Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:54 am
New Mom, I am trying to understand exactly where you feel the parcel tax would have changed outcomes and which outcomes would have changed. I am not trying to be flippant; I am genuinely interested in your response. As you likely know, one of my personal concerns was for specific language to show exactly what the new revenue would support. So I'm trying to make a correlation between your concern and mine to find common ground.
Posted by Sal, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm
Improved test scores!! That's it, I've had it! Call in Kathleen Ruegsegger and the Tea Party to ruin our public school before these test scores get too high. If these test scores continue to climb, our kids will be force to matriculate to communist Ivy League colleges instead of a Tea Party approved college like Southeast Alabama Bible Tech College of Creationism. Public school funding is standing in the way of a true right-wing idiocracy!
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm
Sal, I guess I'm missing the point of your post. Scores improved for the most part (put the links in so people could see for themselves), yet New Mom expressed dismay about lack of funding. Just trying to understand what she saw as the link there or how/what additional funding can contribute. I don't follow the tea party or creationist beliefs.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm
If these are the results after the doom-and-gloom predictions of what would happen without the parcel tax, can we conclude that student performance is more a function of individual student motivation and parental support than teacher skill?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm
Mike, Unless a family is home schooling, I wouldn't diminish the need for teachers in achieving high student performance. A three-legged stool, perhaps. Having just one of those influences lacking in effort can tumble the seat.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm
In all honesty, I think it varies with each student, and it varies for each student from year to year. You cannot downplay the effects of bad home environments and ineffective teachers. By the same token, one great teacher can turn a child's life around, as can some other inspirational adult that is not a parent. If we really are "building on the past . . . planning for the future" (PUSD web site), we should be looking at the whole child, every year, because the dynamics change. Some things are done along these lines, and Juanita Haugen talked about it years ago (and maybe others before her), but I don't think it's consistent, and it is no small task. I've seen it done, and it is inspiring when it works.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm
Just sayin', Of course, there are some families who cannot afford to contribute, others who don't join PTA because they don't necessarily agree with the their plans, many families who will give more than asked, and people who contribute even though their kids are grown. I hope it will balance out, perhaps directly in a given classroom.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm
The stool has three legs. It's just that the thickness of each leg is different, with the "teacher leg" being the thinnest in comparison to the other two.
I'd allow the anecdotal case or two of the kid in very bad circumstances being propelled to success by a caring teacher, but only if we place that case or two into the proper category; namely, "Exceptions to the rule."
Child motivation and home environment are 95% of the game. Teachers are facilitators in the process.
Posted by Shari, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm
@Mike and his having been 'in the business' 'before moving to greener pastures'
Just have to say that your sage words have greatly inspired me. I no longer have to worry about whether my kid's teacher is good or bad. It's up to my 6 year-old kid, or at least 85% of it is, right? I mean, hell, I shouldn't have to get involved at any level. What damage, after all, can a teacher do to a 6 year-old? What good can a teacher do? They're all the same, right? And they get paid summer vacations as well.
You are TRYING to come across as an idiot, right? Please tell me it is so.
Posted by Parents, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm
kids are kids and teachers are just kids who do not want to go out and compete. The real trick is the engagement and expectations of parents and the level of achievement expected of their children. Why do you think new immigrants to this country from China do so well? Because of expectations of their parents in consideration of future achievement.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm
Mike, if your figures were true and teachers only contributed 5% to student performance it would seem to be a waste to pay all those college educated teachers to teach our kids, wouldn't it? If what you say about teachers contributing only 5% is true, it seems like we should get rid of all them and instead pick up some workers each morning in the parking lot of Home Depot and drive them to our schools each morning and have them teach our kids. So what if they aren't the best teachers? As you say, teachers only contribute 5% to student success. We still have the other 95%, right?
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm
I invite you to reread my post, in which I write, "Child motivation and home environment are 95% of the game." This would suggest your involvement in your child's education unless, that is, you do not consider parents to be part of the child's home environment.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm
So, say a young surgeon were assisting in a valve replacement on your child's heart by cutting thread as the chief surgeon placed sutures to anchor the artificial valve. Would you allow the assistant surgeon to be replaced by an untrained individual just because his or her contribution to the procedure were less than the chief surgeon's?
