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Parents again push for smaller class sizes in Pleasanton schools

Original post made on Apr 18, 2013

Parents were out in force again at the Pleasanton school board meeting last week to plead their case for class size reductions for first-grade students.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 18, 2013, 7:41 AM

Comments (9)

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Posted by POed in PTown
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

The voters need to have an uprising and pare the administration significantly (bodies, pay, benefits, retirement), get rid of the stupid crap like teacher's teachers, and recall a couple of the twits on the school board. If that's done, it will give some needed class size reduction. Speaking of twits, the PUSD Superintendent was a really bad hire, she's another twit, and she needs to go.


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Posted by lessismore
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

OK
A few questions:
1 The additional $78,000 from PPIE. I know people had the options to give to PPIE for CSR but I do not recall being told that the money I gave would all then be used for CSR. So if you gave on-line your money is just going to CSR.
2 Have you spoken to the teachers and the impact on 2nd and 3rd grader if there are no more staggered school start times and the impact on the reading programs? Will staggered school start times go away if we have CSR?
3 What is the plan for next year to fund CSR?
4 I have been told the PPIE board has been taken over by parents pushing CSR?

Yes CRS is a good thing and likely need but I do not see a plan. I did not see one teacher get up and speak. I under stand the parents and way but it seem like a few are only doing what is best for there kids this year and not PUSD


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Posted by Frank Lynn
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

There are a lot of studies out there show that class size reduction in K-3 improves student outcomes. This is why back in 1996, when California politicians did a better job in supporting/funding education - they spent billions to reduce class size for these grades to 20 to 1.

However, studies about the teacher trainers are nebulous at best - and are really the most impactful when focused on struggling, under-performing school districts, not one like Pleasanton.

And to my knowledge, no studies have been done showing a causal relationship between administrative ratios and administrative compensation and positive student outcomes.

Our great Pleasanton schools are part of our "brand" - which is a "premium brand" - when comparing us to surrounding towns in the Tri-Valley, Greater East Bay, and Bay Area in general. But bad leadership on the school board and their bad decisions can sour or even damage that brand. I think a lot of people move to Pleasanton based on the schools' brand, and things have historically gone well, so they're content to be blissfully unaware of the workings of the school board. Which explains why all incumbent school board members remained unchallenged in last year's election. But the decisions they're making and the direction they are going seems to be contrary to common sense and the will of the parents of school-aged children.

I think more people are slowly becoming aware of this and voicing their opinion which is a good thing.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Frank Lynn, I agree with what you've wrote. Unfortunately CSR will give way to increased pension funding for both Teachers Retirement Fund (The California Teachers Retirement System, or CalSTRS), and the pension fund that represents every School District employee that isn't a Teacher (CalPERS).

The Teachers Retirement Fund is requesting that the State of CA increase funding to the severely under funded pension system by over 100% (4.5 Billion more per year). They are requesting we increase the current level of funding from 8.25% of payroll for the district, and about 2.5% from the state (10.75% of payroll roughly) to about 23.75% of payroll. At the same time CalPERS is requesting a 50% increase, as a percentage of payroll, to the pension cost for everything from Administrators to Janitors. These increases are less than two years away.

My point is that the district is broke, or about to be, and much of it is their own doing because they've ignored the problem while also exacerbating it. The money for CSR, and many other programs IMO, and probably sports as well, are probably soon to become unavailable. The pension issue has gone ignored for far too long and is about to anger many parents of school aged children, and everyone else that's concerned about quality education.

The dollars are leaving the classroom, although Prop 30 failed to tell people that increased pension costs are considered "going to the classroom", and heading toward paying down some very severe pension debt.

Yes, the pension burden is taking education dollars away from education.


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Posted by Frank W.
a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm

My, what a novel thought, Arnold. I've never heard you say this before. Do you have any clue why people don't spend much time responding to your lengthy, redundant messages?


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Frank Lynn, lets be clear about research when posting what you did above-
"At least 100 studies in the past decade have documented that highly skilled, highly effective teachers help students learn more. Teachers who are well prepared and trained are more effective in the classroom and therefore have the greatest impact on student learning (Killion, 1999)." Web Link

Instructional coaches-Data from The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University Web Link

Hundreds of links and research are available for you to continue searching.

To say that there is no research to show the benefit of professional development is misleading this community once again.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

CSR will give way to increased pension funding for both the Teachers Retirement Fund (The California Teachers Retirement System, or CalSTRS), and the pension fund that represents every School District employee that isn't a Teacher (CalPERS).

