News


Math pathways, non-PUSD courses to lead special board meeting

Study session set for 6 p.m. Monday at district headquarters

The Pleasanton school board is set to talk about student math pathways and non-district courses at a special meeting Monday evening.

The session's two-fold goals, according to staff, are to continue discussing potential adjustments to student math pathways and to clarify board policies regarding classes taken outside the district.

The meeting, which will be video-recorded but not broadcast live, comes on the heels of recent community forums on math pathways held throughout the district, and after parents turned out at the Jan. 30 board meeting to oppose a recent district proposal to phase out an accelerated middle school math program.

After soliciting feedback from relevant stakeholders, staff found that the Students Inter-Schools Action Council (SIAC), the community and staff all had different priorities when it comes to the district's math pathways.

SIAC wanted students to have engaging experiences, be college-ready and have flexible course options; the community sought quality instruction, students to be college-ready and opportunities to voice their opinions; and staff were looking for sustainable professional development, supplemental instructional materials and student placement criteria.

At the Monday session, staff said, they hope to address some of these points with the following outcomes: to refine middle school math placement criteria, engage the community in math discussions and implement a professional development plan for math teachers.

The second portion of the meeting will focus on non-Pleasanton Unified courses.

"PUSD needs a well-defined, systemic practice regarding students taking non-PUSD courses," wrote Ken Rocha, director of secondary education, in the staff presentation. "Current policies do not adequately address the contemporary educational environment."

The non-PUSD courses can be taken at local community colleges, online or at other high schools, such as Dublin High. Students generally take these classes for acceleration, remediation or because they have class conflicts due to extracurricular activities.

The lack of official policies could result in confusion for students and parents, and lead to the misalignment of current procedures with practices, Rocha said.

There are other issues related to the practice of taking these courses that need to be address as well, the report continues. In a district that already has an overly-competitive academic culture, the pressure to take outside courses can add to student stress.

"Mental health and stress levels may impact students; some students who are not taking outside courses feel the pressure to do so to keep up academically," Rocha wrote.

With less district oversight, "some outside courses may lack the content depth and breadth of PUSD courses," Rocha added.

And the practice can be problematic in terms of equity. The cost of one outside course ranges from $50 to $4,440, and while over 3,000 non-district courses have been approved since March 2016, the expense can present a barrier to lower-income students, staff said. Less than 1% of Amador Valley's underserved populations take outside courses, according to staff.

"Depending on the university, some students with financial means gain an unfair admissions advantage," Rocha wrote.

At the Monday discussion, staff hopes to update board policies and regulations regarding the alternative courses, determine a way to "provide equitable access for all students to high-quality, rigorous, and supportive educational experiences," and to make sure that students and parents understand the process of submitting transcripts from non-district courses to colleges directly.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday in the district office boardroom at 4665 Bernal Ave.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 5, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"In a district that already has an overly-competitive academic culture, the pressure to take outside courses can add to student stress." We should be careful when talking about pressure and student stress. Parents and students, typically, choose to take these courses for many reasons (most noted above). Limiting access to outside courses can also limit the options a student has for their future or for high school graduation. With summer school now limited to only remediation courses (and mostly by "invitation") there are no enrichment or advance courses available to those who want them.

There is no mention in the article that AVHS is over 2,600 students, many of whom cannot get into the classes they want because of scheduling limitations on that campus. It is possible that for those students, concurrent enrollment at Las Positas or elsewhere is the only viable solution to what our schools cannot provide (either at all or in a timely manner that makes the next level of courses available).

"And the practice can be problematic in terms of equity . . . the expense can present a barrier to lower-income students, staff said. Less than 1% of Amador Valley's underserved populations take outside courses, according to staff." I hope we will not use equity to limit other students' choices. If we are providing the best opportunities for all (and there is a district statement that "all means all"), then we allow students to take coursework during the regular school day and after for those who desire/need it to fulfill their personal goals. We should then insist that the achievement gap get the attention/funding/programming it deserves so all students can reach their personal goals.

