Can someone explain to me Schools & Kids, posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 1:42 am
Why are the cuts being proposed in Pleasanton totally focussed on elementary schools here - the schools people seem to love and have no problem with. And the parents are of course active in fundraising for the parcel tax - but looking at the phone bank list for middle and high school, these parents aren't joining the phone bank or doing anything - and their kids got the benefit of 20-1 etc. What is going on?
Posted by John, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 11:21 am
Cuts are planned for the middle and high schools as well (community colleges and state colleges too for that matter.) The difference is that by the time kids get to middle school, the parents have realized that niceties like a 20:1 ratio isn't what really matters. All the stuff you worry about when your kids are in elementary school pales in comparison to the hurdles they'll face later on.
You think your kid is at a disadvantage because he has to sit in a class with 15 extra kids? How's that compare to the disadvantage he's at when he has to go to a crappy CSU (or God forbid Las Positas) because even though he has a 3.7 GPA and a great work ethic, he can't get into a UC because there isn't room for anyone with less than a 4.0 (and most likely comes from out of state because they pay more money.)
Posted by Good Question, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm
Simply put, there are no more cuts that can be made at the middle schools. There is no CSR in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade. The only thing the parcel tax will do is keep classes at 34 students.
As for high school, only 9th grade English has CSR and I'm not sure why. 7th graders have to take a writing proficiency that counts towards their STAR score, but the 7th grade English teachers have been doing it with classes of up to 34 students for years. I'm not sure why 9th grade English teachers received this luxury. All of the other subjects in high school have the max amount of students.
Elementary will benefit the most from a parcel tax because they have the most grade levels with CSR.
Posted by Good question, part 2, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm
I should add that the benefits at middle and high school for CSR are small, with the exception of 9th grade English (and maybe math?). Most class sizes will go from 32 to 33 or 34 if the parcel tax doesn't pass - not that motivating, which is probably why parents are not volunteering at those levels.
Now if we were to threaten eliminating the sports and/or music programs, that would change the level of participation.
Posted by Drexl, a resident of the Ironwood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm
We can make cuts at all levels; problem is, by the time parents get involved in schools' budgets; their own kids are in middle school/high school; so their target for cuts are the elemantary schools. My opinion, of course.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm
So what I'm hearing is that you think the parcel tax is all about CSR for elementary?
And because the cuts don't affect your kids as much, you're not getting involved?
There are lots of things that are not on the chopping block for higher levels (maybe not middle school, I don't know) that are not mandatory by the state, like AP classes - and we're all supporting keeping these going by keeping the schools funded. It might be CSR on the chopping block this year (and a lot more than this if you look at the list), but it's going to have to be something else next.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm
"Now if we were to threaten eliminating the sports and/or music programs, that would change the level of participation."
Are there things we're funding here that are not required by the state? I was told the cuts were in elementary because that was the only place they could cut. I thought music and sports were pretty much funded by the parents at this point.
Posted by Rita, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm
Last year elementary science specialists, PE specialists, and music specialists were all spared. Elementary school teachers have a mulitple subject credential meaning they should be able to teach all the subjects themselves. Perhaps a music teacher is necessary as many of us aren't musically inclined, but the regular teacher can absolutely teach science and PE. I taught on the peninsula many years ago and we had none of these specialists. Are they nice? Sure. Are they necessary? No. AP classes, on the other hand, are necessary for kids to get into the upper tier colleges. There could definitely be a discussion about how many are offered and perhaps the less popular ones could be cut. By the way, the science specialists in the elementary schools are fairly recent. My daughter is a junior and she did not have these teachers when she was at Vintage Hills. Her regular teachers taught science and most of them did a very good job.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm
Part of the issue with specialist teachers is that the regular teachers are preparing during the time the kids are with the specialists. So if the specialists teachers go, the school day is going to be shortened so the teachers can still have preparation time after they teach the specialist subject. That is what is going to happen with PE - if PE goes, the school day is cut and there is less time for reading and math.
So in the end the kids get less educational instruction in addition to larger classes. And the number of non English speakers per class will be bigger so instruction in reading and math will get hit again as teachers work to get everyone up to speed. Not a good start for the kids.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm
High schools lost the 7 period last year, and with that, the music classes are essentially empty since 9 and 10 grade students must take P.E and are not able to take music because they have to take the required science, etc.
