Town Square

Post a New Topic

PUSD budget cuts again?

Original post made by Stephen, Golden Eagle, on Nov 17, 2008

We all realize that the budget crisis at the state level will impact our schools. We watched the PUSD board meeting tonight and massive cuts will hit the district. Massive layoffs and getting rid of class reduction programs could happen, does this mean bigger classes in kindergarten, first grade? Board members please look at cuts not directly at the schools. Look at the district level, do you as board members need to go to expensive conferences or workshops? Do district administrators need to go to expensive conferences? Yes we all need to learn and gain knowledge, but not at the expense of our children. A teacher told me that almost all district office administrators and board members go to a week conference in San Diego; do they need to go this year? Maybe everyone needs to have cuts? Maybe everyone needs to stay at home to help the budget.

Comments (41)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reality is
a resident of Amador Estates
on Nov 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I am home schooling as of next yr. You think its bad now? Only going to get worse.

Oh wait, the government is going to make it all better?????
Ever go to DVM...post office....oh yes, they are so well managed by the government...and before long our health care will be managed by the government....and that is suppose to make you feel better

I am a licensed health professional and can tell you for a fact: the quality of care is slipping fast and the cuts you see in education will be the same cuts you see in health care

The government has diluted (and brainwashed) the quality of education and hog tied educators...not to mention our brightest and most capable NEVER consider teaching as a career.

But wait, people are crying "but the children"...."what about the children?"

People get what they deserve...a nanny government "it takes a government to raise a child"

I am not waiting for the Government to rescue our schools......home school.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

Pleasanton teachers make some of the highest wages in the state for a 9 month per year job with all school holidays as paid time off. Maybe a reality check is due there as well. People with kids have relied on those without to pay for their kid's schooling. While I agree that good schools benefit all of us it is past time for those who have kids to volunteer in the system. Require parents who are not employed FULL TIME to spend at least one day per week helping in the classrooms. Your yoga classes, golf lessons and manicures can wait, invest in your children so that those who have none can get a break too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tired of the nonsense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm

It is sickening to hear administrators and board members talk about making cuts so they can give employees COLA - this is a financial crisis, people, and many are going without raises, why can't district administrators and teachers do the same? There is also a lot of waste at school...many employees that are simply not needed.

It is time to get tough on the teacher's unions too - look at the GM mess, due to many reasons, but union contracts and costs are among those reasons.

My child has early dismissal all this week, with Friday off - such nonsense! The early dismissal is so that our dear teachers can have parent teacher conferences, and still work only certain amount of hours per day... friday off is a mystery to me. Then all of next week, kids are off!

I think it is time to pay teachers and all PUSD employees based on how much they work, you will see how quickly we reduce expenses without touching much needed programs or making cuts that will affect students.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Simple solution to teachers taking so much time off. Part time work means part time pay. They have every weekend off, all holidays off and every summer off. For full time pay. That has to stop.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by annoyed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Those of you talking about how much time teachers have off, part time, etc....have obviously never been a classroom teacher. The work never ends, I can't tell you how many nights and weekends are spent grading papers, developing lesson plans, setting up experiments plus going to school site meetings and contacting parents. Just because the students aren't there doesn't mean the job ends; shame on you for being so critical of a job that you obviously don't understand! PUSD has many very devoted teachers who spend countless hours working behind the scenes to provide a high quality education for the students in our town, please stop compaining and criticizing unless you would like to step into their shoes!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by walk in my shoes
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

As a long time teacher in the district I, along with most of my colleagues spend much of our vacation time and summers preparing for school. As a high school teacher I spend 10+ hours per day on my job. I INVITE ANYONE WHO BELIEVES THAT TEACHERS ARE "PART TIME" TO SHADOW A TEACHER FOR A WEEK. You will be exhausted, surprised, and even appalled at what teachers must do each and every week. I wish I had holidays and summers off as some suggest. The teachers of this district are some of the best in the nation. Your children are receiving a world class education. Before you spout off a bunch of stereotypical slams at teachers, shadow your child's teacher.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 18, 2008 at 8:21 pm

This gets very tiring. Every time school finances come up as a topic in these threads a bunch of you pile on and start the teacher bashing. The bashing is, as evidenced above, filled with emotion and individual pet peeves.

