How do you plan to vote on state taxes for schools? Schools & Kids, posted by curious, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm
Have you decided on how you are voting on the upcoming tax measures that say they will help schools? Are you going for Jerry Brown's tax measure (how much of this is really going directly to schools?), Molly Munger's (supported by the PTA's), both or neither? Why?
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2012 at 9:32 pm
I will not support any tax increase for any reason until the pension situation has been addressed. Fixing the pension problem for public workers will "generate" more revenue for schools than any of these taxes.
We have a structural program created from when the money was flowing in. Adding more taxes just moves the problem out a little; it does nothing to solve the real problem.
There are also other places in the government that can be cut but the politicians will always cut schools, fire, and police first to scare everybody into paying an additional tax.
Posted by Arnold, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm
Or more appropriately, I won't support any of the proposed tax measures that are being sold as a benefit to education. The only benefit these proposed tax hikes offer is to the teachers union, and I'm no fan of that self centered organization. I'm more interested in something that actually benefits the students while reforming the union/taxpayer/student relationship.
California Governor Jerry Brown is trying to sell his tax hike to voters this November by saying it will go to schools. The dirty little secret is that the new revenues are needed to backfill the insolvent teachers pension fund.
That's the news from an actuarial report presented to the board of the California State Teachers' Retirement System this month indicating that pension contributions would have to increase by about 68% to pay down its $65 billion unfunded liability over the next 30 years. If investment returns are ..."
Posted by Follow the money, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm
So right. I don't need to read the link. I've reaa several articles this week about the weight of pensions sucking up all money, old and new. There is no catching up, and then sustaining, without structure revisions to this fraud that has be perpetrated on taxpayers and parents.
It's sad that the cowards and theives have to shield themselves with a "For the children" scam. IF only money went to the kids... But the economic illerates use that for all the 'education' measures. all money into the system, even if recorded as going to "the children" is to 'free up' more public union dollars.
Definitely a sitiuation where "follow the money" tells the story.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Apr 27, 2012 at 11:51 am
Just give me any excuse to vote no, and I'll vote no. I used to be a democrat until Obama became a totalitarian statist communist muslim tyrant and, then too, the Mary Hayashi affair. So, quite honestly, in good conscience I have shifted away from the Tax and Spend Democrat Party to the Republican Party of No How No Way!!! Increased money for education is bad, really really bad.
Posted by Tracey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm
Like Kathleen, I fully intend to use this forum to dissuade people from supporting our schools in any way I possibly can, while simultaneously and forcefully rejecting any notion that I don't support our schools.
So remember, do not do ANYTHING that may halt the relentless and devastating cuts to our children's futures! Love and support them in words only!
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm
One thing that bothers me is that there are two competing measures on the ballot. Couldn't the two parties have worked out their differences? I think Tom Campbell was right when he said California will need to both increase taxes and cut spending to get its house in order. I don't know how I'll vote at this point.
Posted by Joe, a member of the Walnut Grove Elementary School community, on Apr 28, 2012 at 12:48 am
I'm voting No.
When the local Central Office can't follow Brown Act Laws, school board members are regularly forced to vote on something with only one day’s notice, I don't support adding more money to an already broken process.
As it has been for quite some time, it is a Central Office administration that holds back information until the last minute to force what they want to happen to occur.
Whether any ultimate vote should have been yes or no is irrelevant when you consider there is a pattern that occurs month after month, year after year of the same type behavior that starts at the top.
What is sad is that we have administrators in the school system, and people in the community who systematically attempt to undercut anyone who has the audacity to speak up and question anything they want to shove through.
What boggles the mind is that these kinds of potshots continue to occur, few acknowledge the true sources of the problems, and many appear to be blind to what is going on.
Fix your convoluted problems, PUSD, and one day you may get more funding.
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 9:21 am
While I support the schools, We cannot keep digging into our pockets to fix the problem. There needs to be structural changes. Giving more money to the government now is like giving money AGAIN to a drunk on a corner where the drunk says they will change their actions and will become clean now. They promise. As a taxpayer, I want to see change first, and then I would probably give more money if I see that it is needed (although I have given quite a bit of money directly to the schools and volunteered my time). I am tired of the government holding the people hostage by threatening our education and public safety, all before they do the required changes. Raising taxes without reform is almost like extortion. "The kids will get it unless you give me more money."
Posted by steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 10:35 am
Yeah, I know kids are starving across california, infrastructure is crumbling, we're gagging on toxic pollutants, the wealthy are undertaxed. But I agree with Kathleen and others. The real problem is teacher pensions. If we can cut teacher pay, everything will go away. AND, I won't have to pay higher taxes.