Ensuring the outside coursework is rigorous and that parents and students understand what is allowed should be clear. And if underserved populations have limited access, we should find a way to remove the barriers, not put more in place.


18 people like this
Posted by East Coast (modern education) vs PUSD (operating with 1940s mentality)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Sounds like PUSD is operating in some sort of 1940s mentality and isn't keeping up with the rest of the world. Who hires these people?

All 5th grade students should have the option to take Pre-Algebra in Elementary School just like the East Coast.

Algebra I and Algebra II and Geometry and two years of a foreign language have been offered in the *middle schools* for decades in the East Coast. And I just checked and they still are...the only question is whether these grades from Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry in middle school appear on the high school transcript or not (and the parent has a choice to include these courses taken in middle school on the high school transcript or not) -see below

Web Link

Obviously, PUSD is behind the times and is trying to dumb down and keep back talented students from pursuing their dreams in engineering and science.

Obviously, the union and administration and school board purposefully don't want students to succeed in life so they want all students held back. After all, Mr. Escalante from the famous "Stand and Deliver" film was hated by the teachers union and driven out of the education profession by teachers who did not want students to succeed-see Web Link

Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry should all be offered in middle schools and students should have a choice as to whether they take Alg I, Alg II and Geometry in sequence or Alg I, Geometry, Alg II instead. And they should be given a choice as to whether the grades appear on the high school transcript or not.

There should not be some sort of 'entrance test' or 'teacher permission' for students to pursue their dreams. Instead these courses in Pre-Algebra and other courses should be open to all students without some sort of 4th/5th grade hazing exam that pre-determines a child's future at age 10.

With the incompetent administration at PUSD, no wonder so many freshman and sophomores in college originally from PUSD can't get good enough grades in required math classes the first two years of college to pursue majors in math related fields.


2 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Very interesting East Coast. Do you know if it's a requirement that certain middle school grades are placed on High School transcripts? This would be great for the "A" students.


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 5, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Opportunity needs to be equal, access may require different tradeoffs/family decisions.


10 people like this
Posted by Sammy
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 5, 2018 at 9:52 pm

I can only comment on Math pathways from my observation. In Middle School, it’s only Math pathways that seems anything close to competitive by International standards. If it had not been advanced math, my kid would not be “busy” enough during weekdays. From History, Geography, international language to science, all other courses seems below the standard I have atudied a generation ago :(

So no, I would not call this overly competitive academic culture at least from middle school perspective.


8 people like this
Posted by Parent Too
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 5, 2018 at 11:28 pm

Web Link
Web Link

Many districts have placement procedures. Parents shouldn't be able to ignore placement procedures. If a student isn't ready for a course, he or she isn't ready. Real life. Students who are unprepared water-down the effectiveness of an advanced math course. When unprepared students don't succeed, parents complain about teachers or hire tutors instead of facing the reality that their child wasn't ready. The universities are aware that students are "gaming the system" by taking courses off campus to bump their GPAs. I think only PUSD courses should be on the transcript! Maybe if courses go on the transcript, students should pass PUSD's midterm, final, and written essays that students taking on-campus courses must take. Why should someone take an easier and faster course online and receive the same credit as a student who attends a year-long course? I'm just glad the universities are now "on to this" and outside courses are "red flags."


7 people like this
Posted by East Coast (modern education) vs PUSD (operating with 1940s mentality)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2018 at 1:23 am

Whereas a huge percentage of elementary students receive 3s in Math all throughout all elementary years and many receive perfect scores or near perfect scores on SBAC and former STAR tests, PUSD has attempted to implement "tracking" at the end of the 5th grade year with an obviously discriminatory exam to determine the math placement "track."

There are quite a few substandard teachers and some that are horrendous in PUSD hence that is why there are tutoring centers all over town that are crowded everyday after school and all summer and also why students elect to go elsewhere like Diablo Valley College or Las Positas College to seek better teachers.

The exam needs to be eliminated and the enrollment for math classes at both the middle schools and high school levels needs to be open to all students.

Typically the District self-selects GATE identified students to fill up the slots in the math accelerated track and of course they know that. Many well qualified students with excellent previous math grades and perfect/near perfect scores on the math portion of the SBAC / STAR tests somehow do not make the cut...

