Why blame the Teachers? Schools & Kids, posted by School District Supporter, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm
From what I understand, half the population of Pleasanton moved here in the last five years. I'll bet our wonderful school district influenced many people to move here. Our Country and our State is in a dire economic crisis. When it comes to budget cuts, why do some of these posters blame the teachers? Why should the teachers take a pay cut? 95% of the teachers in our district are top notch and were recruited here based on their excellent credentials. Most work far beyond a 40 hour week. They did not cause this problem. Leave the teachers out of this!
Posted by aaron, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm
agreed. before you blame teachers. blame the parents. what are they doing to help encourage good grades, to study, and to work hard. parents are in charge of their kids, and ultimately their grades and performance. these teachers only get 55 min a day with your kids. what do you spend?
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:12 pm
I don't agree. Let them take a cut, let the school board members take cuts, city workers, local politicans... I don't care who takes a cut as long as I don't get hit with an ADDITIONAL TAX. Sometimes I think people forget or ignore just how many unnesessary taxes we pay to live here. Sometime...somewhere ...someone has to say enough is enough! Not everyone in Pleasanton is RICH!
This city has lived the high life for a long time and now that times are rough, instead of tightening the belt and having to separate "wants" from "needs"...I'm being asked to pay MORE money. Whos looking out for the residents?
Posted by Parent II, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm
"95% of the teachers in our district are top notch and were recruited here based on their excellent credentials."
Interested to know how you were able to draw that conclusion? Based on recent data, our state's public schools are ranked 44 (or was it 48) out of the 50 states. Are you basing that on API scores? If so, why are the API scores relatively lower than other districts like Piedmont, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Fremont, among others? Do they have more "top-notch teachers" than we do?
From what I gather, high API scores seem to correlate with the demographics rather than the teachers' credentials or the schools. Other districts that have high API scores (like those mentioned above) share a similar demographics (parents are highly educated and are high income earners). Based on this, I'd say parents are in-fact encouraging their kids to do well in school in the Pleasanton area and that teachers' credentials play only a small part in this equation.
Given that, we're paying teachers too much as-is. I'd vote for a 9% reduction for all of PUSD's administration and teachers.
Posted by aaron, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm
as you are talking about wants and neds, do we need a new fleet of squad cars for the police no!. do we need every car pulled over to have 3 police cars behind them no. before the schools take a hit, look at what we are wasting money on. too many police, who do nothing productive but a few tickets and dui's. they don't stop burglaries, robberies, assults. ect. nope. the sit in their 09' cars, snacking away and pulling people on bikes over for no lights at night. our cities spending is very wasteful. but in what department. our children are our future, don't cut teachers pay. they are paid the least out of all our civil servants. cut where we waste. not where the funds are needed.
Posted by sara, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:33 pm
I agree to leave the teachers out of it. They are teaching the city's children. To have them pay is like saying since Washington Mutual is going under the tellers should take a pay cut! Ridicilous. They just work there, they are not the cause of the problems.
Posted by Howard Hughes, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm
Most civil servants work a honest 12 months out of the year. Teachers get to take every bank holiday, 3-months of summer vacation, and all of those other "perk" days like development days off work. Wow! They're making a pretty decent wage for people who really work 8 months out of the year.
Trying to convince us to pass yet another tax to support more raises is an insult to our intelligence.
Posted by How long is summer?, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm
Howard Hughes-Your post is factually wrong. I have three children in PUSD. Summer vacation hasn't been three months in a very long time. Try two months. Also, a teacher's salary is proportionate to their work days. I know many teachers who attend continuing education on weekends...at their own expense.
I think PUSD should employ a bring a local citizen to work day and we'll see how many of us think we could do their jobs after spending a day in the classroom.
Posted by How long is summer?, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm
To answer your question on continuing education,I work in the private sector and my continuing education is completed at work-time expense. And,it counts toward a salary increase. How many in the private sector attend continuing education on weekends? I'm thinking not many...
Posted by Hard to Support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm
To Aaron: The city's budget is separate from the schools. You can't save on police or their vehicles and put that money toward a classroom.
Raises totally about nine percent were given in the previous two school years. How did the administration plan to pay for that continuing expense in the subsequent years? I don't think I would give more money to the same people expecting a different outcome. Isn't that the definition of insanity?
Posted by What raise???, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm
9% over the past two years? I am a teacher in the district and have not received a raise in two years. Please get your facts straight. PUSD has information about raise, salaries, etc. It is not propaganda; it is public record.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Carlton Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm
I attended a meeting the other night, during which Dr. Casey explained that it was unfair for the people of Pleasanton (aka the taxpayers) to ask any employee of the school district to take reductions or forego automatic increases in salary or benefit packages to offset reduced revenues. After all, they provide a service. I thought that was a pretty good approach, so this week when the company I work for announced that there would be further cuts in pay and our workforce in order to make ends meet I offered the same argument. It didn’t go so well for me, but I am sure my boss was just being “mean spirited.”
Posted by Larry, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm
I don’t think that anyone is blaming teachers, or any other group for the change in funding. What people do seem to be repeatedly saying is that public services must responsibly expand and contract in direct correspondence to the available resources. Isn’t that the responsible government that you want? Or would you rather send the message to our children that spending beyond your means is an acceptable approach?
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:33 pm
Sara you mentioned that bank tellers don't have to pay when WAMU has problems....
After being in the banking industry for years, I need to tell you that tellers do pay in that situation. They pay by having reduced hours and reduced benefits, which equals a cut in pay. Fortunately in the banking industry we can try to keep our good tellers and release the tellers than can't balance. The bad tellers don't have a union that forces us to keep them. We do have laws to follow and it is a long process, but in the end we hope to keep the friendly and efficient tellers.
Posted by What?, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm
To Monty Python: Your elitism represents the worst of the worst in Pleasanton. My friend and his wife both have advanced degrees (beyond Masters) and two children with Autism. PUSD has paid for behavorial therapy and after school tutoring. Your attitude is what I really dislike about our town. Further, I'll bet that inner-city Grandma is teaching her grandchildren how to respect authority much more than you.
Posted by concerned resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 8:16 pm
Here is the reality. People across america in all walks of life are losing there job, or taking paycuts to stop losing there Jobs. Teachers are no exception. Look at the budget dilema. Teachers are just unlucky that they work for the worst managed company in the history of the world,The State of California.
If we do not cut in the long run, more teachers will find themselves in that 9%+ catergory called unemployed. If anyone is to blame look to Gray Davis, The Terminator and the clowns in Sacramento. Unbelievable how this state has wasted money. BTW... they want to borrow more money to get out of the debt.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I agree with School District Supporter - leave the teachers out of it.