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm
I don't think anybody said to cut teacher pay. And while the teacher pensions are an issue that has to be addressed, pensions for non-teacher government workers is the main problem now. Around 2000, many agencies increased pension benefits significantly because they were told by CalPERS that it would not anybody anything. I think the CalPERS executives were also selling swamp land as they were fantastic in their lies. The teachers did not get an increase in pension payouts however. Teachers were not allowed to participate in this government giveaway.
Every extra dollar spend in pensions now is reducing the money available for education. Remember how Brown said that pensions were a crisis when he ran for governor and he would make this a top priority? It has been two years and there has been no progress made in the pensions. Instead they focus their attention in trying to raise taxes and figuring out what the best message is (although all the money ends up in the state general fund).
Posted by steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm
I wasn't borne yesterday. I know salaries and pensions are the same thing. And so cutting pensions is affectively cutting salaries. All this is good. We don't need comfortable fat cat teachers. They should be skinny, scared, and terrified by me and KR breathing down their necks. Let them just TRY to mention global warming or evolution in the classroom. Until their responsive to ME, I'm going to withhold any additional tax. But of course they'll never be responsive to ME, so I'll just vote NO anyway. why do I bother? My head hurts. Just vote NO like the 12 people in my household intned to do.
Posted by Joey, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Agree with the comments above, So far the answer is no. I think there is more room to tighten and they just haven't done it yet. I think a long range plan is in order. To position this as going straight towards schools is a sham. They will just divert (reduce)funding from other sources to keep other pet projects funded. Treat this like a business, and have full disclosure of the budget process (salary, short and long term pension, administrative, conversion of assets, interest, future income)I don't need to know each person's salary, and frankly I don't want to. But I would like to know the various job classifications, salary, and distributions of who is in those jobs. No funny math. If I trust the data and agree with the results (allocations). I would have no problem giving more.
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm
Salaries are set at the district level and you can go to the website ed-data and compare.
On pensions, if the amount of money that is put in by both the employee and the employer is not enough to pay the benefit (like how we are now) and the taxpayers are on the hook for the shortfall, I consider these pensions "unearned income". We are charging future generations for services performed today. This problem compounds. We have to only spend what we receive. Giving a benefit that is not paid for with dollars when the service is performed is just using our credit card.
This whole thing on taxing the wealthy is out of control. The "wealthy" already pay almost all of the taxes. That is why we are in the situation today. The wealthy did not make money on the stock market which means tax dollars to the state are not coming in. Since most of the income is from the wealthy, a majority of the income source has gone away. The only sustainable way to tax people is to not rely on a single income level for paying for the government. I also think that if everybody had to pay some state tax, they would be more concerned on the spending. When you have a high percentage of voters who do not pay any state taxes, it is easy for them to vote for an increase. Get a service that is paid for by somebody else. What a deal.
Posted by To sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm
I couldn't agree more.
My sister in-law sent me an article about a charter school my niece is attending. I find it very interesting on a number of different levels, and I hope people read the article: Gilroy charter school raises the bar, teacher pay Web Link
The article highlights some of the advantages and cost savings of a public/private partnership for schools, and also mentions the constraints and pitfalls of the public school system union relationship.
Posted by UGH!, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:44 am
Where are you getting your information??? I am a teacher and my pay HAS BEEN cut the last three years. This is coupled with higher class size for YOUR children and I am still at work at 6:30 in the morning and often don't leave until 5. Oh yes, and the papers I grade on the weekends. My husband walks through the kitchen at 11:00 pm, turns off the light, and says "sweatshop is closed." That used to make me mad, now I think he may be right if only in the way you all are talking about teaching.
I didn't get a double digit raise while the dot com thing was going on. . .usually cost of living if that. I have never had a monetary bonus. I pay my own increasing cost of healthcare with my shrinking salary. CALSTRS is not CALPERS, but that would take some critical reading to figure that out. I don't get social security and I have contributed to my pension plan from my salary while getting matching funds from my school district. I am in a teachers' union like every other teacher in this state. It hasn't done much for the profession lately except MAYBE slowed the downhill spiral of my salary and the increase in class size. . .we are talking about double digit furlough days next year. That is class time YOUR kids are loosing in school. We will still be expected to increase the level of competency. Most of us will kill ourselves trying because we love the kids and have pride in our jobs.
Education costs money. Teachers are paid the bulk of every districts' budget because we deliver the product. We do it in good times and bad and often take money out of our pocket to do so. Don't feel sorry for me, I love my job, but I am also tired of being painted with the same brush as that bad teacher you had in high school, the one you heard about down the street, or the one you couldn't brow beat into a better grade because your child didn't earn it but needs it to get into that wonderful university.
