School administrators' group calls state funding reductions too deep Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm
The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) said yesterday that funding cuts to California schools that are being proposed by the state are too deep and could threaten the ability of school districts to meet the academic needs of students.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 7:05 AM
Posted by bel, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm
I agree its too much.
Make the pay cuts at higher levels, not where is will affect the kids so much. There will be too many kids in a class with not enough supervision. The teachers will be stuck trying to keep them under control instead of focusing on teaching. Just watch incidences of bullying will increase, GPAs will decrease.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:40 pm
"O'Connell's call for long-overdue reforms and for eliminating bureaucratic red-tape would help educators ensure that our students and their success remain our highest priorities."
There's a lot of bureaucratic waste in the current system because its complexity requires more administrative costs. Get rid of the complexity. For more information about these reforms, please see Web Link
Then consider writing to your legislative representative about considering these suggestions.
Posted by in the know, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm
The focus need to be on the core classroom. We elect local school boards but the range of options open to the board is constrained by all the State and Federal regulations. Give control back to the local Boards.
The state took over funding the school for "equity" reasons. But every district gets a different per pupil funding, why? Now the local schools want a tax to make up for what the state is taking away. The better answer is to get the state and its huge overhead costs out of the school rooms. I went to Catholic high school, you did not need a hundred people to pick a math text. The chair of the math department did that, and they did not change it every five years for no reason. The state involvement costs a lot of money but it does not improve what goes on in the classroom.
School districts are audited by outside accounting firms, why do we also need to have county offices? To repeat the audit? The county office does nothing to add to the education of students here; but they have some really fancy offices. Aren't you glad you paid for them?
Posted by Dood, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 8:10 pm
"...but the range of options open to the board is constrained by all the State and Federal regulations...The county office does nothing to add to the education of students here; but they have some really fancy offices. Aren't you glad you paid for them?"
Aren't you glad you live in California? Most voters here want more taxes and more government and so that's what you get. Do the right thing next time you goto the ballot box and vote for someone who commits to cutting government programs and taxes!!!
Posted by AX, a resident of the Canyon Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2009 at 10:00 am
Why was Casey ever loaned money to buy a house and did he pay it back? I agree, more government-more cost. Case cut where you need to--the excess and do more for your money loke everyone else is having to do. You want to know how to run the school district less expensively and more productive-ask teachers they will tell you.
Posted by Maria, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2009 at 11:26 am
From last night's community meeting a Foothill, a Mr. Trevor from CTA was there to speak for the teachers. He pointed that teachers put out about $1K/year from their own pockets for classroom materials. He calls for the Pleasanton community to "step up and help the teachers" since they'll be taking cuts in the next year or so. I am a full time employee and have managed to donate many hours of volunteer work to my daughter's class since Kindergarten and thousands of monetary donations to our school. For him to tell the community to 'step up' was offending. Many, many parents in VH have stepped up beyond expected.
My offline question to one of the administrators was - has the CTA (CA. Teacher's Assoc) done anything to help the teachers? Have they reduced union dues? What I don't understand is why they have to employ the union? We were told at the community meeting last night that teachers layoff will be based on seniority because basically that's how the union bargaining was set up. It didn't seemed right....
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 6:36 pm
Looks as though the east coast has it right. (See article below) Not only do K-3 students have class size reduction, but all children. California has always had too many students in a class and over the past decade, the state and districts finally realized that even the best teachers can't meet all the children's needs when the numbers are too large. Now, sadly, the state is forcing us to go backwards. California currently has the highest number of school children for which English is not their native language. Over 50% of California's school children speak a language other than English as their primary language. For those of you who think teaching is easy, consider addressing the needs of a child walking into your class without a word of English. Smaller class size, teacher training, reading specialists, intervention programs, and counselors have contributed greatly to meeting these children's needs while still providing the rigorous new California state standards for all students.
Class size was the cornerstone of the School Committee and administration's budget goals for fiscal 2009. The district's target was to have between 18 to 22 students per class for kindergarten through third grade, 20 to 24 in grades four to six, 22 to 25 in grades seven and eight, and no more than 28 high school students per class in core subjects.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm
Teacher - Vineyard Hills,
Just out of curosity - how do you handle the Non-English speaking student in your classroom. Surely you can't be required to teach that student to speak English as you carry on with your daily instructions...
