Posted by resident, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 7:33 am
A partial repost from my comments on the thread about city employee contracts:
"Oh yeah, I have been a union member for more than 30 years. In my industry it is an issue of safety, not greed. I don't know any business agents for the city worker's union but I do know a former very high up agent for the CTA. I remember him sitting around and bragging about how he didn't have to do squat to collect his $400K+ salary as long as the public was dumb enough to think the teachers would all quit if their wages and benefits were cut. Think on that for a while as the PUSD tries to push throough another parcel tax to fund more teacher raises."
How predictable that the PUSD is trying to stick it to us again, for the sake of funding the raises. When will they get it that we cannot afford S & C at the expense of cutting programs and demanding that residents pay even more.
Please reread my comments above from the former CTA agent -- teachers need to give back too, this economy cannot support constant raises at the expense of the real education programs.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 7:39 am
I was one of the people surveyed. They did not ask the right questions. I told them that I did not care what the amount was, what I cared about was what the money would be spent on. To that they said: should I mark that as a yes, no, no effect? I told them again that the amount did not matter. To that they asked if I would be more likely to support x amount. I was so exasperated with the person, that I just went along, let her mark yes/no/no effect as she pleased.
My friend's neighbor was one of the people surveyed as well: same experience.
I hope we are not paying this consultants too much money: they do not seem to know how to conduct a reliable survey, and I would take everything they say, including their conclusions, with a grain of salt.
Posted by Not surveyed !, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:56 am
My opinion will not be included in the numbers ! So let me tell you it would be NO. Because of solicitors who want to SELL me something, I never answer any caller that isn't identified....OR is at least open enough to SAY WHAT THEY ARE CALLING ABOUT...I would have answered in a split second ! ! That would be a more inclusive and total "survey".....not sure how this outfit can call it a SURVEY, when it is NOT a survey...,it chooses to leave out a whole chunk of Pleasanton homeowners and taxpayers.....not much of a survey.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:08 am
" When will they get it that we cannot afford S & C at the expense of cutting programs and demanding that residents pay even more."
I'll repeat here what I said before. I think there is about a 0% chance that we'll see a freeze in step and column raises. It just isn't going to happen. I've not heard of a single good school district that has done that. The most likely result of not passing a parcel tax will not be a push to freeze step and column, it will be continued cuts to programs and a continued slide in quality. Furthermore, there are plenty of people in the community who moved here specifically for the schools and don't mind continuing step and column. They see it as a good thing, to continue to retain and hire the best teachers. The teachers wouldn't "all quit", but the best new hires would be more likely to consider a district like Palo Alto that still has scheduled salary increases, than Pleasanton.
I'm still interested in seeing the details of what they propose, but I'm likely to support $98 parcel tax with no freeze in step and column.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:40 am
Glenn, can you get a more detailed schedule for tonight? I went to a number of these last year and spent hours paying a babysitter to get "educated" on things I had heard before and the time for true comment was towards the end. Can you let us know approx what time the real conversation will begin?
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:32 am
We need cuts in the top administrative salaries,freeze on all increases and cuts in fringes. The time for increased taxes is gone. We have a massive tax payer revolt as you can see in the Pension reform battle. Gov. Brown is finding this out as over 80% of the taxpayers want pension reform before any talk of taxes.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm
Solem & Associates is a public relations company headquarted in San Francisco. They were the ones that ran the Express Toll Lane campaign for I680. They created the survey that convinced the politicians that creating the toll lane would be supported by the majority of communters. Their survey concluded that 64% supported the toll lane and 33% opposed it, which all of us commuters know is hogwash.
This is a statement from their website, "Our integrated approach to political consulting allows us to quickly develop a comprehensive strategy, organize broad community support and execute an effective field campaign. With more than two decades of experience in campaign management, our expertise includes strategic planning, field organization, direct mail, fundraising, media relations, advertising and all other aspects of a successful campaign."
In other words we will create the survey results based on the customer's needs.
I think the same thing is probably true with PUSD and their survey since government agencies seem to pick the same approach to achieving a "successful" end result.
