Pleasanton considering eliminating class-size reductions, teaching and administrative positions Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:06 am
Pleasanton School Supt. John Casey warned yesterday that the state's growing deficit problems could force the district to cut as much as $8.7 million from this year's and the 2009-2010 budgets, which could mean reductions in faculty, programs and an end to class size reductions for kindergarten to third grade classes.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 9, 2009, 8:16 AM
Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:06 am
As a member of the Budget Advisory Committee, we were informed last night of the dire financial situation the district and community faces. The proposed cuts are so deep and wide to make our district fiscally responsible for next year, that it takes your breath away. I URGE the community to get involved. Educate yourselves as to what we are facing. It potentially touches all aspects of our school system. Their are no sacred cows.
Understand not only the personal impact to those of us with children in the school system, but for those who are empty nesters, realize the impact to your property values. Pleasanton has always been a desired location for our school system. With these cuts, we will be see even further reductions to the local real estate market.
Please get involved. Please keep an open mind in solving these draconian issues.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:32 am
I agree with Al about the need to get involved. I support a parcel tax, as long as Casey shows us that nonsense expenses will be dealt with, ie, will go away. Examples of what I would like to see gone before I vote yes on a parcel tax are things like: all the "goodies" for Casey and other upper management, public information officer position eliminated, no pay raises for anyone in the district management positions this year, etc.
A complete budget which includes who works for the district, what they do, how much they make, etc, as well as a complete breakdown of all costs at each school site needs to be released to the community.
I will support a parcel tax, but only after I see responsible cuts being made. Also, an explanation about the lawsuit needs to be disclosed, why are we paying more legal fees during a financial crisis, how much more will we lose, etc. All of this needs to be disclosed, the PUSD website should put this information online in the next couple of weeks.
Posted by Resident again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:35 am
And also, Casey needs to tell us how much he is really saving by eliminating class size reduction. The state gives districts money as incentive to have this program... how much will we lose in funding from the state by eliminating class size reduction? Give us the picture with and without class size reduction - funding from state, expenses from the district, etc.
Posted by mac, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 11:36 am
Laws need to change in other areas, too. Right now the district is paying for teacher assistants to personally assist students during classes. It seems to be part of "mainstreaming" where the child has learning or behavior problems. The stories are numerous.
So we hire one aid per behavior-challenged or learning challenged student in order to help that child learn and keep that child from disupting class - all the while other students are being distracted from the lessons at hand.
What is this all about? If this is the new way to educate our youth, we will continue to have under-educated students and a financially strapped system.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 11:46 am
I too would like to have better information provided regarding class size reduction. Is the State is eliminating CSR funding or is it that PUSD cannot afford its portion of CSR funding? Moreover, what is the root cause for why the State CSR funding does not appear to cover all PUSD costs for K-3 CSR?
BTW, Al Cohen, tell us what is the REAL impact. Don't make vague statements. Show us the proof that Pleasanton property values will be hurt by the proposed cuts. Or are you a real estate fortune teller now?
Posted by PTown Mom, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm
Let's see a top-down approach to the cuts.
Specifically, what is the district cutting from their Administration areas?
There are many schools in Pleasanton that send out announcements about recycling paper: they will take your business scrap paper that is printed on one-side and use the other side for worksheets to save their own precious paper supply. Does the district office ask it's employees to bring scratch paper from home to save on paper?
Does the district office ask it's employees to find programs like recycling plastic, ink cartridges, or sell wrapping paper to pay for the little extras?
I think the Administration should lead by example. Look around the district office and budget and find the nonessentials and cut them immediately. No negotiation. Then go to the parents and the schools and say, "We've done our best. This is what we need from you."
Only then will I believe that their purposed cuts are in the best interests of the child.
Posted by Long time Pleasanton resident, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm
I have seen the proposals and here, in my honest opinion are some basic changes which would save a lot of money.
1) Get rid of the late starts on Wednesday's. That's a waste of time and it does nothing. The majority of teachers I know use that hour to get nothing accomplished and the kids just sleep in. Let them get to school and get after it like we all did many years ago in Pleasanton.
2) Get rid of K-5 PE teachers. This is one of the biggest wastes in the city. When I was in school, our teachers took us out for physical education and it worked just fine. Who cares if it's playing basketball, four square (do they still play that??), baseball, jump rope or running around on the playground -- they would still be getting the activity. If you want help, ask for parent volunteers, there are plenty of bored housewives who love sticking their noses into school business on a regular basis. They would be more than happy to hover around the school on a regular basis.
3) Get rid of most of the high school counselors. There is no need for the sheer number of counselors we have right now. Kids in this day and age use the counselors as an excuse to get out of trouble. ``Oh, I am having a hard time with my boyfriend/girlfriend, I can't focus.'' Bull -- step up and be accountable. Stop coddling these kids or when they get to college and then the real world, they will be lost.
4) MAKE BIG CUTS IN THE DISTRICT OFFICE. Huge cuts..are you kidding me, there's an assistant director for nutrition?? Probably making upwards of 60,000 a year for what? Shouldn't the director be able to handle this with an administrative staff?
There are countless other areas of wasteful spending, but the problem is, the people in charge of cutting programs don't want to make their jobs any tougher, so they don't cut where it needs to be cut. Don't make the kids pay for the laziness of administrators and teachers.
Posted by mac, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm
Stacey, Long Time's suggestion of K-5 PE Teachers is an easy one. Are you suggesting that a separate and specially trained teacher is needed at this age to guide children in physical fitness and activities? Come on, now. Just about 'anyone' can manage to guide/teach/oversee that one.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm
Mac, far from it. I was wondering if PUSD seriously has PE teachers for K-5, if it isn't a joke. It sounds ridiculous if true. (Note: My children have not entered this age group yet.) I went to Fairlands and don't recall having a separate teacher for PE. We did like Long Time said, played basketball, tag, four square, dodge ball, etc. Based upon personal experience, I can't see the need for one. I'd be interested in understanding what the district's justification is for this. Show me the studies...
Posted by Susie, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm
Stacey, Yes they have PE teachers at the schools for kids K-5th. i too found it to be a JOKE. Same with the kids having to go to another teacher for Science. Back in my day my teacher taught all areas not a hit and miss like it is now. I grew up in Pleasanton attended Valley View, The Original Pleasanton School and then Amador.
Posted by another taxpayer, a resident of another community, on Jan 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm
there is no conclusive study that shows class size reduction produces a direct improvement in achievement. The studies that do show achievement state one of the biggest factors are prepared and qualified teachers.
class size reduction is just a fraud perpetrated on the public by the teachers union. their real goal is not educating students but getting more teachers hired. class size reduction allows them to hire more teachers, regardless of the the teacher's preparation or qualification.
-when the union has more teachers it has greater union membership from which to confiscate funds
-once teachers have tenure it is nearly impossible to fire them, they remain teachers forever (or become union administrators); how many other jobs can you remain in place even if you are a poor performer.
-more teachers allows the union to have a greater voting block for govt funding.
-a bigger voting block means more power for the union in order to get even more funding.
conclusion - the teachers union is evil. no more funding from additional taxing until they can demonstrate improvements in achievment and that school district can get rid of bad teachers who do not perform
Posted by What the Heck, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 9, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Long Time Pleasanton Resident,
You said the following in one of your posts:
") Get rid of most of the high school counselors. There is no need for the sheer number of counselors we have right now. Kids in this day and age use the counselors as an excuse to get out of trouble. ``Oh, I am having a hard time with my boyfriend/girlfriend, I can't focus.'' Bull -- step up and be accountable. Stop coddling these kids or when they get to college and then the real world, they will be lost."
WOW...you have no idea what a High School Counselor does, do you! Stop making ignorant comments like this...Counselors at the High School level are not sitting around playing pseudo psychologist...they are helping kids plan their high school career by creating their 4 year plans, making sure they graduate with the proper credits, help them understand college entrance requirements, keep track of academically "at-risk" students, write college reccomendation letters, act as liaison between student-teacher-school, the list goes on. Each counselor does all of this for 400+ students at the school. One of the reasons our kids are so successful is because Pleasanton High School Counselors work their tails off!
I do agree that there is some "fat" in the budget that can be trimmed!
Posted by 33 year Tri-Valley resident, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm
I am amazed at how black & white the community views a proposed budget cut. A significant cut has been made already for this school year to support the lack of funding received from the state. In order to deal with the current economic situation proposed by our governor a cut of 4x the current amount needs to happen over the next 18 months. It is hard to believe that cuts to personnel won't make a difference in how well the schools are run, but until I worked in the District Office I really didn't understand either. There is no "laziness" here. We "recycle" everything we are able. And I honestly do not know what "perks" people are talking about.
As a Livermore resident, I envy the opportunities that the Pleasanton children receive within PUSD. So I was honestly surprised
that there was not already a parcel tax in place. To continue to be one of the "best" school districts in the state of CA, knowing that the economy has been hit so significantly, CA even more so, why wouldn't a resident of Pleasanton not want to support a parcel tax? Even if we had a senior citizen exemption, an $8.33/month parcel tax would make a significant difference in keeping PUSD at the level that not only the Pleasanton citizens expect but the tri-valley citizens compare it to.
How much does the district spend in Adult education? And is that really something PUSD should do? Our main goal should be to educate kids in k-12, not adults - that is what the community colleges are for, and they too get funding from the state.
Do we need the Public Information department? We all receive information via our schools. And these people make generous salaries, so just get rid of this expense. The PW press release can be done, I am sure, by the superintendent's many helpers, without the need for an additional department/staff called Public Information.
The list goes on. Al, I hope you will do your job properly, demand that the proper cuts get made (only then would I support a parcel tax)- we do not need more "yes" people just approving everything Casey proposes.
Posted by wow!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm
How many would you put in a class?
There is a correlation between literacy and crime. Young children who do not learn to read end up in the system. Something like 85% of people in prison are illiterate. It is easier and more effective to teach reading to smaller groups. That's the ides behind class size reduction K-3.