If you speak the students native language are you required to teach in both language's. What happens if you don't speak the language...
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm
I'm so glad you ask. Yes, we are required by law to deliver at least 30 minutes each day of English Language Development (ELD) Instruction to our English Language Learners. Our English Language Learners take a test each fall which determines their individual level of English proficiency from Beginning (1) to Proficient (5). If a child enters our classroom at a beginning level of English proficiency, we need to pull materials to teach basic communication language which might include vocabulary for family members, school community, and grocery items. As the child begins to learn to speak English and some basic vocabulary, we then pull out reading materials at a beginning first grade level and teach this child to read and write basic sentences. We are also required and trained to teach all content areas using methods so that science and social studies content can be understood by a child with very little English. All teachers in the state of California have had to earn an additional certification (CLAD) to continue teaching in classrooms with English Language Learners, which in the state of California is every classroom. Pleasanton Unified doesn't hire teachers unless they have already received CLAD training. Our veteran teachers have had to go to classes and earn this certification on their own time.
It's complicated and sometimes very challenging to teach English Learners, yet extremely rewarding. Having reading specialists and smaller class sizes has made the job of reaching all children a possibility. However, our upper grade teachers still are required to teach ELD when with a class size of 33. It's important for people who keep talking about the "good old days" of large classroom and no specialists to consider that our state has changed and our school population is much more diverse in language, culture, and experience. I'm constantly amazed at the gains children can make in a very short time with additional support at school. This extra school support is critical when the parents don't speak English and thus aren't equipped to help their child at home with homework and reading. I have witnessed countless elementary school teachers not only working with English Language Learners during recesses and lunches, but also after school. And that type of person is far from lazy or greedy as some bloggers have implied or directly stated. None of the blogs have hurt my feelings because some people are truly not aware about how much teaching has changed over the past two decades. I know that I have always been a teacher because of the children and the hope that I can enrich their lives. I really appreciate your thoughtful question.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm
No Stacey, teachers have always been required to teach all students whether those students come to us fluent in English or not. English only (Prop 227)- placed restrictions on speaking and teaching a child in their native language even though there is much research that a child acquires a second language more rapidly when the primary language is proficient. Full academic language development of a second language takes on average 5-7 years. So, English Language Learners require specialized instruction for a number of years.
About about 15 years ago, certification and training to teach English Language Learners became a requirement before one could receive a teaching credential in the state of California. Those teachers who had already received their credentials before this requirement were given a grace period during which they had to start and then receive CLAD training and certification.
Posted by Beth, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm
Teacher, I too want to thank you for your perspective in order to help us understand. Just because some of us are asking questions does not mean that we are criticizing your performance or values. I personally do not care for unions and believe that they now create more harm than good.
A few years ago I witnessed just how difficult it is for a teacher to accomodate a non-English learner. I watched a very timid and over-whelmed Spanish speaking child join a 3rd grade class in the middle of the year. And because that teacher had to continue with her lesson plan for the other children, she dealt with the situation by having another student sit and read a picture book to the new student. I felt it was a very difficult situation for the new student, the teacher and was especially unfair for the student selected to serve in the 'tutor' role because that child missed out on the lesson being taught!
Kids do learn quickly but the language issues are big problems for us here in California.
Posted by Sherri, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:53 am
Teacher: First I'd like to thank you for your dedication to the kids in this community. I can't even imagine having to do the job you do daily.
I find it interesting that you mentioned the challenges you face having English Learners in your class. With the high home prices in our city, I find it hard to believe that we have that many residents here who work at a taco stand. This leads me to believe that many of the non-English-speaking folks who live here are highly educated and/or wealthy. There are plenty of examples in my neighborhood.
If having English Learners (even just one or two) in your class is as challenging as you claim in-spite of the highly educated immigrant population, what does that say for teachers in the inner city schools or schools that have a high concentration (90+%)of new immigrants? And yet, you get paid a lot more in PUSD than say teachers in Richmond and Oakland, correct?
