Vote Yes on Measure E Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Apr 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm
The sample ballot and voter information pamphlet on Measure E, the school district' proposed $98 a year parcel tax, has been sent to all registered voters in the Pleasanton Unified School District. The actual ballot will be mailed Monday and will include a postage-paid return envelope, with the ballot due back at the Alameda County Registrar's office by close of business Tuesday, May 3. Postmarks will not count, so voters are urged to vote early to ensure their ballot is received by the registrar by 8 p.m. May 3.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 1, 2011, 12:00 AM
Posted by optimistic mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm
I'm glad to see this editorial mention our collective interest in maintaining high quality schools. Given the funding cuts that are looming from Sacramento, we cannot depend on the state to keep education funding stable. Measure E revenue will help to shelter key school programs from those cuts.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm
That is exactly right. We can't count on the money from Sacramento and we need the buffer that Measure E can provide. Money from Measure cannot be taken back by Sacramento and can only be used by the Pleasanton Unified School District. From talking to people in my neighborhood last weekend, I'm seeing more and more people saying they will be voting yes on Measure E.
Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm
10 years ago.. on a smaller budget, we had great schools. 20 years ago.. on a smaller budget, we had great schools. The evidence is that they can do a great job with less money. Let's stop 'throwing money' every time they threaten to cut programs..
The taxpayers are tapped out.. many have lost jobs and homes. It's gotta stop sometime; now's good.
The PUSD spent good money on consultants who told them what they wanted to hear.. $98 will pass. 3 digits [$100 or more for folks who went to inferior schools] will scare folks into a NO vote.
It's time for these administrators to administrate(sic)! Let them earn their inflated salaries and out of control pensions by running a quality school system with the money they have.. not, what they hope for.
Posted by Lyniesha, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm
I for one applaud your editorial position. After moving here from Oakland two years ago my three kids have done great things in school! I'd like to see more diversity in the school district, but this will come. The teachers have been very good. My husband and I look forward to giving our YES vote. We hope everybody else does too! Thank you Pleasanton Weekly!!
Posted by Mark, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm
Kudos to the PW editors for a well-reasoned editorial. Twenty years ago we were in a different century. Who could have predicted how far we'd have moved in that timespan, especially technologically? Technology - another word for knowledge. We need to keep our kids competitive, and the challenges faced by our teachers are greater than ever before. We need to keep our schools competitive. This is a can-do moment for all of us in the community. I support the Measure E parcel tax.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm
Ten years ago I could get a gallon of gas for $2.50 and I made half the salary that I make today (yes, I work in the private sector in technology). There are also more students and changing demographics that mean we have to deal with non English speaking students. It isn't apples to apples. The district has cut enough already. I'm voting yes on E.
Posted by Jensen family, a resident of the Ridgeview Commons neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm
Our family thanks the Pleasanton Weekly Editor for writing a very convincing op-ed. We recognize that our schools have been hit hard over the past couple of years and that we can help in this small way. And it is a small way! Some dissenters are treating the whole thing as if it was the Presidential election all over again! We hope everyone can settle down a little bit and pitch in their fair share. We support Measure E.
Posted by cannot support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm
I cannot support this salary increase tax. This is like throwing away money until the district works on its financial models and stops giving out raises when the state stops giving money for raises to the district. A Yes vote means you agree that the district should be giving out $15 million in raises in the next four years. Count me out.
Posted by The McKinstry's, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm
Dear cannot support,
Im wondering if you read Measure E? The editor who wrote today's article summed things up pretty clearly. "Measure E mandates that no funds from the parcel tax can be used to increase teacher or administrator salaries or benefits, and establishes an independent oversight committee to review the use of the funds and report its finding publicly."
Noone wants to throw their money away. And our family sure doesn't. But we think this is a deserving cause. Mark us down as a fiscally conservative family that supports E as an important investment in our childrens futures.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm
Problem is that neither side is telling the whole truth. Administrators have me too clauses that entitle them to any increases given to the unions. And there are the hydraulics of finances--you bring in new money that releases pressure on current expenses. So you don't spend the parcel taxes on step and column raises, but you effectively take pressure off the budget and it goes to cover step and column increases.
Then the no side is talking about the current parcel tax-it isn't a parcel tax. It pays for the bonds that built facilities. There is a problem with the bond refinancing, but it went to and can only go to facilities.
All I've ever asked for is specificity: for how the parcel tax will be spent, for whatever the no side has to say. Both sides are failing. Need to spend time reading the latest slick and consider commenting on the various arguments in the ballot booklet.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm
Kathleen, please explain with your vast knowledge how the district can legally be specific to the dollar about the parcel tax with the looming cuts from the state in June? Please explain what these cuts will mean for school districts all over the state. Even when they are clear about how it will be spent, you find a fault- that other budget money will be freed up with the addition of a parcel tax. How is any parcel tax, including the one in Palo Alto you benefit from, different?
So which is it Kathleen? How can you have it both ways? Seems to me, your concerns are loaded- a lose lose for PUSD. So please do explain, since you seem to know the facts.
Posted by Arthur, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm
I'm on the yes side of this, and I don't want specificity as to where the money is to be spent. I don't want to see the district in a position where they are saving a popular program that was specified on the ballot when another more important program that we thought was safe ends up being impacted. The whole problem, in my opinion, is that we really have no idea how much money will be coming from the state. It may be far less or it may even be more than we planned for. Such is the reality of K-12 funding in California (for most districts). I would rather leave the district the flexibility to make changes as necessary. I'd also rather leave such prioritizing to people with training and experience in education.
I understand that you were one of the ones who worked hard years ago to build the Pleasanton school district into the great district that it is today. I'm grateful for that and hope that you will continue to do what you can. I'm hoping you'll decide to endorse the parcel tax. I'll admit it isn't perfect, and is too small to do everything we need, but I think it will help.
Posted by cannot support, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm
yes I read the ballot arguments but they are not saying that no raises will be given. While the dollars from the parcel tax will not be directly transferred to an employee for raises, the parcel tax goes into the general fund which pays for all operations. The District has repeatedly said that they will still be giving out step and column raises. That amounts to an additional $1.5 million per year and is additive. The first year it is $1.5 million. The second year the cost is $3.0 million, the third year it is $4.5 million, and the forth year it is $6.0 million. Add them all up ($1.5M + $3.0M + $4.5M + $6.0M) and you have $15 million in salary increases (i.e., raises) still going out. So if our expenses are going up by $15 million in 4 years for raises, how is the $8 million in parcel taxes over the four years going to help any educational programs?
So I am voting No until the district stops automatic raises from occurring when there is no money to pay for them. For all of those who think Measure E will help, you are committed to 4 years and the parcel tax only pays for one year of salary increases. Next year anything that might be saved this year, which is little, will be cut plus more programs next year because of raises going out.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:18 am
Really?, This parcel tax isn’t specific. However, had the community chosen to support, for example, maintaining class sizes at 20:1 or 25:1, there would be a specifiable cost to the community that can be tied to a parcel tax. Same is true for anything else that would be the community’s priority (resource aids, librarians, counselors), even factoring in step and column.
Cuts are predicted to be $300-$1,100 per student. Your argument, though, seems to support what I’ve said, the money will go other places, directly or indirectly.
Arthur, I wouldn’t personally choose, for instance, class size reduction as the one thing to save; there are so many other worthy areas that could help more students. One could be creative enough to write language that pays for raises for teachers over a four-year period—merit pay, other incentives, step and column. That could attract the best teachers, retain the best we already have—it’s honest and quantifiable. Then the money from the state gets used on program. I’d rather have specificity now and build new trust in the organization than provide additional funds and hope the outcome will be different this time.
There was a wonderful team of parents, district staff and board members, and other community members that worked together to unify the district, to build and modernize facilities, to create a foundation, to study and respond to state legislation—in addition to all the other things they did at their individual schools. There was, however, a recent cultural and power shift at the district and governance levels that silenced parents and community members, negating their input and bankrupting the district, nearly literally.
A willingness to trade specificity for financial support is not unreasonable.
Educators are one leg on a three-legged stool that also needs parents and the community at large. I'd like to believe the work to get back to that culture in ongoing.
Posted by Arthur, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:25 am
I don't have a problem at all step and column. Column increases are given specifically for teachers who accomplish set levels of continuing education. Step increases are only given in some years and many teachers do not qualify. I think the wording on the ballot could have been clearer, but that will in no way affect my yes vote. I don't know of any top school district in the Bay Area that has frozen step and column increases and I don't want Pleasanton to be the first. That will definitely effect our ability to hire the best new teachers. If I were a teacher choosing between PUSD and Palo Alto for instance, and PUSD had frozen step and column, that would be a major factor in my decision.
Posted by arthur, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:41 am
I would be very wary of calls for "merit pay" in our school district, given the lack of any success of these programs in other public school districts, as far as I can see. I've been following the merit pay debate closely and I'm quite surprised and distressed by the revelations coming out of the Washington DC school district. The whole "Waiting for Superman" thing now looks quite suspect to me in light of the all the evidence of cheating that was recently discovered. I think we really need to go slowly in this area, especially since we have what appears to be a winning formula here for getting great results.
I wasn't here 15 years ago, so I can't speak to what the district was like back then, but I haven't found PUSD to be unresponsive and as a parent I don't feel silenced.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:44 am
Specificity of ballot language could say a parcel tax will cover step and column for four years--$1.6 million each year. It's clear, it's honest, and in four years if the economy has rebounded enough to fund schools well, there would be no need to (a) renew and (b) increase the parcel tax.
The district will not be hampered by new funding being directed to one or two defined areas. If you save $1.6 million in S&C, that stops $1.6 million in cuts or is $1.6 million that can be spent elsewhere.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 9:00 am
Anything can be done well if it is put together correctly from the beginning. Merit pay can be accomplished with the right contributors to the plan. I was pointing how specific the ballot language could be and still not hurt program for students.
