Hundreds gather to support education Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Apr 7, 2008 at 9:40 am
About 350 people rallied in front of Amador Theater Friday afternoon to show support for increased state funding for education. In addition to students, parents and district employees, Sen. Ellen Corbett and Assembly members Mary Hayashi and Alberto Torrico joined in the event organized by the Pleasanton PTA Council.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, April 6, 2008, 11:07 PM
PUSD, shrill, self-serving exaggerations about the consequences of reining in spending.
California schools can survive budget cuts
Article Created:†04/06/2008 02:32:23 AM PDT
To reach reasonable solutions, thoughtful, fact-based analysis and flexibility will be required. Instead the debate over the budget, particularly concerning education, has been dominated by shrill, self-serving exaggerations about the consequences of reining in spending.
What is needed is a more sober look at the situation, which is not as dire as many in the education establishment or legislative leadership have portrayed.
Claims by the California Teachers Association that school spending is going to be cut by nearly $5 billion are not true. The actual decline in spending from this year to next is $1.1 billion, or 1.9 percent in overall public education spending. That is hardly an ideal situation, but neither is it a crisis.
Yet, CTA ads all over the media paint a fearful picture of the firing of thousands of teachers, much larger classes and the loss of curriculum. Many in the Legislature are calling for major tax increases to accelerate school spending, without any talk of making some basic reforms that would allow school districts to use funds more efficiently.
Posted by Mom/Teacher, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 11:04 am
A 4.5 billion dollar cut to our district is a big deal and not an exaggeration. Let's focus on how this budget will affect our kids here in Pleasanton.
Teachers aren't being dishonest when we tell parents that 4.5 billion dollars, possibly more is going to be cut from our small school district. That is simply the fact of what our district has to face this fall if the governor's budget plan is approved. Voters should be angry that the governor is trying to suspende Proposition 98 - voter approved. It always amazes me that people get angry at the wrong people. Teachers only care about the kids...your kids! Our special interests are your children! Trying to save the intervention programs is a very special interest of mine as a parent, teacher, and community member.
Posted by Mom/Taxpayer, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 8:20 pm
I don't support the parcel tax. It is just an easy way out of managing spending. If the tax is approved it will be near impossible to avoid it being renewed in perpetuity. The schools just want blank checks to cover spending with no accountibility for success and ROI.
Posted by No more unions, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2008 at 8:39 am
We should do without unions. I don't believe that an employee should receive pay raises, or not receive a pink slip, just based on seniority. If layoffs are in order, please keep the best employees, not the ones who have been with the district the longest.
At our school, an excellent teacher just received a pink slip (newer teacher), yet some who are not as good but have received tenure, get to stay. That is nonsense.
People should stay employed and receive pay raises based on merit.
As for classified employees.... where else but the school sector would a janitor be paid so much, have so much job security and benefits?
Reform, not taxes, is what we need.
Of course district employees attended the rally, but I wonder how many parents did. I didn't because I don't agree with what the district is proposing and how they are handling the budget deficit (which by the way, is inflated because it includes pay raises).
Posted by Linda, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm
The Pleasanton budget deficit IS INFLATED because of pay raises. John Casey's analysis below, does not even consider the previous administrative raises that he snuck through weeks before the crisis was announced.
A message to the Pleasanton community from Dr. Casey:
"We know that our expenses for overhead (e.g. salary schedule movement, energy costs, and insurance) will increase by $1.6 million for next year. With these proposed reductions in income and increased expenses, the bottom line is that we will need to cut $4.5 million relative to our current spending in order to have a balanced budget for 2008/09.
We estimate that we would be able to reduce non-personnel items by about $0.9 million. The additional $3.6 million would need to come from cuts in personnel. "
They would not have to cut much personnel if they used some sense and froze pay increases...but then it wouldn't be a crisis would it?
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 7:39 am
If you think this rally or budget crisis is about unions, then you do not have the details and you should investigate further. People are going to lose jobs. Children are going to lose teachers and have programs go away. Your neighbors are going to be affected. If you don't care about that, okay, just say so. But please don't flippantly say that it's about unions just to make yourself feel better or belittle other people. It isn't true. As for teachers receiving pay raises and cost of living increases, don't you expect that from your job? Why should the people that teach our children expect any less. They have families too.