Inevitably, some folks as well as teachers jump in and defend against the stuff thrown at teachers.

Unfortunately, the rebuttal arguments aimed at the bashers are wasted because they fall on deaf ears.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tired of the nonsense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 8:25 pm

People in the corporate world put in at least 10 hour days, sometimes you have to go in on the weekends in order to get the job done.

For teachers to say that they spend the summers preparing.... wow, that amazes me. I would think that a teacher who has been teaching say 1st grade for years should not need any time to prepare anything. If he/she does, that is a sorry state of affairs.

I have a friend who is a teacher, has been so for years. I know that her job is much easier now, as a teacher, than when she worked in a big company. Time off includes summers off, all holidays, many breaks throughout the year.... do not insult my intelligence saying you use the time to prepare: again, if you do, I question your competence level.

k-5 teachers, especially those who teach the same grade level over and over do not need summers to prepare!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tired of the nonsense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 9:02 pm

And yes, I have volunteered in the classroom, chaperoned field trips, helped in the library, etc. I started when my oldest child was in kindergarten. By the time my youngest started school, I had the curriculum memorized, and the teachers were the same: teaching the same curriculum, using the same lesson plans, teaching the same grade level year after year.

Teachers are valuable, but their unions are out of control and demand benefits that should not exist, like all that time off, like keeping unqualified teachers on board.

Start paying teachers based on merit and based on time worked... we will see a difference.

As for administrators, they are overpaid, and we have too much staff sometimes.... for Casey to say that increase in pay is needed and therefore cuts to programs will be necessary is absolutely wrong. Find out how much he makes and what he really does, then tell me if you think it's right or if you too, think that should stop and change. Hopefully the board of trustees will do the job they were elected to do, and we, the taxpayers, need to make sure the right thing is done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Option
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Don't pick on the teachers, its not their fault. Any good union would fight for extra employee perks, ect. The problem is a systemic government waste, not unique to education.
Same story everytime, budget crisis mean less for school, kids, less firemen, less police, ect.
They never talk about how to cut waste first. It doesn't get the same reaction from the public. The discussion is designed instill fear or anger - The goal is new taxes (ugh).

Time for everyone to view government spending like its coming out of your own pocket.....because it IS !! Time for a real change in CA = less government.

There is also another option for the school concerns - Start a Charter School in Pleasanton.
Parents had Fantastic results in Livermore. The parents in Livermore were so fed-up, they took matters into their own hands, got involved and started the charter school (parent members on the board).
They hired the best teachers (we already have in Pleasanton). Then they hired business professionals to manage the non-educational aspects of the school "business".
I have nothing against teachers - their great! But teachers and politicians are not the best suited for managing a business.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 18, 2008 at 10:43 pm

It's not the teachers. The teachers in this district are top notch, and it shows in results we get from our schools, and it is directly reflected in our property values.
The money is not being wasted in the classrooms. We've p..... away a couple million dollars in Signature Properties lawsuits, losing every time a judgement comes down. But how many other millions are we wasting away from the classrooms that we can't or don't read about in the Weekly?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by momof2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:59 am

If you do not like what you are getting from PUSD apply for an intradistrict transfer. Sunol Glen is a fine example of s school that provides a great education on a small budget.I can't beleive all the money spent in Pleasanton on "smart classrooms" to attract the best teachers. As far as I am concerned my children are receiving the best education and have "excelled" at Sunol Glen. Bigger is not always better.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tired of the nonsense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2008 at 9:48 am

momof2: no, I am not going to transfer my kids, but unlike you, I will demand better here in PUSD. I am paying a fair amount of taxes, and it is those taxes that pay the administrators and teachers. I am glad you are doing well at Sunol, but I am staying here in Pleasanton, where I live and pay taxes.

