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Exploring New Pay Plans for Teachers, Principals

Original post made by Stacey on Mar 8, 2010

"Exploring new pay plans for teachers, principals" Web Link

This is Silicon Valley. We're a hub of new technology innovation. Why do we suffer for the "same-ol-same-ol", especially when it has problems and we know what the problems are? We're supposed to be innovators, not followers of the herd. California lost out in the first round of Race to the Top. There's no reason we have to lose out in the second round. Why do we have to sit back and watch others lead the way?

Comments (26)

Posted by Agree, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Stacey, while I agree with this 100%, the teachers union will block any changes. Have to remember the Teachers Union is not the Students Union. The Teachers Union has the best interests of the teachers, not the students. While many/most teachers could come up with some great ideas, they will be reluctant to do so because of pressure from the union. Remember also the teachers union was very much against the reforms that even Obama was asking for in The Race to the Top.


Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I have known Jim Russell (Principal of Delmar H.S.) for many years. He has been thrown into many turn around situations in the greater San Jose school district. He has been able to take underperforming schools and ratchet up the performance in a short period of time. At times he has had to "break some glass" to accomplish this. I believe the comments that he and the others are making are spot on.

If we all had the same underlying objective of providing the best possible education for our students, I have no doubt that folks like Jim Russell and other progressive minded educators could structure a system that doesn't rely solely on seniority, but rewards performance equally. It would be wonderful if the CTA were willing to look at the issue in a way that allows measurable accountability to be part of the compensation equation.

There are education administrators who do believe that we can take best practices from other education systems to augment what works locally. My experience at the PUSD school sites through the years is that taking risk or doing something beyond the "norm" was frowned upon by the district. Bill Radulovich was someone who was willing to push the envelope and Walnut Grove benefited greatly by his leadership.

I believe whoever becomes superintendent must be open to look at the problems we face as an opportunity to take what works, discard what doesn't and look for new innovation in education. I look forward to seeing who the board selects.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm

If we hire another Jim Casey-like superintendent, the district will be condemned to the same-old. He has simply been a union member disguised as a top manager. A real top executive will push the edge of the envelope and then somewhat beyond the edge. This means the teacher's union will be screaming complaints. That's exactly what is needed. Happens often in the private sector, and companies get turned around and then thrive.


Posted by We need "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Maybe "Chainsaw" Al could do the same for PUSD what he did for Sunbeam.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

All this talk of "pushing the edge of the envelope" is really irrelevant to people with kids in Pleasanton schools. Parents moved here because the schools are good. They don't want the schools radically changed. They just want the schools properly funded. Push the envelope somewhere else, where the schools aren't performing and test scores are bad.

What I'm reading in these posts is exactly what's wrong with attitudes on these forums. People feel entitled to excellent schools, but want to pay K-mart prices.

And where do these phrases like "Happens often in the private sector" come from? The last time I checked the "private sector" made a total mess of things and then relied on the government to provide an $8.2 Trillion bailout (Just look at AIG, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and the entire investment banking industry).

Al Cohen talks about "underperforming schools", but those are the problems of other school districts, not Pleasanton. For the short term, the only problem that needs solving with PUSD is getting the proper funding to maintain the quality of our schools. That is out top priority. Many years down the road, when the current funding shortfalls are well into the past, perhaps we can look at making gradual, carefully planned changes into the system, such as merit pay.


Posted by Agree, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

We need to try these new things, and think outside the box, to be able to continue a good education system with the finances we have. Much of the money that was used to finance government programs like education came from dot com and housing before those bubbles burst. Those days are gone. If the legislature did not spend all the increased taxes when times were good on ongoing programs, education would still be in good shape now. We either have to get our legislature to reduce spending in other areas and/or find ways to make education more cost-effective. My taxes have not gone down so I expect the same level of education. That is done by not giving out raises to teacher, cutting administrative expenses, and not re-electing politicians who keep adding programs when we cannot afford the programs we already have.

I used to be against school vouchers but am beginning to think that might be a great solution here. Private schools that pay teachers according to success and not tenure, push the envelope, and lower administration costs, might force the "public" schools to do the same. Otherwise all the good teachers will transfer to the private schools.

I might also take issue with Pleasanton not having "under-performing schools". 50% of our students that go onto college have to take remedial English as they are not up to college-entry level. Perhaps we do not under-perform as much as other California schools but we are still under-performing.

