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Follow the Money Behind Measure E

Follow the Money Behind Measure E

by Dennis Green

Enormous sums of money have been spent in Alameda by the backers of Measure E, a big increase in school parcel taxes facing the voters. By law, the Alameda Unified School District itself is prohibited from spending money to promote such an initiative. So where is the money coming from?

The front group, APlus, formed by political consultants Erwin & Muir, has put up hundreds, if not thousands of lawn signs all over town, in embarrassing profusion, signs that bear a classical design error, the “Measure E” in “Vote Yes on Measure E” obscured by being printed in a childish scrawl and in a different color, one that blends into the background color, making the words unintelligible.

I dwell on this error, because it is very telling. It reminds me of the man I knew who was fired from Kaiser Aluminum for designing a package of kitchen foil wrap that looked fine in the studio but disappeared on the store shelves under fluorescent lights. That error tells me that not only are Erwin & Muir amateurs, but that there is also no one at APlus with sufficient experience in political campaigning to avoid such an egregious and obvious error.

Which indicates where all that money is coming from. The unions. Teachers’ unions who have such resources, the tens of thousands of dollars it would take to mount such a campaign and the ignorance to screw it up so badly.

Phone banks manned by high school students, calling voters at dinnertime, a sure turn-off. Especially when they are calling so many households on the “Do Not Call” list. Irritating and invasive enough to turn voters off. Another classic mistake.

Highly visible teams of youngsters wearing blazing red shirts walking precincts badgering homeowners to vote in favor of cutting their own throats by more than doubling their parcel tax for schools, during a RECESSION! Something very Chinese Cultural Revolution about those prowling mobs of “advocates.” If politics is theater, this street theater is simply scary.

The unions, and Erwin & Muir, don’t understand that political campaigns have consequences. If your supporters are out there threatening to boycott merchants who display “No on E” window signs, you injure the very fabric of community. You fail to appreciate that those merchants are essential to the community, and to the schools, more than the schools are to the small businesses in town. Without those merchants, you have no community, and no tax base to support anything, let alone ever more hungry schools.

Moreover, those threats and the over-the-top righteous tone of the “Yes on E” campaign implies that the merchants and others who oppose the measure don’t have a right to their opinion, that only one side can possibly be right in this election. And that is totally undemocratic, and in the worst tradition of dictators.

I can only hope that the mismanagement by this highly-financed effort will fail, that the voters will see through the glossy slogans and bear up under the intimidation, and vote No. If Measure E fails, THEN I think we will have an opportunity to have an honest debate, an open and transparent discussion of what’s needed in the schools besides more of our money: REFORM.

Without such a discussion, the schools and their students do not have my support. If they want a quality education, let them enroll in the many private schools, including the fine Catholic schools in Alameda, that provide an education proven superior to that they get now in the public schools.

48 comments to Follow the Money Behind Measure E

  • Anonymous

    Well said Mr. Green. I have been told repeatedly, and to my astonishment, that the public schools in Oakland provide a higher quality education that those in Alameda.

  • Joel Jones

    Well said? I don’t think so.

    Let’s see which rhetorical fallacies you’ve managed to exhibit in this posting:

    Bare assertion fallacy: you have listed no support for any of your assertions about the source of money.

    Ad hominem: “Teachers’ unions who have such resources, … “and the ignorance to screw it up so badly.”

    Appeal to ridicule: “Something very Chinese Cultural Revolution about those prowling mobs of ‘advocates.'”

    Style over substance fallacy: “That error tells me that not only are Erwin & Muir amateurs, but that there is also no one at APlus with sufficient experience in political campaigning to avoid such an egregious and obvious error.” This invalidates the need for Measure E how?

    Perfect solution fallacy: “If Measure E fails, THEN I think we will have an opportunity to have an honest debate, an open and transparent discussion of what’s needed in the schools besides more of our money: REFORM.” So why does a measure that you view as faulty preclude such a discussion?

    Straw man argument: “Moreover, those threats and the over-the-top righteous tone of the “Yes on E” campaign implies that the merchants and others who oppose the measure don’t have a right to their opinion, that only one side can possibly be right in this election.” Do you have any support for this assertion that the proponents of Measure E believe this?

