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Parents doing Teachers job?

Original post made by Brenda, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2011

Is it just me or are more and more teachers trying to get parents to do their jobs? I have been a parent in this District for several years and this trend is disturbing. Is this working Mom too sensitive or are teachers delegating their jobs to parents at all schools? One teacher at my child's school advised the parents that it's their duty to help in the classroom to show their child that they value education. They even created jobs for "working parents" and suggested they could correct papers or put together book orders on the weekends! Do other parents feel that part of a teacher's job is correcting papers and isn't it a breach of confidentiality to have a parent correct papers? Are parents really qualified for doing a teacher's job? I consider myself a teacher supporter but more and more I feel that teachers aren't putting their job responsibilities on parents. Thoughts?

Comments (83)

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Posted by Frieda
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

It's the union's fault. This is why Pleasanton schools rank so poorly compared with other school systems. I support teachers, too. One asked me the other day to come over and cut her lawn. Well, after I graded her papers, I got to her house and did a really good job. She didn't even thank me (union influence again) but then asked if I minded pulling her weeds for a few more hours. I put my foot down and told her she'd get two more hours from me and no more. I would have been even firmer with her, but I was afraid she'd send the union thugs to size me up for concrete shoes.


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Posted by Brenda
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

*last sentence should be "parents ARE putting their job responsibilities on parents".


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Posted by Michael
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I think Brenda means ro say "teachers are putting their responsibility on parents"My wife and I have also found this to be the case. At our sons' back to school night we were made to feel if we don't volunteer for a classroom job we aren't supporting education. We are working parents who make sure our sons do their homework, come to school prepared to learn,we support the school sponsored activities and donate to the class fund as well as the teacher birthday, Christmas,day of the Teacher gifts(that is a whole other topic). The job of a teacher is an important one and my wife and I want to be partners in our children's education but we don't feel we should not have to do jobs that are the responsibility of the teacher to show we value education.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Those who have time should volunteer in the classrooms. Working parents should not feel that they are not contributing if they are working with their student at home and doing what they can. It takes a village to raise a child but not every parent is able to miss work and volunteer. Working parents need to support their kids and make an extra effort to thank those who do volunteer in the classrooms. Teachers should appreciate the many hours of volunteer time they do receive.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 27, 2011 at 12:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I see nothing wrong with parents helping out. Parents have the greatest influence in how well a student does at school. That's why teachers need parental support. Great teachers are those who are able to make up for the lack of the parental influence on such students. That's why we need great teachers. There's nothing wrong either with creating volunteer jobs for those who are unable to volunteer in the classroom due to work commitments, but would like to help out.

As for parents grading homework instead of the teacher, that just seems like all kinds of wrong. Beyond the idea of breaching confidentiality, if a teacher isn't checking out their students' work, I can't imagine they are getting the full picture/feedback on how well the student is doing. Why even assign the homework in that case? Perhaps the homework is viewed as benefiting the student only.


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Posted by AnotherParent
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

All my 3 children went to Pleasantin elementary schools and currently are in middle and high schools. This "expectation" is an elementary school issue primarily. Those who can volunteer should and those who cannot should not. All parents should help with homework and ensure their child is ready to learn in all aspects - well rested, good nutrition, and well behaved. Beyond that its icing on the cake for teachers. Many Pleasanton elementary school teachers are spoiled and expect too much parental help. Grading papers and any other tasks that provide too much insight into how a particular child is doing in school is a violation of privacy and unethical in my opinion. This is part of being a teacher, evaluating students, and a chance to provide personal feedback to each student. If you don't want to grade papers or feel this is beneath you then you are most likely in the wrong profession.


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Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2011 at 1:08 am

My youngest is now in college but your post hit a nerve with me. I was upset years ago when parents were told that we were responsible for teaching our kids the multiplication tables because drill-work would not be done in the classroom (what about the poor kid with a dead-beat parent? they don't get to learn their math facts???)

Well...I volunteered in math for 3 years with my oldest and noticed that the best students were the ones with parents who did not show up at school but who obviously worked with them at home...the kids who knew their math facts best were the kids whose parents were never at school or volunteer events. Sorry, but this is the awful truth.

The most important advice I could give to elementary parents is to make sure your kids know their multiplication tables inside and out! because they will never be able to progress in math without knowing those facts - they will always be falling behind...and they won't be drilled on this in the classroom.

Volunteer with your own kids in your own home and make sure they can read fluently and know their math facts. And scrape together $$ for tutors.

This is the best advice ever. Take it.


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Posted by glee-be
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2011 at 11:11 am

I once "volunteered" to teach a middle school art class after school for a local school district. I was truly excited to learn that schools were eager to teach their kids advanced art concepts at such an early age. I prepared lessons, materials and got ready for my classes to begin. I even got Free tickets for parents and kids to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tick! Tock! Tick Time! Time passes and here's what I found. It was a baby sitting program. Mom's wanted my cell phone number so they could phone me to send their kids out, the director got mad at me for calling her about the Free tickets, the other teachers in the program sat at their desks and yelled at kids to shut up. Kids would wait after class for their late moms to pick them up. It was sad.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

One possible alternative to having either teachers or parents use time to correct papers might be to go over homework in class or give the students an answer key.