As for the 9th grade CSR, I have always thought it is not necessary and it is costly. Students are in large classes beginning in 4th grade, and all the way to 8th grade. Then CSR in 9th grade English and Math and then back to large classes in 10th grade. It makes no sense to me.
If we are going to have CSR it should be for the lower grades. But last year elementary schools were spared. It is expensive to keepscience specialists, and that is something the main teacher can and should be able to do. Music is different as it requires specific training, but I think science specialists and counselors for elementary are not needed and should be eliminated even if there is no budget crisis. As for PE, I think it is nice to have the specialists but getting rid of them might encourage the district to keep the younger, more dynamic teachers in elementary since they can definitely take over the PE instruction for their classes. Kids benefit from younger teachers in elementary (at least mine did)
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm
"Part of the issue with specialist teachers is that the regular teachers are preparing during the time the kids are with the specialists. So if the specialists teachers go, the school day is going to be shortened so the teachers can still have preparation time after they teach the specialist subject."
What? Prepare for what? An elementary teacher who has been doing the same for years already has all the lesson plans prepared. I should know because my kids ended up with the same teacher (two years apart) in elementary and the homework, etc was the same, no changes at all.
Besides, middle and high school teachers do NOT get a prep period, and when you teach Calculus, a prep period would be nice but they do not get it. If middle and high school teachers can handle it, WITHOUT shortening the school day, tell me why elementary teachers need more time than teachers in upper grades teaching harder subects.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm
To resident: I think these prep periods are part of the contract. They are definitely saying that elementary school is going to close earlier in the day if they lose a specialist teacher.
Which to me sounds like less time for academic instruction. Maybe I'm wrong and it's being structured some way so that the kids still get the educational time - I'd be interested if anyone knows one way or the other.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm
"They are definitely saying that elementary school is going to close earlier in the day if they lose a specialist teacher. "
I thought the teachers were supposed to work FULL TIME?
Right now, kids get out at different times but no later than 3 pm. That is less than full time already, and gives elementary teachers two hours before 5 pm. Can't they use those two hours for prep time? We are talking about teachers working the same grade level for years, and how hard can it be to "master" the curriculum for an elementary class?
If school will get out earlier, that means even less work, and more of a part-time situation for the teachers. Parents volunteer in elementary and help with grading, etc. This is no longer the case in middle and high school.
I can already hear teachers defending their situation, but come on, any parent knows that the work is not hard in elementary, and that teacher use and re-use instructional materials. Prep time may be needed for the newer teachers since they are starting but the ones who are staying have been teaching the same grade level for years and years and handing out the same assignments. Talk to any parent who has more than one child.
"Middle and High School teachers get a prep period everyday."
I was not aware of it , but if they do get a prep period, they need it. These are teachers working on harder subjects, grading harder work. I know some teachers re-use the material but most do not. Some may not even teach the same level math/english/etc class, so prep time is needed.
Elementary teachers have a cozy situation already, and they are complaining about prep periods going away? Unbelievable!
Posted by John, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm
It is probably because most realize that no amount of money will ever be enough for union wiorkers and that new taxes will become part of the fabric and never expire. Most parcel taxes are raised each time they come due.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm
Fallacies abound. Even if elementary lesson plans are already in place, not requiring differentiated instruction as required by the the administration, state, and special need students, I suppose that little elves magically photocopy the worksheet lessons, and mysteriously place them in the teacher's box. Never mind correcting the student's work, or recording the results in the grade book or computer. Just place the elementary teacher on the weekly treadmill, and feed them peanuts.
Just for added fun, increase their classroom size.
Posted by Learn the facts, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm
To Resident and Concerned - yes, the prep periods are part of the contract and Pleasanton teachers REFUSE to negotiate on this matter until after the parcel tax has been decided. So in simple terms, teachers WILL NOT give up anything until after the parcel tax is decided. This is a true fact that the residents of Pleasanton should be aware of before deciding how they will vote.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm
Given that the prep time is contractual and we can't do anything about this, I guess my point is that the district is proposing that on top of bigger class sizes in elementary, the kids lose 45 minutes from their school day where they are learning to read and do math.
