School libraries in the SRVUSD Schools & Kids, posted by Larissa Worth, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2010 at 10:23 am
As the San Ramon Valley Unified School District approaches another year of difficult decision making, I strongly urge the Board of Education not to reduce any library positions.
In a school district that prides itself in its overall state rankings and that has a specified goal on its website to “increase the academic achievement of all students”; it is imperative to understand that it wouldn’t be possible to achieve these rankings or this goal without our school libraries. In fact many studies in the last few years have found that there is a direct link between students’ access to school libraries and students’ test scores.
School libraries are classrooms where students are taught essential research skills and the 21st Century information literacy skills that they require in order to navigate through all of the resources available to them in this age of “information overload.” Students are also taught how to use critical thinking in examining and evaluating various information sources to discern what is authoritative and accurate.
School libraries provide priceless intellectual value to all of our students. To deny them access to their libraries is to lessen their chance for overall success and academic achievement!
Posted by Concerned parent, a member of the Monte Vista High School community, on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:59 am
Our counselors have informed us that at tonight's school board meeting, the board will be discussing whether to lay off all of the district's counselors. The board will vote on the layoffs at the next meeting on March 9. Please write to the board (go to the SRVUSD website, click on district, board of education, board member contact info), or come to the board meeting tonight (7 pm, 699 Old Orchard) to voice your support of counseling!
Posted by another concerned parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:29 am
I hate to see anyone lose their job, but--at least in my case--I found my child's counselor to be useless. We have also had our fair share of useless teachers. Every parent needs to get involved in their child's academic career. Become familiar with what is required for graduation, as well as college testing and applications. Don't count on someone to do it for you. I'm glad that I did it my way. It took a lot of time, but it was well worth it. You--need to be your child's advocate. Good Luck.
Posted by Concerned Parent/Employee, a member of the Los Cerros Middle School community, on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm
I am not only an involved parent in our district, I also work for the district. My children have attended various schools for the past 12 years. I have personal experience that the librarians and counselors have been a positive influence in my kids lives. For many years, the librarians have offered a safe learning environment children to do their homework. Many of these kids don't have a safe place to go after school. The librarians help the kids learn valuable technology. Things that just can't "pulled up from the internet." Librarians don't just check out and file books.
Our counselors are equally valuable, they are involved in so many aspects of the students success. They track their grades, give them someone to talk to. When some schools did a survey, many children didn't have anyone that they felt the could talk to. Remember middle school years and the first few years of high school are very difficult for many children. The incidence of teenage depression and just the day to day stresses for kids to participate in so many activities; burns many of them out. The counselors offer advice on how to handle these types of stresses. They are valuable to creating the schedules of the kids, running tutoring groups, offering assistance to parents, as well as many other duties that would highly jeopardize the success of our kids. We need to support our librarians and counselors and I strongly urge the School Board to protect their positions within our district.
Shame on the person who commented "fire them all." I hope you are never faced with the possibility of losing a job. These positions have some amazing people associated with it and most of them have families to support. Please think about that before you make such harsh and hurtful remarks.
Posted by Danville Parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:31 pm
I have to hand it to the school board - another year, another round of layoffs that directly impact the children. A very effective way of ensuring maximum parent involvement. As a taxpayer please tell me - how many layoffs occurred last year in the Administration of the district and how many are projected for this year?
Posted by Laura, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm
I am a mother of two girls at Bollinger Canyon Elementary and I believe that the librarians are instilling a unique understanding of the power of the written word. Sure, people can go to the Internet and find a massive amount of information, but many people, children and teenagers in particular, do not have the understanding to consider the source and really determine if that information has value.
In addition, a school librarian begins by exposing a Kindergartener to wonderful books that encourage them to listen to words and enjoy the stories, while making them want to learn to read it for themselves. Then, they continue by exposing first and second-graders to increasingly complicated stories, boosting their confidence and developing their abilities to comprehend plots and characters and so much more! Then they begin teaching third graders and up how to take an idea that they need to develop and go about gathering information as research. Even in math, it is widely know that early learners cannot simply learn conceptually and that is what the Internet is, a virtual, conceptual library. In math, we use manipulatives to make concepts concrete. Libraries are concrete and exciting for children. Librarians are guiding children and helping to find those "topics" and levels of books that encourage readers. If a child is not that interested in reading, they can often come up with something that might spark some interest, even if it is Sports Illustrated Kids. They teach children how to find their "just right" books so that reading is just the right challenge without being boring or frustrating. Research has shown that reading is solidly linked to scholastic achievement and exposure to books from an early age is critical to language development. It is a hard time, with awful decisions being made about where to make cuts. I don't know the answers, but I do know that our schools without librarians would be a profound loss to our district.
