I figured the PSD ended the 4th grade trips altogether but just found out it was only Alisal that ended the trips. Does anyone have any more info?
Perhaps someone from the Weekly look into this.
Original post made by concered parent, Alisal Elementary School, on Dec 15, 2014
Have you spoken to the 4th grade teachers and the Principal at Alisal with your concerns? If so, did you then contact the District with your question? Even if someone here responds with a "reason", you would need to verify the information through these sources anyway.
Officially, PUSD teachers aren't required to do field trips at all. The choice of whether or not to hold a field trip is completely at the teachers' discretion and the district has no incentive or disincentive for them to do this. (I met personally with Assistant Superintendant Odie J. Douglas, Ed.D. and then Principal Terri Quesinberry who explained this to me in response to my complaint last year.) To the best of my knowledge, Alisal had the field trip to Sacramento up to through the 2010-2011 school year. Then not in 2011-2012, then they did have it in 2012-2013, but not in 2013-2014. Parents were upset, but when I went to Alisal's PTA president during the 2013-2014 year, she chose to "sit this one out". This is when I stopped contributing money to Alisal's PTA.
Instead, I (with the help of a few other parents) organized a Parent's field trip for the students. About 30 families joined me in taking their kids out of school for an inexcused absence and carpooling to Sacramento. It cost us a day and about $20/head. This cost PSUD about $50 per student from the state. I used wordpress and google groups (both free) to organize the event and coordinate among parents. The website from 2013-2014 is visible. Web Link
I would have much rather organized the trip in cooperation with Alisal, but they were adamantly opposed. The school refused to allow any communication about the parent-sponsored event on their property. There were many children who wanted to go, but didn't find out until 1/4 of the 4th grade class didn't show up for school. (There was also a girl scout troop who went as a group, separate from us). I've even heard stories that teachers took the kids out of class and told them that what their parents did was "wrong".
I recommend trying Alisal's PTA and their new president and see if they will get involved this time for the benefit of ALL Alisal students. If they refuse, send an email to [email protected] (APFT stands for Alisal Parent Field Trip) and I'm happy to provide more information to help this year's 4th grade parents do the same.
We had a great time & our kids benefited from the experience. My only regret is that I couldn't bring the entire 4th grade with me. Everyone deserved to go.
@5th Grade Parent
Wonderful example of "People Power" at work! Perhaps occasionally the school administrators have to be reminded of who is ultimately their boss and where their pay checks come from.
@ 5th Grade Parent
Good for you for taking the initiative to bring some Alisal students to Sacramento. I don't understand why Alisal stopped going on their traditional 4th grade field trips and I agree that the Sacramento field trip should be reinstated. However, I don't understand what this has to do with the PTA. Why would you stop giving to the Alisal PTA? You said it yourself, "The choice of whether or not to hold a field trip is completely at the teachers' discretion ...". The Alisal staff made the decision to not continue 4th grade field trips (San Juan Baptista and Sacramento) despite protest from many Alisal parents. Clearly, you are not involved with the PTA. If you were, you would know that there's nothing the PTA president nor the PTA as a whole could do to change the situation. The PTA is not made up of just parents . . . it's a group of parents, teachers and the principal who work collaboratively to enhance educational opportunities for students. There are bylaws and a lot of rules that need to be followed. You also said, "The school refused to allow any communication about the parent-sponsored event on their property." Why do you think the PTA would be exempt from the school's rules? They are NOT. I've heard that this topic comes up frequently at Alisal PTA meetings, despite the fact that there's nothing the PTA can do if the staff doesn't want to go on 4th grade field trips.
speaking for the previous poster, I think the reason they stopped contributing to the PTA is that money goes to the school. If the school is taking away resources and not providing an explanation and refuses to discuss the issue, then parents will stop contributing money. Parent don't donate because they have extra money laying around to hand out. They donate so that programs like the Sacramento trip don't get cut and are able to be fully funded.