We have a good school district, but now that money is tight, cuts will have to be made, and the PUSD staff and board need to be smart about what they cut and why. They will need to evaluate everything, from admin salaries, to contracts with the teacher's union, to contracts with the classified unions. Unions are killing this country, as you can see from the financial mess. They are not the entire problem, but just look at the auto industry, and you'll see just how damaging these "collective bargaining" organizations can be. CEOs and top earners too add to the problem, giving themselves big salaries that are perhaps not quite deserved. I am amazed at how much some of the admin staff here in PUSD gets paid, and how many of them PUSD keeps on board.

Merit pay and compensation for the work you do is the way to go.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shocked
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 19, 2008 at 10:00 am

According to the state treasurers office, teachers are, by the hour, the 3rd highest paid group in California (#1 is executives, #2 college professors). Let's not whine about how many hours anybody works, we all get some choice. As with any profession, some teachers work a lot of hours, and some teachers skate by. Just sampling my own child's education, about 70% fall into the latter category.

SOME of our teachers are world class. SOME of our teachers are unbelievably AWFUL!! Once they get tenure (after 2 years) teachers are untouchable unless they molest a student. They cannot be fired for poor performance, and this removes what may be the largest incentive to perform well. What I find most surprising is that when you mention merit pay to any teacher, the most excellent ones will defend the slackers to their last breath.

Very sorry, but our kids are NOT getting a world class education. They are not even getting a top-rate CALIFORNIA education, which consistently places in the bottom 10% in the nation. Our schools produce students whose average SAT scores are nowhere near the top 10 high schools in California, usually not even in the top 50. This should be shocking to those who have been led to believe that a world class education is defined by our API scores, which only compare California schools. It's shameful in such an affluent, well educated community as Pleasanton.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2008 at 11:25 am

Here we go again, teachers cannot wait to cry out about all of that time "doing lesson plans" (they use the same ones year to year), "grading papers" (often done by aides or students), "meeting with parents" (what, you should not be accountable for how poorly you teach?). Pay them for the part time work they do. Or make them come to the admin office and actually WORK on school holidays and summers. No teacher should get the time off, for the pay they get, that the PUSD teachers get. They are paid more than most CA districts already. And the administration pays their brass salaries that some CEOs would envy.
Before you say that I should "walk in your shoes" let me say that I have. I have been a teacher of assorted grades from elementary through college. It was without question the easiest job I ever had. I left because I got tired of the spoiled little rich kids in the classes who had no motivation to learn, mommy and daddy gave them everything. I now work in another field where I literally work my butt off and I get paid in accordance with what I do. No tenure here, nor should there be in the school system. Tenure only protects the incompetent from ever having to perform.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 19, 2008 at 12:14 pm

resident...are you the devil?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by raven
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 19, 2008 at 5:40 pm

cholo, you scare people away!

Ok, I don't believe this thread had anything to do with teacher bashing. Does the Pleasanton teachers union have a lot of pull? Yes. Do they get almost everything they ask for? Yes. Why? Because the district does not say no. I have attended more school board meeting in my 15 years in Pleasanton than most parents and worked in the district for over 8 of them and I can't remember a parent ever complaining or demanding any part of the teachers contract to be reviewedat a school board meeting. But this thread appears to be just that.
This district and the superintendent is accountable for the care and continuity of the children's education. They ignore what they don't like and play up what make them appear to be a solid well run district. That is their job. Money to run the district comes from the # of children enrolled.

to the poster, < move somewhere else> grow up! There are many aspects of this district staff that work in crisis management at best. Until parents come to school board meetings and become active in where the cuts need to be made and how soon, this district will NEVER cut out the heart so the rest of the district will survive. Be realistic. If the 20 to 1 student ratio is cut to save the district then, it has to be done. My son grew up in a 30>1 ratio and he went on to graduate college and do great things. Yes, I am putting on my flak jacket! Times are tough and parents need to stop attacking the source and begin to really saturate the district with passion for their kids education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by :(
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Every time I read these posts and forums, I am so ashamed of my community. We live in an incredible place, and we all have concerns, but no matter which forum I go to there seems to be an incredible amount of anger, complaining, and down right disrespect. I will never go back to this web site. What is the purpose of these forums? To allow four or five people to dominate, and for others to take out their frustrations on anyone and everyone. We live in a fantastic community, and it is time to celebrate our accomplishments, and time to find positive solutions that will make this community even stronger and better. Good bye for ever to the Pleasanton Weekly web site and its negative forums.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Motivator
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Nov 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm

To Resident:
If you were good at your profession, you would have been able to motivate, "the spoiled little rich kids in the classes who had no motivation to learn, mommy and daddy gave them everything". A true teacher finds methods to motivate rich kids, poor kids and kids that see letters backwords-and they find great satisfaction in it! You were not a "teacher". Hope your new job description doesn't involve anything more than counting widgets or your employer is in big trouble!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

To the Country Fair Resident: 4 or 5 people don't dominate these forums. The truth comes out here.

My youngest son is doing college applications and I am sooooooo ready to be done with the education of 3 kids. I have worked my butt off to get them all where they are...all great students but it has been like swimming upstream.

My son's caluclus teacher leaves work at 3:14 so he can pick his kids up from day care....Excuse me? I have to pay a tutor because my son can't get to his teacher at 3:15 to ask questions and get help. Oh...that is only the most recent frustration. My son has a B so he's not flunking but he just wants to get help...

Google "Michelle Rhee and The New York Times"...this lady has it figured out.

It has been a long haul.
The teacher's union and tenure have to go.
"Shocked" said it so well...go back and read it.

Good teachers don't get paid enough...but a lot of teachers don't deserve what they get paid now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ???
a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 19, 2008 at 10:29 pm

All these comments are worthless without a name. Hiding behind anonimity is weak. If you have something to say, then be proud of what you are saying and put your name on it. Otherwise, ZIP IT!!!

The ???, by the way, are for irony, not because I am afraid to say my name.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton MOM
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 20, 2008 at 5:02 am

One thing I don't understand, is why every time there is a proposed budget cut for our schools, so many get on the band wagon to attack our teachers. Do you all have authority issues from school? Why aren't we attacking our state government or our federal government and their extremely poor management of our money? Why always the teachers? You never hear anyone attacking any of those, just teachers. It makes me wonder about people. I think Pleasanton has excellent schools. I don't think there is anything wrong with paying our teachers almost enough (not quite) to live near the community they teach in. Teachers work hard, but if you think their job is so cushy I think you should become one. There is nothing stopping you, but the constant bashing just reflects poorly on you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 20, 2008 at 7:33 am

To another Pleasanton Resident - I'm sure glad you were never my teacher. You sound like a real peach.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Judith
a resident of Amador Estates
on Nov 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm

I am a RN w/ a Masters Degree and am employed 32hrs/week (meaning get paid for 32hrs) but work at least an additional 2hrs for free/day....meaning 10hr days just to try to keep up w/ my patient load. In addition, I will sometimes go in on a Sat for few hrs without pay. And to top it off, the teachers medical benefits in the PUD are far better than what I will ever get after working over 20yrs in the health care delivery system. I am NOT complaining about what I choose to do without pay to serve my patients, but I am sick and tiered of hearing how hard teachers work. They don't work all summer, I do. I don't get winter, spring and every legal holiday off. I recently spoke w/ a newly hired, 1st yr teacher @ FHS. She commented how easy her job was and surprised by how many hrs she actually worked. Like many on here, she believed what she heard about how hard teachers work, only to learn otherwise. The success of this district is primarily the success of the families who support their children.It is not the teachers. My 3 girls , 21-27 (2 Master prepared and my youngest in her Senior yr @ a UC) got there NOT because of the PUD and its teachers or its counselors (although they each had maybe 1-2 outstanding teachers in 12yrs) but because my husband and I supported their learning within the home and their hard work. Far far too long, people in this community like to think this district is top notch with the "best teachers" and real estate has ran with that idea. Wake up Pleasanton. Its only "branding" for the real estate mkt. and the only thing benefiting is the value of your home.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by surprised
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2008 at 8:22 am

I'm surprised to discover the deep animosity towards teachers in this community. One year during conferences my student's father told me that in his country teachers are held to the highest esteem, even higher than doctors, because teachers teach the children who become doctors. He couldn't understand the attitude Americans have towards teachers. He was so appreciative of the job I was doing and his child was a kind, respectful, and academically high student.