I am the one that has made the difference in the lives of hundreds of kids. I am also the one some families did not like because of the standards I hold for my students. Next year I will be asked again to do the impossible. I think it is safe to say that all of you on this blog were taught to read and write by a teacher. Some of you obviously had better quality teachers than others. Certainly, some of you actually were encouraged to critically think. Based on the comments, not many.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 10:38 am
Teachers aren't as important as the wealthy. How many jobs do they create? I'm immune to all these sob stories about how teachers are slaving away in the Bahamas during they're four month summer breaks at taxpayer expense, MY expense. Teachers are a dime a dozen and thousands are waiting in the wings for the deadwood to retire. Furlow indeed. Another free work day, fly to Paris to live it up at my expense. No more taxes! BTW, Curios is a troll.
Posted by UGH, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 10:54 am
I appreciate the question. . .In my opinion the real problem is the way we do initiatives in this state. Too late to fix that now. People sign them, they pass because they sound good but there is no one who looks at the repercussions of the initiative when it is passed into law. Consequently we have protected pots of funding in this state which means that when there are cuts, the less protected pots of funding get the bulk of the cuts. Often they are areas that are unpopular, aid to the disabled, senior services, child protective services etc. Even though education was somewhat protected through prop 98 funds it has been negotiated away by the legislature because it was such a huge pot of money.
State revenue is driven by the economy so when the economy dips so does the funding. It is usually a lack of revenue not overspending that causes the problem. When dealing with your own household budget one cuts back but in this state where you have protected pots of money cutting back is difficult at best. The people are responsible for that. We made those decisions.
We are paying more for prisons in this state than higher education. Some of the same people who won't vote for education funds voted for three strikes, mandatory sentencing for third time offenders. That has cost this state millions by putting non violent felony offenders in for 25-life. It is beyond me that one would vote for an indirect tax like that but scream when people are asking for education, especially when there is a direct connection between a LACK of education and incarceration.
We have more people who require more services. It is popular to say NO MORE TAXES but NO ONE is saying NO MORE SERVICES. The schools have to have the money to prevent further cuts. It will not bring the level of service back to where it was a couple of years ago. Schools in this state are falling apart. Living in Pleasanton, one would not know that because the community made the commitment to make sure the product delivered would be as equitable across the city as possible. Most communities across the state have not been as fortunate as Pleasanton to have the revenue stream and the priority of excellence in the schools.
Having said all this, I think government by initiative without some oversight by the legislature or better yet, the judiciary is NOT a good way to govern. Most other states that use the initiative have some check on the process to make sure the initiative is legal and does not counteract or infringe on current laws, that it is worded such that yes means yes and no means no, and that the intent of the initiative is fulfilled.
But the initiative is what we have. I will probably vote yes on both. If I had to choose between the two I would choose the governor's over the PTA's. My children received a wonderful education in Pleasanton schools. I want others to have the same or better.
Posted by curious, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 11:05 am
Thanks for the detailed reply, makes a lot of sense. I'm curious about why you like the governor's proposal over Munger's - I was under the impression that more of the money actually made it to the schools with her ideas, but I could be wrong.
Also, thanks for caring and for doing what you do. These are tough times and people like you are saving our kids from the worst of it.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 11:33 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
UGH wrote: "State revenue is driven by the economy so when the economy dips so does the funding. It is usually a lack of revenue not overspending that causes the problem."
State revenue is driven by the economy so when the economy bubbles, there's a windfall of revenue that wouldn't otherwise be there. What government does with that windfall is just as important as what happens when the economy dips. Can you see why the problem is caused by both a lack of revenue and overspending rather than just one or the other? California chose mostly to lock the windfall into non-discretionary expenditures, which makes it more difficult to re-allocate resources to where they are needed most. The solution has to be both cutting and raising new revenue, not one or the other. But people want to see smart cuts and smart investing from their government, not extortion.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm
UGH, Perhaps a change of perspective about teachers is needed. If people are paid for the value they add to society as a whole, then teachers are on the frontline behind parents in raising productive adults of the future. Standing in front of 30 to 100+ kids 180 days a year and actually imparting knowledge is worth more than we pay. And for the best of the best, we are way off the mark.
There are, or should be, trade offs for higher wages. I think teachers should be able to make more than a principal. I think we need to offer our best teachers a year away from the classroom to teach other teachers (an opportunity to those interested, not a requirement). I personally would say the trade offs are tenure and current pension plans.
Many private sector entities are still getting raises and/or bonuses, and not just those at the top. It’s great when one’s efforts are matched with monetary recognition. It looks particularly attractive if you are stuck in a public sector slump. If we say those high salaries are based on hard work and results, then the best teachers are already meeting those standards. The difference in the private sector is, while the pay is good or even great, a particular job could be cut with little warning or the individual let go for lack of continuing performance. There are no guarantees in the private sector.
Many private sector entities also make matching contributions to 401K plans (or stock purchases). This could be done in the public sector. The difference, of course, is that the investment stands or fails on how the individual manages their money and is not tied to taxpayers paying the shortfalls (or making up for double dippers, padded final calculations, etc.). It’s your money, your responsibility, your success. And while CALSTRS and CALPERS are two different pension plans, they are both under water.