This is discriminatory because obviously if a student receives 100% perfect scores on the Math SBAC and they are not making the cut into the accelerated track, the issue is that PUSD is picking and choosing the elite few that they pre-select for the accelerated math track just based on whim.


23 people like this
Posted by Brittney
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:04 am

Algebra in 7th and Geometry in 8th isn't an East Coast only thing - I took these classes back in Texas in late 90s...and it was definitely a necessity to be able to take AP Calculus AB and BC in HS and use those AP scores to skip needing those in college. For anyone wanting to pursue STEM related majors in college, taking this opportunity away is a major disadvantage and will likely lead to students being less likely to pursue those careers.


10 people like this
Posted by Parent of HS student
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 6, 2018 at 5:19 pm

My high schooler urged me to comment. PUSD is not in the 40's. The stress to super-achieve is real and terribly hard on our kids. We are graduating kids on their way to burn out, if they are not burnt out already. If there is a way to break this cycle of more and more pressure to super-achieve, then I applaud PUSD taking a step or 2 in that direction. Not every child is destined or even interested in an Ivy or a UC, and we need to allow those kids to not feel like failures when they take standard college prep courses, limit their AP classes, or earn a B or C grade.


6 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Parent, students who are not trying for top tier colleges have no reason to feel inadequate. Perhaps school staff can do more to reinforce that each student chooses her/his own path, and that message should be clear to all students. Parents should be the first to ensure their child understands they are not failures. Limiting others, however, should not be a goal.


7 people like this
Posted by Teacher Too
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 6, 2018 at 6:55 pm

Any student can take any class they want. This has been the standard operating procedure for years. Yes, there is a test and yes, there are recommendations, but parents visit the counseling department and request an advanced math placement, and the student is in a class for which he or she is unprepared. This open policy has created the watering down of advanced math classes.


Like this comment
Posted by Not Just PUSD
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
These districts have placement procedures!
The PAUSD (Palo Alto) provides an exceptional math program that supports students developmentally. Our sixth grade math teachers embrace the philosophy of cultivating successful middle school students from elementary students. In order to support the students’ transition from Grade 5 Elementary School to Grade 6 Middle School, all students matriculate from Math 5 to Math 6. (For students receiving special education services, the mathematics placement will be determined by the student’s IEP team.)


6 people like this
Posted by Reply to Rocha
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Reply to Rocha is a registered user.

"Depending on the university, some students with financial means gain an unfair admissions advantage," Rocha wrote.

That's the University's problem to fix, not PUSD's. Every college application process I have seen takes a holistic look at the student, which includes consideration of their background and personal choices. What counts to admissions officers is not whether someone's parents spent extra money to take more classes, but how the students' personal choices for courses and life experiences in high school prepared them to succeed in college (or didn't). There are many ways to gain those experiences that don't require wealthy parents, and a well-written college application essay will make sure that the university sees the student's drive.

Even if PUSD wanted to crusade to eliminate unfairness from the world, or at least from Pleasanton, removing opportunities is not the solution. In a free society, and especially in the age of internet courses, PUSD cannot prevent ambitious students from learning whatever they wish.

However, if the intent is to reduce "gaming the system", PUSD can certainly limit what goes onto a PUSD transcript, or what counts for graduation requirements.

P.S. Shame on Pleasanton Weekly for publishing a single statistic without context! "Less than 1% of Amador Valley's underserved populations take outside courses, according to staff." How do staff know that? How large is the "underserved population"? What proportion of Amador's non-underserved populations take outside courses? What fraction of those are "online PE" for students who don't want to waste one of their scarce schedule slots on the district's PE choices? Maybe the solution should be to require all students to take actual PE or play sports, or else to eliminate the 2nd-year PE requirement in favor of a broader and more flexible requirement?