I think parents just want an explanation. To my knowledge no one from Alisal, past or present staff, has ever provided a reason the trip was/is cancelled. All the parents are asking for is some transparency in the decision making process.
You stated the PTAis "a group of parents, teachers and the principal who work collaboratively to enhance educational opportunities for students".
How is it collaborative to refuse to provide a reason for the cut and declaring that the subject can no longer be talked about at the PTA? That's far from a collaborative environment.
I would love for the Weekly to do a story on this to get to the bottom of it once and for all. Its been going on way to long.
As an Alisal parent I agree with the poster who stopped funding Alisal. The PTA has a responsibility to advocate for students and families in collaboration with the school. If the PTA is unable to do this, the funds should be directed to the source that can effectively serve the students directly. I am a huge fan of PPIE. I love to donate in my child's class. I just like to know that the impact is real when I send money or spend time. In regards to Alisal abating the 4th grade trip, I have to look to the staff and the environment. The new principal is exceptionally reasonable and far more personable. I feel strongly that an open dialogue citing the value of the trips along with a defined parent commitment would be excellent factors in right the ship on this issue. Once it is clear that parents are happy and capable to coordinate and make it happen, it may make the trip much more palateable.
Kelly, you stated
"I feel strongly that an open dialogue citing the value of the trips along with a defined parent commitment would be excellent factors in right the ship on this issue. Once it is clear that parents are happy and capable to coordinate and make it happen, it may make the trip much more palateable. "
I would like to believe this but that fact is no one besides Alisal staff knows the real reason for the field trips being cancelled. Its difficult to help provide a solution when Alisal wont tell us the what the issue is. It is also my understanding that the parents were told this could no longer be discusses at PTA meetings by the principal and that trip was not happening.
PTA is losing my funding because, in my eyes, it has stopped being ""a group of parents, teachers and the principal who work collaboratively to enhance educational opportunities for students".
PTA's primary mission is to advocate for children's education NOT to raise funds. See this article from the PTA National Office, "Is Your PTA an ATM for Your School?" Web Link
At a minimum, the Alisal PTA should have facilitated inter-parent communication, so everyone would know what we were doing and every child had the opportunity to go to Sacramento. We had plenty of drivers with extra space, funds for students in need, and all the normal medical, liability, and emergency contact forms drawn up.
Instead, the Alisal PTA sat on the sidelines and let dozens of kids get left behind.
5th Grade Parent,
Could you email me at [email protected]?
As a parent in this community, I support the Alisal teachers' decision. The only thing my children remember about that field trip is the candy store in Old Town Sac. Priorities of our parent community seem to be changing. More emphasis is being placed on enrichment and fun rather than academics. With the new Common Core standards, I think the focus should be on academic achievement rather than visiting a train museum, the capitol, and Sutter's Fort. And with you taking a group of 30 kids there for the day...it cost the district about $1,500. Shameful.
I stay in touch with my kids' former teachers at Alisal, and I know that they have had difficulties collecting donation money for these trips, as well as for classroom supplies. Again, community priorities. Parents are reluctant to donate funds, yet they drive fancy cars and go on trips. They get their hair and nails done, but their children don't have enough pencils or paper in their classrooms. Kind of a shame. Glad my kids have moved on
Out of fairness to the teachers at Alisal, field trips became more difficult to pull off once the school district started enforcing a “voluntary donation” policy. This policy states that regardless of a family’s ability to pay for such things as field trips or classroom supplies, no student would be excluded or denied. Of course, this is how it should be in a free and public education environment, but, sadly, many have taken advantage. With the enforcement of this policy, donations that hit classrooms directly (e.g. field trips and classroom supplies) dropped dramatically. Unfortunately, the overall sense of entitlement the parents of Alisal have developed over the years has not diminished in step with this drop in donations. The solution to this problem, of course, is fundraising. More bleeping fundraising. It seems like a simple thing: A small group of well intentioned parents would just step up and come up with a bunch of ways for “the school” to raise the money others could not or would not.