I almost didn't become a teacher because of the negative perception the public has of teachers. It was only towards the end of my college years that I was able to accept that, despite my many interests and talents, my gift is my ability to work with children. I take great personal satisfaction in the job I do and I earn my salary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Teachers pay for their own benefits out of their salary here in Pleasanton.

I am astounding about the negativity around teachers here, and the misinformation.

I work in another district where home prices are high and the kids have many of the same pressures. As a rule, I feel appreciated for the time I spend preparing and delivering the subjects I teach.

There are good people and not so good people in every profession.

You send your kids to school and they spend more waking hours with their teachers than they do at home with parents. Parenting is hard and there should be a partnership between the teachers and the parents. (The conference comment sounds like it is always the teachers fault, Hmmm) The amount of work kids are expected to do at home this day and age has a lot to do with the increased expectations and the difficulty in getting into college. That sometimes has less to do with the ability of the student and everything to do with the lack of space in our University system. Ten years ago if you did what your were supposed to do, you were assured a space. Now you can do everything right and not get in anywhere.

Look at where many of the students coming out of our high schools are going. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cal Tech. . .that doesn't sound like students who can't compete with the rest of the country.

Be careful how you use those statistics. Often you are comparing apples and oranges. CA set their benchmark score where it should be for each grade level. Other states set the benchmark lower than average. When comparing the two, the other state seems to be more successful when its not. (Look at graduation rates and college and trade school admission and retention rates.) Also some states deal with a higher than average immigrant population who often take longer to get through school but have high success rates when they finish. That group is often tested before they are proficient in English. No Child Left Behind allowed each state to determine its own benchmark for success.

Finally, the most important determiner for success in any school system is the socioeconomic background of the community. Why? Because they can spend time and money helping their kids and usually have a high level of education themselves. Which brings it back to this. How would you distribute this merit pay? By students' test scores? (What if you taught special ed?) By graduation rates? College admissions? How many sports you coached? Principal recommendation? So many of the things that affect students' performance are out of the control of the teacher and sometimes even the parent.

I am thankful for the many excellent teachers my children had here in Pleasanton. The vast majority I have seen work hard and deserve what they make and then some. Many use this unpaid vacation time to increase their skill and knowledge. (Teachers are only paid for the days they work which is why if you break it down by the hour over the number of days the hourly would seem high. That would be 182 days divided by six hours.) Even the worst teacher works more than that and the best often work ten to twelve hour days. (Try grading advance placement papers or essays. . .) I will spend much of my "vacation" this week grading papers and writing letters of recommendation for college admission.

Many of you make it sound like your kids would have gotten the education they have without the teachers. There is always home schooling.






 +   Like this comment
Posted by Grammar Checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Are you an English teacher?

We all know who the really good teachers are and they should be paid more.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Nov 23, 2008 at 1:47 am

If it were my responsibility to determine how a merit plan for teachers would be administered, since this would be a new addition to the PUSD salary agreement, I would bring in a retired Human Resourses/Labor Relations Executive that administered the merit plan for a large corporation and have that person setup the plan.

Many large corporations have merit plans that are equitable for all exempt employees, although the slackers probably wouldn't agree that's true.

The merit plan I'm familiar with had set, fair and reasonable, expectations to be met, with opportunities to excede expectations which meant a larger slice of the merit pie. If expectations weren't met, that person had a problem that required immediate attention to bring them up to expectations. If that failed - "Your employment is terminated forth-with". Your earning potential was where it should be, on your shoulders...