Posted by Concerned Teacher and Parent, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Jan 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm
These are going to be extremely difficult times for all PUSD employees. Every single employee is part of the puzzle that makes this district so exceptional. Many families have moved from surrounding districts which do not provide the opportunities that this one does. It's important that this community joins together and begins to work on solutions, as Livermore did when the possible loss of class size reduction hit their community. They worked together and raised the funds to keep class size reduction.
Our district has data which shows the increase in early reading and math achievement due to class size reduction, teacher training, and intervention programs. Frankly, it was ridiculous that California ever reached the embarrassing status of having one of highest class sizes in the country. My nephews, who attended elementary school in Texas, never had more than 20 children in their elementary school careers. Our children have the right to be heard and learn in a pleasant learning environment. Sadly, this budget crisis took PUSD away from its goal of also reducing class size in our fourth and fifth grade classrooms.
It saddens me to read comments like "get rid of P.E. teachers". Our Physical Education teacher, Terri Drain, is an award winning teacher who carefully plans curriculum to match state standards. Any classroom teacher would be challenged to deliver the program Mrs. Drain provides for our children, and it's insulting to suggest that a volunteer could just throw out some balls for dodge ball and call that physical education. Of course, I think that the "bored housewife" comment is an insult to any hard working stay home mother, the toughest and most important job in society.
I don't usually respond to these blogs because some people are ill informed and truly mean spirited. But, many of you, like me, realize that we fortunate to live in such a special community with dedicated parents and school employees. I hope that over the tough months, this community, like Livermore, can prove that we are a community of character that truly cares about our children and wants more for them than we had when we were children.
Thanks to those of you who are being positive. Stay involved! The children need your support and people that believe they are entitled the best education we can provide. Let's not return to "the good old days". They really weren't that good. Many children were lost in the shuffle and standards weren't as high as they are today.
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm
I'm surprised that people are questioning the PE teachers. I went to school in the 70's in Ohio and even we had PE teachers in elementary school. I'm surprised that you didn't. As for the cuts, they are real and I believe they will have a strong impact on our children. We have a great school district and everyone plays a part in making that happen. It's easy to look from the outside and say "cut this" or "this isn't important" but just because it may not be important to you or your child doesn't mean it isn't important to someone else's child. These are hard times for everyone and we need to come together as a community. Yes, the school needs to do all they can and be as efficient as they can (and for the most part I believe they are) but I also believe we need to stop being selfish. We want to keep our high property values and that is in a large part due to our outstanding schools. If we want to keep them, we need to do something about it. That's my belief anyway, take it for what its worth ;-)
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm
"as Livermore did when the possible loss of class size reduction hit their community"
As far as I've been able to determine, Livermore uses their parcel tax primarily to fund class size reductions at _all grade levels_, despite the lack of studies showing the effectiveness of CSR at higher grades. CSR is an emotionally driven educational fad. The studies I've found on this issue show that CSR is only cost effective in grades K-3. Paying for the expensive program at higher grades is just wasting money. Anyone with an Internet connection can even do this research themselves. So referencing Livermore seems to be a poor example.
"It saddens me to read comments like "get rid of P.E. teachers". Our Physical Education teacher..."
Invariably in these types of discussions the personal qualities of staff gets confused with an objective look at the issue. Why did it become fashionable to have additional staff on hand for PE in elementary schools? What was the driving reason behind hiring such staff? Is this an essential position? What is the cost benefit of having such a position?
Additionally, I played dodge ball as "thrown out" by the excellent teachers I had in elementary school and still obtained a quality education from PUSD. I find your comments somewhat insulting towards their legacy.
Posted by Pleasanton resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 7:59 pm
Brovo 33 year Tri-Valley resident,
Don't you people understand that maybe a big part of the Budget Issue might be coming from the STATE LEVEL.(IE: THE GOVERNOR) You know the guy who keeps VETOING all proposed budgets, because he wants it his or the highway.
Please show me any company that can run a thriving business without a HR, Business Finace, Management departments. How about the Maintenance department. Who do you think is going to fix all the things that go wrong at the school sites. You would not believe how hard these people work to keep our schools in top notch condition. You know like in the winter when the a heater breaks down, or in the summer the air conditioning won't work for summer school. Broken water fountains for the kids.
And like Tri-Valley resident said, we recycle anything and everything we possibly can at the district level. The District Office has none of these extra or (perks) people keep refering to. Some of the staff even buy there own office supplies. How do you expect the bills to get paid, the employees to ge paid? How do you think keeps track of the budgets and makes sure the money is spent the way it was intended to be spent. I don't understand why the community thinks it's OK to attack us, when we work very hard to keep up with the workload.
I would support a parcel tax, because I want to be a part of the solution and not someone that complains and points fingers without a clue as to what they are talking about.
There was no COLA raise this year and we are probably looking at a pay freeze next year. You have no clue what the district employees pay for health and dental coverage. We don't pay into State Disability, if we want diability we have to pay for it our selfs through an independent provider. This saves the district money, because they don't have to contribute the employer portion.
And by the way Resident Again, The Adult Ed program is self contained. They don't receive money from the General Fund.
Please people, get the real facts before making these postings. The only thing this accomplishes is starting rummers that have no merit, causing the community to be come angry because they take what your are saying as fact.
Remember, State Budget issues are causing these problems. Maybe we should quit paying people that are elected to office and can not do the job as stated in the constitution. School districts are held to the deadlines set for passing their budgets.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 8:00 pm
"Frankly, it was ridiculous that California ever reached the embarrassing status of having one of highest class sizes in the country. My nephews, who attended elementary school in Texas, never had more than 20 children in their elementary school careers."
Anecdotes are not evidence.
Texas doesn't have to educate as many children as California nor does it fund education in the same way as in California.
Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 8:59 pm
OK Stacey, Heres some fact for you from your own web link from one of your posts.
School Finance 2008-09: Fiscal Crisis Meets Political Gridlock
PDF Download $6 Add to Cart (Download) Receive by Mail $6 x (Qty) Add to Cart (Print)
School districts across California are implementing the state’s 2008–09 education budget during a time of extraordinary financial pressure and instability.
Although the budget that legislators finally approved in September—the most delayed in state history—avoided dramatic reductions in overall state education spending, its impact at the local level tells a much different story.
School districts did not receive a full cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to account for rising salaries, utilities, and supplies. The state’s deepening fiscal crisis may require midyear cuts. School construction projects are in jeopardy due to the credit crisis. More school districts are asking their communities to pass parcel tax elections in order to compensate for unreliable state funds.
EdSource’s annual report on school finance explains the major features of the 2008–09 K–12 education budget and some of the complex political and economic factors behind it.
It includes discussions on the following issues:
• A looming state and national fiscal catastrophe has not broken Sacramento’s long-term deadlock in the debate about increasing revenues and cutting expenses.
• Education received ‘flat funding’ in the enacted 2008–09 budget, but midyear cuts threaten essential school programs.
• This year districts face many added fiscal constraints with no additional flexibility to help make ends meet.
• The economic situation means that sound financial management is more difficult. The number of school districts that cannot meet their financial obligations rose dramatically last year and may continue to increase.
• The Legislature made only minor changes this year in education policy, in the areas of testing, accountability, and career and technical education.
The report also provides useful detail and specifics on the following:
• The Proposition 98 calculations that determine school funding;
• The status of the state’s unpaid debt to school districts for mandate reimbursements;
• Sources of funding for K–12 education in the 2008–09 budget;
• A list of state and federal categorical programs and their funding amounts;
• A list of additional resources to learn more about California school finance.
EdSource thanks the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their investment in our core work.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm
I don't get it. What's the point you're trying to make by pasting that?
I didn't mean to imply that you personally don't have facts, but that the argument of Pleasanton resident is filled with emotional pleas. That person didn't provide any facts for why a parcel tax should be supported, just an emotional "I'm going to be part of the solution".
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 9:37 pm
Here is another link about classroom reduction for anyone that is interested: Web Link
It doesn't seem so far fetched to believe that less children in a classroom means more individual attention and a better quality education. My understanding is that the state is not cutting it's allocation for classroom reduction, but PUSD will no longer be able to afford their part. I believe the proposed budget cuts are public now, but I don't have the link yet.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 9:42 pm
Thanks for the link.
The question isn't whether less children in a classroom means more individual attention but whether there is a real cost benefit to it. It is like, you know that a higher grade gasoline would mean less pinging in your car's engine, but is the benefit achieved by using it worth the higher cost for the gas?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 9:45 pm
An additional note on CSR, did you know that when California implemented its State CSR K-3 funding initiative that an estimated 20,000 new teachers needed to be hired? This caused the State to relax qualifications for obtaining teaching credentials.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 9:52 pm
Just looking at the link posted by Pleasanton Mom. It mentions the Tennessee STAR study, which is a study I found when starting to research CSR. It shows that the cost benefit of CSR at grades K-3 is the greatest. The effects lasted into later grades even though the students were in larger classes. It is why the State of California created a funding program for CSR in grades K-3. But where is the study saying the same is true for CSR in the 9th grade? Why is Livermore using their parcel tax to fund CSR in all grades when there's no cost benefit analysis saying that is effective?
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm
I think I read that differently (not you're wrong, just I interpreted it differently). I thought the study said that greatest benefit was for grades K - 3 but the TN study found that CSR was beneficial for older grades because the social climate was more conducive to learning. Then there was another study that questioned that but neither was conclusive. I read several different things, so I could be confusing them.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 10:28 pm
Just my unscientific opinion...
I think something that affects our students' education a lot more than State funding or parcel taxes is our American culture, which doesn't value education in general. That is why other countries are surpassing us. We're anti-intellectual.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Wow, I am truly shocked by many of these posts. Obviously the majority of you have not been teachers or been closely involved with schools in general.