And for the MANY of you on these boards that seem so envious that teachers have summers "off" and you don't, please tell me why YOU didn't become a teacher? If it sounds so easy how come those of you griping are *not* teachers? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know why all of you who obsess about teachers having the summers off did not choose (or perhaps you tried and didn't make the cut?) to be teachers!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm
I'll repeat what Larry above wrote. "I don’t think that anyone is blaming teachers, or any other group for the change in funding." I think School District Supporter has somewhat confused this funding problem with the idea that teachers are being blamed. I haven't read anyone pointing fingers at the teachers for the mess we're currently in. Certainly comments regarding teachers having summers off are a distraction from the main issue. What I have seen are statements that reflect a desire for greater accountability in how taxpayer money is being spent. It is not unreasonable for the public to seek a top-down review of current personnel cost commitments if the public can't really afford them any longer. Putting a parcel tax in place doesn't make those root problems go away.
Posted by Dan R, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm
Exactly! I will second what Stacey and Larry have said. It's about keeping spending in line with revenues. Government must learn that they cannot operate differently than the private sector and thus salaries should not be untouchable.
Posted by Howard Hughes, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm
"I don’t think that anyone is blaming teachers, or any other group for the change in funding."
I agree. Most of the comments I've read are sound suggestions on how to remedy the budget situation. IMHO, getting a pay cut is better than being laid off. I've seen a number of teachers (presumably those who are lacking seniority) posting their support for a pay cut of 5%. So why is that unfair and off the table? Is that the union or teachers with seniority speaking???
It's drought season people...so conservation should be a priority. Trying to squeeze more money out of us taxpayers in this economy is just not going to happen. Get a clue and conserve!
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:43 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"The reason we obsess about teachers having the summer off is that
NO OTHER PROFESSION HAS SUCH A PERK."
BooHoo! My profession of being a Head Start teacher doesn't have ANY perks, but I don't whine about my brother's ability to earn a 30% bonus, or another person's amazing stock options, 401K match, etc. I'm happy for people who get those things. There's no need for me to whine about it, if those things were important to me then likely I'd be pursuing a career(s) that included them. No other profession has such a perk? How many months out of the year do baseball players work to earn their millions?
And I don't mind the questioning - it's the whiners who use the whole "summers off" thing as part of their ammo for bashing teachers that bothers me.
I find it interesting that HH can't come up with one reason why he didn't pursue being a teacher that won't insult someone. I think many people don't pursue teaching because a) they want a wage that would allow them to support a family or own a house; b) they don't like children or at the very least recognize that being around 20-33 of them for hours at a time would be challenging at best; c) the field does not earn a lot of respect (quite evident on these boards...).
"How hard is it to teach the child who's parents have masters degrees?
Answer? Not very hard at all."
That's just a plain ridiculous argument. Sometimes the higher educated the person, the more a pain they are to deal with and believe me, those educated parents are just as capable of messing up their children as the uneducated! I think what Pleasanton has going for it is an overall healthy social economic status - THAT is more of an indicator than a parent's education! A child/family who has their basic needs met is much more capable of being involved in higher learning (see Maslow).
Posted by Teacher, Too, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:18 am
Teachers are contracted employees and paid is calculated on the actual days we work, not a 12 month year. So, actually, we aren't paid for the days off or any vacation time. If you haven't noticed, many teachers in Pleasanton tutor after school, attend classes, or work another job in the summer, so they can afford to live in Pleasanton. We have families too. The two to three weeks teachers are setting up in August for the arrival of their new students is not paid either. I agree with the posters who infer that a huge majority of you couldn't handle the classroom.
Also, a child from a family of educated parents is not immune to ADD, behavioral issues, or learning disabilities, especially dyslexia. PUSD has kept their pay competitive with the surrounding areas. Young teachers or teachers transferring from other areas consider pay, working conditions, and respect from community. It's amazing how many of our teachers came from previous district with years of successful teaching behind them. They left their tenure behind because of PUSD's reputation for respecting teachers and treating them as professionals.
My hope is new recruits aren't reading these blogs.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:38 am
I think you don't strengthen your position any by addressing the tendentious distractions regarding summers off, why you went into teaching, etc. I understand that you're trying to dispel what you perceive to be false info, but please consider that giving attention to these minor points obscures the fundamental problem.
Posted by john, a member of the Donlon Elementary School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:58 am
BooHoo! My profession of being a Head Start teacher doesn't have ANY perks, but I don't whine about my brother's ability to earn a 30% bonus
>>(30%-wow!! does your brohter work for a mortgage company?)i got a 20% cut and 2 weeks unpaid shutdown.
, or another person's amazing stock options, 401K match, etc.
>>You can have my options-if you can afford to pay for them and I'll trade you my 401, in a shot, for even the smallest pension you may get one day!
I'm happy for people who get those things.
>>Ya, i'm thrill for you too.
There's no need for me to whine about it, if those things were important to me then likely I'd be pursuing a career(s) that included them. No other profession has such a perk? How many months out of the year do baseball players work to earn their millions?
>>I can choose not to go to a baseball game if i don't want to support them.(why do some people always go after the baseball players and not rock stars, Bill Gates, or the Pope?)
>>As a footnote,I'm sure that while Pleasanton has fine teachers, it has been, and is, the parents that have made the schools what they are today and thats a fact.
Posted by Hard to Support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:43 am
For the record and from the District web site--facts on COLAs:
What cost-of-living increase have employees received over the past few years? In a typical year, the state would provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to school districts. Pleasanton Unified and our employee associations negotiate any adjustment to the salary schedules. This increase may be the same as or more or less than the COLA received.
The following cost-of-living increases were added to the salary schedules for certificated, classified, and management employees. Note that in 2007/08, the certificated unit negotiated a 0.738 % lower COLA in order to help fund $500,000 towards elementary science prep periods.
Posted by Gina, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:00 am
as quoted from "Donlon Elem School Community"
>>As a footnote,I'm sure that while Pleasanton has fine teachers, it has been, and is, the parents that have made the schools what they are today and thats a fact.
You are very much mistaken, It is a combination of both Active Parents and Good Teachers that have made the schools what they are today. One would fail without the other and the kids would pay the price, and thats a fact....
Posted by John Adams, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:01 am
I have to agree with Sara who compared teachers to WaMu employees. Except I noticed that the WaMu employees didn't take a pay cut... they LOST THEIR JOBS. And yes, some teachers probably will, too.
I'm tired of all this haggling over how many hours teachers work. When is the last time a teacher got on a plane to Asia (for work) on a Saturday? High-tech workers do it regularly. According to the state treasurer's web site, teachers are the third highest paid group in California (after executives and university professors). This comparison is computed as $$paid for hours worked.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:05 am
John...let me straighten you out on a few things. You sound like you might be an alright person....you're just mislead in your beliefs. Let me show you:
">>As a footnote,I'm sure that while Pleasanton has fine teachers, it has been, and is, the parents that have made the schools what they are today and thats a fact."