My questions of you and all teachers, and even classified staff members, run along the lines of what can WE do together to make effective changes? Just opening the papers today and there are multiple articles about pensions plans, dishonesty from one school district regarding bonds, and lack of voter information from six others about items they are putting on the ballot. When will teachers join other taxpayers in pushing for changes? While unions may be slowing the downward spiral on salaries and stemming the tide of increased class sizes (frankly, the price tag is proving too high for any benefit derived), their reticence on issues of tenure or changing pension plans is taking everyone down the drain. I would find it hard to believe that union members can’t see the oncoming train.
I’ll finish with where I began. I know there are many very dedicated, hard working, underappreciated teachers and classified staff and administrators. Teachers, in particular, are not paid enough. I, and hopefully many others, realize you cannot keep cutting days out of an already comparatively (international) short school year and expecting to get the same great results. I was taught that if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. That is not to pick on teachers, but to ask again, how do we change the impact of cuts that hurt the classroom (beleaguered teachers and cheated students) if the only answer is to throw more money at the obvious flaws in the current system. It goes to the other adage about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
Posted by UGH!, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm
I have seen teachers fired. It takes a conscientious administration who are actually evaluating the teacher. The whole system is a mess. We are seeing teachers come in to the system with little to no training from diploma mills who end up staying on because there are no qualified teachers to replace them. The REAL teacher training schools have been cut to the bone because we can't pay enough qualified professors to LIVE in California and teach at our state colleges. The next five to ten years there will be a teacher SHORTAGE because we have not paid enough attention to where and how we train new teachers.
Stacey is also correct. These are all pieces of the bigger puzzle. But as the economy drops, the number of students in school has stayed them same or increased. People say live within our means. Which of the many children in our schools do we cut out of the system? A student is only a second grader once. So if he or she needs a program that is cut in that grade, where do we make up the difference. Unlike the private sector when we can delay buying a newer car or we can reduce our budget by the reduction in what we buy or what we do and do it later when things are better, that student will never recover the lack of that program that may of made a difference in reading or math.
Our costs are higher. The money is needed to get us OUT of a hole not to augment what we have. . .I know there are people complaining about where the money has gone in Pleasanton. Please take a look at our schools and see the state of the art campuses and then tour some of the surrounding areas. It does not take a rocket scientist or even a student educated here to know where the money went. People say teachers should take the cut. WE HAVE! and we have reduced our personal budget accordingly. . .that student though. . .how do we fix that?
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm
I believe most of us would pay a tax if we thought it would make a difference in the schools. While as Kathleen points out there are problems in CalSTRS for teachers that needs to be addressed, the big problem is in CalPERS. Much of that was due to a mistake made around 2000 where the pension benefits were greatly increased, retroactively, to non-teacher government workers. Everybody knows it was a mistake to increase the benefits. When somebody tells you it will not cost you anything, you know that has to be a lie. While we all know the increase in benefits for CalPERS was a mistake, there is no way to reverse it because the unions refuse to do so. Since they have so much power, we will never see that mistake righted I am afraid. The teachers should be distancing themselves from the CalPERS recipients and should demand that the CalPERS pensions that were increased be fixed. That is money being taken away from education.
The other benefits that should be removed from all is retiree medical insurance for free. Even PUSD has this. By offering free insurance to retirees, that takes money away from operations, including teacher salaries. I don't know if any private sector job that offers free medical insurance for retirees. We are not talking about those who put money aside from their paycheck for retirement but something that is given without any cost to the recipient.
The teachers need to speak out against free retiree medical that cuts into the cost of education, as well as the excessive retirement plans to non-teachers (CalPERS). Like mentioned above, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Everybody sticking together just brings everybody down.
On teacher firing, yes it can happen but it is VERY difficult. The unions will fight any termination, no matter how strong the evidence is against the teacher. I would like to see some reform here and a way to pay teachers based on performance, not longevity. It is an insult to the good teachers (which most in our district are), that those who do not perform still make the same amount of money. While almost all of my child's teachers were good, we had some that were not. All the parents and staff seem to know which of the teachers are that do not perform. Tough luck if your child ends up in that class. And for the teachers for the same subject in the next grade, it makes their job much harder get get those students back up to grade.
Posted by There is a reason, a resident of the California Somerset neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm
"The other benefits that should be removed from all is retiree medical insurance for free. Even PUSD has this. By offering free insurance to retirees, that takes money away from operations, including teacher salaries. I don't know if any private sector job that offers free medical insurance for retirees. We are not talking about those who put money aside from their paycheck for retirement but something that is given without any cost to the recipient."