A parent volunteer can replace a qualified P.E. Teacher? Gee, you got to insult both stay at home moms and teachers with that comment...good for you! Why not get your Safeway checker or Scavenger to teach math while you're at it - oh wait, they wouldn't want to earn less money.
Class size reduction was an evil plot to increase the size of the union? Yet another person who has never been a teacher. See what you think is more effective, achieving the task of teaching 20 First Graders to read or 33 of them. Actually, judging from the (lack of) logic in many of these posts, there are likely very few teacher candidates here who would last even half a day with TEN First Graders!
Posted by Matt, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 12:46 am
I'm surprised to hear these comments on P.E. teacher on elementary school. We hear a lot on the news about obesity in kids, it's very important to teach kids sports / P.E. properly. We would not want them to grow obese. Healthy kids will become better kids.
On the state funding; it's mind boggling to hear the cuts in education but yet we keep on building, and spending for prison. The inmates even have health care! It seems we're investing for the effect, not for the cause.
I'd agree on the proposed parcel tax; kids are our future. Our current government are borrowing trillions of $$$ from their future; it's time for us to invest for their future instead of robbing them.
Posted by Pleasanton citizen, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 6:11 am
"class size reduction is just a fraud perpetrated on the public by the teachers union. their real goal is not educating students but getting more teachers hired."
EXCUSE ME BUT LET'S TRY TAKING 33 ADULTS STUFF THEM INTO A TINY ROOM, LIKE SARDINES IN A CAN, FOR 6 PLUS HOURS A DAY ALL SCHOOL YEAR LONG. CRAM THEIR DESK TOGETHER THEN GIVE THEM WORK EXPECTATIONS BASED ON TODAY'S STATE EDUCATION STANDARDS. HOW LONG WILL THOSE ADULTS STAY FOCUSED AND ACHIEVE! ADULTS WOULDN'T LAST YET YOU EXPECT CHILDREN TO COPE. YOU EXPECT THEIR ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL SKILLS TO BLOSSOM. ACADAMIC EXPECTATIONS FAR EXCEED WHAT STUDENTS WERE EXPECTED TO LEARN 15 YEARS AGO.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 8:35 am
What is shameful appears to be the lack of critical thinking on this issue. Several posters here seem to be working on the assumption that throwing money at a problem is the way to solve it. I invite them to send their next paycheck to our State legislature.
PE teachers prevent obesity? PE teachers do not purchase all the Nintendo DSes or iPods or junk food for the kids. It is shameful that parents think somehow teachers are going to fill in the holes the parents dug.
Posted by Ceaser, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 9:34 am
Here is the deal.
A parcel tax is off the table until PUSD gets serious about the following:
1. Reduce reduntant and unneccesary administrative positions.
2. Increase efficiency in the classroom by demanding more from teachers.
3. Provide a full explanation with respect to the current lawsuit (How much $)
As posted above, does the district need need 9 HR people or its own nutritionist?
The answer is no. Also, work rules for teachers are too lax. A 40 hour work week must be instituted in a renegotiated contract with the teacers. Finally, to date, Dr. Casey has not provided guidance regarding the costs associated with the never ending legal battle over the Neal School. Is a taxpayer supposed to give more tax dollars to PUSD so they can pay more legal fees? NO WAY! $6.5 as already been wasted. NO MORE! A surprise legal bill at the end of the process is unacceptable.
I want a monthly posting of billable hours charged to PUSD by its legal team.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 10:53 am
Until PUSD abolishes all tenure/seniority practices, implements performance based evaluation of teachers, fires the bottom 33% of teachers and replaces them with teachers from around the bay area who want to work in Pleasanton (for less pay than those who are fired), only then will I *begin* to think about supporting a parcel tax. Education is a service business. Improve the service, get the funds.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm
Oh Great, have you heard there is a shortage of teachers which is only to get worse! Programs at the University level have stayed stagnant while the need for well trained teachers have increased and is going to get worse when this current group of baby boomers retire in the next five years.
Many of the teachers we hire are going to diploma mills because of the weakening of our programs at the university level. Lateral moves from industry as a rule have not worked.
Carl has a lot of things to say but clearly has never worked in a school. Service profession and the product are the kids? Do I get to penalize the parents if they don't value or oversee the homework assigned? What about the students who go to school with no breakfast and can't concentrate? What does the teacher do about that? To treat students as products assumes a clean slate. Teachers do not have quality control over the raw resource that enters their room each fall.
However, the teachers in Pleasanton deserve more than they get because both high schools are among the top schools in the country...
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Ceaser, are you crazy? I have to say your post sounds like something from someone who knows NOTHING about education. If you feel the work hours for a teacher are really too lax, maybe you should become a teacher so you can have those lax rules too. Although, all of the teachers I know work really hard at a difficult job.
As for throwing money at a problem, I don't think that's what we're doing. We are trying to replace funding that is being taken away - not throw mindless money at a problem. Money isn't always the answer to everything, but you can't run a business (or a school) that is underfunded.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm
Anonymous, There is no shortage of highly qualified and experienced teachers who want to teach in Pleasanton for less pay. There are many PUSD teachers known to be ineffective who remain due to tenure and seniority personnel/union practices. I would rather PUSD retain class size reduction ($2M expense per the article) by reducing the cost of certificated salaries (currently $73M per the PUSD website budget report) by 3%. This can be accomplished by removing the higher salaried poor performing teachers, and replacing them with higher qualified staff at lower entry level pay.
I don't believe that Dr. Casey and the PUSD administration want to do the hard work necessary in these times to improve education quality in Pleasanton. Creating fear among parents by threatening to remove class size reduction so that a parcel tax can pass is a lazy tactic at best.
And yes, you can penalize the parents who don't value homework. It's called giving the child the grade they deserve. Eliminating social promotion will be another way to improve PUSD results. It will put more responsibility on the parents when their child is given the grades they deserve.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 3:40 pm
Go Ceaser! I agree. NO tenure, NO parcel tax, NO COLAs. Make the parents repsonsible for the kids that they CHOSE to have. Get em off the couch, don't expect me to pay for a P/E teacher to move their fat lazy butts around. My co-worker has 8 kids already and has no plans to stop making more. Why should I pay to educate them?!? Yeah, I know, someone is gonna throw in the "property values" argument. Well my house went down a couple hundred thousand in value in the last two years and I DID pay for education. How much worse will it be if I say "pay for your OWN kids and leave me alone"?
Posted by Ceaser, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 5:29 pm
I may take you up on the suggestion that I become a teacher.
The hours are great, tons of days off (I think they added All Saints day as a payed holiday), and all summer to recharge. If I pay my dues and get some seniority, I will be tenured. Then I can really start goofing off. Then, if a parent complains about my teaching, I'll tell them to take a hike and there will be no repercussions.
Posted by bza, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm
Wow ceaser, you can't honestly believe that. I'm guessing you wouldn't be smart enough to actually be a certified teacher to begin with. Hopefully you take your children to home school because it's just that easy to educate. How about this, observe a classroom for 40 hours and you tell me if it's such a cushy job. Idiot.
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 1:13 am
Why no COLAs? I thought this had been approved by the voters twice. Also, how can the school stop tenure or randomly get rid of staff? I believe there are contracts involved.
Caeser - I hope you do! I'd be interested in talking to you after you've done your student teaching ;-)
Does anyone else think it odd that we (as a society) pay our teachers a fraction of what professional football players make?
Resident of downtown - I'm sure that someday you will need to go to the doctor, or dentist or accountant, don't you want those people to be educated? Education benefits a society and it is all of our responsibility. We all reap the rewards.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 7:25 am
I have observed the "cushy" hours that pleasanton teachers put in. After teaching our kids during the day where they focused minute to minute cognitive interaction with 20 to 33 students, teachers stay and work several more hours planning lessons across the curriculum, researching interesting facts to capture our kids imagination, differentiate all the lessons, grade assignments, study individual student work so they can provide the various help needed by each student, attend meetings, fulfill requirements for committees and on and on and on the list goes. Work goes home with teachers, both in the evenings and on the weekends. Planning a new unit can take hours on the weekend. "Cushy" hours - NOT. If every adult had to work day, evenings, and weekends while juggling family and personal health needs, I'm not sure how long everyone would last without kneeling over from exhaustion. Teachers work this hard because they are dedicated to our students.
Posted by Ceaser, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 8:35 am
Let me back up a bit here.
I am sure there are many high quality teachers that put in long hours.
In my experience, those teachers have had a tremendous impact on my child's educaction.
The problem is TENURE. When lousy, disorganized, lazy and sometimes hostile teachers achieve tenure, They subject students and parents to a terrible learning experience. THERE IS NO WAY TO AFFECT THEIR BEHAVIOUR. THEY HAVE NO BOSS
THAT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO.
I would think that the good teachers would want a system that rewarded them. Poor performers, and people that should not even be around children could be reprimanded or moved out.
All organizations need a system rewards success and punishes failure.
Our schools do not. That is the source of my frustration.
I apologize for my previous statements that were a bit "over the top".
Posted by whose fault?, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 9:33 am
There are ways to remove tenured teachers who are not doing their job BUT it takes a conscientious administrator who documents things, keep good records, and notifies the teacher of deficiencies. It is hard but not impossible.
This reminds me of a time I went in to compliment a teacher in the Middle school. I was thrilled about what this teacher had done for two of my children and went in to relay this to the principal. Later that day I ran into a friend who I had seen leave the office as I was going in. In the conversation that followed I realized that she had an appointment right before me and she was there to decry the incompetence of the teacher I was there to compliment. Who was right? Well both of us because that teacher addressed the needs of my children but did not address the needs of hers.
I am sure the principal had a larger view of what was going on.
Parents view schools through the eyes of their children. Teachers and administrators views school through a larger lens. Both are valid perspectives but schools can't be managed by the experiences of a single child. It's not that the perception does not need to be addressed but it does need to be viewed in a larger context.
Another thing to note. Many assume that teachers are not disciplined. That is not true. What is true, that like all personnel issues, it is not public.