I don't know if you are talking about your experiences at the site level or at the district level. I understand I'm a squeaky wheel and while some will respond to my questions, others will not. I do have high hopes for the new governance team though.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 9:40 am
Kathleen, when you speak of merit pay-two things come to mind- you are still echoing the Michelle Rhee camp of school reformers who believe that system works. We can now see first hand how parents and children's needs were silenced due to that program. And secondly, if you look closely at PUSD test scores- they have risen annually at many grade levels, with many schools raising API scores significantly- you are saying that raises should be given. This has been said loud and clear from the community, they are not interested in paying for raises. DId you figure the extra costs this would add to the district?
You continue to advocate a sure fail solution- and of all people, I know you know better. Just look at what Start Afresh says a couple of posts up! The upcoming changes to the state budget could ultimately send all schools in this state into crisis, no matter what parcel tax or lack of one is in place. how would it be wise use of taxpayer money in lets say Barton reading, when other programs- that reach more students, become totally wiped out? We see this in districts like San Ramon, where they had to increase class size to 25 although they had hoped their parcel tax would save that. The way measure E was written allows unforeseen issues such as the state budget to be handled by those who know best- not just from the opinion of those who are not educators.
Bottom line is I trust the district to use the parcel tax money within the specified language they included on the ballot. They are the experts, on the front line, who are trying to keep the quality of education in Pleasanton at the level that has become expected.
This has definitely become a case of action speaking louder than words and PUSD has proven they are a stellar district- a fact that even you can not distort.
Posted by Chester, a resident of the Civic Square neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 11:04 am
My two daughters have done very well in school and we can not say enough good things about their teachers. If the parcel tax can help improve the schools or at least prevent them from slipping any, then I am all for it.
I don't follow politics very closely, but I feel there are people on the outside who are trying to make it sound like teachers don't have my kids interests in mind. And i don/t believe that. The teachers are outstanding. I support Measure E.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 11:29 am
Chester, I believe the teachers have the best interests of our kids in mind. We just cannot afford raises during this tough economic time. The raises will counter any additional money we get from a tax. Programs will not be helped. That is why I am voting No on E.
Posted by chester , a resident of the Civic Square neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Thanks so much for your comments, Jill. I guess I'm not convinced you really support the teachers. But maybe you do. I'm taken by the guarantee of an oversight committee that will make sure the Measure E money is used in a responsible manner. I mean no disrespect, but I trust our teachers and professionals to do the right thing more than I trust nonteachers and nonprofessionals. I have to! I place my child in their hands everyday, and I'm very happy to do so. Anyway, I don't like the results if Measure E doesn't go through. Measure E is needed, and I strongly support it.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm
What Jill is saying, is that she doesn't approve of the way teachers are paid, the salary schedule- that many use as a blanket term for raises is the method of payment that has been in place for decades. In fact many private sector businesses use this model as well.
I see it as PUSD has made a killing in savings, hiring new teachers on at a below market rate salaries (for comparable education, degrees, unpaid credential year) and then made me work for almost 20 years to reach what I could have made in the private sector in under three years. Not to mention, once teachers are past a certain point on the schedule- their salary is frozen, for many years, then eventually after 20 yrs- permanently frozen. To say all teachers are getting an annual "raise" is simply their way of mincing the facts to suit their hopes that the schools will face more cuts.
I just read that just 25 Wall Street hedge fund executives are earning over 22 billion this year-these being the same people we bailed out with tax payer money. Web Link and it's not just the top executives earning this- multiple companies have reported improved earnings and bonuses and raises are back.
Interesting to see so many here in this town still attempt to attack the teachers method of payment- which lacks any of this bonus structure. Keep to the real facts about Measure E and the CHILDREN that are affected by your active campaigning for more cuts to their education rather than blaming those who are working daily with less budget AND a $2000-$4000 pay cut.
Posted by Do the Right Thing, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm
I'm not sure if Jill from Birdland is the same Jill from Birdland who has posted on other dialogues. If she is, then I don't find her comments here to be believable. Jill from Birdland has been dragging everyone associated with Measure E through the mud, and it is one of the reasons why my husband and I intend to give our support to Measure E. I don't think we need all the negativity that some are raising. Bad teachers' unions. Teacher salaries are too high. Hydraulic conspiracies. The Board is made up of crooks. Administrators are corrupt and incompetent. Do we really need this?
The teachers have taken pay cuts and furloughs in the recent past. They are excellent and have proven that they are all about making sure our kids get a good education. Our schools are top of the line because we have great teachers and great parents who are trying to do the right thing. In my opinion, we should be positive. Doing the right thing means supporting the community, supporting Measure E.
Posted by Proud P-town Parent, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm
I think the PW should be commended for writing the well-balanced editor's statement in support of Measure E. The parcel tax is needed to keep our schools operating at a competitive level. I look forward to my children getting the education they need to do well in in today's dog eat dog world. Measure E gets this family's endorsement. Two thumbs up on Measure E.
Posted by Jon St. J, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm
Is Voting no kidding? I think I've just changed my position from thinking about NO to a SOLID YES on MEASURE E. Voting no obviously has not been educated in Pleasanton schools. One has to wonder whether he's been educated anywhere. I mean, really now. My kid could see through such simple-minded propaganda in 5 seconds, yet Voting no not only can't see through it but he posts it as if it has something to say about the welfare of our community. "Very eye opening" he says. "Very eye opening about him" is more like it. Is this the kind of zany extremism associated with folks who are painting our teachers with tar brushes? These are the folks trying to tell the Board, administrators and teachers how to educate our children? Thank you to Voting no for convincing me to Vote Yes on the parcel tax.
Posted by Voting no, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 9:58 pm
It is clear from your response that you didn't watch the entire video. I agree with the start being quite partisan, but the narative on what it would take to pay for a year of spending is quite interesting.
I'll admit that this is broader than the E issue, but I believe this speaks to the strong undercurrent of no more tax thinking.
I have actually been quite encouraged over the last few days about who will be voting no - many parents of school-age children that you'd expect to be voting for the initiative. Maybe when this thing doesn't pass for the second time, the district/union will start listening and facing reality. Thank goodness this is going to a vote.
Posted by Jon St. J, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm
My goodness, here's another one! This is better than fiction! You just can't make this stuff up, can you? Chris, please take it easy. Wasn't Ayn Rand a fiction writer who slept with her best friend's husband the last 10 years of her life? Didn't she say, um, in Chris' words "To hell with any more of our taxes" to just about anything, including the welfare of children? Didn't she say that children of poor people deserve to go hungry if their parents don't produce the way they are supposed to?
I think Chris is trying to lighten things up a bit. He's succeeded with me. And so instead of trusting the education professionals in the community to do the right thing we should instead trust Chris and Voting no? I wanted to go to bed early this evening, but now I'm going to have to blame Chris and Voting no for keeping me up from laughing so hard. I do trust voters will make the right choice regarding measure E. A yes is needed to keep some of these clowns at bay.
Posted by Gloria, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Apr 2, 2011 at 10:35 pm
Its my first time posting and I don't have too much to add. I'm not here to shout at anybody. Our three kids are doing really well in school and I hope we can continue to keep our schools healthy. I'm casting my vote for Measure E.
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 12:40 am
I view the Measure E school funding as being needed over the next four years while the economy rebounds. We have seen very hopeful signs of economic recovery over the past two months as stimulus money has gradually started to make itself felt; and the extraordinary health care bill passed by the Obama administration should surely contribute to more jobs and economic growth. As we continue to recover from the great recession, we should not put our children's education at further risk. I enthusiastically support Measure E.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 8:49 am
Really? I’ll start from your last sentence. How students, how the best of our teachers and other staff members, and how parents and the community at large have contributed to and support our successful schools is not in question, and I do not diminish their success. Your last statement, however, is always the backlash when someone speaks from the perspective of wanting change in education.
As to merit pay, I don’t believe it is a one size fits all program. I still believe the right group of stakeholders can find the plan that would work for Pleasanton. One person’s or one district’s perceived failure doesn’t have to negate an idea anymore than one person’s or one district’s success can be shoehorned into other districts.
Thinking out of the box, again, a clean an honest approach would be a specific parcel tax to reward the district’s best—it would not add to the salary schedule. No bonus program has to add to the salary schedule. I’d gladly pay $98 or $500 for four years for that. In a less popular idea, you can take the $1.6 million from S&C and use that for a bonus program. That is a cost already built into the budget (albeit at the expense of other school programs).
To other points you make, can you list what programs “reach more students”? You then indicate San Ramon had to raise class sizes even though the parcel tax was meant to save that program. Are you saying class size reduction can be sacrificed, because Measure E’s ballot language offers to “minimize(ing) class size increases.” Given the iffyness at the state level and other districts’ experiences with parcel taxes, can we surmise this point on the Measure E ballot will be the first to not be met?
And I’ll just note the other points from Measure E:
Emphasizing core academic instruction in math, science, and reading . . . by _____? Instructional materials, more time on task?
Attracting and retaining highly-qualified teachers . . . by ________? What would change from the current system? If this is just more of the same, why is this even listed?
Supporting specialized science and reading instruction . . . by _________ . . . keeping the Barton Reading program? And why is reading in here for a second time?
Supporting school libraries . . . by ______? Books, hours?
The money will go to the district office; they will decide where it goes. Administration may collaborate with principals, maybe even union officials—given the dirth of professional development (another worthy cause a parcel tax could have paid for), I don’t see how teachers will have much input into how “math, science, and reading” will get “emphasized.” Most likely, instruction in the classroom isn’t really going to change.
I don’t share your faith in the money being used “within the language,” because there is no there, there.