    I could go on, but I will leave it to others to explicate the numerous other fallacies in this work. q.v. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

  • Nobody is having any discussion about reform because the District has billed Measure E as a panacea for school funding problems, and threatening “doomsday” if Measure E does not pass. And many parents are swallowing that hook-line-and-sinker. Some have proposed charter schools as part of the answer, but don’t expect that discussion to be aired either if Measure E passes – the status quo will be maintained.

    The fix was in on Measure E early last year – AUSD Superintendent Vital put Erwin & Muir on her master plan advisory group in june/july of 2009. The end product is a master plan that provides only two options – a parcel tax, or “doomsday.” At the March 15th 2010 AUSD Board meeting – which was neither videotaped nor audiotaped by the District, BTW – the Board stated that they knew in May/June of the previous year that they would need a parcel tax. Yet they waited until March 15th to consider a resolution, presumably for maximum effect and to create the maximum sense of urgency – this is also the date that the initial teacher layoff notices went out. Note also that the resolution and Measure E ballot language that they considered that day was circulated for only one business day before it was voted on – despite the Board knowing several months prior that they expected to need a parcel tax.

    Vital has also said that the Parcel Tax Advisory Group was drawn “from all parts of Alameda” – but that’s a statement proved false by the map available here: http://www.action-alameda-news.com/alameda-unified-school-district-parcel-tax-2010/

    The majority of the Advisory Group consisted of people who had previously promoted Measure H, and/or were protecting a self-interest by pushing for a parcel tax. e.g. keeping their kids’ small neighborhood schools with high test scores open.

    The attacks on merchants, well documented on The Bay Citizen and The Island – can only leave one with a reasonable inference that that Pro-Measure E people will not allow opponents to have or express a negative opinion on the tax.

    http://www.baycitizen.org/education/story/alameda-stirred-tax-plan/

    If you want to have a discussion about reform, without more money, Joel, let’s have it.

  • Joel Jones

    From all the discussion of how “the fix was in”, I still can’t determine why you think that the drastic budget cuts from the state can be ignored. AUSD uses fewer administrators and support staff per student than peer districts in the state and has smaller or comparable class sizes. As far as I know, there are no major projects going on that could be deferred. Short of trying to negate the existing teacher’s contract, how is the short fall to be made up? It is someone disingenuous to speak of “more money” when the revenue from Measure E still won’t make up the short fall.

    As to attacks being representative, this is an example of the spotlight fallacy. A group of parents going to a merchant and calmly discussing their position on Measure E would hardly make much of news story, would it? I know that I have been tempted to have a discussion of the incongruity of detractors of Measure E bringing lawsuits against the current parcel tax while simultaneously posting signs that say “Support classrooms, not courtrooms” and complaining about how much money AUSD has had to spend on court cases.

  • The plaintiffs in the Measure H lawsuit believe they gave fair warning to the District not to implement a split-roll tax, which the District did anyway. Then, the District went and did it again with Measure E, even as the plaintiffs asked to sit down and discuss alternatives. The District is stubbornly insistent on split roll taxes, despite advanced warning from business owners, and yet presses forward anyway. Not to mention the gamble they are taking with the District’s finances in the event that the ruling on Measure H is overturned in the appellate court, and the money needs to be paid back.

    Your reference to the spotlight fallacy makes no sense. You asked for evidence that Measure E supporters cannot tolerate opponents holding or expressing an opposing view. One was provided. Want more? Opposing signs have been defaced as well. It matters that it happened, not whether or not it was reported in the newspaper.

    Let’s talk about fallacies. Namely, that the District shouldn’t have to make any cuts whatsoever the face of declining property tax revenue (local level) and sales and income tax (state level), and in the face of a record recession that has left many people out of work or with cuts to their own income levels. The $14 million/year that the District expects to raise with Measure E is premised on providing a level of funding that was only projected for the coming year, but never in the past actually provided to AUSD. See the slides on the AUSD website for the 2nd interim budget update.

    Why shouldn’t the District make cuts? Why shouldn’t everybody in the District take a temporary 10% pay cut, thereby saving $7 million to $9 million per year? Why shouldn’t the District realize the available cost savings by consolidating schools? (The smallest elementary school in Alameda is less than half the size of the largest.) Such actions might allow for a lower parcel tax that isn’t more than double the taxes it replaces (i.e. one that people can afford) and it might allow for a tax structure that doesn’t prompt more lawsuits on behalf of the District. The business community has said they wouldn’t oppose to a tax structure that was not split-roll. Yet the District insists on proposing that time and time again.