So it's not just about the specialist subjects that some people think is a luxury (I do not), it's about learning the fundamentals too.
So what can we do? Can parents help the teachers out with some of the prep - like the photocopying and stuff mentioned above so the teachers can have more time with the kids?
Posted by Rita, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm
I can only speak to what I experienced when my daughter was at Vintage Hills from 2000-2006. As I recall they had 2 weekly sessions (an hour each I think) of PE, 1 session (also an hour long) of music a week, and no specialist science instruction. I want to be clear- I don't view these subjects as luxuries. I absolutely think they are important, but elementary teachers are credentialed to teach all of them. That is why they have a "multiple subjects" credential as opposed to a "single subject" which is what middle school and high school teachers have. I do think music is a bit special because a lot of teachers don't have a music background, but that's really up to each individual district to decide. When I taught in a school in San Mateo county we had no specialist teachers in the elementary grades. We had a music person (who was funded thru the PTA) come in once a week but she wasn't credentialed so I had to be in the room. I could still get some prep done but I had to be physically present. I taught everything else- it was my job and I just did it. Would I have liked a PE specialist 2x a week? You bet, but there weren't funds for it.
One thing that some of the teachers did was swap classes/subjects. One teacher taught two classes of science while the other taught social studies. It cut down on the lesson planning and also played to individual teacher's strengths. This doesn't cost a dime and it saves the teachers time as well.
Instructional minutes are state mandated. I believe our elementary schools exceed the state's minimum but I'm not 100% sure. I recall years ago PUSD increased the primary grade's minutes to be the same as 4th and 5th grade. I don't know what the PUSD teacher's contract says about prep time - but the district MUST meet the state's mandated instructional minutes per year and grade level.
Many of us helped the teachers with copying, cutting, stuffing folders, working with the kids, etc. The teachers do have a lot to do and I know they appreciate the help.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm
"So what can we do? Can parents help the teachers out with some of the prep - like the photocopying and stuff mentioned above so the teachers can have more time with the kids?"
A person with a teaching credential (even if just for subbing purposes) must be present at all times with the students.
A friend of mine in a different school district said that in her child's elementary the science, tech and library specialists are classified, meaning no teaching credential. The science and tech specialist time is considered a prep period, but what they do there is the main teacher sits in the same room as the students when they are with the science or tech specialist - that meets both the requirement of someone with a credential being present and prep time. Since budget cuts are also happening in her district (which btw has a parcel tax), they plan to have parents volunteer to be the science and tech specialists. The kids will still receive the instruction (the plan is to have tech and science savvy parents which is not hard in this area) and the teachers will have their prep period.
I do not know if PUSD teachers would be happy with such an arrangements, but that is an option.
Either that, or make teachers work a full day. Come on, prep periods? Kids get out before 3, that is two hours before 5 pm. So even if teachers want to be professionals putting in only an 8 hour day, what do they do during the 2 hours that kids are not there? We are talking 10 hours per week, isn't that enough prep time for the early grades?
I think elementary teachers have been in too cozy a job for too long. They work part time, and now that they are being asked to put in a full day, they don't like it? Professionals work full time and get their work done. Those who cannot handle their work get fired. If a teacher cannot handle teaching without sacrificing class time, by all means get rid of that teacher!
Posted by To specialist, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm
Can you please site your sources? Elementary schools are required by law to have a certain amount of instructional minutes. I have never heard that the elementary schools will shorten their hours if specialists are let go.
Posted by To Learn the Facts, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm
Learn the Facts - I hope you do not think that teachers should give up their prep periods. Yes, I would agree that the elementary teachers have too many prep periods, but definitely not middle school and high school. That makes no sense.
I don't know for sure, but I would assume the teachers need to see support from the community (through the passage of a parcel tax) before they were to vote on furlough days. They were slapped in the face by the district, when the 7th period was brought back to the high schools earlier this year. They are reamed continuously on this site. They are stressed out because the STAR is a few weeks away and the 2 furlough days coming up are not helping. On top of it, some are told by administrators that they are expected to raise test scores, despite having one of the highest APIs in the state.
Posted by wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 1:13 am
"Treat teachers any way you wish, they will still do their best, but remember the end result is your children and your community."