Posted by Disappointed, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm
"Fire them all.
Since when do schools need counselors or librarians? Have people forgotten the internet? With the internet, it is extremely easy to apply for college or get a vast array of information. "
Tell me, do you really understand what the day of a school librarian or a school counselor involves or are you simply guessing because you've never used what they have to offer? As a teacher and a parent, I rely on these professionals regularly.
The internet is an anemic substitute for a knowledgeable librarian. And not all parents can parent. Librarians and counselors make a difference every day in the lives of students and our schools will not be the same without them.
Posted by concerned mom, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm
I cannot believe that this discussion even has to be had! The state has cut our funding so much that the school board has to decide between a librarian and a counselor? Yes, I agree that it is the parents' responsibility to read to their child from birth but the librarian introduces them to so much more! Our school librarian has exposed my daughter to books I promise you my daughter would NEVER choose when we go to the library together. And, YES, my daughter and I go to the library once a week. We have been going since she could walk, however that doesn't mean I can expose her to everything!
What's next, let's get rid of public libraries as well because we have the internet. Better yet, why don't we just get rid of books because we have the internet? When will this end?
When my daughter was in kindergarten my husband and I split up. My daughter looked forward to seeing the school counselor. It was a safe place for her to express her anger about what was happening in her life that she had NO control over. And, again, YES, we took her to see a therapist as well but it was the counselor at school that she related to and looked forward to seeing!
I don't want to see anyone lose their job and I most certainly don't want to see another cut at my daughters’ public, NOT SO FREE, school. This garbage makes me want to pull her from the public school system and put her in a private school. Those of you who say fire them all should be ashamed of yourselves!
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm
The internet is great, but libraries are very important, but once again it is the union that is the problem. Parent volunteers run most of the library responsibilities at our schools now and they can easily take on the other roles that the librarians say only they can do. Parent volunteers can run the library very efficiently and possibly even more because of their love for their children and friends, but the unions won’t let that happen, they would rather fire them and close our school libraries. That is ridiculous!
As for the counselors, I agree that they don’t do much, but if one child needs someone to talk to and they turn to a counselor instead of committing suicide, then it’s worth it.
SRVUSD needs to start putting the kids first. Look at the Rhode Island HS that fired all of it’s teachers. Amazing! If it doesn’t work, start over. SRVUSD is too concerned with keeping up their image. Get rid of the bad teachers, listen to parents, prevent the bullying, and TEACH OUR KIDS, that’s why we pay our taxes. Put the kids first, and then worry about where the money is going to come from. I’m sure that more parents would be willing to donate more (time and money) if they were convinced that it would be used wisely and help our kids.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm
Marie: I agree 100% with your opinions! You should consider running for the school board. Very few people understand that what is best for the teachers union is not what is best for the students and parents.
Posted by Library Advocate, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm
When using the term "Librarian" we need to remember that there is a huge difference between our district's secondary schools' Certificated Teacher Librarians who are double credentialed (with a CA teaching credential & a Teacher Librarian Services credential) and who often also have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences; and our elementary schools' Classified Library Media Coordinators who may or may not have had any formal education in Library Technology.
This is where it is easy for parent volunteers to mistakenly think that they could "run most of the library responsibilities at our schools ... and they can easily take on the other roles."
Posted by Disappointed, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 4:08 pm
"Get rid of the bad teachers, listen to parents, prevent the bullying, and TEACH OUR KIDS, that’s why we pay our taxes. Put the kids first, and then worry about where the money is going to come from."
Maria, this all sounds great and I think we all want these things. But unfortunately, none of these things is easy to accomplish. How do we get rid of bad teachers? I would love to hear your ideas on this because I know many frustrated parents who've been beating their heads against a wall trying to make this happen. Preventing bullying takes a coordinated effort (hopefully implemented by counselors) and it takes resources - up front. Putting kids first and worrying about where the money will come from later? I don't know how any school district could function this way. I'm not even sure what you're getting at here. I think this all sounds fabulous, but the question is how can it be accomplished?
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm
"Disappointed"- To answer your question, you can accomplish Maria's goal by having a school board that stands up to the teacher's union, and prevents the teacher's union from bullying them into benefits we can not afford in this recession. Remember, they are called the "teacher's union", not the "what is best for the students union", and not "what is best for the community union", as their primary goal is to accomplish what is best for the teachers. It is time for school boards across the state to stand up to the teacher's union, and start doing what is best for the students, parents, and community, not what is best for the teacher's self interest.