Posted by been there, done that, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 10:01 am
KRuegsegger's comments on Measure E attempt to locate a tempest in a teapot. In fact, as you read her comments, despite much hand-wringing about Measure E, there clearly isn't much to criticize. What her primary intention seems to be is to advocate for a merit system. This is a bit surprising given the scandal that has recently enveloped the country's most visible merit pay system in Wash DC -- namely that which has been supported by Michelle Rhee. In brief, it turns out the merit pay system was abused by teachers, administrators, and Rhee herself. In order to survive the standards required of the much-touted merit system, many teachers felt the need to cheat. They did this by doctoring their students' test scores. A child in 4th grade reading at a 2nd grade level, would have her scores doctored to make it appear she was reading at a 7th grade level. Teachers who cheated in this way were awarded by Rhee, then Chanceller of the DC system, with tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for their good work. It wasn't only a few teachers who were doing this. Most teachers were doing this as all felt the need to cheat in order to keep up with the cheaters around them. (Think of the cheater Barry Bonds resorting to steroids in order to keep up with Mark McQuire or Sammy Sosa.) The people who were most hurt were the children. Parents of 4th graders reading at a 2nd grade level and who needed remedial help, were told by teachers and administrators that the kid was reading at a 7th grade level, and hence did not get the necessary remedial classes. The test scores were unbelievably high, and everyone knew it. But the cheaters were saving their jobs, getting merit increases, and Rhee was being elevated in the media as educational savior. Well, over the past week, the wheels have fallen off Rhee's wagon. The whole episode will now go down as unhappy failure and fraud.
I was a college professor at a school that had merit pay. The faculty voted overwhelmingly against it, and we have it no longer. Why? Because merit pay was decided by administrators, who in attempting to feather their own nests, abused the merit scheme. Student evaluations in my courses were in the highest 5% of all my colleagues classes for 10 straight years. Yet I did not receive a single merit pay increase. Why? Administrators didn't like what I taught, and they thought I was too much a teacher who wasn't sufficiently deferential to administrators. In short, I spent too much time educating my students rather than sitting on irrelevant committees where colleagues would flatter the administrators. I was by no means an exception. Faculty voted 74%-17% against merit pay. Replaced by? Basically an S and C schema.
Anyone with experience in education will tell you basically the same thing. Anyone promoting some kind of merit scheme in education is dealing in fool's gold. They know nothing about education as it takes place in the classroom trenches. All they have is pseudo ideals and jargon that promises a utopia. In fact, merit schemes will likely create a dystopia as the Michelle Rhee fiasco so unfortunately has exemplified.
Merit pay does not work in academia. Teachers are not dealing with identifiable units -- beans, Model T Fords, microchips -- but with students who are unique and complex. I find it unfortunate that those so invested in merit pay are using Measure E as a hobby horse to promote their ideology when so much is at stake for our children.
Fact is, Measure E is likely to do much good for our teachers and our students. Our teachers are in need of a helping hand from the community right now. The last thing they need is ideologues promoting schemes that have teachers looking over their shoulders while at the same time their workloads are being increased. I recommend that Pleasanton voters pass the much needed Measure E. It will uplift the morale of the teachers in our top-level schools and will have a positive effect upon our kids' educational growth. E is for the children.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm
"KRuegsegger's comments on Measure E attempt to locate a tempest in a teapot."
And don't forget that she works in Palo Alto, where the parcel tax approved by its residents allow Kathleen to continue getting pay raises, whether she deserves them or not. Granted, she is not a teacher but some sort of classified administrative/clerical employee but she is still protected by the union contract she is under, and enjoys the benefits. I am not sure why she wants Pleasanton (where she lives and pays taxes) held to a different standard than Palo Alto (where she works and gets her salary financed with those residents' taxes, which include an expensive parcel tax)
Please ignore Kathleen and support the students of Pleasanton: vote YES on E.
Posted by Cheryl, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Been There, Done That
I shared your thoughts with my husband, and he raised some questions. When you voted down your merit increases, what did you replace it with? Did it work better for everybody? Did the quality of teaching go up or down? I'm not trying to be critical, only ask critical questions. Cheers. ;)
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm
Interesting interpretation of what I wrote. I’m not advocating for anything more than specificity in the ballot language. Merit pay was a response to Really?’s question. It’s as viable as paying for professional development, counselors, or Barton Reading. Do I think merit pay has merit, yes; but I wouldn’t put that in front of other possibilities for a parcel tax. My point is, with something specific in the language (and the possibilities are endless), you get a clean and honest point to vote for or against. No more.
K-12 is not college, so I find the argument off point. There wouldn’t be a teacher in K-12 education that would be teaching something “administrators didn’t like.”
No hobby horse; no fool’s gold; not an idealogue with a scheme; don’t want to look over a teacher’s shoulders; not promoting any one idea over another either—I listed counselors and reading specialists, and talked about class size reduction, which you conveniently skipped and asked questions you obviouisly ignored. So I’ll ask one more, “E is for the children” because it will _______________?
Posted by been there, done that, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm
Thank you for your kind words and the questions you raise. When a merit system was installed at my university, it was done so on the belief that it would serve to motivate teachers to achieve at a higher level. But the merit system did not do that; it did just the opposite. First, most of my colleagues already were teaching at a high level; they did not need a merit system to make them the excellent classroom instructors that they already had become over their careers. Second, it soon became obvious that a number of unwanted effects were being created by the merit system. Human nature being what it is, some teachers began teaching in order to elicit higher end-of-semester evaluations from their students. This was achieved by raising students' test scores, essay scores, and passing students who otherwise should have failed. Those of us who had always rec'd high student evaluations noticed that some of our colleagues were giving out only A's and B's to their students, likely as a tacit quid pro quo arrangement: I'll give you an 'A' (even though you deserve a 'C-'; and you, student, give me a high evaluation at the end of the semester). Suddenly, a lot more students were being graduated and, unfortunately, some administrators liked the inflated grades. Higher student retention rates; increased student 'satisfaction'; higher 'student achievement levels' to be shown to the chancellor; higher student evaluations of their teachers. It became, in rather short order, something not entirely unlike what Wash DC's teachers and administrators were doing when Michelle Rhee was chancellor: Doctoring results in order to make oneself look better. It remains to be seen just how devastating the effects of Rhee's programs will be felt among DC's young people. It remains to be seen how employers will judge the students at my university who were graduated with inflated grades.
Additionally, some of my hard-working colleagues, instead of attending to classroom matters as they had in the past, were seen increasingly shmoozing with administrators, hanging out in their offices, and competing (sometimes shamelessly) for positions on committees to implement some administrator's pet project. Upshot: excellent teachers were not getting merit increases nearly as frequently as those who conscientiously began gaming the system. It was not pretty. It was bad for teacher morale, as suddenly we were competing with one another for some extra crumbs being thrown to us by the administration. It was bad for administrators who, now with the merit schema, had new-found powers that took them away from what previously needed attending to. And it was bad for students who were not being taught and evaluated at the levels one should expect in higher education. Many of us mobilized in order to challenge the merit pay system, and the system was defeated by a wide margin. We have many of the same excellent teachers and administrators, and I think I speak for most when I say we're all relieved to not be saddled anymore by the unwanted impositions merit system necessarily brings with it.
Contrary to KR's assertion, what happened at my university is very similar to what happened in the schools under Rhee's province. Merit systems impose standards -- worded vaguely or strictly, pernicious in either case -- that cannot possibly do justice to all of the complexities involved in teaching. Because of the potential for abuse, most claim a desire for strict, objective language. This usually translates into student grades and test scores. But teaching is not simply about students' grades, or test scores. Much of what goes into good teaching, I believe, happens well before tests are administered and scores assigned. Good teaching usually does not translate into some strict merit formula. My most 'hated' high school teacher -- and believe me, students complained a lot about him -- taught us algebra and assigned two hours of algebra problems every evening. He was 'pointy-headed', 'frumpy', 'hard-nosed', uncompromising, and a lot of students in his classes ended up in summer school. His fellow teachers didn't like him, and some in their own classrooms even joked about him, his rigidity and stern mannerisms. Back then I hated him and I hated his class. But six years later I found myself teaching college algebra and modelling my own teaching after him. It took me six years before I was able to recognize he had been the very best of my high school teachers.
What about merit though? Well, I have found that a very large majority of my colleagues do not need added incitement to do a good job. Teaching is integral to their lives. They strive for excellence day in and day out because they believe in the value of knowledge. They are indeed mostly 'bleeding hearts', but they are what they are. They care about their students. Believe me, they know when they're not doing a good job. It can be seen in students' yawns or other expressions of boredom or disdain. It is, I think, very, very difficult for teachers to confront the fact that they are doing poorly without initiating changes. That is where one's colleagues -- not one's competitors for merit pay -- come into play. In addition to reading whatever we can find about successful teaching, we seek out helpful advice from our fellow teachers. Most of us, no matter what the level of education, enjoy our jobs. I can't begin to tell you how nervous with excitement and anticipation I still get every time before walking into a classroom or lecture hall.
Pleasanton has excellent schools, some of the best in the state. Its teachers are doing an excellent job. There is the need for additional taxpayer assistence to help the schools out in this time of need. Unfortunately, appeals for assistance like this usually do occur not when times are good but when they are bad. I understand this. My household doesn't have a lot of extra cash to play around with right now. But we do have $98 dollars for a good cause. One can cavil, a la KR, all they want about the language being too specific or not specific enough. One can do this with virtually any document. In my view, the Measure E language is clear enough. (Anyone who has ever sat on committees that write up documents can attest to how difficult it is to incorporate precision and flexibility to suit all members of the committee.) The Measure tells us what the raised funding is expected to accomplish, and, clearly enough, what the funding will help supplement. It is a good, common sense measure, needed in hard times, and I am happy to support it. Measure E is about the kids.