And if those teachers can meet those challenges without asking for a raise, what does that say about you and your colleague? The last time I check, districts like Cupertino, Mission San Jose, and Albany, all have a high concentration of minorities (immigrants?). Yet they do quite well in those state tests. How do those teachers pull it off with a lower salary than that of yours? Am I missing something here?
I'm not discounting the challenges you face in the classroom, but I think your challenges are minor in comparison to those faced by teachers in many other schools. Some people may actually say that teachers in Pleasanton are overpaid and underworked, riding the gravy train. I guess it's all relative...
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 10:02 am
Wow! What a backhanded complement to teachers in Pleasanton. There isn't a teacher in Pleasanton who wouldn't agree that teaching in the inner city is an extremely challenging position. I have many friends who left those districts because they couldn't afford to live in the bay area and the challenges were too much given the paid. But, even Oakland passed a parcel tax.
Districts with a higher concentration of English Language Learners receive additional funds to employ ELD specialists and teachers aides. The amount of EL funds is directly correlated with the numbers of children who are identified as English Language Learners. Of course, those funds are threatened due to the state budget, and of course, working in those districts will become even more difficult if categorial funds are taken away or fused with general funds.
The conclusions you draw about the children who attend Pleasanton school shows that you aren't on campuses very much. And the "taco stand" comment is very disrespectful to immigrants and workers who come here on on work visas. Two of my students last year did come from a very educated family from a European country; however, the children did not speak any English when they first entered our school. If you read my previous e-mail, I said it was challenging, yet very rewarding. Luckily, PUSD students have had the benefit of trained teachers, reading specialists, and intervention programs. Those services aren't there to "make it easy" for the teachers, those services are in place to ensure success for children.
"overpaid and underworked, riding the gravy train" -- unbelievable!
There's no reasoning with people with that attitude and disrespect for the teaching profession. None of my friends other professions have ever referred to my position as "gravy"--- Of course, I have found that everyone thinks he or she works harder than the next. It seems to be a condition of our society. I will honestly say I work long hours, face challenges, but also feel incredibly fortunate to work with children each day. It's amazing to lead them through those challenges, help them discover untapped talents, and become stronger at skills that only days before perplexed them. Gravy train, designer clothes, big house...no...but a rewarding and fulfilling career...Absolutely!
I am not on this thread advocating a parcel tax because I do believe it's a personal decision all Pleasanton citizens will need to make based upon their own political views. I am more concerned about the undeserved teacher bashing. At school, we teach the children that is "social bullying".
Posted by Another teacher, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 10:36 am
Let me ask you this: Do you want to have teachers in your community who are compensated well, or do you want teachers to be underpaid like the ones in Oakland and other places? I would think it would be in the best interests of all Pleasanton residents to have well paid teachers who might have a chance of actually affording to live in town, and then contributing their dollars to the community in the way of buying frivolous items like gas and groceries, and thereby helping to keep jobs here. And if the salary is higher, don't you think the morale will be higher? Or is the answer to lower our salaries, forcing us to either leave the profession or commute in from somewhere else, spending our dollars somewhere else? And if enough of us leave the profession, then we will be replaced by others who will have less experience and less qualifications. They too will have to commute in, and they too will have super-duper sky-high morale! It's a win-win situation!
You're right, it's time to get off the "gravy train". What the heck are we teachers thinking?
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:56 am
FREMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
TEACHERS' SALARY SCHEDULE
When you speak about "Mission San Jose", I assume you are speaking of Fremont Schools.
Yes, they have received a raise, and have a very high salary schedule. Have you bothered to check your facts on the other districts you mentioned? Or are you just angry about the failure of our government in Sacramento and bashing PUSD employees instead of writing your legislatures? I am equally upset with Sacramento. My children, at home and the ones I teach each day, will be the victims of the poor management and the real estate crash which was caused by banks giving out loans to people they knew would default once the rates went up. Who are the greedy ones?
Step 1 $54,866.00 Fremont's Beginning Pay
Step 29 $99,925.00 Ending Pay with an additional 3% for a Master's Degree and 3% more for Phd (That's $102,922.75 a year if one has a master).