We are all human and good critical thinkers realize that an individual experience is not the entire story.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 9:41 am Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I'm glad to hear you apologize Ceasar, because really if your issue is with lazy, disorganized, hostile teachers, then you should stick to trashing THEM. Many of the comments on this board have bashed teachers in general - insinuating that their job is so easy and that they don't work hard. I bet many teachers would LOVE it if you enforced a 40 hour work week on them. You'd cut their time working by 50-100% of normal. In ANY field/industry/work place/etc. there are going to be inept, crappy workers and the field of education is no exception. Everyone wants the absolute best teacher but the fact is something Jackie Speier said years ago - we pay people WAY more money to watch our money than we do to watch our children!
Teachers have nothing to do with test scores? I loved that comment. That's just one of the forms of bull teachers put up with: when the kids are doing well it's thanks to the parents, when they aren't it's the teacher's fault! And teachers can only do so much with what they are given to work with. I sure don't have "Miracle Worker" listed on my resume!
My experience having two children go all the way through elementary and middle school here in Pleasanton is that the parents are very supportive and understanding of the teachers. This experience leads me to believe that many of you "hostile against teachers" posters either don't have children or haven't yet had them in our education system.
Stacey: "I think something that affects our students' education a lot more than State funding or parcel taxes is our American culture, which doesn't value education in general. That is why other countries are surpassing us. We're anti-intellectual."
Yeah, no kidding - just look at the negativity toward teachers expressed here. In other countries teachers are respected and would never be bashed. You yourself expressed that just playing dodge ball was quality enough for a physical education program that served you well. Yeah, and I never had to wear seat belts as a child which worked out fine for me, but was that the optimal situation?
It's too bad - none of you who have mouthed off against teachers will likely ever take the challenge and work a week in a classroom. It is truly one of the toughest jobs around. I agree that crappy teachers should not be allowed to continue in their positions - but the critera can't just be test scores. Again, teachers don't have full control over how the children perform. I agree that tenure is a system that should be looked at. But for goodness sakes, if you think being a teacher is so easy - GO FOR IT!
Posted by empty nester, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 10:12 am
To Al: Please don't use the old argument re: maintaining the value of our homes as a reason to support a parcel tax. Empty nesters savings have been depleted from wasteful gov spending and reading just some of these posts looks like our gov run school here in PLS is no different.Far too long, house values seem to take priority of doing what parents need to do for their kids. My children went through this system w/ my youngest ready to graduate from college this May. With the exception of a few good teachers, most of their education was supported by my husband and I (and yes I did work 32hrs/week) because they certainly were not getting it in the classroom. We worked w/ our kids every night. Summer was no exception. The best example was my youngest (21 now) 2nd grade teacher @ Walnut grove who decided her classroom did not need math books to learn math. She required a math journal. I had to personally go to the district office to acquire a math book so I could assure my child learned the basics. I was the ONLY parent who requested one, or so said the teacher. None the less, its not about money. Get rid of all the liberal crap that your tax dollars are going for, get involved w/ your child's education @ the home front, see what the teachers union are really supporting and let the cuts fall where they may. If my home value goes down, so be it. Paying one more dollar for another tax is a waste of my money just as it was when my kids were going through this system. And before someone suggests I am bitter and old and don't care about my community: No quite the opposite. I am probably one of the most optimistic people you would meet and actually am a health care provider who ends up working probably 8-10hrs off the clock for free because I am compassionate about the people I serve. BUT I do believe I value what is really important for successful schools. Hard work, devoted parents willing to spend time/energy w/ their kids to see they get what they need(vs worrying about my home value and my youthful appearance) and stop relying on the gov to educate them. If this was Katrina, a lot of you here sound like you are sitting on the roof top waiting for the Gov w/"our" tax dollars to rescue you and your kids. And my home value? I live in south Pleasanton, very nice development...butlets face it the homes in this area were over inflated anyway so when (not if) they do drop, they are where they probably should of been all along. And oh, my kids? Well one just finished her PHD program @ UCSD, the other got her masters @ SDSU and the youngest is a senior @ UC Davis. And guess what? No one's tax dollars put any of them through. And before you suggest we are well off. Well, both my husband and I grew up in the poorest part of Tenn, neither of our parents college educated and neither my husband or I collected one penny of Gov money to put ourselves through college but both of us have advance degrees. So wake up PLS...quit whinning, get your priorities right, own your responsibilities as a parent and quit trying to take more money from me to educate what you produced and do it in the name of my home value.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 10:50 am
Julie wrote: "You yourself expressed that just playing dodge ball was quality enough for a physical education program that served you well. Yeah, and I never had to wear seat belts as a child which worked out fine for me, but was that the optimal situation?"
Another reading of what I wrote could be in order. Programs have to be looked at for their cost benefit and that is what I've been trying to stress. Now the cost benefit of wearing a seat belt is quite high. Seat belts are low cost, standard equipment on vehicles. It costs nothing to put it on. And it helps avoid costly medical bills and even loss of life in case of an accident (high benefit). Some could say that is a "no-brainer".
Can the same be said of the benefits received for the cost of hiring PE teachers for elementary school? Where is the data supporting this idea? I would support such a thing contrary to my personal experience if there is good research backing it up. Let's try to find out...
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 11:07 am
The subject of PE teachers for elementary school elicits further questions. Elementary school teachers are multi-subject teachers. What is so special about PE that a specialist is hired? Why do kids not get separate specialized teachers for math or science in elementary school? After all, aren't the benefits obvious? Does it mean that an elementary school teacher's multi-subject training did not include PE?
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
No Stacey, I did not have a specific class in the instruction of physical education. Given how society mostly values Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, it likely won't surprise anyone that the classes dealing with specific instruction were as follows:
"The Teaching of Reading"
"Curriculum and Instruction - Mathematics"
"Curriculum and Instruction - Science" (hey, at least they included science!).
The other classes for the credential were:
"Analysis Child Behavior"
"Curriculum Elementary School" (general overall, I do think it touched on P.E.).
After that it was student teaching, though to get the next level of credential there were 3 classes in health education, computers and inclusion (including special needs children in the regular classroom).
You'll note that I also did not receive lengthy specific instruction in subjects such as music/music appreciation, art, social sciences. Personally, I think that whenever possible an expert in a subject is preferable. Again, the emphasis in the credential program (at least when I received mine a decade ago) was and likely still is Reading/Writing/Language Acquisition (think ESL) and Math.
And I think the problem people have with education is something you mention Stacey: it isn't truly quantifiable! My brother is an engineer and with his son's education he thinks that teachers and educational programs can be tested in the same manner as his computer hardware. It doesn't work that way! Children (& their teachers!) are human beings. Computer hardware either works the way you want or it doesn't. The parameters are relatively easy to set up and test or measure. If you are an Accountant, the numbers either work or they don't. What makes a great teacher? As someone pointed out above that is very subjective. And, you can have a teacher that the majority agree is "wonderful" but her student's test scores are not high because a) she is dealing with a group that is predominately non or limited English speaking; b) her students are predominately low income barely getting their basic needs met which makes higher learning a challenge at best; c) a percentage of her students have unidentified special needs; d) she has a lack of support from parents who don't follow through with their childrens' educational needs and expect the teacher to perform miracles; e) she has several students who are disruptive and she is extremely limited at how she can discipline; f) ALL OF THE ABOVE.
To quantify something you need a control, something that fits a mold. What is the "typical child"? There really isn't one, at least not in a heterogeneous society such as ours.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I also forgot to mention that a Multiple Subject Credential generally covers classrooms that include children from age 4.9 up to 11 years old. As an Early Child Specialist I can assure you that a child of 4.9 does not learn in the same manner as a 10 year old. You are taught about general child behaviors, after that it's up to you to learn as you go depending on what grade you end up with. My point is that teachers cannot be prepared for EVERYTHING or they'd be in school for a decade. And when you talk about cost benefit, if any prospective teacher truly considered that when choosing their career, no one would become a teacher even having to be in school "only" 4-5 years!
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Regarding the comments on tenure: Yes there are people who abuse the system, i.e. become lazy or disgruntled after reaching that level. However, you can find deadbeats in almost any working environment. Doing away with tenure completely is not the solution. Teaching requires a great deal of patience, skill and commitment. Unfortunately, the payscale is not in keeping with the amount of work required to do the job properly. The tenure system gives teachers some added incentives to do their job well. A perk if you will that rewards them for their investment.
Posted by Resident again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm
Eliminating PE or Science teachers is not the answer. We need to start at the top. Think about it: one assistant superintendent's slary + perks pays for at least 4 P.E. teachers! So eliminate two unnecessary positions at the admin level (An assistant superintendent plus the PI officer for instance) and I am sure that their salary + perks will be sufficient to pay PE teachers for ALL elementary schools.
Do not keep unnecessary administrators at the expense of valuable teachers.
Even I had a PE teacher when I was a kid.... and trust me, I did not attend the best schools, yet we had PE teachers!
Posted by Anna, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm
Yes, Stacey, that's true. There is no P.E. training in the multiple subject credential program. There are some P.E questions on the CSET test that anybody could answer, basic common sense stuff. I'm finishing the program now.
Posted by Macy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm
I'm from a different state where schools are funded in part by property taxes. No one questions this, everyone understands that society benefits when children are educated. No one argues that they don't have children so they shouldn't have to help fund the schools with taxes. We didn't have the problem of fluctuating funds for schools. Everything remains consistent year to year. There is also art class and music class once a week for all elementary school grades.
Some people argue that the wealthier towns have better schools in these states. Well, I find that true in California too.
Posted by MainStreetDiva, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Jan 11, 2009 at 7:28 pm MainStreetDiva is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I am coming into this discussion thread very late, so I apologize if this information has already been discussed.
My daughter attended Vintage Hills. The "class size reduction" in Kindergarten was, how shall I say this, interesting. At the time, I had assumed that each classroom would have 1 teacher with up to 20 students. How naive I was!