I think it's the administration and the school board who should address this issue. It's shocking they are laying off teachers rather than negotiating about salary increases. And the health care issues are so unfair - most get the best salaries in CA and the USA and a minority are paying for their own heathcare and they are the ones that need it. This is a big deal.
Posted by I'm shocked too!!!, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 2:02 am
Yes, in addition to peeling back teachers' outrageous salaries we need to pressure our representatives to repeal Obummer Care. In difficult economic times, a nation should not have to pay health care costs for sick and impoverished children. It's their parents' fault. Let's firmly but civilly hold them accountable for at least something in this world. This is about accountability. Fair is fair.
Posted by To concerned, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm
I volunteer at two schools in the district and have several good friends that teach in PUSD. They were very upset that the district brought back the 7th period day without thinking of where the money was going to come from (if you remember, they cut 7th period last year to save money).
It made it look as though PUSD was assuming teachers would vote for furlough days. That is a slap in the face.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Thanks for the info. I didn't know it had been brought back and I thought if it was coming back it was a no cost option. Do you know why this was picked as something to restore over some of the elementary cuts? Was there any reason given?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm
"I volunteer at two schools in the district and have several good friends that teach in PUSD. They were very upset that the district brought back the 7th period day without thinking of where the money was going to come from (if you remember, they cut 7th period last year to save money). "
My understanding is that it not a sure thing 7 period is coming back. Do you know if it is? Most people I know are cynical about it and think this is just a way for PUSD to get them to vote yes on the parcel tax. I think the board members need to make up their mind. 7 period costs 440K back, where is the money coming from? Does anyone know? Is 7 period really coming back or is it just a way to get parents to vote yes on e? If it is really coming back, please explain where the 440K or so needed will come from. The no cost option explained at a board meeting sounded like something that would restore 7 period for music only but before last year, 7 period was taken by more than just music students.
btw, 7 period is not a slap in the face. It requires UNION approval - that's right, because it is considered the "collaboration period" and that is why HS started late on Wed, so teachers could have their union negotiated collaboration. Taking the 7 period away required approval by the union, and bringing it back will require the same negotiated union deal.
Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm
Collaboration requires union negotiation. Seven periods does not. Call your favorite school board member and or senior administrator and confirm for yourself.
Seven periods is coming back because the 1 year MOU expires on 6/30/11. No negotiations are required for all the programs and services to be restored. The costs for the expiring MOU are included in the budget. So, pick your favorite program reduction that just happened (like CSR) and you could say that K-3 CSR was raised to 30:1 so high school 7th period could return.
Posted by Too tired to read, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm
I can tell you why some middle and high school parents don't sign up. Those of use who gave hours and hours of time for everything starting in elementary school are tired of always being the ones who do volunteer and want someone else to stand up for a change. Perhaps some of the complainers who feel they are entitled to everything in this town just because they exist can start phone banking and walking the streets. I'm too tired after 12 years of participating. I'll vote YES for Measure E and I hope everyone else does too. ALL out kids need an opportunity for a good education.
Posted by to concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm
I think Measure E is going to pass. We are an educated community and we care deeply about the human dimension, kids and teachers, and will make the right decision. I think things get skewed here because there are a couple, maybe a few posters, who are against the measure and post their opinions every day, multiple times. They are clearly the minority. 'Too tired to read' is on to something. It's exhausting having to dispute the same tired excuses trotted out for not supporting the measure. I'm voting yes, and most of the people I know in P are voting yes also. Thanks.
Posted by Alex, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm
This parcel tax, if passed, won't even come close to covering PUSD's budget woes. The school district is just desperately grasping for what they think voters will approve of based on the survey they paid big bucks for. And the cuts, while seemingly weighted toward elementary schools, have and will impact all grade levels, all students, all parents, teachers, and administrators. Your kids who were in 4th and 5th grade two years ago when the first big round of cuts were made are now in middle school, and the impact of those cuts is beginning to rear its head in the form of faltering test scores (yes, it's true despite what you've been told; check test scores in a year or two and see). And the teachers who were laid off have not made it back to work and will not make it back for years to come even with the passage of this woefully inadequate parcel tax measure.
