School board slashes $9 million from budget Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Feb 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm
Despite pleas to save positions and programs, the school board officially identified millions of dollars in cuts to balance their budget Tuesday night. Notices of potential layoffs can now be sent out as the board identified just over $9.9 million to be cut from the 2009-10 budget.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 5:24 PM
Posted by HR, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm
Three employees in human resources did not voluntarily opt to reduce their salaries--two by 40 percent and one by 20 percent. Two directors went from 100% to 60% employees and the secretary to the full time assistant superintendent went from a 100% to a 80% employee. One position in HR was, in effect, cut by the reductions rather than cutting one of two directors as was proposed. All others in the department remain full time. The HR department (which many of us in CSEA feel has grown more than any other) is cutting so many others in the district and has found a way to keep all in their department.
Posted by Another Amador parent, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 8:02 pm
I applaud the District HR folks in coming up with a creative way of reducing expenses and still maintaining some level of service. The elephant in the room last night was the utter silence by the Teachers and their union with respect to coming up with a solution that would be similarly effective. All we heard were teachers cheering each other and no real solution. We get it, solidarity is commendable. However it will not solve anything. Where is the union leadership? The CSEA seems to be much more aligned to try and solve the problem through creative expense reduction. The parcel tax is a fantasy unless the community sees some level of participation from the teachers in helping solve this problem.
Posted by Liz, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm
First the administrators must give back the raise that they pushed through before the budget crisis was announced.
"no proceeds used for administrators' salaries," This becomes a game of hide the pea, moving money around so it appears that no parcel tax money is used for administrative salaries.
I would want to see written into the parcel tax that administrators can not get any salary or benefit increases for the entire length of the parcel tax. This would be an incentive to streamline the budget and ween off of the tax. You can bet it would not be a never-ending parcel tax.
"an independent citizens' oversight committee" This is an insult to our intelligence given they completely disregarded the same mandate for Measure B.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm
I think the only way we will see creative thinking is to let the parcel tax fail. Maybe then everyone will come to the table and realize the unsustainable raises, the frivolous lawsuits (no matter the fund they were paid from), the use of reserves for administrative raises, and the entire tone, approach, and cost of trying for the parcel tax were an irresponsible use of taxpayers dollars that ultimately was not condoned by the community.
Even if all the staff comes to their senses after they lose, precious time and the good faith of the community will have been lost, teachers and students could loose the benefits (whatever they are) of CSR and other educational enhancements, many talented and valuable people will lose their jobs, and it could cost another $150,000 or more to try again--if they can get our attention. Humpty Dumpty will not easily be put together again.
It's amazing the Board and enough staff members don't want to listen to the dissenters and can't see this coming. I think they call these "teachable moments."
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:03 am Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Another Amador parent -- I am waiting impatiently to hear what APT offers and what the new contract for next year looks like. It will be interesting to see what teachers' union members are willing to do in order to help keep some of their colleagues employed.
Disagree w/B -- I think another way to get more attention paid to concerns about irresponsible use of taxpayers' money would be to communicate directly with board members, and/or for a discontented citizen to run for a board position and get elected.
I do think it's possible that the parcel tax will not pass, and I said so at the board meeting (while also arguing that CSR is too important to cut). I'll be listening to the objections that I hope some people will express, when I'm out walking my neighborhood to speak in favor of it. I'd like to learn more about the history of district and board decisions.
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:00 am
"The elephant in the room last night was the utter silence by the Teachers and their union with respect to coming up with a solution that would be similarly effective."
What is is that you want from the teachers? Maybe they don't have a solution. I guess all you want to hear is that every teacher should take a 30% pay cut. A lot of teachers will be layed off. That is the solution. We have to cut spending - there is no money. Of course teachers want to keep their jobs...wouldn't you? If your company had a big meeting to decide who should be layed off, wouldn't you want to speak up and protect yourself and the part of your company you think is most important?
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:06 am
"Even if all the staff comes to their senses after they lose"
Its not the staff against everyone else, there are no winners or losers here, except for the kids. Yes, some teachers will lose or not lose their job based on the parcel tax, but all that means is more or less teachers for the kids. Those teachers that do lose their job will eventually move on and you won't have to worry about their ridiculous salaries, easy work schedule, or huge raises anymore.
In the end is the kids who are going to either win or lose.
Posted by Past PTA parent, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:11 am
The reality check has hit home. The Hollywood Education with frills is over. Make the students more accountable for their actions and less victimized by the system. Students can have a say in the reduction of services, just ask them. They will tell you what works and what is a sham.
Posted by Another Amador Parent, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:14 am
Another: What alot of people are looking for is that the APT and the teachers are willing to think and work outside of the same old tired union dogma. It is happening everywhere in these terrible times. The UAW has come to the table and offered concessions for gosh sakes. Perhaps our little bit of paradise can offer up a 1-3% salary roll back, with catch up clauses when the cycle turns. Is that so much to give up? Given the alternative of letting 100 teachers go and reducing the quality of education and living in Pleasanton, it doesn't seem so extreme. Obviously some of the folks at the District felt it is doable.
Posted by An Amador alumni, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:39 am
I just have a question about the coaches stipent. If the coaches are going to lose them (and we all know how much time and effort they put in and do not get paid but very little)Is the school board going to give up there pay check for meeting once a month? The school board gets paid and they put in no where near the hours that the coaches do. I think that should be a volunteer position while we are in this hard time. My son's coach put the entire stipent back into the program because it needed equiptment. Who will pay that now. Another fee back to the parents? Meanwhile the board still gets there check? I tried to look online to see what the actual check for the board members was but could not find it. Does anyone know? I just think that so many people are loosing their jobs and others are not effected that it just does not seem right. We should all feel the pain and noone should be exempt.
Posted by I agree Past PTA parent, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:47 am
Yes, let's get the kids involved here and ask them. There is a fair amount of "fluff" classes and assemblies taught by 'experts', etc. that take up valuable teaching time from our teachers. The teachers are frustrated with this, the kids are rushed through classtime so the 'extras' can take place, and then they come home and can't do their homework because there wasn't enough classroom time to teach the concept. If all this extra fluff is required to make us a school of distinction, then maybe we don't want to be one.
Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:51 am
I have been reasonably involved in this issue. The chances of the coaches losing their stipends are highly probable. Barring any financial miracle, the burden will be on the athlete and booster clubs to help finance the coaches stipends. I encourage those of you who have student-athletes to meet with your booster club leadership to get involved in this. The booster leadership will need to coordinate with the school site to determine how they can help, while assuring there are no unintended consequences. I will be meeting with the Amador booster leadership in the coming weeks to discuss. I have met with the Foothill administration and AD and they are fully aware of the issues and are looking at very creative mitigation strategies.
Posted by 1+1=3, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:02 am
I feel the pain reading the post written by "An Amador alumni, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood". His/her inability to write and spell reflect the failure of the PUSD education. No amount of money can fix that, I assure you.
Posted by An Amador Alumni, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:13 am
I do work with the Boosters but it is so hard to ask people for extra right noe and even harder to get people to voulenteer their time. I do not see how the money will come to fund everything lost. As it is the big sports get the money already. I am worried about the other sports that get nothing like wrestling. I will do my part but money is tight for more than just the school district. Thank you for your thoughts. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get some help from the big companies in the area like Oracle and others?
Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:52 am
Wow.... what I'm reading is a bunch of complaints and finger pointing hodge-podge. Wake up people!! We live in this incredible community because we enjoy it.....it's beautiful, safe, clean, and offers us a lifestyle we all strive for. Many of us are transports that moved here for this sense of community and because our schools are awesome. It's important that we maintain these benefits and determine a way to protect them. None of us can afford our schools to decline. This will directly impact our community and our property values. Look around us! Livermore, Dubln, Oakland, Alameda, and many other surrounding cities have passes a parcel tax realizing the need to protect their schools. Yes, we're all tightening our belts these days. But we'll all be very dissappointed when we go to sell our homes in a few years and find them to be worth far less than we had planned on. We'll be nickel and dimed to support programs / sports that may go by the wayside. Why not pay via a parcel tax and avoid these cuts to begin with? Stop pointing fingers and badgering others. Let's join forces and work together in a positive front. The State has mandated these cuts, not our district personnel! Think solutions......a parcel tax may just be the one to get us out of this mess.....
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:15 am
My biggest issue with the parcel tax is that its only a partial parcel tax (that's hard to say). Meaning, even is they pass a $200 or even $300 parcel tax, there are still cuts that must be made. Why not go for the whole thing? If not, what gets cuts? Who gets the money? Its jsut going to cause big arguements about this shouldn't have been cut, this should have been, etc. Either go for it all with a parcel tax or nothing.
If it does pass great, if it doesn't everyone must suck it up and try to get through these time with what we have. Yes, students will suffer but then again,a lot of people are suffering.