PS - now you know why all the Express Toll Lane emails with negaive comments never reached the politicians.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm
I wonder how the results in the second survey (likely to pass) changed so dramatically from the first survey (it would take a lot of work to pass) in just a few months? Is the improving economy improving people's spirits?
I guess it justifies the large expenditure needed for an election. I hope they were asking the right questions this time ie. will you pass a parcel tax that will pay for things including raises (unless these are being frozen) as concerned parent suggests. I guess we'll find out tonight.
Posted by long time parent, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm
To parent, the $98/parcel tax they are looking at would not pay for classroom size reduction.
Also, the public relations firm wants continued business with the district so of course they say a parcel tax can win. If they said it could not, they have no future revenue from the district.
The marching orders to the public relations firm was to see how much money the public would tax themselves and what they need to say they will do with the money. We essentially spent money on this consultant to draft a ballot argument for a parcel tax. The district does not have school programs in mind. They are just trying to find ways to get more money from the taxpayers. Don't care what it is for or the amount. They just want to grab more money from your pockets; while they continue to take $1.6M per year in raises.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm
"The marching orders to the public relations firm was to see how much money the public would tax themselves and what they need to say they will do with the money"
I agree. The last time the survey said that the tax would only work with no salary increases, so hopefully they've listened and negotiated the changes needed so this is a true statement. I can't see why they'd pay for another survey unless they did this. We will find out tonight.
Posted by long time parent, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm
I am sure they will continue to say that Step and Column are not raises. Seems to me that if you are paying a person more for doing the same job that it is a raise.
What they will end up saying is none of the parcel tax money will be used for raises. That is hogwash since all of the operations, including step and column raises, come from the general fund.
I would only consider a parcel tax if they say that no raises, including step and column increases, will occur during the term of the parcel tax. Step and column raises are additive. With parcel tax of $2M/year and step and column raises of $1.6M a year:
income in the first year is $2.0M, step and column expenses $1.6M
income in the second year is $2.0M, step and column expenses $3.2M
income in the third year is $2.0M, step and column expenses $4.8M
income in the forth year is $2.0M, step and column expenses $6.4M
For for a period of 4 year parcel tax income=$8.0M, step and column expenses=$16.0M.
The runaway train of step and column raises has to be stopped as a parcel tax will not even save us.
This parcel tax trying to save our schools, with step and column raises still occurring, is like hiring a crossing guard to stop a runaway train.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm
Does anyone have a link to a place that explains exactly where the S & C increases come from? Yes, I completely understand the concept and how it works, I am look ing for PUSD specifics (i.e. the number of teachers who move from, column to column, hiring stats as to what spot new teachers have, how many teachers are at the maximum, etc) I'm looking for exactly where the $1.6 million every year comes from. (FYI, I have no doubt that there is that cost, its just seems like eventually we would reach some sort of equilibrium as people retire and new teachers are hired or every teachers reaches the maximum pay if the salary schedule does not change)
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:48 pm
To anyone saying that a parcel tax won't save programs, what you're saying just isn't true. The parcel tax will pay for both step and column raises and saving programs. Defeating a parcel tax will not cause a stop to step and column raises. The result of defeating a parcel tax will simply be more program cuts.
The economy will eventually recover, leading to more revenue coming in from the state. That, along with retiring teachers, should make up for the increased payout from step and column, if the amounts are not too great. My hope is that the district will build up a larger rainy day fund by running a surplus so that we will be better prepared for the next downturn.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm
I have some information that I hope will help you.
If you follow this link, you can find a downloadable salary schedule (in PDF format) that shows step-and-column for PUSD. Human Resources at PUSD may have more detailed data on which teachers are due to advance in either step and column (or both) at the start of next school year, but they don't publish that information on the Internet.
Now, as to some myths:
First, not every teacher advances every year in step-and-column. I can give you an example from my own career: At the start of next school year, I will be in Column V, Step 12. But that means no further increases in step-and-column for me for a few years: I am in the final column of salary advancement, and even though I will move forward in steps, my salary remains the same for the next four school years. I won't get another step increase until the 2015-2016 school year, and then I am frozen again in step increases until the 2019 school year. Compare this to private industry, where employees can negotiate large salary increases in good years. It doesn't matter if PUSD's finances turn around in the next few years; I won't get paid any more if they do (just one more reason why comparing a public agency to a private entity is grossly misleading and illogical).
