Actually, the expression cited is quite insulting while at the same time being quite wrong. In our society some of the greatest contributors to the sciences and the arts were and are great teachers. In my area of knowledge, physics, let me cite Feynman, Sagan, and Fermi as pretty good examples. A personal example was Les Foldy (now deceased) who made quantum electrodynamics appear to be simple for us lesser talented graduate students. Every field of science has similar examples.

So, I don't buy Ancient One's simplistic cr...p.


Posted by Cholo Needs a New Job, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Cholo hasn't always been a pathetic loser who thinks he's terribly clever by posting idiotic comments on a community website. Cut him a break...he was recently fired from McDonald's and lost his ability to communicate when they took his drive-thru mic away.


Posted by 2 spots open, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:39 am

Cholo for School Board!!!!


Posted by Teacher Defender, a resident of Val Vista
on Jul 25, 2008 at 10:27 am

For those of you who say teachers get a lot of time off, I say pull your head out of the computer monitor. Teachers are one of the most hardworking groups around. They spend hours of their own time preparing lessons, grading papers, taking continuation classes or enrichment classes, and spending their own money for things in the classroom. How many of you spend an hour or so before bed reading a good book? These teachers are spending that hour (and then some) reading essays or grading complex math problems.

If you are so unhappy with Pleasanton School District's teachers then I suggest you pull your children and home school them - then you won't have to deal with those teachers who only "work for the summers off" and administrators who defend their staff.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 25, 2008 at 12:04 pm


Few other jobs allow the amount of time off that teachers get.

These teacher are paid with our tax dollars, don't suggest they are not accountable to us!!!!!



Posted by Sam, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jul 29, 2008 at 12:42 am

Without wanting to argue with anybody, I'd just like to say that I am a teacher at Foothill High School. We have a lot of very talented, dedicated people on our staff, some who are just average, and some who are mediocre.

I started teaching in California with out-of-state credentials and had to do a lot of work to gain my California certification, even though I had 15 years of teaching in another state. Pleasanton USD, unlike some other California districts, insists that all teachers meet the very highest standards.

There are a few problems in attracting teachers to any district, even one as good as PUSD:

First, teaching is a relatively low-paid profession compared to others. Yes, I know, it's a calling and we teachers shouldn't be such money-grubbers, but surely you're aware that it's impossible to buy a house in Pleasanton on a teacher's salary, even if you are at the very top of the salary scale? Teachers who do live in Pleasanton have spouses with high-paid jobs. Low salaries drive a lot of young people out of the profession. We lost half a dozen young teachers at the end of this school year when they discovered they couldn't get married and raise a family on a teacher's salary, so they left to work in private industry. These young people loved teaching, but they just couldn't live on the salary.

Second, SOME Pleasanton parents can be a bit...difficult. Pleasanton parents demand high-quality education for their kids, but some parents are unreasonable and expect the teacher to ignore all of the other kids in his or her classroom and focus on THEIR child. In an ideal world, that's what they'd do. But this is not an ideal world: this is a world in which a high school teacher has 40+ students in a high school classroom, a stack of papers to grade, and his or her own family responsibilities, too. Most parents are pleasant and cooperative, but just a few of the high-maintenance ones (and you know who you are) can make a teacher's life a living hell.

Third, a lot of our untenured teachers got layoff notices this year. No, nobody in PUSD got laid off, but a lot of teachers statewide did get laid off. The "deal" in teaching is supposed to be that you have a low salary, but you get to do socially meaningful work and have a relatively secure job. Take away our job security and you take away one of the incentives for staying in the teaching profession. A low salary, a high-stress job, AND no job security? Oh boy, where do I sign up....

Fourth, tenure protects academic freedom and promotes independence in the classroom. The hallmark of any profession is how much independence a person has in deciding how to practice that profession, within a set of community standards. Law, medicine, and teaching are all professions because lawyers, doctors, and teachers have the independence in which to exercise their judgment. Tenure doesn't protect bad teachers unless administrators let tenure function as a shield for bad teachers. Yes, there are bad teachers in the schools, but there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad cops, and bad parents. It is a myth that a tenured teacher can't be fired. It takes time, and there is a process, but if an administrator can show that a teacher is just not doing his or her job tenure or not, the teacher can be fired. It's happened at Foothill and it's happened at other schools where I've taught.