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Posted by Former Pleasanton Resident and Teacher
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:43 am

Interesting conversation... I spent my time at the middle school level and wished that many parents would spend their time "parenting" rather than teaching. By middle school, most parents were done with volunteering in the classroom, so I couldn't count on that. I had no problem teaching the curriculum even though I saw about 180 students a day, but I didn't feel it was my job to teach those 12-14 year-olds how to dress, behave in public, treat others with respect and take responsibility for their own actions. I was more than satisfied when the parents covered that at home, but it didn't always happen. Too often I was required to "parent" besides teach the school curriculum. Now THAT is not fair!


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Posted by sandy
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:46 am

Our kids are very smart. Still most of them may fail Math tests conducted in Europe or in Asian countries. This is because of easy curriculum they are offered at school here. Parents need to take Math education in their hand, and offer curriculum like Saxon or Tutorteddy at an early age. Spread the word, and save America.


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:26 am

As a working mom, I would be thrilled to help out with the classroom. I'd be pleased to help a teacher grade papers so she has more time to work with the kids, listen to them read, etc. (Every school I have been in has parens do this, and I've had kids in schools in three states east coast, midwest and now west coast.)
Don't worry, when you get to middle school...they frown on working parents. They plan vitrually everything during the day at Hart Middle School so that working parents cannot help out.


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Posted by JS
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

It is absolutely a breach of confidentiality to have a parent correct papers.


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

If parents are mature enough to not discuss the papers they grade, it does not have to be a breach of confidentiality. some schools ask parents to sign a reminder about this. It isn't too much different than having a substitute in the classroom.


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Posted by Concerned mom
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

I can support having parents help out teachers in a non-teaching capacity in the classrooms. But some teachers actually use parent volunteers in the classroom in learning stations etc. The parents are not qualified to be teachers. I don't think they can judge a student's performance. Once when I was volunteering in my daughter's classroom, one parent volunteer complained about a student's behavior and the teacher called the student's parent to lodge a complaint. In my opinion, the parent was not trained or qualified to handle a 5yr old kindergartener. The teacher should have evaluated the student herself before calling the parent. This kind of mis-using the parent volunteers creates a lot of issues among parents and teachers


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Posted by skeptic
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:45 am

To Frieda,
Let's see... a teacher asked you to cut the grass, pull weeds AND grade papers...which is NOT permitted as all teachers in Pleasanton know..and your are afraid of retaliation and she didn't even thank you!! Hmmmm.
Do you also have a bridge to sell me? Wonder why I doubt ever word you wrote. Any proof...any names? I SIMPLY DO NOT BELIEVE YOU


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Posted by Lugnut
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:14 am

Teachers should teach, assign homework, correct it and not have to spend time dealing with behavioral issues in class like they do now on many occasions. Parents should make sure they have their kids do their homework, help them if neccessary and get them to bed at a reasonable hour so they are rested. What could be more simple? I, for one, would love to see cameras placed in the classrooms so that teachers could be monitored and parents could see how their little "darlings" cause disruption in class, thus denying students who want to learn their right to an education. Win-win.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

seems to me that some folks been had an axe to grind for years and years...whew!

where's QWERTY? or, is it QUEERTY? i call he bragged about running across streets and being fearless of on-coming traffic because he could run fast...

he also said that he volunteered at a school...what are his thoughts about some of the comments made by a few of the busy bodies?

when teachers are discussed, it seems that there is always a pack of hyenas that show up and trash teachers...strange


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:56 am

When I had kids in elementary school and wasn't working, I cherished the opportunity to help in the classroom -- it is truly a win-win-win -- the parent gets to see their kid and his/her friends in action so they really understand how their own kid compares to their peers or how they are doing socially (teachers will never tell you these things -- it's only about "standards"). The teachers get help teaching in smaller groups (which helps all the kids, not just your own), and the children love seeing their parent at school and love to show off their classroom.

Once I went back to work full time and my kids moved on to middle/high school my involvement became limited. Even so I always took a few hours or a day here and there to go on a field trip, help out at a party, etc. so I could get some eyeballs on my kid in their natural environment, get to know the teachers, and be "part of the team". Parents who never see their kid at school really don't get the whole picture. They might not even know their kid is being rude, not keeping up, dressing inappropriately or disrupting the class, etc. Kids may be angels at home, or talk about "everyone's doing it/wearing it/etc".

If you want to be a knowledgeable parent, it is essential to sometimes see your kid at school. Just making sure they get to school on time and do the homework is minimum compliance.

On the other hand, I am sick of the condescending attitudes the schools give to working parents. A parent who can only help out here and there (not every week) is often treated as virtually worthless. A parent who gets stuck in traffic and arrives late for pickup is greeted with a scolding (even in front of the kid). And far too many "special" events are scheduled mid-day for the convenience of the staff (though often phrased as "convenient for the children"), when many working parents simply cannot attend. All this achieves is making the parents (and the kids! whose parents couldn't come) feel bad and publicly humiliate the working parents who "can't even be bothered to show up for their own kids performance". When I was a stay at home mom I had no problem going to a 7 pm school performance and loved that it was inclusive of everyone.