In short, I'm not saying that teachers don't contribute. I'm saying that child motivation and home environment have a significantly greater impact on the outcome than teachers do.
Posted by newmom, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:14 am
My daughter left registration in tears. One of her classes, an arts class, that she worked hard to earn a spot in, was combined with a lower level class. This is a DIRECT RESULT of budget cuts. She can also not get a spot in another level of class that she needs, again due to budget cuts. This is 2 classes on her schedule that are directly affected by the budget.
I was told that there were 40 - 50 sections cut at Foothill. (two staff members told me this..the exact accuracy, I don't know).
Everyone in the community can play their numbers game and posturing all they want but it is the STUDENTS that are losing. And it is particularly not fair to our high schoolers...this is it for them... their college prospects depend on the rigor of their schedules. My daughter and many other other students have worked VERY hard up till now to keep her transcript as competitive as possible. It infuriates me that a majority of the community (65%) was willing to support the schools.
I say the test scores are a joke without knowing the raw scores. I don't know what the threshold is here to be 'proficient' but I know that in other states it can be as low as 40% correct on the tests. Just saying 80% is proficient is not really informative unless you know what they are defining as proficient.
Lastly, with class sizes increasing and classes being cut, I doubt that they will continue to see iincreases in 'proficieny'.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:19 am
Could we agree that absentee parents and bad teachers make it nearly impossible for even the hardest working students to succeed? There are so many variables (parents working long hours, teachers having a bad day, no before or after school hours for homework support, too many assignments due at the same time, etc.) that trying to come up with absolute percentages isn't possible. No argument that parents have the most influence and have to instill a love of learning and expectations for success, but if they get to school and the other side of the equation, teachers, is lacking, a student may lose motivation. By the same token, if you have the best teacher in the world and no support or expectations at home, maybe there still is no motivation for the student.
Maybe we should be talking about a teeter totter instead of a stool, with the object being to keep the child centered. As I said, I have seen a kid by kid approach used that involves teachers, principals, and any needed support staff working with parents to determine each child's needs. It's a large commitment and requires a dedicated district staff member (PUSD jettisoned that position . . . ) for assessment and evaluation so data can be disaggregated so the school, teacher, and parent have the whole picture about each child.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:34 am
New Mom, Just to clarify, it wasn't 65% of the community, it was 65% of voters; and that was about only half of those eligible to vote.
The information about proficiency is knowable. I'll look for the standards and see if there is a link.
As to the classes being cut and/or combined, there are ways to address that. For instance, why aren't higher level classes being combined for both high schools to collect enough students to warrant a class? It's been done before, and yes, it means some students travel. Even though this isn't as simple as it sounds, it isn't impossible. Depending on the age of the student, higher level courses are sometimes available at the community college or through online courses (two of my kids took Berkeley courses years ago). I don't suggest this is a perfect solution.
No student should be leaving in tears or losing opportunities for their years in college. I have said I would support a parcel tax with specific language, and that language could say, "for (1, 2, 3) small classes in high school fine arts." I could be alone in this, but I believe taxpayers want to know exactly where their money will be spent, and then they will support additional funding resources. It seems all the fundraising is indicative of that notion.
Posted by PTA Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:34 am
Re: Parents not contributing a dime...
We saw less than 1/3 of families contribute during walk through and over half of those contributing at a minimal level. But walk through can get pretty expensive with PE clothes, organizers and yearbooks to buy all at once, often for 2-3 kids or more. Hopefully in the coming months a higher percentage of families will be able to budget donation dollars to help the schools maintain the levels of excellence known for in the district.
Posted by Expensive, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:57 am
Walk through IS expensive indeed! Sure we signed up for it 12-18 years ago, but every year our out of pocket costs just go up and up. The school system seems to have mastered the shell game of shifting costs but could learn a thing or two when it comes to streamlining and cost reduction initiatives.
PE clothes $30-75
Yearbook $25-$52-$85 (elem-MS-HS)
ASB $70-71 !
Parking $27-60 !