    The District knew early last year that they would need a parcel tax – they could have started negotiating the temporary pay cuts then.

  • Well now we know that one Joel Jones is a graduate of the School of Sophistry, whereby you don’t have to make a case for your own side, but simply dismiss the arguments of the other side with the tactic known in debate as “The Pathetic Fallacy” labal.

    If I speculate, along reasonable lines, I’m using the “Bare Assertions Fallacy,” etc. If someone demonstrates that some proponents of the pathetic measure are aggressive, arrogant and over the top, we’re guilty of using the “Spotlight Fallacy.” We must assume, fallaciously, that Joel was educated in the Alameda public schools and got a Gold Star on the debate team!

    Meanwhile, he doesn’t find any way to refute any of our arguments. And vie just demonstrated how easy it is to dismiss HIS without any counter-logic at all, just by adopting the same smarmy tone. IfMeasure E fIls,we can only hope that Joel moves to some other, remote city where the schools do a better job, like Oakland.

    D’Green

  • Arguably, his dismissal of the story about pro-measure e people attacking merchants could equally be dismissed as an irrelevant fallacy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignoratio_elenchi

  • Joel Jones

    (This is primarily addressed to Dennis)

    I’m pretty sure that sophistry is the wrong word. I don’t think I’m being particularly subtle, deceptive, or for that matter, clever. Poor argumentation is poor argumentation and I call it out whenever I find it, whether or not I support a position or not.

    Again, you use ad hominem attacks—“Joel Jones is a graduate of the School of Sophistry” and elsewhere.

    I don’t really see how pathetic fallacy applies to my not directly arguing in favor of Measure E. From Wikipedia ( the source of all knowledge :-) ):
    “Pathetic fallacy: when an inanimate object is declared to have characteristics of animate objects”

    I don’t doubt that there has been bad behavior and I certainly don’t support it. But generalizing from the proposition “some people who support Measure E have acted badly” to “the leaders pushing Measure E encourage and support bad behavior” is not supported by anything I’ve seen here.

    I’m not sure where the comment about moving away from Alameda comes from. I’m not requesting or even considering the position that detractors of Measure E should move or be quiet, so I’m not sure why I should.

  • Joel Jones

    I have a question. It was my understanding that a split roll tax was the only legal way of having a parcel/property tax that differentiated on value of property. In other words, under California law, the two choices for any kind of parcel/property tax that can be levied for a school district is either 1) a uniform tax of (say) $300 per parcel, whether or not it was residential or commercial or 2) a split roll tax that has differing rates for residential and commercial with some allowance for a small number of categories within each group. Is this true?

  • That’s the whole crux of the Measure H lawsuit and appeal. Measure H and Measure E have different tax rates across even commercial property as a result of the tax cap.

  • Dennis didn’t write “the leaders pushing Measure E encourage and support bad behavior” – I’m not sure why you wrote that as if you were quoting him.

    He wrote: “If your supporters are out there threatening to boycott merchants who display “No on E” window signs, ….” and “Moreover, those threats and the over-the-top righteous tone of the “Yes on E” campaign implies that the merchants and others who oppose the measure don’t have a right to their opinion, that only one side can possibly be right in this election.”

    And if you would actually read the Bay Citizen article, and the articles on The Island, you would see that the attacks on merchants and individuals are not a one time event by a few bad apples, but something that was repeated, over time, by multiple people against multiple merchants and people. Not to mention the defacing and theft of “no” signs.

    (once again, the irrelevant fallacy – ignoring facts and trying to distract the audience from the real point.)

  • propubliceducation

    Follow the money? Supe Vital keeps taking her 3% annual raises and everything and everyone else is disposable. Notice Alameda’s High’s principal, Mr. Janvier, retired (under pressure) this year? Notice Encinal High’s principal, Mr. Cooper, was reassigned to be VP of Wood Middle yesterday? Neither high school has a principal now. No wonder the Board didn’t want to commit to where Measure E funds would be spent. The District is in chaos. What’s the Board doing? Who gives money to an organization spinning out of control? Vote No on E!