That was instituted to entice near retirement teachers to retire earlier than expected. The district saves money by hiring a teacher at the beginning of the salary schedule by loosing a teacher at the top. It benefits the school district in the long run by reducing costs!
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm
Nope, that benefit was added when Clem was here as a benefit to his friends and himself. This benefit is available for non-early retirement people and currently costs the district millions of dollars every year and if I remember correctly, our unfunded liability is current near $12M. This benefit is now required to be listed in the liabilities of the district and last I remember the liability was $12M and it was unfunded by $12M (meaning this benefit is 0% funded).
I think what you are referring to is the golden-handshake that pays employees that announce their retirement before a certain date in the year. This was even offered when finances were good. I believe that was also instituted by Clem and John.
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm
On the free retiree medical, this is not only a problem with PUSD. The City has the same issue and is significantly underfunded. Many (most?) agencies in the state have this benefit and it should be removed everywhere.
The laws were changed a couple of years ago to require agencies to declare this liability on their books. Previously, it was going on and they never disclosed it.
This "freebie" should be removed right away from all agencies.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm
Golden handshakes have been around a long time in one form or another, long before John and Clem. If you don't have enough top salary employees retiring, it doesn't pencil out. The board recently considered a 75% of current year salary platinum handshake, paid to the employee over five years. I think it comes back in May when they know how many are interested and whether it provides any benefit to the district. Given the predicted shortfalls for the next year or two, I don't see how this takes priority.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm
What some don't realize, the economic bubble has burst. We cannot restore any public position to its original salary or benefit level on the backs of people who have been laid off or had their own salaries and benefits reduced. Given all that, future education is very important and I will vote yes this time. But, that does not mean I was always support a system thats has no clue how to operate.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm
It costs more today to educate a kid than it did 20 years ago. Special programs, outrageously priced texts, computers, science labs and equipment ... the list goes on.
I don't want my kid's teacher afraid of losing her/his job because she/he offends an administrator or a group of parents because of a teaching philosophy or point of view. In spite of some of the hillbilly yokels around here who think otherwise, teaching is not a glamorous job. It does not attract inherently bad teachers; and the first couple of years are more than ample time to assess whether the teacher wants to stay and/or should be asked to move on.
As education becomes more expensive, we should expect to pay more. Contrary to what the yokels will tell you, it wasn't teachers' or administrators' salaries/pensions that caused the recession. Freezing their salaries/pensions or reducing them will help not one bit, but will only further tax an already embattled group of outstanding individuals who dedicate their life not to striking it rich (e.g., GOP pres nom and others in the private sector), but to contributing to society. This is an extremely difficult concept for the righties on these threads to grasp: that teachers are not driven by the same kinds of greed and self-interest that righties are. Yes, they do want some comfort and security. But they do not partake of the private sector; they don't embrace the ideals of the private sector; they don't reap many of the rewards of private sector (e.g., 270% increase in profits over past five years); so why do people insist in judging them according to this standard? Well, chalk it up to ignorance. Sad, but true.
We need to raise taxes, and raise them especially on those who can afford to pay them. Oh, they'll moan and groan about how they already pay so much from their pockets (already bulging with millions), but fact is they can afford the tax hike. Most in the upper classes and upper middle classes can. Cutting teacher salaries/pensions is nothing but the current flavorful ruse of the right. It deflects from the extraordinary division between rich and not-rich in this country, state, and community. You will vote No! because some of the extra money will go to teacher and/or administrator salaries/pensions? Please, go sing some other song. Aren't there plenty of other groups out there who you think need to be bashed?
Posted by Daniel Bradford, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm
I plan to vote "yes", but as for the larger issue of a teacher shortage in California: yes, it's imminent, because unless you have a spouse with a well-paid private sector job, it's very difficult to raise a family on a teacher's salary in this state.
Teaching entails a lot of mental and physical stress, interference from administrators and parents (though most parents are supportive, the ones who are not can make a teacher's life hellish), long hours (most teachers' days begin, rather than end, at three p.m.), and low pay. It's no wonder that half of all teachers quit within the first five years. If we had that sort of turnover in any other profession, there would be declarations of a crisis.
I love teaching but I've done other jobs in both the public and private sectors, and they were easy money compared to what I do now as a college professor. Budget cuts have only made matters much worse, because we have the same number of students but fewer teachers and classified staff to deal with them. I honestly can't recommend a teaching career to any young person unless the teaching salary is a supplemental rather than a primary income, and even then I would expect to see the same high turnover rate, because of the emotional toll that teaching takes.
As for the Pleasanton USD administrators looking after themselves during the Casey Administration: this is not news. Clem Donaldson retired with a pension that's higher than his actual salary. Dr. Casey made it clear that his top priority in his last year with PUSD was not easing the stressful transition at the schools as we lost 10%-20% of our colleagues to layoffs, but with his own cushy retirement.