And this is where the frustrations for schools, teachers, and students begin.
The Sacramento field trip is one of the best and is educational. Both of my children have been on it, got a lot out of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As for candy, parents and kids were told in advance that there would be no purchases of any kind on the day. I think the point being made is that every other elementary school in the district goes on this field trip except Alisal. Fair? My child's school handed out a form at back to school night asking a) whether parents wanted this trip and b)would they be able to donate $30 for the bus. Why isn't Alisal doing the same? Doesn't seem hard to me.
Please meet with your Principal and ask your questions and share your concerns.
Here is what the CA Education Code says:
1.) I think other schools in the district (Mohr, for example) do not make yearly field trips to Sacramento. You might check with them to learn why that is the case and what are their reasons, priorities, etc.
2.) Yes, parents have the right to question the teachers and the school about something they don’t fully understand, but I don’t think a public forum like this is the best place to ask for clarification. And from the tone of the first posts here, I hear a lot of disrespect, contempt, and anger. Not a helpful way to go about seeking answers.
3.) In every class I taught, almost every parent was supportive, helpful and wanted the best education for their child. But there was always at least one parent who was confrontational or disrespectful. Eventually, I came to understand that usually the problem this parent had, originated elsewhere, and was the result of other causes or events in their lives. And I, or the school, was just the easy, alternated, misplaced outlet for this anger.
4.) I often wonder how confusing it must be for the child of such a parent, to hear negative things said about the teacher or school and then be expected to behave respectfully and enjoy learning the next day. Do parents think about how difficult and damaging this might be for the child and the child’s future?
5.) To teachers: Make an extra effort not to let your feelings of hurt, disrespect, and disappointment transfer to the child. Sympathize with him or her, make an extra effort to help and guide this child, since that child has the extra disadvantage of having a parent going though problems. Remember, you are even more important to that child and his future now, when the parents are upset by circumstances beyond your influence or involvement. Don’t let it get to you. Continue to teach the whole child. And do what is best for that child.
It's not just Alisal a lot of the schools in Pleasanton have been cutting field trips. I know at Walnut Grove I am very disappointed because in fifth grade my child's class didn't get to go on a field trip because our voluntary donations were not met (even though the two classes that didn't meet the voluntary donations did not have teachers at the beginning of the year )but the other two classes were able to attend. I was happy for those children but it was very disappointing that these kids and kids in another class in fifth grade weren't able to go. we also have teachers at this school who aren't willing to go on field trips so we just don't go and without any good leadership from the principal I see the field trips especially at this school going away. It's sad we need somebody who can understand that hands-on learning is just as important as classroom learning. It also gives kids a good break from the regular routine.
5th grade parent should run for a school board position. @Helen Peters, it may be important for kids to get out of the classroom and have fun (it is exciting for kids to go on a field trip) in addition to focusing everyday on academic achievement. Academics are important but so is a balance. The number of field trip days is probably a very small percentage compared to the number of days sitting in the classroom focused on "academics."
Here's a reason there are no Alisal field trips - after-school logistics. Don't know how long recent field trips take, but I do know that at the last bell, most students, once their homework is done, have prior commitments in either in sports, music, or community service. These days, a school day rarely ends at 3PM; students further educate themselves on a field, court, diamond, rink, or center. You may be surprised at how successful a child can learn, free of red tape or other restrictions.
Buy the way, PUSD is like many school districts throughout the Eastbay and beyond - they make The Simpsons seem functional. D'OH!