Posted by cheryl, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm
Been There, Done That
I'm grateful for you getting back to me. You confirm my beliefs about teachers. You are all so valuable to the community whatsoever level you're teaching at. My husband and I join you in supporting Measure E.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm
At least one of the Board members wanted more specific language in the measure but the parcel tax consultant said not to put anything specific in there because if you do, "you will be required to do it." It was not a matter of a committee coming up with specific programs. I think this board could easily come up with specific projects to fund but they were advised not to be accountable.
While there might be some places the merit system did not work in the past, it is the basis for all employment, outside of the public sector. Perhaps we don't need merit pay here but instead to get rid of tenure. I am tired of seeing bad teachers still with the district, years later. I have one student who have a poor teacher and when I went to the principal, he said that my daughter could not transfer out and they would work with the teacher. No improvement. Then my second daughter went to that school 4 years later and was stuck with the same teacher and we saw the same problem. This teacher is well known by the parents as a poor teacher. The principal's hands are tied once the teachers have tenure.
So that teacher is still working for the district, and we lay off newer, good teachers. To make matters worse, the poor teachers make just as much money as the great teachers. In this case of the poor teacher, it is a math teacher. I am sure the teachers at the next level of math would want this teacher gone also because the students coming from his class are not prepared for the next level.
When you have a district of good, professional teachers, merit pay can work. I don't think good teachers will work any harder because of merit pay. They work hard because they love their job and are good at it. We do have to find a way to not reward the poor teachers. Maybe a combination of removing tenure and adding merit pay.
While I support our great teachers, I cannot support Measure E when there are still automatic pay increases going on. We have new teachers being fired to pay for those raises. That is the real reason why we are loosing classroom size reduction.
Posted by money madness, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm
Just keep pouring money at it. Just a little here and a little there. And be sure to use "kids' in every sentence to pluck our heartstrings. More money is all it takes. Every tax payer out to keep paying government employees as much as we can because government workers (yes, that includes teachers) are the best money can buy. Let them learn a lesson or two about private sector lay-offs and how it feels to work within a budget. Because my purse strings can't keep playing music for every hand that wants in my pocket.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm
Been there- here is another example of the plans for Merit pay that Kathleen speaks of- Web Link
And an even better look into the issue of performance based pay- Web Link
What we have here in Pleasanton, thank goodness, is a system where common sense is still the priority for the classroom. And it shows in the successes that we have beyond our API scores. What Kathleen is advocating is to change that, creating competition where we have collaboration. To create a sense of distrust for the common sense that has proven successful in our classrooms year after year. To create a distrust for a future dependable funding source for our programs that we value.
Posted by Suzanne, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm
When I read through everybody's ideas, I told myself that we're very lucky to have so many intelligent people living in Pleasanton. I like it when people bring programs and histories and experiences into the discussion. I like to read many newspapers for different points of view, just like I liked reading everybody here. I would very much like a sign for Yes for Measure E for my front yard. Can anyone tell me how to get one? Thanx much!
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:07 am
For those "Tax payers" that are so worried about paying a little more, I'm sure they will also be the first to whine when their property values go down due to lower test scores. High test scores equal higher property values. It takes good teachers to provide our children the tools to obtain higher test scores. I don't care if some of the revenue ends up going to the teachers, they deserve it!! We need to stop vilifying teachers.
Posted by Ennis, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Been there, Done that -"Merit systems impose standards -- worded vaguely or strictly, pernicious in either case -- that cannot possibly do justice to all of the complexities involved in teaching. Because of the potential for abuse, most claim a desire for strict, objective language. This usually translates into student grades and test scores" Exactly. And to dive a little deeper into what you are saying- what this approach requires is well written, constantly administered, set of measurable objectives. NCLB tried to impose a standard set of objectives across the spectrum and it failed because at its foundation it did not even begin to take into account that not only does every state have a different approach to education, each district is different, each school is different, and each classroom is different. In many respects, a poorly thought out set of solutions to a complex set of problems. Who is going to define classroom objectives down to this level? And remember folks, broad brushstrokes and soundbites like those in the political arena and attached to NCLB, clouded by radio PR and shouting voices, haven't and don't work here. The reality is that a true merit solution sounds great but takes an incredible amount of time, resources, and expertise to administer -resources that also happen to be in extremely short supply in every district in the state given the cuts of the last 2 years. I'm still trying to figure out how an elementary principal would, with a staff of 30-35, actually pull this off and still get to his other responsibilities. Thanks again to BT, DT for your comments and a solid Yes on E.
Posted by Holly Sanders, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm
So much money has been taken away from PUSD and our students by the state these last few years, and Measure E is one way we can get a solid stream of revenue that the state can't take away. I'm definitely voting Yes on Measure E!
Posted by A. Morgan, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm
Unclehomer has a point. Just HOW does it work when under the original amount of $233 that Measure G was asking for would barely cover all of the required expenditures to alleviate CSR, the elimination of teaching positions, sports & extra-curricular activities are we then to assume that a measly $98 per household will?
It won't people. The $98 was arrived at by a nice, helpful bunch of focus group folks that were tasked to achieve a "reasonable and acceptable" amount of money that the voting populous would consider to be fair and yet provide some degree of results for the PUSD. Folks the $3.some million that Measure E will provide the district won't even cover a new coat of paint & asphalt for AMHS & Foothill HS.
DO THE MATH PEOPLE!!!! Yes $98 is a freaking tip on a bar tab in the grand scheme of all things financial where our school district is concerned & I was ALMOST ready to say "heck yes, sign me up!" Until you start to add up the various cost outlays that we are already faced with not to mention future obligations and it just falls short of providing us with ANY appreciable revenue for in trouble programs or even general district expenditures.
C'mon folks, until the district gets serious (& finally ponies up to the fact that a truly workable parcel tax should be around $300-375/household) I'm forced to send them a message with a resounding "NO" on this poorly devised scheme.
Posted by Rita, a resident of the Rosepointe neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm
We're supporting the measure. We, too, wish it were more. But just because it should be more doesn't mean we should punish the teachers and our children. I don't understand how anyone would want to do that. Our Pleasanton schools are so very outstanding. We should not be out to punish them because they didn't ask for a higher parcel tax. Whew!
Posted by Principle, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm
It has nothing to do with the amount of money as much as it has to do with saying no and drawing a line in the sand and say no to spending. If the money went to the kids and we were not gaming the seniors then I might be for it. I think it is shameful not to exempt the seniors up front. It is just a game to expect them to remember to go down each year by June 15th and apply for the exemption each year. That little ploy speaks volumes for me. If you are willing to stick it to the seniors then you will stick it to the voters so where is the trust...........no there.
Posted by Rita, a resident of the Rosepointe neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm
My! I think the senior exemption is clearly stated in the Measure, isn't it? Are you sure you're just not looking for any excuse to punish the schools because you feel they stuck it to you sometime in your past? That's what it sounds like, in my humble opinion. Anyways, I spoke to a couple of seniors, or at least I think they were!, at the grocery today, and they mentioned that they were voting for the measure.
Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm Nosy Neighbors is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I simply cannot understand ones rationale when you knowingly and willingly can vote for ballot measure that has no chance to make any impact on the groups, organizations and civic entities that they are supposed to be helping. Perhaps you can't stand to look at your friends, neighbors and fellow PTA members in the face knowing full well that you were complicit in defeating their ill-conceived scam to bilk taxpayers out of just a few million (as opposed to a few tens of millions) dollars. Perhaps you've been bamboozled by guilt that our children will suffer, our property values will plummet and way of life will cease to exist as we know it.
Doom and his best buddy gloom have always been effective tools in persuading and frightening the masses into adhering to the prescribed and dictated courses of behaviour by our supposed elites. Add a few doses of guilt, class envy and civic obligation into the mix and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of a never-ending cycle of dependence and a taxpayer funded enabling of a system that (IMHO) is in dire need of a drastic makeover.
Posted by Thinking positive, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm
Our school system needs our help. With that help, the schools will be able to maintain their high level of excellence. I don't feel that's doom and gloom. I think it's thinking positively and optimistically about a job that needs to be done. Nosy neighbors (what kind of a name is that anyway? yucky!) maybe you should use your great intelligence to write a book, or something. You can tell everyone how Nosy neighbors wants to do a drastic makeover for their schools. Now is not the time for drastic makeovers. Now is the time to act and do the right thing for our teachers and kids. Mark me down as avid supporter of Measure E!!!
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm
Definitely voting yes for measure E. It won't fix everything, but it will sure help. Pleasanton has excellent schools and excellent teachers. We need to do everything we can to support them. I don't even have any children, and I'll be happy to support Measure E and donate money to the district.
Posted by been there, done that, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm
Thank you, Ennis, for making my thoughts even more relevant. As an old professor (now emeritus) who has seen a wide range of students coming from different levels of schools, I must say that I am buoyed by the enthusiastic support being directed toward passage of Measure E. Good teachers at the grade school and high school levels can make all the difference in the world for incoming college students. Some students are smart enough to gain entrance to college, but don't know how to take notes in class and have never acquired the discipline needed to succeed. In my judgment, although raw intelligence is an important ingredient for success in college, preparation is at least as important. Every semester, I'd seen students fail because they weren't adequately prepared for college. That is why I think the good people of Pleasanton need to recognize what a treasure they have in their high-performing schools. Kids coming out of 10-rated schools such as those of Pleasanton usually do quite well. Kids with the very same intelligence levels coming out of, say, 6- or 7-rated schools often start off at a serious disadvantage and, unhappily, many don't have the basic high school-acquired skill sets to catch up. It's something so fundamental as that that may mean the difference between a kid going on to get a Ph.D. in philosophy, or chemistry, or mathematics, and then leading a full and comfortable life, and a kid who gets bounced out of college and ends up having to struggle in unskilled jobs for much of his life.