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 7:50 am
We have watched the misuse of funding in PUSD for many years. The administrations (Clem, what a waste) have all been happy to take from the students "program" to benefit themselves. PUSD still does not acknowledge that stealing $10m from the taxpayers through illegal bond refunding is wrong. The sweatshop comment is funny and delusional, they work 180 days a year.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:48 am
I should've figured my comments would elude Stacey's ability to comprehend reality. Of all my comments, she takes issue with one, and only one, thereby suggesting she supports everything else I say. Got delusion anyone?
Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:51 am
UGH -- 180 days a year, every weekend off, every holiday off, and you think you work in a sweatshop? Get a grip!
If you pay for insurance it is because your spouse has none. Your fellow teachers voted to take the pay and let the otherwise uninsured pay for it. Don't whine to me about it.
No public pensions should be allowed to continue. No PERS no STRS, none. The taxpayers who pay for your retirement are the same taxpayers who have no public pension. You feel that is fair? All public employees need to be on a strictly 401k type plan. You want money in your retirement years, you save it while you work. As for taxpayer paid insurance -- not even a player, get rid of it. NO ONE deserves that.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 11:45 am
Ruth, I'll take issue with everything you wrote.
A good/great teacher doesn’t have to be afraid of offending an administrator. And parents/students wouldn’t stand by idly if an administrator has unfounded reasons for letting a teacher go. The first couple of years are not ample time; many states don’t allow tenure until the fifth year. At a minimum, I would argue for six or more because, the burn out rate occurs right after five years.
I think enough people have said it’s not about paying more, but about the waste and lack of transparency. It’s like trying to heat/cool a house with all the windows open--cranking the thermostat up/down doesn’t solve the underlying and all too obvious problem.
Statewide, pensions are a genuine problem and the solution currently relies on more taxpayer money. Considering that teachers are also taxpayers, they pay out of their paychecks and again with their state income tax. They should/may be as upset as all the other taxpayers—maybe more so because the youngest could pay in and get little or nothing at retirement given current practices, or perhaps not be able to retire until they’re 70.
“. . . who dedicate their life not to striking it rich (e.g., GOP pres nom and others in the private sector), but to contributing to society.” I continue to be amazed at people who begrudge those who get extensive educations and/or work hard and make money. The insinuation that these people don’t contribute to society is ludicrous. They are entrepreneurs, business leaders, job creators . . . and while we can discuss whether they pay enough in taxes, the top 20% of earners pay the majority of state and federal income taxes already. I wouldn’t refer to them as either greedy or self-interested. It’s the path one chooses. It’s also why I think teachers, who are a “value add” to society, are not paid nearly enough. It is unnecessary to cast aspersions at those striking it rich in order to lobby for an increased salary for teachers.
“. . . teachers are not driven by the same kinds of greed and self-interest that righties are.” First, this implies there are no Republicans in education—they do exist. It is also erroneous to believe there were no selfish interests in choosing education as a career. Given that many teachers are grading essays or doing lesson plans or writing letters of recommendations for college-bound students over many nights, weekends, and through breaks—and even with winding down and back up again at the end of school and the beginning of each school year—long summers and retiring at 55 with up to 80% of your salary are huge benefits and ones not found in the private sector.
And then you have to tell me exactly how teachers “do not partake of the private sector (They buy none of the products produced? They use none of them in the classroom?);” they don’t embrace the ideals of the private sector” (There are no Democrats outside of education? Can you explain Hollywood or Warren Buffet or who is monetarily supporting Obama’s campaign?); “they don’t reap many of the rewards of private sector e.g., 270% increase in profits” (Is this referring to corporations as people? Can you name individuals—not fat cats at the top--making those kinds of profits?). As to private sector standards, the man or woman working 60-80 hours a week with maybe two to four weeks of vacation and a few holidays, no doubt making a decent wage, has earned it. Again, we don’t have to take from nor lambast others to reconsider how much teachers are paid.
“. . . raise taxes . . . especially on those who can afford to pay them.” Define that. Is it a certain annual income level? Is it net worth? Where is the acknowledgement that these people work for their incomes?
Like Prop 13, the proposed measures are the wrong answers to real problems—and worse yet, they are stop-gap measures, not long-term solutions. Until we can find substantive changes for funding all the programs everybody refuses to give up—not just education and pensions—I will vote no.
Posted by UGH, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm
No public pensions. . .no social security, no medicare right?
The reason my children could go to college is because I worked in the summer. I am not a second income (pretty misogynist comment), and I paid for every college class I took to increase my competency and earn a slightly higher salary. I am not paid for vacations or days off and have spent many hours after school and on weekends supervising kids, sometimes at the expense of my own. I have numerous teaching credentials and speak three languages, including my native English.