I will admitt that there are great parents in Pleasanton. But I will assure you that the number of great parents that teach their own children and mold them in a responsible way during the day, is WAY OUT numbered by the 2 income families, or where one parent works 8+ hours a day and the other (if any) works from home and/or takes care of 3 to 4 children. I go to three different parks in my area and I am YET to see a parent...I only see nannies. I'm not joking. Nannies, babysitters, grandparents... Not exclusively, but that is what i see at a majority of parks around town during the daytime. So my point is that, the teachers in Pleasanton play a vital role in our childrens upbringing. Most of the time parents can't take the time to devote to teaching their kids 7 hours a day. Remember that you can be a great parent and your child will still spend at least 6-7 hours a day listening to those teachers at school...
I was right in line with most of you during this thread, but then some of you outright disrespected our hard working teachers. They work hard and they are also the victims of our local governments' mis-spending. These times...everyone is hurting, and there is no need to be mean to innocent victims...
Posted by Concerned parent, a member of the Lydiksen Elementary School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:15 am
I am appalled at the comment that you make to blame teachers OR parents! The blame is on neither. The truth of the matter is, the economic crisis does not discriminate. Private companies large and small, State Agencies and the whole nation for that matter are feeling the effects of a weak economy. I work my 55+ hour job, and then spend 4 hours a night helping each of my 3 children with homework. Most of which requires me to read entire chapters in order to help them because the schools are tasking these kids with huge responsibilities and loads of work. We have had to cancel all sports and extra curricular activities just in order to stay afloat, robbing them of their childhood. And guess what, both my husband and I have taken huge paycuts with our companies due to the economy. Quit blaming and reach out. No one is alone in this mess.
Posted by Karen, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:25 am
The bottom line is that PUSD and teachers will need to learn to live within their means like the rest of us in the eve of this depression.
You get what you get. Just make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. There are plenty of "fat" accumulated during the good years to trim. This is the time!
Ultimately, PUSD and teachers will need to decide where to make the cuts. They can trade in their step and column raises and COLA increases from the past couple of years to save some jobs, CSR, and other programs/services for the kids.
If we approve a parcel tax, the money can be used to free up millions from the general funds. PUSD can then use those "freed" general funds to support more raises instead of putting them back into the classroom.
Don't be fool by the usage restrictions set on the parcel tax. They can use the taxes to fund education programs and services while freeing up money elsewhere for raises.
Posted by Bruce, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:33 am
The problem with taxes is they are permanent. Once the school district gets the dollars from local residents, Sacramento will never replace the funds that were cut. Just like with the Lottery. They will find another vote buying special interest group to waste our hard earned dollars on. It is time to put a proposition on the ballot for Sacramento to lose salary permanently while there is not a balanced budget in place. Maybe then we will get responsible government and maybe even have a reserve fund for the hard times. Only complete idiots would assume that there will never be a downturn in the economy.
Posted by A Lifetime Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:50 am
Not too many years ago our district spending was a fraction of its current level. Then the big Monopoly game started. With each move across the board the tax base increased exponentially. And to no ones surprise, so did our tax funded expenditures.
My point is that the kids that graduated before this whole board game started did not turn out to be idiots. In fact the test scores and success rates of our community’s children has exceeded the median by a significant margin for as long as I can remember. So our local teachers AND parents must be doing something right. Although it appears that throwing more money at the business of education does not radically alter the equation in either direction.
The California Teacher’s Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the state. The airwaves are filled with pleas for more school funding before every election. And those ads are entirely funded by the teacher’s union to preserve and create new teaching jobs. And I am usually ok with that … but these are extraordinary times.
Most of us that are mature enough to be affected by the proposed tax realize that hasty decisions made under duress usually prove to be bad choices in the long run. And taxes, even those with “expiration dates”, are generally permanent assessments. There is loads of data to support this claim.
We have a problem. We are going to be addressing many of them in the next year and beyond. I agree with those who have stated that this is a time for responsible action, and that begins with solving this crisis without further burdening the tax payer.
Posted by Also Concerned Parent, a resident of the Las Positas neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:00 am
Karen & Bruce seem to be sorely misled on the Parecel Tax Initiative, and have apprently NOT gone to any of the meetings about this. #1: The Parcel Tax has a term to it - it is NOT permanent & in order to be passed, must be voted on by the citizens of the city EVERY TIME IT COMES UP FOR RENEWAL. #2: There are provisions within the tax that say what the money directly goes to - which would be our CLASSROOMS, NOT SALARIES! We will still see cuts... there is no money to "free up"!! Please, please, please get informed before posting insinuations & assumptions!
Posted by john, a member of the Donlon Elementary School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:02 am
I'm so sorry Doo Doo and Gina, but i've lived a several different
communities with good people and great teachers but i have never
seen the kind of support i've seen here from parents and yes, its
reflected in the kids. I hope the teachers i known from the other school districts are not reading the comments here regarding the superior teachers we have, they might be allittle offended.
I can only spend a short time with my own children after work and most wkends but i do my best to make it count. I really want to impart on them how important it is they do well in school. I'm very, very sure i'm not alone in this regard. If your experience is different than my own, then perhaps we should leave this as "we agree to disagree" Good luck Both
Posted by Hard to Support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:07 am
It is difficult to separate students from teachers from parents from programs in high performing districts; all contribute to the collective success and it varies from classroom to classroom, family to family.
I have to agree this isn’t about those dynamics—it’s about how taxpayer dollars have been or will be spent and the clear lack of faith the community has in the abilities of the current administration to change its practices. This community has supported its schools and its teachers in every way possible. But the comment about freeing up dollars in the general fund is a real concern. Raises (COLAs) have been given without clear sources of funding into the future to support them; frivolous lawsuits have cost millions and are going to continue with little hope of success; reserves have been squandered so there is nothing to fall back on now when it is needed most. Those in control have not figured out that “if you find yourself in the bottom of a hole, stop digging.”
The parcel tax is asking homeowners to put dirt into the whole with no power to take away the shovels.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:20 am
"#1: The Parcel Tax has a term to it - it is NOT permanent & in order to be passed, must be voted on by the citizens of the city EVERY TIME IT COMES UP FOR RENEWAL."
Yes, that is true as long as the terms of the proposal say there is an expiration (some communities vote in perpetual taxes). But how many districts who have passed parcel taxes have ever rescinded or not renewed them? This was a question brought up at the community forum at Amador. PUSD said they'll have to answer that question on their website. I just looked at the Budget FAQ, updated Jan. 30, and there's no answer yet.
Posted by Maria, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:54 am
In lieu of the teacher subject in this thread, I'm proud to say that I have worked with the finest teachers in my daughter's classroom since Kindergarten. I do commend all their hardwork WITH the parents' contribution, both volunteer work and monetary. But the subject of parcel tax still remains. I would reject any additional tax until PUSD get their act together and show us residents, that they share our economic burden.