Finally, remember that most teachers want to help students. There's no other reason to do this job than to make a difference in a child's or a teenager's life. The pay is low, the hours are long, the working conditions can be stressful and emotionally draining. But I've stuck in the teaching profession for 20 years now for one reason: I know that I make the world a little bit better place just by doing my job to the best of my ability. And all the good teachers I know at Foothill stay in the profession for the same reason.

What do teachers want from parents? We want you to know that we're on your side, and we want you to work with us, not against us. Oh, and some more money wouldn't hurt...I still have a few payments left to make on my Ferrari and my yacht!


Posted by Foothill Parent, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:40 am

I do understand the concern about unqualified/incompetent teachers. We too moved here 20 years ago for the schools. Along the way I learned that the best thing I could teach my 3 kids was to take personal responsibility for what they do and that to be successful in school they needed to work hard. (They took my advice in varying degrees!) We had few teachers that were not good but we still encouraged our kids to make the best of it. More importantly, we had some phenomenal teachers along the way. I am so grateful for that and wouldn't trade those experiences for my children. I accept that the world is not a perfect place but feel very fortunate that all three of my children got a great education and continued on to UC's, two to CAL.

Foothill High School served us really well. It has a gifted, fair and dedicated staff. We are so grateful to them.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Facts:

Just so you get your "facts" straight, here's what I'm doing with my summer "vacation":

So far, I've attended over 60 hours of workshops and classes to renew my teaching credential;

Worked at Foothill (without additional pay) getting my classroom ready for the coming school year (already put in over 40 hours and will put in another 40-50 before the first day of classes);

Spent 4-5 hours a day, every day, drawing up new lesson plans based on the new textbooks we adopted and state standards.

I'm the rule, not the exception, among the Foothill staff. We're a dedicated bunch and you can walk on Foothill's campus at 6 a.m. or 9 p.m. and find teachers AND administrators there, helping students, attending school events, meeting with parents, etc. I often work a 12-15 hour day during the school years. On an hourly basis...well, I don't want to think about my pay on an hourly basis.

That $98,000 salary sounds good. I've been teaching for 21 years beginning this fall and I don't make that much, even though I have two master's degrees. My baby sister, who spent no more on her graduate education than I did, is a pharmacist, earns three time that much, and a has a huge house in San Ramon.

Still envy us our "holidays"? We have to pay bills in the summer, too, you know.

But thanks for thinking that teachers are rich. I'll think about that while I polish my Ferrari. Which is what I call my 1999 Honda Civic :)


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Hear hear for Sam!


Posted by Former Hayward USD Intern, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Let me just say one thing from experience, if you have any problems with the pleasanton schools maybe you should enroll your child in the Hayward schools or even San Lorenzo. Pleasanton as well as any district is trying to make the best of their budgets. Teachers have always been underpaid ... for years. As far as emergency creds. and out of state licenses... id rather have those eager to teach, teaching rather than not. PS... never have teaching credentials ever been something you can obtain online for $9.95... give them more credit than that...


Posted by 18 year Pleasanton parent, a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I have been involved in a volunteer capacity throughout the 13 years my children have attended Pleasanton schools. One is a 2008 graduate. There have been strong superintendants and strong teachers and administrators in our history but I do believe that Pleasanton has begun to "sit on their laurels" over the last few years. I have become disappointed in the leadership of our superintendant and believe that Foothill High School has been a home for the "good old boys" for far too long. Many teachers are very dedicated but many teachers are barely on campus in the morning for their class and are the same ones that are beating the kids to their cars in the afternoon. We instituted a "collaboration" period per the teacher's union which has done absolutely nothing towards the intended goal. It was another way to get a free prep period for teachers. We need to get more parents involved at Foothill - especially minority parents - and we need to have more academic accountability towards students and less towards the California Teacher's Union. Although I do not sound like it in this message - I am an advocate for PUSD - I just see things changing for the negative and am concerned for all children. We need to stop focusing soley on standardized tests and start teaching kids critical thinking and core curriculums. We have hundreds of students taking AP classes that are being taught by teachers who have no idea what the AP curriculum should be. If we don't have trained teachers who care - we will not have kids passing the tests with the necessary 4 or 5 score that colleges require. Many kids I know didn't even bothr to take their AP tests this year because they didn't feel prepared in their classes. I know we can make things better - we should be using our influence to hire the best and be open to getting the fundamental goals of our education mission back on track. Thank you.