10 people like this
Posted by PUSD Teacher
a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:15 pm

This has not been an easy conversation but I think it is important for all community members and administration and the board to listen to what the teachers and counselors are trying to tell them. Many students are cheating, many students are over-scheduled, many students get low grades and then their parents bully and harass the teachers and principals to change the grades. Some parents even hire attorneys to get the grades changed. Our counselors are not trying to say that students can not take outside courses they are concerned about the transcript and how adding them to the transcript unnecessarily sometimes ends up hurting students in terms of competitiveness.

I have taught here for a long time and I have never seen so much academic competition and it is well beyond healthy competition at this point. The open access policy allows students to sign up for classes well beyond their levels and they do poorly. So many parents just want to keep up with the neighbors and be able to brag about their student.

I hope we can continue the conversation. The current trend is not a good one.


9 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2018 at 8:03 am

BobB is a registered user.

Stop telling everyone that graduation from high school is necessary for everyone or a requirement for success in life. People can do just fine without a high school diploma. The same goes for college. People who say otherwise misunderstand causation and correlation. If you are a student making D's or F's, don't think of yourself as a failure. Maybe school isn't your thing, and that is fine. Don't be hard on yourself! I've known many happy, successful people who never got a high school diploma.

We need to get more of a focus on apprenticeship and trade schools for people who need them.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

“Many students are cheating, many students are over-scheduled, many students get low grades and then their parents bully and harass the teachers and principals to change the grades. Some parents even hire attorneys to get the grades changed.“

PUSD Teacher, first over scheduled: who determines that and with what criteria? I feel that belongs to parents and their child—unless a student shows up with reason for you to have serious concerns for their welfare.

Grades: teachers and principals have the power. If you have test scores and homework to back up the grade, I would not allow any parent to bully/harass. You just don’t meet with that kind of parent without an administrator. As to attorneys, then it is a district problem if you have the facts.

Cheating: how are students cheating; where are the holes in the protocols? I realize students can be very clever, but aren’t the adults smarter? It seems cheating occurs because students figured out how to game the system. Cell phones in one case I’m aware of where students were taking photos of the test and sharing it on social media. How does that happen (the case was not PUSD)?

I realize the solutions are sometimes easier said than done, but there are solutions.


7 people like this
Posted by Cheating 101 PUSD style - double dipping
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Kathleen, regarding cheating, the issue is that the tutoring centers have the exact test/quiz that is going to be given to the class before it is given.

(Removed.) The "tutors" in the centers are paid by the parents and are in many cases the *exact* teachers that teach the specific math class for the math class at PUSD. Don't you recognize these people? Web Link

See the following advertisement and the exact wording - "Our teachers know exactly which skills need to be reinforced for greater student success on specific course tests/quizzes." Read closely....of course they know which skills are needed for specific tests and quizzes.... Web Link

Of course they do. Because the tutors are the PUSD teachers that should be tutoring their students *for free* before and after school and during lunch at school as part of their job. But they aren't. They are getting paid at tutoring centers. If that isn't double dipping, I don't know what is.

And PUSD ignores the policy that supposedly does not allow teachers to simultaneously get paid for tutoring students in their own class.

On top of that, many of the PUSD math teachers take the exact test/exam from the textbook (which the textbook publisher has timed to be able to be finished in about 40 minutes on average) and append to the test from the curriculum an extra page or two of 10-40 problems that the teacher usually types word for word from some ancient textbook, usually an advanced one, from a different era. The end result is that it is nearly impossible for any student that is not privy to the exact questions beforehand to finish all of the problems in the allotted time period unless they know the answers ahead of time.

The teachers are the ones doing the cheating and getting paid for it after hours.

The teachers at PUSD are the ones gaming the system.

The teachers at PUSD are the problem, not the students.

And the administration, Odie Douglas and David Haglund, know exactly what is going on and refuse to do anything about it.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Web Link

I have to stew on this. Isn’t there a state law?