Second, Pleasanton USD has a high rate of retention compared to other school districts, and we have a lot of older teachers who have advanced high in step-and-column. I have friends who have gone as far as they can in step-and-column and will not advance no matter how long they teach, or whose increases are frozen for some years. I don't have any firm statistics, but at my own school, I'd say about half of the teachers won't benefit at all from step-and-column in the 2011-12 school year.
Third, step-and-column advances were not pulled out of a hat; the district and the union carefully negotiated step-and-column, structuring them so that most advancement comes early in a teacher's career. Why did they do this? They did this because our profession has a high turnover rate in the first five years: 50% of teachers leave the profession due to the high stress, long hours, and relatively low pay. Pleasanton USD focuses on keeping its talented young teachers, who often struggle to start families on their salaries (and to find time and energy for their own families--teaching is a very emotionally demanding job).
Fourth, eliminating step-and-column, or freezing it, is bound to have consequences: talented younger teachers who have transferable years of seniority will go to work with districts that haven't frozen step-and-column, and the high turnover in teaching staff is bound to hurt the quality of education for Pleasanton's kids. Schools are built on a sense of trust and community between the teachers, administrators, parents, and kids, and it's very hard to do that when you have a constantly changing cast of characters (i.e., high staff turnover). Look at any low-performing school in the Bay Area and you'll find a high staff turnover.
I have no opinion one way or another about the results of the parcel tax survey, as I'm not familiar with the methodology and can't properly assess its validity. My own sense of things is that the minority of Pleasanton voters who oppose ALL taxes on an ideological basis are very energized and will make sure that a parcel tax of ANY amount is defeated. PUSD will never get a parcel tax and I think it's a false hope to pursue it. I think the Board and Superintendent Ahmadi are going to be unpleasantly surprised when the very small parcel tax of $98 goes down to defeat. It could be 98 cents and still be defeated!
Seems like an awful lot of drama and strife over a tax that amounts of 27 cents a day in an affluent community, but Pleasanton is such a sedate community that I guess we have to create problems where there are none to keep life interesting.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm
10:57pm - not one person has addressed step and column. And the issue that parcel tax = $2M. S&C + cost of election = $1.8M so what is left for programs? Talk about heads in sand. If the board would actually talk about this it would make this whole process feel more honest.
"To anyone saying that a parcel tax won't save programs, what you're saying just isn't true. The parcel tax will pay for both step and column raises and saving programs"
Prove this please. Or are you talking about the 100,000 - 200,000 left over?
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Honestly, the board concluded by saying they wanted to know what people in the community think and there were almost 200 comments on the last parcel tax discussion here - it's obvious what the concerns of the community are. And not a single thing was said tonight . . .
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm
"prove this please. Or are you talking about the 100,000 - 200,000 left over?"
No, I'm talking about the $2 million in programs that won't be cut if the parcel tax passes. Step and column will happen either way. The raises will be payed for either way. It will either come from new tax money, or it will come from cuts in programs if there is no new tax money. If there is no new tax money, $2 million in programs will be cut. Do you see what I'm saying?
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm
I totally see what you are saying. The lack of negotiations about step and column is hugely impacting student programs. And it will mean teacher job cuts because teachers aren't even being asked to vote on the obvious key issue.
Did you hear the part where one board member asked what it would cost to restore class sizes to 20-1? Yep, it's 1.6M. I do not want to be held hostage to automatic salary increases when we're in an emergency situation. And they've pretty much said that class sizes are going up - so we're not going to be like your pals in Palo Alto regardless.
Posted by Tennessee Jed, a resident of the Jensen Tract neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 6:13 am
Not having been in the public school classroom for more than 40 years, it makes a little difficult for me to know exactly what classroom sizes are typically. I remember 35 to 40 students per class, every class. You may consider my time in the public schools as a different era, nonetheless I received the standard education, and by today standards, the quality benchmark. I guess those were the good old days.