  • For Joel: I used the term “pathetic fallacy” aka “phallacy,” a literary term, tongue in cheek, accusing you of presenting an inanimate object, your non-argument, as an animate object, i.e., having some lifelike resemblance to human thought. And yes, that’s ad hominem, but I’m tired of being called in the APlus letter-writing campaign “parsimonious” and “ignorant” and “illogical” for stating my views. As a former president of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, I have many friends and colleagues among the merchants of this island city, and they have told me, many of them, about the organized campaign of threats to boycott their businesses for displaying “No” signs. People have come into their stores who have never shopped there, and, using the same canned language and sound bites, threatened them with a boycott. Those same threats have appeared in several letters to local newspapers. APlus is getting some very bad advice, by turning this into a bitter “Us Vs. Them” knife fight, which is turning many voters off.

  • Joel Jones

    To Dennis:

    Personally, I don’t consider being called parsimonious a bad thing, but I am sure it was meant that way. :-)

    I have been involved in doing some door hangings regarding Measure E, but haven’t encountered anyone organizing boycotts. I don’t doubt that that is going on. However, there is a distinction between simply planning on voting on an issue and placing signs in your yard or in your business. I expect that if I were to post a sign, that there will be consequences—people will actively try to engage me, not have anything to do with me, etc. As you wrote in your article, “political campaigns have consequences”. I feel the same is true for businesses.

    If I understand your last message correctly, you are concerned about the civility of the debate on Measure E. If this is so, how is characterizing volunteers using the phrase: “Something Chinese Cultural Revolution about those prowling mobs of “advocates.” helping that cause? I know it is hyperbole, but still.

    As to following the money trail, why are you only calling out the pro Measure E side? You seem to be implying two things: first, that the teacher’s union is funding the pro Measure E campaign and is attempting to hide that fact and second, that that is somehow bad. The anti Measure E side is spending money as well. I think that it is reasonable to assume that both pro and anti Measure E proponents are motivated at least in some part by self interest. It is clear that at least some individuals in anti Measure E camp are attempting to hide their involvement. For example, from the selection of articles at http://www.actionalameda.org/ausd/ausd.php, it appears that the Action Alameda is opposed to Measure E. However, I couldn’t find any person’s name on their web site that is associated with that group. Contrast this with APlus’s web site, where they list their committee members: http://www.alamedaschools.org/?page_id=63. Also the respondents on this discussion use pseudonyms like “Action Alameda” and “propubliceducation”. The facebook page for Alamedans for Fair Taxation (http://www.facebook.com/VoteNoOnMeasureE?v=info) similarly shrouds identities. Anyone feel like tracking down who runs Broadway Management company? They seem to share the same address as Alamedans for Fair Taxation.

  • Broadway management company is Ed Hirshberg’s company.

    Action Alameda News is free to take an editorial position against Measure E in the same manner that the Alameda Journal and Alameda Sun are free to take a position in favor of Measure E, as they have done. That editorial position has been clearly stated on this website since the end of March: http://www.action-alameda-news.com/alameda-unified-school-district-parcel-tax-2010/

    Opponents to Measure H, and to Measure E, have been subject to acts of aggression, intimidation, bullying and threats of violence. (Well documented already.) Nobody is in a hurry to publicly advertise their opposition to Measure E out of fear for their physical safety.

    Now. Let’s talk about how can reform California’s public school system, shall we? You said that Measure E shouldn’t preclude that discussion.

  • The Superintendent of D.C. Schools recently appeared on MSNBC, to talk about her success at school reform there. “When I arrived, all the teachers and principals had ratings in the 95th percentile or better, but 45 percent of the kids were failing. It took me five years, but I did away with tenure, seniority and the rankings methods, which were based on seniority and continued education.”

    She fired several hundred teachers and more than a dozen principals, including the one at the elementary school her own children attended. The D.C. Mayor backed her up. At the end of five years, student test scores were up on average by 50 percent. “Strange as it sounds,” she adds, “teachers’ evaluations are based in part on the test scores of their students. Those test scores account for 50 percent of their ranking, and for the best teachers, we will increase their salary by 125 percent over the next three years.”

    Merit Pay. The phrase that throws fear into the hearts of many Alameda teachers.

    This whole story is probably some sort of “fallacy” according to Joel, but his last comment was a TROPE, that is, a violent and exaggerated metaphor.