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Posted by tim
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

solution: send your kids to private schools


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Posted by anna
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

When used wisely, help from parent-volunteers could make a huge difference in motivating kids to learn and making a school day a fun and exciting. But, it can only work if teachers appreciate the value of such help and know how to use it.
As we all remember, young talented teaches were laid off and don't teach our kids any more. Teaches who survived seniority-based selection simply believe that as they are entitled to receive their salaries coming from their students' parents' taxes, they are also entitled to their students' parents' time. They simply don't care to waste this time.
As long as Californians allow teachers' unions to destroy our schools, nothing good can happen in California's public education system.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

all or nothing?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm

We must remember that while teaching requires some effort, it is not a complicated occupation.

Qualification requires two semesters of coursework on top of a degree, actually less because the second semester is largely student teaching, which involves teaching 4 or 5 classes per day at a local school; thus the actual course content of the qualification is necessarily limited.

But that's not a big problem because:

Teaching technique, presenting the material, is a fairly simple matter of putting A before B on your way to C, stuff that's usually spelled out step-by-step in the "Teacher's Edition" if you're busy. Lesson planning can be learned in a few minutes if you are paying attention. Basically, pick an outcome (goal) and work backwards to identify the steps needed to achieve the goal. Actually, though, most textbooks are written by people who already know this, so the books tend to lessen the need for a lot of effort in this area. Writing tests, if samples aren't supplied by the textbook publisher, is also a quick study. Test what you are testing. It may sound silly, but don't write a math problem that requires the student to know Lincoln's birthday, and don't write a history problem that requires the student to calculate the trajectory of the bullet that killed Lincoln. Give clearly distinguishable answer choices and make sure your points are properly spread. Oh, and don't make the answer to one question dependent on the answer to another question. Big no-no!

Class management, a pretty word for crowd control, is easy if your school's administration is organized and supportive. Throw in a few tips and tricks from child psychology on top of that and life is a breeze.

All teachers get one period off per day for preparation, and that's a lot of time if you use it for work rather than for making tea, raiding the doughnut box and chatting with other teachers on their prep period.

Dealing with parents is like dealing with people in any profession. To wit: it's not above and beyond the call of duty material.

There's more, probably, but you get the picture. Teaching is a fun and important job, but it's something that just about anyone with a degree and a little "git-up" could do. So, let's not complain about grading papers or dealing with the occasional problem child, parent or administrator.




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Posted by amy
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Parents grading papers is better than students grading each others papers-that happens at Foothill.

And Mike...being a teacher and being a good teacher are two different things. Not everyone can be a good teacher. Z


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Posted by Norris
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Looks like all the Tea Party members showed up to comment on how they want to burn teachers at the stake. I hope they have a blast destroying our schools and property values in the name of empty right-wing platitudes. Stay Classy Pleasanton!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Amy,

I'd argue that while not every teacher is good, being a good teacher is not all that difficult.


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Posted by Kelly
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Aug 30, 2011 at 1:34 am

@Marie, it does not take a village to raise my child. It takes responsible parenting.

Because of the CA unions thughold, our kids get a substandard education. If parents can't volunteer, the teachers just make kids pass thier homework to the kid behind them in every row and the other students correct the paper. Most teachers don't know the level of every student until they are tested.

The Pleasanton schools passed new homework rules last year that dumb down students by no longer requiring the traditional amount of homework for our kids anymore... So why is correcting homework even an issue for teachers this year?


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 7:53 am

@Mike...
I believe that you are incorrect. My understanding is that, at least at Hart, the teachers do MOT get a oeriod off for planning anymore. Starting this year, they are teaching every period? At Back to School night, the Spanish teacher told us she has over 200 students!!

No teacher can be expected to grade the homework of over 200 students every night. This is why they have students grade each other's work and get a grade on effort.

Sorry, but this is how it is. If you don't like it... put your money where your mouth is. Wait.... most of us probably have. 65% of the voters approved the parcel tax but we are held hostage to the 35% that didn't.


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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

@newmom...
Why should teachers get a paid prep period? They are already paid for every weekend, holiday and summer off. I don't get paid at my job while commuting or while sitting around thinking about my job. And yes, my job requires a great deal of my personal time preparing for it. Time that is not paid for.
I can see having students grade papers that are strictly factual -- ie. simple math problems. I cannot ever see anyone other than the teacher grading anything that requires a written answer such as what we called "essay questions".
RE: the failed parcel tax -- please make sure that you are not once again trying to put MY money where YOUR mouth is.


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:33 am

taxpayer

let me correct you.. teachers do NOT get paid to be off holidays and weekends. They are paid to teach during the school year. That is what their job description is.

If you think it is such a cushy job... why don't YOU go teach.

re; Parcel Tax: I did vote for the tax and I DO put my money where my mouth is judging by the number of checks I have written to Foothill High School and Hart Middle School in the past two weeks.
MY MONEY is supporing YOUR property values... so you are welcome.

It is the STUDENTS that are paying the price for all this budget issues.

I have only been here 10 months but I am totally dismayed by the state of the schools here and the unwillingness for the community to support them.

Whine about taxex all you want... but I paid double the taxes in the Midwest and we had far superior schools and it was worth every penny.
Kids are the future of this country and judging from the current state this country is in... we sure need to make sure they are well edcuated so that we can get out of this mess.


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

And no one said anyone other than teachers are correcting essay questions. The original post was about elementary school homework...not essays and papers.