Posted by It's Time, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:51 am
I know it has been said before, but it needs to be repeated - over and over IMO:
ALL residents - regardless of whether you have school aged children - DO BENEFIT from living in a city that DOES HAVE a strong and successful school district.
Your property's value is a combination of many elements….including how the home buyer views the school system in the community they wish to live in.
Ask young families what are the main reasons for wanting to move to Pleasanton. Schools will be high on any list.
Before you simply dismiss a parcel tax of a couple hundred dollars a year, take into consideration the entirety of what a strong school system - with proper staffing levels…paid with competitive salaries and benefits will mean to you - in total.
I want top teachers and administrators teaching the children in this city. And, I do not have any children in the system.
I see the value and $200 a year would be well spent IMO.
I am not a teacher, but have many relatives and friends that have been in education at all levels. They certainly did not get into education for the money. They have a love for children and, on balance, they do one heck of a job. Are there educators that fall short? Absolutely. But that's true in my career field as it is in all career fields.
Lack of funding will impact so many elements of education in our city…..and seeing the number of young and energetic new teachers that will be lost to job cuts, will impact education for years and years to come.
Teaching is a tough job. For those that have not taught, it can be easy to sit on the sidelines and complain. But, for those that truly understand what teachers accomplish - especially in Pleasanton - a small yearly amount paid in a parcel tax, would be money well spent.
Posted by PUSD's lack of credibility, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Feb 26, 2009 at 11:30 am
Let's add two more items to the list for PUSD's lack of credibility.
1) PUSD has said the special election will cost $150,000. The registrar of Voters Office says the true costs are estimated to be between $210,000 and $290,465 based on the 41,495 registered voters we had in the last election, if there are additional new registered voters it will be even more.
2) The Board has not voted on the parcel tax but the campaign has begun!!!!
Add the cost of running the campaign, which will be donations from the community that would be better donated to the district, and this is going to be a hugh waste of money when it does not pass.
Posted by Back To Basics, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm
If any of you have seen the Allstate commercial - the silver lining in the bad economy is that less money to spend forces all of us to get "back to basics", i.e. figure out the important things in life. I have been concerned for a long time about what we are asking of these young kids in today's world with all that we offer them in PUSD, and am not convinced that it is for their benefit, as much as it makes parents feel good. I think we all academic expectations of these kids and let them ride their bikes and play outside after school like we all did. Maybe the budget cuts are a blessing in disguise.
Posted by Bruce, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm
Let's make every sport self sustaining. Charge for attending games and meets. If the sport can't cover its cost, eliminate it. What is so difficult about that.
As far as cuts in the district, let's start with the grant writers. They are some of the highest paid people and all they do is apply to the Federal Government for additional funds to find ways to teach the 3R's some other way that may or, most often, not work.
The teachers are the ones that accomplish things every day with the students. Ideally, we would have a bonus pool to reward the teachers who do a good job. Lets take the Government out of education and put some good old fashioned business principles in.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:34 pm
It isn't time. There isn't adequate information being provided. The district cut $9 million without a study of the new state budget being presented (to the public at least) because the business person was absent due to illness. The cuts make it possible for the district to send out layoff notices (March 15 deadline), but it doesn't present the budget realities. Come June, they could hire everyone back when they vote on the final budget (legally by June 30).
The two points brought up by PUSD Lack of Credibility are excellent and when piled on top of all the other questions being raised, how can we believe we are seeing the whole picture clearly? The fact is, we are being handed kaleidoscope glasses to look at the district budget. I'd prefer something less fractal when it's going to affect my wallet.
Posted by aaron, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:57 pm
bruce - agreed-..........teachers shouldn't take the cut. but how many administrators does each school have. how many on the school board don't belong. at the district office, how many are useless? why does it cost so much more today than, 5-10 years ago. the students aren't any smarter. that's for sure.
my parents were both teachers in poor districts. and they didn't offer much to the students, but as teachers my parents did, and built some of the greatest relationships with them i've ever seen with students.
teachers make our students smarter. teachers make our students happier, and teachers make our district. so it comes doen to the teachers. not the admin. staff, and district office staff. cuts should only come from there
Posted by Leo, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm
Take schools out of the hands of the government! The government should provide a refundable tax credit of $6600 (or whatever amount they use to fund for each child) per child to all taxpayers and allow parents to enroll their children into private schools. Schools will then be run like businesses and operate within their means. All these teachers' union and big-spending administrators will then seize to exist and kids will be given a wonderful education.
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 1:25 pm
The chances of a parcel tax passing are less than that of a snowball in hell. We need to take decisive steps to cut costs. Go back to the levels of 2000 and adjust for inflation and the number of students. With people continuing to leave California there will be fewer students. The current budget is a sham. We will be looking at another 30 billion plus deficit next year in the state with further cuts. Let us try to get ahead of the curve. The highest paid people need to take the biggest %ge cuts just like in private industry a la Hewlett Packard. Lead by example.
Posted by Naysayers away, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm
It must be witching hour. All of the naysayers and fringe element are entering into the debate. Sure lets dissolve all government, go back to hunting and gathering and let the darwinian theory (if you believe in darwin) take hold. Get a grip....
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 2:19 pm
"Take schools out of the hands of the government! The government should provide a refundable tax credit of $6600 "
Hmmmm, take goverment out of schools, but the government should pay for the schooling? Doesn't add up.
Everyone complains - "Private helath care doesn't work, everyone needs public health care." Then they say "Public education doesn't wokr, we need private education." I guess the grass is truly always greener.
Posted by Resdent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm
I had decided to vote yes on the tax, I have emailed board members. But now that I read the actual wording - the programs I value are not going to be financed by the parcel tax, so I am reluctant to vote yes now. I do not agree with doing away with coaching stipends. If they cut the stipends, which is not that much money, then the parcel tax should cover it if it passes. If they do not plan to cover coaching stipends and plan to just cut it, I will vote no. I would rather see more salary rollbacks. I agree with the post that talked about freezing salaries for the duration of the parcel tax. We do not need elementary school counselors - I have never seen one, and neither have my children.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm
To clarify: what I meant to say is that I cannot support a parcel tax if coaches' stipends will be eliminated AND unnecessary items such as teacher work days will be left alone. The cuts need to be to unnecessary items first, then go down the list. Sports are important in the high schools, the students benefit from it. The teacher work days do not benefit anyone but the union. The teachers essentially get paid days, go to "work" but without students.
I will support a parcel tax if I feel the right decisions are made.
There will be a need for cuts, but they should start with unnecessary spending.
There are two directors of HR and one assistant superintendent. I heard the two directors are taking a 40% reduction. My questions is why do we need so many people in HR in the first place. One assistant superintendent, and maybe a part time director should be enough. We do not need two part time directors in HR.
Posted by Claire, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:49 pm
I will not support any parcel tax when everyone does not take their fair share. I just took a 15% pay cut and about 10% of the employees where i work were laid off as our company has tried to manage expenses and survive.
It does not seem fair when certain public agencies/schools feel they should be protected. We all have important jobs - whether we are teachers, doctors and nurses or business people. We all need to share the load and we should not put kids above those who have severe health issues or who are providing other vital services.
We need our teacher's union to help share the load just like the private sector is doing. I know it is not fun for the unions - it is not fun for anyone. But it is reality and we all need to find creative ways to do what is essential with less money. I was disapponted to hear feedback from last night that the union were not seeming to do their fair share. That is not right. Please help us find creative solutions.
A few ideas:
o any somewhat discretionary expenses such as athletics (coaches), music,art, special programs should be funded by the parents so core classes can be supporeted by taxes.
o Have PTAs sponsor a fund rasing drive to help raise adtional expenses (inthe millions). I understand Moraga and Orinda have both done thsi to supplement their budgets for several years. They continue to have outstanding educational results.
o Force some cuts at both the admin and teacher level to force ourselves to get creative about how to streamline processes.
o Consider longere term restucturing of union wages or benefits vs. personel cuts if the union feels that is preferable.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:52 pm
Resident: Just because a parcel tax doesn't say it'll cover coach's stipends, doesn't mean that they will be saved. If a parcel tax passes, then there is more money to save things. I might suggest you get involved with the parcel tax initiative to help steer it in the right direction.
Bruce: I would love to see us try to charge for baseball and softball games, when there are too many entrances and ways to see it for free. And please tell me, how can you charge to see cross-country meets? Under your idea, only football and basketball will be around. Yea, that's equitable. "What's so difficult about that" is the referee and umpire fees. Those are ridiculous. So cross-country is probably the most self-sustaining of them all.
Aaron: I think the parcel tax has a good chance of passing. Other than here, I don't see people complaining, instead just the opposite. And I won't say much for district office personel, but school administrators are very busy, overworked people. I wouldn't want their job.