This is a question to the community:
Those whose kids attend the PUSD but are not Pleasanton residents, how do they share / will share in this parcel tax issue? I knew families in my school who rented an apartment in Pleasanton but lived in Valley somewhere so they can go to Pleasanton school.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:59 am
Robert, do you mean Lifetime Resident? I agree. Like Lifetime Resident, I have the perspective that schools in Pleasanton have always been known for their quality and this was before tax bubbles and class size reduction. I wish to provide historical data to back it up, yet I've found that such data is not found readily available online so for now it is merely an anecdote. It makes one ask what have been the contributing factors to such success.
Posted by Hard to Support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 11:26 am
There is legislation that allows employees of local businesses to enter their children into the schools where they work, on a space available basis. The resident district releases the student and relinquishes funding to the district receiving the student (may be a percentage of the funding). I don't believe there is any way to collect a parcel tax (or bonds, etc.) from those families.
Posted by Darth Vadar, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm
I find the lack of faith in this community disturbing...
Teachers and administrators deserve more than just a pad on the back for their wonderful contributions to our community throughout the years. Yes, times are tough but that doesn't mean we should punish our teachers. Most of you won't be where you are today if not for teachers who crossed your path...
We should instead thank them by offering them more COLAs and raises this year, showing them that we as a community recognize them and their contributions. What's a few hundreds bucks a year anyway?
How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn't easy but we should try.
Yes on a parcel tax is the least we can do. I'm thankful that you wicked bloggers represent only a small minority in this community. Most of us are willing to support our district and our teachers with ALL of the financial support they need.
Yes on a parcel tax & Yes on Salary Hike for Our Wonderful Teachers!!!!
To all the teachers who read these blogs: Don't mind those few rotten apples who have no appreciation for your profession. The majority of the community respects your profession and appreciative of the sacrifice you make to educate our kids. Thank you!
Posted by Dan Faraday, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm
Vadar - Let's not forget about our administrators too!
Any suggestion of salary reductions for Dr. Casey and his staff is unfair and should be strictly off limit!
The parcel tax is NOT used to bail out our honorable Dr. John Casey the Great. Dr. Casey doesn't, and I repeat, DOESN'T need your stinking bail out. Whichever way this thing folds, Dr. Casey will still keep his (upto year 2010):
Annual salary of $227,002
24 days of vacation
$5,000 annually for life insurance premiums
$10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity.
$1,000 per month as a transportation allowance
$200,000 interest-free loan to help purchase a home
So it's neither here nor there for him. Whatever tax is approved goes toward step and column raises for our wonderful administrators and teachers and maybe, just maybe, PUSD may consider tossing the community a bone by not eliminating CSR.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm
Darth Vader...you're making yourself look ridiculous. Just because we don't want to give MORE MONEY over "blindly" to an already failing system...how do you connect that with our respect for the teachers. Us parents adore the teachers and are grateful to them for all of their hard work. It is the system that has spend our hard earned money very thoughtlessly. They have spend the last decade patting themselves on the back and not being mindful of the future that smacked them in the face. As a parent I assume that these HIGHLY PAID officials are planning for the future (whatever the future brings) So instead of informing the public of HOW this trainwreck happened (in details)...they just ask for more money...more money?? What about all of the money we have already given you? Can I see a list of the school board members' salaries? Or how do I know that a local school hasn't spend money on something frivolous and didn't hunt for the lowest price? Are their more CHIEFS than INDIANS, you know?
In short, OUR problem is with the administration and the system in general. throwing more money won't fix anything in the long run.
PS Trying to belittle us by saying that we are a "few bad apples" isn't going to help. There is a huge problem with the future of our schools and trying to demean us only delays the system being fixed.
Posted by No more fundraisers!, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm
I am for the parcel tax if it means no more fundraisers at my children's school! I am tired of $5 here and there and useless auctions. Last years fundraiser was poorly planned and poorly attended yet they are at it again...same venue I might add. I'd gladly give $300 and never have the PTA bother me again.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:24 pm
So I have an idea, let's just close the schools? Who needs em' anyway! Let the little brats loose on the town (hey! Then the cops will have real work to do!).
Maybe one parent can just quit their job - if they have not already lost it - and teach the kids them selves. They will probably still get into the Ivy League schools with a "4.0 from Mom High".
Seriously people. Do you have even the most vague idea of what children are like? Public school is a wonderful, vital, precious and FUNDAMENTAL institution. Would you consider closing a hospital to the ill? No.
PUSD has made cut after cut after cut in the previous years. If we keep cutting then we will have no education. These kids, yours and those of others, are the foundation of our society and we need to provide them with the most outstanding education that we can. If that means a parcel tax then so be it. Yeah it sucks but, it's just money.
Are we all willing to put a couple hundred bucks before the fundamental needs of our children? Yeah I know you don't have kids, you are just angry and bitter. In our over-consuming, capitalist society you would think that we could figure out a way to fund the schools, if that means doing without Starbucks or some crap from WalMart then so be it, maybe you could mow your own lawns? Hmmmm?
Where there is a will there is a way. Instead of whining, complaining and blaming everyone just get it figured out. We must fund education, it is VITAL to all of us and we must trust (yeah, a foreign idea to some of you) the professionals in the field of EDUCATION to make good decisions.
When the economy was fine nobody was complaining which leads me to believe that we really were pleased with the schools. Now the economy falters and we go on attack mode, like vicious underfed animals. It's really yucky to witness and I do hope our kids don't see this blog.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm
"We must fund education, it is VITAL to all of us and we must trust (yeah, a foreign idea to some of you) the professionals in the field of EDUCATION to make good decisions."
I agree. Education is pretty vital to the health of our democracy, which is why I view the parcel tax as just a short-term bandaid that doesn't address the bigger issue. If you really want to fix education, it has to start at the State level. Look beyond Pleasanton. Many experts in the field have done the research on what needs to get done for education and financing reform. It just takes guts from our weak State legislature to implement them. There's money in the system for education. It is just being wasted by an inefficient system with redundant categorical programs.
Posted by Amador, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm
No one is talking about closing schools her or condemning our children to a sub-standard education. We are just talking about making a modest adjustment in the budget by eliminating automatic raises while we adjust to the post boom economy. At some point we have to get our government and its subsidiaries to stop treating us like their personal Visa card.
Posted by A Homeowner, a resident of the Castlewood Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm
Obviously the current economic conditions have had a negative effect on Pleasanton property values recently. However, homeowners in Pleasanton have benefited many years by increases in property values, largely based upon the desire of families moving into the city for our outstanding schools and API scores. If 8.7 million dollars is cut out of the PUSD's budget, you can logically expect API scores to drop because dramatic changes in the way students receive their education will have to be made. Class sizes will increase, resources will be reduced, and teachers will be burdened with increased workloads that will keep them from spending valuable time in the classroom focusing on the children. Imagine how just losing a reading specialist will affect the dynamic of the classrooms. If a teacher has to spend more time helping a child who is not reading at grade level instead of receiving help from the reading specialist, the other children in the classroom will suffer. This is just one of the numerous cuts being proposed by the District.