Posted by Jacob, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:00 am

I guess that we all have different/unique experiences/perceptions. My daughter (2007 graduate), after her sophomore year, transferred from Amador to Foothill and I was very pleased. At Foothill, I felt that people cared.


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Happy Valley
on Aug 7, 2008 at 5:38 am

We moved from Fremont to Livermore about 10 years ago and to PLeasanton about 3 years ago. My child was in the Mission San Jose School District and many thought it was crazy to move her into the Livermore Schools. The difference in the quality of the schools was vast but my child still graduated in the top 1% in the US. I wish I could say that this was due to the quality of our educational system, but I absolutely can't. I learned and strongly beleive that one of the key factor to a child's educational success is parental involvement and strong parental advocacy. I'm sure the prinicipal of my chils'd high school, probably cringed every time he saw me coming around. Too bad. Right or wrong, if your child is not getting the educational support they need it is up to the parents to fill the gap themselves, tutors or whatever it takes. Have you ever noticed in this comunity with such fabulous schools how many tutoring institutions there are? So many parents/friends send their children to school and expect the school to practically raise their child and educate their child to the highest standard without much help at home.
As a side note, my child had an awful 6th grade teacher in the Fremont School District. I had many discussions with the principal and was told that there many concerns reagrding this teacher and she was in need of a parent to file a formal complaint and really see the process through before much could be done. I, unfortunately acquiessed, nightmare, and I don't know exactly what disciplinary action the teacher encountered, but I do know this, she moved districts and has been teaching since at PMS.
FREMONT DIDN'T WANT HER BUT PLEASANTON DID?
SCARY


Posted by Scary, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Aug 7, 2008 at 10:52 am



PMS is the worst school in the district, with the worst administration.




Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

I have had a great experience with the Pleasanton schools. However, I do think that the Teachers' Union is bad for public education. I have seen many bad teachers, here in Pleasanton as well as in other districts, stay on board even though many parents complain about them and ask that their kids not be placed in these teachers' classes. And all of that thanks to the union, and the teachers' tenure. I have seen good teachers (new/not yet tenured) get pink slips while really bad ones who already have tenure, get to stay on board and even displace some good teachers.... that is not right and it is not in the best interest of our kids. I do not think it is the fault of a school district or even a board of trustees... this is a problem with the Teachers' Union and their rules that protect the most incompetent of teachers. In the corporate world, we do not get to "keep our job for life" if we are not performing, the same should apply to teachers.


Posted by Jenny, a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 7, 2008 at 9:41 pm

In this "fabulous" Pleasanton Unified School District have you ever noticed how many tutoring facilities there are? Have you ever noticed how many of our PUSD teachers are employed at those tutoring facilities? My child has had teachers that are supposed to be awesome and yet many of their students are needing to pay for outside tutoring because their teacher isn't available before school, during lunch or after school to help with questions. Yet those same teachers are teaching at night at these tutor facilities. I understand some teachers may want or need a second job - especially when they're done working by 3pm - but this just seems like a conflict of interest in the system. You help me - I'll help you. When you look at a teacher's salary and divide it by the number of hours actually worked - they're overpaid in many respects. If you add their daily prep period, a collaboration period which doesn't really happen, school holidays, sick days, personal days, vacation days and summers off....we should all be so lucky to have the job. This is being written by a former teacher and the daughter of a 25 year teacher.


Posted by Kit, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Aug 7, 2008 at 10:33 pm


Absolutely, if you calculate the number of hours teachers are required to work their salaries are better than the corporate jobs that have long days and work through the summer.

When someone argues that some (not many) teachers stay after school, it is only saying they sometimes stay as late as the rest of us work everyday.

Pleasanton has a hard time getting summer school teacher because they don't want to work more.



Posted by Mother and Teacher of PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2008 at 9:02 am

Wow, Sam. I couldn't have said it better. I am an elementary school teacher and I love my job. I have been teaching for about 20 years or so. Right now I can't wait to get back into my classroom but we have been told that our rooms are not ready and have to wait. Ugh. I teach in a wonderful environment at WG... supportive parents, staff, and administration. I find for the most part that Pleas. parents are very concerned about their children's education and I am so grateful for that, as a teacher.

As a parent, my boys went to WG, HP and Amador and I have been wow'd by the quality of teaching. On one occasion my son had a long term sub that was underqualified in a variety of ways. I know these things happen. In this case the regular teacher was on maternity leave. What are you going to do? Teachers have babies too. That was my only negative experience out of 13 years times 2 children.