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 7, 2018 at 6:47 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Web Link

From Board Policy:

An outside activity shall be considered inconsistent, incompatible, or inimical to district employment when such activity: (Government Code 1126)

1. Requires time periods that interfere with the proper, efficient discharge of the employee's duties
2. **Entails compensation from an outside source for activities which are part of the employee's regular duties**
3. **Involves using the district's name, prestige,** time, facilities, equipment, or supplies for private gain
4. **Involves service which will be wholly or in part subject to the approval or control of another district employee** or Board member

**A certificated employee shall not accept any compensation or other benefit for tutoring a student enrolled in his/her class(es) or directly receiving services by the employee as part of his/her assignment in the current school year or at any time during the previous six (6) months.** The employee shall not use district facilities, equipment, or supplies when providing the tutoring service.




2 people like this
Posted by Cheating 101 PUSD style - double dipping
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Kathleen, thanks for posting the State law district employees continuously violate.

Some also routinely violate the clause in the State law which you quoted as: "The employee shall not use district facilities, equipment, or supplies when providing the tutoring service."

In recent years, Robert and Lynn Gatehouse have charged fees and have been paid almost a half million dollars by students since 2012 (when Ahmadi was hired) to provide exclusive tutoring services for a few weeks in the summer at the PUSD building Harvest Park Middle school. The cumulative figure as of 2016 was $402,525.00 but is no doubt higher now. Tax forms from 2015 indicate Robert Gatehouse alone receive $15,000.00 and Lynn Gatehouse received $13,000. These are all available in Guidestar in the 990s on the internet under the name Gatehouse Academy for Gifted Education Inc. 2017 is not posted yet. They hired teachers as independent contractors and also hired teaching assistants. Each school year, they hang large banners from the fences at Harvest Park and start collecting fees from the students and the classes include math.

The website says "Educating gifted and talented learners" so I guess that the non-gifted, non-talented shouldn't apply. Last year the dates at Harvest Park were:

Session 1
June 12, 13, 14, 15
June 19, 20, 21, 22

Session 2
June 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
July 5, 6, 7

Paul Perazzo’s
Tri-Valley Summer Music Camp
July 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28

According to EngagetheGifted.org, this exclusive gifted only program is taking a break in 2018 and parts won't be held, except the Summer Music Camp. I'm not sure why. Hopefully PUSD finally had someone in legal finally decided to read the state law you quoted and decided what they were enabling was illegal.


9 people like this
Posted by PUSDTeacher
a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 7, 2018 at 11:24 pm

Kathleen,

Yes, you can view it like that I guess. Of course, it's up to the parents to control the schedules of their kids but we are the ones who are with their kids all day when they are all stressed out about not having a moment of time to themselves. Kids used to stay home when they were sick, now the only time my students stay home sick is to study for other classes. They will actually rotate who attends classes and share information with one another so they can get sleep. It's truly awful to watch.

Regarding cheating, yes. We can also get better at policing cheating but when it becomes so pervasive that it takes an incredible amount of time to stay one step ahead of the students it's quite defeating. This is not why we went into this profession. There have always been some kids who cheat. I will tell you that now the numbers are staggering and the parents now defend the behavior leading us to not want to deal with the parents and their lawyers. We used to be able to give the kids a zero for cheating and parents took our word. Now they investigate us. Good teachers have already started to leave this district because of this.

And grades, yes we know we have the "power" but when the culture becomes one of everything we do being critically examined by parents and we have to be ready to defend every test question to many parents, again, it's just exhausting. Teaching is not an exact science, it's an art and a skill. Teaching a classroom filled with young people who learn at different rates with different styles is hard. We aim to be fair and clear. We need the parent community to trust us more than they do now. I have a parent who comes in and examines every test after his kid takes it. And debates with me the construction and clarity of each question his kid got wrong. This is about an hour to an hour and a half of my time after each test. The student has a solid B in the class and does not struggle. Yet this man is dissecting my every instructional move. Truly, if this does not improve I am not going to be able to be in this job for much longer. And I've been doing this for 15 years. Kids are happy in my class and they learn. Now, I feel it's just not worth it in the current culture. The joy is gone.

Lastly, I do agree with you about the tutoring situation. Many of us feel the same way. It's not a real ethical thing to do.


2 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 8, 2018 at 8:29 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Wow, I had no idea that teacher double dipping was going on here. I’m sure a legitimate argument can be made that we’re not paying the teachers enough, but the ethical problem rises above that.