Posted by Finance Guy, a resident of the Beratlis Place neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:02 pm
For all those who argue for a parcel tax to "protect property values" I say wake up and face reality. Keeping $8 million in the budget isn't going to save our houses from losing value. There are economic forces at work that go way beyond what people think of our schools when looking for a home. The de-leveraging of America is going to drive home prices down. Besides, every other school district is facing similar, if not WORSE cuts, so Pleasanton will still remain near the top.
REJECT a parcel tax and force the district to start living within their means.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:19 pm
Gtf: Something like nine percent of the nation is unemployed and many more have taken pay cuts. It's perfectly fair to raise questions about district employee concessions as part of the discussion when we're being asked to pay more.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:24 pm
Finance Guy: You need to do the math. A $200 parcel tax will only cover about 4 million of the 8.7 million (expected) shortfall. There will be cuts, that has been said all along.The district HAS been living within its means, it is well run. Almost everyone else has passed a parcel tax (70 districts passed a parcel tax this past November), but Pleasanton has not asked for one until now. The PUSD has all the programs, and then some, of the surrounding districts who have had to previously pass a parcel tax to fund theirs. So how can you say "force the district to live within its means" when it has been doing that all along? One way or another it will be within its means, but a parcel tax will help to start taking matters into our own hands, instead of relying on Sacramento, who keeps letting us down.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:28 pm
Disagree: I never said it wasn't fair, but I'm not asking for the employees of PG&E, Safeway, Comcast, and Health Net to take a pay cut since I have had to take a pay cut. That doesn't seem to make sense.
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:36 pm
California real estate was, and is, very overvalued partly because of Prop.13. With the increase in unemployment and the high sales and income taxes, exacerbated by the recent budget bill, prices will drop substantially regardless of our schools. The spread between Bay area real estate and the rest of the country will narrow. California and New York are going to be the worst hit. More people will be leaving the state. Face reality. Live within your means. Public sector salaries and more importantly their pensions have to be reduced just like the private sector.
Posted by no pay raise, no union, no parcel tax, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:02 pm
Here's how I see it. The union is not willing to budge right now because they're waiting to see if the parcel tax passes. If it does, they won't need to make any concession. If it doesn't, they still have time to offer their concessions before the budget is finalized in June.
If you truly believe the union is sucking the life out of the district, and should the board decides to ignore the will of the majority and put the parcel tax on the ballot, just vote NO on the parcel tax.
That will force the union to return some of our hard-earned money back to our schools. Eought is enough. There is no place for greed in this economy.
Posted by get a life, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Get the facts: Go get the facts before you start mouthing off.
"Other than here, I don't see people complaining, instead just the opposite."
I've talked to many people around town and things are looking pretty bleak for you folks. You can keep fooling yourself.
"The district HAS been living within its means, it is well run."
WOW! This is a really bold statement. Got any facts to back that up? How about all the mismanagement incidents that many people pointed out in these postings? Should we just ignore them for your convenience.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:17 pm
YES to the parcel tax!! The budget mess is here to stay in the State of California. We want good schools and the parcel tax needs to pass....plus I would like to see the unions give some concessions in good faith.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm
Gtf: Maybe you worry about global warming, so you use less energy; you're eating healthy, so you buy less meat; maybe you're carrying a little too much credit card debt, so you cut out cable--enough people do that and the rules of supply and demand kick in. Actions taken can impact others (nobody's buying American made cars), without your expressly asking them to take cuts or asking them to face a lay off.
So if we say could say the superintendent and the Board were in a generous mood and decided to reward staff with three years of raises (yes, not this year), it appears many of the people they rewarded will now lose everything. That's what doesn't make sense. Nor does asking the community to pay (buy an American car--save Ford).
Posted by Me, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:27 pm
Its seems strange that now when some people are taking pay cuts at work, they want teachers to take a pay cut. Yes, teachers have chosen the profession and "know" what they are getting into, but that doesn't change the facts. In Pleasanton, the most money any teacher can make with strictly a bachelors degree is $63,000. Yes, there are columns, which means getting additional college credits. This means more time and money that the teachers must pay. In most jobs in the private sector, you don't need any more education to be promoted and when you get promoted you get raises and bonuses. Don't forget the signing bonuses when going to work for a new company. In education, when you go get a new job you have to actually PAY money (to get fingerprinted). How many other professional jobs out there do you have to actually pay before you start working?
We seem to lose sight that teachers are professionals, with college degree, some with very challenging degrees (i.e physics, chemistry, etc). Why do we always want to devalue a teachers worth?
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:40 pm
"If you truly believe the union is sucking the life out of the district, and should the board decides to ignore the will of the majority and put the parcel tax on the ballot, just vote NO on the parcel tax."
Just curious, how you KNOW that the will of the majority to not put the parcel tax on the ballot? Isn't that the exact purpose of putting ANYTHING on a ballot - to find the will of the majority?
I guess we should just do away with elections and voting all together and ask you what the "majority" really wants.
In addition, the school board or any elected body is put into place to govern and make wise decisions. Sometimes this may not be the will of the majority, but may be best for everyone in the long run.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:41 pm
To "get a life": I have backed up my statements, please read them again. We have not needed (or sought) a parcel tax, yet virtually every district around us has already passed one. The teachers in Pleasanton are not the highest paid, despite what many think (these same teachers did not take a raise this past year, so those who take benefits actually took a pay cut!). The administration salary percentage (of the total budget) was slightly lower than average for a district this size.
So where is the mismanagement? Please tell me? We have done more with less (no parcel tax). Where is the mismanagement?
And to continue what "me" has said, we have to pay for fingerprints, along with paying for credentials and continuing education. I don't know anyone in the private sector who has had to do that.
Posted by this is petty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:40 pm
People! People! We are talking about approximately $200 a year (and it will expire in 3-5 years) to help secure the value of our biggest investment - our property values. I know times are tough for many, and there is a fund being created for those who would find this a hardship. The parcel tax isn't going to cover the whole budget shortfall, so the union will have to bleed...and so will the management...and so will the parents and kids. Just suck it up and pay the tax! Do your part for the greater good AS WELL AS the good of your investment. A lot of this banter reminds me of the Friends episode where they were arguing over the dinner bill because some had salad while others didn't - petty.
Posted by raven, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:43 pm
Taken from previous posting
< PUSD has said the special election will cost $150,000. The registrar of Voters Office says the true costs are estimated to be between $210,000 and $290,465 based on the 41,495 registered voters we had in the last election, if there are additional new registered voters it will be even more.>
So, again the district is not clear on the amount it will cost to have this election. MMMM.
I picked up a flyer at the library today, ( Notice of Public Hearing) put out by the PUSD. It says - the District's Board of Education will consider adopting a resolution proposing to establish a qualified special tax to be submitted for voter approval on June 2,2009, in an amount not to exceed $300 per year for a variety of educational programs.
Ok, how general can they get. I can only hope that they become more specific in the dollar amount and identify EXACTLY where the money is going.
If this is all I get to go on, then my family's 3 votes are NO!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm
"to help secure the value of our biggest investment - our property values."
Values will go down as the market goes down and a parcel tax won't prevent that. I think what you mean to say is to secure our property values relative to those in surrounding communities where all else but school quality is equal.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 11:28 pm
For claification our children are our biggest I investment are our children. The district needs to cut to the bare bone just like all Gov't agencies. If that means everyone takes a huge pay cut then make it happen. Stop messing around and take care of business with what you have you bunch of pansies.
Posted by A parent, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Feb 27, 2009 at 5:27 am
I know that many of you only want to express your opinion; however, when I read the venomous remarks thrown at our teacher's I have to wonder what you are really mad about? Did you have a personal experience that left you bitter and spiteful? Are your daily expenses so strapped that a dollar a day towards a parcel tax would limit you from one more over priced cup of coffee?
Get the right information before you make brash remarks. Go onto the web links, PUSD websites, talk to a teacher, and more importantly talk to someone who lives in other school districts that have done without many of the programs our district has offered to our children. If you want to know what this PUSD will look like next year, take a look around and ask how they like the following:
1. Teachers who are back to managing 33-35 (that is CA mandated, however some districts squish in 36-37)K-12.
2. Students who are stressed already having to meet NCLB standards with out classroom aides or reading specialists to assist those children who are at risk. (Don't worry they will just be moved forward and hope that they become some other teacher's challenge)
3. Parents with children of special needs who will be matriculated back into the Gen. Ed. classroom w/o aides. (Remember the fun of watching those kids being made fun of!)
4. Administrators and teacher's already having to maintain their teaching/leadership management skills with continuing education on weekends, after school, or taking time away from their classroom and still pay for the cost of the continuing education. How does the private sector do this? A day off and expenses paid.