Quality education is not a function of the number students in the class. I say give the teachers all they want as long as class sizes are in the 35 to 40 student range. Seems to me typical class sizes these days are 20 or so students from what I've read. So let's double class size, cut the number teachers and half, take the savings to re-institute cultural arts programs such as music, arts and literature. Concentrate on the 3Rs, not basket weaving, with electives connected to field of interest. I know basket weaving is not a field of interest and probably doesn't exist as a class anywhere in the public schools it's just a metaphor.
Can anyone explain to me why small class sizes necessarily translates into quality education? Although the gripe is these days, kids are not prepared, require remedial training every step along the way, and are out performed across the board, worldwide.
So let me see, if small class size translates into quality education, then typical class sizes in college should also be 20 to 25 students. Although we know that class sizes that small typically are never found. I have had college classes where there are 60 to 70 students and require auditorium size classrooms in order to conduct lessons.
So don't give me the bogus argument that we need more teachers so that they can concentrate their efforts on fewer students thus translating into quality education. I don't believe that for a minute.
Let's demand more from our students, our teachers and our public school system than me are receiving now. They want to dip into my pocketbook? They better well get their act together because I will not spend one more dime on this nonsense.
Yes, we are lucky to have good teachers here, and conversely, they are lucky to have a job in Pleasanton.
If you want to become rich off of the taxpayers, find a field where you can get that kind of pay or become a politician but don't put it on my back.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 7:40 am
To Tennessee Jed, I think I had bigger class sizes too when I was little. But the thing that was different for me where I grew up is that people coming into my K and 1st grade classes spoke English and were pretty much on the same page to start off with. Some were a bit behind and there were special classes to get them caught up.
From my experience here a) there are higher expectations for kids in K and 1 than I had. b) the difference between kids are extreme, some can't speak English, some don't know a single letter, some can read fairly well entering K. With bigger class sizes, the smart kids don't get much attention and the kids who need more help get a lot of attention to catch up.
From what I've seen here in CA at this time, K and 1st grade really need smaller class sizes. After this is can probably be phased out gradually as the teachers are good and the kids do catch up. Not ideal of course, but I get that it's life here right now.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 8:14 am
"nonetheless I received the standard education, and by today standards, the quality benchmark"
I wouldn't say that at all. I went to elementary school in the early seventies, and what I got doesn't match what my kid had in Hearst elementary here in Pleasanton. Also, class sizes have gone up since he was in K-3. They were 20 then and have gone up to 25.
Comparing a class of first graders to a class of college students makes no sense.
Posted by Tennessee Jed, a resident of the Jensen Tract neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 8:23 am
To the "concerned parent", thank you for your remarks. However, just to be clear, I entered first grade in 1954. So by the time you were in school in the early 70s, I was already in the workforce with a college degree... that is the time frame I'm talking about. Regards
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 8:26 am
I would be happy to pay $500-600 out of my savings (which is the only place any extra money comes from these days) for class size reduction and to help the kids, well worth it. But this isn't going to happen.
And I'm not taking money out of savings - and vote to make other people do the same - to create a pot that will pay for salary increases for others when so many people are out of work, have seen incomes drop and their lives fall apart. That is not fair. There are structural problems that need to be addressed or we are going to face the same old problems every year.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Jan 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm
Teachers are getting rich? News to me.
Class sizes? My smallest class is 34 students, my largest one is 41 students. I've been told the situation is as bad or worse in the high schools in our district.
Comparing California schools from 40 years ago (the early 1970s, pre-Prop 13) to today's schools, which have a much higher percentage of foreign-born and impoverished students? Apples and pineapples.
Half of all teachers don't benefit from step-and-column; those who benefit the most are our younger teachers, who still have a strong incentive to jump districts because 100% of their seniority will transfer (only two-thirds of mine would transfer and I'm relatively young). Step-and-column, as I've already explained, is structured to retain younger teachers and to give them an incentive to remain in our profession, which has a 50% attrition rate in the first five years (in any other field this dropout rate would be called a "crisis", in public education it's "business as usual".)
Once again, the facts and the Pleasanton Weekly bloggers are not friends. But never let facts get in the way of a good anti-union, anti-teacher rant, ok?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
See? That's the difference between us. YAT looks at those problems with the salary schedule and sees it as a reason for why step-and-column can't be frozen or why teachers need raises. I look at those problems and see it as a grand display of its woeful inadequacy.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm
Simple solution. The district institutes a 5% paycut because of economic times. That should come out to about $4.5M saved.