Sports fee $200-400 per sport (optional, but coaches say it's mandatory if they want to play next year) plus $20-1200 for gear and camps
Passes to watch your child play $135
Annual school photos for grandparents $30-50+
Smile on your child's face when you write those checks or swipe that card - priceless
Is it really a wonder that familes don't donate on top of this?
Posted by newmom, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:00 am
But I did resent the way the donations reqiests were so in your face....that you had to stop and talk to someone and get it checked off on your check list before you could get your schedule. I found that really annoying. Not everyone is in the position to donate.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:59 am
PTA Mom said: "We saw less than 1/3 of families contribute during walk through and over half of those contributing at a minimal level. "
I have a daughter entering Kindergarten at Lydiksen. Before even going to registration I had already written and mailed in a check for $150 to PPIE for the CORE campaign. Then at registration I wrote another check for $273, including $180 for the "dollar-a-day" school fund. And then on my way out I picked up a $13 Lydiksen Elementary T-shirt for my daughter. I would have been willing to contribute even more, but I figure that there will be plenty of other requests and opportunities throughout the school year.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:42 am
Sam, Can't go along with THE community; A PART of the community, maybe. Just under 53% of registered voters cast their ballots, making it about 34% of THE community of registered voters who voted in favor of Measure E. Sad. Probably sadder is 18% of registered voters were able to defeat the measure. The 47ish percent who didn't vote weren't compelled by either side of the argument or whatever kept them from voting--but they are counted as voters and therefore count. Just like a family gathering, if Aunt Lulu doesn't show up, she's still family (perhaps the black sheep?).
Posted by ptown mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Saying achievement is 85% up to the kid is ridiculous. Home environment, parental education level, english language skills, etc, account for the vast differences between communities' school achievement scores. That said, my own highly able son, with two highly educated parents, had a mediocre year last year when he was placed with an uninspiring teacher. I am not complaining; it was on OK year, and it followed 4 years of EXCEPTIONAL teachers. But the effect was real -- teachers DO matter, but parental engagement, community expectations, peer comparisons, and the kids' natural abilities also matter a whole lot.
Posted by ptown mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm
On the subject of donations: I think you get the same people donating whether you ask for more or for less. If you ask for more, you will get more from those people inclined to donate. If you ask for less, you will get less, from those same people. You won't get more people to donate just because you ask for less. Just sayin'
Also, when will this community join the technology age and allow parents to register their kids online? This whole walk thru business is antiquated and a huge inconvenience to anyone with a job. The schools make it abundantly obvious that they disapprove of working moms, but the reality is that many in Pleasanton (gasp!) do work, even if they try to hide it from the school authorities to avoid those looks of contempt and pity anytime to arrive at school in professional attire.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm
Please note: The individual who posted the comment
"sounds to me like you should have married someone who could support you so you don't have to work"
above as Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood is not the Mike who has been participating in this thread from the beginning.
As the real Mike, I would not presume to make assumptions about your life, and I am surprised that someone would consider my position in this discussion so threatening as to feel the need to undermine it by attempting to create false friction between me and another poster.
Posted by ptown mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm
to imposter Mike -
Very presumptuous of you -- but for the record I did marry someone who could support me (and did, for many years) but the economy got in the way and our industries went in different directions. Marriage is a partnership and if no one is keeping score it all works out in the end. Just frustrating when the schools look at you like some kind of alien and are almost smug about how work-unfriendly they make things. Now if a working DAD comes into the school for any reason at all, they fawn all over him. Huge double standard.
Posted by Daisy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm
The stats that people are forwarding/advocating are ridiculous. (What do you expect with Mike and Mike leading the charge?)
If you're a good parent, you do the best for your kid. You try to cultivate a strong character; you try to expose your child to all that is good in the community; you try to get your child into the best school with the best teachers possible. As a parent, you try to work with the teachers, supplementing and expanding where appropriate; you surround the kid with many, many, many good books. And you give the child room to explore, themselves and the world around them. None of this can be (or should be) reduced to stats. Sorry, all you quantoids, but humans aren't easily reduced to stats or other quantitative indicators.
As for some of the contributors here, perhaps one might make an exception: how many times were they dropped onto their heads as children; and how does this percentage compare to the general population.