We've only completed one school year here, but my kids have had excellent teachers at both Hart and Foothill. These teachers have a passion fot kids and their subject matter. I don't understand why everyone is putting them down.


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Posted by well . . .
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:47 am

"I don't understand why everyone is putting them down"

Well, newmom, you just put them down all of 9 minutes ago:

"I am totally dismayed by the state of the schools here"

"I paid double the taxes in the Midwest and we had far superior schools"


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:33 am

Thanks, well...

My mistake... I will clarify that.
I was not putting down the teachers, I am dismayed by what the district has to deal with


I am dismayed by the following that we have experienced since we moved here 10 months ago:
1.) Class sizes and the demands put on the teachers
2.) scheduling issues due to so many classes being cur
3.) Budget constraints that force the kids to have downlaod and print all their own handouts and homework pages.
4.) shortened schedule ..ie., fewer classes in the day.... my child had to drop a class when we moved be because there was one less period in the day. I was told this was due to budget. I think this period has been added back this year

I think the teachers have done a great job.

Thanks for allwoing me the opportunity to clarify.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

newmom, 65% of voters did not approve the parcel tax. 65% of those voting were in favor, but nearly half the registered voters did not vote at all. I could just as easily say that nearly 85% (35% no votes plus those who stayed home) were against a parcel tax.

Every property owner pays and therefore contributes to property values. Any additional donations you make are generally in support of current students.

As to students paying the price, some truth to that to be sure. But there are decisions being made every day at the district office affecting what is or is not available to students--some I don't think most parents would agree with at all.

Children are always the future of the country; we were those children once. So I guess we take the blame for what we expect the next generations to clean up.

As to helping teachers, why not? Room mothers and volunteers are nothing new. There is a tremendous benefit in volunteering. You learn about the teacher, your child, the classroom dynamics, the school culture. I see the dilemma in correcting papers, but there are so many other things one can do so the teacher is free to correct papers. In a small community that is a school, parents already know plenty about other kids just by talking to their own kids.

I'm sorry to hear working moms feel ostracized. I am sure if you talk to the teacher (and they all have emails), you can find out directly how you can help in a way that suits your schedule and pocketbook.

Taxpayer, prep periods are important. I imagine that you spend time at your job in meetings or arranging your next day's work or cogitating about a project at hand.

Volunteering is well worth the time spent.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

So, newmom, consider this a lesson on how to rewrite history, a la Kathleen Ruegsegger.

The popular view is that Obama bested McCain 53% v. 46%, thus giving Obama the majority of the vote.

But according to the revisionists, Obama did not get elected with a majority of the vote. Since only 125 million out of 207 million eligible voters voted, we should actually say that Obama only won approximately 30% of the vote. I could easily say, therefore, following KR's reasoning, that approximately 70% of the voting public was against Obama.

See how easy it is to rewrite history? Want more details? See Kathleen Ruegsegger for how this is done.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

Nate, The suggestion is THE community voted in favor. Yes, it was a near victory for those who chose to vote, but it was not a mandate of THE community. It's clear that another 2%ish showing up with yes votes would mean we'd be paying the parcel tax. So, Obama can stay in office.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:46 am

You're absolutely right, Kathleen. Think of all those sillies out there who think THE electorate voted in favor of Obama!

Obama's 30% was clearly not a mandate of THE electorate. At least on YOUR reasoning. But YOUR reasoning amounts to all too much silliness.

Fact is, we have elections in this country. Then we count up the vote. Those who don't vote, don't count. Period. Those who wish to make a big deal out of those who don't vote, suggesting somehow they should be given consideration in the final tally, are engaging in fanciful thinking. Fact is, 65% voted for parcel tax E. To suggest otherwise is silly at best, disingenuous rewriting of history at worst.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

Okay, so without nuance, the measure lost.


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Posted by newmom
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

Kathleen
Your post was thought out and well written (you're a better typist than me!). I agree with most all of it, except that I did say 'voters' meaning people who voted in the election. We can't make assumptions either way about the people who did not care enough to mail in their ballot.


Of the votes that were submitted and counted... 65% of the people supported the parcel tax and 35% did not. Like it or not.. the will of 35% of the people who chose to vote is what we will have to follow.





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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

newmom, The only thing I would add, then, is if we don't consider why voters voted against or why so many stayed home, we are doomed to keep running the experiment hoping a few change their minds to a yes vote and a few more show up and vote yes (and for no additional no voters to show up). What the electorate does, grant it in bigger elections than this, is analyzed and sliced a thousand ways to prepare for the next election. Should another parcel tax be attempted, I'd like to think someone will look more closely at the reasons 35% voted no and nearly 50% were no shows. Only then can one address, where possible, the concerns that led to the no or no show to change the outcome.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

... or, to follow KR's reasoning, only 17-1/2% of the community scuttled the parcel tax.

But of course KR's reasoning is silly. There are no asterisks after election results that underscore how nonvoters WOULD have voted had they been so inclined.

As KR begrudgingly concedes: "Okay, so without nuance, the measure lost." Yes, and it lost by a margin of 65 - 35. No asterisks! No call for a rewrite of history!

KR can now jettison her revisionist message which, PW readers tell me, she has been pasting with regularity since the election was completed. Into the trashbin of historical mythology where it belongs!




