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Calstrs/teachers union opposes pension spiking bill

Original post made by Be a part of the solution, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2011

Teachers want changes in bill that limits public employee pensions


"The California Teachers Association and California State Teachers' Retirement System are opposing a bill that would limit pension "spiking," the practice of boosting salaries right before retirement to increase pension payouts.

SB 27, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, applies to the California Public Employees' Retirement System and CalSTRS. The law would trigger an audit if a public employee's salary increases 25 percent or more during the final five years on the job. It also would put restrictions on non-salary compensation that increases pension payments, such as life insurance, car allowances, housing, unused vacation and sick pay..."


No surprise here. The teachers pension system, CalSTRS, is severly underfunded and the teachers union is busy protecting pension spiking. Why? Because, just like CalPERS, they expect the taxpayers to cover ALL funding shortfalls that are caused by bad policy and or pension spiking abuses by their own members.

What they should be worried about is how they can afford to send out pension checks, for the next 30 years, when the will be out of money. If you think the teachers unions are unreasonable now, just wait until the size of the checks shrinks... it is happening in RI...or they try to double or triple the cost to the tax payer.

At a time when we need to control costs, the teachers unions are heading in the opposite direction.

Web Link

Comments (169)

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Posted by LOL
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

But, but, but ... isn't it all about the kids? ;-)

But let's stay focused on the other bad players while public employee unions continue to rip us off while they say they are fightig for the middle class. Right ..

Greedy ___!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruesegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

[This post was removed because it was only a story copied from another publication. If it had included discussion and referenced a link to the other publication, that would have been acceptable.)


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Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Avila
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Yeah, let's zero in on that professor who becomes a dean two-three years before her retirement; let's zero in on that associate professor who gets promoted 2-3 years before his retirement. Meanwhile, should the witchhunters care to look:

"America's millionaires won't be asked to contribute a single dime [towards deficit reduction]. That's unfortunate because they certainly can afford it. Not only have their incomes been skyrocketing but data released this week by the Internal Revenue Service reveal that their tax rates have plunged over the last two decades. As a percentage of their incomes, millionaires are now paying about one-quarter less of their income to federal taxes than they did in the mid-1990s.
So what's causing the tax bills of the wealthiest to drop? The average millionaire will pay $136,000 less this year because the Bush tax cuts are still in effect, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 lowered the top marginal rate from the Clinton-era 39.6 percent to 35 percent. They also dropped the rates on capital gains and dividend income to a historically low 15 percent. (Capital gains rates had already been cut from 28 percent to 20 percent in 1997.) [...]

And it was a super-boon to mega-millionaires and billionaires. IRS data show that the tax rates of the richest 400 Americans declined from 29.9 percent in 1995 to 18.1 percent in 2008, largely because that exclusive group derives two-thirds of its income from capital gains."


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

STRS isn't even facing the problems that STRS is facing. It is beyond disgusting. The grand poo-bah of STRS came out two years ago promoting the need for incresed funding only to back away as the economy continued to struggle; because he didn't want any more heat on the members about pensions- probably because he/they (unions) didn't want the issue to impact contract negotiations. He, Jack, continues to talk about the IMPORTANCE CalSTRS pension funding without doing ONE SINGLE THING HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO DO TWO YEARS AGO.

Why do you think that is?


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Posted by Disgusted beyond belief
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Why do I think that is? Probably because, as you say, "STRS isn't even facing the problems that STRS is facing." Thanks for your help.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

"Why do I think that is? Probably because, as you say, "STRS isn't even facing the problems that STRS is facing." Thanks for your help."

- "The grand poo-bah of STRS came out two years ago promoting the need for incresed funding only to back away as the economy continued to struggle; because he didn't want any more heat on the members about pensions- probably because he/they (unions) didn't want the issue to impact contract negotiations. He, Jack, continues to talk about the IMPORTANCE CalSTRS pension funding without doing ONE SINGLE THING HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO DO TWO YEARS AGO."

The head of CalSTRS committed 600K to lobby for incresed funding. He was talking about doubling the current level of pension funding. How do you think that will impact education funding?

And how do you think the teachers unions opposition to an anti-pension spiking bill helps solve the issue? IT DOESN'T. It/they IS/ARE part of the problem.


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Posted by Disgusted by ignorance
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Sorry there, pal, but there's nothing wrong with seeking additional educational funding. Only if you're a fiscal fetishist would this clog up one's thinking so. Let it gooooooooo, Arnold. Just relax. The money is there, you just would rather spend it on yourself instead of admitting to how public workers are needed and have a right to a just salary/pension.

Your references and questions about increased pensions don't make any sense. Professors get promoted; administrators get promoted; teachers get promoted. They thereby have earned a higher pension when they retire. What is your problem? I'd say it may have something to do with improper toilet training while you were young -- hence the fetishism when it comes to green stuff.


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Posted by LOL
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

That's right look elsewhere while we continue to rip off taxpayers and future citizens.

If the issue isn't that big of a deal, why is a law prohibiting it being proposed, no less by a Democrat?

Thank goodness the general public has awoken to these abuses.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

"Your references and questions about increased pensions don't make any sense. Professors get promoted; administrators get promoted; teachers get promoted. They thereby have earned a higher pension when they retire. What is your problem?"

That even though pensions costs will soon increase dramatically further eroding the dollars that reach the classroom, and STRS members have been claiming they contribute 8% toward their pensions, when for the last decade they've only been contributing six percent (less than social security), they can't even bring themselves to support a pension spiking bill.

That, amongst the other issues I've mentioned, is a BIG problem! Apparently it isn't a problem for you or anyone else on the receiving end. That's another problem.

In about a year and one half school district finance directors won't be able to claim that they don't have unfunded pension liabilities (because they pay what CalSTRS requires). These unfunded liabilities will be rquired on the balance sheet.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

...and, thanks to the forthcoming GASBy rules regarding pensions, good luck crying wolf when that enormous debt rears its ugly head.


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Posted by Disgusted by ignorance
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Only a fetishist would call this a BIG problem. Only a fetishist would be unable to proportionalize this.

The salaries are just; the pensions are just. I ask you: What concept of justice is informing your view? I see that you're flush-faced while talking your fetishized dollar signs, but what is your concept of justice? For economics is not an entity in and of itself. Budgets and laws and policies economic in nature have always been intimately bound up with social, political, cultural, legal matters. Surely you simply can't lock yourself away in the bathroom, turn the key, and play with your dollar signs. Tell us how your view of these BIG problems is tied in with a sense of what it means to be a member of a just society. Please.


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Posted by s
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Don't answer her ARnald. She wants to trick you with an elititist plot.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

"The salaries are just; the pensions are just. I ask you: What concept of justice is informing your view?"

Living within our means, for starters. Being honest about the true costs we're being charged/paying - even used car sales are being regulated. We have consumer protections against unfair business practices. Maybe we need to extend those protections to consumers that are forced to pay monopoly driven public employee union compensation, rates, and hidden fees (and there are ALOT of those)?


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Posted by LOL
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

It is amazing how many closet socialists/communists we have among our midst in this country.

It is even more amazing how vocal they are in the face of the ongoing crumbling of the European socialist nanny state - gosh just look at today and what took down our markets.

What is that saying from Thatcher? "The problem with socialism is you run out of other people's money."


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

American's love to whine but do very little to organize the vote so that it swings their way.

If you don't appeciate how your elected officials waste taxpayer money, then organize the vote so that what happens goes your way.

Otherwise, give it a rest...you have a right to complain and complain and complain online and nobody truly cares...tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

i'm rolling on the floor...




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Posted by Pinky
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

The teachers and others on government pensions don't want to face the facts that they are going down and going down hard. Must be nice to stick ones head in the sand until they need money and then they will be the first to go to the capital and protest!!!!! Guess what? We are broke and no money left. Tell Barack we are Baroke!!!


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I see. Obviously you haven't thought this through very well. It's all foamy-mouthed hand-waving about some ill-defined notion of 'living within our means'.

Are you afraid to live in a society where a teacher is paid better than a waitress or an insurance salesman, Arnold? You see, there isn't any monopolistic teachers' conspiracy as you suggest there is. We are going to have to restructure our society, true enough. And yes [Boo!] we'll need to redistribute wealth in a more just manner. But the process has begun. And the money is there; it's only that tight-fisted fetishists who refuse to be separated from their erotically charged dollars are resisting for the sake of their own self-gratification. (See, for example, how Hickville's minority obstructed passage of a modest parcel tax.)

While you were behind closed doors stroking your money, the world has changed, and we now know that we are something more than mere economic animals (or at least most of us are, Arnold). There are matters of right and justice that are far more important than what residents of America's wealthiest mid-sized city are wailing about: being squeezed for another 30 cents a day. Really, Arnold, don't you feel a little bit small? You should. (And sorry, no pun intended.)

The wealthy in this country have been taking us to the cleaners. 270+ increase in their wealth over the past four decades, while middle class Americans have realized virtually no increase whatsoever. Does that bother you? Nope. Seems not. What really bothers you is that teachers' salaries and pensions are too high. Oh, and what is that you say? The wealthy are entitled to amass their fortunes while paying effective federal income tax of less than 25% ... because they've earned it. But teachers don't earn theirs, right? Proportion, Arnold. Perspective, Arnold. Turn the key, come out of your fetishistic money-counting chamber where you seem to be choking on foamy, lathered up wads of money. Enter a newly changing world where teachers who are entrusted to educate our children make a bit more than waitresses, where professors who defer on average 8 years of income in earning their Ph.D.'s, and whose cutting-edge research often saves lives, make a bit more than a woman's shoe salesman like yourself. In a just world, Arnold, these folks are more important to society than you are and deserve to be justly compensated for their labor. It's hard to admit, I know. But teaching offers more value to society than does your own selling and fitting of women's shoes.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

enjoy high school because the UC Regents plan to make it impossible for everybody to attend a major university...the Regents have a conflict of interest and they're making $$$$$$$$$$$ off construction on UC campuses...tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

Parents can blame everybody on the planet but sooner or later, you will have to admit that the UC Board of Regents have out slicked the taxpayers of California...

Web Link

tee hee hee, tee hee hee...


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

"Are you afraid to live in a society where a teacher is paid better than a waitress or an insurance salesman, Arnold? You see, there isn't any monopolistic teachers' conspiracy as you suggest there is. We are going to have to restructure our society, true enough. And yes [Boo!] we'll need to redistribute wealth in a more just manner."

"Are you afraid to live in a society where a teacher is paid better than a waitress or an insurance salesman, Arnold?"

They already are.

"there isn't any monopolistic teachers' conspiracy as you suggest there is"

There is a union that continues to lie, deceive, and diminish!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pinkertons Forever
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Aug 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

That's what I've been saying for years. The teachers unions are all liars, deceivers and diminishers.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

The Daily Casserole: Regents make out like Bandits!!!

Web Link


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Posted by silly
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Simitian's bill would just cause an "audit"? Who is going to do that and how would that be funded? "Spiking," or raising compensation the last few years of one's retirement is already illegal. Stop with the politics already ....


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Posted by Reviled
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Who, with a straight face would defend a 25% in in any 5 year period, but to argue FOR adding 25% into lifetime retirement would be greedy theft.
I can't imagine who, could honestly, fairly defend ADDING NON-salary compensation like life insurance, car allowances, housing, and unused vacation into retirement checks for life ! ! ! ! !
This bill should be UNANOMOUS in Sacto....but since the unions own our legislators, just watch, this theft will likely pass....the greed is extreme...zero connection with real life. We were a better society when people felt shame for their crimes....sadly there is no more shame for bad behavior.


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Posted by Bev
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm

... nor does there seem to be any shame on account of one's bad writing and inability to form a coherent thought.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 7:10 am

The important question is is there some way we can do something about this at the local level. People on these forums have called for the police chief to take a 15% pay cut. Why not ask the same of all the "teachers" at the "Pleasanton Unified School District" (I feel sorry for any parent who actually has to send their children to school there).

Can't we get a petition going, and pressure the local union? If we can't get pension reform, at least we can cut some of these outrageous salaries. It is this whole entitlement attitude of public sector workers that caused the recession in the first place. Look at the news today. It looks like we are going back into recession (we were never out). These people need to stop picking our pockets! From the police chief to the school teachers to all public workers!! Stop stealing MY MONEY!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

The last I heard, district contributions will need to increase to 14% to even attempt to get STRS solvent (there are similar predictions for PERS). Where will that money come from? It isn't likely local unions will willingly negotiate for members to contribute the entire increase. PUSD is just getting back on it's feet, has new leadership, and may or may not hope to pass a parcel tax. So, being optimistic, if one would pass (and so many don't want specificity in the ballot language), where do you think that parcel tax money will go?

More interesting though is those talking about "just" compensation or making more than waitresses and valuing teachers through compensation. I would love to do that--be it merit pay, bonuses, name a better compensation plan, allow teachers to opt for investing in a private pension plan rather than STRS . . . eliminate tenure and step and column . . . eliminate required union deductions . . . guarantee an equitable system of evaluation and intervention through professional development . . . allow teachers to have a potential to make more than a principal . . . I don't think that conversation will ever happen--not without a lot of pressure throughout the state from PTA, ACSA, CSBA, parents, and teachers themselves.