Yes, it's unfortunate that kids miss out on experiential/educational opportunities due to lack of funding. However, before you @Retired Teacher blame the parents with "fancy cars", may I remind you that the reason PUSD children still has a quality education DESPITE California being 50th in per-pupil-spending, is because of parent donations organized by PPIE and PTA's. Remember also that much of our "education" dollars that come from taxpayers (aka PARENTS) goes to pension obligations for retired teachers like yourself, resulting in less for kids field trips. Not blaming, just stating the facts. This is just one example of a missed opportunity to preserve trust, assuming the Alisal principal/teachers did not give an honest explanation. Parents should be encouraged to ask questions and participate in dialogs, not given weak, trite, finger-wagging comments meant to make them feel guilty about "costing" the schools money because of missed absences due to ludicrous Average Daily Attendance rationale, or saying this isn't the forum. When a school teacher/official dismisses parent concerns, what do you expect? Show me that forum where parent-teacher/union-administrator/PUSD attorneys dialogue is supposed to happen.... the 3-minute time during board meetings where board members aren't allowed to respond anyway? emails that go unanswered? Parents want to help, but they have a right to know how their money is being spent. The underlying reason for lack of funds even in an affluent community like Pleasanton is lack of trust in PUSD/teachers unions + insufficient funding coming from our state, due to lack of transparency and huge pension obligations. It's a big hot mess, and if you want to improve things, the first thing we all need to do is understand the issues - spend some time understanding how things work - ED100 is a good start.
Correction.... "fancy cars" comment is for @Helen Petters, "forum" and other comments for @Retired Teacher.
Too much 'classroom focused on "academics."' HA HA HA HA HA No wonder the US is 36 th. Read this:
Maybe we need MORE emphasis on academics, less on fun trips...which are what weekends with the family is for, right?
Sorry correction..typing while laughing at fault. Above should read "what weekends with the family ARE for, right?"
@Mike: The "voluntary donation" policy is mandated by legal precedent. Public schools have lost lawsuits for denying students access to sponsored activities for failure to pay. The only other real option is for public schools to have sufficient budget to run the programs without seeking donations. That is exactly what happens in other states.
@Spudly: Thanks for your nomination, but I respectfully decline.
@Helen Petters: It is my sincere belief that all the children who went on the field trip to Sacramento had a superior educational experience to those who stayed behind. They went to Sutter's Fort, Old Town Sacramento (Museum and Schoolhouse), and the State Capital. They had at least 4 hours of presentations and guided tours from at least 7 different speakers. They panned for gold. They touched all kinds of artifacts. They asked all kinds of questions, and played with each other pretending they were miners, or trappers, or riders on the pony express, etc. They sat in the balconies of both chambers while lawmakers and staff worked on the floor below. I have no shame in providing that experience to my child. I think the real shame is that this experience is offered inconsistently to PUSD students based on which neighborhood they live in.
5th grade parent
Granted, the field trip was a valuable experience, but do you think it might have been better for you to take them on a non-school day, thereby not costing the district hundreds of dollars in lost student attendance?
Will YOU grant us that?
I completely agree with your statement:
"public schools to have sufficient budget to run the programs without seeking donations." Ideal world that. Now we have parents driving Mercedes, taking trips to Hawaii, but refusing to donate to field trips and classroom supplies, citing financial hardship. And families REALLY struggling to make ends meet, donating even with their true hardship status. COME ON!!
I'd like to adjust that last sentence to say "I think the real shame is that this experience is not offered consistently to all PUSD students." and leave it at that.
@Chuck. Think of the field trip on a school day as a method of voting. Do it on a school day and your vote gets counted. Do it on the weekend and the school (in entirety) doesn't count your vote.
To quote 5th Grade Parent
"the children who went on the field trip to Sacramento had a superior educational experience to those who stayed behind. They went to Sutter's Fort, Old Town Sacramento (Museum and Schoolhouse), and the State Capital. "
(notice the letter o...superior educational experience??? perhaps you went on many field trips in your day?)