I even had to sit and listen to people like you who devalue education. What you know I am sure you did on your own with no help from anyone with any skill. Actually, probably walked uphill 10 miles to and from school.
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm
People like UGH just make me want to puke. You sit there with the windows all open and cold air coming through and complain about being in a sweatshop. And then you want ME to pay taxes for air conditioning! Well I tell you what! It's cold in here!
All you do is complain, when the only people who should be complaining are those who are paying your sky high pension. You speak three languages? Who cares? Your just trying to make the rest of us feel bad. What are you even doing on the internet? Shouldn't you be doing your sweatshop labor? I can tell you that people in the private sector who really work, yes, like ME, never fritter our time away on the computor.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm
Yes, UGH, as Kathleen Ruggleswiggle says, "I think there are plenty of us who appreciate what you do for students and for your continued dedication" ... but she forgets to add,"but we're too cheap and stingy to pay higher taxes in order to save or supplement what you do, so too bad for you, sucker."
She then seeks to reassure us, honest, that teachers without protection (e.g., union, tenure) have nothing to worry about. Strong spined administrators will save them from blowhards like Kathleen and the rest of the cast of right-wing vigilante crazies; and Kathleen and the vigilantes will rescue teachers they approve of if administrators opt to fire them. Much bluster and bull from a fat, gusty blowhard.
She says teachers deserve good salaries for their work. But pensions? No way! By drawing the artificial distinction between salaries and pensions, she can pant all she wants about how she "supports" the teachers. She just doesn't want them to be able to retire early like she has.
As I predicted, she wasn't able to grasp the distinction I drew between teachers who have a communal value that overrides personal self interest and greed of the sort we see as the two fundamental pillars of Republican ideology. Instead, she engages in a painful chest thumping defense of all the poor rich people who have to pay taxes. She laments that the top 20% of "earners" pay a majority of state and fed income taxes, though she neglects to mention how the top 10% owns 80+% of the wealth. Boo Hoo. Let's not go after them any more. How unfair to have them pay over 50% when they only own 80+% of all the wealth in this country.
She wants tenure, maybe (yeah right), but only after six years. You see, nyuck-nyuck-nyuck, they tend to burn out after five! But rather than offering constructive solutions to reducing the burnout, she advocates no new taxes, larger classes, a reduction in the quality of public school teachers.
Ruggleswiggle then insists that I specify exactly who should be taxed more. As I've said previously, let's vote on it. In a democratic manner. (Oooooh, feel their blubber quake up and down in waves whenever someone mentions democracy.) Polls show, without exception, that the vast majority of Americans want the wealthy to pay more in taxes. I want a bloodsucking parasite like Romney -- one of those hard-working "earners" that Ruggleswiggle praises -- to pay considerably more than 13-15 percent. How much more? Twice as much? Three times as much? Let's vote on it. Ah, but that's changing the subject. After all, what Ruggleswiggle reminds us, time and again, is that we're in the business of bashing teachers who gain tenure, who have some degree of security, and who earn a pension after working their butts off. Too bad at some point in her empty life she didn't hoist herself off that overused, tattered swivel chair and try to teach a classroom with thirty+ kids. No, instead she kisses the feet of the hedge fund managers who do so much for all of us.
She'll vote no, as always, because she doesn't have a clue. She worships Romney and those of his ilk, and defends continuation of their miserable existence by going after teacher pensions. Sick, but true.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm
Ah, Ruthie, making up stories again. I donate to schools directly and have said I would pay for parcel taxes that are specific--even if it said it was only to provide bonuses to teachers (permanent raises absent a change in the economy are not sustainable).
I volunteer at the schools and adore many of the teachers.
401K plans, phased in, are retirement plans. We all know I was able to retire due to other events, not my pension.
I asked you for specifics regarding taxes--you don't have them. You never do. Like others have posted, many would pay more in exchange for change.
Never said there shouldn't be intervention to prevent burn out, dear. I suggested the best teachers be offered, at their discretion, a year away from the classroom to mentor others (young or in need of a boost).
I don't kiss anyone's feet, gollum. I would never have attempted to teach; not my calling nor my expertise. Despite your caterwauling, I have a great deal of respect for teachers and the partnership they have with parents in raising/teaching youth.
If you'd had any recent contact with me, you'd know I'm not a Romney fan, let alone worshiper. Only one who is clueless and sick, truly, is you.
You skip that you are reaching into the pockets of other hardworking people (including teachers and other school staff who are paying with their jobs let alone from their pocketbooks), not just the rich, to cover pension losses with no offer of real solutions other than to whine that people won't just give you more because you say they should. If we are to believe you know me, you'll recall I'm not that gullible.