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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Nate, Yes, 17% scuttled it, and according to all the "election [rules] in this country." Into the trash bin with the election as well. So, it wasn't a mandate for either side of the community, and we still have something to learn from why it failed, again.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

With the distorted attempts to rewrite the election results, as demonstrated by KR, I don't have much hope that the revisionists are capable of learning much of anything.... Beyond perhaps .....

Hmmmmm, let's see.... What can I learn from this in order to bring people's views into closer alignment with my own? Hmmmmm.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Nate, I don't need to bring people's views into closer alignment with mine or to rewrite the election results. Just looking at it from the entire community perspective--all registered voters. No matter how you or I look at the data, the final result is unchanged. No harm, no foul.

If what is desired is for the entire community to support schools (and if it passes all property owners pay), then what is clear is that something is lacking in how the parcel tax was presented, enough at least to cause it to fail twice. Ignore the expressed concerns and try again, perhaps the same result and perhaps it passes. It's a big gamble using a considerable amount of money and volunteer time.

In the meantime, volunteering is important whether the schools have all the money they need or not.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Nate,

Generally speaking, those who are confident of their position, whether or not such confidence is justified, have no need to hurl ad hominem statements at those who disagree with them.

Had a teacher once who called the ad hominem pathognomonic for low self esteem.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Okay, Mike, here's your big opportunity to draw upon your homespun wisdom and former teacher's expertise in matters psychological.

Please tell us where exactly I have resorted to an ad hominem statement, and then, most important, tell us how the statement has invalidated my claims.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm

"reasoning is silly" "revisionist" "silly at best" [not] "capable of learning much of anything" 'homespun wisdom" Try writing without that language. It is unnecessary and certainly doesn't further your point. By the way, your claim, essentially, is that I'm looking at the election differently. And all that did was support my assertion that, yes, I'm looking at the election differently. I don't think there is a point to be won on either side; it's just a perspective that doesn't change the outcome of the election.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Nate,

Happy to help.

As to your first question:

"But of course KR's reasoning is silly."

"With the distorted attempts to rewrite the election results, as demonstrated by KR, I don't have much hope that the revisionists are capable of learning much of anything.... Beyond perhaps .....Hmmmmm, let's see.... What can I learn from this in order to bring people's views into closer alignment with my own? Hmmmmm. "

"You're absolutely right, Kathleen. Think of all those sillies out there who think THE electorate voted in favor of Obama!"

"To suggest otherwise is silly at best"

And my personal favorite of the day: "Mike, here's your big opportunity to draw upon your homespun wisdom and former teacher's expertise in matters psychological."

Avoid the ad homenim by arguing your point using supporting evidence rather than insults and sarcasm directed at the person or the position.

In regard to your second question:

As, ". . . , whether or not such confidence is justified . . . ," implies, the question is not the validity of your claim, rather how the ad homenim undermines your credibility.

Mike




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Posted by well . . .
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm

The reason the parcel tax didn't pass is because of distrust of the public sector priorities. I voted for it, but the reasons it didn't pass are:

a) It was not specific. It would have been better if people knew their money would go directly to the kids programs and the people who were getting shafted once again by the system - new teachers etc.

b) There were statements that were "fuzzy" regarding salaries and these days people require total honesty and clarity.

c) People in CA seem quite generous and I think most would want to help kids, elderly and people truly in need. People have been taken for a ride though and now feel they are paying for early public sector retirements, pension spiking, accounting irregularities (I'm talking in general here, not the school system). Until these issues are dealt with no one is ever going to believe that the money has truly run out and that they've "cut to the bone". Right now people feel a false status quo is being protected, one that emerged in a bubble, rather than reflecting our new realities.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Oh, I see. Mike doesn't like the way I argue. He wants perhaps to restrict the language we use so that it's reduced to how Mike writes. Or in keeping with some far-fetched, retentive notion he's got bottled up within him. Who knows?

Mike doesn't can't seem to acknowledge that he lives in a world where people articulate silly ideas. You see, Mike doesn't argue that my claims are invalid. Indeed, he implicitly acknowledges that my claims are quite valid. He just doesn't want me calling someone's silly idea a silly idea. He'd rather judge and admonish a person based upon some half-baked idea of credibility rather than the substance of their argument.

Mike is averse to what he calls insults and sarcasm -- such as me making sarcastic reference to his idiosyncratic style of judging others and his attempt to impose that style upon others. He finds this insulting. Poor boy.

Mike strikes me as being prudish. Fact is, ad hominem statements are often essential to making claims about another's points of view. Mike wishes to deny this, as he does when it comes to the arguments of others -- but of course not his own. His criticism of my use of ad hominems is itself an ad hominem; rather than address the validity of my claims, he alludes to a teacher in his distant past who uttered an unfounded platitude about people who use ad hominems having low self esteem. But he'll overlook his own hypocrisy, as his main concern seems to be addressing others' rhetorical prowess rather than the validity of their arguments.

What Mike and his silly "psychological expert" teacher don't seem to grasp, is that ad hominem statements can be accurate and effective, and frequently are. They are often integral to making an effective argument. Mike likes to bandy the term about and then uses the ad hominem to acuse others of using ad hominems, but he really doesn't know much about them and how they can be used effectively. Anybody surprised? I'm not.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm

"then what is clear is that something is lacking in how the parcel tax was presented"

Nothing was lacking. A clear majority supported it. The problem is with the "taxpayer protection" euphemism nonsense. Subverting the will of the community is not protection. That is what is lacking and needs to be fixed.