If API scores drop, and they likely will with the cuts as proposed by the District, you can reasonably count on your property values dropping as well. I feel confident in making the statement that they would do so at a rate greater than the couple of hundred dollars a year that is being proposed as a temporary parcel tax, though I comment without the benefit of statistics to share at the moment. Perhaps there is a realtor out there who can give evidence of just how much the reputation of Pleasanton schools correlate to increases in property values.
I've never been one to advocate for increasing my own taxes, however I am willing to pay a couple hundred bucks extra per year for a limited time to ensure that my property value continues to be positively effected by the value future homebuyers place on the excellence of all of Pleasanton schools .
Posted by Tax Revolt, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm
Stacey - Other experts say that it is the local and state teachers unions and CSEA union who are bankrupting the state's education system. To fix that, you must start at the local level bringing the truth of the union power over the school district to light, stoping the flow of tax dollars and empowering the school board to fight for the students, fight for the teachers not the unions (the teacher unions don't care if good teachers and staff are laid off as long as they hold onto their monopolistic power) and do what is right to increase educational excellence.
Posted by Tax Revolt, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm
A Homeowner - you are drinking the PUSD administration doom and gloom kool-aid. There is no need to increase class sizes, there is no need to reduce programs, there is no need to layoff a single teacher. The $8.7M dollar budget reduction can be obtained by simply deferring automatic step and column pay increases and reduce current pay by 6%. Nothing else needs to change. Nothing! The same quality of education remains, all teachers remain, all class sizes remain. If however a teacher would like to get another teaching job elsewhere and leave Pleasanton, they are free to do so. There are plenty of excellent teachers who would be more than happy to take their place.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm
"If you really want to fix education, it has to start at the State level. Look beyond Pleasanton."
Agreed, so while you pursue that we need the band-aid of the parcel tax to save OUR kids and everything this district and community has worked so very hard for. And maybe even fund that adult typing class??
Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:27 pm
"There are plenty of excellent teachers who would be more than happy to take their place"
Not so much, my kids have an uncredentialed teacher this year because they could not find someone to take the job. Really, people do not line up for these jobs. Just because it's Pleasanton does not mean teaching is paradise. It's hard, it's undervalued and when times get tough, we attack the teachers. Before you start spouting off about plenty of teachers check your facts, there is actually quite a teacher shortage.
Posted by A Homeowner, a resident of the Castlewood Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm
Isn't the whole "kool-aid" reference getting a bit old? Fortunately, Pleasanton classrooms currently offer students at least one thesaurus to use! You might stop by one day and see if you can borrow one for a bit.
Of course, you fail to offer up ANY evidence that what you say is true. What are your sources? I beg to differ on your comment that there are plenty of excellent teachers just waiting for a Pleasanton teaching position to open up. Perhaps you should check your facts before you make such claims. There is in fact a teacher shortage in California, with demand for teachers increasing at a rate higher than the number of teachers retiring from their positions.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but ones based upon fact are much more useful than those based upon personal indignation.
Posted by Another Homeowner, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm
Homeowner (a name, not a category),
Your argument is very well crafted, and while I strongly disagree with most of the basic premises, I have to appreciate the logic utilized.
Most of the budget shortfall is anticipated due to step and column, or Cost of Living increases in salary. While those are fine principles in times of prosperity, they are highly unrealistic expectations in the current economic environment. The private sector realized this and acted some time ago. It’s time for our public services to fall in line as well.
It is also highly unlikely that freezing wages and consolidating some of the specialty positions will have a dramatic effect on test scores. If fact I would bet there will be no measurable effect over any period worth documenting. Our children are the product of highly educated parents and attending schools that have had a tradition of outstanding results that far predates the rapid rise in income that our schools have recently enjoyed. Like any other service funded by taxes, the district found a way to use the money when there was extra. Now a few compromises will have to be made. That’s life.
Yes, property values have been affected our school system, and that won’t change regardless of the outcome of this current crisis. But our location, the water source that supports our landscape, and the highly limited availability of property have had much bigger influences on our perceived property value. To suggest otherwise is just brokering fear to support your desired outcome.
Posted by A Homeowner, a resident of the Castlewood Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm
From A Homeowner to Another,
Thank you for your opening. I would share the same appreciation for your argument as well, though as you mentioned, we disagree with each others' position.
I would not be opposed to freezing COLA adjustments across the board. In light of the economic conditions facing us all, this seems reasonable to me, though doing so will not eliminate the problem in itself. Moreover, the proposed budget cuts will involve more than simple consolidation of specialty positions and a few compromises. I have reviewed the proposed cuts and they are substantial.
Furthermore, while I do agree with you that limited availability of housing has a significant impact on our property values, it is reasonable to conclude that our schools have had just as important an impact. As for brokering fear for my desired outcome, as I stated before, I'm no advocate for higher taxes. However, this is an exception to that position that I am willing to make.
Have a good evening. I enjoyed reading your side of the argument.
Posted by John, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm
"But our location, the water source that supports our landscape, and the highly limited availability of property have had much bigger influences on our perceived property value."
Homeowner: your statements couldn't be any farther from the truth. My wife and I chose to buy a house here last summer at a price that was $290K higher than another house we were considering in San Ramon. The ONLY reason that we chose to pay the extra money to live in Pleasanton is because of the quality and reputation of the public schools. To me, and many others like me, a good education for our kids comes first.
I have many friends who recently bought those 50-year-old 1700sqft bungalows in Cupertino for over $1.5 MIL for no other reasons than for their reputable public schools. Others are still holding onto their millions awaiting for the best opportunity to buy into those districts, also because of those reputable public schools.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm
I agree. That was excellent arguing!
BTW, when California started its K-3 CSR program, it experienced a great shortage of teachers, so much that it loosened standards for credentials. It makes me wonder why there is still a teacher shortage. Maybe getting rid of CSR will relieve that shortage. :)
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm
There is probably a teacher shortage because the job sucks. Listen to the way you all bash what they do. Does not make me want to get in line to teach. Oh wait, there is no line. We have devalued the profession to the point that nobody wants to do it. Yay!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm
A Homeowner in Castlewood Heights wrote:
"If 8.7 million dollars is cut out of the PUSD's budget, you can logically expect API scores to drop because dramatic changes in the way students receive their education will have to be made... If API scores drop, and they likely will with the cuts as proposed by the District, you can reasonably count on your property values dropping as well."
It sounds logical, but there's no measurables given. API scores do play into property values because API is 60% based upon standardized test scores. What we don't know is how much of an effect CSR and other intervention programs have on API. I mean, it is one thing to say that logically scores will drop, but by how much? What if the drop is only 4%?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm
Doooooooood! Do you know how expensive it is to run CSR for only a 4% increase in children passing standardized tests? Look up the follow up 8th grade test scores study to Tennessee STAR study if you don't believe me.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:42 pm
CSR is not all about test scores people. These are children who need adult contact to ensure proper development. Remember, school is not just about the education that can be directly measured on a standardized test. We are charged with educating the whole child.