Posted by local, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm
I think the PTAs would have received more donations if they stayed out of politics. By taking funds collected last year to contribute to a campaign, it took money directly out of the classroom and fed a political consultant. It is one thing for a PTA to take a position and ask for volunteers for a political cause, but when they take funds that we donated to the school and give to a campaign,that is a misuse of funds.
Posted by Daisy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm
One does not argue with idiocy. Show us some indication of support for the 85% claim, or 95% claim, or 68.8% claim, or any number you wish to assign willy-nilly to the stool metaphor; you'll then have offered something to refute. Until then, the charge of idiocy is unavoidable. Sorry. I do realize this is a charge you have heard quite often, from me as well as others.
85%? You might just as well argue that there are pigs that fly on the moon. Ad hominem? Hardly.
Posted by Daisy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm
The guy you're asking that question to? You'd be better off waiting for Republicans to adopt a tax the rich plan. He spent a couple of decades in 'the business' -- the learning how to tie my own shoe business -- until he 'went on to greener pastures' -- meaning he finds California greenery tastier than Hickville, Indiana's.
I'd estimate that the poster in question was dropped on his head 3 and 1/2 more times than the average poster. Please don't direct ad hominems at me. Just you TRY to refute my estimation!
Posted by Another PTA mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:09 am
While scores do mean a lot to feds. for funding issues, I find it interesting that my student can score above average in math and science on the STAR, but get D's in the class, having to repeat classes in summer school (one of those who just won't turn in homework - I've threatened to follow him around school in my p.j.'s to force him to turn it in - no luck) yet by test scores it is obvious he KNOWS the material. So what really do the scores mean?
Posted by steve, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:09 am
And so, we have Daisy as the shining local example of why liberals have such a bad reputation when they interject themselves into adult conversations. They can't muster enough intellect to form a coherent, reasoned approach to a subject, but like the school yard children they resemble, instead resort to personal attacks. Very mature, daisy. You're actually perfroming a public service to those moderates who are considering leaning left...this is what you become: vacuous, spiteful, humorless, condescending and friendless. Sad, really.
Posted by Pay Attention, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm
How will STAR tests continue to improve when the cost of pensions continue to EAT the PUSD budget? The contribution rates haven't changed - yet, but that is about to happen. I hope the school board and taxpayers are paying CLOSE attention to this issue.
From the Sacramento BEE: Auditor calls CalSTRS a 'high risk' problem for state
"CalSTRS, billions of dollars under water, was dubbed a "high risk" problem for California by the state auditor Thursday.
The teachers' pension fund was added to a list of "high risk" issues periodically updated by State Auditor Elaine Howle. It joins topics that were already on the list, including the state's budget, prison population and public retiree health-care costs...
Without additional dollars from taxpayers, CalSTRS' assets "will be depleted in 30 years," Howle's report says."
Put another way, CaSTRS assets will decline from 156 BILLION dollars to ZERO in 30 years. This will represent not only a huge and rapidly escalating cost to the taxpayers, but it will also adversely impact the states general fund, the school districts budget, and dollars spent in the classroom.
One of the problems is that school boards and teachers unions (one and the same really) don't seem all that concerned about the taxpayers, other than a source of additional revenue. Until taxpayers start demanding accountability they wont get it. One place to start is by demanding that the school boards get honest about the unfunded pension liabilities and how those debts present long-term problems for the PUSD.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm
sam, not ironic, but prophetic that you should come to the defense of daisy duke. Two peas in a pod. Thanks for not refuting my descriptive profile of you leftists and your hate for anyone elses success.
Posted by Data Driven, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm
The article mentioned Fourth Grade scores dropped, and this was the first group of fourth graders without class size reduction as third graders. This group of fourth graders went from had 25+ in their classes rather than 20, and many schools lost support staff hours to work with struggling children. So maybe budget cuts did have an impact???
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm
Data Driven, If I'm not mistaken, there has never been class size reduction in fourth grade in Pleasanton, only K-3 and certain classes in ninth and tenth. One could point to loss of support staff, as you have, or even the shorter school year as concerns.
