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Teacher training highlighted at school board meeting

Original post made on Oct 15, 2010

While teachers across the country have been getting lambasted for poorly performing students and failing schools, their counterparts in Pleasanton have been addressing the problem for nearly a decade.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 15, 2010, 6:54 AM

Comments (22)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

It's commendable that teachers want to improve and that they have support from the programs described. But this article presents a narrow view of the situation. I think one of PUSD's dirty little secrets is that many, many PUSD school children have tutors to augment the inadequate instruction they receive in the classroom ("everyone" has a tutor for Algebra 2 this year). What really drives those high test scores the district likes to show off? Come November, it makes me wonder why anyone would vote in place any candidate so clearly tied to the status quo.


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Posted by Hey momof2!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Hey momof2-glad to see you made it to another board. I see you still think tutors are the cause of our high test scores. You clearly are confused if you think a handful of tutors are reaching more students then the teachers in this district.

I'll say it again-it is because of our students, parents, and teachers that we have excellent test scores. Thanks to all for your amazing effort. Other districts should take note!


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

The president of the teachers union (APT) Mr. Trevor Knaggs again waxed eloquently during his prepared remarks before the school board. Weaving quotes from a Renaissance historian, a US President, and a Jewish philosopher/theologian, to the current Character trait of 'Responsibility', Mr. Knaggs continued his push to 'rally around a parcel tax.' Wrapping himself in the cloak of civic responsibility, moral obligation and 'shared sacrifice', Mr. Knaggs again portrayed the teachers as victims of the current fiscal crisis and sought to shame anyone who would think otherwise of his view of 'good citizenship (aka: pay more taxes).'

To begin the parcel tax comments Mr. Knaggs quoted US President Theodore Roosevelt "The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight." Mr. Knaggs then implored the community to pull its weight by paying more taxes.

"Pulling one's weight" by paying taxes was the last thing President Roosevelt had in mind. Mr. Knagg's twist was disrespectful of this great President.

The actual quote is this: "The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work, he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others."

These remarks were part of a speech on 11/11/1902 to an international audience of government and industry leaders to commemorate the opening of the New York Chamber of Commerce. The preceding paragraph to that quote was this:

"At a time when the growing complexity of our social and industrial life has rendered inevitable the intrusion of the State into spheres of work wherein it formerly took no part, and when there is also a growing tendency to demand the illegitimate and unwise transfer to the Government of much of the work that should be done by private persons singly or associated together, it is a pleasure to address a body whose members possess to an eminent degree the traditional American self-reliance of spirit which makes them scorn to ask from the Government whether of State or of nation, anything but a fair field and no favor – who confide not in being helped by others, but in their own skill, energy, and business capacity to achieve success."

I suggest that what President Roosevelt had in mind was that each citizen is to manage their affairs. If Mr. Knaggs really wanted to stay true to President Roosevelt, he would implore the parents of students to take a greater role in preparing their children for school, to do the hard work of raising respectful children, and take an active role in their children's homework and academics. And be the responsible first teacher of one's children that we are.

(More later)


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I'm sure if Mr. Knaggs had said what you advice, you would have some great diatribe to write lambasting him for it. He seems to be your new victim to bully.

I seem to remember you being the one to demand "shared sacrifice" from the teachers. PUSD teachers and the union took care of their share, saving the district $4.5 million dollars last year. And yet it is still not good enough for you.

Keep posting DCOT, the more you write, the more clearly I see your motive, anything to discredit this successful district- ranked 12th in the state. Sorry your glass is always half empty.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Mr. Knaggs began his closing statement saying: "In a free society, all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty, all are responsible."

Since the PUSD Board of Trustees and Association of Pleasanton teachers union would not want one of their teachers and union president committing plagiarism, let me help Mr. Knaggs exhibit 'Responsibility' by citing that quote.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born U.S. Jewish philosopher and theologian. In his book 'The Prophets' he wrote: "Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible."