5. Summers! Students have less time off before the next school year begins again. While managing to forget what was taught just in the last quarter. Teacher's working at summer school to assist the students who couldn't cut it in the academic school year, pursue continuing education units, and continue to pay out of pocket with the hopes that they may be rewarded for improving their craft.
The Benefits of a good education, priceless. Somewhere in these blogs there has to be common sense and less pettiness or else we are certainly headed for worse times to come. Can we also remember who in the world survives on $60K and still love what they do?! Do we actually expect teacher's to take the vow of poverty as well? Of course these individuals chose professions that are low on the totem pole of money and advancement, however when did any profession that produces the futures next Scientists, Teachers,Political leaders and Business Tycoons ever ask for more than a Thank You? Union or no union, those of you who took pay cuts in the private sector, are you surviving on $60K?
I have had the privilege of seeing my two daughters educated here in PUSD. Now one of those daughters has the choice (yes the choice!) to choose from 3 UC's, 5 CSU's and two private colleges that have all sent her letters of acceptance. She is the product of the 20:1 ratio in our schools, highly qualified credentialed teachers, music and sports program offerred to her in PUSD. To top it off she has chosen as her field of study-EDUCATION! Should I persuade her differently? No the choice is hers and becuase of the influences of some outstanding educators and managment in PUSD she wishes to come back to her community and teach secondary education.
I am truly dissappointed by the members of this verbal minority, because you don't attend the meetings, or raise your voices at the meetings, and you do not publicly come out and state your position. You hide behind this blog and accuse teachers that they will retaliate against your children if you come forward. What an evil comment. Truthfully, I believe teachers would protect your children from your hateful and spiteful selves; as they do each day in our classrooms.
COMMUNITY OF CHARACTER-Pleasanton, CA. This blog has just shamed that title. I am ashamed that I felt the need to even have to participate on this blog. No more. Last coment.
Posted by Finance Guy, a resident of the Beratlis Place neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 6:07 am
Get the facts, let me respond to your comments to my post:
"You need to do the math. A $200 parcel tax will only cover about 4 million of the 8.7 million (expected) shortfall. There will be cuts, that has been said all along."
- The math is easy, that's not the point. The point is "live within your means"
"The district HAS been living within its means, it is well run."
- I never said PUSD has not lived within its means in the PAST. The question is about the future. PUSD should CONTINUE to live within its means. To raise taxes to live within their means is like saying "Always live within your means - even if you have to borrow to do so." That's erroneous thinking.
"Almost everyone else has passed a parcel tax (70 districts passed a parcel tax this past November), but Pleasanton has not asked for one until now."
- The thinking "everyone else is doing it so it must be OK" is the herd mentality that has gotten this entire state into its financial mess. Nobody is willing to face the revenue reality. I argue that having a realistic budget and making the best of what you do have makes for better quality.
"The PUSD has all the programs, and then some, of the surrounding districts who have had to previously pass a parcel tax to fund theirs. So how can you say 'force the district to live within its means' when it has been doing that all along?"
- See my response above regarding the past vs. today.
"One way or another it will be within its means, but a parcel tax will help to start taking matters into our own hands, instead of relying on Sacramento, who keeps letting us down."
- I agree with you 100%. Sacramento is a large source of the problem. We have a broken budget process which allows government to create long-term liabilities when we prosper, which creates a deficit when tax revenues decline is a softer economy. I wish state leaders, with school districts pushing them the hardest, would reform our financial planning process. Revenues go up and down with economic cycles - I would rather have a sound process that buffers schools from these cycles (through a protected reserve fund), than to subject our communities to these harsh realities. Without a good process, these painful moments will come with every downturn.
Why don't school districts and the teachers union spend all of their efforts lobbying for reform that will help them and our students, rather than spending money on political lobbying for budgetary favors? PUSD would have my total support, energy and financial contributions to that cause!
Posted by Becky, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 6:46 am
People on this blog are greedy. It is only $10-$15 per month that would be an investment in children who don't forget are our future. They say that if a child doesn't learn to read by third grade, that child is on the road to becoming a drop out! What do you think will happen to that drop out? It will just be more money from all of us on the other side. Invest now!
Posted by Diagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:11 am
The district has not lived within its means--they gave raises (an ongoing cost) for three school years running (4, 5, and 6% not necessarily in that order). I was guessing that expense was well over the $9 million they cut. I'll look to find whether the surrounding districts gave those kinds of raises.
References keep saying Sacramento is a large source of the problem, and while there are cuts coming, the district hasn't presented any information since the state budget passed. So while they made the ceremonial move to cut $9 million--it isn't over until June 30, AFTER you would have voted on a parcel tax and they could have suddenly clarified everything and DON'T actually cut the $9 million--including their ability to rehire anyone or everyone on the March 15 layoff list.
As to passing a parcel tax so we can take matters into our own hands, it's really taking additional taxpayer dollars and giving them to yet another government agency. You won't have any more control over that money than you do with Sacramento.
As to supporting those closest to the students--I would love to find a way to provide merit pay or classroom innovation on a short-term basis to see how it works (three years?) via a parcel tax that cannot be doled out by district administration. And it cannot be renewed without a proof of its success.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:15 am
Something to think about what teachers get:
- They get to take days off for no good reason and a substitute has to come in and get paid. We pay the teacher and the substitute. This is alright when a teacher is sick, but I have seen teachers who take days off just to run errands or attend their kids' events.
We need to look into the use of substitutes, whether it is justified, and whether the substitute pay should come from the teacher's salary.
- They get summers off, shorten days - their pay is not too bad when you look at their work year
- They are the ones behind PE teachers in elementary school. This provides a prep period for them. Instead of being the ones doing PE with their students, they simply send them out of their classroom to get PE by someone else. Unnecessary expense.
- They get teacher work days and staff development days. These are costly to the district, and eliminating them could save many teachers' jobs, yet the unions are not willing to do it.
- Incompetent teachers stay on board because of seniority. Most people keep their job because they do it well, and get fired for performing poorly on the job, teachers should be no different.
I am not attacking teachers, simply pointing out that they are not the victims here as some posts suggest. Their union is responsible for many cuts that could be avoided if they were willing to be reasonable.
GM just announced a bigger loss than expected. Unions had a big role in this failure. They were not alone, but certainly contributed, by paying inflated salaries and benefits, keeping people on the payroll even after they were laid off.
The teachers' union, at some point, will have to get their act together, just like in the car industry.
Maybe we need public education to fail so unions can either shape up or be eliminated altogether.
Maybe PUSD can convert all the schools to charter schools, and that way the unions would not have to be around anymore. Let's get creative if the unions refuse to be reasonable.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:18 am
A parent wrote: "Now one of those daughters has the choice (yes the choice!) to choose from 3 UC's, 5 CSU's and two private colleges that have all sent her letters of acceptance. She is the product of the 20:1 ratio in our schools, highly qualified credentialed teachers, music and sports program offerred to her in PUSD."
I was looking at the graduation numbers for PUSD on either greatschools.com or the California ed-data site for back from when I was in school. In my class and for a few years before and after, roughly 20% qualified for UC/CSU. In one year, around 1995, that number jumped to roughly 50% of the graduating class qualifying for UC/CSU. No, that doesn't mean that in one year PUSD became that much better, it means that the UC/CSU qualifying requirements were lowered. And I'm pretty sure since then the requirements have been lowered again. None of these graduating classes were from K-3 20:1 student-teacher ratio class sizes.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:24 am
And after reading all about the government's plan to increase taxes in many areas, I think it will be very difficult to pass a parcel tax, especially if we do not think the district made the right decisions.
Cuts must be kept away from the students. That means unnecessary spending such as too many people in HR, teachers' unions' unreasonable perks, administrators' unreasonable perks such as 1K per month for car gas or 10K per year just because, should be eliminated. Only then would a parcel tax have a chance to be approved, but it may still be difficult to pass a tax given the financial situation of the country and the tax increases and bailouts the current administration is talking about.
I will vote yes for the parcel tax only if I agree with the decisions made by the board, and if I think what the parcel tax will cover is worth keeping.
I have a hard time voting yes for a parcel tax that will subsidize elementary school counselors and other things I think are not useful. Ask any student in elementary school if they know who this counselor is. Ask any parent if they have ever seen this counselor. Most will probably tell you they have not. I have not. My children have no.
Posted by Teacher, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:49 am
I think a lot of people would refuse any parcel tax based on their general belief that government agencies are ALL mismanaged. I think there have been some inefficiencies in PUSD that could be afforded in better economic times. I don't think those inefficiencies will continue, as the district cut $2 million from its budget last year and will cut millions more next year, with or without the parcel tax. One person above said we'd have no more influence on Pleasanton than we would on Sacramento if the parcel tax passes. That's just not true. Local politicians and agencies tend to be much more accessible and responsive than those at the state and national level. The school board members and John Casey have written me back personally to discuss issues in the community but Arnold and the state legislators never have!