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 12:34 pm
The pay system for teachers is not anything like that of a private business, so do not try to compare the two. Many times in the private sector, entire companies will go without pay raises during a bad year. Cost of living increases are a different story. Anyway, I think you might be confused as to the fact that a lot of people are upset that the administration (who is already paid well) gave themselves pay raises, not the teachers.
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 2:30 pm
I don't believe I'm confused at all. What I'm responding to is the fact that people are suggesting that the school is not in a budget crisis and they are wrong. Personally, it bothers me that California schools has one of the bottom per student spending amounts and we're suggesting cutting if further. Not only that, teachers work for their money, they have pay scales, they use that money to fund their own lives, so I don't see that as so different as people in the "private sector". I don't want to see money cut from our schools - that's all there is to it.
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 2:44 pm
Did you realize that the Superintendant and his staff voted themselves significant pay raises right before the budget "crisis" was announced? Maybe you don't feel that Dr. Casey and his posse were making enough already? This is just one element of the whole problem, but it sure makes people question his competence. That has nothing to do with teacher pay raises. Again, these were for district bureaucrats, not teachers.
I think the point the other posters were trying to make about unions is that they don't help the students at all. They merely insure that teachers stay in their positions and receive raises based on seniority instead of merit. There is a local teacher I know who is totally incompetent and is a union rep. That pretty much says everything, in my opinion.
I think our tax money in the state of California is totally misused, which is why I believe I should be able to take everything I pay in to education in the form of a voucher to use at the private school of my choice (but that's a whole different topic).
Posted by budgets first not raises, a resident of the Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm
Al is 100% correct. in the private sector, many companies forgo raises during tough times; CEOs will even forgo their entire salary for the year (Apple, Yahoo, Google, Cisco). for the Superintendent and staff to vote themselves a raise prior to this budget "crisis" reflects lack of vision at the least and moreover a question of integrity and competence.
also in the private sector, there is the idea of equity raises where lower paid but highly performing employees can get larger raises and lower performing but highly paid employees won't get a raise. even if everyone is performing satisfactorily, some employees won't get a raise. is that fair? maybe not, but it insures that people don't get a raise just for showing up.
Dr. Casey will have less money to spend. so he should provide the plan to spend less money that doesn't include asking for more money. i don't think anyone is saying that less money for schools is the best thing, but it is the reality. it's the circumstance that has presented itself. to deal with it head-on with fiscal integrity and responsibility is what i expect Dr. Casey to accomplish.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 1:50 am
I think it's hilarious to see who shows up at rallys such as this - politicians that pretend to be highly concerned, then run back to Sacramento and cut some backroom deal that makes them look good.
Wonder if they would have shown up if a Governor from their party had proposed the cuts......If a parcel tax makes it to the ballot you can bet the farm they'll back it. This bunch hasn't seen a tax they didn't like.......
Can someone explain how these proposed budget cuts are, per Congressman McNerney, a "matter of national security".
Posted by VHMom, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:19 pm
For those of you that have a problem with district office management and other employees getting increases....just compare what they make and the hours put in vs. private sector. I've worked at the district office as a temporary in the past and I think every parent in the PUSD should be required to do so. You'll walk away with a new appreciation of how hard and long these people work so that we have the schools we have. Yes, teachers and school administrators work hard, but district office employees do too...and I didn't see anyone just 'hanging' around when I was there. Go volunteer or get on the district sub list and work over there for a month or two.... Kent Rezowalli (Director of Spec. Ed) and Rich Puppione (retired, I know) work their tails off ... work like that has to be recognized and rewarded too, crisis or not. Thank you!