When times were good, the district used all the additional money in giving raises to employees instead of putting money aside for when times were not good. Because of that, the only way to deal with these hard times is to lower salaries. You cannot expect to get all the additional money from the state when times are good and expect there are no repercussions to that.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Jan 27, 2011 at 12:23 am
No, Stacey, the difference between us is that I don't hide my vested financial interest in this discussion, while you do.
And I'm not the one who froths and foams at the mouth at the mere mention of unions, as you and your Tea Partier friends do.
Once again: step-and-column has been structured to encourage teachers in the early part of their careers to stay in the profession. The young, energetic teachers who work for half of what I earn...I though the P-Weekly bloggers loved those teachers?
Ah, there's just no pleasing people who are bent on teacher-bashing for ideological reasons.
Btw, Stacey, why don't you and your husband withdraw your kids from PUSD schools, lest they be tainted by us evil unionists? You can send them to Valley Christian, right? But then you'd have to pay tuition on top of taxes. Hypocrite.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2011 at 8:42 am
"Once again: step-and-column has been structured to encourage teachers in the early part of their careers to stay in the profession"
Aren't these the people you are going to allow to be laid off by insisting on step and column? There would be no need for layoffs if it weren't for S&C. In fact, if it had been frozen only two years ago like people suggested, there would be no need to cut anything al all this year. This is not the parents fault, they've raised a ton of money each year. It's the fault of the unions.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2011 at 8:46 am
How do you know Stacey even has children? How do I know you're really a teacher? Now that I think of it, how do I know that you're not Stacey just having a conversation with herself? Maybe it would be better to stick to the issues. I know it is a cliche, but shouldn't we attack the problem and not the person? Have you heard that one before?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2011 at 9:04 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Actually, the difference between me and you is that I'm not gifted with a clairvoyant ability to know who is typing other posts. Continue to believe whatever fantasy you want. Your faith in your clairvoyance continues to be a source of comedic relief.
I think the fact that the dropout rate for the profession is still rather high speaks for itself regarding the effectiveness, or rather the lack thereof, of the step-and-column salary schedule upon dealing with that issue.
Posted by Learn, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm
parent- The higher senority teachers no longer move on the S&C schedule. My salary has been frozen for four years. Why is this so hard to believe? Why continue the blame when it is simply false information?
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm
"parent- The higher senority teachers no longer move on the S&C schedule. My salary has been frozen for four years. Why is this so hard to believe? Why continue the blame when it is simply false information?"
Wonderful, I believe you. So can you please tell Trevor that you would be happy to freeze S&C so a parcel tax can pass and other teacher's jobs can be saved. Thank you.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2011 at 8:26 am
Well, YAT, you continue to make the best case out there for cutting teacher salaries and getting rid of tenure. So how's this for my clairvoyance about you?
Divorced and bitter, now having to pay your own insurance and lashing out at everyone including the kids you are supposed to be teaching. Only keeping your job because with your tenure they can't get rid of you. Yeah, just a guess, but guesses and supposition seem to be what you thrive on in these posts.
I happen to be a union member, NOT affiliated with the tea party and dead set opposed to a parcel tax that will do nothing but give you and your fellow teachers more guaranteed raises. While Stacey conducts herself on this forum with dignity and intelligence you continue to provide us with examples of why we need to be able to fire tenured teachers.
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Tell me resident, where does it say that teachers are not allowed to have opinions or express their ideas? Are you serious that this is a reason to fire a teacher?
The points made were entirely overlooked, not believed, and ignored. That would make it fair to say that community members opinions should be treated the same?
Should I be judging the entire community on their character based on just your rude remarks? Yet you can judge all of PUSD because one teacher shared an opinion. Your derogatory comments continue to make the best case out their for teachers keeping a union.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm
"The survey of 400 voters showed 71% would support a parcel tax of $98"
From reading the details of the latest survey, (page 6), I believe this should be that 71% would support a parcel tax of $74, not $98. PW, can you please check this info? I think the pie charts shown at the meeting are based on the wrong number too.