Posted by Sad Situation, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm
It's sad that we have to lay off librarians and counselors but what else can we do? There is no money. Somebody has to go. It's the sad reality. When the money is not there, it's simply not there. Most families don't want to lose their home to foreclosure but when the money's not there to pay the mortgage that's what happens. A school district is no different. When the well is dry, some have to go without water.
Posted by another concerned parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:09 am
Getting rid of "tenure" would be a big step forward. It would make teachers do their job well or, like the rest of the world, get fired! The union may be beneficial for the teachers, but it's hurting our kids.
Posted by Disappointed, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:06 am
It's tough because we're having a hard enough time attracting good teachers to the profession...most of these people could be out making a lot more in the private sector and probably would have more job security too. So how do you attract excellent teachers without some of the protections unions provide? More regulation at the state level? Is that what we want??
It's all well and good to say "do your job well or get fired," but if you can't make the job attractive enough, you're going to have to set that bar very low.
I don't have an answer for you, but forcing teachers to take the short end of the stick probably isn't the answer to improving the quality of education in this state.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:57 am
A national study last year showed that based on the number of hours most teachers work per year, teachers on the average earn more per hour than CPA's, electrical engineers, I.T. professionals, and several other professions. Having months off in the summer, and numerous school vacation days during the year that most other workers do not get, the average teacher earns more per hour than many professions. This does not even include the pensions that teachers earn, that no other occupations receive. People who go into teaching never expect to get rich, and often are attracted by the months off in the summer and all the school holidays. In conclusion, we can attract quality, good teachers, without giving away the farm to the teachers union. It is time for the school boards to renegotiate with the teachers union, prevent the union from bankrupting our districts, and start putting the students, the parents, and the community first, not the union.
Posted by Disappointed, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:40 am
I'm guessing the national study you saw took into account the *recorded* hours teachers work. As a teacher I put in more hours outside the classroom (lesson planning, grading, tutoring students before and after school) than inside. And many many teachers work during the summer. Trust me, I was in upper management of a consulting firm and my husband and I consider my teaching job community service based on my "hourly wage."
If teaching were as attractive as you make it sound, we'd have more outstanding teachers than we do. Nobody goes into teaching for the pay or the benefits.
Posted by Reader, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:59 am
If that is your line reasoning, legitimate as it is, then teachers should work year around, working professionally with colleagues, adapting and adjusting curriculum, developing and evaluating assessments, reforming school policies, etc. But the thing is, now you do have to pay for it...in cash.
You see, holidays and summers are not costing the district or taxpayers a dime for teachers salaries, that is why teachers make a salary range between $50-70 grand a year. But if you insist on teachers working the hours that other people work, then they should be paid appropriately which would cost the district and stakeholders a whole lot more.
Not to mention, I am sure many parents love the fact that school is out for the summer and they can pursue other learning and engaging activities WITH their children.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:59 am
Study was based on the teachers(and other professions)listing the total hours they worked, which included work at home. Every profession I know takes work home, so teachers grading papers at home or lesson planning is no different than any other job. If you were in upper management of a consulting firm and left to be a teacher, and you indicate you did not leave for the pay or benefits, you obviously left to have more time with your family with months off in the summer and all those school holidays that no other profession receives. That is exactly my point. If we are going to get quality teachers who value time off in the summer and all those school holidays, than there is no reason to bankrupt the district by giving in to the union's demand for higher salaries and to keep the pensions going forward. You stated that nobody goes into teaching for the pay or benefits. So why should the district give in to the union demands regarding pay and benefits? The second highest paid educational employee in the state is the President of the State Teachers Union, who makes over $650,000 per year. The only winner when the districts give in to the teachers union is the union and their high paid executives. The losers are the students, the parents, and the community.
Posted by Disappointed, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm
Yes, the summers off are an attractive feature of teaching (although I will likely be teaching summer school). But the reason I left the private sector is that I love teaching and I think I make a positive difference in the lives of students. I think this is why many teachers are in the profession. The good ones anyway.
There is a lot wrong with the teachers' union, not the least of which are the high exec salaries you cite. And yes, the union engages in bullying. No doubt about it. Just ask any teacher who ever tried not being part of the union.
And again, I don't have solutions. I just hate seeing the resentment of teachers (and librarians and counselors) in general.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm
Disappointed: I think you make some great points, especially about the teacher's union bullying. I can also tell that you went into teaching for the right reasons, and that you do make a positive difference in the lives of students. I certainly do not resent teachers, and in fact, while I was a student, I was blessed to have some really good teachers, and my child has had some really good teachers as well. What I resent is the teachers union using our children and our community for their own selfish reasons. I also worry about the financial condition of our district, and worry that good teachers like yourselve, may be dismissed, due to lack of seniority, while teachers protected by the union will remain. Please realize that parents support teachers like you, and thank you for your efforts.