I feel our district strives to be the best it can be. Check out the Excellence Committee on the PUSD website to see what we are striving for.

Oh yes, I could not live here if it were not for my husband's salary. As Sam, the Foothill teacher, mentioned we do not teach for the salary. We do it for the love we have for our students.

I have worked in 2 others school districts and I couldn't be happier that I work in this district. I feel as though, by far, most teachers here really do care and really do strive to be the best they can be.


Posted by Mom of 4, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2008 at 1:14 am

I've had 4 kids and have dealt with 5 different schools, over 100 teachers and 2 different high schools (one of them was rated in the top 20 in the nation). Now, my youngest will be graduating this year. I've learned a lot over 25 years and it's apparent to me that our educational system will not improve as long as we have teachers' unions. Before all the teachers become offended, let me say that we come from a family of teachers (2 of them were Teachers of the Year in their respective districts). Nevertheless, I am opposed to tenure and unions - in the long run, our entire country will suffer because unions keep underperforming teachers in their jobs. My kids have had fabulous teachers whom we will all remember and to whom we are all grateful. However, there are too many bad ones and they cannot be fired. There is a middle school math teacher in this district who has been churning out 150 kids every year who come to the high school level not knowing their Algebra - and the high school teachers have to deal with that (it also affects a lot of SAT scores in the district). We should be able to find this person a different line of work but no one will touch it. To "Grace": yes, I eventually started correcting grammatical errors in teachers' letters before returning them. My best advice is: tutors, tutors, tutors. Last year I spent a $300 a month on a tutor for one high school subject because that teacher couldn't stay after school for extra help - he had to pick up his kids from day care. He saved money on daycare but how many parents had to get a tutor for their student? - I know I was not the only one. To the teacher "Sam" at Foothill: thank you for your hard work and dedication - I know others like you but please don't tell me there are not teachers who need to go. After this long, 25-year journey...I would be inclined to home-school if I could do it over again...I ended up teaching my kids most afternoons and evenings anyway.


Posted by Amen!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

Amen!!!!

As I read this last post I was wondering if I had written it in my sleep as it is exactly my experience. I am finishing up over 20 years with kids in Pleasanton schools, I feel certain I know the PMS teacher that Mom of 4 referred to, and have far too often been told our teachers are not available after 3:00 for a conference or student help.

We love our teachers most are hard working and wonderful but the teachers union is the worst thing that has ever happened to our kids.

In the upcoming election for school board keep in mind the union is a special interest group that is very political and successfully works to control our school board. They fund and endorse the candidates they want to work with. Understand their agenda when they support a candidate.






Posted by Mom of 4, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2008 at 8:26 pm

To "Amen":

LOL... My post never said it was a PMS math teacher but you picked up on it right away!! High school math teachers and parents know about this situation but it is never corrected. If the district wants to raise its SAT math scores, they will finally do something. (For those parents whose kids are too young for the SAT, you should be aware that even though kids take the SAT in 11th grade, it is mostly Algebra.)

I really didn't think my vote for school board members could have any impact on the union situation. How do you know which candidates are independent of union influence and which ones are "in bed", so to speak, with the teachers' union? I guess I will have to dig deeper for information on each candidate. I may sound glib but even though my kids are grown, I feel that this is an essentail issue for our country. We either get past the union protections for teachers who aren't getting the job done, or our society will sink.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm

"Oh yes, I could not live here if it were not for my husband's salary. As Sam, the Foothill teacher, mentioned we do not teach for the salary. We do it for the love we have for our students."

Teachers have different reasons for having that job.... but don't tell me that you do not like the idea of having holidays and summers off; it cannot possibly be just love for your students, I am sure that love for your own lifestyle (summers off, home on time to be with your kids after school, holidays) has something to do with your choice to be a teacher. Teachers enjoy the most flexible schedules, with afternoons off, summers off. It is the ideal job for moms with young children - no other job, even on a part-time basis is as flexible as teaching is for moms who do not want to do the day-care thing.

Teacher unions are bad for education, and we could all benefit from doing without tenures and from being able to keep and/or fire teachers based on performance. Pay should be based on merit. When this is done, good teachers will be motivated to put in as many hours (imagine teachers actually working a full day!) as necessary to get their work done (yes, that includes tutoring those who need it after school).


Posted by Amen, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Aug 22, 2008 at 10:41 pm

It is too early to know which School Board candidates are connected to the union. To be fair they will all vie for the endorsement since unfortunately the majority of the population don't understand the Union agenda and will follow the Union endorsements.