My daughter's classroom contained two 'classes' - they actually had 2 teachers teaching up to 40 kindergarteners in a single classroom.
The noise level and distraction level was equal to more than one class. Kids that age are active and loud! So, in my opinion, the "limiting class size to 20" plan was great in theory but less effective in reality.
Is this practice of combining classes in Kindergarten still happening in PUSD?
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 9:04 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
MSDiva, That's interesting. My daughter attended kindergarten at V.H. a few years ago and that was not the case. She was in the morning kindergarten with 1 teacher and 19 other students and then there was an afternoon class with a different teacher and 20 students. I suppose it's possible they overlapped a very short period of time, but I don't remember. I actually thought it was cool that the afternoon teacher was sometimes around in the a.m. and at those times it was 20 students with 2 teachers. 40 kindergartners in a single classroom??? Not without earplugs and duct tape :)
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm
As is true with almost everything the state does, at first they mandated class size reduction without any accommodation for additional classrooms. Districts had to figure it out and if they did not comply, loose money!
I believe that is why early on you might have a 40-2 ratio. Certainly not ideal but neither are combination classes (in most cases) and we do that too. Kids don't enter school in neat little bundles of 20 or 30.
Posted by Matt, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2009 at 11:12 pm
The value of your home does relates closely to the quality of education in the area. Notice how the real estate value in the area with good public school system are still holding up in these economic conditions. People still wants to get a house in good public school.
I used to live in Fremont, where they have good school as well not so good school. The property values in area with good school is still holding up; while the ones that are not, is not holding up quite well.
Providing a good education will pay down the road for a long time.
I wish Pleasanton Weekly published the list of cuts that's being proposed.
Increasing the class size for K-3 is not a good news. Its easier to teach someone at smaller size vs. in larger size, especially at those young age. If you don't believe smaller size is better, think back at your own experience. How was that class in a large hall feels like, vs. smaller class? How hard was it when you had questions and wanted to ask the teacher? It was probably fun, because the teacher can't see you.
I wish we put education into higher priority in this state. This is supposedly to be a forward thinking state.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 8:16 am
"The value of your home does relates closely to the quality of education in the area. Notice how the real estate value in the area with good public school system are still holding up in these economic conditions."
How about providing some statistics on this? You're the one making the claim so provide some data to back up your claim. Better yet, how about providing real estate statistics for areas with parcel taxes. Livermore is a good place to start. How are their housing prices? How are their schools? Does their parcel tax contribute to the quality of their schools?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 8:28 am
We're such a forward thinking state with our "tough on crime" stance of high incarceration rates and has it reduced crime at all? We spend more on our prison system than our school system. It is high time to stop listening to Republican and Democrat ideologues on this issue and start putting practical solutions to work.
"According to a new federally backed study conducted at the University of California, Irvine, the state’s corrections costs have grown by about 50 percent in less than a decade and now account for about 10 percent of state spending — nearly the same amount as higher education."
Posted by another taxpayer, a resident of another community, on Jan 12, 2009 at 9:30 am
Again the public empoyee union rears its head. For just about any oganization about 75% of costs are going to be personnel costs. Prison Correction costs rise because of the contract agreement with the union. Similar to the auto industry (with its union) alot of the cost go into paying pension. That's cost for people who don't even work anymore to provide any benefit to the system.
Why doesn't the teachers union like the voucher system??? They fight this tooth and nail. It would give parents more choice and more control. People could chose where to send their kids. This would also be a solution to the tenure issue. If a school had bad teachers, it would get a bad reputation and people would not want to send their kids there. Alternately, schools with good teachers which produce good results would be in great demand. people would want to send their kids there. These teachers would be more readily identified and could be compensated accordingly.
Voucher systems have worked where they have been tried. But the teachers union opposes them at every turn. That is why I say the union is not really interested in what is best for the student.
Posted by yet another tax payer, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Jan 12, 2009 at 9:49 am
So what about the teacher's union in Pleasanton offering some good faith concessions? And yes, a two year tenure process is abosultely detrimental to the quality of education in this town. Where else on
Posted by another taxpayer, a resident of another community, on Jan 12, 2009 at 9:59 am
Point is, that because of public employees union, taxpayers continue to pay salaries for pension receivers who are no longer even on the job. We get no real improvement in the correction system, just more cost.
Posted by Long Time Pleasanton Resident, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 11:43 am
It didn't surprise me to see the first person who objected to my elimination of K-5 PE teachers was a teacher. I get that you have each other's backs and I respect it. I am sure you have an award winning PE teacher. But in this time, when cuts have to be made, getting rid of PE teachers as opposed to other programs seems to make the most sense.
As for those of you who play the child-obesity card, get a clue. That doesn't fall on having grade school PE teachers, that falls on their parents, plain and simple.
Teachers can take the kids out every day of the school week and turn them loose for an hour on the playground. You do not need a PE teacher when other programs are at risk.
In a perfect world, we could have PE teachers, as well as other specialists at every school. But it's not a perfect world.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 11:54 am
It would be interesting to have the data detailing the number of school districts across the country with PE teachers for elementary school vs. those which don't and the obesity rates in children in those districts. LOL!
Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm
I am glad to see the community has got engaged. My initial goal has been achieved. Now lets try and be constructive and pull together to solve the issues. With respect to my business acumen with respect to real estate, I won't back off my claim on home values. Talk to a real estate professional, and NO i do not have a crystal ball, but my track record investing in real estate in Pleasanton and beyond is not bad. BTW, how come no one ever puts their full name to an entry?
Posted by PE Supporter, a member of the Lydiksen Elementary School community, on Jan 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm
PE teachers have become even more important to our communities wtih the obesity statistics on a rapid rise. Unfortunately, only having PE once per week is not making much of a dent. Personally, I would like to see PE every day in our schools. I would prefer an instructor that is qualified and able to motivate the kids and diversify the activities so that all kids would get involved. I just don't see a classroom teacher these days being motivated to put together a great PE program. They are already under pressue with test scores and other standards inside the classrooms. It isn't like the "old" days anymore.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm
"I won't back off my claim on home values"
"Which Measures of School Quality Does the Housing Market Value?" Web Link
"The results suggest that the housing market values proficiency test passage rates but not value added by a school district. Therefore, it may be that parents do not choose schooling based on which school districts are best able to improve students’ academic achievement; instead, they appear to choose school systems based on peer group effects"
Note that housing values are based upon a public's perception (or misconception) of what constitutes a "quality school", namely test scores, rather than in the quality of teaching as measured by how the students improve (the value-added measurement). Also found this Web Link "If you look at raw data (I have WA State at hand -- the supposedly "43rd" ranked state in the nation when it comes to funding), you'll see that there is precious little difference, if any, between academic achievement in districts that allocate more money to education than those that can allocate less." I wish I knew what this person was looking at.
"BTW, how come no one ever puts their full name to an entry? "
Because the Internet is no place to be plastering your full name.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 4:19 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I don't have statistics Stacey, but why doesn't it simply make sense that (perceived) quality schools can have a positive effect on real estate? There's the model of supply and demand. If more people desire a certain neighborhood or town housing prices will rise. Both times I purchased a home, the Real Estate Agent discussed school quality as a selling point - even before I had children. When we were researching where to move in this area (Dublin, Livermore or Pleasanton) our broker suggested that if we could afford Pleasanton (at the time perceived as being the most expensive of the three) we should choose it as *Pleasanton schools were superior* to the neighboring town's. When I first moved here my mom sent me data on school "scores" that were posted in her S.F. newspaper. In this context a "10" was the best. She couldn't believe it. I think every school in Alamo, Danville, San Ramon and (almost) Pleasanton (there was one "9") scored 10s. In her town of S.F. there was much more of a fluctuation in the scores (interestingly it generally depended on what *neighborhood* the school was in.
This link was interesting, though not local and I realize that Bay Area real estate is an unique animal at best! Web Link=
Posted by Macy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm
Stacey, why does the money for schools fluctuate? I lived in New York, went to public schools there K through 12, and my kids attended school there for 5 years. Money for schools was never an issue. What's the deal here? However California is funding schools, it obviously doesn't work well if you can't count on the money needed being there year to year.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 4:38 pm
It is interesting that per pupil spending, along with test scores, is something that the housing market values as indicators of "school quality" even though there the studies at worst find no correlation and at best see conflicting results: Web Link
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm
It is interesting that per pupil spending, along with test scores, is something that the housing market values as indicators of "school quality" even though the studies at worst find no correlation and at best see conflicting results between per pupil spending and actual student achievement. Web Link
"Many believe that American education can only be improved with a sizable infusion of new resources into the nation's schools. Others find little evidence that large increases in spending lead to improvements in educational performance. Do additional school resources actually make any difference? The evidence on this question offers a striking paradox. Many analysts have found that extra school resources play a negligible role in improving student achievement while children are in school. Yet many economists have gathered data showing that students who attend well-endowed schools grow up to enjoy better job market success than children whose education takes place in schools where resources are limited."
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2009 at 12:56 pm
This is so entertaining....
Pleasanton schools are great compared to other California schools. When compared to the rest of the country they are pathetic. Some of the problem is most people beleive it is the schools responsibility to teach our kids to read, provide nutritious lunches and help our obese kids. I always beleived that was my responsibily as a parent.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Teachers may earn more here compared to other places, but in general the profession of teaching, particularly in the younger grades, is crap compared to most industries with comparable expectations of education. The thought of cutting a teacher's pay is unbelievable to me. And remember, often you get what you pay for. People here are already complaining about their perceived lacking in teachers. Cut the pay and see what you get!