He became active in speaking out against the Vietnam War, he was with Martin Luther King in the Selma March in 1965, and was an early supporter of Soviet Jewery. As the Vietnam War progressed this theme of guilt and responsibility took many forms:

In a 1966 speech at a New York City town hall Rabbi Heschel is quoted as saying: "In a free society, all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty, all are responsible."

"How can I pray when I have on my conscience the awareness that I am co-responsible for the death of innocent people in Vietnam? In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible." (NBC film footage, 1972)

"The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings. It also became clear to me that in regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty, while all are responsible. I did not feel guilty as an individual American for the bloodshed in Vietnam, but I felt deeply responsible. "Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor (Leviticus 19:15). This is not a recommendation but an imperative, a supreme commandment. And so I decided to change my mode of living and to become active in the cause of peace in Vietnam. (Essay by A.J. Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity 1996)

In his work, Rabbi Heschel speaks about the immense tragedy war brings to humanity.

I guess Mr. Knaggs did not want to cite Rabbi Heschel for this quote, for in the next breath Mr. Knaggs equated 'guilty' to those who do not support the parcel tax. Plagiarism and calling people 'guilty' is not in the Pleasanton Community of Character 'Responsibility'.

The veneer of eloquence is wearing away.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Oct 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

DCOT,

In the past, you've claimed to work with our city's educators. I'm curious--what is it you do?


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

To 'Really?' - It is Mr. Knaggs who speaks at the (bully) pulpit.


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Posted by Molly
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Parent, your comment that 'everyone in Algebra 2 has a tutor this year'. Not true. My child has a wonderful teacher at FHS this year, as she did last year with geometry. I suggest you refrain from making statements like that which disparage all those hard working teachers who clearly are doing their jobs.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 16, 2010 at 7:29 am

Molly, you're wasting your time, ive been down this road, as have many others. You see, DCOT thinks she is pro-education somehow and that she is contributing in a positive way. I'm totally serious.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

To 'Really?' - Do you think the community should be thanking the union for taking away the 7th periods at the high schools, and raising the student/staff ratios at the middle and high schools? Those reductions in educational opportunities for our kids is included in the $4.5M savings you quote. No one should be thanking the union for these so-called 'concessions'. Then again, this is a union that says increases in salaries are not raises (Web Link), so I'm not surprised that eliminating classes for kids is called a 'concession'.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I just repeatedly point out that you repeatedly, I repeat, repeatedly deflect and refuse to enagage in serious discussion on improving PUSD schools.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Mr. Knagg's last comment of the evening was this: "If we allow the anti-tax lobby to destroy public education, we will all share the blame."

Mr. Knagg's polarizing fear mongering about an 'anti-tax lobby' does nothing to promote civil discourse. He discourages the very participation the school board seeks by painting with a broad brush anyone who is against the parcel tax as a destroyer of public education. As the leader of a teachers union, he thereby encourages others to call anyone who questions the demand for more taxes 'teacher-haters' and 'child-haters'. This is not leadership. This is not Responsibility. This is not civil. This should not be tolerated.

It is time for the PUSD Board of Trustees to remove the Associations agenda item that invites this behavior to continue. The union representatives, if they desire, can fill out a speakers request like the rest of the public.

As Francesco Guicciardini said :

It is the nature of a people, as it is of individual men, to be always striving to better their condition. It is prudence, therefore, to refuse their first demands. For by yielding these you do not bring them to a stay, but on the contrary encourage them to ask more, and with more urgency than at first. The more you give them to drink, the fiercer grows their thirst.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Did someone just buy you a book of quotes and speeches or something?


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm

To "Dark Corners",

You claimed on another thread that you were aware that the Principal and all the administrators at some school in Pleasanton knew of a teacher who was an "abomination to the profession". How do you know that? How could you possibly know that. Is it an assumption? Did you make a mistake when you said that? I've had kids in the district for many years now, and have not encountered any teacher who was an "abomination to the profession".