Here is a link to a presentation with Sir Ken Robinson: Web Link Interesting for the animation used and for what he has to say about education. It's 11 minutes (interesting thoughts on ADHD too), but well worth it. You can find more of his presentations on TED.com The educators I've spoken with actually agree with much of what he has to say.


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

@"More interesting though is those talking about "just" compensation or making more than waitresses and valuing teachers through compensation. I would love to do that--be it merit pay, bonuses, name a better compensation plan, allow teachers to opt for investing in a private pension plan rather than STRS . . . eliminate tenure and step and column . . . eliminate required union deductions . . . guarantee an equitable system of evaluation and intervention through professional development . . ."

I'm sorry. I must have missed something. What makes these recommendations more just than those currently in place? They sound like a Michelle Rhee mantra without much real thought behind them. Easy to say, too. So, what concept of justice is informing this redundant list of talking points?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF,

Why don't you go first? Defend the current system without writing a bunch of redundant CTA talking points. More importantly, ensure you relate each feature of the current system to how it best benefits the children.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

Stacey is a registered user.

John,

Are you a shill?


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

Stacey, the calumniator of Bob...

I addressed my question to Kath. Seems like neither she nor you are able/willing to provide a reasoned response. You go first??? Really Stace, how immature.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Ah, I get it. Still afraid to risk your own beliefs to critical examination; unable to defend them.

I'm unable to provide a reasoned response because I don't know what your beliefs are regarding the current system. I could make a bunch of assumptions about you and your position and end up misrepresenting you, but that wouldn't be fair to you and I would only make myself look silly.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

Stacey,

I'm not working for any group or association when I post to this forum. These are strictly my opinions.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

BCF, Just a list of possibilities to change compensation. The current system, by the way, raises the boat for all, but does not justly compensate the best teachers for their efforts. If you want compensation to increase, then how it is awarded has to change as well because there is nothing in place to allow that to happen. I like Rhee, but it doesn't have to be any one person's idea or any single plan; maybe a hybrid of ideas could work.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

I am speaking as a taxpayer, and not a "consumer" of these "services", so my main interest is in reducing my taxes going to these outrageous salaries and pensions that are also destroying the economy. I hope that you would agree with me. As to all these "reforms" some people are talking about, I don't think any of that will amount to a hill of beans. The system is broken and there really isn't any way to fix it. The schools aren't educating the children, but that is another discussion. The way to fix that is to use a private sector solution that starts with vouchers.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm

BCF... I agree with Stacey as well! It's is quite apparent that your comments have nothing to do with "Justice" as much as your... I understand...but...I don't care mentality. Provide comment that gives Kathleen and Stacey an opportunity to assist you in the, I don't care mentality. People are teachers in all walks of life, not just in public schools.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I repeat what, I think, is a reasonable and fair question: "I'm sorry. I must have missed something. What makes these recommendations more just than those currently in place? They sound like a Michelle Rhee mantra without much real thought behind them. Easy to say, too. So, what concept of justice is informing this redundant list of talking points?"

What I've gotten so far in response is: 'not necessarily just, but a list'; you go first!; scaredy cat afraid to defend your own views!; you're part of the 'I don't care mentality!'

It's enough to come to the conclusion that there is no justice whatsoever inherent Kath's or Stace's pastes and pastes and pastes and pastes. Only self interest.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I believe I offered some ideas and said no one person or plan may have the answer that fits best; perhaps a hybrid. So, suggest something. no one has yet gotten the definitive answer. Perhaps you will have the idea that wlill be a tipping point. Great for the discussion.


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

KR is asked how her recommendations, most if not all of which overlap with Shelley Rhee's positions, line up with any kind of principle of human justice. KR steps up to the plate: Whifffff, Steee-Riiiike Three.

Well Kath, my favorite flavor ice cream is mocha almond fudge, though you may have your own favorite. It's kinna like bashing teachers. You like bashing them, I don't. In your view, neither is right, I guess. None is more just than the other. No definitive positions. Just bash away to our hearts' content!

Or, I like the union model which protects district teachers as a body from wackadoodle parents who may have a right-wing agenda, and individual teachers from incompetent or politically motivated administrators and/or parents. You seem to like the Taylor model under which teachers are placed under strict supervision, stop watches, and with no protections; which places them at the mercy of the wackadoodle parents like yourself.

Funny how Shelley Rhee's funding all comes from right-wing richies, no? Not so funny how districts where her 'scheme' has been attempted have been exposed as being riven with scared-to-death teachers who lie and fudge students' performance data, all at the expense of children. But what's not to like, right? Just another flavor of ice cream.

I find your reasoning a bit on the deficient side. Glad our union teachers in Ptown are relatively protected from you and so many of the other bean counters.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Hrm? Are you saying something about a union model? What is that supposed to be? How do any of the recommendations preclude unions and collective bargaining? Moreover, how does whatever it is support what best benefits students?


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Hey Stace, you work on clarifying your statements and questions, I'll give it a shot. Who am I conversing with? You or KR? Are your positions identical? Really? Who'd have thunk it!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2011 at 8:00 am

BCF, I'll get to the latter post first. Two people. Ask the Weekly staff.

A statement was made that teachers are not justly paid. What I offered are just suggestions; it's just that they apparently aren't just in your eyes. That's okay; it's supposed to be about ideas for rectifying said injustice.

Can you tell me how it is I can agree that teachers should be paid better and be bashing teachers? If you watched any of the web link I posted, you would know that I think teachers need more freedom, not less. Freedom to deconstruct a classroom for the benefit of students; freedom to opt out of the union (not allowed at all you know); freedom to collaborate with peers on best practices (and actually push ideas that work up and out to management instead of the reverse); and to have a say in any evaluation model. I have seen many amazing teachers over the years (and principals who saw the value in their work) who could only be amazing in their classroom and not beyond it, and those who were given the opportunity to be lead teachers or mentors or specialists in their field. Given the freedom, my guess is no one would need a union.

And "wackadoodle" parents, on average, usually have a reason to be upset. After all, it is in their best interest to support a teacher and their child. Sometimes, well, it's just a bad combo. Rather than waste an entire year of a child's life, it should be easier to align teachers/parents/students for success right at the start of the school year. Classroom choices for the coming year are made without input from the parents. Seems that is a system that is bound to have a a bad choice or two along the way.

Really? Teachers so scared they will cheat . . . this was an acceptable choice? How about teach, test, let the chips fall where they may. We have disproportionality, the achievement gap--something is failing students. Given it is a nationwide problem, it seems the system and delivery of learning is failing these children, not the teachers. And yes, parents, often poorly educated themselves, are part of the issue as well. Still can't blame teachers; can't even blame the parents.

I suppose you are willing to have mocha almond fudge delivered to your house 180 days a year; you pay for it; it sometimes doesn't have almonds; it sometimes doesn't have mocha or fudge; sometimes they deliver mint chocolate chip; sometimes they leave it on the porch melting in the sun because you were out; still you have to pay and never question it, never complain, even when the price more than doubles. I just happen to like getting what I've paid for, and if I like it and can invest in shares to make it even better, I'll do that too.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

KR,

The obvious solution to an entirely broken and unfix-able problem is to start over. A private system is needed. Johnny can't read and write because our schools have failed. We need to start from scratch. The responsibility for education lies with the parents, not the state.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

John, Do you have thoughts about how to change to a private system? Change in the public system would be quite an undertaking, but privatizing would be no less a challenge and possibly more difficult. Would we lease the public schools? Would one private school run, say, PUSD, or could many do so? Do you see this as a gradual shift from public to private or do you anticipate a complete change between two school years? Are private schools ready to take on that challenge? How do you see vouchers working? How do you compel a private school to take all children regardless of their abilities or a family's ability to pay any difference between a voucher and the actual cost? It certainly could be worth considering; I'm just not sure throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the best answer.


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Posted by Pension contributions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

"Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger…The last I heard, district contributions will need to increase to 14% to even attempt to get STRS solvent".

From a Calpensions article, "An actuarial report showed that as of June 30 last year, the CalSTRS pension fund was 61 percent funded. An additional annual contribution of 14 percent of pay, nearly $4 billion, would be needed for 100 percent funding over the next 30 years."

Kathleen, it isn't an increase to 14%, or a 14% increase to pension costs. It is an additional 14 of payroll that is being discussed, or a 170% increase to the districts/taxpayers current 8.25% share, and the teachers will continue to contribute 8%. The portion the state/taxpayers contribute (2%) apparently goes to a side fund that guarantees employees pensions inflation protection. So, assuming CalSTRS gets approval to increase pension contribution rates by 14% of payroll the teachers will pay 8% and the school districts/taxpayers will pay 22.25%, for a total of 30.25% of salary. This increase will be big hit to budgets. Of course these numbers are all based on CalSTRS achieving an annual return of 7.75%.

In the Actuarial report five different scenarios regarding return rates are produced (page seven of the report) ranging from 8.5% to 5.7%. If average returns equal 5.7%, the increased cost to taxpayers, as a percentage of payroll, grows to an additional contribution rate of 32%. School districts/taxpayers would be covering the current 8.25%, plus an additional 32%, for a contribution of 40.25 of payroll. The teachers would continue to make their 8% contribution on top of that, for a total cost of 48.25% of payroll/salary.

Some may argue that it wont come to that because CalSTRS will earn more than 5.7% returns, citing the most recent 20%+ gains. To that I say, over the past decade they haven't even come close.


The cal pensions article that links the CalSTRS actuarial report: Web Link


The CalSTRS actuarial report: Web Link


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Posted by thumper
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

gersh, then the budgets will have to be expanded. don't take no genius to know that. i'm broke myeslef. can hardly live on 200 thousand. stop squeezing me like a turnap.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Pension, Districts were being told their contributions could gradually increase to 14% from the 8.25% you noted. Any increase for STRS has to be done through legislation; I don't think that has happened yet. I appreciate the clarification of the true cost to districts and taxpayers.


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Posted by Pension Contributions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Kathleen, If you read the "Summary of the Findings" from the actuarial report, which comes from CalSTRS own website, you will see that the recommended 14% number is in addition to the current costs. You will see the contribution increase on page 1 of the summary, which are pages 1-7 of the report. It's straight forward, easy to understand, and has some helpful graphs.

Web Link

Calstrs can seek legislative approval and then gradually increase those rates, just as CalPERS is currently doing, or they can continue to delay seeking legislative approval until the economy rebounds, which increases the overall cost. I suspect their strategy is the latter. If the district is saying the funding level needs to be increased to 14%, as opposed to by 14% of payroll, then one of us isn't seeing the big picture. I'll go with the findings contained in this report.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Could be the district (months ago now) didn't have the big picture. I'll look at the report. Either way, it would have to be a big rebound.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Hey Kath,

My daughter insisted I watch 'Dumb and Dumber', and after I did, she sat pie-eyed in anticipation of me telling her what a great film it was. Well, I feel the same way about your Robinson video. What a pile of platitudinous glop. It was all I could do to prevent myself from groaning aloud and bringing the rest on my household into the computer room in a state of alarm.

It is apparent you have no concept of justice. You don't want even to discuss it. (One of those 'abstract myths' Robinson refers to?)You shift the discussion to teacher 'freedom', which in itself is comical, and then use it as a ruse to push your agenda: that teachers don't need to be unionized. Yep, just put them all at the mercy of the galloping Steves and they'll be fine.

In past posts you've demonstrated an astonishing unfamiliarity with theories of bureaucracy. Inasmuch as you're pushing this little 11-minute cartoon as illustration of, what?, 'freedom' in the classroom?, it's clear you haven't much understanding of freedom at all, or education either. A lot of bluster, a few elliptical references to bean counting, an audience of right-wing wackadoodles and flush-faced Ron Paul fetishists, and you're on your way.

I do not think a teacher needing to worry about how popular he or she is in the face of a bunch of galloping Steves and Arnolds and gossip-mongerers of the type of your twin sister is about freedom at all. There are parent-teacher meetings; parents are free to meet with principals to express their concerns; parents are free to contribute to PTA meetings with their ideas. There is usually opportunity for mother or father (or both) to become 'room parent' in order to assist teacher. Additionally, principals are monitoring as frequently are peers, all in an effort to support the teacher.

When swarms of galloping Steves are standing outside a principal's office demanding THIS teacher as opposed THAT teacher because some gossip-monger has planted some wackadoodle idea in their heads, or because one teacher is white, the other black, or because one is hetero and the other gay ... well, that's one of the reasons unions need to be strong in their efforts to keep teachers insulated from the ignorant hordes.

Fact is, teachers and administrators know more about education than do most parents. Unions are needed to protect against the zany right-wingers and/or wackadoodle bean counters who claim we no longer should teach students using an Enlightenment model with emphasis upon theories and abstract ideas (which Sir Robinson refers to as myths -- I guess like scientific and mathematical theories must also be myths, yes? What a gasser he is! And you eat this glop up, eh?).