So "reader", you advocate in every forum about the solution is only more money. I disagree with you. Even the sloppiest organizations (public or private) can do well when money is just flowing it. It takes a good organization (public or private) to succeed when money is tight. By the way, California has some of the highest taxes so we are not paying K-Mart prices.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Don't talk about taxes. You'll only get another boring digression about Prop. 13 and inflation. Let the world pass "a reader" by as he waits for "years down the road".


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

"50% of our students that go onto college have to take remedial English as they are not up to college-entry level. "

Were does this stuff come from? I've never heard anything like this before. Please, provide links and documentation.

"By the way, California has some of the highest taxes so we are not paying K-Mart prices."

We're not talking about all of California. We're talking about Pleasanton.

"My taxes have not gone down so I expect the same level of education."

Read about inflation. If you are paying the same dollar amount every year and there is inflation, then you are paying less. That is a big part of the problem.

"I used to be against school vouchers but am beginning to think that might be a great solution here. "

Vouchers in Pleasanton. That is good for a laugh. I can just imagine Pleasanton parents clamoring to get their kids in schools in Stockton or Hayward to avoid those lousy Pleasanton schools. Or maybe they'll get their $200 per month voucher and be instantly able to afford a $1200 per month private school. Do you have any idea how vouchers work? Their only appeal is for poorly performing school districts.

Parents aren't asking for any radical changes to the education system here in Pleasanton. They chose Pleasanton because of the superior quality of the schools. We are in no danger of being overtaken by any of the poorer performing districts that are instituting radical changes to their pay structure. Those districts are desperate and have little to lose. The danger is that we'll be passed by districts like San Ramon, who have shown a greater willingness to support their schools financially, and despite what you've read on some of these blogs, they are seeing results.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

I'm having a hard time understanding why you seem to be so against the idea of implementing well-researched structural change HERE that aligns the fundamental educational goal of turning students into educated people with actual implementation. PUSD is subject to the same laws and issues that face every California district.


Posted by "old tenured" 30yr old, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:12 am

I'm having a hard time understanding, with all the "research" that takes place on these postings that you dont have more information about the innovative teacher education and implementation of the thinking strategies that have been in place in many classrooms in Pleasanton over the past 8 years, thanks to our district curriculum director.

Where were you Al Cohen et al when Ellin Keene, Patrick Allen, and Stephanie Harvey were here working with our students and staff to build the thinking strategy instruction program to where it is today? Were you even aware laboratory classrooms were implemented in many of our elementary schools to educate staff in an effective and economical way? This includes senior teachers, learning new teaching strategies over a period of years, then collaboratively instructing new teachers in the latest methods in reading and writing instruction, and this is just one subject area.

Pleasanton schools didn't become award winning schools with mulitple recognitions in numerous areas by sitting back and teaching the same way year after year. Unfortunately, in the last year, with $11 million cut from our budget, and $8 more this year, this community calls this "the fat" that needs to be cut.

I am blown away to now hear you criticize this district for not raising the bar. Your lack of knowledge of what is really going on in PUSD classrooms is really showing, and is a further insult to the above and beyond work that takes place every day.

Since you fail to recognize the day to day innovations taking place, the alternative is to look to the State Standardized test scores....and those continue to rise well above the norm for California schools, placing Pleasanton in the top 10% in the State. This is not a district of failing schools, yet we are forced to fight to keep our "innovation" in place while the community criticizes us, hiding behind the fallacious information of a few posting here.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:00 am

A couple of general thoughts. Magnet schools and district-wide open enrollment. You don't have to have vouchers or leave Pleasanton to have a school for the arts or a school for math and science. We already have Dual Immersion and the Discovery Program--they're just very small.

I will agree with old tenured that curriculum and instruction benefit from the work of teachers and others training teachers and others. It's why I opposed cutting the school year and certainly staff development days. (The awards, as an aside, are so much fluff. Abandon chasing those. Tremendous drain on staff time.)

I don't think principals have to review every teacher every year. I think you can have review teams that perform this duty (we can debate who those people would be). Free the principals, teachers, and parents to create true school communities (no matter where the students come from within Pleasanton).

Negotiate tenure out if CTA is so open. Then look at step and column. If there's time left, look at life time benefits (retirement to 65) and pensions. All are crippling school budgets. I'll have to look again, but there is a charter middle school in New York (I posted this somewhere else before) where teachers (only the best need apply) are making $125,000 with a shot at a bonus of $25,000 the second year. No tenure, classes of 30:1. I hope they are successful.