    DG

  • Sharpie

    Do you think if I went into my bosses office tomorrow and told him I needed more money to maintain the life-style I would like to become accustomed to, he would give me a raise?
    Probably not. He would tell me to adjust my spending and manage to the budget I have. My reckless spending is not his problem. Only by a resounding defeat of Measure E can we force the Superintendent and the Board of Ed to manage to their budget, not to keep picking our pockets.

    Get past the diatribe, VOTE NO!

  • Joel Jones

    Dennis:

    I’m not sure where I used a metaphor in my last comment. Could you please explain?

    I’m not sure why you state that I might think your story about merit pay in the DC school system would contain a fallacy. It is a simple recitation of facts.

    Your comment regarding Alameda’s teachers being afraid of merit pay, I can’t evaluate, because I have no knowledge regarding whether or not merit pay has been discussed with teachers. I am in favor of merit pay, for what it is worth.

    Also, Dennis, can I request that you refrain from the ad hominem attacks? I know this is a sore point with you, but I have been trying to be assiduous in addressing your argumentation without name calling or inflammatory language.

  • Joel Jones

    Sharpie:

    I think a more fitting analogy would be having your boss tell you that you were going to have your salary cut 18% because one of your company’s major customers had canceled existing orders and you asked him to try to get more orders from other customers.

    What reckless spending do you feel AUSD has done?

  • Joel Jones

    To address Action Alameda’s request to discuss California school reform, I have a question. Why is there a county school board? What services do they provide that are best handled at the county level, rather than at the district level or the state level?

  • Joel Jones

    Action Alameda:

    If the confrontations between pro Measure E and anti Measure proponents has devolved to “acts of aggression, intimidation, bullying and threats of violence”, then this is despicable and should be dealt with all appropriate legal means. I know that if anyone was to make a credible threat of violence against me, I would try to document the incident as best I could and contact the police. Do you know if anyone has filed a police report against any of these incidents?

    I have no easy way of knowing the relationship between Action Alameda and Action Alameda News, but I never meant to imply that (that/either) entity couldn’t have a corporate position on issues. My comment was to address one of the original article’s theses that there are hidden actors in the pro Measure E camp by pointing out that at least APlus had listed their committee members and that the anti Measure E camp has hidden actors as well.

  • Joel: “Businesses have consequences too.” Your trope. A violent, exaggerated and distorted metaphor promoting a parallel truth to my observation that “Politics have consequences.” Your sophistry: “What is truth?” After denying that there could possibly be any organized campaign to threaten merchants with boycotts, you tacitly admit that there is, and that such boycotts would be the natural consequence of being in business in the first place, let alone displaying a “No on E” window sign.

    That is sophistry of the worst sort, for such a campaign, if organized by APlus and the unions and the political consulting firm of Erwin & Muir which are behind APlus, using John Knox-White as their Stooge, (ad hominem! Sticks and stones, etc.), such a campaign would be unethical if not, (see State Education Code and the paper trail documented by Action Alameda News), illegal.

    There is some talk now among Alameda merchants regarding how, if Measure E(gregarious) passes, to offset it’s costs, $791/ mo. For many businesses, $80,000 for it’s duration. One suggestion is to cancel all advertising in the newspapers that endorsed it. Yet if that remedy had been organized as a boycott strategy and threat up front, it would have been undemocratic and smacking of the intimidation you claim wasn’t imposed on those very merchants and their Second Amendment rights.

    “Businesses have consequences too” is typical of your tone, attitude and tactics all throughout this discussion. But we see through your protests of innocence and objectivity. So you admit you went out working the precincts and putting up door hangers, and then complain when I observe that those squads of red shirts prowling the neighborhoods resembled the Cultural Revolution. Sorry, that’s a simple FACT, and nothing ad hominem about it. Who do you suppose financed and provided those geeky uniforms?

    Fact Checker Green

  • The county office of education website lists their ostensible mission right on their home page: http://www.acoe.org/acoe/

  • Anonymous

    Pretty clear that the supporters (parents) who have students enrolled at AUSD (12%) of households, do not care about the economy as it affects others. The lovely Women’s clothing store on Central just closed. Every one else is supposed to scrimp and save and do without, but AUSD cannot be bothered to even expel a single out of district student of the 479, that it recruited to fill its empty schools. More students skews the numbers. Let’s recompute the administrator per student ratio (and other ratios as well) after deducting the out of district students.