I was also thinking about how sometimes there simply isn't research to support a premise. There is a lot of "perceived" value in our culture. I'm sure there are no studies supporting the fact that a person enjoys life more or say, is a better driver in a BMW instead of a Ford. But many people, given the choice, would choose a BMW. You can say there is not correlation (a meaningless term really) between housing prices and the quality of schools, but the bottom line is that most people perceive value in having a "quality" school in their neighborhood and, given the choice, will pay more for a house in a good school district than in a bad one.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 12:48 pm
Stacey, likes to talk about facts, but does not like to use them. She forgot that Fairlands has had PE teachers before she attended. .Based on her reference to Pleasanton School (not Pleasanton Elementary, as it was known until the 77-78 school year) and Her attendance at Amador not Foothill, we can place her at Fairlands in the 72-76 years - all years staffed with PE Teachers.
Currently, they have one or two now for all grades.
Perhaps some who do not exploit their educations do not see value in supporting today's youth!
Of course with all bureaucracies there is some room for belt tightening, but to assume that intelligent, competent decisions about where that should occur by way of web site review is absurd.
PUSD did not pursue a parcel tax in November (and it was a topic) when it would have likely passed because it did not seem necessary based on the budget situation at the time.
Things have changed both in Sacramento and nationwide through no fault of the children.
Certainly the residents of the "Wealthiest Middle Sized City in America" can afford to support a $100 year parcel tax. Most neighboring communities have larger assessments!
Posted by Kelly, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Stacey is very vocal on this thread, but fortunately she only has one vote. I care about Pleasanton's children. I care about Pleasanton's teachers and school district employees. And I do care about property values too. A lot of the posts on this thread seem to inidcate that there are a lot more people in Pleasanton like me who want to do what is right for our community even in these tough economic times. It is time for us to band together and drum up even more support. I watched the school board meeting last night. I understand the facts. These are not scare tactics. Obviously, the school board and administrators are not perfect. They are human and make mistakes like the rest of us. We need to look at the bigger picture. Ths State of CA is in a major economic crisis, much like the rest of the world at the moment. We need to proactively deal with our current situation and ultimately the solution is going to come from raising money via the parcel tax and cutting expenses.
I will vote YES on a parcel tax and I intend to do everything I can to encourage others in our community to support a parcel tax as well.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm
How'd you figure that all out?
- I never made a reference to Pleasanton School.
- I didn't live in Pleasanton in those years.
- I attended Foothill.
- During those years, schools were funded locally, unlike when I attended Fairlands. Districts didn't have to deal with categorical spending that reduced their ability to provide adequate funding to local needs.
If you didn't notice from the list provided elsewhere, PE teachers in elementary schools are on the proposed cut list as are the "prep" periods. That was an intelligent and competent decision made by the PUSD administration based upon their knowledge of what is truly essential and what is not, not by website review. Besides, we won't need a parcel tax since CTA is going to put an education tax on the ballot...
And if you truly valued supporting today's youth, you wouldn't throw out judgmental statements about how well you think someone is exploiting their education, but instead try to discuss ways that the problem can be fixed at the State level, where the funding comes from, so that all of California's youth can benefit.
Posted by Rae, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm
Geez! Throwing parcel tax money at the budget problem without a plan for success, measurable goals, and consequences for failure is just throwing money away.
Can anyone say TARP??? It hasn't been that long ago - remember the billions given to banks and insurance companies whose CEOs did not have a recovery plan. And while cuts were made right and left on workerbee jobs and benefits, the CEOs certainly took no reduction in any of their salaries or perks. Now, even as they have their hands out for more, they refuse to say how the initial 350 billion was spent.
Slicing only the big buck overhead money savers in the school budget, like eliminating teacher positions and class size reduction, is losing the opportunity to make sure that each and every item in the operating and expense budget is absolutely necessary, has no fat, and is optimized for success.
Before we're asked to pay a parcel tax, Superintendent Casey and the School Board need to do the hard, line-by-line budget work first! We need full public disclosure - the work needs to be transparent - with no hidden expenses or "sacred cows" (like the Superintendent's salary and perks). Tell us specifically what reductions are proposed and why. Then, if we still need it, ask us for a parcel tax, but be prepared to show us a specific plan for its use - one that includes goals, consequences and a timeframe.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 4:13 pm
For some reason the Superintendents salary is the only one not posted online.
This information is two years out of date and the web link no longer works.
Someone needs to request this information under the public information act.
In addition to the salary of $227,000 per year he receives some pretty good benefits:
10 holidays per year (more if another state holiday occurs on a weekend)
24 days of vacation per year (5 weeks)
$5,000 per year for life insurance
$10,000 per year into a tax sheltered annuity
$1,000 per month as a transportation allowance for use of his personal vehicle
Once retired receives taxpayer paid medical, dental and vision insurance for himself and his spouse until he reaches 65.
Car allowance, that is $1,000 per month. Items like expense accounts, travel, cell phones would not be part of a contract so the only way to find these is to look at the budget for the superintendent's department. You should also be able to get a detailed report of those types of expenses if you contacted the district. That is all public information and through the public information act the district has to give this to anybody who asks.
The superintendent budgets $13,000 for travel, $1660 for meals, $7000 for office supplies. For superintendent communications, which includes the public information officer, travel, office supplies and such is $175,150.
If you look at the complete charges for travel and conferences for the whole district there is about $510,000 for 2007.
200,000 interest free loan to buy his home in Ptown, no repayment until 18 mths after he leaves the district.
Posted by RealPerson, a resident of the Grey Eagle Estates neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 6:55 pm
"The hours are great, tons of days off (I think they added All Saints day as a payed holiday), and all summer to recharge. If I pay my dues and get some seniority, I will be tenured. Then I can really start goofing off. Then, if a parent complains about my teaching, I'll tell them to take a hike and there will be no repercussions."
You know what else is great about being a teacher? The respect. Why don't you all attack your doctors and lawyers this way? You are paying them too and, I highly doubt you always get quality service. There are slackers in every profession. MOST of the teachers I have encountered in this district are EXEMPLARY!! You try that job for a day. I guarantee you won't be able to do it.
Teaching is an exceedingly difficult job, having hundreds of kids demanding from you all day is daunting. I am pretty sure most of you have jobs where you just have to worry about yourself and your performance and I am pretty sure you don't have every person in the community looking down at you if you make a "mistake". Oh wait, you don't make mistakes, if you did you would be a teacher.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm
You can choose to put your taxpayer money into schools or into correctional facilities. It's one or the other, either way you pay.
I would rather pay for schools. Schools continue to cut and cut and cut, but jails have higher paid employees, better job security for those employees and amazing educational opportunities for their detainees. Why don't we pull it together support schools they way they need to be supported by providing what they need today to be competitive in this world and global economy, not like back when you were all in school - that won't cut it, the world is changing, kids are changing - - face it.
Support schools now or live with the consequences without complaint.
Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm
As parents we do have a responsibility to our children, but, what responsibility do we have to children who are not coming from homes with parents who will teach them to read, eat nutritious food, and exercise? Do we just say "screw them"? Too bad they were not born into privilege like my kids? That is not compassionate, a child does not choose which parents she is born to. I have traveled extensively (thanks to the affluence I was born into) and in many developing countries this is the case, if you are born poor you will die poor. This is not a developing country. All of our children deserve the most opportunity we can provide and if that means taking care of some of their social-emotional needs as well as providing them with an outstanding education then so be it. We will all benefit in the long run.
I, frankly, expect more from a community that is so educated. We need our schools to be strong, we need our children to be loved, taught and protected by people who are respected and well compensated.
"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life"
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 10:01 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
RealPerson, you forgot *parents* :) Having kids AND THEIR PARENTS demanding from you all day is daunting!
Teachers have to continue taking classes to keep their credentials active and often take these classes when they are "off" in the summer. I also know many teachers who have to work other jobs (e.g. summer school) to make ends meet. Still others do research, attend workshops, plan lessons, etc. Quit assuming that all teachers take all summer "off". I know people in non-teaching professions who get quite a nice benefit package that includes weeks off every year (& they don't have to take classes or work 2nd jobs during that time).
Posted by Ptown, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2009 at 10:57 pm
When looking at the "generous" pay that teachers get please remember to subtract about 20K from their salary (at all levels!) to allow for the fact that teachers have to pay for their own health benefits. Nothing covered by the district. Nothing. Maybe one of you nay-sayers would be willing to post your pay scale and have one of use come and evaluate you and decide if you are worthy? Oh, wait, no it's different if you are not paid with precious "taxpayer" money. Seriously, there is so much waste and inadquacy in the private sector. Anyone remember the good times in Silicon Valley?
Posted by Cicero, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm
This morning I was feeding my son before I left to go teach. While he was eating and I was watching Kindergarten Cop, staring none other, than the Governator. It was his first day at work, and it had just ended. As he sat there with his head in his hands, the main child told him he was a bad teacher, and that many others were better. When Arnie returns to his hotel, he collapses on his bed and passes out.
I remember my first day and my wife's first day of teaching. That scene is an understatement. I hope someone would show the Governator that movie again, so he can remember the plight of the teacher.
"It's not a tumor!"
If anyone doesn't believe me, switch jobs with any teacher for one day and discover the paradox of feeling rewarded while no thanks you for anything.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 12:15 pm
Stacey, sorry for the wrong assumption about your school attendance -must have mixed two messengers, but I must say , that Fairlands has been funded through state and local taxes since it's existence. Including those years when the school bus picked us up at the now gone semi-circle driveway in front of Fairlands.
You accuse people of lack of critical thinking, this really is insulting. You must be correct and the rest of us idiots. The fact that we think that the community should mobilize to maintain status quo for our schools, seems ridiculous to you and to others.
But our logic is, the status quo is a pretty darn good status.
Two high schools in the top 400 in the nation.
Many distinguished schools.
National recognized civic teams and marching bands (oh that is not important to education)
You see, we don’t think the results reflect something that is broken. We think they are pretty darn good.
There is quantitative and qualitative evidence to prove that high performing school districts
If you are a homeowner it is in your economic interest to maintain the status of the school district. If you are not homeowner, you would not be subject to the $8.33 a month parcel tax.