Big classes are bad for kids, they get lost and feel left out. Yeah, I know some of you are not so much into the touchy-feely aspect of this conversation. All studies show that kids who are raised by loving parents with the support of other loving and committed adults do best. And by doing best, I don't always mean testing well. They are happy and healthy.
Face it, some kids are dumb and won't test well no matter what we do. However, we can do our best to help every child reach his/her full potential and to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted young adults.
Don't some of you wish someone would have cared enough to help you become happy and well-adjusted?
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm
You should not be scared into doing anything. None of this argument is so black and white. Many parents (including myself) could have moved to other districts with higher test scores. Pleasanton has the whole package. Here we care about our education, sports and the character of our kids. We moved here from Mission San Jose in Fremont, a much higher testing school district. Why? Because the culture there is one of cutthroat academic aggression. Kids are not well-rounded, but they can do calculus in 3rd grade. They are all enrolled in Kumon from the age of 4 and they all get perfect SAT scores. Not everone wants that. The almost perfect balance that Pleasanton provides for kids is immeasurable. The teachers here love our kids and are committed to them, that is hard to find anywhere else. Believe me, we are not limited by finances (thanks Dot.com boom!!) and we chose Pleasanton over all the others.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:07 pm
Sometimes, in life, it's about more than just the facts. You are just as bad as PUSD with your scare tactics. Let's just all do what's right to preserve the wonderful school system that we have. If you believe it's wrong to pass a parcel tax then don't vote for it. That right you have to vote is the beauty of our informed democratic society. Of which, a free and equal education is a fundamental basis.
Posted by Another Homeowner, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:09 pm
Well actually John, I’ve been here, which I believe gives me a little perspective on our town and this ongoing discussion. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you though. I think you have made a fine choice.
I have watched Pleasanton grow and prosper throughout the years. This "crisis" will pass. I have stated my opinion, but won’t be postponing my bedtime to defend it.
I wish you all peace, prosperity, and reduced blood pressure. Tomorrow will indeed be a better day, regardless of what we as a community decide on this issue.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:21 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Common Sense, I agree with you that CSR is not just about test scores. Perhaps some people make it about test scores in order to support an argument for or against this parcel tax, but some things truly cannot be measured with numbers. I haven't done enough research to have a strong opinion about the parcel tax, but I am sure that CSR was a positive change. Perhaps the stats (test scores) don't support it, but if you have had children in school and volunteered you can see the benefits firsthand. A study was done in Tennessee? I don't know much about that state - is it as diverse as ours? I know that teaching a homogeneous class of 33 may lend itself to success more than teaching a class of 33 different cultures, languages, SES, etc. Really, it's common sense - which situation lends itself more to individualized attention and instruction: a class of 33 kids or 20? There is a diminishing returns. In my experience too small of a class loses something too - you need enough students for collaboration and cooperation, but not so many that they get "lost".
Posted by Tax Revolt, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:26 pm
A Homeonwer -
Fair question about my sources. But since you 'beg to differ', what are your sources for your claims? Where is your evidence? Where are your facts?
It is well known that the Oakland Unified has a lack of applicants for reasons that don't need listing here. Many other districts in the Bay Area suffer from the same symptoms. Oakland Unified offers numerous incentives to attract teachers. That is not the case with PUSD. The facts are that in California, there are school districts who have difficulty attracting candidates. And there are school districts who have no shortage of applicants. My source for this and for the number of teacher applicants is the recently retired Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources of PUSD, Clem Donaldson. If you want to know how many qualified resumes PUSD receives annually, feel free to contact the current Superintendent Dr. Faraghan yourself since you're not offering any facts on your own other than generalities about the State of California.
As to whether there will be more or less resumes starting this summer, what do you think?
Posted by Matt, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:19 am
I'm just wowed here. So many information that are misleading, unwarranted, rumors, etc., for and against parcel tax and the funding.
Its so much better if we know the facts.
Pleasanton Unified has their website on information about budget, Web Link
Read it and be informed.
Whether parcel tax passed or not, the cuts will happen. There is not enough money generated from parcel tax to cover $8 million gap, so even if the parcel tax passed, there will still be cuts.
On CSR, the PUSD got $4.4 m / year from the state and spend $2m / year from its own fund for CSR. If you mean by "the source is the same" is as tax payer, yes of course aren't all services provided by the govt are funded by the tax payer?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 8:11 am
Dood wrote: "No Stacey, $2MM comes from the district and $4MM comes from the state. If we cut CSR, we lose those $4MM but saves $2MM. So spending $2MM for $6MM worth of services is a bargain for us."
The $2MM from the district also comes from the State as revenue limit income. The only difference in the money is arbitrary rules on how it can be spent. The $4MM can only be spent on CSR. It is categorical funding whereas revenue limit income is general funding. Now you can try to say that the money comes from different sources, but that just shows a certain level of naivety in the way schools are financed in California. If we had a local parcel tax that funded CSR, then the claim about $2MM coming from the district would be true.
Schwarzenegger's plan calls for cuts to revenue limit. That is disastrous since that is districts' most flexible money. The State has money for education, they're just wasting it. See Web Link and Web Link
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 8:13 am
At these meetings, are any of these rumors/opinions/facts/lies...being discussed? I have read this thread for three days, and people are still debating whats true and whats false. What is the purpose of these meetings if they do not inform the residents of the true picture...and not just trying to 'push through' a parcel tax? (thats what I feel they are doing) I would vote for a parcel tax, if I didn't feel like I was being 'lead' that way by people who only have their own interest in mind.
Posted by Lee, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 8:50 am
The reason money is categorical is we know the districts (and union lobbyists) can not be trusted. Give flexible, discretionary funds and it will ALL go to salary! I want accountability and funding mandates.
Posted by John Adams, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 4, 2009 at 9:17 am
Welcome to Pleasanton, John. Which test scores did you look at before purchasing? San Ramon's average SATs are better than ours, as well as their API. By your reasoning, the best bargain might be a house in Livermore, whose average SATs are also higher and API comparable. I think the relatively lower house prices in Livermore (and, to a lesser extent San Ramon) have more to do with the extra commute time to Silicon Valley.
While I am not the biggest fan of API as a standard for comparison, here are the CA HS rankings if anyone is actually interested:
Posted by momof2, a resident of the Verona neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 11:48 am
Just a quick comment -
My money is spent on tutoring because the math teachers at the high school level (Algebra 2, Pre-Calc) are not teaching the students, only assigning the homework---my 4.0 student can only maintain her GPA by getting outside help - many of her classmates who don't are failing the class - yet - the teachers get credit for my child's test scores hmmmmm - I literally paid for those scores - API and SAT scores are a measure of the student - NOT necessarily the school/teacher...take a look at the traffic after school and note that a lot of kids are being transported to tutors---why is that?