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 4:44 pm
"The schools just want blank checks to cover spending with no accountibility for success and ROI." --I don't like the parcel tax either, it's a poor solution. However, it's kind of funny (not in a comedic way) that one should say the schools just want blank checks...no accountibility...isn't that what we've given Iraq? Which brings me to trying to explain what McNerney could have meant by a "matter of national security". I did not hear his speech (does someone have a link to the text?) so just looking at this one quote can yield two completely different explanations:
1. We are cutting funding on education at the state and federal level to reallocate it to Iraq so that Al-Qaeda has American targets to shoot at. So it's a matter of our national security to ensure we drive Al-Qaeda out of Iraq (which were not there before we were there, but are there now).
2. In order for our country to be secure (financially), we need to have an education system that churns out innovators so that our economy keeps afloat. It is a matter of national security to not cut funding to our schools.
So you see, I don't really know what McNerney meant by a "matter of national security" if there isn't a citation directing me to the whole sentence or the whole paragraph or the whole speech.
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm
"For those not standing with picket signs or clapping to speakers saying "flunk the budget, not our children," there were many honking in support as they drove down Santa Rita Road in front of the school"
I'm surprised a passerby didn't yell out "GO BACK TO BERKELEY!"
Posted by Pleasanton Teacher, a member of the Alisal Elementary School community, on Apr 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm
I'm probably walking into the firing range here, but I have to put in my two cents. I was at that rally and I have to say I was quite surprised by the amount of parent support there. I appreciate their time for showing up to support, not the teachers, but their children. I am one of those "horrible" tenured teachers, however, I had to work very very hard to get to the place that I'm in facing years of changing schools, losing and regaining my job, and working long, hard hours to prove myself. Though I'm tenured, I still work every bit as hard at my job.
I read that people suggest we should have pay cuts. When I was a single teacher in Pleasanton, I barely made enough to scrape by and, yet, am quite conservative with my money. I think the general public with be shocked if they learned how much most teachers spend out of pocket on basic supplies such as paper, pencils, and books. To keep up with the Pleasanton expectations, we are also expected to purchase supplementary supplies, whether the funds are given to us or not. We pay for our educations, trainings, and many in-services out of pocket and are rarely, if ever, reimbursed for hours of work outside our "work day" that we spend fulfilling our job expectations. Few teachers do this job for the money. We are lucky to have jobs that most of us enjoy and the kids mean the world to us. Our jobs are taxing only because of political tangles like this budget crisis and No Child Left Behind.
I am teacher, "counselor", "police officer", "nurse", "parent", and "judge" on a daily basis and am often at school from 7 in the morning until long after the sun has gone down. While there are a handful of teachers in this district that might pollute the opinion of the rest of us, there are a far greater number that are giving their blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention their sanity) to their kids every day.At my school there are 7 teachers who received pink slips this year. They did not receive pink slips for lack of effort or skill. They received them because the budget does not allow them to be rehired. Sadly, those jobs will likely still be around, but these wonderful, talented teachers will have been scooped up by a luckier school district and we will be left with what is left. Pleasanton prides itself on its education program, but if new teachers are being rotated through schools year after year, that is a status symbol Pleasanton residents will have to envision losing.
I agree that the budget needs to be cut and spending needs to be reined in, but at what cost. Plans can be put into place to eliminate wasteful spending. Perhaps law makers should also consider a pay cut to coincide with their all expense paid trips, dinners, and accomodations. The last trip I went on was a field trip and I even had to pay for myself to go. My husband works for the government in transportation. His department isn't taking any cuts. My father works for law enforcement. His department isn't taking any cuts. I have dear family friends that work as district attorneys and they are not getting pay cuts or massive firings. Yet, in my relatively short time as a teacher, this is the second massive budget cut to education I've experienced.Perhaps it comes down to the fact that the people who are most deeply involved cannot vote, don't have a loud enough voice, and aren't thought to understand the situation that we are in.
In the words of a friend's son, "Education is getting worser and worser." I think that about sums it up.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 10:42 pm
It would probably be safe to wager someone would find a way to bring "Iraq" into a debate about horseflys.....
If someone really wishes to know in what context McNerney used "matter of national security" they would need to contact Council President Jamie Hintzke and ask her/him. According to the newspaper article, McNerney couldn't make it to the rally but called the Council President earlier and the quote came from their conversation.