Posted by Optimistic, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm
@Pay Attention: You said that teacher unions and the school board doesn't care about taxpayers.....do you not realize that the people in the unions and the people that make up the school board ARE taxpayers? How could they not care?
Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm
I don't mean to speak for Data Driven, but since I have a student who just finished fourth grade, perhaps I can expand on the point about class size reduction.
My daughter's peers were in class sizes of 20 in K, 1st, and 2nd grade, but it 3rd grade, they were in classes of 25. As you note, class sizes for 4th and 5th grades have long been between 30 and 33. So the fourth graders had a different experience in terms of class size than the fifth graders did, because they were in bigger classes in third grade (2009-2010).
The students who complete fourth grade in June 2012 will have been in classes of 25 in both 3rd and 2nd grade.
The students who complete third grade in June 2012 will have been in classes of 25 in 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and 1st grade.
If class sizes remain stable, we will see the full effect of increased class sizes on 4th grade performance when those who started in Kindergarten in fall 2009. Those students will complete 4th grade in June of 2013.
I'm typing on an iPad so I can't review my first few sentences before posting, but I am sure that Data Driven will correct me if I have misunderstood his/her assertion.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm
Sandy, Thanks. I reread Data Driven's post, and I think you are correct. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this isn't the "first group of fourth graders without class size reduction as third graders." There are all those students who attended elementary school long before CSR was ever enacted.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2011 at 9:01 am
Loss of 20:1 has a bigger impact.
Could care less about the testing, in fact wish it didn't exist. Teachers focus on getting all the kids to do well on the test, which I guess they have to now, but the focus ends up being on the kids falling behind. The ones who are ahead don't get enough quality time needed to achieve their potential as they're already considered good enough.
Posted by Race, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2011 at 10:14 am
When I attended my old public school, all my group photos show a class of 35 all during elementary years, then to 2600 for high school. We were probably better adjusted and better educated than students of today. Of course we didn't have to take time for political correctness and other time consuming lectures....and
we had great 'contests' and 'talent' assemblies that helped develop healthy well adjusted adults, ready to face the world, Winners were OK, etc No bullies either, strict discipline was applied...no whinning parents.
Posted by An observation, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm
STAR test scores do not mean anything for the individual students. In fact, some high achieving kids have chosen not to take the test (common in Palo Alto) - they have done well in the past, and continue to do very well in all academic areas, but the STAR test is just one more thing to worry about during a time when teachers are giving lots of work that will actually count for the students' grade....it's a no brainer: STAR tests do not benefit the students, so why take them? Time is better spent preparing all the work and also for the AP tests given around that time.
Posted by None of the Above, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm
If I'm not mistaken, STAR tests play a part in the state's funding formula. That means blowing off the tests or not taking them seriously could affect how much money comes to the PUSD.
What I'm waiting for is for districts to give up federal No Child Left Behind funding, which has driven up the dropout rate in many places across the country and has undermined education because teachers have to focus on testing and not education. Learning critical thinking is more important than what year the Magna Carta was signed (or whatever).
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm
@An observation, It's true that some try to opt out, but here is a blurb from one of the Palo Alto schools that explains it more fully:
"STAR testing takes place in the Spring for all students in grades 2-11. Each school selects dates to schedule both the CAT/6 (nationally normed tests) and the California Standards Tests (CSTs). Students in grades 4 and 7 also participate in the Writing Standards Test.
"We strongly encourage full student participation because students, schools, and PAUSD stand to gain in several ways. STAR results provide teachers with a means of monitoring growth in student achievement from year to year. For students, experience in taking this type of test can lead to improved outcomes on future tests such as the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which California students who expect to receive a high school diploma must pass.
"Current state and federal accountability legislation requires a minimum 95% student participation rate for state mandated tests. Any school failing to achieve the required 95% participation rate or the student achievement targets for two consecutive years will be publicly labeled as “not meeting adequate yearly progress.” Schools that are receiving federal funds to enhance programs also may be penalized financially if they do not meet participation and student achievement growth requirements.
"Please encourage your child to participate and to do their best."
So, if AYP scores are important (and families do rely on those scores), high levels of participation are necessary. That said, there is plenty of commentary on No Child Left Behind: Web Link