"O'Connell's call for long-overdue reforms and for eliminating bureaucratic red-tape would help educators ensure that our students and their success remain our highest priorities."
Lee wrote: "The reason money is categorical is we know the districts (and union lobbyists) can not be trusted. Give flexible, discretionary funds and it will ALL go to salary! I want accountability and funding mandates."
Certainly that is the purpose of categorical funding. The reforms suggested would still protect certain programs from incursion by rising personnel costs.
Posted by Another Homeowner, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm
“Yes, property values have been affected our school system, and that won’t change regardless of the outcome of this current crisis. But our location, the water source that supports our landscape, and the highly limited availability of property has had much bigger influences on our perceived property value.”
I just thought I would take a moment to clarify my comment from last night, as I am not sure my point was clear.
There are quite a few historic reasons why Pleasanton is ideally situated, but the one that seems to mater most in current times is our proximity to the three natural passes that allow easy access to Silicon Valley, the East Bay and San Francisco, and the Central Valley.
The reason people originally settled here is because of the Arroyos. The water source has now been harnessed and can be piped anywhere, but its natural flow is what created our lush and densely grown landscape. Is Pleasanton more beautiful than Livermore or San Ramon? Well everyone has their preference, but I feel that consensus created by property values speaks fairly clearly to this point.
You can stand wherever you like on this one, but it’s pretty clear that our voter sanctioned limitations on building have created a demand for our housing units. Unlike many of our neighboring cities that have never seen a permit fee or chain store tax base they didn’t like, Pleasanton, through responsible government and the will of its people has not built more housing units or structures than our infrastructure and population can reasonably support.
Small Town Feel and Sensibility:
John #1 followed my posting with a rather scathing rant insisting that his family purchased a Pleasanton home exclusively for the school district. Although he pointed out that there were other well rated districts in the area (a point that was later emphasized by documentation supplied by John Adams) they choose to step up and invest in the area. Unless someone in his family is employed by the school district, I feel that his comment is likely highly disingenuous. A much more likely scenario is that he and his family were charmed by the elements listed above, and found the school system was on their short list of acceptable options.
My enduring point is that the sky is not falling, nor will it, regardless of how loudly and persistently the Chicken Littles of the world scream.
Posted by Looking Ahead, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm
We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have trouble with the idea of a parcel tax when I know many people are struggling in our community to make ends meet; they too are faced with pay cuts and job losses. It is true that PUSD has great teachers, which I’m grateful for, that care enough about our children, keeping test scores high and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and for those teachers that includes accepting a pay cut if that is what is needed. Unfortunately there are also those teachers who know that others, the ones mentioned above with less seniority, will be the ones forced out of their jobs if we can’t come up with the amount of money that is needed. Are “safe” teachers the ones against a pay cut to get us back on budget? Is it because they are not on the chopping block due to seniority? If that is the case then I would like to propose a new system that stops PUSD from having to keep some teachers strictly based on seniority and not their current teaching effectiveness? I think all teachers should go through an evaluation process and their continued employment should be based on that evaluation; it works for corporations so why can’t is work in this application?
You’ll notice that I did not reference the ridiculous "summer time-off" comment as many others on this post have; that is because I simply could not do the job. It is an extremely hard job balancing kids and even worse some of the parents attached to those kids. If you are a teacher and handle all the responsibilities that comes with teaching than I thank you sincerely for all of your time and efforts with our future, which are the kids in your classrooms everyday. I know it seems backwards to thank you and then mention a pay cut but desperate times call for desperate measures and I would rather hang on to the great dedicated teachers we have than risk them losing their jobs.
Posted by Dood, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Stacey wrote: "The $2MM from the district also comes from the State as revenue limit income."
Essentially, all the money comes from the taxpayers, period. End of discussion.
I've always been supportive of less government and tax cuts, and my voting record reflects that. But in this exceptional case, I think passing a parcel tax is the right thing to do for our kids and the community.
The state government failed us yet again. We'll need to make better choices at the ballot box next time (i.e. vote for those who vote to cut taxes and government programs).
We shouldn't be punishing our kids, teachers, and district staff for the mistakes made by those people in Sacramento.
Posted by Katie, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm
Im am sorry to say that you should blame the parents. If the parents have a strong grip on their children, then they will tend to do better in school. If not (I see this like, in every class) they will talk, not even open up their binder or try to learn and do work. I think of it as annoying more than anything. it's like okay, if you aren't going to learn then why be in school?? Parents have a HUGE, HUGE influence on their children.
I am very thankful for my parents, even though I am slightly annoyed with them :\ Love you Mom!
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Carlton Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm
I think the pay cut thing is hard. Because of the long tradition of teachers having to fight for respect and pay, it's not likely some of the more "seasoned" teachers will want to give up anything they have obtained. That's sort of understandable. In the profession there is a lot of talk about "paying your dues" and while I do not totally agree with that it is the culture that has been created. Partly because of the way the system is set up. You say you want bad teachers to be fired but then you say we have too many administrators. We don't have nearly enough administrators to be in the classrooms really observing what is going on. This is why so called bad teachers remain. Our administrators are charged with managing the operations of the school, observing and mentoring teachers, dealing with your kids discipline issues and a multitude of other things. So, if they can not observe and coach these bad teachers then the bad teachers remain. We need the protection of the union because without the union the community would be able to have teachers dismissed based on the information they receive from their children. And, we all know how amazingly unbiased children are when telling things to their parents.
So, you want bad teachers gone. You want less administrators, you want teachers to take a pay cut and you still want a quality education? We are all really doing as much as we can for YOUR kids with very little as it is. And, we do appreciate all the community gives. I guess I just wish I could really feel like our profession is valued and respected just a little bit more. This is not a business, it is an incredibly difficult, draining and complex process. Educating every child is hard. But - every day, every year we work to get better and better and better. And on top of that we fight for pay and respect. Please stop. Help your schools.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 11:29 am PToWN94566 is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Some of these reasponses are interesting. I don't necessarily agree that the teachers of PUSD should get a pay cut but in reality they might have to. Times are rought right now and there isn't one place in society that isn't going to feel the pinches. However, Pleasanton teachers do get paid fairly more than some of our neighboring towns so some of the reactions on this thread aren't that surprising.
I think someone else has already said this and no one else really responded, but a child's education can't be measured by money or tests. Someone else also said that parents need to have a strong hold on their child in order for a successful journey through high school. While that is true it's also true that teachers should be providing a rich education regardless of what his or her salary may be. We do live in a well-off community and have many more opportunities than other school districts. Any teacher, no matter what district they come from, will work more than 40 hours a week to make sure their students are progressing in a positive manner- no matter what the pay is. Someone also said that many of our teachers are well educated and that is why they were recruited to out district. I do question that as many of our teachers are former PUSD students themselves or are teachers who have been around for ages. I'm sure I might get negative feedback from what I'm going to "say", but in all honestly I bet more than half of the teachers in Pleasanton wouldn't survive a week at an inner city school. If certain teachers are thinking in this "safe" mood from what I've read then shame on them. May be teachers should step up to the plate and say ya we can take a pay cut for the time being; vacations and the life of luxary should take a back seat which includes not coming into the classroom looking like one stepped out of Neiman Marcus.