Effective 7/1/07(06/07x 4.55%)
NOTE: The District DOES NOT provide a separate
allocation for insurance fringe benefits. As of 1/1/97
that money was incorporated into the salary schedule.
(See Article 23 of the FUDTA Agreement)
Masters Degree – 3% in addition to placement on the schedule
Doctors Degree – 3% in addition to placement on the schedule, plus Masters.
Hourly - $39.10 per hour Adult Hourly – See published schedule
Steps A & B are no longer applicable; they have been combined with Step C
MAXIMUM OF 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE CREDIT ALLOWED PER CONTRACT
Posted by Sherri, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:53 pm
Believe me, I didn't pull those info out of my rear bottom. Teachers in Pleasanton are overpaid in comparison but our API scores are not even upto par with other good school districts. It's no wonder some people may say that teachers in Pleasanton are overpaid and underworked. Numbers don't lie.
It's a bad combination when teachers with high seniority cannot be fired for poor performance and the district dishes out high salaries. We'll end up with a bunch of squatters, riding along on the gravy train. Life's good if you're a teacher in PUSD...
Posted by Educated, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm
You may also want to consider that some district have lower salaries, but their teachers receive medical/dental benefits for themselves and their families from their district. PUSD employees pay for medical/dental benefits for themselves and their families.
When comparing API you cannot just compare teacher salaries, there are many things to take into consideration. One big consideration would also be the education (or clear lack thereof) of the parents of the students in the district.
Posted by ?, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm
OK, so Vintage Hills teachers are talking. I have to say I had some wonderful teachers at Vintage Hills, but I also have to say I had bad teachers. The good teachers would have been great with 20 or 32 students it wouldn't have mattered. Regardless of the class size, there were always about 4 kids that took up 50% of the teacher's time. I was actually told by a teacher at Vintage Hills (20 to a cless), that my child's role was to help the other kids at her table group. That was ridiculous considering she was only 6 years old. Reality is that we have a serious economic issue. People are taking paycuts or losing jobs. It's a really tough time to ask for more money. All districts are in the same boat. Don't think that if we don't pass the tax our district will be the only one to suffer. All district will suffer because if they passed a tax years ago that money is already alloted to programs. It won't be new money to the district. They will also need to find ways to cut expeditures.
Posted by Another teacher, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm
Hey Sherri, where is my front bottom? I have a "rear bottom", although most people would say it is just my bottom, but I can't locate my 'front bottom', or my 'rear top'. I was educated in Pleasanton, and you must be right, those Pleasanton teachers are overpaid because they never taught me about my "rear bottom"!!!
Posted by Sherri, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 8, 2009 at 10:08 am
Another teacher: Looks like I really got under your skin with those numbers, huh?! LOL! Instead of addressing the issue, or should I say ADMITTING, that you and your colleagues are overpaid and underworked, you chose to take an offensive over my typo. Is that something you teach in class too or is that part of your "quality" Pleasanton education?
Posted by Mom, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Feb 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm
Yikes, Sherri, you are angry! I think it would benefit you to know the difference between "averages" and actually salaries. All salary schedules are available to the public. If PUSD has a high average salary, then we must have more teachers at the top of the salary schedule nearing retirement. My sister works in the Livermore Schools and they receive benefits on top of their posted salary schedule. Livermore also has a parcel tax, but is still facing budget cuts.
Sherri, why are you so angry at teachers? Do you need know any teachers and see the hours they put into their work? It's clear you are angry about the prospect of increased taxes, but if the parcel tax is on the ballot, it will be the school board's decision. So go to a school board meeting. The school board members were elected by the citizens of Pleasanton, and thus, represent the citizens. It appears that they are hearing from many community members who want PUSD to seek a parcel tax, so that our schools can stay competitive with the communities of San Ramon, Dublin, and Livermore. Also, my friends who live in San Ramon are asked to donate $450.00 per child per year to fund the "extras"-reading specialists, aids, yard duty.......