    Anyone who has survived the Alameda Public School experience knows that the administrators do nothing for the classroom. The Web master, General Counsel, etc. and built in raises for administrators need to go. Anyone facile enough to believe that Measure E will not go for these salaries and the concomitant generous public employee pensions and benefits, doesn’t understand even the simple economic definition of “opportunity cost”. Say one don’t have enough money to buy wine ($2.00 buck Chuck) AND a burger, and must choose between them. That person has a sign and approaches you while you are stopped at the intersection claiming he/she is hungry and needs money for food. You give him $2.00 for the burger. He is now free to buy that wine with the money he already had in his pocket. And be true to his sign!

    Measure E is exactly the same. There is absolutely no requirement that the money it raises will go to CORE education. Even if it had such a requirement, it would just free up the other funds in its budget to go to the administrators salaries, pensions, and benefits. Like $2.00 buck Chuck for the panhandler.

    With my deepest apologies to Trader Joes.

  • We documented previously that the District spent $14,000 on an outside web design firm (Not from Alameda, BTW) to redesign their website at the same time they hired AUSD Trustee Mike McMahon’s daughter as a “webmaster” http://www.action-alameda-news.com/2010/02/27/ausd-superintendent-kirsten-vital-weaves-a-tangled-web/

    The job description for the webmaster role includes:

    Duties:

    Provide cross-platform functionality, navigability, usability and accessibility of the District’s website.

    Knowledge:

    Comprehensive knowledge of web development application packages such as microsoft FrontPage and Adobe DreamWeaver

    Comprehensive knowledge of HTML, XML, scripting languages, and cross-platform web accessibilty standards.

    Education:

    AA or certification in Web Development, design or related field
    demonstrate knowledge of web development and site management applications

  • T.J.’s will forgive you, I’m sure!

    I encourage everyone interested in this debate, which will be resolved in a few days, to read the “My Word” op-ed piece in today’s Alameda Journal, titled, “Parcel tax won’t help low-xcoring schools.” In it, Bob Schmidt details exactly how mediocre the AUSD schools are in their performance. Anyone supporting Measure E is supporting the status quo, mediocrity and a lack of the very excellence all school parcel taxes have promised, and never delivered.

    If this debate isn’t about quality education, then it’s just an empty and hollow discourse. I feel that only without Measure E will the real debate begin, and that is about the Reform needed in Alameda public schools — including a re-examination of tenure, seniority and resistance by the teachers and their spouses, (see Mark Iron’s many letters ridiculing Merit Pay), to rewarding excellence in teaching.

  • Hot R

    Have to clear a few things up. The teachers took a pay cut in approving a new contract in April. Meanwhile 70 plus teachers were laid off already and class size will increase to 32-1 whether Measure E passes or not. They are doing their part and this will hurt education. The administrative offices have been revamped and administrators reassigned or let go. What choice is there when the State cuts the money every year? The constant cuts (not just this year) have really taken their toll. Any argument to the contrary is inaccurate and uninformed.

    But Alameda’s State of California API scores are good, and the latest ranking from Newsweek Magazine (America’s Best High Schools), Alameda schools – including Encinal in the West End, rank in the top 3% of all schools in the United States. Encinal received a score of “9” out of 10 (API) when compared to similarly situated schools. That means the teachers are doing a terrific job with their clientele. That does not mean every child is succeeding, but you would be wise to look to parents to sharing responsibility for that.

    The comparisons to Oakland are laughable, and show the poster knows nothing about the dismal situation there. Check out their API scores… The reason those 479 students come from Oakland and San Leandro to Alameda is that Alameda schools are much better. And Alameda is reimbursed by the State for each student. Therefore, they ‘make” money from these students.

    Janvier retired after 35 years in education. He was not “forced” out and a new principal has already been chosen. Isn’t 35 years enough time? Vital wants her own choice at Encinal, although her move is controversial given the recent gains at the school and the fierce loyalty of the EHS community. Neither move has anything to do with Measure E.

    As far as reforming education – who isn’t in favor of it? Higher teacher pay and merit pay sounds like a terrific idea. Would you be in favor of higher taxes to pay for it? Teacher pay is not at all comparable to fire and police, nor are their pensions, as police and fire get full salary and health care for life. Teachers do not. The real crisis is coming in the next 10 years when cities cannot pay the high pensions of police and firemen (see Vallejo).