I also think it's a faulty premise to assume that all things government are mismanaged while all things private are not. The business model is not always superior (especially when the "product" being made is a public service). After all, it was greed and too little government oversight/involvement with subprime mortgages that got us in this economic mess to begin with!
All I'm asking is for you to question your general beliefs and see if they hold up in this particular situation.
And thank you to Harvest Park parent above! There is so much posted on here to be discouraged about as a teacher, and it's good to know that there are some in the community who value what we do!
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:25 am
I know the conversation seems to revolving around the fact that this is only $200. For those of us questioning the parcel tax, it's about the millions we would be giving to the district. There are great questions on the blog, lots of information, and nonsensical stuff as well. And the truth is the district is throwing a lot of numbers out, but they aren't attached to anything solid.
There is no real public forum for change or much will on either side for tackling the biggest issues confronting education in California--prop 13, prop 98--that can allow for creative ideas that could run the gamut from each community funding its own schools, to allowing teachers to be non-union, to closing county offices of education, to ending NCLB . . .
Teachers ARE valued, but that does not equate to giving money blindly to the powers that be. And it doesn't mean that when looking at the picture the district has painted that there shouldn't be circumspection about public education.
Posted by Another, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:53 am
I'm quite suprised that there are actually some recent posts with some thought and intelligence. Of course there are those posts from people who think that teachers abuse their sick days by taking those days off when they are sick, to attend a child's event or take their child to the doctor. SHAME ON THOSE TEACHERS! I'm sure no parent in the district has ever taken their child out of school so they could go to Tahoe for a long weekend, Hawaii for the week, India for 3 weeks or let their kid stay home because their child felt tired. Perhaps we should look at those parents paying for the lost ADA.
Posted by Newbie, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 10:19 am
"Teachers ARE valued, but that does not equate to giving money blindly to the powers that be"
I agree that just because you support teachers does not mean you should blindly give money or even vote yes on the possible parcel tax. But as you have seen from these posts that there are a least a sampling of people who do not value teachers. From the posts it appears that they beleive teachers are over paid and have far too many benefits (such as sick days and work days). So what should we pay are teachers? What is a teacher worth?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 11:22 am
"I'm quite suprised that there are actually some recent posts with some thought and intelligence. Of course there are those posts from people who think that teachers abuse their sick days by taking those days off when they are sick, to attend a child's event or take their child to the doctor. SHAME ON THOSE TEACHERS! I'm sure no parent in the district has ever taken their child out of school so they could go to Tahoe for a long weekend, Hawaii for the week, India for 3 weeks or let their kid stay home because their child felt tired. Perhaps we should look at those parents paying for the lost ADA."
Teachers should take days off if they are sick, but they should NOT
- take days off to attend their children's events. If they want this flexibility at work, then go work for the private sector, where schedules are more flexible and your performance is evaluated on merit, no union perks or collective bargaining.
- if their child is sick, then call a babysitter, like the rest of us do. If their child is sick for an entire week, that is a substitute pay the district must come up with. The teacher should pay for a babysitter. The rest of working parents have to do something like that: either work from home or pay a babysitter if your presence at work is required. If a teacher wants more flexibility such as being able to work from home, then go work for the private sector and give up all the union protection and collective bargaining.
Teachers' presence at work is required always. The days they get off need to be for a good reason and not because they are going to attend their child's assembly.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 11:39 am
Newbie: Talking about what a teacher is worth is not simple, so putting it on a blog is a risk. You'd have to look at revamping the entire way teachers are compensated, and it isn't likely you can do that with a union in place. But let's say, for discussion purposes, there is no union. This is important because the biggest trade-off is there would be no tenure. It could mean teachers are on one year contracts, which protects the teacher as much as the students in the classroom. The contract would have to include language for being put on notice or immediate dismissal or interventions to protect the students and the school. I’m sure the lawyers in the community could polish those thoughts further.
Then I would say:
• You can't pay a new teacher the same as a good experienced teacher, so some monetary consideration for a job well done or excellence.
• And you have to recognize the efforts a teacher puts in to continuing their professional growth (Masters, Ed.D., or Ph.D., National Certification, other nationally recognized certifications,) which should equate to a bump in pay.
• You may need to consider (particularly at the high school level) if they are a grade level leader, department head, mentor new teachers, run committees or after school activities, or oversee student clubs for which some stipend should be formulated.
• Then I think you need to recognize that MOST teachers work eight hours a day (many work more than that), but you need to drop the idea that they are working less than the private sector. If you get the system right, anyone who isn’t performing at the expectation level of the school won’t have a job.
• And there should be a bonus system in place to reward excellence in any given year (an even longer discussion on how to set the bar).
So, put a dollar figure on that . . . what is the average pay for a bachelor’s degree? $50,000? And what do we equate to extra degrees and experience? $100,000? And then the income fluctuates based on all the extracurricular issues which can be more or less in any given school year based on what a teacher can reasonably take on or has an interest in. This, by the way is exclusive of benefits (whole different animal).
So in my mind, a teacher could certainly make as much if not more than a principal and why not more than a superintendent? After all, learning happens in the classroom, not the superintendent’s office. It’s really no different than a salesman who earns more than the boss through various incentives and commissions. If we can get to a place where administrators truly are there to support (and maybe there’s an incentive discussion in here too) teachers, then I think you’ll see much change, improvement, and excellence for our students.
Anybody ready to take Pleasanton’s schools private and try this in a whole new way? It wouldn’t be cheaper, but it sure would be exciting and attractive to the best in the industry. Someone is bound to burst my bubble, but I think there is much to gain
Posted by Newbie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm
"It could mean teachers are on one year contracts, which protects the teacher as much as the students in the classroom."
I'm interested in the one year contract you mention. Why do there need to be contracts. In everyone position that I have been in working for a company (not in a consulting position) nobody has ever been on a contract. You work for the company until yoiu quit, you are fired, or you are laid off. So what really would a "one year" contract look like? Does that mean at the end of the year a principal could just say to a teacher, "I don't like you, don't come back." In the business world, this doesn't work, there has to be a reason for you to be fired.
Along those line, what if every teacher was made an independent contractor? Either each teacher negotiaties a contract, or the school could farm out the positions to a consulting company for a flat fee. Then the schools don't have to worry about employee benefits and all that HR stuff. This is done in many public sectors (i.e denfense contractors to name one huge one), maybe it would work for teachers.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm
I dunno about you, but I've always had an "at-will" employment contract working in the private sector.
I'm curious as to if you're familiar at all with how teachers in other nations are compensated? Unfortunately it's probably an apples to oranges comparison since most other countries have nationalized curricula and control of schools...
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm
I was trying to be practical really. I don't think you can wean people off of what essentially are life-time contracts (tenures) to no net at all. I'm not even sure one year would be enough; it might have to be three. Moving from tenure is a big leap and there would need to be some giveback on that point.
I don't want to rattle on and on, but I don't see independent contracting as a viable alternative. If we are trying to focus on students and teachers, I don't know that this works in education.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm
"They get to take days off for no good reason and a substitute has to come in and get paid. We pay the teacher and the substitute. This is alright when a teacher is sick, but I have seen teachers who take days off just to run errands or attend their kids' events."
I find the comments about teachers taking time off ridiculous, such as the one posted above! We are given "personal necessity" days in addition to sick days. I'm sure out there in the private sector, this is common practice as well. I don't see why some of you think that I should not take any time off to take my child to the doctor, attend one of my own children's performance, etc. I cannot schedule my children getting sick only during the summer months, or on school holidays, or on the weekend. Furthermore, many of you probably don't know this, but if you happen to have a baby during the school year, you must use all of your days before benefits kicks in. So, I used up all of my days because I had a baby. If I was sick, my baby was sick, I had no days to left to use. So, any days off that I had to take, came out of my check. I know that it personally takes me a minimum of 3 hours to prepare for a substitute. That either means I am working late after school (usually at night when my own children are asleep) or I am getting to school at 6:00 in the morning to get ready for my substitute. We are professionals, but we are also moms and dads with kids too!
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm
"I'm sure out there in the private sector, this is common practice as well. "
But in the private sector, we do not need to hire a replacement for the days we take off. Teachers and the substitute they hire both get paid, a double expense.
In the private sector, if you have an important business meeting, you will not cancel it to attend a child's assembly. You chose to be a teacher, and with that profession comes certain responsibilities such as not taking days off to attend your child's events. It also comes with perks not seen in the private sector, like all summer off to spend full-time with your children.