I would hate to see Pleasanton's high-performing schools slip on account of inadequate support from the community. It pains me to read some of the posts here. I'm left wondering how many of them truly value the need for good schools in our district. But then I think we're a well-educated community, and so I trust Pleasanton will think positive and vote with their heads.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:30 am
What has been asked for by some of us who oppose this measure is to find a specific area of the budget/program for the community to support with their tax dollars. It can be anything . . . CSR, raises for teachers (a straight up bonus every year for four years for everyone), counselors, seventh period day at the high schools, reading specialists, fill in the blank. Fill in the blank . . . rather than asking the community to sign a blank check.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 7:39 am
Kathleen, the text of Measure E clearly states what the funds will be used for as well as the accountability measures that will be in place. You call that a "blank check"? You're just throwing out a red herring.
If you think that one of the most highly ranked public school systems in the bay area is so broken that it can't be trusted to properly use the funds without your micromanagement, fine just say so. Just say that you think that holding onto your $98 is more important. If so, then fine. That's your opinion. But don't give us any of this "blank check" nonsense.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:22 am
What is PUSD going to do about illegal immigrants? If others get to overlay their own peeves and agendas on this tax to keep our schools performing at high levels, then so do I. NO on E! Not another penny until our schools are freed from these non-Americans!
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:36 am
Have to enthusiastically disagree with Kathleen Ruegsegger here. A blank check is exactly what I would want to give a district like PUSD. We've got a top performing district here and we need to do what we can to preserve it. The last thing we need is micromanagement by polls and surveys. This voter does not want to use Measure E as an excuse to tie the districts hands.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 9:05 am
By the way, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a blank check would imply that the amount on the check is left blank. But Measure E states the amount of the "check" very clearly, so it isn't a "blank check" after all.
Posted by Give me a break, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm
Where were all of you teacher lovers last year when they were passing the collection plate to donate money? I suspect a whole lot of folks will be voting no in a couple of weeks and it does not take that many.
Posted by Michael, a resident of Livermore, on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Someone here please enlighten me on how this is going to shake out. We approve $98 bucks and some teachers get a raise, a few programs are saved, and a number of teachers get laid off. Next year the same scenerio, so on and so forth. In the meantime California tries to balance its budget of $27,000,000,000 mostly but reducing programs and trying to increase taxes again, (I suspect the temporary tax increase extensions will get voted down), so therefore most of the $27,000,000,000, (is this the correct number of zero's? have have to come from program cuts again. More government workers and teachers will continue to retire and drive up pension deficits thereby creating another budget deficit which will need to be closed. So please tell me if this 98 bucks gets passed how it solves the larger problem?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm
The language is not specific, and as I've mentioned before, even lists reading support twice with no indication of the difference.
It also seems to me you can leave the amount blank or the "pay to the order of" blank. I don't have a problem with the amount and would gladly pay more if I knew exactly where the money would be spent. It is my preference; I would trust those with children in the schools to choose the priority(ies), as long as it is specific (a dozen resource aids, CSR at K, etc.). Again, it isn't too much to ask in exchange for taxpayer dollars.
As before, I speak from my perspective. I respect the rights of others to differ. I do not believe either side has reason to make the discussion personal.
If you are comfortable with the language as is, you will likely vote yes. If there are enough of those votes, I'll pay whether I support it or not—but I will express my views until the vote. That's the way the system works.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm
The language is not specific, and as I've mentioned before, even lists reading support twice with no indication of the difference.
It also seems to me you can leave the amount blank or the "pay to the order of" blank. I don't have a problem with the amount and would gladly pay more if I knew exactly where the money would be spent. It is my preference; I would trust those with children in the schools to choose the priority(ies), as long as it is specific (a dozen resource aids, CSR at K, etc.). Again, it isn't too much to ask in exchange for taxpayer dollars.
As before, I speak from my perspective. I respect the rights of others to differ. I do not believe either side has reason to make the discussion personal.
If you are comfortable with the language as is, you will likely vote yes. If there are enough of those votes, I'll pay whether I support it or not—but I will express my views until the vote. That's the way the system works.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm
I just have to speak up and call bull$#!& here.
To say that you would "gladly" pay larger amounts is, frankly, insulting. You must think that the people who read this forum are pretty stupid. Here's why: No one "willing to donate money" to help the district would work so diligently as you do to fight this funding opportunity.
No one ever said that Measure E would magically solve all of the challenges ahead. You know this, and it's simply disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Measure G failed because it was too large a sum. Measure E hopes to at least help patch things together during this rough time, and it has a chance of passing because it's only a two-digit amount.
But you, who I think really do know better, cast smokescreens galore NOT because you respect others' opinions or are willing to help us pull together to face this challenge, but because you desperately need to rationalize--both to yourself and the community--your unwillingness to part with your precious money.
I don't know about you, but I'm a Christian, and the lessons I've learned in that faith have sunk in: that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven, that one cannot love God and Mammon, that one should render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and that one has to make sacrifices to do good. It's clear why this message comes through again and again, and not just in the Christian faith: because money twists peoples' minds, and its so much EASIER to rationalize than to do the right thing. Money blinds people. It corrupts. You and many others here, and even the Tea Partiers have reduced everything to money and it makes me sick. Is money really the greatest good? And if not, why is it the cause you fight for?
For goodness sake, I mean you're even posting on here on your phone when you're away from your computer, but then nonchalantly pretending that you're just lightly imparting your opinion. Truth is, you'll grasp that $98 dollars in your clutches even if it costs you more man hours to fight it, because it's all about the money, baby!
I think you people really need to evaluate which path you're REALLY on. If you can still be honest with yourselves anymore.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm
David, I was part of the committee that worked on the parcel tax; I expressed my concerns there as well. And I donate more than any parcel tax would ask. No bs; no smokescreen. I apologized for my error and explained why it happened.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm
I was asked to provide what was clearly an opponent's views. It was a gracious invitation. I spoke my piece. I don't believe anyone expected to change each other's opinions. My opposition, I believe, is not only consistent with what I said then; it likely isn't a surprise to the committee.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm
Again, I was asked because I opposed Measure G. I provided one perspective; it was understood in advance. I understand their perspectives, but didn't agree; they clearly didn't agree with me either. It was a great opportunity and the discussion was civil.
Posted by Phillip, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:40 pm
I want to keep this discussion civil, too. I realize that KR opposes the parcel tax. She doesn't like the language of it. She has stated this many times, and insists on repeating herself. I understood KR's point the first time. It did not and does not convince me.
But why the apparent need for KR to state and restate the same objection, sometimes in multiples of twos, like a broken record? This makes it sound like she has an axe to grind. Who needs it? No language for any public document is ever perfect. It sounds like unless the language is perfectly in unison with KR's language, she's going to oppose it, and tell us why, and tell us why, and tell us why. C'mon already! What else is going on here?
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 12:13 am
I have a question for David Duke. Are you by chance the same David Duke who has embraced the KKK and been embraced by the KKK in turn?
Or were you and he simply born with the same names? It's funny, because a number of the views you've posted seen to coincide with those of the Ku Klux Klan's David Duke. Are you letting Pleasanton know that there is indeed a KKK presence in the area? You wouldn't be hiding under a three-corned hat now, would you? Just asking.
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 12:22 am
... and the reason I'm asking is because I'm just trying to learn whether the three-cornered hats, and TV patriots, and David Duke monikers are just you having fun like the funny guy you are, or whether there is something quite a bit more sinister lurking in the community. Honestly, I'd love to hear more of your views you funny man, you. Would you be ever so kind as to humor me? Thanks.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 8:23 am
So you were ACTUALLY ON the committee, and yet you pretend not to understand how the wording was arrived at? What, were you texting the whole time or something? Were you wearing your earbuds? What kind of contribution did you make on this committee?
If you were on the committee, you surely must know that the language has to have some flexibility to prevent it from being locked into categories that may end up being funded by the feds or the state. If the state or federal gov't ends up giving us funds with certain conditions and we've already locked $ into those categories by unwisely restrictive wording, we're screwed. Do you understand that now?
Please stop pretending you don't "get" how this measure will work. Please stop trying to make this out to be anything more than avarice.
However, if you REALLY don't understand the basics of this measure that you helped develop, then maybe you need to acknowledge that this sort of issue is simply beyond you and leave the discussion to the rest of us.
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:25 am
Dear David Duke, I apologize if I offended you. Above you stated:
"What is PUSD going to do about illegal immigrants? If others get to overlay their own peeves and agendas on this tax to keep our schools performing at high levels, then so do I. NO on E! Not another penny until our schools are freed from these non-Americans!"
Were you attempting to be humorous? If so, I must have missed the joke. I'm simply attempting to understand your words and the thoughts they're expressing. So, I take it you are against Measure E? I'm in support of Measure E myself, but I'm always open to hearing other points of view.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:52 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
PUSD would not be "screwed" if the Feds or State started giving more funds to PUSD for the same categories. It would mean that the need for the parcel tax is removed and PUSD would no longer need to levy it.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 11:06 am
Oh my god, no. Kathleen was enough, but Stacey, too?
Stacey, I'll write VERY SLOWLY so you can understand: if we limited our ability to spend parcel tax monies on reading specialists, for example, and then received aid marked specifically for reading specialists, then we couldn't spend anything on, say, bringing back the 7th period. What would we do then? Give back the money? Hire extra reading specialists and have them teach civics at the high schools?
Now I know you're going to try to confuse things after this post. It's what you do. The above questions are strictly rhetorical, so I don't want you to think I'm ignoring you when I don't reply. I want you to KNOW it. I'm not interested in your little games.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 11:36 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"and then received aid marked specifically for reading specialists"
What's the likelihood over the next four years given the State's ongoing deficits? That isn't a rhetorical question. You offer a hypothetical situation with a low likelihood of happening and then expect others to be assured by it.