Sadly, whether it passes or not, this recent attempt at selling a parcel tax to Pleasanton's voters has been botched just as badly as the first attempt. This year's budget shortfall is well over 3 million dollars. The parcel tax will only bring in approx. 2 million. I, for the life of me, can't understand the wisdom behind this and wonder if it wouldn't just be better to vote no on the measure rather than having my tax dollars pissed away by the minds that put this lame measure together.
Posted by dubious, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:53 pm
"check the test scores in a year or two and see."
Now, given that the tests that will be scored in a 'year or two' have not yet been taken, Alex is showing himself to be quite the predictor of the future. Let's hang our hat on his peg, because he obviously knows something we don't know. Note how he didn't produce test results for those tests that have been taken. Any excuse necessary seems to be the NO side's strategy. More mud up on the wall, that's all they can muster. But Pleasanton knows better. The parcel tax is for the kids and their teachers. I'm proudly in support of the measure.
Posted by Alex, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm
It's not enough. That's what I'm saying. And I'm not willing to proudly throw my money away. A $98 dollar parcel tax is not adequate. And the evidence of the impact of the budget problems in our school district is out there right now. I guess what I meant to say was that it will likely get worse before it improves. Better to make a stronger run at funding now.
Posted by still dubious, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm
I see, the parcel doesn't go far enough. And it's too late for it to sprout wings and go farther, so in the interest of one who wants it to go farther, you're inclined to vote against it. That's your rationale, eh? Got it. It's no rationale at all.
Posted by To resident, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm
And that is the slap in the face. If the teachers vote no to furlough days next year and PUSD has to cancel 7th period at the high school, the community will blame the teachers.
Start Afresh is correct. The MOU expires on 6/30, so no union negotiations are needed. I feel as though you are so anti-union, you are unwilling to look at the facts.
I wish I was as optimistic as Concerned. I thought the last parcel tax would pass and it did, but not by the required majority. I think this one will pass as well, but because it doesn't receive 68%, it will not become law (I apologize, is it 68%?).
Posted by can't win, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:42 am
"The teachers were responsible for the suspension of the 7 period. They agreed to it, it was a union negotiated item."
Yep. The teachers agreed to it at a negotiated item, but it was the district's decision to accept it as one of the many concessions offered. The district had the option to accept it (the concession) or look for other cuts. They took it.
"If the teachers vote no to furlough days next year and PUSD has to cancel 7th period at the high school, the community will blame the teachers. "
And likewise, if the teachers vote to have furlough days again as a cost savings concession, they'll be accused of being greedy and lazy for not taking "real" paycuts.
Posted by teacher scam, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 10:25 am
Teachers should take a 15% pay cut, plus 10 mandatory furloughs. Why? Because these are round numbers, and I like them. (It's easy to do when you're doing it with other people's salaries!) We all know teachers are all overpaid and don't care about the kids. 15% pay cut, get rid of tenure, forced retirement if 10% of kids go down on STAR. Then maybe I'll think about forking over my 35 cents a day to a bunch of lousy incompetents. That's what it will take for me to contribute to the teaching scam. Most of them deserve to be unemployed like Nomad and me.
Posted by Alex, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm
You clearly have no idea how the schools are structured. I'm not going to bother to splain it to you other than to say that 2 million won't even reach the schools. I'm in favor of real solutions and willing to pay for them as well. You're just blindly marching lockstep with the union and the school district. Ignorance is bliss.
Posted by still dubious, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Shucks, I was really looking forward to your splainin'. (Hey genius, I doubt you picked up that verb form in a Pleasanton school.) As to your declaration of intent to pay only were the parcel tax to be larger: I don't believe you. Go hang out with your buddy, 'teacher scam' in Birdland.
Posted by Eye, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm
Teachers are glorified babysitters, they should be paid minimum wage.
Elementary teacher averages 25 students per classroom (K-5), student contact (babysitting) is 5 hours per day in the classroom, 180 school days, California state minimum wage is $8.00 per hour. Letís see, thatís 25 students x 5 hours per day x 180 school days per year, at $8.00 per hour minimum wage equating to $180,000 per year. Average teacher salary in the bay area is $53,784. Therefore the average teacher salary in the bay area for actual student contact in the classroom (not including meetings, etc.) is $0.47 per hour.
Hardly an adequate babysitting wage.