Parents should send the message that the Union cannot choose their bosses. Trustees should never take campaign contributions from Unions or accept Union support.






Posted by Pleasanton parent, a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 23, 2008 at 12:55 am

We just graduated the last of our kids after 21 years in the district. I think one of the best ways to figure out where the School Board candidates stand on any of these issues is to try and attend one of the neighborhood "meet the candidate" forums that inevitably will be a part of the campaign season. With all the kids finally out of the house I may have time to do that now. It would be really great to know if the candidates feel like teacher's union works in the students' best interest or in its own best interest.


Posted by Retired Pleasanton Teacher, a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2008 at 7:57 am

Please do not get the impression from what you have read here that Pleasanton Unified is the only school district with affiliation to a teachers' union. Most, if not all, districts are connected to unions for both teachers and classified personnel. I was never a "union- minded" individual while I was teaching. I was always willing to stand on my own merit since I knew I worked long and hard to get the job done. However, I have to say the union was a great help to my position when I was already swamped with essays and my other homework including dealing with parents who expected me to do more parenting of their children than they were willing to do.

Let's be honest here. There are teachers in the district who might be better in a different position, but we can say that of most occupations. Some people could make better career choices based on their talents and skills. It really is foolish, though, to complain about all that "free time" teachers have when the job carries such responsibility. My free time didn't begin until I retired, and I still think about all those standards and hope my former students got what they needed in my classroom.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 23, 2008 at 9:21 am


We love and appreciate our teachers. We know it is an important and demanding job. We know that most teachers are good at their job and hard working.

We know that our teachers union across the state is out of control. We know that the union protects bad teachers and fosters an apathy for mediocrer teachers. We know Pleasanton teachers are well paid for the number of minutes worked and that they have safe supportive working conditions.

The unions should not select or control our school board, their boss. The Pleasanton Teachers Union will anoint their choice of candidates giving them financial support and endorsements. The unions will pay for ads that show the union reps standing smiling beside their candidates. Make no mistake why they are smiling!

Parents need to send the message that we want Trustees that are not beholden to the unions.





Posted by Deb, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2008 at 9:39 am

I wholeheartedly agree with the comments made about the affects of teacher tenure and the strength of the unions. Many teachers and administrators tell us that it is possible to terminate a poor teacher. But it seems to parents that it never happens. Yes, we have many great teachers in Pleasanton. But for the one at PMS mentioned above that I have heard many, many negative things about, the union tenure protects to the disadvantage of every child that ends up in that classroom. My own child's standardized test scores went down dramatically that year after having that teacher.

There was an episode of 20/20 a while back that had some great info. I went to the ABC news website and found the text of the show. Here is the link to substantiate the part copied below. It is a crime that money for education must be spent on teachers who can't teach. NY Chancellor held up a chart at least 10 pages long of all the steps necessary to terminate a teacher.
Web Link

" In New York City, it's "just about impossible" to fire a bad teacher, says Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. The new union contract offers some relief, but it's still about 200 pages of bureaucracy. "We tolerate mediocrity," said Klein, because "people get paid the same, whether they're outstanding, average or way below average."
Here's just one example from New York City: It took years to fire a teacher who sent sexually oriented e-mails to "Cutie 101," a 16-year-old student. Klein said, "He hasn't taught, but we have had to pay him, because that's what's required under the contract."

Only after six years of litigation were they able to fire him. In the meantime, they paid the teacher more than $300,000. Klein said he employs dozens of teachers who he's afraid to let near the kids, so he has them sit in what are called rubber rooms. This year he will spend $20 million dollars to warehouse teachers in five rubber rooms. It's an alternative to firing them. In the last four years, only two teachers out of 80,000 were fired for incompetence. Klein's office says the new contract will make it easier to get rid of sex offenders, but it will still be difficult to fire incompetent teachers. "


Posted by Former Amador Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 24, 2008 at 12:18 am

So Deb while I think that evaluating the value and influence of teachers unions as it applies to PUSD is an excellent idea, I believe that pointing out the most egregious of situations from the media is probably alarmist and in short, not productive.