The community clearly and supported both Measure G and Measure E.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Sometimes the "will of the community" is harmful to fellow citizens.

It's terrible to deprive LGBT American citizens of the right to marry one another.

LGBT tax paying citizens deserve equal protection under the US Constitution.

An American community that supports depriving tax paying Americans full protection under the constitution is dead wrong.

i rest my case...


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Shame on Pat! Resorting to the ad hominem 'euphenism nonsense'. And claiming that some 'subverted' the will of the community.

Although I agree with you, I'm certain Mike has been rendered apoplectic by your ad hominems. So as to conform to Mike's censorship campaign, let's ease up on use of the ad hominems, okay?

Cholo, that goes for you too. No one should be made to feel ridiculous after having posted a ridiculous claim; and this applies especially when it involves Mike who seems to posit more than his fair share.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:10 am

Nate,

"Fact is, ad hominem statements are often essential to making claims about another's points of view."

"They are often integral to making an effective argument."

"ad hominem statements can be accurate and effective, and frequently are."

Care to cite references to support these statements, perhaps from works on rhetoric, academic journal articles, style manuals or other authoritative sources. The reason I ask is that I've been involved in debates and discussions for a good many years and I've never come across material written in praise of the ad homenim. Indeed, I would argue that the overwhelming majority of mature, well-educated speakers and writers avoid the ad homenim as an obvious admission of failure to present a convincing case.





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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 7:39 am

It is highly ironic that those who complain most bitterly about others' so-called uses of ad hominem is that they virtually always do so when they are being bested in an argument. What the complainers like Mike and Kathleen Ruegsegger do, is attempt to deflect attention away from the weaknesses of their own arguments by drawing attention to the fact that their opponent uses such words as ... ready for this? ... "silly" "silly at best" "homespun wisdom" and other terrible terrible terrible references. Kathleen Ruegsegger goes so far as to say "Try writing without that language." Well, again, what is most sadly comical about these little forays into censorship, is that you don't see a person resort to them when they are faring well in the midst of a debate. No, it's in their moment of clearly exposed weakness that their resort to censorship raises its ugly head.

Mike the Censor and Kathleen (Ask Abby) Ruegsegger might enjoy the following:

"One of the most widely misused terms on the Net is 'ad hominem'. It is most often introduced into a discussion by certain delicate types, delicate of personality and mind, whenever their opponents resort to a bit of sarcasm. As soon as the suspicion of an insult appears, they summon the angels of ad hominem to smite down their foes, before ascending to argument heaven in a blaze of sanctimonious glory. They may not have much up top, but by God, they don't need it when they've got ad hominem on their side. It's the secret weapon that delivers them from any argument unscathed.

In reality, ad hominem is unrelated to sarcasm or personal abuse. Argumentum ad hominem is the logical fallacy of attempting to undermine a speaker's argument by attacking the speaker instead of addressing the argument. The mere presence of a personal attack does not indicate ad hominem: the attack must be used for the purpose of undermining the argument, or otherwise the logical fallacy isn't there."

I'd stop here, having made my point. But Mike the Censor, who claims he was in "the education business" for a while (selling staples to schools? educating his kid on the variances of shoelace tying? who knows!), and who impressively assures us of having been "involved in debates and discussions for a good many years" (with his wife and kids? who knows!), has asked me for references or citations (though the only 'citation' he has offered is his own homespun wisdom and an empty, wrongheaded platitude by one of his past teachers). Well here you are, Mike the Censor:

You might start with Aristotle's 'On Rhetoric' where Aristotle discusses various kinds of argument with focus upon validity claims (logos) but then also emphasizes that there are OTHER aspects of an argument as well -- most notably references to the character of one's oppositional interlocutors (ethos) as well as appeals to emotion (pathos). After reading Aristotle, one might read Karl Marx's extraordinary uses of rhetoric which are frequently characterized by Marx, either before or after he has systematically dismantled his opponents arguments (logos) then emphasizing how his opponents' fallacious arguments are consistent with, say, being a capitalist dog. My own thoughts on use of 'ad hominem' have been influenced by the philosopher of hermeneutics, Charles Taylor, who reminds us that practical discourse -- e.g., political debate -- is not the same thing as scientific discourse. The latter calls for disinterestedness, objectivity; the former can often resemble a street brawl, albeit by verbal means.

I'll continue to be flattered when Mike the Censor, Kathleen (Ask Abby) Ruegsegger, and other delicate types, in the midst of having their ideas exposed, appeal to censorship as their last, futile resort.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

Nate,

I'll take that as a "No."

Mike


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:20 am

Mike's ignorance is showing again. After having been provided reasons, evidence, and citations -- all of which he asked for -- he reveals the empty vessel he is. The guy who claims he was 'in the education business for twenty years', has no argument; his only resort is to chastize others for using 'ad hominem' -- a term which Mike the Censor knows nothing about. Exposed yet again as the joke he is. Good response, Mike!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:22 am

Nate (Jake/Caesar/Sam/....), You didn't cite the quote. No matter. I'll repeat what is so offensive that it requires that you attack me on a personal level. All are true and correct statements.