You want to have a constructive impact on society, Kath? Why don't you mobilize others in support of state-financed, 24/7 child-care-on-demand centers? If you truly value our children, offer them the opportunity to be dropped off with state-supported professionals by their two-job holding single mom, or their chemically imbalanced right-wing honker dad. The public education system is premissed on the idea that public schools can do a better job educating kids than can their parents. You, in bald demonstration of your ignorance, seem to think otherwise. I am so happy you have as little influence as you do.

There is a great deal of learning taking place in my peers' classrooms, with amazing feats of creativity being exemplified. I'm proud of the work my peers do as well as my own. Please stay away with your right-wing agenda and cartoonish propaganda pieces.





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Posted by ?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm

"The public education system is premissed on the idea that public schools can do a better job educating kids than can their parents. You, in bald demonstration of your ignorance, seem to think otherwise."

Fetish,

Are you arguing that public schools can do a better job educating kids than their parents, or are you arguing that teachers union are necassary?


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Both.

Two arguments at once too much for you? I like the name you choose. Sort of as in CLUELESS?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

No one knows what BCF is arguing. Like, what is her concept of justice? She never offers any real position because being on the defensive doesn't work with her brand of agitprop theatre of the absurd. Her tools of the trade are name-calling, misrepresentation (a form of calumny), rhetorical fallacies, and sarcastic mockery. Civil argument, foreign to her milieu, would be contrary to her self-appointed role as PW agitator.

This PW poster frequently deceives readers by posting under different names yet she's almost certainly the same one who wrote the misanthropic characterization of Pleasanton, its children, and its citizens on the post about the teen who fell down a cliff. Said teen or family almost certainly read that post. Such bad taste from one who should know better.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Stacey, having no plausible rebuttal or counter argument to offer, falls back on calumny and indignation. About what I'd expect. What? No beans to count? At least Kath gave us her elaborated view on ice cream.

My concept of justice is rooted in Plato's "Republic" where, incidently, Socrates argues that the state is better able to raise and educate the young than are parents.

Should you pose an argument or halfway intelligible question, Stacey, I'd be happy to further elaborate my concept of justice or any other concept for that matter. Given your response to my most recent post, I don't have high hopes. Please continue completing your incredibly stupid file on that imaginary "PW Agitator" you've built up in your mind. It says much about you.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sorry, I've found that plausible rebuttals, reasonable and fair questions, etc. can only be offered between two people engaged in civil debate.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm

BCF... paternalism is your answer? No solutions or questions are possible with that attitude. A reasonable mind couldn't expect otherwise... made some good points though. It is a shame that this conversation didn't stay on topic. A common body of knowledge...


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I see. Well, Stace, I'll interpret that as a pass. It's ironic, as in the "Republic" Plato provides ample space for spirited dialogue. No one opts out because they don't have the stomach for it. The ideas are too important. You might try taking a look at the "Republic" where, unfortunately, there are no beans to count. Yet once you overcome your disappointment, you might note that it provides ample opportunity for you to take a cue from Socrates himself as he faces the highly spirited Thrasymachus.

Perhaps someone else, such as Kath to whom I addressed my remarks, will have a more intelligent rejoinder?


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Pete, yes I agree with you. That film Kath was pushing was way out, wasn't it? Talk about straying from the topic!

Actually, I'm pretty comfortable sometimes stepping outside a narrowly circumscribed set of lines -- especially when they've been drawn with hopes of excluding broader considerations.

Call me an elitist if you wish, but in the circles I hail from the expectation has always been that a set of validity claims, no matter how paternalistically presented, deserves a set of opposing ones. Such an expectation comes from receiving a liberal education I guess.

To opt out on grounds that someone is being paternalistic is, well, a bit pathetic. Surely the right-wing stalwarts who desire to change our schools around have more to offer than such a pitiful lament?


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Posted by Charlette
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm

@"Surely the right-wing stalwarts who desire to change our schools around have more to offer than such a pitiful lament?"


Agree wholeheartedly. Let me see if I have this right. Tea Potters and others on the right fill auditoriums in order to make teachers and other public servants forfeit their own salary to pay for their own salaries (pensions), they refer to teachers and teacher union representatives as hacks and thugs, but their own sensibilities are too delicate to deal with a teacher's sarcasm? Wow! Now I've heard it all.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2011 at 12:18 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The ideas are _so_ important that BCF must withhold them on _my_ account! That's the best joke I've heard all night!


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

This is like Washington DC and what is going on there right now only it will happen sooner in California. As Margaret Thatcher among others said "the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money". Well this is coming our way and soon. Like it or not California is out of money and now we need to cut expenses, salaries, pensions et al in order to survive.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

Rhetoric? OK... you have my attention BCF. Now what? Reasoning? Evaluating what I understand provides a better opportunity to communicate. If not with you... someone else.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

Pension, Thank you for the link to the report. As you noted above and from the report: "Based on the current Defined Benefit Program assets, current revenues, and all future experience emerging as assumed, the Unfunded Actuarial Obligation (UAO) will not be amortized over any future period.

"A level contribution rate of 33.512% beginning on the valuation date is projected to be needed to amortize the UAO over a 30-year period. This is equivalent to an increase of 14.236% of Earned Salaries for a period of 30 years from the valuation date."


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Janna is a registered user.

John,

The problem with capitalism is when the economy tanks and people no longer have money to consume, it tanks even more. It's like a snake eating it's own tail.

The problem with capitalism, is even in "good times," there are still not enough jobs to provide for every working-aged person at once. There will always be unemployed and yet despite this, it discourages the idea of the need for a safety net.

And the concept of vouchers is unrealistic. If you disagree with the idea of public school, you should feel free to pay for your kids to go to private school. That's you're choice.


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Janna is a registered user.

BCF,

Excellent posts! You have a way with words.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Yes, her posts are very wordy without actually saying anything. For example, she said her concept of justice was rooted in Plato's "Republic" and then proceeded to mention elitism yet still hasn't educated her readers as to what her concept of justice is. What are her ideas of elitism and how are they any different from rich white people who are highly educated and trained in matters of governance? I guess she's not so much the egalitarian she pretends to be after all.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Janna, thank you for your comments. I agree with what you say to John. He and others seem indefatigably hitched to the idea that private sector models, free of union influence, are our salvation. They espouse this view without having any apparent historical knowledge of why unions were a logical and much-needed response to a tendency of greedy capitalist owners to beat individual workers into pulp while using their labor as basis for profit. And I think you're right to suggest that greed and capital are inextricably intertwined. Greed, indeed, seems to be at the base of the very logic of capital.

Without unions, America couldn't have become the relatively prosperous and relatively stable society that it is. The greedy capitalists and capitalist wannabe's, however, never tire of attempting to break unions, as a strong, unionized labor force is a threat to their wealth and the privilege it can buy. What they'd prefer is something along the lines of what occurs only a hundred feet or so on the other side of the US/Mexico border. American owned and/or subsidized maquilladoras employ hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers to the tune of less than a buck an hour. Last I looked (a couple years ago) Schick, to name but one, had a maquilladora plant a hundred feet into Mexico where workers are paid approx. 67 cents per hour. One hundred feet or so on the US side, the same company was paying its workers, doing the same work as their fellow workers in Mexico, over 18 dollars per hour, along with benefits. The difference isn't simply cents v. dollars as the right-wing bean counters might want to offer; it is the difference between a unionized labor force and one that isn't.

I think the very idea of a unionized work force is predicated on the importance of the individual. No, not the individual who is reduced to a worker/consumer in tired economic models, but an individual who has the right to earn a decent living wage (pensions being a part of a living wage), in safe and healthy work conditions, with dignity and respect. We have learned, through history, that such rights are not respected but in fact are abused by owners as they are seen as cutting into profits. Hence the importance of unions in advancing and protecting these rights.

We now have public sector unions, formed in order to advance and protect the rights of teachers, nurses, doctors, fire fighters.... But the unions are currently under siege; and many want either to eliminate them or strip them of their effectiveness as defenders of those they represent. Thankfully, there are many of us who recognize the threat these wrongheaded efforts pose to individual rights as well as those who are served by public sector workers. When someone wants to strip away someone else's job protections and rights -- for example, the right to teach without fear of the galloping Steves and Arnolds -- the burden is for that person to make a strong case....

I pointed out that, as per usual, Kath's case is weak. She offers no view of what a good or just society might look like, but only offers up numbers, accounting formulae, and comical videos. Pressed to present a more defensible set of validity claims, she chafes and chides that person for not having watched the cartoonish video she offered up as some pathetic demonstration of, um, 'freedom'; pressed further, she claims simply that validity claims are like ice cream flavors, and shows a remarkable but consistent unwillingness to argue how one is better than another; pressed even further, she shrinks back into her actuarian-accountant's shell where she and other numbers fetishists can all stroke themselves in excitement, albeit without coming to grips with what the numbers mean in terms of, say, what it means to live in a just society.

Stacey jumps in, but it soon becomes apparent that once she steps away from finding internet sources, she doesn't have much to offer beyond cries of petulance and churlishness while advancing shadowy conspiracy theories about authors who share views dissimilar to her own.

I think this discussion board has revealed a couple of things. One, once pushed, the right-wingers who want teachers to be at the mercy of their own fetishistic machinations fold their tents pretty quickly. And two, why? Because they are poorly read and aren't all that far removed from the galloping Steves and Arnolds with whom they align themselves.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm

After reading this thread, in my opinion BCF is very likely a paid union shill. The big turn-off is he/she constantly denigrates all opposition. That's a tactic, not rational reasoning.

Personally, I don't see why anyone would continue to debate with this person.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Hate to kick a dying horse as it lay gasping in distress, but in watching the video Kathleen Reugsegger so enthusiastically recommends, I could not help but notice serious flaws in the video maker's presentation. Most conspicuous was the lack of empirical evidence to support any of his (intentional) vague claims, though with one exception, namely where the narrator points to a study that "shows" that children become less "creative" as they pass through the American educational system.

The narrator blames an apparent decline in the children's "creativity" as evidence of bad teaching. How he came to this conclusion is anyone's guess. But it is an invalid one. A far better explanation is that as the children mature and take on cognitively more demanding tasks, so their thinking is expected to become more analytic, and the language that they use is expected to become more precise. All languages do this. They are remarkably adept in assisting their users address their everyday needs, and beyond, but they are also "demanding" in that they insist that, as a price of making oneself understood, the user must speak in evermore precise terms. As the great structural linguist Ferdinand de Saussure pointed out, language is very much our prisonhouse. Poets will at times play with the boundaries of language. Most us in our everyday interactions cannot do so without appearing justifiably ridiculous.

I have no familiarity with the narrator on Kathleen Reugsegger's promoted video other than that he reminds me of religious pitchmen one can see on television late at night. I'm a bit surprised that someone like Kathleen Reugsegger, who often resorts to "language" as her reason for just about anything, would be so naive as to miss the obvious explanation and instead opt for the hyped up one that the narrator pitches in the video. But then, Kathleen Reugsegger isn't an educator. And I would venture a guess that her claim to have spoken with teachers who were impressed by the video is a bit stretched.

BCF's concerns seem right to me. What on earth might Kathleen Reugsegger have in mind when she alludes to a desire to "deconstruct classrooms?" Such a claim would seem to beg for a more precise language, something unfortunately Kathleen Reugsegger has an easier time criticizing others for.

Our state educators are keenly interested in matters involving creativity in the classroom. At the same time, however, minimal standards for analytical reasoning, deductive and inductive, need to be in place. The prospect of allowing Kathleen Reugsegger or any other nonspecialists to determine how a classroom is to be "deconstructed" is, in my estimation, not a fortuitous one. We see what happens when parental "involvement" escalates as it has elsewhere. Communities tell their teachers that no reference to Thomas Jefferson is permitted. They tell their teachers that Kurt Vonnegut's books are not permitted. They insist that scientific theories of evolution either be eliminated from the curriculum or taught on a level with creationism and other hideous myths. They insist there is no place for sex education in the classroom. The list goes on. Unfortunately, there is a lot of money out there funding these "community" groups. There clearly is a political agenda behind the movement and the financing of it.

I'm happy to report that BCF and others have shown the determined courage and conviction to unmask the (potentially harmful) silliness being promoted by Kathleen Reugsegger and others.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm

BCF, I haven't suggested the dissolution of unions. I did suggest that individuals should be able to opt out. Is this choice not acceptable? Why is membership mandatory? Is that also a "wrongheaded effort[s] posed to individual rights"? Maybe the general public isn't aware that every year in many districts, individuals try to opt out, unsuccessfully.

I notice you continue to make references without citation. Please provide a link regarding the information on Schick or any of the others you imply ("to name but one").

The burden of making a strong case . . . I know many parents who made very strong cases, also unsuccessfully.

The point of the video was creativity and was presented creatively. Again, you can find other talks by Robinson on TED.com—no markers and whiteboards involved.

A just society, perhaps, should begin with individuals who stand openly and present their cases. Based on all the comments about unions and the protection they provide, I don't see what concern you could have.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Linquist is BCF defending itself and taking on a new personna. So goes blogging on the internet.....