Posted by Curious, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 12:15 am
Kathleen and ugh: pls ignore the trolls. There are parts of this dialogue that are really good. I hope we can move on beyond the obvious and talk about pros and cons of the two proposals. I'd love a republican to say which of the two they'd support more and a democrat to explain how the money will flow to schools and save programs about to be cut long term. Emphasis on long term.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 8:37 am
Patriot, Here is the best answer I could find: Web Link)
"David Kieffer of the SEIU said in late February 2012 that although he is sympathetic to the aims of the Millionaire's Tax, its supporters should withdraw it from contention in favor of the Jerry Brown Tax Hike Initiative. Keiffer said, 'From a public policy point of view, we're going to end up with a big mess, where three competing tax initiatives will collide at the ballot box and we won't get any of them passed. Or we'll end up with this silly thing where the one with the most votes will get accepted. So let's imagine that by some magic Gov. Brown's and the 'millionaires tax' both pass, because they have the best polling. You know, the collision of public policy would be quite astounding.'"
It could be we won't see a real coverage on your question until the behind the scenes battles determine whether both will actually be on the ballot.
Posted by sj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 8:46 am
I am sure if multiple ones pass then the legislature will sue to get the highest amounts from each tax to go through, making the taxes much higher. This is the same group of legislatures who sued to get paid even though they do not have a balanced budget by searching for loopholes in the initiatives passed by the public. I believe most people voted for the initiative based on not getting paid if no balanced budget, not needing only 50% to pass the budget. But the slime balls they are, they take the 50% to pass the budget and get around the real part of the initiative that the public wanted; no balanced budget, no pay for legislatures.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 9:09 am
It's all about Kathy Riggleswiggle. She gives till it hurts ... at the office. No, really. She's a very generous person. She's told us that many times. And she supports the teachers. Really. She adores them, just not the whiners who think they should have a decent pension that allows them to retire early -- just like Riggleswiggle did. Actually, they're not the same, because Riggleswiggle's own early retirement was so special. But really, she respects teachers soooo much. Why don't you believe her. She just doesn't want to be taxed to pay teacher salaries/pensions that's all. Doesn't herself have the expertise to teach, but trust her, she knows what's good for teachers. Let them pay into their own 401K programs! Then they wouldn't be overburdened as taxpayers paying for their own retirements! See? Enough with the taxes already! Riggleswiggle wants the rich people whose feet she feels she must kiss to be wearing the very best in fashionable bootwear. Vote NO, because we CARE about teachers. Really.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegseggerr, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 10:08 am
I had fun at my retirement; were you there? Nah, can't be, because then you'd be the worst of hypocrites. I must be hitting a lot of nerves with you that you continue the blather and twist what's been said, not to mention the absolute lies. Why are you so afraid of one person's opinion, Ruthie?
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 10:23 am
Wasn't at your early retirement, Kath, nor am I interested to hear about it though I'm sure you're itching to tell us more about it and so much else as well. (Hmmmm, gosh, why do I expect it shall be forthcoming anyway?) Yes, dumb does scare me, and when it's fraught with hypocrisy and contradiction, you can correctly expect it will earn a response from me.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm
Ruth makes the best argument for why tenure needs to be after six years or more. She says teacher burnout occurs after 5 years. Perfect. Those who are not cut out to be teachers leave the profession, leaving the best who achieve tenure. Just think how much better the teaching staff would be if all the burned out ones never got tenure in the first place.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm
And if Ruth thinks teachers have a "communal value that overrides personal self interest and greed", then why did Pleasanton's teachers accept another year of step and column salary increases while laying off scores of their 'communal' brethren?
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm
Ruth seems to forget that the $140,000,000 PUSD spends every year comes from various forms of federal, state and local taxes. Yes, money taken from those of us she calls "cheap and stingy". How ungrateful. How rude. And greedy. And a fundamental reason why these additional tax proposals should be voted down decisively.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm
And Ruth, there can be a world where GOOD teachers "without protection" can have nothing to worry about. It is in this world, that mediocre and bad teachers would have plenty to worry about. And almost all parents want this world. After all, it is likely the reality they are living in today.
Posted by fed up, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm
Get rid of the unions, get rid of the bad teachers that are only there to collect a paycheck and don't give a !%&! about the kids, get rid of the overpaid administrators. start rewarding teachers for the job they are doing if it's good then they stay if not, Youre fired!!! Let's get a pay for your education bill for all of the illegals that are getting a free education. If you are here in the country illegally and not paying taxes, Then you "WILL" reimburse the school for your childs education!!! Maybe then we will consider dumping some more of our hard earned tax dollars into your so called education system, untill then,
Posted by FedUpMom, a member of the Valley View Elementary School community, on May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am
When Barton and CSR were taken away, I lost all faith. We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. I am going to vote 'no', and I have NEVER done this before when it concerns our schools. The state and district need to deal with what they have been given, and make it work. Don't the rest of us have to live this way?