With teachers like you, I am even more inclined to say NO to the parcel tax. You feel entitled to be absent and cost the district the price of a substitute when your kids have events and you want to be present. You want to have the district pay for a substitute when your child is sick, rather than hiring a babysitter. And unless your spouse is also a teacher, he/she should be the one taking the sick child to the doctor - assuming he/she works in the more flexible private sector.
Posted by Another teacher, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm
I'm sorry that when I am sick there needs to be a substitute for me. I would much rather send an e-mail telling the parents that class is cancelled (like a private sector worker can, if they are the leader of the meeting), or to call in sick from work and just not be there (like a regular non-meeting leader can if they have a meeting) and not have to spend my own time, while sick, preparing for the sub. This would be great! Often I just work sick, because it is easier. I bet most private sector people don't do that, unless it is a really, really important day. (In teaching, all days are important.) But you do get paid for being gone, right? So saying I can't be gone (just because I have a sub to pay for) is discrimination, just like saying it is not okay to go to my child's play. So anyone in the private sector can see their child's play, but I can't? That's discrimination! Should I quit teaching when I have kids?
By the way, people complain about tenure all the time. Teachers can be gotten rid of, it just takes some work and documentation. But don't kid yourself, the truth is that tenure only protects you from discriminatory principals, which I have had.
Posted by Anne/Teacher/Parent of PUSD Kids, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm
YES on parcel tax.
I am a first time reader of these forums related to PUSD and the parcel tax. I am horrified at the negativity that is permeating on these boards.
We all know that our country is presently in economic despair. Our state is in dire economic distress. Our school district is in a pitiful economic quandary.
Why don't we all work together and stop all these finger pointing, bashing and baseless demands? Do your research and investigate the facts that you carelessly toss back and forth here (such as administration/teachers' benefits and compensation). PUSD teachers used to be the highest-paid teachers in CA. Not anymore. PUSD teachers buy their own escalating medical/dental benefits out of their salaries to the tune of up to $14,000 a year for the entire family. I get paid so much more in my own district since they also pay for our medical benefits. PUSD is now lagging behind other districts in terms of salaries. Google New Haven PUSD, Palo Alto, etc and check their certificated salaries!
Your teachers work so hard to live up to the high standards that PUSD is known for. They give so much of themselves because this is not just a job to them. It is a ministry and a service. The least you could do is to support them and work with them.
Voice out your opinions at the board meetings and put credibility and validity to your demands instead of bickering here on these boards.
If our government has abandoned us financially, let us not abandon our neighborhood schools. Express our community spirit and let us rise up above this unfortunate predicament.
Posted by enough already, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm
Take it easy on the teachers, people. They're not the reason we have a budget crisis and certainly are not the people who mismanaged the district's finances. If anyone is to be blamed, it should start at the very top.
We are in the middle of one of the worst economic crisis in our nation's history and every attempt by the FEDS to fix things is just making things worse. We're in this for the long haul now.
PUSD needs to just cut the programs and layoff their workers instead of asking the community for more money. Private companies are also cutting projects and laying off workers during these times.
Casey: Try and keep those cuts as far from the classrooms as possible--your career depends on it!
Posted by Share the burden?, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm
Are the teachers willing to share the burden of cuts to the budget?
Seems to me there are 2 options here for teaching staff:
All teachers keep their jobs but concede to salary freezes/reductions as long as the parcel tax is on our properties. Everyone keeps a job, everyone continues to teach, everyone continues to add to their years of service, everyone continues to contribute to retirement, and everyone KEEPS their health care benefits.
Teachers will keep the same responsibilities and won't have more kids to teach, more responsibilities because staffing overall has decreased.
Our kids win because they still get the classroom size and the subjects currently available.
The teachers win because everyone keeps an income stream, their health benefits, and their service years.
Once the economy is restored and the funds start flowing again, there can be some make-up jumps in compensation for these lean years.
Sacrifice some of our best young talent and send them packing. They probably won't be able to find another teaching position in the area. They will retrain and go to work in another sector and may not ever return to teaching.
I don't undervalue the responsibilities of teaching, but I also don't discount the autoworker that's making my car that I drive everyday. Many times in the history of the auto plants, all workers have been willing to cut back to 75% in order to keep their job and their benefits.
The companies (not just auto, but oil, tech, etc) that are able to trim down compensation but keep personnel have been able to react faster once the economy improves.
No one profession should be protected in this economy, no matter how dear to our hearts and families.
I have kids in PUSD and I will vote NO on the parcel tax unless I see concessions by the administration and staff.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:06 pm
Take it easy on the teachers. They're a bit sensitive during this time. I have a friend who works at a privately funded organization that deals directly with teachers. Because of this budget crisis, districts are calling her to complain that in the course of doing her job normally like she's always done, she's happened to offend this teacher or that teacher.
After June, after teachers are laid off, after the parcel tax fails to pass, it will be up to the teachers and them only as to what they want out of their union.
Posted by no pain no gain, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:27 pm
Comparing UAW workers with our teachers is comparing apples with oranges. UAW workers are mostly high school dropouts or those with little or no college education. They should be flipping burgers instead of making crappy cars.
Our teachers are highly educated professionals with specialized skill sets. Their services come with a cost, and that cost is quite reasonable IMHO. If our district cannot afford their services due to a decreased budget, we need to wean ourselves from their valuable service.
It's not fair to ask them to provide the same services for less. I'm not willing to pay more (in the form of a parcel tax), so I'm willing to give up the "luxury" of having their service. It's the way of life in this prolonged recession.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:29 pm
"So anyone in the private sector can see their child's play, but I can't? That's discrimination! Should I quit teaching when I have kids?"
Not everyone in the private sector would be irresponsible like you. If their attendance at their child's play means the company has to spend more money on that employee, that person would be on the list of layoffs pretty soon. Yes, many private sector employees enjoy flexibility in their work, and that is part of the reason they chose that profession. You chose to teach, get summers off.
I do not get summers off. I have a flexible job, but I would not compromise the company's financial well-being so I can go to my child's play. You seem in my opinion, quite irresponsible, one of those people who would rather spend the day at the beach than show up for work. We do not need teachers like you.
By the way, if you think you are discriminated for not being able to go to your child's play (a luxury), then I suppose many in this country have been discriminated for a long time. Think of the employees who may not be employed in white collar work. Some are so busy with work because they have to put food on the table, that they cannot afford to take time off to see their child's play.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:55 pm
No pain no gain,
I hope you are not responding to my post when you mention comparing UAW workers to teachers. I wasn't making any sort of comparison. Teachers belong to a union in order to obtain the benefit of collective bargaining. It is up to teachers and them alone as a union to decide how they respond to this budget crisis.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm
-It would take a deeper conversation, but it can't be arbitrary. Hearsay? Even now teachers aren't released on hearsay.
-Open to the possibilities.
-Tutoring or resource aids? Tutoring is something that occurs after school and that families choose to do if they can afford it. Resource aids are available during class time. I wouldn't propose getting rid of them.
I wasn't setting up a business model for schools. I was only addressing a response to a question about how to value teachers. It would seem sarcasm is the response.
It's not like privatizing schools is in our future, nor a non-union school system. But if you aren't trying to be part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Silly me for trying.
Good luck with your parcel tax; our house, too, has three votes against.
Posted by no pain no gain, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2009 at 11:45 pm
Stacey: I usually ignore all of your postings so, no, my previous message was not a response to your rant. Peace, my dear! ;)
Teachers should not have to make any concessions nor should they apologize for taking some optional time off. If we can't afford their service, just let them go. Let's give them the respect and dignity that they deserve. I do admit that I'm one of those who does not support a parcel tax. But let it be known that I have the utmost respect for people in the teaching profession and that it saddens me to see so many of your talented young teachers go.
Posted by Teacher77, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 12:44 am
Do you know why teachers' salaries can't be compared to those in the private sector? Because it is completely different. When the economy is good, businesses in the private sector give employees a bonus, an extra lavish Christmas party, perks. When the economy is bad, those businesses rein in their spending, cut out their extras, and no one gets a bonus or a ham that Christmas. When the economy is good, teachers still only get their negotiated salary (which IS based on years of service and education, FYI). If teachers want to have a Christmas party, they pay for it. If teachers want more materials in their classroom they buy it from their own pocket. (How many employees of businesses do you know who buy their own paper?) It's not the same at all.
For all the arguments people have about why can't teachers and administrators "suck it up" and take pay cuts....and all the arguments about how you never had "all these programs and specialists" when you were a kid, you might want to contemplate the fact that this is NOW and that was then. When we were kids everyone in our school spoke the same language, lived in similar families, in similar homes and had a similar amount of food, money and support at home. This is a whole new ball game. Teachers need their prep periods to PREPARE for their classes. It takes time to grade papers, get out math and science materials, plan social studies projects and figure out how to help these 5 kids in your class who don't speak English and speak 5 different languages. Oh, and for these kids who don't speak English or have other special needs, it takes even more time to keep up with the paperwork required. Middle school and high school teachers have "free periods" each day wherein they don't have a class assigned to them during a period. Elementary teachers have prep periods when their kids are with various specialists so the teacher can handle all these other tasks.