I think I'll just assume the quote is a term some politicians use when attempting to convince citizens they, some politicians, have knowledge of the subject.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm
Pleasanton Teacher---We do have many fine dedicated teachers that do their very best for our kids. But not all. And it is unfortunate that because of the tenure system, those teachers are not the ones getting the pink slips. In my opinion, it is the Teachers Unions across the country that are responsible for that travesty. In what other industry can you find such job protection simply based on time in grade??
Also, I believe most posters are talking about wanting to see salary cuts at the administrator levels. Information has come out that Dr. Casey proposed salary increases totaling over $400,000 not long before this budget crisis hit the news. They didn't have the monies in the current operating budget so trustees approved dipping into reserves to cover it before we knew how bad things were going to be!
Those reading specialists could be brought back if they would just freeze the raise given for this year.
On a flip side I think you can thank your union negotiated contracts for the fact that your salary will not be touched. That is my understanding anyway. The union will love to see a parcel tax passed also because that means more money in the pot to go after. So they will help finance a campaign to get a tax passed.
Posted by Ann, a resident of the Carriage Gardens neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2008 at 12:15 am
I have not heard anyone suggest that teachers should get pay cuts. The suggestion has been to reverse the 400k for administratorís raises and freeze salaries until the budget crisis passes. This is intended to keep teachers from losing their jobs.
Teachers in this district are well paid especially for the amount of time off they get. Parents pay their fees and site councils give teachers money for their classrooms; in this district teachers do not need to pay out of pocket.
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2008 at 9:14 am
It is amazing to me how nasty people can truly get when talking about funding our schools. I mean, you'd think those "terrible teachers" were out trying to steal the food out of starving people's mouths instead of educate their children. Yikes. If you truly feel that the school is misappropriating funds, then why don't you take yourself over to the school and volunteer? Or maybe run for school board? Get involved in some way instead of sitting back complaining about it? Pleasanton schools are wonderful schools. Our children get great educations and have wonderful experiences. That all costs money folks.
Posted by Ann, a resident of the Carriage Gardens neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2008 at 9:38 am
I have not read anything that is not supportive of teachers. The Pleasanton community is very supportive of teachers. We take pride in the fact that our teachers are some of the best paid in the state. We show our support through financial support for the classrooms. The suggestions that have been made are pointing out that cuts should not be made in the classrooms. The teachers should not be let go to pay for administrative salary increases and unnecessary admin support.
Acknowledging the union agendas doesnít mean we do not support our hard working teachers. Asking for financial responsibility from the district in no way suggests we do not support our teachers.
I would bet most people that have strong opinions on these issues are the parents that volunteer the most.
Posted by Cindy, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2008 at 1:03 pm
I totally support the teachers and I believe that 99% of the commmunity does also. This problem is not their fault. There is a school budget meeting on Tuesday evening. We need to go to the meeting and say that the district shouldn't have given out that last raise to management just before they announced this budget problem. They should have held off like San Ramon did. That $400,000 raise they got would pay for most of the programs they are proposing to cut. So the first $400,000 of cuts should come from management or management-related expenses. It should not be coming from the classrooms. I don't think the board "gets it". They are not even acknowledging the recent raise to management but instead are saying that reading programs will be cut UNLESS YOU DECIDE TO PAY MORE IN TAXES. I surpose that if the board asked for a parcel tax to support the administrators they would not get the support they need so instead they are saying the tax supports the classroom. Sorry, give back the $400,000 from the administrators first and then lets talk about a parcel tax for the rest of the items on the list that could be cut. I might be willing to support a parcel tax at that point. I am not supportive when 10% of the parcel tax is going to raises for the administrators that other districts did not get.
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm
"It would probably be safe to wager someone would find a way to bring "Iraq" into a debate about horseflys....."