"then we couldn't spend anything on, say, bringing back the 7th period. What would we do then? Give back the money?"
Nor could it be spent on S&C. The tax would just not need to be levied any more. What's wrong with going back to the voters for another parcel tax? It has to be done for bonds.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 11:57 am
"The tax would just not need to be levied any more. What's wrong with going back to the voters for another parcel tax?"
For one, it would cost the voters more money. There are many other situations that would make it bad, in my opinion, to tie the schools hands in how to spend the money, especially a district with such a good record of providing top quality education. It seems to me that PUSD understands how to run an excellent school system.
Posted by Michael, a resident of Livermore, on Apr 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm
Still waiting for an answer...
"Someone here please enlighten me on how this is going to shake out. We approve $98 bucks and some teachers get a raise, a few programs are saved, and a number of teachers get laid off. Next year the same scenerio, so on and so forth. In the meantime California tries to balance its budget of $27,000,000,000 mostly but reducing programs and trying to increase taxes again, (I suspect the temporary tax increase extensions will get voted down), so therefore most of the $27,000,000,000, (is this the correct number of zero's? have have to come from program cuts again. More government workers and teachers will continue to retire and drive up pension deficits thereby creating another budget deficit which will need to be closed. So please tell me if this 98 bucks gets passed how it solves the larger problem?"
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm
DD, Let’s try this again, but only because you asked so nicely. I was invited to participate because there was an interest in understanding the opposition to Measure G. I believe everyone at the table understood each other’s position well; no one changed their mind about the approach to Measure E.
So the parcel tax money could be used to backfill anything based on the actions of the state or federal governments in funding K-12 education?
As to actually getting additional funds, let’s say the parcel tax language said: fund two counselors and kindergarten class sizes of 25:1. Then the feds say they’ll pay for counselors—given current student:counselor ratios, adding counselors could lower ratios further. Then the state says they’ll provide more funding for CSR—you could bring kindergarten class sizes down further or lower class sizes in other grades. It is absolutely possible to be specific and anticipate additional funding if it is looked at with a critical eye.
So, yes, I do understand. I never said I didn’t “get” it; I said I didn’t agree with it as written. Avarice? You have no idea what I give to any institution. I was one stakeholder in a room of many and it went the way of the majority. We’ll see how this vote goes as well.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:49 pm
Let's be totally transparent here Kathleen- You had many "requirements" for this Measure- don't make us go digging up your full time work you put in to kill Measure G to explain all of your requirements for a "right tax at the right time"- I believe you were quite an outspoken advocate of hiring a consultant, as a matter a fact, you know the consultant- correct? (interesting to see PUSD take the assault for hiring a consultant) Also, the poll was another of your requirements- it was done, of course not to your liking. Even the committee you were a part of, but failed in your work apparently, was your requirement.
I have been listening to your opinions for quite some time, the target has never stopped moving, no matter if you wrote the specific language yourself! To hear you now blame the committee that YOU were a part of is a "specific" example of what I mean. You have made this a full time job to see no parcel tax passed in this community and no matter what excuse you repeat for the hundredth time, your name will still be associated with this as it has been with the last election.
Posted by clemente, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm
"As to actually getting additional funds, let’s say the parcel tax language said: fund two counselors and kindergarten class sizes of 25:1. Then the feds say they’ll pay for counselors—given current student:counselor ratios, adding counselors could lower ratios further."
But it could go the other way. Some huge financial shock could cause, say a 50% decline in funding from the state, forcing drastic cuts in other programs that were though safe. In that case I'd rather the schools had the option to increase kindergarten class size if needed.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I was a not-so-outspoken advocate for a survey. A random-sampling survey can provide the Board with the data it needs to make a well informed decision. The survey showed that this community does not support a parcel tax when we get down to talking about the amounts needed to save the programs the community cares the most about.
Instead the survey was used to find the amount that would be passable. The community didn't support the amount that was needed, but that fact was ignored.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2011 at 7:24 am
Really, Of course I wasn’t in a position to require anything, but I said we needed a new superintendent; new board members; transparency with the budget; and specific language. As I said a million times in the last campaign, I am open to any conversation with anyone on this topic. I met some very wonderful people during Measure G from both sides of that campaign. Same holds true for Measure E.
I do know the consultant and have a lot of respect for him; clearly he and I disagree about language. Otherwise, I imagine he’s running a great campaign for those in favor.
The target, as noted above, is the same. I’m not blaming anyone for anything; I said I don’t agree with the decisions made. The committee knew that before, during, and after my participation. I have worked for specific language because I think it is most likely to pass with more than the required percentage. I lost that battle; I may lose this one. I used my name in my posts because I felt if I had something to say, particularly when talking about transparency, I had to be just as transparent about who was speaking. Double edged sword.
Clemente, The programs to save via a parcel tax should be what the community is unwilling to lose, especially if there is a catastrophic loss of revenue. Isn’t that the point? If the point is to just give the district additional tax dollars, then the ballot language could simply read, “. . . to provide a stable source of funding.” My guess is that wouldn’t work.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:23 am
For one, Kathleen- you walk around the point of whatever anyone posts to you- I said let's be transparent because in your attempt to discredit this new measure you left out the facts of what WAS included that you required the last time- and the fact that you know the consultant. Keeping information from the community like that in an attempt to say this is the wrong measure again is not being 100% honest. You demand transparency, yet post only the portion that fits your message. Your target continues to move.
If you simply disagree with the language of the measure, then I ask you, why are you spending so much time and energy convincing this community not to trust this school district? How is this going to help improve our schools?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm
Really, Not so; I know I mentioned I knew the consultant quite some time ago. Let’s cover all of this though. I was asked to be on a committee that interviewed consultants. I then also worked briefly on what the language would say. People on the committee, off the top of my head: Parvin Ahmati, Luz Cazares, Kevin Johnson, Chris Grant, Trevor Knaggs, apologies for not remembering the name of the CSEA rep, Valerie Arkin, Cindy Galbo, then PTA rep Joan Laursen, apologies again for not remembering the name of the other parent. I’ve met with Parvin at the district office and on two other occasions. Would you like to know what I did for lunch today?
You are pushing too hard on the trust issue I think. I like the new superintendent; I have hope for the new governance team (both things I’ve said elsewhere too); this was not the case with Measure G, and I was clear about that as well. Money is a lot like water, even with the best of intentions, it flows in many unintended directions. Why do you think state and federal mandates have so many strings attached to them? Should accountability to taxpayers be any less exacting?
Posted by Buford T. Justice, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm
98 dollars seems to really mean a lot to the teachers in this town. I say give them the 98 dollars so they will shutup, stay off these blogs, and hopefully go back to work and do something positive. Even if this thing passes can you imagine the feelings towards the teachers and their union?
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm
What you wont ever hear is an answer to what was really asked, just excuses and a lot of talk that doesn't match the walk. As I said before, due to the "work" you do on these blogs, plus you chose to post your full name, you will forever be associated with cuts to our schools- if you LISTENED to those who work here, you might notice that. Unfortunately, not one of my questions could ever be clearly answered by you in two years.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 7:59 am
Really, What was included that I asked for? All you are doing is alluding to things as if there is some dramatic secret I'm hiding. I am happy to answer ANY genuine, straightforward question you may have. I offered a lot of suggestions in the process, some general things were accepted--nothing I suggested for specific ballot language (the 75 key words) was changed. I was one of several people at the table; democratic process.
I agreed not being anonymous was a double edged sword. I hardly think, however, that I am causing the cuts. As you well know, decisions made from 2005-2008 in negotiations are largely at the root of the district's problems today. Agreed, the state situation adds further complications. But the person who helped to raise the salary schedules with unsustainable increases was willing to do so because it increased his personal retirement formula--not only by his contracted increase each year, but also by his "me too" clause that garnered him whatever increases negotiated with the unions. And off he went leaving this community holding the bag.
The parcel tax vote also is a democratic process. I am still just one voice; I have one vote.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 8:18 am
Oh you must be talking about the woman YOU worked for as admin. assis. Again, be transparent here, who left PUSD holding the bag? Left in the middle of the school year to avoid the Ruby Hills fiasco she created? Then went on to Palo Alto to do the same type of scam job- leaving mysteriously again?
Your repetitive assumptions and slander against the last Sup. is obvious why you "work" to get this community to not trust the district- why you continue to do this to Mrs. Ahmati is a shame.
Again, above I had asked one question, and what you gave me was nothing close to an answer.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:48 am
Really, Let me be clearer then. I don't like me too clauses for anyone, past, present, future. "The Ruby Hill fiasco" began with "the last Sup" threatening a lawsuit and getting beaten to the punch by Signature. I like Ms. Ahmati and have said so.
I have answered your questions many times. They are: "why are you spending so much time and energy convincing this community not to trust this school district? How is this going to help improve our schools?"
This is about specific ballot language to have the additional funding go exactly where intended. Money is like water and will flow to unintended uses. I will trust where the money goes when it is tied to a given target--just like state and federal funding. You are quite aware that is the case.
I thought we were in an excellent district with funding needs, not a district that needs to improve. If it were mine to do, however, professional development and no furlough days would be two areas to fix. Both could be written into specific language for a parcel tax. But, those may not be areas the majority of the community might choose. I am not married to what specifics get chosen, just that they are specific. And I would pay more than $98 for that.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 11:25 am
"And I would pay more than $98 for that."
You know, if it were anyone else saying this, I'd be skeptical, but Kathleen, you're working SO HARD on helping our schools and securing funding to keep them performing at their high levels that I couldn't possibly think that was a convenient (and cheap!) lie.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm
You can make all the unverifiable claims you want. Kind of childish, though, really. The only REAL evidence we have of your behavior, however, is your relentless campaign to strangle a source of secure funding for our schools.