There are some pretty far-fetched ideas out there as to why this district is mismanaged, or why we don't need a parcel tax. My favorite irrational argument so far is the one about how we don't need elementary school counselors because "I never saw one and my kids never saw one...etc, etc." Well, lucky for you that you never experienced a death in your family that caused you to be depressed/confused/angry, or emotional or physical abuse that caused you to be withdrawn/confused/angry, or the victim of abuse/teasing/violence from a kid who HAD been so unfortunate to have these terrible things happen to them at a young age. Because guess what? Kids with unchecked anger and emotional troubles in elementary schools exist. They can (and do) hurt themselves and others. You haven't noticed this because the fabulous elementary school counselors are ALWAYS busy meeting with various groups and individuals as kids these days face much bigger challenges and pressures than we ever did growing up.
The other argument that is hilariously incorrect is the one about all the "extra administrators" we have floating around our district. Yeah, right. Have you been to a middle school or high school lately? Did you know kids have "issues?" Did you know vice principals keep a handle on kids who are having a hard time in various respects? Do we want these kids to just drop out because none of their 6 other teachers have enough prep time that they can effectively help the kid? Someone asked how many administrators we have at each school. Well, in elementary schools we have an average of 1.3! Some schools have vice principals on campus for just 1 1/2 days a week. Some schools get 2 days! And thank goodness for those few days we get...it's what helps our principals do the great job that they do supervising staffs of teachers while keeping one eye on the kids and the other eye on the parents.
And I don't know where you get your information, but teachers do not regularly take days off to attend plays at their children's school. How absurd! Teachers don't like preparing for a sub and only go that route when absolutely necessary.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 3:40 am
"Well, lucky for you that you never experienced a death in your family that caused you to be depressed/confused/angry, or emotional or physical abuse that caused you to be withdrawn/confused/angry, or the victim of abuse/teasing/violence from a kid who HAD been so unfortunate to have these terrible things happen to them at a young age. Because guess what? Kids with unchecked anger and emotional troubles in elementary schools exist."
Schools are supposed to educate kids, period. If a kid is that troubled, his/her family should hire professional help: doctors, psychologists, outside counseling. Low income people can seek help from government agencies. Families not willing to take responsibility should be reported to CPS.
Schools are not in the business of helping troubled and abused youth. That is what child welfare agencies exist.
"And I don't know where you get your information, but teachers do not regularly take days off to attend plays at their children's school. How absurd! Teachers don't like preparing for a sub and only go that route when absolutely necessary."
As a parent, I have seen this. Did you not see the post from the teacher who claims he/she is entitled to days off to watch his/her child's play? Go back above and read. I had never seen such sense of entitlement from someone. I hope that particular teacher is either let go or be forced to pay for the substitute when the reason for absence is "I have the right to go to my kid's play."
As for vice principals: we need them in the middle and high schools and should not be counted as part as the administration we want to see cut. Administrators I speak of are Directors of HR, etc.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 5:37 am Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I believe that if a kid is troubled enough to act out, the school has the responsibility to make sure that the kid doesn't continue to disrupt the education of other students. It seems to me that the most efficient way of doing that is to have counselors on hand who can deal with "acting out" behavior as close in time to when it occurs as possible. As for low income people being expected to seek help from government agencies, I think that access to mental health for children is woefully inadequate.
I'm curious how you feel about assistant principals in elementary schools. Are they part of the administration you want to see cut? Because they are on the cut list, right now.
Posted by done with resident, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 10:13 am
My 2 cents: stop engaging in dialogue with "resident". He/she is clearly extreme in his/her thinking (the entire conversation about the minority of teachers who use their personal necessity days to be there for their sick kid or go to their child's school is just absurd) and does not reflect the opinions of most reasonable (non-bitter) people. Just take it with a grain of salt and move on. Resident will be voting "no" on parcel tax and has no clue about what teachers do, and no amount of arguing is going to change that stance.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 10:17 am
": I think teachers deserve to have their time off for family events"
They already have plenty of time off: winter break, spring break, many holidays, summers off.
Taking additional time off during their work days to attend family events like a child's play is simply irresponsible on their part.
The district must hire a substitute which means: cost, and the kids in that teacher's classroom essentially waste a day. My children never even come home with homework when they have a sub, and many times, they just watch movies and waste time at school with a sub. Why? So this special teacher who already has more time off than anyone in the private sector, can also attend a child's assembly. I cannot agree with you. Days off should be taken for sickness or something important. Being a good parent also means setting an example for your children that work ethic is crucial, and that you do not miss work for non-important things when doing so affects your customers, in this case, your students.
I am more convinced than ever that the two votes in our house will sbe NO. If this teacher is an indication of all PUSD teachers, it is better to just let the system fix itself.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 10:28 am
It is not the school's responsibility to deal with extreme neglect, abuse or disturbed children. My understanding, from talking to a friend who is a teacher, is that the appropriate government agency must be notified if child abuse is suspected.
As for assistant principals at elementary schools, it depends on which school, how big it is and what the assistant principal does.
In middle and high school, assistant principals have a big role because there are so many students. Most parents know who these vice principals are and understand the valuable work they do.
I can tell you that to this day, I have never dealt with the assistant principal at my children's elementary school, and I have no idea what he/she does. To answer your question: I do not know because I have no idea what these elementary school vice-principals do, and as a parent, I have never had to deal with them. Middle school and high school vice principals, on the other hand, do a valuable job and should not be considered part of the administration being trimmed. HR Directors, public information officer, etc are administration, in my opinion.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:15 am
Resident: You have not dealt with an Elementary VP probably for two reasons: One, your child does not get in trouble (good for you!). Two, if your child does get in trouble, there is a 50% chance that the VP is at the other school (they all handle two schools), and you had to deal with the principal.
Please tell me, if "it depends on which school, how big it is, and what the assistant principal does", then I would love for you to tell me exactly which of the 9 elementaries in Pleasanton deserves a VP and which does not, and for what reasons. They all have about 600 kids, so each VP has a population of 1200 kids to deal with, not to mention many committees, the safety plan, and countless IEP's that they need to attend. So please tell me, where do you draw the line? Which schools get no VP, which get a 1/2 VP, and which get a full-time VP? I am waiting breathlessly for your answer. Your answer can tell the rest of us if "done with Resident" is right in whether or not you have "no clue".
Posted by enough already, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:22 am
"Get the facts" = PUSD staff or a teacher. S/he has everything to gain by suckering the public to dig deeper into their pockets and fund the parcel tax. It's self-preservation, as is the case why all the other teachers are posting.
We're posting to demand belt-tightening at the administration and union level BEFORE we consider a parcel tax.
We demand responsible spending and financial management.
No parcel tax until we see some real concessions at the administration and union levels.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:34 am
enough already: I am not trying to sucker anybody, I simply am responding to Resident, and I am hoping he/she will answer my question.
I would suggest that you don't "post to demand . . ." but instead come to one of the many board or budget meetings (held weekly, or in the case of this coming week, two meetings) and speak your mind. This blog is widely considered to be coming from a small minority, and other than Sandy, no one will share their name. Anonymous "demands" are not listened to.
Posted by Cindy, a resident of the Heritage Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:40 am
"Isn't it worth a dollar a day? Surely you can do without that cup of over-priced coffee".
Problem is, EVERYONE uses this line, from insurance salepeople, to politicians, to teachers. Remember, a dollar here, a dollar there, why, pretty darn soon, your talking some real money. Take a look at your current property tax bill to see all the extra taxes. Watch out for all the new federal, state, county and local taxes and fees (another word for taxes). Hang on to your wallets!
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:49 am
Teacher 77: "Do you know why teachers' salaries can't be compared to those in the private sector? Because it is completely different."
That's true--one difference is the private sector can't retire at 58 or 60 with 70-100% of their salary. I'm just pointing it out, not arguing it be changed.
And while my hats are off to the many teachers who work 40-60-80 hours week and spend time over their breaks grading papers or their summers restructuring their instruction or put materials in the room out of their pockets or actually take on extra duties--that's not ALL teachers.
And therein lies another big difference. In the private sector, years of experience do not equate to job security and bad performance is more easily rewarded with a pink slip.
I understand teachers are compensated for advanced degrees already, which is why I included it in the example. That's another difference between the private sector and public education--in the private sector advanced degrees are rewarded to the extent they benefit the firm or its customers. They are not automatically rewarded simply for having been awarded.
I put out one idea about how to look at a monetary way to "value" teachers--I was asked--I said it was a risk. But it was an opportunity to be creative about how to support teachers.