Posted by Reader, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm
You are completely on target with your latest post. Although I believe the union to be a potential strength within the institution, if they could broaden their approach, they would be much more effective and have a much better outlook from the community they serve.
But, we can't lump all teachers in one category and assume the union speaks for them all. That is not the reality, and that is not responsible.
Posted by Teacher, a member of the San Ramon Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm
I am a teacher in the SRVUSD district. I am shocked by some of the statements listed in this blog. Just who is bullying who? I work, I pay taxes, I am not an executive. The only people I manage are 160 students, and I haven't had a raise in years. I work from 7 AM to 5 PM most days with a 30 to 35 minute lunch. It's true I'm paid for 7 hours a day. But it rare that I don't take home work, plan during vacations and put in 3-4 weeks during the summer planning for the next year. And don't forget all the unpaid "volunteer" hours managing clubs, writing student recommendations for college and scholarships, as well as answering emails from parents and students at night and weekends that I do. It's true I don't have to do this but I do and so do many of us. Please stop vilifying the teacher union, the union is just a collection of teachers struggling like the rest of California to provide for their families.
Posted by Parent, a member of the Monte Vista High School community, on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:42 pm
Look at the websites for the Orinda, Moraga, and Lafayette education foundations. They raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from parents, local businesses, and even a large number of community members that don't have children in the public schools. With that money, they have been able to save counselors, librarians, and many other programs that would have been cut because of the state budget cuts. The parcel tax in Orinda is over $500/year, while ours is only $144/year. California is close to last in the nation for funding of our public schools. Our district receives nearly $2000 less per student than the national average. I think our district schools do a terrific job on a shoestring budget. My kids have had wonderful, dedicated teachers and counselors who have gone above and beyond to give them a top notch education. It might be time for us to step up as a community and fund raise to help our schools. Did you know that being in a neighborhood with a great school system can boost your property values by $100,000-$180,000?
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:16 am
American: thanks and you are right-on about most of your comments. Many school and district administrators have become bullies, trying to accomplish their own goals for their own financial and social benefit. However, I would not say that Disappointed is a good teacher, she doesn’t sound like one, but I wouldn’t know until I went into her classroom to observe. Side note, I love your web-name… too many people live in this great country and have lost their American pride!
Library Advocate: you have got to be kidding about Danville parents not being able to run the school libraries. Most, if not all, Danville adults are college educated with years of experiences, and whether they gave up their careers to be a stay-at-home parent or are currently working, they can take over this job if the union was out of the picture. Then are kids wouldn’t be missing out and we could save some money.
Disappointed/Sarah: it seems that you sort of made a switch in your comments. This district can easily find teachers. These teachers have it made, working in a beautiful area and don’t have to worry about crime and looking over their shoulders as they write on the board. They also have so many parent volunteers doing their jobs it is crazy. Many of the elementary teachers have parents correcting papers and much much more. I would say to any dissatisfied teacher…quit, find a job you like, we don’t need you.
Reader: American didn’t say teachers should work year round, but I can say, some choose to by teaching summer school and enrichment programs and they do get paid extra for that! Also, those salaries you quoted…many Danville households are 2 income families, which would make the teacher’s 10-month job salary comparable.
Teacher: Most companies haven’t given raises in years and most people work well over their 40-hour salary. Most employees come home in the evening to start working at home to answer phone calls, emails, and prepare slideshows and presentations. That is normal today!
Parent: you got it! My opinion, the problem is egos. I have approached my elementary school several times about ways to collect free money from local and national businesses, but they are so high on that horse, they can’t see though the clouds. They think it is beneath them to collect free money, but they can certainly keep asking me for money. However, I no longer feel comfortable that money is being spent wisely in this district.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:28 am
The real issue here is unions - they need to go away period. We do not need a union to protect teachers, teachers are educated and quite capable of representing themselves. This is 2010 and our country needs to wake up and understand that the role unions played at one time is no longer needed and driving our costs for everything so high. Good teachers want to teach and they don't need a union to help them do that. How many union officials will lose their jobs? How many district employees will lose their jobs? Why is it we are paying over $20,000 per year to "care" for our prisoners and less than $5000 to educate our children...our future! I just don't understand how we have let this happen and it's time to stop and make the right changes!
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm
Marie: Thank you for your very well thought out and logical opinions. Once again, I would encourage you to run for the school board, as common sense appears to be in shortage when dealing with the teachers union.