One blogger suggested that every employee of the district should take a 10% pay cut. Boy that would fair, the families of the already under compensated teachers would have to bear the entire communities burden.
Of course there is not a perfect solution, but lets get real.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm
Critical thinking involves heavy doses of skepticism and logical thought. If the status quo is so good, ask what is causing that so we can capitalize upon those causes while cutting that which doesn't contribute. Let the district administration present its evidence for why such 'n' such is needed. Where is their cost-benefit analysis of such 'n' such program that justifies its inclusion in the budget? Let the reasons for a parcel tax (poor economy and low State funding levels) dictate the expiration of such a tax (better economy and higher State funding levels).
"There is quantitative and qualitative evidence to prove that high performing school districts "
Yes, I posted some of the information regarding this subject, what you termed "website review", myself. The results of studies show that high test scores and high per pupil spending are valued by the housing market and get capitalized into housing prices. Actual student achievement though is not reflected in housing prices.
I don't agree with pay cuts personally. It turns out that the salaries are rather competitive. What I take issue with is the idea that the status quo is a district already running lean and can't suffer more cuts. How does keeping 9 PE teachers for elementary school students contribute to making a "distinguished school"? What even is meant by "distinguished school"? How did we achieve such schools without having a parcel tax?
Why does everyone divide up the parcel tax number? The county doesn't bill homeowners monthly or daily.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm
“There is quantitative and qualitative evidence to prove that high performing school districts’ help protect home values in the communities they serve.” (The end of the sentence was cut off by the web link that replaced the URL I populated.)
Where is the cost benefit analysis for excluding such programs? Arguing (falsely I might add) that your primary teacher provided all of the PE you needed at Fairlands (via dodgeball, which is now banned) therefore, there is no benefit to a PE teacher, is an inductive argument, not deductive. All of your arguments against it have been based on conjecture. Not much critical thinking went on there.
Sure cost benefit analysis needs to be done, but neither you nor, I have done it at a meaningful level.
What is clear to me that the cost an $8m reduction in school budget and its impact on the kids education and potential impact on the experience living in the community, far outweighs the benefit of saving a few dollars a month (or $50 every six months) to fund a parcel tax.
I agree that a parcel tax should be temporary, and preferably tied, to objective criteria, for determining its end of life.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm
"Where is the cost benefit analysis for excluding such programs?"
No, no, it doesn't work that way. The burden of proof is upon those that claim the program is needed. Beside, if the program is excluded, there are no costs and thus no benefit derived. Additionally, let's stick to monetary cost because that is what a budget governs, not theoretical social costs like rising obesity rates, as one poster wrote.
"Sure cost benefit analysis needs to be done, but neither you nor, I have done it at a meaningful level."
Which is why the administration needs to provide their arguments and educate the public that they've done this homework instead of us having to read Pat Kernan's ridiculous and passionate remarks.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm
Sure it works that way. You are arguing to eliminate existing programs. Programs that have already had to pass your cost benefit test when they were funded.
Having a budget crisis does not change the cost benefit equation from an educational side, but perhaps it does change it from a personal funding side.
Reality says that cost and benefit will be determined by subjective means. Common sense!
For example we can probably measure the difference in literacy where schools do and don't exist, and maybe place monetary values on them. It becomes a lot harder to quantify things which are more abstract or less tangible in terms of value. For example I may have set a standard in place that says that all High School students must meet a minimum criteria to graduate, like CA did a few years back. Now most people intrinsically know that it is a fundamentally good idea, it has cost associated with it. So how do we measure that benefit? Oh I guess we can say we have more qualified graduates, but to what end? How do we measure the benefit? We don't, we are smart enough with our advanced critical thinking skills to understand it is valuable. To do abstract analysis to prove what is common sense is a waste of time and money.
Critical thinking does not require a negative or positive hypothesis, either will do.
Arguing the absence of a program, means it bears no cost is an absolute absurdity. That is like saying not eating is free. But there are clear cost to the health of the individual who has not been nourished. Heck, lets just stop funding the police departments, Caltrans, the fire department, since we might have a hard time quantifying the cost benefit (especially with Caltrans : ) ).
How do you measure benefit? What about the downstream impacts, higher salary, higher recidivism, percent who cured lethal diseases and the resultant savings, the number of people they employed… etc. You can’t. Does that mean that no value exist?
So how do you measure giving the students any education in your cost benefit world. Do you use a double blind study?
I will volunteer my kids for the ‘to be educated side’, your’s can go take the other half the study, I promise I won’t tell.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm
"Programs that have already had to pass your cost benefit test when they were funded."
Oh, were they? If that's the case then the district administration's job is easy and they would have no problem presenting a convincing argument for why the programs can't be cut. Or are you just assuming these programs "passed" because they're there?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm
BTW, proper cost benefit analysis DOES place a monetary value upon all those items that we think can't have one assigned. In order to include the cost of rising obesity rates, it would first have to be shown that PE in elementary school plays a role in that. Does it?
Posted by :), a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2009 at 11:39 pm
Just a few things:
Tenured teachers CAN be removed. If a tenured teacher receives an unsatisfactory evaluation, s/he is involunarily placed in the PAR program (Peer Assistance and Review.) Not improving to "satisfactory" within the time frame means termination.
Pleasanton teachers seem to make much more than other districts, but Pleasanton teachers are given money to cover the cost of medical insurance IN THEIR PAYCHECK. Other districts spend that money themselves and so reduce the salary of the teacher to cover it. If medical benefits cost ~$7,200/yr. that would explain part of the big difference in salaries between our distric and others'. I have to pay the expensive premium myself (and cannot choose outside the District Plan unless I'm covered by a spouse.)
PE has specific standards to be covered, regardless of who is teaching the children. You might be surprised at the specificity and variety of skills the children learn. Web Link
Teacher Hours and "All Those Days Off"
You know, teachers laugh at how funny this statement is - no point in getting upset. I'm a teacher here in Pleasanton and work a minimum of 11-hour days during the week, and at least 4 more hours on the weekend. During the two weeks I'm adding the work of report cards, add on at least 30 hours per week - I have 33 students.
For those vacation days off, often the parking lot has more than a few cars of teachers working, and you should see the rest of the teachers on the school day before break, leaving their rooms laden like pack mules with huge bags of student journals, essays, etc. and of teacher prep materials. They're not at school because they took all that work home. Ahhh, the easy life!
This job is a TON of work, but because we love the kids, we take on all that work, make personal sacrifices, are SUPER busy from bell to bell and beyond, and all with a smile. The kids are so worth it; they're amazing. I don't know a teacher who doesn't care and who doesn't work HARD for his/her kids.
State standards are very high and you should see the kind of thinking and skills these kids have today! Often parents comment that they did the same math, but were two or three grades higher when they learned it.
As to CSR - if class size doesn't make a difference (or isn't worth the money,) then why not Girl/Boy Scout troups of 33, swim classes with 33, piano lessons with 33? Eek, right? :)
Before class size reduction, 4th and 5th grade teachers had quite a few children who COULD NOT READ; after class size reduction, this is not an issue - how awesome is that: a literate population, plus they can think and focus on their character.
There's always a cost to learning. Want to learn piano? You pay for lessons. Tai Kwon Do? Again, you pay for lessons. How much do we value learning and having well-educated children, not just educated-enough children?
Happened to see this blog and wanted to add some facts to the discussion. You can find lots of information in the Ed. Code, State Standards, and on state sites as to what is required and provided.
Adios, amigos! I've packed my two huge bags and am heading out for the weekend.
P.S. An interesting reality show would be to have adults who are not teachers but untrained "experts" on education go into the classroom for one month. It would be detrimental to the children (behavior, academics) and so not feasible, but interesting to think about. Wow, would it change their view on education: the system, teaching, the whole sha-bang!
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm
I paid a premium to move to Pleasanton last summer ($300K more than my other choices) for no other reasons than the great schools. If PUSD decides to cut programs in these schools and allow the quality of our schools to deteriorate, I will, without a doubt, sell my property and move elsewhere. This city will be no different than its neighbor Dublin, Livermore, or Tracy without its great schools. There are so many choices in the Bay Area. So, if PUSD compromise the schools, the entire city will be compromised.
Posted by Sean, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Teachers get paid $65K - $95K a year and have lots of holidays, minimum days, and 3 months of summer and winter vacations. That's not to mention that they get out of work at 3pm!!! And here we are feeling sorry for the teachers??? I work 9-10 hours a day without overtime pay and only 11 days of vacation a year and I take home only $92K a year. So, who's gonna feel sorry for working folks like me???
Posted by Melissa, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2009 at 6:34 pm
Why don't the teachers take a few furlough days and cut their pay by a small percentage (maybe the same amount that got in last year's raise0? This coupled with the parcel tax would offset layoffs to all personnel and retain key programs and staff that make Pleasanton a preferred district to educate children. Pleasanton is a great district and the excellent repuatation it has is why families continue to buy homes in that region and therefore keeps the property values high!
Posted by P'town Res, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm
Teachers do not get paid the amount of money you see on the PUSD website, please subtract at least 20k annually from each level of salary you see there for basic health benefits.
No teacher I know works till only 3:00 and we certainly do not get paid overtime.
Summers for most of us are spent keeping our credentials current and taking courses to help us bring dynamic and interesting content to your children every day.
All teachers have a minimum of 1 year post-BS education, most have Masters degrees, you are talking about highly educated, passionate people. Nobody needs to feel sorry for us, just respect the job we do. It's tough, no way around it. All we ask is for respect and support, and not to be cut down and used as the scapegoat every time something goes wrong. Teachers did not cause this financial situation, greed in the private sector did.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 8:35 am Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sean, I'm truly just curious for reasons of comparison. What level of education do you have and how long have you been working in your field to earn that 92K? Do you pay for your own benefits out of that 92K?