Interestingly, this sort of competitiveness is an upper middle class phenomonen. The rich don’t care what their grades are, because they’re inheriting daddy’s business no matter what. The poor don’t care, because they can’t afford what it takes to get into Harvard, let alone Harvard itself. It’s only the children of professionals who get caught up in this.

As for systemic cycles of cheating, I can reflect upon when I was in high school—a poor school—and saw in Academic Decathlon how rife it was with cheating from the wealthier schools. Whether it was coaches throwing baseball signs to their team during mutiple choice verbal quizzes, to how better schools got the exact test in advance to memorize the answers, it happened all over, and the kids knew it and didn’t like it much.

I wonder if this is the same thing happening here. If so, the problem lies with the parents at large—though not with all parents individually. Somehow we need a cultural shift, where we recognize that the quality of (undergraduate) education at Stanford is mediocre at best, poor at Harvard, embarrassing at MIT, etc. Go to UCLA.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 8, 2018 at 8:57 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Perhaps the district should be looking at parent information nights, although I doubt there would be many attendees (how can parents see/fix the problem if they don't think there is one). I've seen contracts parents/students have to sign for AP courses that point to the issues of stress, homework expectations (higher for AP courses for example), the importance of sleep and down time. It really doesn't deter anyone from loading up on AP courses, but for at least two minutes they have to think about it. Am I understanding correctly that UCs only accept so many AP courses? What are university stances on taking a dozen or more APs? Maybe that is a place to start. At one point, Stanford was looking at the problem due to the suicide clusters.

Certainly, I could never do your job; the notion of standing in front of X number of students every day and trying to impart learning in an interesting and attainable way is magic to me. It is disturbing to read "it's quite defeating." Why would you let cheating defeat/exhaust you? I would hope that there is department or grade level support-conversations about how to tackle cheating. Are there volunteers to help proctor tests? What other ways can volunteers assist? What are other schools doing? No teacher should be in this alone.

I have heard the art/skill statement used recently. I don't disagree. But it is also your chosen profession; I'd hate for you to walk away. The parent who comes in after every test, why do you allow that? Where is the principal? There are policies available to protect teachers from being harassed; it's inexcusable. I'll look to see if I can find one. Culture can be changed. That is one thing each school and even union leaders should be working toward with the district and the board.

I will be asking the board about tutoring.


6 people like this
Posted by @Cheating 101 PUSD style - double dipping
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 8, 2018 at 11:16 am

I am pretty sure that the Gatehouse summer program pays PUSD and rents the facilities at Harvest Park, which is different than a teacher "using" the facilities, which is what I think the stated rule was saying is not allowed.

You seem to have quite the axe to grind with PUSD teachers. Maybe you should lead with an explanation for your perspective in the spirit of transparency so everyone can better understand and appreciate your bias when reading some of you interesting claims.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 8, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is what I'm concerned about / digging into with the board:

These points correspond to the policy (portion and link posted above):

1. Are teachers leaving immediately after school and therefore unavailable to students who cannot afford their tutoring? This would be a disadvantage to the most vulnerable students.
2. See #1. Being compensated rather than being available at school.
3. The tutoring site provided clearly states these are PUSD teachers, a violation of policy. From the home page: "All classes are taught by Pleasanton Unified School District teachers who are accomplished educators in the specific targeted curriculum. Our exclusive staff of PUSD teachers includes department chairs, curriculum leaders, and Teacher-of-the-Year recipients from Amador HS, Foothill HS, Hart Middle School, Pleasanton Middle School, and Harvest Park Middle School.
4. The Director is a PUSD teacher supervising the other PUSD teachers as tutors? If true, this also is a violation of policy.

In regard to the compensation and current students paragraph from policy (also posted above), who is monitoring or ensuring teachers are not tutoring their own students? Does the district have any way to enforce that paragraph?

Lastly, how do you prevent a teacher from stating to a student (or parent), during their regular duties, "Hey, I provide after school tutoring at ABC Tutoring." There is no way to prevent it from happening.