My son and I just had a telephone(land mine type) conservation for over an hour. We actually discussed this situation(Lord Help Us). My fault, of course. He called this blog, some sort of diversion. He graduated top 25 of his class within the PUSD...with AP classes. Point is, turn it around, "Does anyone know why Alisal"...the beginning of the question. Re-apply the same question, asked by a student, would we have the same conversation? There was a friend educator that says this, "Are district policies set forth outlining the type of public information approach each school is to apply? Or is the policy left entirely up to each school? Parents need to do their job. A public forum is a perfect arena...if for the right reasons. But then again, blogs mean little. A diversion. Baited blog...
For what it's worth, Mohr didn't go to Sac last year. They also don't do outdoor ed in 5th. Such is life.
Geez, you people in Pleasanton have so many problems with your schools. I thought Pleasanton had the best school district. When I read the posts on this sight and all the complaining when it comes to your schools I am truly amazed. I used to live in Pleasanton but now live out of the area and our school district has it's share of problems but not as much as yours. Plus our school district serves 40,000 children. So tell me, why would you move to Pleasanton? For the schools? I think not.
Pete, could you repeat that and be coherent this time.
I chaperoned the Sacramento trip with my youngest; my oldest also did the trip. It ranked at the top of our list of school field trips--right up there with the tech visit to the Lab in Livermore. We have loads of great memories. So sad to hear Alisal staff is not supporting this terrific field trip. They are wonderful learning opportunities and sure beat the day-to-day grind of the classroom. Good for 5th Grade Parent for making it happen anyway. The greatest life lessons come in many forms and rarely do they happen in the classroom.
@ 5th Grade Parent
Parents must take initiative if they think the activities (like field trips or Math/Science Olympiads) shall help kids. Schools/PTA shall support these activities in case they can’t manage it themselves, either due to financial constrains or limited resource.
It is a sad feeling if School laws become hindrance to these activities. This is not to blame principal, teacher or PTA. This kind of forum and work the “5th Grade parents” is doing is quite motivational for the other parents and in my view; he is setting up an excellent example. School must appreciate the efforts put by parents rather than condemning it.
George, the word diversion was meant to mean the trip sounded more for the adults, than the children. At nine years old, unless your learning about Calif. history, the branches of government,how a representative democracy operates and how laws are established/made, it was meant to imply that an understanding might be better understood, maybe by the 6th grade. The thought was, nine years old is a bit young.
If the role was reversed and my nine year old child wanted to visit the State Capitol, as parents, we would make that happen.
So thank you for your reasonable request...really. In closing, if for comparative reasons one school is playing off another, I think that is wrong...primarily because, in my long experience with PUSD, my children were never denied the opportunity to learn or experience, those interests, they were passionate about.
@Helen Peters: As you probably know, and as we've been promised by our Common Core leadership, Common Core is about common standards. It's not "additional" emphasis on anything, and does not include standardization of methodology. It doesn't affect the curriculum at all (rofl!).
My child attends Lydiksen and didn't go on a 4th grade Sac field trip last year either because the teacher ran out of time. So we got together with other parents with kids in the class and went on the field trip in the summer. It worked great, and didn't take time away from Common Core.
We fret in town about trying to provide equal instruction to all students in all schools. I see a simple solution. Field trips, those that support academic instruction, should be incorporated into the curriculum at the district level. That is, when the school district decides what will be taught at each grade level, what books to use etc, they should also decide which field trips go with each grade level. That way, every student gets a minimum grade appropriate field trip. If schools then want to do more field trips, they can. Moreover, then teachers don't get to veto said field trip.
1. There has been some loosening/implementing reality of the voluntary donation law. Everyone should have a refresher in the do's and dont's. Why can Amador say pay Senior Activity fee or you don't do activities but others tiptoe and ask nicely?
2. Money is not the issue. The Alisal PTA would have paid for the field trip as it is that important to the parents. Some stopped giving to the PTA because Alisal PTA gives a ton of money to the teachers.
I don't understand the argument.....all of my children were at Alisal and complained that this field trip was so very boring. They got nothing out of it. My husband traveled along and said he didn't get the benefit of it. Why are you complaining? Really?? Just a thought.
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