Typing here and preaching to the choir (it appears most bloggers are anti-Parcel tax) doesn't really get your point across to the correct audience. Because you appear to have so much energy and time, I hope you have written your legislatures and the governor. If schools were funded properly, PUSD and all the other Tri-Valley districts would not be considering or already have in place parcel taxes. The state of government is truly a mess, but children didn't cause it nor should the quality of their education suffer for it.
It's true that many above grade level children will do fine academically without 20-1, but as mentioned above blog, there are more and more children who struggle. A quality teacher can teach 32 students; however, the pace and the individualized instruction will change considerably. My question to the state is why by law did my child require a 12-1 in preschool, but now in elementary school (one year later), the ratio can go as high as 34-1? Frankly, I can't imagine 33 4-5 year olds with one teacher. I am glad that wasn't the case this year.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Feb 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm
When my oldest child was in grade school (about 15 years ago) each classroom had a trained, paid teachers assistants. That was an inexpensive way of bringing a class with 32 students down to a 1-16 ratio. The teachers union voted to get rid of the aids in order to put the aids salary in their own pay check.
At the time I though it was not in the children's best interest but the union does not consider the children. Perhaps it is time to reconsider paid teachers aids. Of course the union would not like this because they would not be union members.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm
I think Lisa's experience deserves putting in context. It was in 1995 or 1996 that the State of California created the K-3 Class Size Reduction program. I can only suspect that getting rid of teachers' aides coincided with the creation smaller classes. Research has shown that smaller classes, especially for K-3, are effective. Of course, research has also shown that reducing class size is a much more expensive method than other programs such as teachers' aides. As the 8th grade follow up study to the Tennessee STAR study shows, you put in 67% more resources to CSR and only get a 4% output back.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Feb 8, 2009 at 3:19 pm
My kids that did not have the benefit of CRS or TA's were high achievers and did very well in classes with 32 kids and were successful in college. The smaller teacher to student ratio serves the student that struggles, and I think that is important.
Posted by Teacher & Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned in any of the posts....California standards have become much more rigorous over the past several years. Concepts that we used to teach our 4th grade students used to be 5th grade standards. The standards have trickled down through all of the grades. As a teacher and as a parent in this community, it really saddens me to read some of these posts. I understand that the general community should have a say in what happens in the educational system. However, the people that are in the classroom everyday are the most informed in knowing how important CSR is to our elementary students. I know that I do not want my own children to be put into a classroom of 30+ students. I am able to give my students more individual attention (high achieving students and my low-performing students) with a lower ratio. Within Pleasanton, students that are not English Speaking are becoming more and more common. 10 years ago, we had only 6 students in the entire elementary school that were classified as "EL". Now, in many classrooms we have at least 2-3 students who are classified as EL (some parents have a higher education, but most do not). Instruction within the classroom has to be modified to help these students, coupled with the fact that we have to communicate with their non-English speaking parents via interpreters or getting information translated. I understand that times are really tough, but the getting this parcel tax is so vital. Again, it is been stated, but it bears repeating, that the PUSD teachers and administration did not cause these economic troubles. PUSD has been lucky that we haven't had to go this route as other districts have had to do in the past years. Many bloggers have stated that the schools are not the main reason as to why people move to Pleasanton. I beg to differ, as my four new students to my school are new to Pleasanton and moved here specifically for our top rated schools. The community will suffer with the elimination of CSR: the schools, your housing values, and, most importantly, the kids. I also urge some of you to be a little more cautious with your words. Teachers are feeling extremely down with all of the negative comments. We are not only in a very touchy situation, but reading how some in the community view us PUSD teachers is very hurtful. Some of these comments have labeled us as money grubbing, over-paid, under-worked people. It is hurtful, and absolutely not true. What will I be doing tomorrow on one of my many days off? I will be spending at least 4-5 hours at school, after taking my own children to daycare while I go to work. Teaching is a very difficult job to do....rewarding, yes which is why we do it. Please get involved, write to the state, and attend the board meetings. Factual information is out there-PUSD is not trying to scare you into giving your hard-earned money to them. They have been upfront and have given the facts. I know it's cliché, but the kids are our future, and we need to do all that we can by ensuring that they have the best education possible.