Then, in another thread you propose that all teachers not only suspend step and column raises, but take an immediate pay cut. You claim in that thread that if teachers don't take a pay cut (and other things), they are putting their own needs before those of the students. Do you really think cutting teacher's pay will improve the already excellent quality of teaching in Pleasanton? If salaries need to go in any direction, that direction should be up, not down, in my opinion. We have a very high performing district.

Why do you oppose a parcel tax? The taxes can only be used for our excellent schools. They are targeted to specifically for to schools that again and again have produced results. I know that some people are opposed to all tax increases in general, regardless of reason. Maybe that is the case for you. Maybe you have some other reason. I would support a parcel tax. My property taxes are low to start with. My overall tax rate is significantly lower than it was 30 years ago, when I made less money. Maybe things are different for other people. I can't help but think the schools would put the money to good use. They did a fantastic job of educating my children.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2010 at 8:42 pm

DCOT- it is so good to see you acknowledge that cuts to our schools are hurting the education our students are receiving. Cuts were made to the high schools this year, yet the previous year it was the elementary schools that took the brunt of the cuts. Thank goodness the teachers and their union saved the district $4.5 million so the cuts were less than projected. They did their "share" of the sacrifice as you demanded.

How is your blame and bully postings promoting civil discourse? You demand pay cuts, the teachers gave it, you demand cuts to the overall budget- $20 million was cut, now you are outraged over being asked to share in the sacrifice you once demanded from others? Your credibility is shot as far as we are concerned.


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Posted by To Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2010 at 10:34 pm

To Really?

Some clarification for you: DCOT's credibility was shot with many of us the first time he posted on pleasantonweekly. Not because of his recent comments on this post. It was nice of you to give him a chance for so long. I was not willing.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Ditto that. I've watched this person consistently and relentlessly attack everyone involved in education for well over a year, at least. Kind of sad.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 17, 2010 at 8:24 am

To 'Patriot' -
1) Because the principal, other school administrators, and peer teachers said so directly to me.
2) We live in difficult times. A purpose of reducing the salary/benefits line of the budget is to protect our kids education programs. I've said there are enough well qualified teachers in CA that would like to work at PUSD. If any current teacher doesn't want to work here, say, because their net income declined, that's ok. Do you know if any teachers left PUSD because their net income declined due to the furlough days? And how many new certificated employees joined PUSD this year? We continue to have a high-performing district. I support merit pay for excellent teachers. I support strong penalties for poor performing teachers including quick removal.
3) I also said that a reasonable (real) pay cut would help a well-designed parcel tax win.
Thank-you for engaging!


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 17, 2010 at 8:32 am

To 'Really?' -
I think you need to re-read the one-year MOU between PUSD and the teachers union to see how the $4.5M figure was determined. If you don't do it, that's OK, the anti-parcel tax team will educate the voters.
Also, read the line item where both the school board and the union extended the time period between evaluations for the teachers. Exactly the opposite of what our kids need. (Note explicit attempt to get this thread back on the main topic).


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Oct 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

None of these people told you a teacher was an abomination. If you want to convince yourself of that, fine. But what good do you hope to accomplish by spreading smears on this forum?

Honestly, I'm asking you: do you look at the hate you've posted on this site and tell yourself that this is what a good person does?


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

To 'Nurse Shark' - I guess it wouldn't help to also say that the same principal lied to three other sets of parents who also pointed out this teacher's issues, because then you'd call me a liar, a smear-spreader and hate poster. Telling the truth hurts, I guess. And your only response is to attack me. I'm sorry you don't have any other options except invent some more names for me. Carry on.
Let's see what Mr. Knaggs has to say at the next board meeting.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Oct 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Frankly, no, it doesn't help. You've been so dodgy on other questions that, like other posters here have said, you don't have enough credibility for me to believe your assertion. If you're going to make one thing up, why not another?


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