Parent: You are absolutely correct about Unions. Unions were beneficial to society in the early 1900's to prevent human right abuses such as child labor, but now only serve as a benefit to special interest bureaucrats at the expense of the public. Look at non-union shops like Wholefoods, that treat their employees with respect and dignity, have great benefits, and customers benefit from great service without union extortion problems. Then go to a store like Luckys, where the union runs the place, where service is horrible as management is paralyzed by the unions. If we got rid of the teacher's union, we could keep the best teachers, and remove those who remain solely due to union rules. We could have parents help run the libraries without the union threats. If a situation came up in which the teacher actually needed assistance due to a unfair employment issue, she could simply open the yellow pages and find hundreds of attorneys willing and able to help, without the Union getting involved.
What is really troubling is that lately the teachers union is starting to take over the Parents Teachers Organization, and fooling uninformed parents that the PTO(which has credibility with most parents) is behind an issue and that the parents should concur. For example, the PTO is now pushing a bill to lower the percentage of votes needed to implement a parcel tax. This is simply another attempt by the teachers union to flex their muscles and extort more money from parents and the community. I have also noticed that lately they only schedule PTO meetings during school hours, and thus parents who work and actually pay for these things, are unable to attend. Until the school board stands up to the teachers union, the educational system in California will continue to suffer, regardless of how many parcel taxes are passed.
Posted by Disappointed/Sarah, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm
"However, I would not say that Disappointed is a good teacher, she doesn’t sound like one, but I wouldn’t know until I went into her classroom to observe."
Not sure where you saw the switch in my comments. I agree that teachers have a lot to be thankful for in this district (I don't teach here, but my kids attend school here). Middle and high school teachers don't have parents "doing their jobs" though...and my hours as a teacher are far longer than my hours in the corporate world. It's a 24/7 job. Most teachers don't mind since they love what they do. That is, as long as they're not targeted by community resentment while they're working that hard. :)
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm
Parent, you are correct. My frustrations with my school, administration, and district got in the way of my last comment. However, egos do play a role. You make a great point that the world is changing and laws need to be updated. I have made the comment in the past that our jails are ridiculous. If our prisons were run like other countries, then we would not have as much crime. Basic food and shelter is all they deserve for committing a crime. Entertainment, technology, and visitors, are privileges for law abiding citizens. Imagine how much money we could move into education, if we treat criminals the way they should be treated for breaking the law. Mind boggling!
American: I agree that the school boards need new visions, but with my 2 full-time jobs (mother and volunteer), I wouldn’t have time to run. The grocery stores were a good example of how unions get in the way. Unions should not have the right in tell a business owner how to run his/her own company, nor should they run our public school system. The PTO problem you wrote about is what I mean when I say egos get in the way. Egos like to be all powerful, dominate, and take over everything they can, again, for their own financial and social benefit.
Unions and tenure are the major problems. If teacher jobs were not protected with tenure, then teachers would feel the need to produce, just like every other American who is fighting to keep their job in these tough times! If there are bad teachers, we need to be able to get rid of them fast and easily. Teachers are the most important jobs we have in this country. We need to have smart kids so that our next generation of leaders will make good choices to help our country get better.
Posted by Two_Cents, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Say what you will about the teachers union or unions in general, but I don't blame them one bit for organizing themselves in this manner. The way the state has chosen to de-prioritize education is appalling.
Every year when the state gets into financial difficulty it cuts the school budget and every year the only way to reduce the cost is to lay off teachers and/or cut their benefits. Look at what happened in West Contra Costa. Those teachers agreed years ago to reduce their salaries in exchange for a richer benefit package that would cover their dependents and not just them. What happened? This last year the school district told them that their dependents would not longer have benefits and that they would still be paid the lower salaries they had agreed to. A contract is a contract. A deal was struck. This is just one example of why teachers' unions exist, to protect themselves from the yearly exercise of making teachers "pay" for the state's inability to plan and prioritize the costs of education.
Teachers making $40-50K per year should not be forced to make up the gap. These are TEACHERS for crying out loud, the people who shape and influence the lives of our children who will someday run the economy that will ultimately support us in our old age.
You want to know why other countries are eating our lunch when it comes to competitiveness? It's because they've prioritized education. Their teachers are revered.
Do I normally support unions? No. In most cases they are obsolete. But for teachers, I don't blame them one bit.
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm
Back to the money issue, our schools and district need to make a change! I now hear that our district will not have summer school. Are you kidding! Stop spending money on making our schools look beautiful. Stop spending money on fundraising. Stop spending so much money on lawyers to get lawsuits dropped. Stop buying things we don’t need. Go back to the basics and teach our children. Give them a safe environment to go to school and learn.