As Ptown Res points out basically all teachers have an advanced degree (to me since a credential is post BA/BS it is "advanced"). No teacher starts at that 95K you quote - they work for *years* and/or take *many* classes/units to get there. I know quite a few people in the computer industry who earn your salary and above and have been working a relatively short time in the field and have either no degree or "just" a BA/BS. And that salary doesn't include all the other "perks": medical/dental benefits, 401K matches, stock options, bonuses, health club membership, etc. etc. etc.
And by the way, those minimum days are for the students, not the teachers! The *students* leave at 3. As someone else pointed out, if you see teachers leaving at 3 they are bringing work home or working on the weekend. Do you think all of those subjects they teach prep themselves? The papers correct themselves? Even teachers who have taught for years take time to prep because curricula/standards/students change!
Posted by P'town Res, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 9:05 am
Great points to bring up. Yes, teaching is somewhat "flexible" in terms of when and where prepping and grading can be done. I wonder how many 36 hour (or more) shifts Sean has pulled at his regular job? Many of us participate in taking kids on educational trips abroad or just for weekends closer. These are in NO WAY vacations. Supervising kids for days on end. No overtime, no comp days, no perks. Just doing it because we VALUE the amazing educational experience these things bring to our (your) kids. We teach fabulous, smart, wonderful kids. We want to give them everything. Sometimes it's easy for the public to not see how much we give, and frankly - that is painful. We don't ask for thanks. Many good people quit teaching for just this reason, the negativity.
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of the Southeast Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm
I think we are at a crossroads and we have a choice to make about what we value as a community. For several years, we have lived in a community with one of the best school districts in the state as measured by test scores, Blue Ribbon awards, Newsweek articles, etc. This benefits all of us. Yes, the district can cut $8.7 from its budget and the world will not come to an end. Pleasanton will not be a “crap district” as Mr. Kernan stated, but it will no longer be one of the top in the state either. I want to live in a community that is better than the average, not on par with it. We could’ve bought the same house for much less money in Livermore or Dublin, but we chose to buy in Pleasanton. Why? Because this town is a great place to raise kids! It’s safe, there is a strong sense of community (I love the soccer parade!), and the school district is strong. I’m sure these are the reasons many of us moved here or fought to stay here even when the cost of living got high. The truth is, we cannot have public education AND no taxes. If we are to reap the rewards of an educated community (and it’s not just people who currently have children in school who stand to benefit from this!) then we need to step up and support our teachers and our schools. Yes, the district will have to cut back on some of it’s spending… but likewise, can’t we? I hate taxes as much as the next person, but $300 over the course of a year is not a lot compared with the price we pay as a society for not properly funding our schools.
Posted by Sean, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Many other reputable school districts in the bay area (e.g. Cupertino, Fremont, Palo Alto, Piedmont, etc.) are faced with the same cuts and many of these districts have long been receiving LESS fundings per students from the state than those received by PUSD. If these other districts can continue to fund quality educational programs and services for their kids and still maintain their excellence in standards while receiving less fundings than PUSD, what is WRONG with PUSD???
1. Poorly written union contracts that give teachers too much while requiring too little. Lots of the prep time, development days, minimum days, etc. are just perks for the teachers. The truth is, teachers can teach just as well, if not better, without all these "time off".
2. Superintendent is putting his own financial interest, and those of his senior staff, over the interest of the students and the community. In an economy like this, Casey and his staffs should volunteer to take a pay and benefits cut in the best interest of the students. Teachers should do the same instead of asking for more taxes to line their pockets.
3. Quality of education in Pleasanton is anything but superb. Yes, the API scores have risen in recent years. But that's because the schools are now teaching to the tests. No longer are students expected to learn for the benefits of learning. Students are taught test-taking skills instead. PUSD should stop fooling itself into thinking that it offers quality education
If you want our money, work hard for it. First fire all your non-essential staff. Next, take a pay cut and renegotiate those union contracts. Put those funds back into educational programs and services for the kids. Then, and only then, we can begin to consider giving the district more money to fund better programs. If you're looking for taxes to support things as-is, you might have a better chance getting money from the "W". We taxpayers are just a tad bit smarter than the reps we elect.
Posted by Amador Family, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 9:15 am
Sean should be a teacher since it's so great. It's weird that since teaching is a totally lucrative and easy job that still, we have a shortage of teachers? Maybe it's because it's actually not very lucrative and it's hard. Sean, I challenge you to get your teaching credential and teach, then we can feel sorry for you.
Posted by Devon, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Sean is right. Cutting operational costs should be the highest priority for Dr. Casey. Commitments from him to slash his salary and those of his staff should prevail any additional taxation. We do support our teachers and students but blindly throwing more money at PUSD is definitely not the solution. Neither is accepting Dr. Casey's proposal to cut educational programs for the children.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 10:22 am
And I'm sure without having to look it up that Palo Alto and Piedmont are also facing cuts, despite having a parcel tax. Livermore certainly is. What do you think are these districts are going to do? Propose an increase in their parcel tax to make up the difference? $500 parcel tax!
PUSD has to make deep cuts before considering proposing a parcel tax. Public entities are hogs that love feeding from the public trough.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 10:47 am
I agree with Stacey - lets have a all volunteer school district, police department and fire department; heck lets include public works. Whoohooo, who needs streets or sidewalks, educated children, a safe community or any government service? Stacey, Palo Alto nor Piedmont are having the emergency budget meetings, they are funded!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 11:46 am
Bravo, 38 year resident, for trying to put words in my mouth! No where can I see that I wrote that we should do away with government services yet you immediately jumped to this conclusion and implied that it was my suggestion. It means you missed the point or chose purposely to ignore it. And the point is, give an inch they'll take a mile.
"Palo Alto nor Piedmont are having the emergency budget meetings, they are funded!"
And yet google for "palo alto school district cuts" and "piedmont school district cuts" yields the following:
"School district preps for Draconian budget cuts "
Posted by Toni-parent and teacher, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm
To: Blog communicators
I am very disappointed by the lack of knowledge (facts) and a real discussion of the issues on this thread. Instead, there is venting and name calling, rather than a proactive and productive discussion that can lead to a solution on this thread and others related to this topic.
Instead, I have seen my profession, that has been a passion of mine for the last 15 years, insulted and criticized. No, I do not have tenure as I went from College instructor, to family management and then returned to the profession after acquiring a CA teaching credential, only to be put in the middle of this budget crisis. I am angry at the state legislation for not being held accountable in doing their jobs. However, I do thank you all for holding your district responsible. PUSD has a sound fiscal management team and has benefited from this, as we did not have to remove programs or teachers from our classrooms, until now. Unlike other surrounding districts who were not as responsible and whose students have already experienced what our students will next year, if we do not find reasonable and sound solutions (yes, a parcel tax or negotiations) to increase our revenues.
As a stay at home parent I worked in my daughter's classrooms, volunteered as a PTA parent, worked with PUSD in developing the Strategic Plan, worked on the Advisory Boards and the Committee for Excellence (which the Parcel Tax was once discussed for a possible funding source for improving our already great school district). All the while benefitting from the privilege of living in the community of Pleasanton. I am surprised by the lack of forsight by some of our citizens? In good times you benefitted (home values and great schools), now that the going is getting too rough you choose to degrade a valuable asset to our community-the schools, teacher's, and administration. Community of Character? I think not.
When did adults forget to behave appropriately? Your interpersonal skills on this thread and others I have perused are deplorable. It is no wonder as a teacher I have students unable to write properly or communicate effectively. However, it is my pleasure, and yes passion to assist them in understanding more reasonable, proactive and creative problem solving strategies. Something they have not seen adults display in front of them as of late, if this blog is any example...
May I suggest that those of you that have time to continue this blog; do something productive and involve yourself in FINDING A SOLUTION rather than spending your time complaining! BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION RATHER THAN THE PROBLEM!
Posted by Amador Teacher, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 8:21 pm
I, a teacher at Amador, pledge to take a pay cut if all of the following conditions are met:
1) I do not have to remind your child to put away their cell phone, iPod, headphones, etc. Also, if they need to call you, they can talk to you during the passing period or at lunch. Is it that important to tell them you dropped off Jack-in-the-Box for them a full hour before lunch starts?
2) I do not have to instruct students on the usage of the word "gay." I have to instruct some students on a daily basis of why "That is so gay" is inappropriate. That is something you, the parent, should do.
3) I do not have to remind students to do their homework or bring their work from home. Also, I do not need to hear an excuse about someone crashing a computer, or not buying ink, or forgetting to print something and it will get here later.
I just reviewed my job description and nowhere does it mention being a parent. I have my own parental responsibilities. I do not need yours as well.
4) I can treat my students as if school is a business. This is probably the most reasonable. Since some parents expect the school to be more financially sound, why can't that carry to a classroom? A student is underperforming? Fired. A student is habitually late? Fired. A student acts out? Fired. No questions asked. Just fired.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 9:15 pm
Amador Teacher is the epitome of the teachers here in Pleasanton. "I just reviewed my job description [and contract]" and nowhere does it say I have to do this, this, and that. Perhaps we should just throw more money your way so you would consider doing YOUR JOB! That is precisely the reason PUSD needs to tear up those union contracts and redraft them in the students' favor.
Posted by Whitney, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 11:18 pm
I believe the children are our future. We need to teach them well and let them lead the way. We need to show them all the beauty they possess inside. They need a sense of pride. We need them to remind us how we used to be. To help them, we need teachers to do that.
Posted by Sean, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:11 am
Whitney - do you live out in Lalaland? Teaching YOUR children, giving them a sense of pride, and all the other crap you plagerized is YOUR job as a parent. With a student to teacher ratio of 33:1, don't expect the teacher to do anymore than delivering some brief lectures and grading papers.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:21 am
No doubt our children are our future and while teachers are an important part of a childs life, what you described is a good example of what a parent should be doing at all times - It shouldn't be a teachers responsibility. They have enough to do just educating our children...
As Amador Teacher suggested, he/she isn't there to be our children's parent...