The majority of __registered__ voters did not support the parcel tax measures.
The majority of those who put a ballot in the box did support the measures.
The measures were run according to the election rules of this country/state.
Neither measure reached the two thirds threshold.
They were costly in both volunteer time and money.

Pat, Senator Simitian has tried a couple of times to reduce the threshold for parcel taxes to be similar to Prop 39 bonds (55%). Prop 39 bonds, however, require citizen oversight committees. Maybe an oversight committee would be enough to get the senator's bill approved. But, after seeing what was done with cash out refinancing here in PUSD, it's like trying to follow water to determine exactly where funds were spent--and the oversight committee that was guaranteed in the bond approval was dismissed years ago. Conjecture on my part, but it seems to me that specific language for where additional taxpayer funding would be spent via a parcel tax might be (have been) enough to get one passed. And there wouldn't be that wait for Senator Simitian's idea to get approval.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:28 am

Nate,

Sorry, you are rambling in a "Spit-the-dummy" kind of way.
If you could express yourself more coherently, I'd be happy to respond.

Mike



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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Mike,

The poster always rationalizes why they feel free to write in such a manner yet most people would disagree with them and shy away from it. You know, as well as I, that setting up a strawman to knock down or writing such lengthy posts full of nothing but ridicule is just like living in a bubble. No one wants to respond when the number of words outstrips another's time to give. So they end up thinking they "bested" you. It is laughable and sad at the same time. You know yourself better than the above poster does. Do you feel "bested"? Probably not.

They more that poster writes, the more everyone recognizes them and the more everyone will ignore their thought-less and insincere posts. Let's let whatever message they may have to offer continue to get missed by the vast majority of readers.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:48 am

KR is back to cutting and pasting again I see....

She states, once again: "The majority of __registered__ voters did not support the parcel tax measures."

True enough, Kath, but it is misleading to state such. And it really doesn't do much for your argument, at all. At least above you do acknowledge that a sizable majority of voters -- 65% Kath, 65% -- voted _in support of_ Measure E.

What ABOUT those who did NOT vote? Well, Kath, you can suggest as you have above that you have divined that they were all against the measure. And I suppose by so suggesting you can then puff yourself up about how "Geez, if only the LANGUAGE of the measure had been more specific, like I wanted...." But in fact you have no evidence to support such a claim. Those who didn't vote, didn't vote. Why? Who knows. My hunch is that they didn't care one way or another. There are lots of people who simply aren't interested in information that might affect their lives. Your argument is akin to McCain supporters saying again and again "Boy, if those who didn't vote would have voted, our boy would have won." It's a silly argument, and probably demonstrably false as well. Actually, yours is even more silly. You seem to be saying, "Boy, if only language on Measure E had been more specific, all those who were eligible to vote but who didn't vote _would have_ voted for the Measure." It's silly to state such a thing because voters who may (or may not) have disliked the language had a way of showing it: They VOTED!

Please, Kath. I have attacked you on a personal level? Because I claim your reasoning on this matter is silly? Pretty thin-skinned if you ask me.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:51 am

Stacey,

Thank you for the post. I appreciate the voice of reason.

Fact is, Nate has experienced what academics refer to as a "melt down", something that goes beyond even the ad hominem in expressing a failure to present a convincing argument.

Thing is, you'd think he would have learned after the slap-down he got in the other thread.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:53 am

Judging by the ridiculously hilarious posts by the censors Stace, Kath, and Mike, I must be doing pretty well! Kath: Oh, he uses the word "silly" too often. Stace: Oh, his responses are too lengthy. Mike: How does he expect me to understand when he writes above a 5th-grade level? This is getting funnier and funnier!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

OK, I've got to catch a flight for a face-to-face with a client. If all goes well, I'll be back and ready to buy a round for everyone on this board before the sun goes down.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:21 am

I'm certain the meeting will go well, Mike. Just keep your mouth shut and you'll do fine.

No, seriously, the three of you, Kath, Stace, and Mike, have a great deal in common: the three of you really do think so much alike! We should call you the Gang of Three Sillies.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Nate, I'll settle for the "True enough, Kath."

As we discussed on another thread, even if Aunt Lulu doesn't show up for the niece's wedding, she's still family. I already said if non-voters showed up, maybe the measure would have passed and maybe not. I don't know whether more specific language would have swayed the vote enough for it to pass; it would have changed mine.

You choose to be a bully in the name of making some point based on twisting and distorting what has been said. Most can see it for what it is. I'm the oldest child in a large family; couldn't survive seven brothers with a thin skin. Bring it.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Who is Aunt Lulu, and what does her being or not being family have to do with election results? I think you're being silly again, Kath.

Sorry if, after being bested by another's argument, you choose to term it being bullied or personally attacked.

'Twisting and distorting'? Please. Talk about using ad hominems!!! I hereby nominate Kath Queen of the Gang of Sillies.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Where have you bested me Nate? Is this a contest of some kind? Aunt Lulu, as you will recall, is the non-voter. The ad hominems, all yours, have been noted already, well except for your last sentence. Is this really the best you've got for presenting a rational viewpoint? Even nominating me as "queen of the gang of sillies" is a weak non sequitur at best.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

No, I don't recall Aunt Lulu in any capacity, Kath. She belongs to your imaginaries of thought, no one else's unless you can get the other two sillies to support you (which shouldn't be too difficult, given certain levels of gullibility at play).