There needs to be accountability. Some of the school egos have been in their jobs so long, they think they are God and can do whatever they want. Administration should be moved around to prevent misuses of tax payer money. Nothing should be hidden. Everything needs to be put out on the table for all to see. That is when you will see a difference. But then again it also takes a few strong-willed individuals to stand up to all of this. Again, like that one RI HS, get rid of the problem and start over. I admire their courage!
May God bless our children and school district, we need it!
Posted by Two_Cents, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm
Money? Are you serious?
The school districts are getting so little money these days that to think they're going hog wild spending on incidental items is naive.
They're getting by on shoe-string budgets and every year the shoe-string gets more worn.
If the school district is cutting summer school it's because that's what it's come to. From a relative standpoint, we're ahead of other school districts, some of whom have cut back on toilet paper expenditures for crying out loud. There's an environment that conducive to efficient learning. Kids, in addition to your books, lunch, and gym clothes, make sure to bring in a few sheets of TP in case you need to go to the bathroom.
Posted by Reader, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm
I am very happy to see this discussion begin to address the real issues. I was a little concerned with some of the original posts like "fire them all."
Two Cents and Disappointed seem to have a good sense of what they are talking about. The union is a reality. It will not go away. So rather than demonize all teachers because of the union, we should look at the union as a contingent in the budget process.
No doubt, SRVUSD does operate on a shoestring budget. There is no excessive spending anywhere. 85% of the budget goes towards the mediocre payroll of teachers. The union needs to recognize this. Now is the time to except that we will ALL have to make concessions during this budget crisis.
I would love to see the union align its goals with a merit pay system and protect good teachers, not old teachers. Nevertheless, until the teachers themselves start demanding these reforms, the union will continue to act in accord with old values. If you want the teacher's union to change, then talk to the teachers, don't talk to the School Boards.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm
Two Cents: I do not think our state de-values education. I think the problem is there is limited discretionary spending available, due to legislative and judicial mistakes, and we simply do not have the available money for education that we need. For example, liberal Federal Judges are forcing the Governor to provide state funded medical care to prisoners, care that is better than most law abiding citizens can afford. If we could reduce the amount of spending on prisoner medical care, we would have additional funds to improve education. Liberal politicians like Gavin Newsome and his cronies have passed laws and ordinances that drive our best businesses out of the state due to excessive taxes and regulations and restrictions, which greatly reduces our revenue. I honestly think our Governor and most politicians in California value education, realize it is under funded, but due to legislative mistakes and misguided policies, simply do not have the funds available. I would like to see the Governor and the legislature take the same approach they did with the workers compensation system, to the educational system, and fight fraud and abuses, for the good of the state. Unfortunately, with the powerful teachers union in control of the state, that will never occur.
Posted by Two_Cents, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm
Now you're talking. This is one of the worst parts of dealing with a union, the fact that they protect all of their members, even if they're incompetent. Unfortunately they will never agree to merit or performance based pay because one of the central tenets of unions in general is that all members must be protected. To allow any member to be singled out as better or worse than any other member only fragments the union and leads to a dilution of their collective power.
And even if we did have pay based on performance, how would we measure? To use a test would mean teachers teaching to the test and not for learning's sake. And don't blame teachers for that outcome because we all would do the same in their shoes.
Unfortunately, I think the best way to get the best people teaching is to dramatically raise their pay. In that way better people would compete for those jobs. It's no wonder given the choice between a $150K job at Cisco and a $50k job as a math teacher that most people would gravitate toward the private sector. What we're counting on then is having a few people sacrifice their pay in order to teach or worse, getting people who couldn't actually get a job at Cisco to teach math/science.
If the pay difference were $150K versus $90k a higher number of really qualified candidates would start to consider the benefits of teaching. They would be able to do so because they might actually be able to afford living in the same area as their school, etc. You would be telling the prospective teachers that they wouldn't have to sacrifice their economic well being to take up one of the most noble professions on earth.
I know what I'm proposing is pie in the sky, but again, it's a matter of priorities. You get what you pay for. If you want better teachers, then pay better. They WILL show up.
Posted by Two_cents, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm
American: There's a difference between devalues and de-prioritizes. I don't believe that the Governor/state devalues education. I said de-prioritize.
I believe that the state really wants to provide a good education because they do understand that it's an investment. I think, however, that the country in general "de-prioritizes" education.
Why does the country spend $700 billion on the military? Why did the country go to work with Iraq when it didn't have to? Why does the country quickly come to the aid of foreign nations when there are so many needy people within our own borders? It's a matter of priorities.
We don't think twice about spending on the military because we feel we need to protect ourselves from outside forces. We also feel the need to be a super power.