My next door neighborís daughter would balk at such a wage.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm
"Teachers are just glorified babysitters. They should make minimum wage at best! Or better yet volunteer." - that's a good idea - we should take all homeless people and put them into classroom during the day. They will be warm and our students will have free teachers. We solve both education problems and the homeless problem!!!!
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm
Kindergarten teachers did not teach both the morning and afternoon. They taught one or the other and "helped" in the period they didn't teach (when it was AM/PM). Now schools are going to a staggered start for Kindergarten. So, again, what are those teacher doing for the other hours. Perhaps they could be a "specialist" for a couple of hours.
Posted by Get Educated, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm
Parent and Resident,
You have a lot of questions about school policies that are in full swing daily in Pleasanton, working with $20 million less in funds. I suggest you go to your neighborhood school and schedule some time in the classrooms volunteering. You can continue to look at hours of face time with students as the only requirement for teaching, or you can see for yourself what the job actually entails.
There is a shortage of teachers in our near future. There is a reason for that. Something that needs to be addressed if we actually want improvement for our schools.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:05 am
A big problem is that school districts, not just PUSD, would rather give raises than keep/restore programs. Read about Walnut Creek, it just gave raises from reserves but those reserves are there thanks to cuts to student programs and funds from parcel taxes.
"The raises are possible because the Walnut Creek district stockpiled its reserves"
"Walnut Creek has cut $3 million from its once $26 million budget over the past three years. The district stuck with those cuts and didn't restore anything from year to year."
""We will use some reserves to cover anything else for next year but after that we would have to cut very significantly. It's a calculated risk to use the reserves," she said."
So give raises now instead of using the funds for programs cut. btw, just two years ago, Walnut Creek went for a parcel tax, measure H:
"PARCEL TAX MEASURE H
WALNUT CREEK SCHOOL DISTRICT
To provide the district with the stable, local funds needed to support high quality education programs, smaller class sizes, classroom technology, libraries and to attract and retain quality teachers, shall the Walnut Creek School District renew its existing special tax of $82 per year beginning July 1, 2010 offering a complete exemption for citizens 65 years and older?"
So they don't have money for programs but they do for raises!
See why it is not a good idea to support parcel taxes? School districts have bad financial practices, and they always cut student programs while giving raises.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:10 am
"There is a shortage of teachers in our near future"
I don't think so. Right now, we have people who were full time teachers, in PUSD and other districts, but who were laid off and are now working as subsitute teachers.
This coming year, the pool of unemployed teachers will be bigger. And all because the tenured ones got raises.
Shortage of teachers? Not in the near future. Many school districts are handing out pink slips, and the teachers laid off last year - many of them are still unemployed or working as subtitutes.
btw, I have volunteered in the classroom and school, that is why I can say that elementary teachers have a cozy job and it is nonsense for them to complain about the lack of prep periods should say, science specialists were to be cut. That is also how I know about laid off teachers who are doing substitute work.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:15 am
"We have great schools here in Pleasanton and I will do anything I can to support them. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't support a parcel tax in a good district like this. "
Do whatever you want, Mary. Just don't come here and pretend to ask a genuine question when you are just trying to convince others to vote yes on E.
I will vote NO on E because I am not buying the nonsense.
Did you look at Cupertino and its 2009 parcel tax, 2010 fundraising to give raises, and now second parcel tax this year? Did you see how programs are threatened each year no matter how much the community approves taxes and raises money? Did you also see that raises are never in jeopardy, it is only the student programs that continue to be threatened year after year?
Did you read about San Ramon? How about Walnut Creek?
Keep your head in the sand if that makes you happy but don't expect others to do the same.
Posted by tsk tsk on Resident, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm
Resident, Such an uncivil way to respond to Mary! Weren't you the one mounting the crusade to censor the liberals on this post? Seems that you're good at dishing it out, but can't take what you give. You forgot to mention that Mary should read about Clovis and Idaho, and how we have the opportunity by cutting down our teachers to race to the bottom where we can compete with South Caroline for worst education state in the union.