Last, why can't Pleasanton be the innovators like this New York school? Why are we waiting for someone else to create a model?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

Stacey is a registered user.

This is exactly my point to "a reader". If we don't continue to innovate, if we sit back and rest on what has already been done, we won't advance. "A reader" thinks Pleasanton schools are good now and that is reason to not change. Pleasanton schools were known to be good some 30 years ago and that's before programs like Dual-Immersion, Discovery, and all the teacher collaboration/training stuff. It was because people didn't sit back on their laurels that Pleasanton schools advanced from 30 years ago. There's absolutely no reason to stop now just because someone thinks they are good enough.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:15 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Forgot to write the other thought I had...

And yet even with the level of quality at Pleasanton schools, we still have the so-called achievement gap, we have rising rates of drug usage, suicide, etc. that come with the pressure to conform and the high-stakes pressure to excel. This is no time to stop.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"old tenured" wrote: "Where were you"

Well, like practically everyone, no one gets really involved until they have a personal stake, right?

But let's be clear and honest on what is being talked about here. It is about governance, not what goes on in the classroom. Taxpayers have a stake in how PUSD is governed and operated. If it doesn't stay healthy, what goes on in the classroom won't stay healthy.


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

"Historically, more than 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 first-time freshmen admitted to the CSU system each year have needed remedial classes in English, math, or both"
Web Link


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

"There's absolutely no reason to stop now just because someone thinks they are good enough"

Yes there is...all the money is gone. All of our effort needs to come to innovate just to maintain the status quo. If we can just maintin where we are for the next 5 years, I would be surprised.


Posted by sorry letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

>"Historically, more than 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 first-time freshmen admitted to the CSU system each year have needed remedial classes in English, math, or both"

Again, we're talking about Pleasanton, not all freshman admitted to UC.



Posted by Agree, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Pleasanton requires seniors that do not pass the college language test to take Expository English (they started this a couple of years ago). They added this requirement because 50% of the Pleasanton graduates who went to college had to take remedial English in College because they did not pass the acceptable level of English proficiency.

At least the district is acknowledging this under performance. There should be no reason that a "great" district like ours, with all these students taking AP classes and the higher income from the state per student, should be sending 50% of the graduates to college who are unprepared. Even if the CSU system is saying 60% of all admissions are not ready and we are less than that at 50%, there is still a problem here.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

"They added this requirement because 50% of the Pleasanton graduates who went to college had to take remedial English in College because they did not pass the acceptable level of English proficiency. "

Where does this come from? You haven't provided any links or any verifiable information to back this up. Is it something that you overheard while you were looking for movies to rent at Blockbuster?


Posted by Agree, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

reader, are you saying that you saw a reference to this that you would agree this is a problem?

Are only weblinks allowed are references, or it "does not exist?" Check with the District and find out our stats on this. This was talked about at School Board meetings that I did attend. If I got you the items in writing from the district would you shut-up? Or will you continue to dismiss anything that does not fit your current viewpoints? Looks like you do not want facts that do not support your point of view.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 10:29 pm

To agree,

The only reference to this that I could find anywhere was this survey from 2007 which has the number at about half of what you are claiming (28%).

Web Link

So, again, where is the 50% coming from?

" Looks like you do not want facts that do not support your point of view."

You've got this backwards. Anybody can post anything they like here. If you want someone to believe you, it is good to have a source to back up your claim.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

agree,

Any comments on the above? I contacted the schools, and they don't know what you're talking about either.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 11, 2010 at 12:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.

That's an interesting survey you dug up, reader. Is this part of the work of the Excellence Committee?

From the survey: "the primary research question was posed: which readiness skills are most closely linked to long-term success?"

But it is impossible to answer that question with this survey because it was a survey conducted in 2007 of June 2005 graduates. Unless "long-term" means two years.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Stacey,

I'm not sure who did the survey. It looks like they were projecting out further into the future based on outcomes for the first two years after graduation.

Have you heard anything about the survey that "agree" was talking about, with the 50% remedial English in college for PUSD graduates? I can't find anyone who knows a thing about it, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

No, sorry, but I haven't really bothered to look.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Yes, it sounds like someone either has very poor memory or was just making it up. Anyway, you don't sound like you need remedial English, and you came through PUSD. ;-)


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