If, however, we said that education above all else must be prioritized because it's in our best interests to do so, and oh by the way having a well educated work force would lead to a better economy and a better standing in the world economy, then we'd make the other expenditures take the brunt of the cuts.
We de-prioritize education to our own detriment. And believe me, in the end we will pay the price for it.
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm
American: you are absolutely correct about the liberals forcing their ideas down our backs. They have a way of giving to “bad” people, like criminals, prisoners, and illegal immigrants, and taking from the “good” people like our children! But I am going to stop before I write 10 pages about what is wrong with our political system!
Reader: who is demonizing all teachers? Yes, we have some, maybe even a lot, of bad teacher that need to retire, quit, or be fired, but no one is saying all teachers. I do think you are a little out of touch with our schools. There is unnecessary spending and spending in areas that only benefit a few. Teachers have made demands, just in the wrong areas, but I’m not ready to talk about that. If you really think the union is a good thing, and benefits our students, then I have nothing else to say to you.
Two Cents: Yes I am serious! I quietly observe everything that goes on at my school. I listen to all ideas and opinions. I know way more than the school would like. Yes, we have “show-string budgets”, but so what! Everyone should have a budget. It is a shame that our per-student income is less than the kids in the city, but, that did not put us into this financial problem. Yes, we would do much better if we had more money, but we also need to be spending that money wisely. Yes, the school district is cutting back every year, but they are cutting the wrong things! TP, are you serious?
If we spend what we have more wisely, fight the politicians for more money, ask for local and national businesses to donate to our schools, and maybe even pay more property tax for our schools, then we would have more money to pay for better teachers. As for your comments on our armed services, if they don’t protect us from everyone who wants to destroy us, then we won’t need schools and teachers anyway, because there won’t be another generation of American kids to teach. God bless America!
Posted by Two_cents, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm
Marie, stop it! You are killing me. :)
You are advocating higher property taxes?! That's inconsistent with what I thought were your conservative leanings.
I still say we need to spend less in other areas. There a difference between spending to "protect" ourselves and spending to invade countries we don't have to. We spent trillions with a "T" to remove Saddam. To protect ourselves does NOT cost trillions, but we spent/borrowed that money. If only we had the sense to prioritize education.
The TP comment is real. A number of Oakland and Richmond schools have said they are no longer spending on toilet paper. Is that really the country you want to live in? One that would rather spend trillions on a useless war as opposed to providing funds for something as basic as education.
I for one do not advocate higher taxes of any kind to pay for what an educational system that we rightfully deserve. I'm also in favor of military spending that is intended to protect ourselves.
The Iraq war was not an exercise in "protecting" the country. And I do not wish to harp on how/why we did it, but I do so to highlight that this country has clearly f***'ed up its priorities.
Another thing, could you please provide examples of the wasteful spending in the school that you've observed. If you are correct then I am very interested. Maybe I've overlooked something. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm
Marie for superintendent! (just please don't advocate raising property taxes)
American for mayor!
My two cents is that we need to raise class sizes. The teachers unions fought for lower class sizes because the inherent effect of that is hiring more teachers. It matters not to the student. That's a ruse. Kids need greater discipline, which does not only come through a 50s style paddling, but is completely attainable through proper amounts of physical activity and nutrition. Kids naturally want to listen, learn and obey. We must just get their natural neurotransmitters going, instead of poisoning them with Ritalin. With such discipline a class is easily manageable at 40 kids per. Being that teachers salaries make up the entirety of a schools budget, raising class sizes to 40 would eliminate 30% of the cost, leaving plenty to pay even a touch more for those we keep, so that capitalism ensures we have good minds at the helm of our classrooms. And we would still come out fiscally ahead by far. This is THE solution
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm
Gunslinger: Your class size arguments are brilliant, and would greatly reduce the district spending. With less teachers needed, we could also do a better job of evaluating their skills and have a competitive market where the best teachers are rewarded, and the ones who depend on the union would be gone. We also need to give school administrators the power to quickly remove students who are discliplinary problems, so teachers can spend more time actually teaching, which is really important with a larger class size. Often, one or two problem students hijack the learning experience, and when faced with suspension, lawyer up, playing the "disability" card. Administrators need to support the teachers and quickly remove the problems students. Parents need to be more involved in the process of teaching morals and values to their children at home, and the teachers need to stop wasting time teaching "political correctness" ideology to the students. This scenario, not parcel taxes, or union threats, is needed to reverse the failing education system in California.