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

KR,

The bathwater has dried up and there is nothing to throw out. The schools are just glorified babysitting. The "students" can't read and write. Didn't you get the memo? Just shut them down. Raise you own children!


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Frank: Why would you say that about me? Is that the best you have to offer?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Linguist, Ken Robinson has a strong set of credentials in the arts, including a doctorate (can be found on Wiki or elsewhere). Clearly he has a bias on this topic. The speaker is just one person with specific expertise. I think he speaks about education in general and is not blaming teachers for the system.

Yes, education is complex; it doesn't mean we need to lose creativity. Sadly and obviously, as budgets tighten, music, arts, even access to the written word in school libraries are often the first to get cut.

No stretch about the educators.

Deconstruction is meant to benefit the students and not as a threat to teachers. In fact, every time a new textbook is adopted, there is some amount of deconstruction to the classroom. Math would be a recent example.

Unmask . . . interesting reference, Linguist.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen,

No, you haven't suggested the dissolution of the unions and neither have I (others have, but I leave it to them to defend their positions). That's just BCF going off on her own again. As Frank said, it's a tactic and not reasoning; a tactic that is purposely deployed in order to shut down legitimate concern.

BCF/Linguist _still_ hasn't provided her concept of justice. Neither has she provided a defense of her ideas of the current system, which you are somehow supposed to compare against.

The tactic is that if she doesn't provide a position, she is never on the defensive and therefore her ideas are never put to critical examination. One can only conclude that critical examination would expose her ideas as wholly impractical to what is in the best interest of students.

The solution is to put her on the defensive the same way she does to you; demand a position of her and don't try to state your own. Actually, don't do it the same way she does. It is unnecessary to use name-calling and misrepresentation. She may interpret that as your ideas are somehow being exposed, which would be true if she didn't keep making up your position for you. Readers are not stupid that they can't tell the difference. Perhaps other bloggers will find this thread useful.

The sad part of the whole thing is that BCF probably has some common ground ideas with both you and I that we could use to work together in the best interest of students.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I shall ignore Stacey's amusing comments. And I'll let BCF speak for herself.

I'm unclear why Kathleen Reugsegger might have difficulty with my term, "unmask." I would think its shared, ordinary everyday uses are such as to be not terribly beyond most people's interpretive frameworks.

I'm less clear about the term, "deconstruction," and the rather imprecise, perhaps private, way in which it is being used by Kathleen Reugsegger. The term I believe was first coined by the postmodern thinker Jacques Derrida, and has a fairly specific meaning that refers to how one can best go about resisting the spell of structuralist thought. In short, it is a method. And not to belabor the point, it is often equated with relativistic thinking and an attack upon standards of rationality. To simply equate the term with an introduction of change in the classroom is an imprecise use of the term which not only dilutes its intended meaning but also does very little to anyone's effort to be clear in one's thinking.

It is odd that Kathleen Reugsegger would stress the need for "deconstruction" in conjunction with her desire to change the educational system. If she is talking about creativity in the classroom, I think she will find that most academic studies do rightly emphasize creativity as a quite noteworthy phenomenon in American classrooms, and that these studies also go on to emphasize that American schools, compared to schools of other nations, are among the very best in fostering creativity. It is creativity in American education, many have argued, that most distinguishes American schooling and that draws so many foreign students to our colleges and universities.

I have read very little by the former dance and theatre instructor, Ken Robinson. But I must say that his video was in my view plagued by unsupported generalizations and either naive or disingenuous use of academic studies as a means of criticizing an educational system that is perhaps the finest on earth.

I do agree with BCF in that I don't understand how Kathleen Reugsegger's reference to "deconstruction" in the classroom, or the Robinson video in general, has any relation to teachers being free of their unions. But perhaps Kathleen Reugsegger's reasons might be private in the way that her use of "deconstruction" is private? I might add further that to suggest there is a purported relationship reveals more than just a tad of silliness.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Thank you for ignoring my comments. It only proves them.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Let's not forget this, wherein one can start to find some common ground with BCF, I mean Ruth, I mean joe, I mean ....

"Posted by joe, a resident of Dublin, on Jan 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I support a parcel tax, though would like to see it progressive instead of flat, in that the wealthier would be required to pay a higher rate, and less wealthy less so. I want our teachers to get sabbaticals through part of their pregnancies, and I want male and female teachers alike to be granted extended leaves after giving birth. I want smaller classrooms and decreased teacher-student ratios -- the smaller the better. Beyond administering to our children's needs during the day, and then grading and putting together work packets for the next day's classroom sessions at night, I do not want our teachers having to stop by Staples every week in order to purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets. I assume our teachers are not perfect superheroes, but well-intentioned, hard-working individuals who did not enter the profession to make the big bucks. Some are better teachers than others, but I assume the overwhelming majority of teachers want to improve their teaching skills. If providing some measure of job security alleviates their stress levels, I'm all for it. I'm not suggesting that throwing money at any and every problem is the answer. But, along with parental and community support, additional tax money might go a long way towards improving the overall quality of education."

Notice that my opinions about education intersect with the above on a progressive parcel tax (which I wrote about during both Measure G and Measure E campaigns; PW site is searchable; have at it.), on teachers not having to run to Staples every week, and on professional development for improving teacher quality. I have no opinion on sabbaticals and a different opinion on both job security and classroom sizes.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I am a linguist, Stacey. I have no training in delusional thinking, and so I would hope you understand that I care not to delve into yours. Most sincerely yours, L


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

Stacey is a registered user.

And here's another great post, wherein I take an opposing position as an academic exercise to one I have a history here of arguing for. It lacks the references that I would normally insert to save time in composing. It doesn't rely on any theory by Max Weber or quote Saussure (whom linguists reject these days anyways). That feels too much like quoting the Bible or FoxNews rather than forming an independent thought. I guess that sometimes too much focus on theory leads to a lack of clarity, which is why most highly educated people tend to lose everyone. We have yet to see BCF take a position on anything beyond using aggressive discourse disguised as something intellectual as a tactic to shut down civil discussion.

"Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:26 pm
Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com

I'd write a defense for step and column more along these general lines ...

The step and column salary schedule is still a useful teacher compensation system. Previously, teachers were paid based on their position; a secondary school teacher earned more than an elementary school teacher. This former pay system exacerbated inequalities amongst women and minorities who were most often found teaching elementary school. The more prestigious positions in secondary schools tended to be staffed mostly by white men. Administrators were wanton to play favorites. This discrimination lead to a compensation system that sought to equalize teacher pay.

The measurements of years of experience (steps) and continuing education (columns) provides the basis for an objective advancement in pay. Administrative opinion is removed from the determination of how much a teacher is paid, thereby disabling discrimination. Columns can even be thought of as a form of merit-pay.

Studies have shown that teachers do best in schools with a stable faculty and a supportive, collaborative working environment. This kind of working environment is conducive to increasing student achievement and teacher quality. It is highly dependent upon management's ability to foster it. School districts often do little to link principal pay and management practices with programs that are effective in improving student outcomes.

In the absence of such policies, the step and column salary schedule still provides teachers a safe haven from the effects on their pay of an administrator's discriminatory whims and poor working environments."


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Posted by Roger
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:12 am

Stacy ... is it perhaps something you ate this evening?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Roger,

Yep, it's a lack of BCF's position in my diet. It appears so hard for her to articulate her position. She can go on and on about everybody else in the most uncivil manner yet nary a peep about what she thinks of important matters. I don't know what kind of education she got, but it seems to have been lacking in minimum standards. I had a great professor who graded you on participation in class and mid-term and final term papers. Most people tried to avoid his classes because they thought he was hard. I signed up for as many as I could! For class participation, you had to show you could state your position and defend it without name-calling and misrepresentation. Perhaps it was discriminatory against those who were naturally shy and had a difficult time speaking up. Maybe BCF would have failed that class, who knows? BTW, he was a black man and was the smartest professor I had.


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Posted by Roger
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:41 am

Why the need to specify he was a black man?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:45 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Correction: _is_ a black man and _is_ the smartest professor I had. I always got A's in his class. I read his blog often. Politically he's liberal.

Hey, did you see Vanguard on Current TV last night about the Oaxacan men who leave to work in the US? It stated that the reason they left was because when Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, it led to the influx of cheap subsidized US corn on the Mexican market and they couldn't compete. Nothing was said about leaving for the higher pay of unionized work in the US. Illegal immigration was blamed on free trade and GOP-favored subsidies. BTW, my one-time boss's boss who was a richie rich VP was originally an illegal immigrant. She had a little party when she got her US citizenship. Hurray! Viva!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:46 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh Roger, I thought it would matter to you that he is a black man. I've never before related this information, but you seem so obsessed about race and all...


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:58 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I mean, I never mentioned it before because it doesn't matter to me. I'm talking about classes a long time ago now and I've never felt any need until now to pull any race card because I don't believe it is necessary. My professor's respect and reputation was earned by merit and he deserves every kudos coming to him. Race matters to you though so I thought I'd mention it.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 1:13 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Janna wrote: "The problem with capitalism is when the economy tanks and people no longer have money to consume, it tanks even more. It's like a snake eating it's own tail."

And the opposite is true: when the economy is hot, people have lots of money to consume and it gets even hotter. That's the nature of a market and a primary source of difference between the Chicago school and the Austrian school of economics. The Austrian school argues that the ups and downs are amplified when a central authority, like the Fed, tries to control things such as the interest rate. It argues that the downs are unnaturally low because it must correct for the unnatural high of a bubble. It argues that if things like the prime interest rate were freely priced by the market, such extreme highs and lows would not occur. I don't claim to know which theory is better: Chicago or Austrian, but there's got to be something said about how low prime interest rates set by central banks are now and _still_ nothing improves. Investor flock to riskier investments because interest rates are too low to beat inflation.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

Linguist, Well the obvious answer is you wear the mask. Deconstruct, like many words, is picked up in modern language and applied in new ways; in this case for just about anything with many parts that can be separated and used in new ways--food, legos, and the word itself.

The United States no longer competes worldwide as "an educational system that is perhaps the finest on earth." Here's one recent article (many sources available, this is USA Today): Web Link Here's one released in 2011 (uses 2006 data, an unfortunate lag in data): Web Link Here's one on the states: Web Link Regardless of the source, the trend remains the same for many years. But by all means, let's keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

It seems the point in question is the suggested freedom to opt out of the union. Is there concern the union would then implode? Surely if a union offers so much protection to its ranks from "wackadoodles," no one would opt out, and certainly not a majority.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

Kathleen Reugsegger continues to sound like a certain character in a Lewis Carroll novel. "When I use a word it can mean whatever I want it to mean." In this case it means Kathleen Reugsegger can take the term, "deconstruction," and make it mean whatever she desires.

I will ignore Kathleen Reugsegger's quip about masks. Like "deconstruction," another one of Kathleen Reugsegger's private meanings perhaps.

I was unable to read Kathleen Reugsegger's USA Today articles. I am aware that US kids, as test scores reveal, do not fare as well as kids in some homogeneous countries, or some socialist countries that have made positive strides in eliminating poverty. No one would want to contest such evidence.

However, my point stressed how "creativity" was being misused by Sir Robinson, specifically his claim that decreased "creativity" among school children as they age somehow correlates with, or is caused by (as he states), the educational system. I stand by my criticism, and say further that Robinson's claim is a clear instance of shoddy thinking. Such thinking, however, may appeal to audiences that are willing to shell out good money to hear "self-help" lectures. I don't know.

As to my general claim that American schools are the most creative on earth, I stand by it. I do not see American students struggling to enter Chinese high schools or universities. All trails still lead to the United States, with a couple of exceptions in Europe. What American teachers do in the classroom, given the conditions they work in, shows remarkable creativity and I think for anyone to suggest otherwise is either being delusional or promoting an agenda.

Kathleen Reugsegger has suggested that teachers' "freedom" to opt out of a union might somehow contribute to better teaching and increased creativity in the classroom. I continue to fail to see Kathleen Reugsegger's reasoning. I think anyone, including Kathleen Reugsegger, would be hard-pressed to make a case that freedom to opt out of a teacher's union would positively influence a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. However, I can think of any number of reasons why this "freedom" could in fact have a negative influence, particularly if the opting out left the teacher unprotected from incompetent administrators, vindictive parents, political opportunists.

But perhaps I haven't sufficiently gleaned Kathleen Reugsegger's thoughts. This is difficult to do, I must say, since they seem to be intertwined with private words and meanings.


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Posted by tax dollars and government efficiency
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

Housing authority taps federal funds to boost employee retirements

Santa Clara County's housing authority could have spent $16 million of federal funds to help more struggling families put a roof over their heads. Instead, it chose to more than double the value of its employees' retirement benefits.

That may sound unusual, but federal housing officials say it was an allowable expense. Still, the switch from a 401(k)-style retirement plan to a pension allowing workers to retire early -- with guaranteed lifetime payments -- is raising eyebrows at a time when generous public employee pensions are under fire.

The housing authority, which bought into the California Public Employees' Retirement System plan in 2009 after stock markets crashed and the nation plunged into a deep recession, already has seen its pension costs inch up. And more hikes may be coming if CalPERS' financial projections don't pan out, as critics predict.