It appears there are conflicts of interest on several points with no real way to address it.


3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Kathleen, many thanks for looking into and following up on it! It’s great that you’re able to get this going.


5 people like this
Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm

At Amador, they pulled a great math teacher out of the classroom and made her an Instructional Coach for the district, along with the owner of STEPS, who is also an Instructional Coach. Then, they couldn't get a decent teacher to take her place and the students went through a series of horrible teachers (side note: I'll bet it's getting harder and harder to fill positions in specialized areas in our district because teacher's can't afford to live here , but that's for another thread). As a result, the many of the kids had to pay hundreds of dollars for outside tutoring to compensate for the lack of decent instruction in the classroom. Guess who was tutoring them at STEPS? The teacher who was supposed to be their teacher in the first place at Amador! It's so wrong.


7 people like this
Posted by PMS parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2018 at 2:50 pm

One of the reasons why so many parents and their kids are so focused on getting into the most advanced math class or taking 5 APs in one school year, or taking AP classes over the summer is that it is really hard to get into a UC. Even many state schools are impacted now. Your choices are to try and max out your GPA and ACT etc by any means possible, get a sports scholarship, go out of state or find 60K a year for a private college. its completely depressing. California needs to fund more college places for its own students. Maybe then the high school craziness will calm down a little and kids can be kids again.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 9, 2018 at 11:41 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

@PUSDTeacher, I am sad to say I don’t see current policy to protect teachers from harassment. I did find this: Web Link I have sent it to a board member to ask what can be done to get a policy. If I hear back soon, I’ll let you know.


2 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 10, 2018 at 9:00 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

You can’t inahine how much I don’t like to be the one to say this, but there are probably constitutional problems in preventing parents from saying distasteful or strong things to teachers at public schools. Because public schools are an arm of the government, parents have no choice in shopping elsewhere if the government is failing them in their opinion, and that’s precisely what the 1st amendment was written to allow speech for. So long as the language isn’t *personally* abusive or otherwise criminal under existing law, if it’s about teacher conduct, failure to provide services, or institutional in nature, it can probably be as uobraiding as the parent wants.

That doesn’t excuse it. I’m merely saying that this is probably not something that can be stopped by government rules without triggering a constitutional issue.

As for what should be happening, I’ll have to wait until my children get exposed to this first hand. I certainly don’t believe that children have been getting smarter over time, so I don’t understand why this feels different to everyone now than it did when we applied decades and decades ago. Is it just local competitiveness rubbing off on parents as a bit of paranoia, and admissions are fine? Or has the level shifted so much than a brilliant (like nearly top scoring) child needs five extracurricular activities if they have any hope of making it into the top three UC’s? Does this district grade on a curve such that our children would be better being the smartest kid at a bad high school than here, where they may get low B’s even though they’ve shown mastery of every subject?


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:32 am

BobB is a registered user.

@Grumpy,

"As for what should be happening, I’ll have to wait until my children get exposed to this first hand. I certainly don’t believe that children have been getting smarter over time, so I don’t understand why this feels different to everyone now than it did when we applied decades and decades ago."

Simplifying, when we applied decades ago, we were competing with (mainly) domestic applicants. Today, they are competing with applicants from all over the world. On top of that, more people are applying today for fewer slots. It isn't paranoia at all. Things are a lot more competitive today. I would probably have not gotten in to my alma mater if I were applying today.


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 10, 2018 at 11:30 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

What is not in the conversation, Women are smarter than men.

The female gender begin to assert themselves in the 1970's and applied in greater numbers than previously.

Since late 1970, female applicants are applying and getting accepted at a much higher rate than males. In 2008 eleven million females were accepted verses eight million males. This ratio is continuing to grow to separate the genders and will continue to do so.


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Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Thankfully, I’m not that old! When I went, my alma mater was incredibly diverse and had been for dozens of years. And, as a top school, it was considered highly competitive. But I went in with a full scholarship based on my scores and abilities.

My worry for my kids is whether that will be enough, or whether this district grades on a tight curve so much so that kids are required by the circumstances to overextend on classes and extracurriculars to pad their application.


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