So you don't like the wording. Gee, how awful for you. Better to wreck our schools than to have ballot language not dictated unilaterally by Kathleen Ruegsegger, right? It doesn't matter that our schools will face dire cuts, what matters is that the people of this town say "Oh no, our schools are underfunded! If only we had listened to Kathleen Ruegsegger and done as she so wisely mandated!" Reminds me of Ralphie's soap-blindness fantasy in "A Christmas Story"--a spoiled child's stubborn revenge dream.
Thankfully, it seems that a majority of Pleasantonians recognize that even if the system or the measure isn't everyone's idea of perfect, we should work together to help out our schools, not pout petulantly on blogs and stomp our feet and say, "let it all go to hell if things don't always go my way." That's what grown-ups do. It's called emotional maturity. Care to try it?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm
DD, Maybe you're new to the community--I volunteered, fundraised, worked on a multitude of committees, and served as a board member . . . and have canceled checks.
Read the posts, I participated in a process and didn't like the outcome. One voice, one vote--for anyone out here. And if this vote hits the required two-thirds, I will pay even though I wished for something different. I'm fine with that being the potential outcome.
Look at my posts, most of them are responding to you and Really who cannot seem to discuss the issue without slinging manure from anonymous corners of the room. And I'm emotionally immature? Ever hear about just agreeing to disagree?
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm
No, I am nowhere near "new" to the community. Why? Do you think you're some sort of celebrity? Am I some lower order of citizen because I don't know the biography of The Great Kathleen Ruegsegger? Sorry if you're some big important person; I only know you as an someone trying to cripple our schools in recent years.
Many, many people have tried to get you to respond to some simple, direct questions with no success, but I'm not going to give up just yet. Please tell us, Kathleen, if Measure E fails, how will our schools be better off? And PLEASE don't redirect the question, Michelle Bachmann-style, to a hypothetical talking points about unions or bankers or Sacramento or D.C. or some magically-appearing bailout funds from the state or fed or whatever. If Measure E fails and our schools have to lay off scores of faculty and staff and increase class sizes, how is this good for Pleasanton's children?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm
DD, First you claim there is no evidence of my work on behalf of the district, then you berate for providing evidence of my work on behalf of the district. I make no claim to fame.
So you are rewording the question and then telling me how I may or may not answer it. Again, your anonymity allows you to behave badly.
Measure G claimed catastrophe if it didn't pass, yet the schools and the students continue to do well. Measure E--an attempt to prove you can do the same thing over and over and get a different result--now makes the same claim. My opinion--one voice, one vote--is schools will be better if Measure E fails because maybe, just maybe, someone will choose the program, person, or materials the schools cannot do without and will write parcel tax language to get the community's support. And to answer the question not asked, if the measure passes, I can hardly wait for someone to show me specifically how the $2.1 million improved schools. My questions for you to answer: Do we expect test scores to go up; more students to be accepted to top flight colleges; achievement gaps to close? How will improvement--tied specifically to the $2.1 million--be measured?
Measure E has been sold as a way to provide support (amorphous in nature) for great schools, NOT as a way to improve great schools.
Posted by Godot, a resident of the Carlton Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm
I'm still waiting for KR to tell us what she had for lunch. (She hasn't quuuuuuite gotten to this yet.) Well, as an alternative, maybe she'll find a way of showing us all those proof-positive cancelled checks she refers to.
Posted by And/or, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 6:23 am
Looks lie you guys were right to press Kathleen. Did she make a clear answer on how larger class sizes and teacher layoffs would help our kids? Nope. Just some and wishful, impractical maybes.
I've seen posters attack Kathleen and Stacey on this and other threads and was a little confused about why because they don't sound ignorant or hurtful, but I can see now what others have been saying, the "reasonable" tone and occasional but tangental data really is propaganda on their part. My thanks go out to those of you who have cornered them into showing that they really have no reply, only reductivism, false analogies and rationalization. Kathleen's "proof" that only she can see was one of the lamest responses I've seen here (and I've seen a lot) and has helped make up my mind that I would be foolish to really listen to them.
I've read these threads carefully for some time now and haven't heard one, clear, rational reason to vote no and wreck our schools. Time to send in my yes vote! Thanks again to the posters who kept at Kathleen and Stacey so we could see the truth. I'm glad I'm done here so I can go back to imagining a Pleasanton without money-grasping kid haters like some of the people who comment here night and day.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 6:56 am
I don't feel cornered and of course I'm never going to answer what I did for lunch.
Class size reduction was never a sustainable program, at least not in tough economic times--for California (which is why they relaxes the rules) or the many districts who tried it (it was never fully funded and districts took money from other areas to cover the difference). I wouldn't say how it will hurt students, because I don't believe it will. That teachers would be laid off is an unfortunate unintended consequence. I don't see you mentioning a lament for the classified staff (25 FTE mentioned on another thread) who will be laid off to keep programs like CSR.
What exactly am I supposed to prove?
And my "reasonable tone" is met with statements like "money-graspoing kid haters." The reason I voted no is there is no there there. No way to guarantee the money will be spent as the community intends.
Anyone going to answer my questions for measuring the success the this stable source of funding--Do we expect test scores to go up; more students to be accepted to top flight colleges; achievement gaps to close? How will improvement--tied specifically to the $2.1 million--be measured?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 8:38 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Where will the additional $7MM come from to amount to the total $15MM the district is committed to in raises during the life of Measure E? Will the employees make that up in more furloughs? Let the voters know now, not after the election. Or will it come from laying off more faculty and staff? The State? Another parcel tax?
With no COLA coming from the State, Measure E is no REAL solution.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 8:53 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"Attracting and retaining highly-qualified teachers"
Kathleen, the reason it is listed is because people will see "highly-qualified", not know the jargon, and think it means "high quality".
This line is a loaded term that the average voter may not be aware of. "Highly-qualified" refers to No Child Left Behind credentialing requirements. Anyone who passes the California credentialing system is considered to be "highly-qualified" regardless of their actual quality. The line really means: "attracting and retaining teachers".
Pleasanton's certificated salary schedule still remains attractive without Measure E. Measure E won't cover the full $15MM it will take to retain staff.
Posted by question, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:06 am
The one point on the ballot form you haven't mentioned is:
Minimizing class size increases
Which is the main thing my vote will be for.
So what is the magic number folks? How will Measure E minimize class size increases - which also serves to "retain teachers" one of the other goals.
And the real question is: how can you keep class sizes + raises? Though it would be wonderful to be able to afford both, even with Measure E, we won't have enough money, so what is the priority? And in year 2 onwards? It is so frustrating not to know the plan.
Posted by W, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:21 am
Clearly this Stacey and Reugsegger are on some kind of crusade. Day in and day out they are on these posts trotting out any and every argument under the sun in order to convince Pleasanton folks to vote against Measure E. Their crusade appears personal and obsessive.
Ironically, I get the distinct sense that they do not know much at all about what makes for good teaching in the classroom. They make broad and unsupported statements about quality of teaching, teacher-student ratios, and student improvement. But beyond what seems to be an obsession with the possibility that Pleasanton voters might pass the Measure E, there doesn't seem to be much concern for our teachers or our children. For them, it seems only to be about the $98. They don't want to give it up, and they don't want educational professionals deciding what to do with it. They live in a fantastic school district, but they insist that the district is not to be trusted. They write on this issue on the assumption that our board members, administrators and teachers are nothing more than a bunch of crooks. I do not think their personal obsessions are good for this community.
I liken what they are doing to that of insisting what NASA should do with our taxpayer dollars. Should the next shuttle have 8 astronauts aboard or 7? (Let Stacey and Reugsegger decide!) Should astronauts be given step and column increases in pay? (Let S and R decide!) Why do astronauts make a salary that's higher than my salary? Since astronauts don't work during their vacations, shouldn't we insist that they return the money we give them for a full year's work? Such questions are ridiculous of course. At the end of the day, I find Stacey and Reugsegger no less ridiculous, only it isn't a laughing matter; on the one hand, their identities seem to be cloyingly bound up with defeat of the parcel tax measure, and on the other, their crusade shows indifference to quality of education for our children. I don't think they're doing anyone in the community any favors beyond that of furthering some kind of personal ideological agenda. I share with some other posters here the conviction that these two crusaders are not good for our kids.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:35 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Measure E will not cover the $15MM in raises and that has little to do with some poster's belief that I'm on a crusade. I didn't write Measure E nor did I suspend the COLA that is meant for raises. How will the raises be covered? By more layoffs and furloughs? By cutting more programs and increasing class sizes? How is that supposed to be good for our kids?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:41 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Measure E is just kicking the can down the road another year, not a REAL solution. We'll all be back here again hashing out the particulars of another parcel tax measure under threats of more layoffs because district management isn't taking on the hard work of restructuring their labor costs in light of no COLA coming from the State.
Posted by Adam, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:54 am
Suspending step and column raises will hurt the kids. We would be the only top district without step and column. That would be a terrible shame and have a long term negative effect on the district. Measure E won't solve every problem, but it helps. And Stacey, I'd be perfectly happy to support another parcel tax after this one to close the gap until funding from the state increases. If it takes two steps, that's find with me.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:01 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
There's still $7MM outstanding in monies that need to be identified in order to cover the $15MM in raises that the district is committed to over the next four years. This community will be confronted with another parcel tax, more layoffs, more furloughs, and more program cuts, in order to make up that $7MM shortfall. Real problems need real solutions, not posters obsessing over other posters.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:10 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Private companies are doing better so many years after the crash because they restructured their labor costs back when the crash first happened. Government agencies like PUSD are still struggling because they've been kicking the can down the road.
Posted by question, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:32 am
I wonder what is happening next in districts that have voted down a parcel tax, where the residents can't afford what is needed? The ones where a CORE type of campaign wouldn't raise much money because so many people are struggling.