"At the end of the day the government agency is on the hook for the money," said Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, a group hoping to get a measure aimed at taming public pensions on the ballot.

Bill Anderson, chairman of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara's board of commissioners, conceded that the money spent on employee pensions could have been used in other ways, including housing aid for low-income families.

Indeed, the waiting list for federal housing assistance is so long that applicants must now wait four to nine years.

Anderson also acknowledged that with the area's high unemployment, the housing authority could fill jobs without a more generous retirement plan…

"I was very much aware that this was money available for whatever else we do," said Anderson, a retired assistant county counsel. "I thought it was the right thing to do for the employees."

Housing authority workers who under the old plan had to wait until they were almost 60 to draw from retirement accounts -- which could be shrunk by market losses -- can now receive a guaranteed monthly pension check as early as age 50. And they'll have a guarantee of 2 percent annual increases after they retire."

"The change in retirement benefits was made possible after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2008 made the housing authority one of 32 Moving to Work demonstration sites. The program allows more spending flexibility to encourage "innovative" approaches that "use federal dollars more efficiently."

- Huh? Now that is GOLDEN

Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Linguist writes: "I am aware that US kids, as test scores reveal, do not fare as well as kids in some homogeneous countries, or some socialist countries that have made positive strides in eliminating poverty. No one would want to contest such evidence."

Oh looky, a talking point presented as "evidence"! Your "evidence" has already been contested. Perhaps you could respond with your own study and then go through peer-review, get published, and we'd get to see which way consensus goes rather than having to put up with yet another talking point.

Web Link

"How would our states do if we looked just at the white kids performing at high levels—kids who are not, generally speaking, subject to language barriers or racial discrimination? Or if we looked just at kids with at least one college-educated parent?... As it turned out, even these relatively privileged students do not compete favorably with average students in other well-off countries. On a percentage basis, New York state has fewer high performers among white kids than Poland has among kids overall. In Illinois, the percentage of kids with a college-educated parent who are highly skilled at math is lower than the percentage of such kids among all students in Iceland, France, Estonia, and Sweden. "

"one cannot help but thank God for Massachusetts, which offers the United States some shred of national dignity—a result echoed in other international tests... Is it because Massachusetts is so white? Or so immigrant-free? Or so rich? Not quite. ... What did Massachusetts do? Well, nothing that many countries (and industries) didn't do a long time ago. For example, Massachusetts made it harder to become a teacher, requiring newcomers to pass a basic literacy test before entering the classroom. (In the first year, more than a third of the new teachers failed the test.) Massachusetts, in other words, began demanding meaningful outcomes from everyone in the school building. Obvious though it may seem, it's an idea that remains sacrilegious in many U.S. schools, despite the clumsy advances of No Child Left Behind. Instead, we still fixate on inputs—such as how much money we are pouring into the system or how small our class sizes are—and wind up with little to show for it. Since the early 1970s, we've doubled the amount of money we spend per pupil nationwide, but our high-schoolers' reading and math scores have barely budged."


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the actual link to the study: Web Link


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I am unable to interpret Stacey's wild and unfounded accusations. Nor am I able to understand the kinds of questions she is presenting. I feel as if I am being badgered on account of being mistaken for other posters some of whose views, I might add, I am in sympathy with. I do not recognize anything particularly "wrong" or "inappropriate" with holding those views. This poster seems to be drawing from her stash of hidden files which indicate there are other liberal contributors on these posts. I am not surprised. Why holding liberal views would be alleged to be some kind of wrongdoing is beyond my comprehension. I do apologize, but unfortunately, I cannot and will not respond to accusations and charges which leave me scratching my head in much puzzlement.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Linguist-"Why holding liberal views would be alleged to be some kind of wrongdoing is beyond my comprehension"
This article may help clear things up for you: Web Link
It's not that you're wrong or even misguided, you just need some help. At least there's hope for a change (sounds like a great bumper sticker for the next messiah)


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A post by an unverified poster can be anyone at all. They are free to lie and deceive readers without being held accountable to their lies. That frees up everyone's responsibility to take them for their word.

If these unverified posters don't like to be mixed up and mistaken for others (in other words, held accountable for what they write) they are free to register on the site, post while registered, and use the platform to build their PW online presence. Or they can use their real and full name like Kathleen does. Anyone is free to look her up and have a face-to-face conversation with her about what she writes here.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Linguist, Do a search on the word; I am hardly the first person to use deconstruct in a new way. Unmask simply refers to anonymity.

So countries with less/equal ability/financing are able to do more; what is it then that you believe our K-12 education system could do better to change the outcome?

Sir Robinson speaks at conferences attended by educators. It is one interesting theory in the broader context of considerations about education.

You have refined your comment to "most creative on earth." I don't know that K-12 education can take any credit for our competitive university systems. Plenty of commentary where universities lament the remedial courses they have to provide. And then there are many sources for the following information (this from the National Academic Press) Web Link

"A recent study further delineates the changing demographics of graduate students in US institutions. In 1966, US-born males accounted for 71 percent of science and engineering PhD graduates, and 6 percent were awarded to US-born females; 23 percent of doctoral recipients were foreign-born. In 2000, 36 percent of doctoral recipients were US-born males, 25 percent US-born females, and 39 percent foreign-born. Among postdoctoral scholars, the participation rate among temporary residents has increased from 37.4 percent in 1982 to 58.8 percent in 2002. Similarly, the share of foreign-born faculty who earned their doctoral degrees at US universities has increased from 11.7 percent in 1973 to 20.4 percent in 1999. In engineering fields, the share increased from 18.6 percent to 34.7 percent in the same period."

There is also this on students US students studying abroad: Web Link

"What American teachers do in the classroom, given the conditions they work in, shows remarkable creativity . . ." Can you elaborate on those "conditions" please? It sounds so onerous (Involving a burdensome amount of effort and difficulty).

No argument teachers are creative given the requisite expectations. The question is whether teachers have the latitude to allow students to be creative.

Opting out of the union was one suggestion for giving teachers choices. I also separately noted a presentation on creativity. The link between creativity and non-union membership is solely yours. Mandating that teachers participate in the union to protect teachers from "incompetent administrators, vindictive parents, [and] political opportunists" makes the union autocratic (having unlimited power over members). Even so, providing the choice would allow the teacher to determine the imminence of threat.

As to "private words and meanings"—what would anyone hope to accomplish by repeatedly taking the time to type out my entire name incorrectly? It's cute though.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Well, steve, I don't agree that holding liberal views is some kind of wrongdoing. I do believe that posting in a manner where readers can't hold you accountable for what you write and then abusing that freedom to behave in a less than civil manner is some kind of wrongdoing.

I think that ideas should be able to stand on their own, without needing the benefit of the identity of the writer. They need the strength of argument built with sound logic upon a firm defining foundation, not name-calling and pseudo-intellectual ranting disguised as expert opinion.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger. I am terribly sorry to have spelled your name, Kathleen Ruegsegger, incorrectly. It is not Kathleen Reugsegger as I was writing, but rather Kathleen Ruegsegger. I am gratified to know you found my inadvertant error to be "cute." But, again, Kathleen Ruegsegger, my intention was to have correctly spelled your name: Kathleen Ruegsegger. I shall spell it correctly in future posts, but for now, demands on my time pull me away. Kathleen Ruegsegger, again, please forgive me.


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Posted by Pension Contributions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Kathleen wrote:

"Pension, Districts were being told their contributions could gradually increase to 14% from the 8.25% you noted. Any increase for STRS has to be done through legislation; I don't think that has happened yet. I appreciate the clarification of the true cost to districts and taxpayers."

I do not doubt that districts were claiming the contribution rate would gradually increase to 14% of payroll, from 8.25% of payroll. Most people have trouble understanding the Wonderful World of Pensions. I'll use this local reference as an example:

"In the Pleasanton school district, assistant superintendent Luz Cazares noted that accounting standards changes made five years ago now "strongly suggest" that school districts list unfunded liability on their books, even though the payments are not due yet.

It is not a requirement. However, failure to list unfunded liability could result in having to pay a higher interest rate, if the district goes to borrow money, said Cazares.

The district listed nothing on the books in the first year it was aware of the policy. However, last year and this year, the district has set aside one-half of the amount. Next year it hopes to set aside the full 100 percent, which would be $640,000 (note - the district is hoping to set aside the full dollar amount of a number that soon may triple).

The money next year would come from the general fund. This year and last year, the district used federal stimulus money (more concerns - but at least we know where the stimulus money went).

Although some residents might be concerned that those dollars don't go directly to the classroom, the offsetting consideration is that the district needs to maintain its fiscal health. Districts that have not done that sometimes have had to declare a default, and have been taken over by the county schools."

"In the Livermore school district, chief business official Susan Kinder said that the district has no liability issues with STRS, which covers pensions."

- if those statements don't concern you nothing will! The link: Web Link

Kathleen later writes, after reading the CalSTRS actuarial report:

"A level contribution rate of 33.512% beginning on the valuation date is projected to be needed to amortize the UAO over a 30-year period. This is equivalent to an increase of 14.236% of Earned Salaries for a period of 30 years from the valuation date."

As I've previously stated, based on information from the CalSTRS actuarial report:

" In the Actuarial report five different scenarios regarding return rates are produced (page seven of the report) ranging from 8.5% to 5.7%. If average returns equal 5.7%, the increased cost to taxpayers, as a percentage of payroll, grows to an additional contribution rate of 32%. School districts/taxpayers would be covering the current 8.25%, plus an additional 32%, for a contribution of 40.25 of payroll. The teachers would continue to make their 8% contribution on top of that, for a total cost of 48.25% of payroll/salary."

Given the recent market losses, which have wiped out year-to-date gains, the 5.7% return is looking more than optimistic.

The CalSTRS actuarial report: Web Link

Here is my question, how do the viewers of this topic think the additional pension contributions will impact our students education-educational experience/taxpayers/teachers?


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Well, I stand corrected on one of my two claims. The right-wingers aren't about to fold their tents. The irony is rather delicious. The unstable one seems to be vying for the Joseph McCarthy tiara. She launches a site that fosters censorship on the PW sites; collects shadow files on articulate leftists who voice claims opposed to her own; on the flimsiest evidence claims the various posters are one and the same person, and that that Phantom Agitator doesn't argue properly, that he/she is uncivil, that he/she is not practical, that he/she does not argue like she does, that he/she doesn't post using his/her first name like she does. The list goes on, and it really is a riot. Then along comes her well-trained compadre turned out on his leash, who shouts out with much seriousness that all liberals are psychological ill. Like I say. Delicious.

Freedom Fighter Kath wants to deconstruct classrooms, to allow teachers to opt out of their union, to collaborate with peers, and to have a say in any teacher evaluation models. All this in the name of "freedom." Then she states, "Given these _freedoms_ [my emphasis], my guess is no one would need a union." Right. I agree, readers, her attempted deductive leap here is indeed a bit of a rib-tickler.

Kath fails to acknowledge that teachers who belong to unions do have considerable freedom (within reason) to organize their classrooms in ways that enhance pedagogical effectiveness, AND that much of this can be attributed to union protections against narrow minded administrators and/or administrators who are being driven by parent witch hunting groups. She fails to acknowledge that it is in fact union protections that afford teachers the opportunity to collaborate with peers (or not) as they so desire. She attests that union membership prohibits teachers from having a say in any evaluative models. What a laugher, that. Apparently she is unaware that whatever say teachers DO currently have is because of union support. So, somehow, on this up-is-down and down-is-up understanding of teachers and unions, this self-proclaimed, chest-thumping supporter of teacher "freedoms" thinks teachers should want to opt out of unions. What a gas!

But once past the smokey nonsense of her claims and their espoused link to 'freedom', we get to her pet agenda. Let's let teachers opt out of unions. Because teachers should be free. Yes, Kath, that's a real freedom issue. Onerous membership in a closed shop union. It's like, gee, why can't Derek Jeeter wear a yankee cap during games instead of the Davy Crocket coonskin hat he so desires to wear? Or maybe the free rider shouldn't be "forced" to contribute to the carpool they ride in. Or maybe people shouldn't have to pay taxes if they don't want to.

Freedom Fighter Kath, always willing to support the cause of union-oppressed teachers, says she wants them to be able to opt out of their union if they so desire. Then, as something of an afterthought, asks, "Why is membership mandatory?" A rather odd question to ask from someone who wants teachers to "freely" opt out. I'd have thought she who poses such a question might already have pondered it before concluding that opting out is such a pillar of teacher freedom.

Historically, unions have remained closed shop as a means of maintaining solidarity against oppositional forces that have sought to divide and conquer and capitalize upon the division. Without closed shop union membership -- hardly an onerous thing, and certainly not one that restricts any teacher's right to challenge union leadership or its policies -- not only would the union's solidarity be weakened, but even more importantly, it would be less able to combat the galloping Steves and the other unstable ones who desire so badly to impose their agendas upon teaching practices. The closed shop model helps guarantee that teachers can feel free to utilize the pedagogical methods they do without having to look over their shoulder at rabid parents with an agenda nipping at their ankles. Opting out of a union lends itself to teacher freedom? Please. The closed shop requirement of membership, and the protections of teacher's rights it guarantees, offers far more freedom to the member than does the "freedom" to not pay union dues.