Posted by Get Educated, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm
"btw, I have volunteered in the classroom and school, that is why I can say that elementary teachers have a cozy job"
Its clear to see you don't tell the truth with statements like this Resident. Either that or you lack insight to see the planning and preparation that goes into the daily 6hr presentation that teachers make daily. If teaching were the only part of the job, you're right, it would be easy. But the duties and responsibilities are far from over after the school day ends. Its a shame you dont volunteer your time and energy in classrooms since you do find it easy work. The schools are severely lacking with 20 million less in funds and you seem to have time with all the postings you make daily.
The shortage of teachers is a very real problem that you seem to have buried your head in the sand about. Livermore, San Ramon, Dublin are not laying off teachers this year. With baby boomers retiring over the next five years, the lack of people entering credential programs, we will have a big problem on our hands.
WIth the way teachers are treated here on these blogs and across the country lately, the problem will grow even larger- who would go into teaching, would you? Clearly, from Universities across the state, students are not choosing to either.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm
"who would go into teaching, "
the same people who have gone into teaching so far. Nothing has changed, other than unreasonable union benefits in the past decade. There are people who go into teaching because of the schedule, the summers off, how it is easier to get the teaching degree than say biochem.
Wait and see, there will not be a shortage of teachers.
I have volunteered in the classroom, whether you choose to believe it or not. Teaching elementary is not hard, and once a teacher has taught for a year, repeating the same lessons and tests year after year does not require preparation, just a matter of photocopying. Upper grade teachers do need to prepare as they teach more complicated material. And please do not tell me that the kindergarten teacher needs the same kind of prep time as the AP Calc teacher
Posted by Get Educated, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm
I guess that is why 50% of new teachers quit after 5 years, because its so easy and they have so much time off.
Good thing we are all entitled to our own opinions, which your posts clearly are just opinions, from someone who doesn't teach. Its like saying that a pediatrician has an easier job than oncologist, coming from someone outside of the medical field.
Your repetition and one tune posts are clear to readers here. Opinions, far from any facts.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 10:27 am
"Thank you for your response, but I don't think you've shown me how a no vote will help maintain high standards and quality education in our schools."
A NO vote will tell the administration, board and union that we need to change the way we do things if we want to give priority to students and not to raises/benefits.
A YES vote will NOT HELP student PROGRAMS! The only thing you will do by voting yes is tax yourself to give raises, that is it. After paying for the raises and the cost of the election, there will not be enough money for student programs.
Look at what is happening in Cupertino. In 2009, the parcel tax was approved with the understandinig it would save CSR. In 2010, the community had to raise over 2 million to keep CSR because the tax money went to raises instead of programs. In 2011, a second tax is again on the ballot, the threat is that CSR in elementary will go to 30 unless they pass a second tax. You can be sure that come next year, there will be another threat to CSR/programs and the community will be again asked to raise money or pass a third tax.
Is that what you want? To pass taxes each year to finance raises? If you do go ahead and vote yes. I will not be part of the problem. Until raises/ step and column are dealt with, we will have programs threatened each year. I will also vote NO in june because Brown needs to see (like other governors are seeing) that unions must be dealt with before coming to us the taxpayers for more money. Once we know the true deficit amount, we can agree to pay more taxes, but until unions and that includes teacher unions are deal with, and the unfunded liabilities are dealt with, we cannot continue taxing because that is just a band-aid on a huge problem.
Measure E will NOT help student programs, it is a salary tax. If you cannot see that, that is sad and it is why the unions continue to be so powerful. People like you just don't want to hear or see the facts, you just agree to keep your bubble intact.
But wait, your bubble is not intact anymore. Class size went up last year, even though the teachers got a raise. You do know that, right? While our kids saw bigger classes, and suspension of programs, and young new teachers were laid off, the tenured teachers saw raises. How sad that you cannot understand it. And even if measure E were to pass, programs will be threatened this year and next and next and next, because of the raises you don't seem to mind.
You must have a hard time explaining to your child why you agree to give raises while cancelling your child's programs.
PUSD is counting on: the parcel tax passing, CORE raising money, the june initiatives passing. They are counting on money they don't have yet. They are hoping it will all work out, but that is not how people should develop a budget. Yes, they gave raises without knowing the outcome of E, june initiatives, CORE. That is very fiscally irresponsible.