The Teachers Retirement Fund is requesting that the State of CA increase funding to the severely under funded pension system by over 100% (4.5 Billion more per year). They are requesting we increase the current level of funding from 8.25% of payroll for the district, and about 2.5% from the state (10.75% of payroll roughly) to about 23.75% of payroll. At the same time CalPERS is requesting a 50% increase, as a percentage of payroll, to the pension cost for everything from Administrators to Janitors. These increases are less than two years away.

My point is that the district is broke, or about to be, and much of it is their own doing because they've ignored the problem while also exacerbating it. The money for CSR, and many other programs IMO, and probably sports as well, are probably soon to become unavailable. The pension issue has gone ignored for far too long and is about to anger many parents of school aged children, and everyone else that's concerned about quality education.

The dollars are leaving the classroom, although Prop 30 failed to tell people that increased pension costs are considered "going to the classroom", and heading toward paying down some very severe pension debt.

From the Daily Journal - from a ticked off reader:

"They always say the truth comes out in the end. Problem is that this time, the truth is very frightening. After years of warning the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) that their pension obligations were way underfunded and CalSTRS insisting that they were adequately funded, we find out that the taxpayer is on the hook for $4.5 billion more a year for the next 30 years. Yes folks, we have a huge problem on our hands and I guess when reality and truth about the problem finally hit us, they hit us quite hard. And someone has been caught lying.

CalSTRS and California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) have been lying to the public regarding the shape of our public pensions for the past four decades. Next time you see public employees on strike, keep this in mind: you might not be so quick to honk your horn in a show of solidarity. The state of California pays more for pensions of retired K-12 and community college teachers than they do for both the entire UC and CSU systems.

If you think California has problems now, just wait until these unfunded government employees' pensions come due and there is no money left in the retirement system to pay benefits. Does anyone want to come out today and defend these pensions and tell us that they have been adequately funded? Whose fault is it? No one will ever take the blame and point fingers at others, but you can bet the taxpayer will be left paying the bill. Public employees have received unsustainable compensation packages by politicians who aren't around to answer for their irresponsible actions of the past. This is all about the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and public unions offering benefits for votes. Do you think that this will bring public unions to the table to thoughtfully consider their part in this enormous problem? No, they will just gather together with their signs and shout their slogans letting everyone know how important they are.


Christopher P. Conway is a resident of San Mateo. "


While I would like to dispell Mr. Conways claims of "the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and public unions offering benefits for votes" - I can't do it. What Mr.Conway doesn't say is this problem goes beyond the taxpayer burden. While he describes the problem from the taxpayer perspective, even from the point of fairness, it's important to also view the problem from an educational point of view.

While there's plenty of evidence regarding pension abuse and enhanced pension benefits, for me it's difficult to understand how satisfying pension obligations supercedes the mission of educating our children. But, that's what's happening. The pension dollars are sucking funds from the classroom. And that trend will continue for thirty years. I wonder where CA-ED ranks then?


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Posted by hmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 8:16 am

"To say that there is no research to show the benefit of professional development is misleading this community once again."

But is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional development of our very highly qualified teachers the best choice when we've just increased class sizes, cut the hours of the school day, fired student facing teachers, cut course selections, cut counselors, cut pretty much everything that matters to parents because of lack of funds? NO.

CSR was cut and the school hours were cut because they "assumed" 30 would fail. It passed and it should be the first thing restored, not some new job that is not student facing at all.


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Posted by Frank Lyn
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Apr 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

@Really -

Your response actually proves my point - the NMSA link basically states that "highly skilled, highly effective teachers help students learn more." Well, duh! In struggling school districts in urban areas with lots of new teachers and high turnover, teacher training makes sense. But Pleasanton already has highly skilled, highly effective teachers. And I don't have the metrics, but by personal observation, we seem to have a lot of seasoned teachers and low turnover. I doubt we'd produce the API score and graduation rate metrics that PUSD does - if we didn't.

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform specifically states that it's talking about urban schools - engaged in school reform - serving disadvantaged children. Is Pleasanton an "urban" school district. No. Does it need to engage in school reform? Not really - the metrics of our worst-performing schools are better than the metrics than most of the best-performing schools in the East Bay. Do we serve disadvantaged children? I'm sure there are some out there with intellectual disabilities or financially poor parents, but our median income in town is $120K, so the majority of our children are not disadvantaged.

Professional development is always a good thing - but in a zero-sum game with ever-shrinking resources, it's not a good choice nor budgetary priority for Pleasanton now. It seems to me that the people in this racket of teacher training have targeted PUSD because we're perceived as an affluent district with parents who can open their pocketbooks and fund via PPIE; not because we would benefit from it like an underperforming, urban school would. And the fact that the school board is going along with this (as well as prioritizing administrative positions over child-facing, educational positions) demonstrates that they're not being good stewards of scarce resources.



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