Wow. Who would have expected that? That Kath's defense of teacher freedoms should boil down to teachers not having to pay union dues? I gotta tell ya, Kath, there are better ways to promote teacher freedom than that of weakening the membership (as well as -- perhaps especially, those who you want to opt out). You're barking up the wrong tree. Last time I looked, it wasn't teachers' unions that were insisting that Thomas Jefferson be removed from all American history texts; that creationism be taught alongside or instead of scientifically based theories of evolution; that Huck Finn's or Holden Caulfield's voice be snuffed out in classrooms and libraries. Sorry, Kath, but your feeble effort to weaken union power under the auspices of "freedom" is just that.


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Posted by Pension Contributions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm


People don't seem to understand the impact the increased pensions costs will have on this school district, and every other district in California for that matter. I'll use this local reference as an example:

"In the Pleasanton school district, assistant superintendent Luz Cazares noted that accounting standards changes made five years ago now "strongly suggest" that school districts list unfunded liability on their books, even though the payments are not due yet.

It is not a requirement. However, failure to list unfunded liability could result in having to pay a higher interest rate, if the district goes to borrow money, said Cazares.

The district listed nothing on the books in the first year it was aware of the policy. However, last year and this year, the district has set aside one-half of the amount. Next year it hopes to set aside the full 100 percent, which would be $640,000 (note - the district is hoping to set aside the full dollar amount of a number that soon may triple).

The money next year would come from the general fund. This year and last year, the district used federal stimulus money (more concerns - but at least we know where the stimulus money went).

Although some residents might be concerned that those dollars don't go directly to the classroom, the offsetting consideration is that the district needs to maintain its fiscal health. Districts that have not done that sometimes have had to declare a default, and have been taken over by the county schools."

"In the Livermore school district, chief business official Susan Kinder said that the district has no liability issues with STRS, which covers pensions."

- if those statements don't concern you nothing will! The link: Web Link

From the CalSTRS actuarial report:

"A level contribution rate of 33.512% beginning on the valuation date is projected to be needed to amortize the UAO over a 30-year period. This is equivalent to an increase of 14.236% of Earned Salaries for a period of 30 years from the valuation date."

As I've previously stated, based on information from the same CalSTRS actuarial report:

" In the Actuarial report five different scenarios regarding return rates are produced (page seven of the report) ranging from 8.5% to 5.7%. If average returns equal 5.7%, the increased cost to taxpayers, as a percentage of payroll, grows to an additional contribution rate of 32%. School districts/taxpayers would be covering the current 8.25%, plus an additional 32%, for a contribution of 40.25 of payroll. The teachers would continue to make their 8% contribution on top of that, for a total cost of 48.25% of payroll/salary."

And given the recent market losses, which have wiped out year-to-date gains, the 5.7% return is looking more than optimistic.

Here is my question, how do the viewers of this topic think the additional pension contributions will impact our students education-educational experience/taxpayers/ teachers?

"Beyond Commodity Fetishism", "Linguist", maybe you would like to respond? How can the district afford to absorb another 14-32% of payroll costs and continue to provide an adequate public school education?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

You could have just as easily responded to Kathleen that teachers can already opt-out of union membership so all her fuss about opting-out is a non-issue. They can also apply annually for a refund of the part of the "agent fee" that wasn't spent on negotiations and contract management. That wouldn't have fit the agenda though, now would it? *wink wink*

All this time I thought you were busy writing a small book on your Socratic concept of justice, a defense of the current education system, and how it supports the best interests of students. Did your list of union talking points run out?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Pension Contributions,

Perhaps Trevor Knaggs can answer how many teaching FTEs can be paid for by the money the district will spend on high interest rates on loans to cover pension contribution costs. Maybe CalSTRS can buy that debt! LOL!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't think you will get a response from BCF or Linguist or Roger or any other pseudo-posters. They don't count themselves among the "bean-counters", a pejorative they like to use frequently in reference to you and I, so they will have a difficult time understanding the numbers until they receive a new script of talking points.


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm

@"Beyond Commodity Fetishism", "Linguist", maybe you would like to respond? How can the district afford to absorb another 14-32% of payroll costs and continue to provide an adequate public school education?"

I find that someone asking this question, while living in the wealthiest mid-sized city in America, to verge on the obscene.

@"All this time I thought you were busy writing a small book on your Socratic concept of justice, a defense of the current education system, and how it supports the best interests of students. Did your list of union talking points run out?"

One of your more mature and even-keeled responses, Stace. I'm buoyed to know you seem to be feeling better. The book to which you refer has been completed not that many years ago. A reputable university press found my arguments to their liking, as did many readers. (And what a surprise, not a single reviewer saw any Phantom-Agitprop connections between my arguments and "union talking points.") I'd recommend it to you, but honestly, I don't trust what you'd do with it.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Who would have thunk? Supposedly well-read BCF doesn't even know that California has no closed-shop teacher union law! We're a mandatory monopoly bargaining state and thus the union has a right to collect an "agent fee" for bargaining on an employee's behalf whether they are a union member or not. A closed-shop would be where non-unionized employees were not allowed to work there.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF wrote: "I'd recommend it to you, but honestly, I don't trust what you'd do with it."

Yea, I know already. You don't trust anyone here with your ideas which is why you never give them. In this manner you consistently avoid being put on the defensive and having your ideas exposed as having little merit.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I'm sure your publication is devoid of misrepresentations and name-calling as well. It is also probably signed with your name. Write for your audience, right?


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:44 pm

You people are beating a dead horse. The schools don't work and won't work. Cut their funding and they will whither on the vine.


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:05 pm

"Write for your audience, right?"

You better believe it. And you can add that to the shadow files you collect on those who you find to your disliking.

Unlike a specific other, my identity is not bound up with what I post on this site. Does it amuse me to post here? Yes. Would I think for one minute to identify myself to the wackadoodle true-believer witch hunters or to anyone else who might inadvertantly let my identity slip out? No way. Unlike a specific other, I am a responsible parent who must protect my family from the zanies out there.

My 'closed shop' argument was a short-hand way of dealing with someone else's simple-minded argument. That you've presented to your readers info about mandatory bargaining in no way weakens my argument which, given your immature response, you found to be both valid and sound. It's one thing to present a fact or a number, Stace; it is quite another to reason with said fact or number. Cognitive overload? Perhaps you might seek relief by counting the number of times the Phantom Agitprop poster uses the word "the" in his/her sentences. Have at it, girl!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF wrote: "my identity is not bound up with what I post on this site"

Oh, sure it is! If it weren't, you wouldn't write here! No one else is typing at the keyboard when you write. Only you can be held responsible for the personality that leaks through.


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Posted by Pension contributions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

"@"Beyond Commodity Fetishism", "Linguist", maybe you would like to respond? How can the district afford to absorb another 14-32% of payroll costs and continue to provide an adequate public school education?"

I find that someone asking this question, while living in the wealthiest mid-sized city in America, to verge on the obscene."



OK, I guess you don't have a response other than to ignore the obvious problem while claiming my concern is obscene because Pleasanton can afford more in your opinion. This issue isn't only a Pleasanton issue and it impacts school districts that are less fortunate. It's quite obvious that the educational impact of this severe funding issue is of little concern to you. What is a concern to you is the continued revenue stream that you believe Pleasanton residents can afford, and the value that the unsustainable contract provides, which can be used by other districts unions to bargain escalating contracts that are unaffordable.

I'll ask you again, "How can the district afford to absorb another 14-32% of payroll costs and continue to provide an adequate public school education?"

BCF, or what ever your name of the moment is, would you like to comment on this topic? Before doing so, I would appreciate it if you would confer with the school board, or even Mr. Casey.

Don't worry, I'm not expecting much from you.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Readers now know that they can opt-out of union membership in California, though I think the choice is personal and readers should decide what is best for them. There's a long-time teacher who runs a website/organization that educates other teachers about their options. They take a neutral stance on the issue.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF,

I'm sure you're likable when you don't call people names.


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Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Big yawn. Nighty-night. Wishing all the right-wingers here wishful dreams of tax refunds, creationism, and union deconstruction.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF,

You have much common ground with other parents who are trying to protect their families, like the parent who wants to make sure that their child is placed in the class of a "good" teacher.

Have you seen the semi-recent California Commission on Teacher Credentialing news? Shameful, isn't it?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Aw, too bad. I was just getting started.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

One more correction, BCF; I'm not a right winger.

Clearly coloring outside of the union borders is unacceptable to you. It is your choice. Could be all would opt in, no harm. Some opt out, still no harm.

Please, do define how unions allow "considerable freedom (within reason)." Such a dark place you describe for teachers with narrow minded administrators, witch hunting rabid parents, and freedoms within union defined boundaries.

Bad comparison, sports. Those organizations allow the best to earn millions.

Just a choice. The reasons to opt out (completely, not just some portion allowed) have been personal to those who have tried to do so year after year. If there is solidarity, then there is solidarity with or without a union.

Union membership was one comment. As to the bluster about all the challenges to educators, I was on the board when Maya Angelou's book, "Caged Bird," was challenged and argued to keep it. The compromise reached, ironically, was that the few families with concerns be given the freedom to opt out.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen,

I honestly don't know why you continue to debate with this kind of poster. As you can see, when you offer your honest thoughts and legitimate concern about very real problems, they are used like a weapon to attack you personally rather than your ideas in a most insidious manner. You basically give material which then is twisted. This kind of poster sets up straw man arguments and attributes them to you; puts words in your mouth that you never said that are easy to knock down. You're called names either directly or in reference to you. And most importantly, there is never any sincerity in the conversation. There is never an opposing position articulated and defined from whence debate can spring.

It isn't about recognizing the poster so much as it is about identifying the methods used. Obviously, if the author is unverified/unregistered, you have no way of knowing whether or not it is true that the poster is a different live person. It is their problem and not yours. Don't give someone who calls you names the benefit of the doubt.

When you refrain from giving such authors material to work with and patiently await the kind of dialog you desire and demand of them, they avoid it at all costs. Clearly they are not interested in such conversation because their ideas have no merit. Someone not interested like that does not deserve your time and effort to receive a sincere response.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oops. I accidentally left off the use of glittering generalities from the list of features the method employs.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I freely admit to using this thread as a lesson on how to respond to posters who employ such uncivil and propagandist methods in order to educate other interested parties.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 8, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen wrote: "Please, do define how unions allow "considerable freedom (within reason).""

Ah, now you're getting it!


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 9, 2011 at 1:55 am

I do hope here to sidestep the somewhat hysterical and obsessive fixation another poster has with the able BCF.

I again apologize to Kathleen Ruegsegger for having spelled her name incorrectly. It is Kathleen Ruegsegger. Not Kathleen Reugsegger.

I also apologize for arriving late to this discussion. My children had deconstructed their playroom, the dog had attempted to deconstruct the bunny hatch, and my wife wanted me to deconstruct the table before dishes could be washed and dried. Deconstructing all these tasks was no small matter.

I continue to see no evidence that supports Kathleen Ruegsegger's enthusiastic endorsement of the simple-minded video narrated by Sir Robinson in which he claims that the American educational system is to blame for children's ostensive diminished creativity as they age during the K-12 years.

And I again claim that American schools cultivate creativity among students far more impressively than any other school system that I know of. More foreign student Ph.D's? Doesn't say a thing except that talented foreign students are arriving in droves in order to reap the benefits of the American university system -- the vast majority of which consists of unionized faculty, by the way. Demographics on students taking a summer to study abroad? I am puzzled why someone who would seem to have a modicum of intelligence would cite such statistics to support claims about reduced creativity in American schools.

There are certainly ways to make our system even better. Personally, I would begin with higher teacher salaries, though conjoined with requirements that our teachers must have a specific major -- perhaps a double major (liberal studies+ one other) -- as prerequisite for teaching in K-12 system. Because teachers are so poorly compensated relative to the job they are entrusted to do, it is a shame that so many get funneled through the Cal State system and not the UC system. That the UC system does not place a high value on educating K-12 teachers is in my estimation quite unfortunate. If society placed a higher value on our teachers, I believe good universities would follow with serious and rigorous programs. Of course, smaller classrooms are a must. Additionally, I would support increased sabbaticals and greatly lengthened maternity/paternity leaves, as they have done in Sweden where, if I'm not mistaken, mothers and fathers are given a combined leave of approx 6 months.

Lengthened maternity/paternity leaves would be indicative of a society that cares about its children from day one. In my estimation, those on the right side of the political spectrum urge mothers to choose "life", but then want to offer little if any support if that is indeed the choice she makes. I support with enthusiasm some other poster's recommendation that we install around-the-clock free child care, open to all parents with children. I might add that a phased opening of tens of thousands of child care centers would generate perhaps hundreds of thousands of jobs for trained child development specialists, and would promote a much healthier corps of students who eventually enter the K-12 system.