There are many disctricts who have already made the class size increases and cuts we're suggesting for this year. They've already cut everything.
What is the next step when there really is nothing else to cut in the classroom?
Is it possible and perhaps desirable to short cut to whatever is the next step other districts are doing without wrecking the kids education first? So would it not make sense to ringfence things like reading specialists and class sizes in the meantime?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:41 am
W, More name calling, more convenient omissions, no substance, no answers. I have stated what I would personally prefer, what is fact, what is opinion, and that I would vote for a parcel tax, no matter the amount, that was specific to the priorities of the community.
Clearly it is easier to make this about the personalities of the opponents to this tax rather than respond to the issues raised. For instance, I also said that reinstating professional development and ending furlough days (both of which are good for teachers, good for students, good for attracting and retaining the best) are two areas I would support.
W, DD, Really: for measuring the success the this stable source of funding--Do we expect test scores to go up; more students to be accepted to top flight colleges; achievement gaps to close? How will improvement--tied specifically to the $2.1 million--be measured?
question--good question. Specifics like specialists and CSR are clear and accountable. And I wouldn't be one to throw money at CSR, but at least it would be specific.
Posted by Tom, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:54 am
After reading this stuff for the past few weeks to make up our minds we have finally decided which way to go and this is after the 5 of us voted yes on G AND donated to the fundraiser. We are going to vote against the initiative for the following reasons. 1) the mail in ballot seems sneaky and I do not feel it will hold up to a legal challenge even if it passes 2) The requirement of having seniors go down and APPLY for an exemption by June 15th each year also seems dirty of again sneaky to us 3) The constant attacks against Stacey and Kathleen even when they are just trying to explain the specifics of the initiative make it seem as if there is something about this bill that people do not want brought out in the forefront.
If after reducing non value added activities, roles, district employees etc. and you come back with a parcel tax for 500 a year I will vote for it but this one stinks to high heavens.
Posted by Albert, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm
My family has decided to support Measure E with two votes in favor. We were paying particular attention to all the calls for merit pay, vouchers, and charter schools -- the Michelle Rhee principles. Then we did a little research and discovered that the Michelle Rhee "results" appear to be fraudulent.
The no on E side seems to have quietly backed away from mentioning Michelle Rhee in their posts since the revelation of fraud. Seems pretty sneaky to me. I did some more research and discovered that Pleasanton schools are some of the best in the state, and we already have excellent test scores. Then I read that the ballot that no on E side was claiming that we already pay a parcel tax in Pleasanton when that is not true. Again, very deceptive.
Well needless to say, we decided to mail in our yes votes and look forward to see Measure E pass.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 1:09 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
It is unfortunate that the term "merit pay" has come to mean basing teacher pay solely on standardized test scores. Step and column is also a form of merit pay. The problem is and always has been how to align merit pay with that which produces the best outcomes towards organizational goals. The research on how step and column aligns shows a complex picture that indicates the current practice is out of alignment (i.e., paying a premium on experience past 5 years when the returns diminish after 3-5 years).
AFT president Randi Weingarten's speech writer's recent plagiarism never got a mention here and that is probably because whatever Weingarten and Rhee have or have not done has little bearing on the pros and cons of Measure E.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 1:22 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The State not funding COLA is very real. The cuts in revenue limit and categorical funding is very real. A real solution the district has is to restructure labor costs either in the form of layoffs, pay freezes, benefit changes, etc. (essentially all negotiable items). Parcel taxes and furloughs are band-aid kick-the-can-down-the-road methods of continuing current labor costs, leading PUSD further and further to greater cuts because the State funding problem is not as temporary as others have hoped. I'm not a fan of laying people off when unemployment is so high which is why I have consistently suggested raise freezes. Maybe I'm wrong on that. Maybe the district needs to lay people off and give raises to those that remain.
Posted by David Duke, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm
What a brilliant idea! We should start a movement to get all that on the ballots before they're sent out to voters!
While you're compiling your fantasy wish-list, I guess I'll just have to make do with reality. Sucks for me, but then I DO have the freedom to walk away from the computer for a while if I want to (unlike some, apparently), so I guess that balances things out for me.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm
For you to claim the victim for being called out on your claims and questioned here is interesting Kathleen. And for those who change their votes because they are being "attacked" I ask you why they are above reproach for their posting of opinions as facts, personal grudges as reasons for the budget crisis, and make great efforts to CUT from our children's education?
And yet you are free to continue to sling without a clue- "Measure G claimed catastrophe if it didn't pass, yet the schools and the students continue to do well."
Now you use this as a reason to not pass measure E? And people believe you, using your past position and name? That you can say this with no acknowledgement or comprehension of what we have been put through to save this community's schools is beyond insulting. We have worked to deal with $20 million less in this district and attempt to keep the quality where it is expected by so many and you have no idea the difference? Yet you claim to be the one we should believe?
I believe PUSD has proven trustworthy - more so than your baseless insults.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm
Since when is improvement of our education programs ever done? Since when have we in this district ever stopped working to improve the daily delivery of instruction to our students?
To state "Measure E has been sold as a way to provide support (amorphous in nature) for great schools, NOT as a way to improve great schools." again shows the lack of experience and knowledge about what goes on daily in the schools. The RHEE mentality for sure. PUSD is a great district because we don't practice that mentality- that all success is not simply measured by one sitting at a test. Maybe you need more time in our classrooms to see what real improvement looks like. Ask any of my amazing parent volunteers- they see it daily.
Not really sure what your true priorities are with that kind of question Kathleen? How many more millions need to be cut before YOU see the negative affects the teachers and students feel daily?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm
My dismay is the mudslinging from anonymity. Care to step forward so all of us know to whom we are speaking? I hold no grudge; I’m a taxpayer who wishes to vote for a specific program, position . . . You know well enough that I’m not trying to hurt children. I have a particular philosophy; you have yours.
Students are doing well even though Measure G failed.
No, it is not a reason not to pass Measure E. I spoke about several concerns with G; there is one hangover from G to E left—specificity. We disagree on what was done to address cuts—previous raises created a long-term problem that could nearly have covered the $20 million in cuts to date. Even I would agree, however, that zero percent in raises would not have been the right answer—but neither was the path chosen.
We disagree at some levels about what constitutes quality. I preface it with acknowledging here, as I have before, that there are amazing teachers in this district, just as there were when my children went through. Furlough days, while a genuine pay cut for all staff members, hurt staff when they are professional development days, which in turn hurts student instruction—and hurt students when they are days of instruction. They are chosen, and by many districts, because they protect the per diem calculations for retirement. I don’t agree this is the best way to deliver the quality education the community expects. That is, admittedly, my opinion.
I believe the district is working hard to prove it can be trustworthy.
I think you misunderstand what I was trying to say. Isn’t Measure E meant to support already great schools and programs currently in place—I didn’t think it was funding for improvement plans. But then, there is no specificity, which has been my concern all along.
I would hope test scores are not the only measure of success for students or staff or schools. I’ve seen Parents are an amazing resource—always have been.
Because there have been cuts; because there are needs; I am asking that taxpayers know exactly where there money will be spent to address those cuts and needs. It is not too much to ask in exchange for $98 or $233 or any other amount.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm
I guess anyone who disagrees with you is using bad behavior? To keep scolding and claiming that I am calling you names continues to avoid the real answers to the questions you walk around. All the while you continue to sling mud and propaganda out our teachers and staff. You have worked for two years to insult us with your personal motives, to now play the victim is ironic. You see, this is not name calling Kathleen, this is simply calling you out on what you continue to do on a daily basis to this district.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 12, 2011 at 6:37 am
not really, I skimmed through this thread. I really have tried to stick to the issue; I can see where I've been sarcastic, but I haven't demeaned anyone or called anyone names. I certainly can do better. I am not optimistic that others will do so.
Posted by Ernie, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm
I believe that all members of the community that want to vote YES on measure E should give freely and donate their dollars to the school system. Therefore not limit themselves to $98 but as much as they feel they can reasonably afford. The problem with this scenario is that people will not give to the schools freely although they think others should. They should not force any parcel owner to pay $98 to satisfy their budget. I don't believe my next door neighbor should force me to pay a tax for whatever reason.
Everyone in this society needs to learn how to budget. This includes the state budget, federal budget and certainly household budget. California does not need more taxes. California residents need tax relief.
Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm
It is PUSD, the unions, and administration who hold the children hostage. They negotiate the contracts, pay rates, and are choosing to lay off teachers and eliminate programs to protect salary increases.
Just because there is resistance to raising taxes when there are more options for controlling costs that have yet to be implemented, does not imply 'holding the children hostage'.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm
The teachers have already done their share of the shared sacrifice needed to with taking a $2000-$4000 pay cut. Their union voted overwhelmingly to do this although many of them were currently experiencing up to four years of salary freeze on the S&C schedule. The costs "left to control" are teacher positions- with $20 million cut from the district budget over the last two years- there is nothing left but classrooms. It will be felt, it has been felt, many just chose to not hear it or believe it.
How many times does this community plan to come to the teachers to pay for their children's education? Their contribution far outweighs even 4 years of a parcel tax. How many years does this community plan to blame it on teacher salaries, ignoring their pay cuts, and expecting even more to be cut. Talk about stopping the bleeding!
Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm
To 'Really?' - the furlough days (cutting kids education time) was in a one-year MOU that expires in June. Have the teachers agreed to extending this cost saving for another year or two? Or for four years (the length of the parcel tax)?
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm
Start afresh continues to not HEAR what is said, only posts to match her point of view rather than the truth.
"The teachers have already done their share of the shared sacrifice needed to with taking a $2000-$4000 pay cut......How many times does this community plan to come to the teachers to pay for their children's education? Their contribution far outweighs even 4 years of a parcel tax."