Since the teachers have union representation, it would probably be difficult to introduce such a plan without considerable strife, but if extra dollars were dangled, you never know...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 23, 2008 at 8:31 am

Still no control over the "product" and the "product's" environment once out of site of the exempt employees. What is the product is located in a less than desirable area and is mistreated when it leaves the classroom environment?

Would parents have to meet expectations? Measure from a baseline or from where the "product" enters the classroom? Account for learning issues, organic or environmental? What of there are no parents or only one?

All of these expectations predicated on the success of the "batch" or individual "product"?

Certainly no increase in bureacracy here, or cost for that matter. (sarcasm)

Maybe there is a way to do this, but I have not seen it yet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2008 at 8:51 am

Jerry has a good idea about determining merit but it seems that fact checker also has a point. Too many variables. I would be satisfied with just abolishing tenure. It protects the incompetent and has no place in the school system. Why on earth could anyone argue in favor of it other than unions? Any bad employee, teacher or ditch digger, needs to be fired. Period.
And for Karen, with the teacher who leaves early -- why have you not turned this person in to the principal or school board? And if you have, what excuse did they have for doing nothing about it? Talk about a person needing to be terminated . . . . .


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Nov 23, 2008 at 11:43 am

Teachers boldly tell parents and administrators they are not required to stay past 2:50... union contract.

I too have had many PUSD teachers tell me they are not available after school to help my child or to meet with me to talk about my student. The administrators tell us they cannot require them to.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Parent, you make my point again. Part time work requires part time pay. Weed out the lazy and incompetent ones and get rid of tenure!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Just because you don't see the work doesn't mean that it isn't done. Many teachers are at school an hour before it starts, some as early as 6:00 am. By the way for some the bell rings at 7:00am.

How many of you ask your doctor or lawyer to stay after their work day ends? With most professionals you make the appointment during their work day and not at your convenience.

Amazing. . .I guess some do think that teaching is a service industry not profession.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Nov 24, 2008 at 2:37 am

fact checker,

Nope, parents wouldn't be required to meet expectations. You have no control over parents. You can only advise them of their students success or failure.

What your expectations would be predicated on would be the responsibility of the person with the expertise to thoroughly analize all varibles pertaining to your job description and responsibilities(this isn't accomplished over night - much research and input would be required), then, determine your fair and reasonable expectations, with opportunities to excede(larger slice of the pie). After this is completed and presented to you, your success, or failure, is where it should be - on your shoulders and perhaps your supervisor's.

I'm not implying all merit plans are fair and just. I have knowledge of a company where this type plan was set up to almost warrant failure, but the others I'm familiar with are, in my opinion, fair and equitable. Certainly partiality could stain a merit plan in certain circumstances.

"Maybe there is a way to do this, but I have not seen it yet" - Perhaps that's because you haven't had the opportunity to be exposed to such a plan(no fault on your part).

I have no knowledge of a merit plan that has created a bureacracy. The plan I'm familiar with requires most of the work to be done by departmental supervision(day to day supervision and annual performance review). However, it could certainly increase costs through salary increases as a result of excellence(that larger slice of the pie)but this cost could be balanced by the under achiever. I would hope no one would object to the cost of "excellence".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 24, 2008 at 7:44 am

It is clear, Jerry, that just as I do not have experience with a merit pay system in industry, you are equally unfamiliar with what teachers and administrators already do in regards to expectations.

That still does not address the student whose parents refuse to acknowledge a learning disability. The child who comes from a different district with distinctly lower expectations. A child who looses a parent or loved one at a crucial juncture in his or her education. A community at risk, where most students' families are struggling to feed their family and English homework is the last thing on their mind. A parent who thinks no matter what the myriad of teachers have said about their child's behavior, it is the teacher's fault, not the kid. A family going through divorce or loosing a job.



There are already things in place that enables an administrator to remove a bad teacher. They just have to employ them. It is complicated by the fact that a bad teacher for your child could be just what another student needs. Everyone has been to school and everyone has a concept of a good or bad teacher, but it is a young person's myopic view of the world. In would be interesting to see community members become teachers for a week. It wouldn't be the entire story but it would illuminate some of the the concerns listed on this site.