It will take creative thinking to gain support for a parcel tax. I look forward to your ideas.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2009 at 2:50 pm
Get the facts:
Maybe PUSD will not listen to these blogs. Maybe we will be ignored. Let's wait until the vote is in, and then we will see.
If it fails, and I think there is a good chance of that, then maybe these blogs will not be ignored anymore.
About the elementary schools' vice principals: again, my answer is I do not know. I cannot take for a fact what you say. What I know is that middle and high school principals must not be considered part of the administration. I think the fact that there is one vice principal taking care of two elementary schools says a lot about the need for vice principals for the different age groups.
I agree with others about the need to reform unions. Maybe without the teachers' union, we would not have the teacher who posted he/she is entitled to time off to attend his/her kids' play, at the expense not only of the district who has to pay a substitute but also at the expense of his/her students who go to school that day to waste time, so that their special teacher can attend his/her kid's assembly....you will not see many working parents at those assemblies, by the way.
Teachers do not have the flexibility some others have. I am working all weekend to make up for personal time off during the week, but then again, I can make up for that, teachers cannot.
All of us chose professions not only based on interests but based on what kind of work schedule and flexibility we wanted.
Teachers should know that they cannot work from home, leave work for a few hours to attend a child's play or run errands. In return, they get plenty of time off, including summers.
I agree it is pointless to discuss this any further. Some teachers have obviously been very spoiled by their unions, and wallets and votes will speak hopefully against that, in the years to come.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2009 at 11:44 am
As a PUSD employee, I am given a certain number of days off -- sick days and personal necessity days. I did not ask for these days, but they are there for me when I choose to use them. Just as the days are there for employees in the private sector! As was stated in a previous blog, I cannot just cancel my class as is it sometimes done at the university level. I cannot just cancel the meeting or my sales call, etc. If the checker at the supermarket calls in sick or takes the day off, isn't that worker paid in addition to the person that filled in for the absent worker? Yes. I will usually go to work sick as it is easier than developing my sub plans. On average, it takes a few hours to plan out the day, gather the necessary materials, etc. for the subsitute. I have never slacked on making my sub plans. I want the students in my class to be productive and learn. So, it is not a day filled with fun activities, worksheets, movies, etc. No, I spend a lot of time on my plans - plans that are very appreciated by the substitutes that have come to my room. Yes, like the teacher that posted above, I too have taken time off to be with my sick child and have gone on a field trip with my daughter. I used my personal necessity days for these events. I'm a mom, and I love my kids! Since when is that a bad thing? I'm a teacher, yes! But, I am a parent too! I think nothing less of a parent who comes to go on a field trip, knowning that they took the day off. It should not be thought of any different for a teacher. My husband works in the private sector, but he does not see this flexibility with his schedule that you are implying that is there out in the private sector. He cannot just take time off whenever he wants. We take turns in deciding who takes time off of work to stay with our sick children. Just like you. Futhermore, I usually do not use up all of my days by the end of the year. I am not irresponsible with how I use my days off. Please don't imply otherwise. I would ask that you look at the bigger picture here.....voting no on the parcel tax is your right. But, I respectfully don't understand how a teacher taking a day off should change your vote. The focus should be on what is best for the kids whose parents decided to live and raise their children here in Pleasanton.
Posted by Mom, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Mar 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm
I do not like teachers planning conferences or other avoidable days off on school days. Planned activities should be in the summer when it does not disrupt the class. My child was always in trouble when there was a sub because he could not deal with disruption. If I knew there would be a sub I would keep my kids home to avoid problems and knowing there would be nothing learned that day.
But abuse of days off is not relevant to the subject of the parcel tax.
After that, see if you still believe that PUSD employees should be protected from what the rest of the nation is going through. Private 401Ks are not protected and will not be bailed out by the government, most private sector jobs other than the recent banks and other bailouts, do not rely on unions or collective bargaining, much less public bailout like a parcel tax.
And those teachers with a sense of entitlement should change their attitude.
I did not realize how many teachers think they are entitled to take days off for no good reason other than to attend their child's play or field trip. This is very selfish because they hurt the district financially and their students as well.
I disagree: this has a lot to do with the parcel tax because that money will go to replace money the district is spending foolishly on so many unjustified substitutes, unjustified perks for union members and district administrators, etc.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 7:17 am
I am just fine, without the need for a union. However, the entire country is facing challenges, and PUSD employees should should do what eveyone else is doing: tightening their belt and getting rid of unnecessary expenses. And you are wrong: the district cannot protect so many jobs without help from people like me, a taxpayer and voter.
And no, I would not want to belong to a union. The results of unions are obviously not good ones, including the teachers who feel entitled to be completely irresponsible and unprofessional.
Unions will eventually be gone, and workers who belong to them will be in bad shape. Look at the Auto Union Workers now, for a long time they got goodies, and now so many have been laid off and there will be more of that in the coming months.
The teacher's union will face a similar fate if they do not get their act together. Many people, not just in PUSD, have already seen what unions can do to education and other areas. It is just a matter of time before true reform is implemented.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 8:06 pm
The time for the APT to be working with the administration was months ago. What they could have worked out may have saved hundreds of hours going through the process of layoff notices and parcel tax posturing.
Did anyone read the board packet file for the 2/24 board meeting?
The complete results of a survey that the Budget Advisory Committee took is posted. Interesting that only one of the four APT members took the survey. (And neither of the two Board of Trustees who are on the BAC participated.) Not only is the APT (and school board) coming to the table late, but three of the four representatives did not participate in the BAC survey.
On the flip side, the parents and others who had almost full survey participation are to be thanked for their work. And for their write-in comments that are listed. Some great ideas there! Only wish the PUSD would start showing some out-of-the-box thinking and leadership and generating new ideas.
There is no sign that the teachers union is participating to creatively solve the situation.
Posted by Sue McGowan/Parent, a resident of the Carlton Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 3:02 pm
It's the same people, day after day, who come on to this site and complain. They're probably bitter and unemployed, and have got a ton of time on their hands to just blog back and forth. I suggest getting off this website and going out to do something productive with your life, rather than just complain. Oh yeah, and I find it funny that these same people rant and rave everyday, and they sign in anonymously. This handful of people do not accurately represent the population of Pleasanton.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2009 at 10:14 am
Obama, taking on unions, backs teacher merit pay
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama embraced merit pay for teachers Tuesday in spelling out a vision of education that will almost certainly alienate union backers.
Educators oppose charter schools because they divert tax dollars away from traditional public schools. Merit-based systems for teachers have for years been anathema to teachers' unions, a powerful force in the Democratic Party.
Obama acknowledged this in his talk to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom," he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency. "Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."
But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's education system is an economic imperative that can't wait, despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other pressing issues.
"Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us," Obama said. "The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children. We cannot afford to let it continue. What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream."
The ideas the president promoted were nearly all elements of his campaign platform last year. He only barely mentioned the reauthorization of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which introduced sweeping reforms that schools are struggling to meet without the funding to match. Obama said his administration would "later this year" ensure that schools get the funding they need and that the money is conditioned on results.
Among the principles Obama laid out were:
_Challenging states to adopt world-class standards rather than a specific standard. Obama's economic stimulus plan includes a $5 billion incentive fund to reward states for, among other things, boosting the quality of standards and state tests, and the president said the Education Department would create a fund to invest in innovation.
_Improved pre-kindergarten programs, including $5 billion in the stimulus plan to grow Head Start, expand child care access and do more for children with special needs. He also said he would offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses and said that states that develop cutting-edge plans to raise the quality of early learning programs would get an Early Learning Challenge Grant, if Congress approves the new program.
_Reducing student dropout rates. To students, Obama said: "Don't even think about dropping out of school." But he said that reducing the dropout rates also requires turning around the worst schools, something he asked lawmakers, parents and teachers to make "our collective responsibility as Americans."
_Repeating his call for everyone to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training, with the goal of highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.
On charter schools, he said the caps instituted by some states on how many are allowed aren't "good for our children, our economy, or our country."
Obama also spoke at length about what he described his policy toward teachers, what he called an `unprecedented commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with educating our children is doing the job as well as it can be done." In up to 150 more school districts, Obama said, teachers will get mentoring, more money for improved student achievement and new responsibilities.
Also, Obama said, "We need to make sure our students have the teacher they need to be successful. That means states and school districts taking steps to move bad teachers out of the classroom. Let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching."
The president acknowledged that a rethinking of the traditional American school day may not be welcome — "not in my family, and probably not in yours" — but is critical.
"The challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom," Obama said. "If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."
After the speech, Obama stopped at a hotel to drop in on another meeting, an already scheduled and ongoing round-table discussion between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which involves the heads of education from every state and U.S. territory.
Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:59 pm Jeb Bing is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.