Unlike Kathleen Ruegsegger and so many others who post here, I do not see any difficulty whatsoever with a strong union for teachers. Indeed, given the level of unhealthy antagonism expressed toward teachers and their union representation by what seems to be a significant minority of Ptown residents, I would endorse the strongest union possible. The suggestion as Kathleen Ruegsegger has offered, that teachers' unions tend to be autocratic is complete rubbish and I think indicates a lack of reasonable proportion. Kathleen Ruegsegger notes how she was part of an unfortunate "compromise" that allowed ignorant parents to shield their children from an excellent piece of literature. She refers to this as being a matter of "choice." Again, rubbish. What is next? Shielding them from any book that sheds positive light on liberal principles? Shielding them from teachers who teach evolution in the classroom?

Our teachers today are faced with children of parents who are working too hard and too many hours. Many children have been neglected, while all too many have been abused or have witnesed abuse within their households. We live in one of the most violent nations on earth, and we do very little to protect our children from the violence that is routinely inflicted upon women and children at home. Additionally, too many of Pleasanton's parents uphold the values that are pushed by corporate messaging, which I am convinced represents an unprecedented harmful intrusion into our children's thought streams. Challenges for our teachers? Yes, it is difficult to compete with television. With violence. With the distractions of technological gimickry.

The list of things we need to do, and potentially can do, is long, and I've only offered this evening a few. But really, this fiscal-budgetary fixation with teachers and their unions being a problem is beyond my comprehension. A society that genuinely cares about its children and the potential those children have to contribute in positive ways to society is not a society that quibbles shamelessly over teacher pensions.

The issue of budgetary constraints is, in my view, nothing but propagandistic nonsense by those who place selfish interests above the greater interests of the community. Budgets need not be a untouchable monolith; rather, if the community desires, it can raise revenues and expand them. With so many real and pressing problems facing us, it is a pity so many spend so much time and energy concocting excuses that provide rationalizing cover for not doing the right thing.


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Posted by Linguist
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 9, 2011 at 2:00 am

"an untouchable monolith"


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

I can agree the idea of higher requirements for teachers in exchange for a new pay structure is a good one, and particularly the serious and rigorous university programs, however defined. Aren't fairly long sabbaticals allowed already after some period of service? (I seem to recall teacher/s who went overseas to teach and had to be reminded to come back or lose their spot in line for an assignment here.) I would disagree on a Swedish model for many things and paid longer leaves for childbearing would be one I personally wouldn't support for those already working a shortened work year. I wouldn't ask you to plan a family around a school year though. I don't, however, feel society owes a debt to those who choose to have a family. Conversely, I also don't want society telling me how many children I can have.

I missed the post on around the clock free child care. Free is a misnomer, because it would cost taxpayers. I'm certainly not against increased availability, but they already would exist if they were viable. Given the broad spectrum of good/bad daycare centers, how would this promote a healthier corps of students?

What is with all the name calling about parents? One minute you want to give them longer childbearing breaks and free child care and then they are pariahs. Perhaps there is need of some serious sensitivity training about diverse opinions, the rights of parents, and apparently to understand that not all things are acceptable to all people for myriad causes/reasons. To opt out of a book that presented information on a difficult topic at a young age isn't ignorance. Could just be timing. Schools generally are liberal institutions and no one is going to stop evolution being taught.

Calling us one of the most violent nations seems to diminish the lives of those in a good part of Africa, but here is a Forbes article (2010) of the top 15 Web Link We are not without our flaws as a nation, but no where as dire as any of those on the list. You'll have to explain the corporate values parents uphold. Most of the young families I know barely watch television and are careful when they do. No more a threat now than Wiley Coyote cartoons aired and they were pretty violent. Parents guide the behavior, even teachers have a great deal of influence. I don't remember ever thinking that what I saw on television was going to be acceptable behavior to my parents.

Technological gimmickry . . . I like what someone else said better: children are digital natives; the rest of us are immigrants. I've seen technology used in the classroom that is advancing teaching and learning.

No society before us was facing the tab for pensions that we do now, one that, in the case of CalSTRS' actuarial report, shows generations of children will "contribute" well into their futures.

So much of what is in the budget __is__ an untouchable monolith because it is wrapped up in salaries/benefits/pensions. And why is the answer only to raise revenues and expand them? And when, say, a parcel tax conversation is begun, why is it the language cannot be specific in order to address the areas the community is directly willing to support?

The school bus is headed over the cliff and the response is that more gas is needed. At least a few of us believe we need to stop the vehicle and fix the brakes first.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

Stacey is a registered user.

When one begins to state their position and beliefs rather than make stuff up about others, the most interesting things come out. Readers here who are familiar with what I've written about on this subject in the past will recognize common themes such as paying teachers higher salaries and being more selective in who gets admitted to certification programs, improving teacher quality. Readers will also recognize raising the value placed by society on our teachers. Both the compensation system structure and improving the front-end teaching profession pipeline requirements play a role in this.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm

What I especially like about Linguist's post, in contradistinction to the mealy-mouthed rejoinder it earned, is that he seeks to get beyond the right-wingers' glob of hair, dirt and garbage that is clogging up the pipes of genuine progress. Linguist does this by stating values and offering positive changes, not narrow-minded, tight-fisted 'this is what is and we have do deal with it', 'the budgetary constraints dictate that', 'we have to lower the debt ceiling' and so much other garbage. This is exemplified by Kath's hesitancy to embrace free on demand child care centers. She says we don't have the money. Yeah, well, you get what you pay for, sister. We do have the money, and we'd all profit immensely were all our children raised to be healthier than they are now -- nuitritionally, emotionally, psychologically. So, too, their parents who could then feel free to take a nap without rolling over on top of their infant or to take a day off on those days when parents feel like snapping and sometimes do snap, violently, for want of an outlet. But Kath claims she's not a right-winger, right? What brass.

Linguist is right. We live in what is probably the most violent industrialized nation on earth. Kath's cutesy effort to deny this by pointing to Africa only underscores the short-sightedness of those on the right. What violence? Here? Our children? Where? "Let's talk about the budget instead!" Kind of sounds like a life-long bureaucrat standing on the other side of the counter at DMV, doesn't she? Fact is, our children are beset by violence from all sides, they are bombarded with harmful chemicals, their diets are poor, they are about to have a rapid onset of increasing global warming effects crush their prospects for happiness if not their very lives as members of the human species, and Kath, along with her unctuous sychophant, and the rest of the bean counter crowd are all foamy-mouthed about teachers' pensions.

Tea Party and liberty. Indeed. Sick.



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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

BCF, More twisting I see. I said free child care isn't free, it costs taxpayers. Didn't say we couldn't afford it. If you actually read what was posted, I agreed our country has its share of problems--and Linguist did not say "industrialized"--so are you correcting Linguist to suit your own purposes?

As to all the hand ringing about the focus on finances--this thread is about CalSTRS. I would think any member of that system who is hoping to have a long retirement would want to understand exactly what is presented in the recent actuarial report, first because it could be certificated staff contributions will have to increase, and secondly because without a fix, the benefits could disappear or decrease.

Don't know any members of the tea party, but I do believe in liberty.


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Posted by Leland
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm

You gals are a laugh a minute. I know one thing for certain. Put money in the hands of pensioners or childrencare clinic workers and all they'll do is spend it. You're better off giving it to me. My Daddy who I inherited my millions from taught me to invest in concrete things. Instead of just spending money on wasteful goods, I buy concrete things, like gold.


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Janna is a registered user.

Stacey,

Does the phrase, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," feel familiar to you?

BCF seems to have hit a nerve with you.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Two days later and BCF's and Linquist's writings continue to prove they are one and the same person. Who does this person think they are fooling (except him/her self)? Why does this person have to pretend there are two different people writing this blather? Schizophrenia? What a joke!!!!


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Posted by Avid Reader
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Bcf hits the nail on the head. The whole debt ceiling brouhaha is a GOP attempt to deflect the nation from pursuing more noble goals. We should be talking about what is needed in this once-great country. We need to be talking about super trains that connect bay area with l.a. and other energy saving plans and policies. Its outrageous, We been hijacked by the fiscal conservatives who can only think about saving a buck for themselves.


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Posted by Avid Reader
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I don't care if Bcf is Sybil with 19 personalities. Her points are spot on.


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Posted by silly is as silly does
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Frank,

Nice observation. It appears that BCF/Linguist has reincarnated his/herself once again, in the form of "Avid Reader".

More importantely than the writings of the ignorant are the issues facing the budget of our local educational system. If the PUSD continues to avoid recognizing the pension issues the entire system will suffer.


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Posted by Janna
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Janna is a registered user.

Really, silly as is?

You assume any compliments for BCF must be self-written?

That's a silly assumption. You know what happens when you assume, right?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't care if BCF is Sybil either. It is impossible to know. Avid Reader could be BCF or not. Who cares anyway? Neither moniker has written anything substantive.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Janna,

You're free to interpret how you want since you have little information to go on. I think these other posters might have some good advice and interesting things for readers to think about in a serious manner if they spent more time educating and debating rather than name-calling and writing the equivalent of a book's worth of personal attacks. We've already learned a great deal from Linguist about our common and united goals towards improving teacher quality and pay yet there is still a long way to go.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Janna,

Or put another way, I would hope that you're tired, like I am, of coming to this site to see post after post of nothing more than left-wing/right-wing name-calling and lying. I would hope that you would agree with me that when posts on local issues like a teen falling down a cliff and breaking his leg becomes someone's platform for their misanthropic rant about the teen and his community or someone seeking advice on how to deal with potential employment fraud because of legitimate concern devolves after the second response into a hate-fest, it would hit your nerve too.

It isn't enough to just ignore it because our community deserves better than to get stuck with a local website where such writing is tolerated. I hope to give other contributors some tools to use to insist upon the kind of civil dialog they wish to see. The moderators don't appear to be doing it is so contributors must.


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Posted by just watching
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Stacey, Kathleen, and others,

I appreciate the contributions made by people that are providing legitimate dialogue. This topic has been informative in many different ways. Thank You.



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Posted by Gene M.
a resident of Charter Oaks
on Aug 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I believe it is time for Stacey to take over the position of top censor for the PW. She will then decide for us what we are to read and write, and what not. Yes, I nominate Stacey as censor. It will give her something to do. Free speech for all, except for those who seek to be sarcastic, or hyperbolic, or sardonic, or who offer views that are illegitimately (defined by our new censor) expressed beyond the strict (I mean really strict) and narrow parameters of the topic board. No thinking beyond the lines will be permitted. Everyone must use their full name, except Stacey, who will hold everyone accountable for what they write. No attempts to broaden context permitted. No twisting permitted. No misinterpretation of others' views permitted. No rhetorical charicaturing of others' positions permitted. I will then volunteer to be Stacey's campaign manager as she uses her censorship role as launching point for a school board position.


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Posted by Avid Reader
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I agree with Gene M. above. I'm not able to read and make judgments on my own. I need help. And Stacey's there to give it. Bless her.


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Posted by LMAO
a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Aug 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thank You!


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Posted by Begin/End
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Teachers want changes in bill that limits public employee pensions

"The California Teachers Association and California State Teachers' Retirement System are opposing a bill that would limit pension "spiking," the practice of boosting salaries right before retirement to increase pension payouts.

SB 27, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, applies to the California Public Employees' Retirement System and CalSTRS. The law would trigger an audit if a public employee's salary increases 25 percent or more during the final five years on the job. It also would put restrictions on non-salary compensation that increases pension payments, such as life insurance, car allowances, housing, unused vacation and sick pay..."

No surprise here. The teachers pension system, CalSTRS, is severly underfunded and the teachers union is busy protecting pension spiking. Why? Because, just like CalPERS, they expect the taxpayers to cover ALL funding shortfalls that are caused by bad policy and or pension spiking abuses by their own members.


What they should be worried about is how they can afford to send out pension checks, for the next 30 years, when the will be out of money. If you think the teachers unions are unreasonable now, just wait until the size of the checks shrinks... it is happening in RI...or they try to double or triple the cost to the tax payer.

At a time when we need to control costs, the teachers unions are heading in the opposite direction.

Web Link



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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps Gene M. could define for readers what kind of dialog he thinks should be permitted here and what kind of reflection of himself and Pleasanton he thinks this local website should show to the world. So far he just listed off a bunch of writing techniques such as sarcasm and hyperbole. These are just tools and can be used to either attack an idea or attack a person, depending on how the writer uses them. I've utilized these tools myself many times in the earlier days of this site, but have largely abandoned them because I found that they diminished the ideas I was trying to communicate.

He could also perhaps explain to readers what free speech means to him in the context of a website owned and operated by a private enterprise and not the government. Does the First Amendment apply to a private company? Must private organizations be required to not abridge the freedom of speech? Would a newspaper editor then be required to publish every single letter to the editor that they ever received? I don't claim to know the answers to these questions and I await Gene's response. Also, it would seem that no one is restricting his right to go build his own website where he is free to permit any kind of dialog he wants.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Hey kiddo, maybe you should give it a rest. You seem not to know when you begin to make a fool of yourself. Until the PW hires you as its censor, maybe you should let the PW do its job. I'm sure they must be tired beyond belief of you clicking the "Report Objectionable Content" button day after night after day.