The fact that we are draining all our money into Iraq actually does affect funding for our education and infrastructure, etc. It's not something you can just turn away from. American citizens made significant sacrifices during WWII. What sacrifices are we making for $1trillion+ for a thing that Dick Cheney referred to as a quagmire in 1994? Well, just look at what's happening with education funding. And the possibility residents might have to pay a parcel tax. These things are results of our money going to Iraq. Sorry Jerry, but just considering this a debate about horseflies hurts our fellow citizens.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2008 at 3:52 am
I'm fully aware this debate is about education but after reading my reference to "horseflys" I imagine one could be confused. I was merely implying if someone is so inclined, they will find a way to inject "Iraq" into a debate about ANY subject - be it education, horseflys, apples, Oak Grove or whatever.
I apologize to our fellow citizens that may have been hurt or confused by my "horsefly" remark. I'll attempt to be more specific in the future.
By the way, did you inquire about what McNerney meant by "a matter of national security"???
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2008 at 1:04 pm
I'll bet everyone was surprised to hear a Democrat link economic problems and Iraq!!! All the Demo's need to do is cutoff funding since they control the purse strings. Think they'll do it..........Naw, they wouldn't have anything left to run on....
Opps, sorry!!!! This is a debate about education so I apologize.
Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2008 at 2:50 pm
My question is, instead of attacking the schools and administration (although I understand the point about those pay raises) why aren't we complaining about the way our state is handling funding and the Gov's proposed funding cuts to our schools? That's who I believe we should be attacking, instead of the school and each other.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm
If it's "a mess of everything" the Demo's don't like ----purse strings.....But wait! Didn't they vote for this "mess". I believe they did.........
You're absolutely correct. We should also be irate at the state level. If the Good Gov makes the proposed budget cuts to education and sends it to the floor, the good people we sent to Sac. should revise it and send it back for his signature/veto, his choice. At that point the citizens will know who to yell at, if necessary. From my understanding, it's all in the planning stages at this time with both parties jockeying for position(who's to blame and what to do).
Posted by confused, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2008 at 9:39 pm
Please tell me, why don't administrators deserve raises??? You are management so no raise for you? I don't see the work you do so you must not do anything? Certainly their raises should be no more than the teachers get but just because you are an administrator does not mean you should forgo a raise. That might work if you are management and responsible for profits but administrators are dependent on the same state funding as teachers. Sorry, don't get the reasoning.
Does anyone know how much education is need to be an administrator? A four year degree, a teaching credential, continuing education to keep the teaching credential, an M.A and in some cases a Phd. At the low end you are talking 10 plus years. (Four for the B.A., one for the credential, two for the M.A. and three for the Phd. That does not include the continuing college classes a teacher has to take to keep their credential or to move to a column that would eventually lead to the top pay step. All this on their own nickel.)
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm
If I've read the comments on this thread, and a similar one earlier, correctly, no one would deny administrators an increase in compensation during "normal" times. I could be wrong but my interpertation of what's being said is during a time of crisis top management of a business(PUSD administrators in this case)voluntarily decline an increase in compensation until the crisis is resolved in order for the business to survive and produce a profit. PUSD is a business(the Asst. Supt. of Business Services stated during an interview on TV30 "this is a tough business"), its stockholders are the citizens of Pleasanton that expect a profit, successful students, on their investment.
As in any business, examples of financial responsibility during a crisis start at the top rungs of the ladder regardless of how much education, or the cost of that education, is required to reach the top rungs. Let's hope the powers in Sac. can put aside political differences and find a way to resolve this potential crisis.
That's my personal interputation and it could be wrong - I frequently am....... :)
Posted by Mary, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 13, 2008 at 10:36 pm
Jerry--That is EXACTLY the point many of us have been trying to make on these boards. Casey's excuse that reducing salaries makes it difficult to get back to competitive rates at a later date is just not good enough.
Posted by VHMom, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 18, 2008 at 8:22 pm
Let's see...we want top rated schools, but fairly and competitively compensating our administrators shouldn't matter, or let's just wait until the 'crisis' is over, then we'll pay them fairly and competitively.....oh, maybe we should wait until they go somewhere else to work their tails off......then we'll take a look at their salaries! And say what? oops? Get real! Go ahead and waste the school board's meeting time with your drivel .... better yet, go take these administrator's places for a week and then see what you think they're worth! Bet you wouldn't even make it through the week!