Oh yes, not only do teachers pay all their own health benefits in Pleasanton, but all teachers in the state pay into State teachers Retirement System with a contribution by their district. It is not a free ride as some on this thread believe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 24, 2008 at 8:10 am

Perhaps our school district should contact Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, for input.

Not only was she a teacher, but she's not afraid of making unpopular decisions when she believes a child's education will benefit from her taking the heat.

This Web Link reflects a great story about her and her plans for one of the WORST districts in the NATION.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Nov 25, 2008 at 2:46 am

fact checker,

You're absolutely correct. I know nothing about the expectations relationship between teachers and adminstrators. It would be interesting to sit and talk with you...

I will say, if you have expectations to meet and no "rewards" to excede, that a shame...

I'm rather confused with, "A bad teacher for your child could be just what another student needs". In my opinion, if the majority of the students in this teacher's class are like my child, they would suffer for the benefit of the student/students that this teacher may reach... While "society" wishes success for all, it's a fact some will fail, at times by their own hand. That's life...

I understand there are many varibles you may face and you have my respect(notice I haven't "bad mouthed" teachers). My only reason for advocating a merit plan is to reward those that excede and extend to those below expectation an incentive to improve, if they so desire...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 25, 2008 at 9:32 am

I thought it might be time to add some poetry to this thread...Hopefully this will shed some light on the work that teachers do.

Below is a "slam" type poem, written by Taylor Mali (www.taylormali.com) titled "What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If things don't work out, you can always go to law school."


He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you're a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annoyed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2008 at 9:11 am

To Karen, thank you for the poetry. I was the 5th comment posted on this blog and ANNOYED at the same time. Sadly, I just returned today to read the latest comments, as a teacher I have been a bit busy...

Here it is the day prior to a National Holiday that represents the one glimmer of hope, in the early part of our countries history, when there was cooperation between the indgenious people of America and the early english settlers. Both communities coming together to celebrate a bountiful harvest and the survival of a harsh winter in a new country. This is the lesson I taught my 8th graders in our History core class.

Along with civics and the founding fathers struggle to find a new government in a new land. Yes, that is what teachers do, teach so their students do not become statistics as some of their parents have become. For example only 50% of our US population know their unalienable rights. My students know all three and know that it is their legacy and civic responsibility as a citizen of our country. Do you? Only 70% of graduating Harvard seniors know the three branches of our government. My students know all three and their functions. When I passed this information onto them on the last day prior to our Thanksgiving break, they were shocked and saddened. I relayed to them the importance of having this conversation with their parents and reflect on the value of their civic duties and the early years of our country during this season of thanksgiving.

Sadly, however I believe as Frank did (early on in these postings) that my words will again fall on deaf ears. Parents, my wish for you all is to be proud of your students and their efforts and if you cannot support our efforts as their teachers, be mature enough to keep your opinions to yourselves and allow your children to lead the way. They know their civic responsibilities.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
A PUSD teacher and proud of it!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I like that poem. The teachers make all that and then after the kids grow up and start their own families and express themselves on local public forums with those values they were taught, all those skills are booed at and those kids get called "high, mighty, and condescending". Wake up, America! You're in a hole because you value *expletive*, not because teachers have tenure or there's some poor teachers being protected by a union.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by grammar checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Annoyed Core Teacher:

It's country's...not countries (possessive not plural)
indigenous - probably a typo
US population knows (the subject 'population' is singular)
check the comma rules

As a civics teacher, you are telling us to keep our opinions to ourselves? It is protected under the Constitution.

Our kids will encounter very tough competition from the rest of the world and they must be more prepared than we have been for the past few decades. Teach For America is doing a great job in lower-performing schools because they recruit teachers from among the best college students in the country.

I agree with Jerry: expectations without rewards doesn't produce results (Psych. 101). I am not in favor of tenure. Wouldn't we all like to have it? Then we could all relax a bit.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Not Endorsements
By Roz Rogoff | 7 comments | 1,174 views

A second half of life exceptionally well lived
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 596 views