You've been outmatched by BFC, the Linguist and others. Your information links mean nothing if you can't use your reason to think beyond them. To cry spilled milk is really nothing but a backdoor maneuver to save face. I doubt that many are impressed by your tantrums.

Your whining is more than a bit tiresome. Go back and read those who have so sent you over the edge. They have made some very good points, some quite artfully I might add. You have no basis for pulling the censorship card. Grow up.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 1:13 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Go back and read posts full of name-calling and lying and little of any meaning? Heck, no! I'd rather read Robert E. Howard. His fiction was far more artful.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 7:23 am

"No twisting permitted. No misinterpretation of others' views permitted. No rhetorical charicaturing of others' positions permitted."

Gene, How do these tactics contribute to the subject at hand? I don't mind a debate/conversation with those of opposing opinions; I view them as an opportunity to learn. One either then strengthens or alters their opinion based on the new/different information being presented. These posts appear to be attempts to ridicule, not converse, or perhaps to even steer readers/contributors away from the subject. There are principles for debate and civic discourse. I would think they should apply everywhere, including here. But that's just my opinion.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 8:42 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I think that Mom and Gene agrees with Kathleen, Linguist, and I that teachers should be paid more and that we can do more to improve quality. While they haven't contributed to the discussion on that level, they never disagreed with us.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

The two right-winger girls are pulling out all the stops. Their ideas exposed as narrow, short-sighted, and inimical to the interests of a progressive society that cares about its children, they fall back on appeals for censorship. Kath apparently can only see debate as consisting of an exchange of "new/different information", and insists that anyone opposing her should not resort to other modes of discourse that might appeal to critical reasoning or its accompanying rhetorical supplements. Kath, after demonstrating a startling inability to think critically or outside of the box by means of clarifying/broadening a topic, then admonishes those who have bested her for not sticking to the topic of Calstrs. No presentation of larger contests or underlying values shall be permitted!!! Stace, in what can only be described as an obsessively inordinate fixation upon those who effectively oppose her, can only appeal to censorship, face-saving, censorship, face-saving.

Then, you have to love it. Their 'arguments' having been bested on numerous fronts, the right-winger sisters resort to crying and moaning about the incivility of others' hyperbole and humor used to ridicule the fetish queens' ridiculously reasoned positions.

Anyone who has read a sampling of the PW Forum message boards knows that the sites are infested with racists and their sick invective. Ever see the two information babes summon up their huffiness and puffiness to criticize such?

When it comes to argumentation, the two fetishistic censorship queens are out of their element. They know how to count the beans and recite holy incantations about "language" "sustainability" and "taypayer exhaustion," but beyond this they can only insist that everyone talk in the queens' own terms and no one else's. Kath, go out outdoors and take a big breathe of air quality controlled fresh air. It should probably make you feel better to remind yourself that the air you breathe isn't free, but like free clinics, is taxpayer funded. That noise you hear in the background? That's us laughing at you. And Stace? You really should listen to your Mom.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF,

Could you please explain how paying teachers a higher salary and improving teacher quality is narrow and short-sighted?

It would seem that you and I both lament the level of discourse that goes on around here. I ask you to join me in not lowering yourself to that level in your own writing if you chose to respond to it and to hit the "Report Objectionable Content" link when you see it. I think that together we can set clear examples of the kind of reasonable and civil discourse we'd both like to see on this site.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Our first priority needs to be raising taxes and funneling that money toward k-12 education in Pleasanton. PUSD is already doing an excellent job education our children (not that any school system couldn't be improved, that just isn't our current top priority). We all need to come together to focus on getting finding new ways to raise taxes and support.

Your talking points should be:

1. PUSD are excellent.
2. We need to maintain that excellence.
3. The current budget crisis requires increased taxes.

Let's Roll!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm

reader, I believe I can roll with 1 and 2, but you're going to have to tell me what 3 looks like. Do you mean a __local__ via a parcel tax or increasing state taxes (which won't necessarily end up in Pleasanton)? How much of a parcel tax or increase? Where will it be spent, ideally? If that much can be agreed on by the community, how do you see the issue of pensions being addressed given its long term impact to PUSD and most districts? I am genuinely interested in yours and others' thoughts.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Time to come out of semi-retirement.....

"a reader" suggest that our first priority is "to be raising taxes". And with that, I must emphatically disagree. The first step is to prioritize what we want our current taxes spent on. I'm sure K-12 education ranks highly. After we stop spending federal/state/local taxes on those items that are low priority, there will be plenty of funding for K-12 education. Then we need to improve teacher quality and then pay them more. In that order.

CalSTRS and CalPERS investment portfolio managers must be working the calculators very hard these days.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm

BCF, How do you broaden a topic and not add new/different information? How are the principles of debate censorship? Isn't any out the box thinking being limited by the boundaries you are attempting to set?

Vituperative utterances are your forte. Insult, demean, badger, and obfuscate . . . perhaps to be expected from an aeolist. But heaven forbid if I should be huffy or puffy with you.

Dark Corners, You set a much higher mountain to climb, but I like your reasoning.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Ya gotta love it! After being exposed for having espoused pin-headed views on teacher salaries, pensions, education and the like, the two commodity fetish queens then pull out the censorship card.

Others and myself point to their ridiculous complaints and efforts to censor others, and the controlling motives behind such efforts. I go further and point to the telling contradiction in the fetish queens condemning my prose while routinely ignoring the racist tripe that is the common currency of so many right-wing sicko contributors to this site ... yes, that's right: such racist sickness is not exhibited by leftist posters here. What does Stace do? In a face-saving, clueless effort, she attempts to enlist me in helping her censor others. Hit the 'Report Objectionable Content' link she urges. Apparently her own finger is sore from all the times she's hit it herself, she needs help.

Sorry, Stace. I will not be part of your illiberal control freakdom. As a liberal who values freedom of speech, when I see evidence of racial hate speech I express my misgivings and usually an explanation for the rationale for my misgivings. I don't know what you do, except perhaps defend these posters who tend so often to align themselves with your own views. Hey, as you've said before, politics makes strange bedfellows, right? Well, I've got news for you. I don't allow racists anywhere near my bedroom or any other room. I tell them so. I don't resort to censorship or any other anti-democratic measures. So, Stace, please do exclude me from your censorship recruitment effort as well as any other of your control freakery efforts.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegseggerr
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm

BCF, Don't care what you wish to "contribute," it's how you say it. Where is the racist card coming from? Please provide a quote or link to said racist comments, oh, and the link to where you have been defending against such statements.


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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Kath seems to be playing dumb. "BCF, How do you broaden a topic and not add new/different information? How are the principles of debate censorship? Isn't any out the box thinking being limited by the boundaries you are attempting to set?"

Excuse me, there, Kath, but the question isn't about adding new information; rather, it is a matter of how to interpret such and argue with or against it. Unable to appreciate critical reason and discourse, you seem to think only new/different information is to be tolerated. Rather a stunted position if you ask me. Intentional?

Whose principles of debate are you referring to, Kath? I know of a few competing theories of debate, but was unaware that there exist universal principles. Oh, I see. Kath's principles are the only ones. All others must be censored in the name of Kath's private principles.

I'm not the one limiting boundaries, Kath. You are, and you know it. I'm only calling another's apparent efforts to play dumb what they are. Please feel free to continue at it, though. When you appeal to censorship on account of my rhetoric not fitting your, um, 'principles' as you call them, I'll continue to point to your attempts to restrict ways of thinking and writing that differ from your own, and I'll call them what they are: Illiberal, anti-democratic, but thankfully, transparently laughable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BCF
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

@"Where is the racist card coming from? Please provide a quote or link to said racist comments...."

Like I said. Kath's playing dumb. She apparently hasn't ever before seen any racist comments on these sites. She wants me to supply some. Wow.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegseggerr
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

BCF--I asked you to prove your statement. As to the freedom of speech . . . . Web Link

Key concepts

Freedom of speech is not absolute.
Society and the legal system recognize limits on the freedom of speech.
Issues arise in which freedom of speech conflicts with other values.

Libel and Slander
Was the statement false, or put in a context that makes true statements misleading? You do not have a constitutional right to tell lies that damage or defame the reputation of a person or organization.








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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Kathleen,

I appreciate your post about the concepts of freedom of speech, but what we really need is for BCF to define her ideas about it. Where does BCF think it should and shouldn't apply, for example? It is very doubtful that we'll ever get an answer because there is still no answer from her about her concept of justice, the current education system, how it supports the best interests of students, higher teacher salaries, improving teacher quality, the issue of increases for CalSTRS pensions, etc. The list is getting longer and the opportunity is slipping for readers to learn what BCF has to offer.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

fools gold,

I find it unnecessary to respond to BCF using that kind of language. Your message was clear enough.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

How pathetic, Kath. Really. All that's missing is a cutesy, out-of-context video. In case you hadn't noticed, I challenged your claim to possess some kind of divine knowledge of what 'the principles of debate' happen to be.

When I want to read about First Amendment free speech, there is an entire genre out there to sample. Most of it goes well beyond the little grade school lesson you have offered.

I do apologize to you. It seems I have overestimated your capacity to engage in spirited debate.

Additionally, although I haven't seen you or Stace so obsess over other any other poster's identity on these sites, I must continue to disappoint you. For obvious reasons I would prefer to keep my name out of the mix. As I've said before, too many right-wing sickos out there, and so I choose the value of anonymity over that of public grandstanding.

As for your implied attempt to intimidate me via trotting out the legal mumbo jumbo.... Sorry. Didn't work.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

BCF,

I hope you would see the disingenuity in your appeal to the freedom of speech for why you won't join me in hitting the "Report Objectionable Content" button on the kind of speech that you and I both agree is less than becoming on this website. I agree with you that we should both be calling it out in order to put a stop to it. It's uncivil, juvenile, transparent, anti-democratic, divisive, and unwelcome.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't think anyone believes that someone would spend so much time writing so much in an attempt to ridicule other posters if they didn't have a desire to censor the other writers. The "Report Objectionable Content" link is far more civil than name-calling and misrepresentation, I would think.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Kathleen,

"Do you mean a __local__ via a parcel tax or increasing state taxes (which won't necessarily end up in Pleasanton)?"

I'm thinking both. I'm open to any ideas on this one. At the state level, I think we can make some modest adjustment to prop 13 that won't affect the people who are losing their homes to foreclosure. At the local level, maybe we can do a parcel tax, but I don't know how much success we'll have with that in the short term if the district doesn't change its approach.

"how do you see the issue of pensions being addressed given its long term impact to PUSD and most districts"

That's a tough one, because I don't think we can just tax our way out of this problem. It is similar to Social Security and Medicare in that the numbers just don't work as you project them out. This has to be coordinated at the state level in my opinion. I think all districts have to be involved in fixing this one. The trouble is promises have been made already. It seems to me that higher taxes, later minimum retirement age, and higher pension contributions have to be part of the solution.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegseggerr
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

BCF, Don't care that you remain anonymous either. They aren't my rules; feel free to outline what you feel is acceptable. Hint: name calling is not spirited debate, it's evidence of a smellfungus. Yeah, constitution, first amendment--legal mumbo jumbo.

Perhaps you would like to talk about this: Web Link December 2010 article from The Atlantic magazine, "Your Child Left Behind." It even has an interactive graphic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegseggerr
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

reader, you may have seen Dark Corners' post. I think it was a thoughtful comment on process direction.

I think PUSD has good people in place with a new superintendent and board and an effort is ongoing to be more transparent. These changes have the real possibility of gaining trust with the community at large and may, in and of itself, be enough to push a vote to the two-thirds threshold. Obviously, I like the idea of specific programs being supported in the ballot language. There are "can't live without" programs and people: counselors, assistant principals, reading specialists . . . even CSR or a bonus pool for teachers . . . and it still provides flexibility with the rest of the budget.

I believe I posted on a different thread that changes at the state level that could save future battling for funding K-12 education, and really universities as well, IF a lot of organizations collectively can begin the push, like PTA (parents), ACSA (administrators), CSBA (school boards), CTA (teachers), and CSEA (classified staff). And I agree it means changes that some of the organizations won't like--like retirement at 60 and higher contribution rates.

I think a local solution will be the best bet in the short term, but as we are learning with STRS and PERS, the hole is getting deeper.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2011 at 10:03 am

"The first step is to prioritize what we want our current taxes spent on. I'm sure K-12 education ranks highly."

I agree. As long as we are looking at the big picture I think we also have to look at the unsustainable practices at a government backed companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, or Fannie Mae. I think the threat to future retirement funds is from these companies is greater than anything that we do locally.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

While looking at those financial institutions to minimize threats to future retirement funds is good in and of itself, it won't necessarily free up funds for K-12. I like the idea of filtering expenditures through the eye of "Unsustainable practices".... which should also include agriculture, military and energy subsidies. This will free up spending for K-12 and other top priorities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reviled
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I am Reviled and speak in a rage...get over it. You don't want me writing all my thoughts.
I do believe Gov Brown is for the bill against spiking.


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