I've commented at length above, with most of my comments being ignored yourself and your two sidekicks. Perhaps you didn't read them. I don't know, and frankly don't care. But the contest tilted decisively in my favor once you began to offer your silly revisionist account of the Measure E election -- remember? Shortly thereafter, you and Mike the Censor and Stace the Sleuth began shifting the conversation to ad hominems. You guys are pretty funny.

Thankfully there are posters like myself and others who recognize silly reasoning when we see it. I guess you, playing the victim card, would call us bullies. Now, shouldn't you be off cutting and pasting somewhere? I, on the other hand, have my column to write.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

If you feel like your comments are being ignored, maybe you should take a hint about messages getting lost in uncivil dialogue. Maybe that works for propaganda, but definitely looses people when you're actually trying to convey something meaningful.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

That was a good joke, btw, expecting someone who is being personally attacked by you to not ignore your message. That's like beating someone with a bat and then asking them why they are trying to run away from you. Stockholm Syndrome? Not here.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

... and so states one of PW's finest propagandists, Stacey. That's okay, Stace. I understand how you may be left without a meaningful rejoinder after one or another of your silly ideas has been exposed.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Nate, Above I responded to newmom, who countered my comments very well. Only you wanted this to be about revising Measure E. I assure you, the outcome of the election remains the same. No tilt in your favor as this isn't a contest.

You are a bully, but I'm certainly not a victim. And ad hominems are, well, just poor manners. As to your being Nate Silver, I'll see if I can get that identity confirmed.


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Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Here's Kath with yet another attempt at revisionism. Then she dons her Ask Abby lil' Miss Manners hat. Oh, yes, and then the stated intent to continue investigating another poster's identity. Nice. Well, Kath, I won't be intimidated by such bullying. Wow, big ego; weak ego.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:47 pm

No intimidation intended. I haven't tried to figure out who you are in reality, but you are using another person's name and making claims about writing his column. Either you're Nate or you aren't. That much is easy to confirm.

As to language, here is a noted quote: Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are." --Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Posted by Nathanial B. Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Oh, THAT Nate?

Never thought much of Ralph Waldo. Always found his writings a bit too self-absorbed for my tastes. Nice quote, though, sort of. Did you pick it up from wikipedia?

I personally subscribe to Jacques Derrida's thoughts on this matter. You know Derrida, don't you? He's the postmodernist guy who coined the word 'deconstruction' that you've misused on occasion. Derrida's view here? There are no authors. Only texts. I can try as hard as I can to get you to understand my intentions, but may very well fail. All we can do is write down our ideas/intentions; once sent to an audience, it is the text that lives, not its author.

In this regard, I have found this site to be an excellent example of postmodern discourse. There are still a few dinosaurs who insist on clarity of authorial identity, but I think they're in the minority. It's more fun the postmodern way!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Difficult to argue in favor of postmodern discourse and against how the word deconstruction should be used. Try plagiarizing and see how long it is for it to be only "the text that lives." Or maybe a bit of identity "borrowing." I can only imagine the dangers of oxygen deprivation that occur in your proximity.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Apologies for my part in the deterioration of this discussion away from volunteering. I think teachers really are trying to do the best they can and really do appreciate any time given by volunteers. It's a 13 year trek from kindergarten to senior year, so opportunities will arise for those who can't always be there. And I've always found that if you aren't comfortable with a given task or with a parent grading your child's papers, for example, you just need to talk to the teacher. With few exceptions, this community has dedicated, caring teachers.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I've always seen teaching as a calling rather than a profession because you can't put a price on the commitment it takes to nurture our children. For this reason, we should all do what we can to support our community's teachers.

Actually, I'd like to see that support take the form of more college grads putting a year or two into teaching before they move on to their chosen careers. This would save money and give this valuable segment of the population a chance to return the benefits that society has given them.


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Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 6:40 am

Thinking back to my own childhood, parents were very actively involved in the classroom (there were fewer working moms in those days, so plenty around to help out). Additionally, there was a part-time paid classroom aide. This was a Bay Area district.


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Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Yes they are.


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

The curriculum is truly richer because some parents can and are willing to help. Special projects, stations (which children LOVE) and field trips would not be possible if not for parents who can volunteer. I am so grateful for the parents who volunteer in my classroom, and completely understand when parents cannot. I can't volunteer in my own child's classroom because I work full-time, so of course I am sensitive to a working parent, a am a working parent. So, I am also grateful for the parents who assist my child's teacher. Thank you, parents!


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

When I was growing up in the sixties and seventies, no one had ever heard of parents helping out at school; it would have been an absurd notion. Teachers were expected to teach; children were expected to behave themselves and learn. Period. And if they needed "prep time," they either came early or stayed late to do it, they didn't have the entire student body take an hour per week from their learning time. I've been a working parent for the entire time my two kids have gone through Pleasanton's school system, and never, ever once has any teacher made me feel bad for not helping them teach their classes or grade papers. I've volunteered for various things over the years, sometimes having time and sometimes not.

In general, we have some very gifted teachers and administrators here. Thanks for many good years!


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