Certainly in my occupation and my husband's occupation we do not enjoy any protections and are in the process of building our second retirement after loosing the first corporate bankruptcy. But I would also like to point out that our jobs and how we are viewed as professionals have never been put to the public scrutiny that I believe teachers are put to in Pleasanton. After 2+ decades with kids in this district I feel comfortable endorsing a dedicated, intelligent and enthusiastic group of teachers. To my knowledge no one has ever lumped me or my husband into the same category as a sex offender because of our occupations. It is certainly an extraordinary disservice in this discussion to do so.

That being said, a two year tenure process is ridicules. For instance, maybe a borderline teacher after 5 years becomes and excellent teacher while the super nova teacher in the first year has learned nothing new by the 5th. What are we really teaching our kids by tolerating under performing teachers?

In 2+ decades we did have what I will say is 4 bad teachers. Two of them were let go before they reached tenure, one quit and yes, one I believe is still teaching. In those 20 years PUSD grew rapidly. For instance our elementary school went from about 350 students to about 800 students while my kids were in school. Other schools saw similar growth. The schools were forced to hire lots of teachers to accommodate the number of students. That growth bubble has arrived at our high schools. It is really important as the student population stabilizes that PUSD hone and refine the faculties at each school site. They should not be hemmed in by a 2 year tenure process that ties their hands to do that.


Posted by 20 years PUSD, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Aug 24, 2008 at 8:40 am


Former Amador Parent,

I have also had kids in PUSD for nearly 20 years they have done well and had many wonderful teachers.

When you are in a profession as an authority figure to, and full access to children, there is a much greater concern for the safety of children than if you are in a high tech profession where you do not have contact with children.
Pleasanton has had one very high profile case of child abuse by a teacher and several others that were not as public.
Many of us complained to the PMS administration when our children reported that the teacher(active in the union) was viewing inappropriate material online during class time. We were dismissed for years. That teacher is finally gone. It is reported that they finally viewed the history of the computer and found very incriminating material.
We do not need to pull situations from the national media to make the point that it is not alarmist to be concerned and vigilant.








Posted by Deb, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

I think my main point of posting the info presented on 20/20 was misunderstood. I was not trying to direct the discussion towards sex offenders! The article simply shows just how difficult it is to get rid of a teacher, no matter what the reason. My point is that the teachers unions --everywhere- and the tenure system that they have been able institute and preserve, is NOT in the best interest of our children and our schools.
The New York example indicated that during a 4 year period, only 2 of 80,000 were terminated due to incompetence!! You know the number should be higher as in any profession. That middle school math teacher mentioned above worked in a different profession before turning to teaching. He yells constantly at his classes according to his students so I seriously doubt he is teaching because he loves his students. One has to wonder why he continues teaching. Could it be that he collects a paycheck just for showing up because he has that tenure protection?
I also had a student in the classroom of the second teacher mentioned and can verify the things stated. Last I knew that individual was being kept 'busy' with work at the district office but would not be surprised if an 'incentive' to retire was offered. It is my opinion, that both of these individuals would have been terminated by superiors long ago had they been in another profession that did not offer them that tenure protection.


Posted by Former Amador Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Deb. I think we are in agreement the PUSD tenure process desperately needs to be reviewed. I hope the candidates for school board will address some of the issue brought forward in this forum.


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2008 at 2:37 pm



There has been a lot of talk about the tenure process and the problems with it. Most of the conversation has referred to the public school system in the area. What about the private schools? What are they paying their instructors relative to the public schools in pleasanton? /do private schools have a tenure system? Or do they retain the right to get rid of a teacher asap if there is some issue with them?


Posted by Parent of private, a resident of California Reflections
on Aug 28, 2008 at 5:11 am


There is no tenure in private schools. Private school teachers are not paid near as well but do not have the same certification requirements.


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:12 am

^^^ I realize there is no tenure in the public school system but what are the statistics regarding salaries in the public vs. private schools? You mention they aren't paid nearly as well. What kind of % difference are we talking about? Have numbers been published?


Posted by PoP, a resident of California Reflections
on Aug 28, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I don't know of any published numbers for private school salaries, I am sure they vary greatly. I do know that when I had a child at one of the larger private schools in the area I was told by a teacher her salary was less than half of the public schools. She valued the Christian atmosphere so it was worth it to her.

I will say while I did not believe the academic level was superior as they want people to believe, nor were we there for the Christian values, there was a happiness and contentment level that I have never experienced at any other school. The staff was truly happy as were the kids. Discipline was handled firmly with love and without judgment. The kids felt cared for in a way I have never seen at any Pleasanton public school in my 20 years as a parent in PUSD.




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