One question which might have been answered already or discussed, but why aren't people at the district office taking pay cuts, such as the superintendent? Personally, I think everyone throughout the district should take pay cuts- teachers, administrators, coaches (if they even get paid), principals, superintendent, janitors etc.
Posted by Derek, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 11:54 am
"...which includes not coming into the classroom looking like one stepped out of Neiman Marcus"
LOL! That reminds me of the elementary school teacher my daughter had last year. She comes into class looking like a supermodel everyday. It would be a shame to see her looking like one those "soccer moms" around the campus.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm
I just want to echo what Teacher and PToWN94566 have said and I've written elsewhere before. Cutting teachers' salaries is highly unfair. What is fair is temporary suspension of automatic pay raises like "step and column" for both teachers and other management positions. The CTA and many parents want to keep class size reduction. The cost of those automatic raises seem to approximate the same cost as CSR. Imagine 186 teachers in Pleasanton will be able to keep their jobs, an important program to many will be saved, and taxpayers don't have to be further burdened.
Also see "Budget gap endangers valued school programs" Web Link although note that in the article the CTA appears to be against the LAO's suggested educational finance reforms because they think CSR will go away. That isn't exactly true. From LAO "Rather than spread the CSR funds across all grades, however, we recommend the Legislature adopt specific grade–span base rates, thereby ensuring additional funding for K–3 and 9th grade students." Web Link
Posted by Go girl!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm
"What is fair is temporary suspension of automatic pay raises like "step and column" for both teachers and other management positions."
"The cost of those automatic raises seem to approximate the same cost as CSR. Imagine 186 teachers in Pleasanton will be able to keep their jobs, an important program to many will be saved, and taxpayers don't have to be further burdened."
Posted by Sherri, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:25 am
Teacher: First I'd like to thank you for your dedication to the kids in this community. I can't even imagine having to do the job you do daily.
I find it interesting that you mentioned the challenges you face having English Learners in your class. With the high home prices in our city, I find it hard to believe that we have that many residents here who work at a taco stand. This leads me to believe that many of the non-English-speaking folks who live here are highly educated and/or wealthy. There are plenty of examples in my neighborhood.
If having English Learners (even just one or two) in your class is as challenging as you claim in-spite of the highly educated immigrant population, what does that say for teachers in the inner city schools or schools that have a high concentration (90+%)of new immigrants? And yet, you get paid a lot more in PUSD than say teachers in Richmond and Oakland, correct?
And if those teachers can meet those challenges without asking for a raise, what does that say about you and your colleague? The last time I check, districts like Cupertino, Mission San Jose, and Albany, all have a high concentration of minorities (immigrants?). Yet they do quite well in those state tests. How do those teachers pull it off with a lower salary than that of yours? Am I missing something here?
I'm not discounting the challenges you face in the classroom, but I think your challenges are minor in comparison to those faced by teachers in many other schools. Some people may actually say that teachers in Pleasanton are overpaid and underworked, riding the gravy train. I guess it's all relative...
Posted by Get educated!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm
It is so amazing the inconsistent ironies that flow through this blog. Everyone seems to be the expert on education because a.they went through school or b.they have kids in school. If you truly had your facts straight the ironies wouldn't be so blatant. You obviously don't understand the step and column salary schedule by your comments, you obviously don't understand Pleasanton's teacher starting salaries based on your comments about them being over paid. (Salaries are listed without including the deduction in health care benefits), and you obviously do not understand about teachers being willing to take a cut in pay seeing as COLA increases have not happened in two years as health care costs have risen, creating two years of cut in pay for Pleasanton teachers. It is amazing to me that many of you can comment that it is the teachers who should take the brunt of this, their fair share in this poor economy. The teachers are fighting for programs not to be cut so they can continue the high quality of education you are expecting. They are fighting for you and this community because they know first hand what the effects of this cut will be. How ironic that you would miss that point and make your arguments about teachers wanting raises. It sounds like YOU are the ones who have the "not my problem" syndrome. And mark my words, you will be the first to complain when a math teacher doesn't have time for your child, and you have to pay for reading tutors because the reading specialists are gone. Get educated before you really show how much you "know" here.
Posted by Another Homeowner, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm
It is obviously a difficult time for everyone, and it is pretty clear that those who have chosen education as their source of employment are now stunned to find themselves subject to the changing winds of our economic melt down. After all, this has rarely, if ever been the case in the past. The mantra of the business of education has always been get on the train and concentrate on your core job. If you make it past the first few years you are safe. You will never see either extreme end of the salary bell curve, but you will make a comfortable living and enjoy the union negotiated benefits of a managed health care plan and full retirement. You may argue amongst yourselves (politely please) where these two items fall on the curve, but this discussion usually digresses to a “grass is always greener” stalemate fairly quickly. The reality is (and I am in a position to know) that a career in education is neither a vow of poverty nor an entrepreneurial path to riches. It has however proven to be a steady path to an enriched life.
Now here is where the discomfort starts to intensify. Virtually everyone agrees that our government must spend in accordance with revenues, but no one seems to be able to stay elected and deliver a responsible plan for achieving this goal. In good times and bad our state and our nation has always managed to spend more than it generates. Of course the federal government owns a printing press, so they have a tool to alleviate their shortcomings, even if the currency is, in fact, nothing more than faith. The state does not have this option, and because of the extreme velocity of the financial crisis, it has few available actions other than starting to rapidly make adjustments to provided services. Passing a hasty tax to solve a miniscule portion of this problem will not do much to alleviate the ongoing discourse, but it will likely create another obligation that will never expire. Unfortunately funding derived from taxation becomes such a muddled mess that is becomes virtually impossible for the taxpaying public to decipher what they are paying for and, consequently, are backed into renewing any dated tax under the guise of averting the next service cut crisis.
The unfortunate fact is that some people are going to lose their jobs because of the current financial climate. Just as with the millions who are facing a similar fate in the private sector, whether this fate is deserved is not really a productive discussion. And while an additional property tax assessment would, optimistically, cover as much as 50% of the current proposed cuts, it would do little to solve the ongoing source of the dilemma and add additional burden to the community at a time when financial hardship abounds.
The School Board has stated that they have entered into contracts with the various unions and individuals that are employed by the Pleasanton Unified School District. And thus they are reticent to ask any contracted individual or group to reduce their own pay. And I agree with that. But the unfortunate truth is that a substantial dollar amount will be cut from the personnel budget. How many people those cuts affect is entirely in the hands of the employed group, as a whole.