Posted by Rose, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm
Gunslinger and American, how refreshing to read logical solutions!! Hate to bring up the good old days but; thirty five students to a classroom used to be the norm. Now with Paraprofessionals and parent volunteers and classes half that size, teachers threaten to quit their jobs if given any more to do. This mess is so out of control, unless American can run the show....I wish!
Posted by Fernando Olivas, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2010 at 9:10 am
As good intentioned as they are, often few parents provide the basic and necessary book/reading support at home since this would require much attention to details, and insight into the capacity and interest of their children.
Professional librarians are like the surgical team in which each component is necessary to the total program. The surgeon(child) needs attending support even if the patient(child/family) never sees the benefit or fully comprehends the interdependence of the support team.
Librarians can lead, tactfully and cautiously, many young readers to appropriate, beneficial and interesting books for self involvement into the world of the imagination which is not recognized for the value it has for the young mind. Librarians, obviously, have loved reading, books, and have developed the mental range of reading knowledge which is more then just checking out books.
What often can not be seen is considered as meaningless, valueless, and of little positive benefit in the long run. Considerably wrong by just looking at what historically has been done by those with the most advanced imagination anyone could have, be that in science or the arts.
Hopefully, each in the community would side for the long range benefit of keeping librarians.
May you read an interesting book soon and be thankful for all the past librarians who provided, guided, and attended to your interests when you were young as well as currently.
Posted by Disappointed/Sarah, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:17 am
Marie, you have children. Would you be happy with 40 per class?
There's pretty strong evidence that large class sizes (with today's curriculum, not that of 35 years ago) result in lower test scores. And we all know what lower test scores and the resulting perceived school quality does for home values, so even on a purely selfish level we can appreciate the importance of test scores.
Certainly some self-motivated, bright kids with involved parents will fare just fine in a class of any size, with or without counselors and librarians, as Gunslinger clearly did in elementary school. But the goal is to educate ALL students, including those whose parents do not or cannot provide what they need. And like it or not, it is also the responsibility of our school system to educate those with disabilities, whether or not some community members perceive those disabilities as valid. If we remove those children from the classroom (at their expense, by the way, as there's strong evidence most children with learning disabilities benefit from maximizing their time in the regular classroom), as was suggested, because they "detract" from the learning of the majority, where will you put them? In special classrooms for the full day? Those still have to be funded by the district. Not every child/family fits your ideal mold and can buck up and fall in line with your "efficient" system.
I am "disappointed" that our only choice may be to reduce the number of counselors and librarians in this district. It's a great loss for our children and our community. I hope another solution can be found.
Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm
No Sarah, it's not up to the responsible parents to pay through the nose for those who take no responsibility. And that's a false choice anyway. The facts are with a lack of discipline you could have five kids in a classroom and the problem kids would still fall behind. With discipline you can have 40 kids per class with no one left behind. Booyakashah!
Posted by SprtnDad, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2010 at 9:59 am
Let's not stop at the teachers unions. Let's include the bloated and redundant education bureaucracy. A couple of examples - all school jobs are built at prevailing wage. That adds a premium of more than 40% to everything built for the schools. We can get the work done cheaper and better. Eliminate DSA (Division of State Architects). They require a set of building codes that are marginally different than codes for public buildings. Buildings aren't any better - just more expensive. Oh yeah, while we're at it, return the portables. ALL of them! With classes getting larger, there has to be less need for them. Unless the schools start dealing with expenses like any business enterprise in financial trouble they should stop whining and asking for more tax money and bonds.
Posted by Vlado, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2010 at 10:20 am
In theory school libraries would be a good thing if they were used as a means of instructing students to do their own research and evaluation of things they hear and read about. This is not the case in this area where schools are used for indoctrination and libraries suppress politically incorrect factual information.
I think this kind of system should not be supported as changes are unlikely to occur.
Posted by Reader, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:31 am
How awful to think that one of your own Danville children has to go to a trade school and live a second class life? Get over yourself, Duffy.
That guy who works in the garage fixing your SUV must be a criminal right? He must have a poor quality of life, right? He must have been a bad student, unsuccessful, had a bad upbringing? Poor old mechanic never got a break in life did he, now he is stuck in this dirty old garage fixing rich people's cars. Where did he go wrong? Hmmm. What a shame. I better neglect all advice from educational professionals and spend $100,000 for out of state tuition so my son can have a prestigious degree from Duke.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm
If Gunslinger could read he would have noticed that the state is in a depression. Therefore there is less money for everything in the state budget. The causes of the depression are many: bank managers, loan officers, intense greed among the main pillars of Wall Street and the worlds financial officers.
IT IS NOT THE F-ING TEACHERS UNION WHO CAUSED the need to cut back at all School Districts not alone San Ramon.