Posted by Mary, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Mar 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I don't know how you think it will send some kind of a message, but OK, if that's what you want to do. I don't want to send that message. OK, the amount of the parcel tax isn't high enough, but it is better than nothing in my opinion.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm
"the amount of the parcel tax isn't high enough, but it is better than nothing in my opinion."
Better for what? For raises? Because that is the only thing it will fund. The year after that, it will not even be enough for that, so programs will be cut regardless of measure E.
What is happening in Walnut Creek: they cut programs a few years ago and did not restore anything. Now they have a bit of extra money because of the cuts they made and the parcel tax they passed. What are they doing with the extra money? Giving teachers a 3% raise. BUT they said that if the june tax initiatives do not pass, they will have to cut PROGRAMS!
See Mary, when people like you give and give, and do not complain about raises given while programs are cut, the admin, the board and union know they can continue to abuse the system, since they have the Marys of the world to be on their side.
How can you support the people who, last year, chose to get a raise at the expense of YOUR child's education? Your child and mine saw programs gone, classes go up in size, but their teachers got a raise. I do not understand how you can be okay with that.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm
I just spoke with a friend whose child's HS Math teacher from last year was laid off. That teacher was great, knew Math very well and was very effective, but was laid off due to silly seniority rules.
About the shortage you speak of, you must be talking about Math and Science teachers. But that is because few teachers go into the harder field (ie, math and science).
Now, why would PUSD give a pink slip to a qualified and great math teacher instead of an elementary teacher who lacks such skills? Becuase of UNION rules.
Until the seniority rules are eliminated/changed, we will see a shortage of QUALIFIED teachers especially in math and science and a SURPLUS of teachers with general teaching degrees. So the news you see about shortage of teachers refers to QUALIFIED math and science teachers, and that will not change until there is union reform and we are able to keep qualified educators on board and pay them based on merit.
The Math teacher laid off last year (HS Math) is the perfect example of what is wrong with the system: PUSD should have kept this math teacher on board and laid off some other teacher with lesser skills (but it could not be done due to tenure, seniority, union nonsense)
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm
That's right, I said that I didn't have a problem giving raises to teachers because I think they are doing a wonderful job. I'm saddened that the amount of the parcel tax wasn't higher so that we could save programs, give raises, and perhaps add programs. I'm truly grateful for the opportunities my children have here.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm
"I'm truly grateful for the opportunities my children have here."
I would have a hard time looking at my kids in the eye knowing that I agree with giving raises while their programs are being cancelled. Luckily, my kids know that I oppose raises because it is because of those raises that programs are being cancelled.
I would have a hard time lying to my kids about the "great opportunities" they have here. Let's see: big class sizes, no opportunity to continue music instruction (7 period gone means no music), etc etc. (more cuts to come, just wait)
I wonder how you explain to your kids that you agree with giving raises to their teachers knowing that by doing so, programs they love will be cut.
Wishing we had enough money for both raises and programs is just that: a wish. Earth to Mary: there is not enough money, so giving raises means cutting programs...get it?
Posted by In awe, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm
Here's the NO logic.
Vote Yes on E and teachers will get raises (even though the measure stipulates against the money being used for this). Because the measure isn't large enough, some programs may be cancelled.
Vote NO on E and teachers may or may not still get raises. Some programs will most certainly be cancelled.
If my kids' programs get cancelled (actually, I don't have kids), it can be blamed on teachers either way. Get it? I can look my kids in the eye and blame everything on their teachers.
In any event, we need to get our house in order so that our educational system more closely resembles that of South Carolina or Idaho.
Oh, yeah, and math is 'harder' than say English Literature or Social Studies. See, because numbers are so much more complex than ideas and social relations and events. I'm a genius when it comes to these matters. And I've never taken an English or Social Studies class in my life. Anyone can teach how to use a gerund in a sentence, or the intricacies of Martin Luther King's philosophy of praxis; but adding 2 + 2? Oh boy!
Posted by Mary, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Mar 15, 2011 at 7:55 am
Thank you again for taking time to express your concern for my children and going out of your way to do what you feel will make the quality of their education as high as possible. As far as the education opportunities here, I know what a bad school is because I went to a bad school in my past. Let me tell you, Mohr Elementary is a very good school. Yes, I know there is not enough money now, that is why I'm for a parcel tax. The education of our children is worth it.