    It is ironic that long time merchants who have enjoyed immense profits from Prop. 13 (Berry) and don’t even live in Alameda (Borikas) marshal so many spurious arguments (schools no good, litigation costs, illegal tax) when all this is really about is saving more money. Both Berry’s grandchildren went to Alameda High. Wny didn’t he pay for private school if public education is so bad? They are entitled to campaign against the measure, but the bottom line is that Borikas and Berry will not go broke because of this tax. The only one making money from their appeal of their courtoom loss will be their “Brilliant” attorney.

    Undoubtedly you cannot be convinced. But unless you are a survivalist living off the grid, or are intent in going to prison for tax evasion, you pay local taxes for roads, parking structures, libraries, police, fire, hospitals, parks, and city services because it is your civic duty. Schools are the same. If you have no “soft” spot for kids, perhaps you can recognize the importance of education to the welfare of the general society. Thomas Jefferson stated that public education is fundamental to the health of the society. That is why I have already voted for Measure E.

  • The average teacher in Alameda is paid $64,092, or $50 to $60 per hour. For the rest of us, that would be over $100K per year.

    Oakland API scores are available here: http://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/199410108162459133/site/default.asp#

    And the East Bay Express has done a lot of coverage on Oakland schools and teachers this year:
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/92510/archives/2010/03/04/some-hard-truths-about-oakland-teachers
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/oakland-unified-has-too-many-schools/Content?oid=1725235

    One take away – Alameda, like Oakland, could probably stand to have fewer schools.

    As for Borikas, he DOES live in Alameda, as do many of the merchants who are opposed to parcel tax.

    It’s false and disingenuous to characterize measure e opponents as “anti school” – the public school system, like so many private sector businesses, households and other public agencies must learn how to live with less money.

    What choice is there when State funding drops?

    o Everyone in the District take a 10% temporary pay cut until State funding returns. Save $7 to $9 million per year.

    o Consolidate schools – the smallest elementary school in Alameda is less than half the size of the largest.

    o The inter-district kids may bring in ADA money, but there’s a corresponding cost to serve them as well, and their parents don’t pay the parcel tax. Consolidate the schools to save money and fill the seats with kids from Alameda who do pay the parcel tax.

    All of the above would likely have allowed for a much lower parcel tax – one that people could afford – and a tax structure that doesn’t prompt the business community to sue the District. (Legal fees well over $200K in two years – enough to pay for some teachers.)

  • Hot R: I was a classroom teacher for 14 years, most recently 3 years in Mass Com at Hayward State and in Pr/Marketing one year at UC Berkeley, so I know all about education from the inside. No, I never made as much money as police or fire, but didn’t risk my life or work the long hours per day or week, got three months off in the summers, two weeks at Xmas, another week at Semester Break, and another at Easter.

    Those 70 layoffs you refer to are probably bogus, since by State law all untenured teachers have to be sent layoff notices, whether they will really be laid off or not. I was married for many years to a high school teacher, and all her colleagues lived quite well, affording nice homes in Santa Barbara on “The Riviera,” and traveling to Europe every summer.

    See Bob Schmidt’s op-ed in yesterday’s Journal for a rundown on how bad many Alameda school test scores really are. Don’t take my word for it. And no, they don’t do nearly as well as the Catholic schools. I referenced one school in Oakland – Native American Charter – that outshines all AUSD schools, but of course most Oakland schools are failing their students even worse than some Alameda schools. So what? They’re getting more money than Alameda schools, so it can’t be a lack of funds.

    You conveniently omit the fact that those out of district students cost us more then they bring in in per diem.

    Finally, I do have a soft spot for kids, raised three boys of my own. But I do NOT have a soft spot for unions or tenure, did all my teaching without either!

    Cheers,

    DG

  • Hot R

    No – let’s use the actual numbers. For instance here is the link for Oakland’s finest high school – Skyline:

    statewide rank 3, similar school rank – 5.

    How about Oakland High?

    statewide rank 2, similar school rank – 3

    Encinal: statewide rank 6 – similar school rank – 9
    Alameda: statewide rank 10 – similar school rank 3
    ACLC statewide rank 10 – similar school rank 2

    Here is the link:

    http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2010/2009BaseSch.aspx?allcds=01612590137943

    I like Native American Charter. But they will kick kids out who don’t perform. That tends to keep your scores high. And it is not a high school. An examination of API scores over the last 10 years shows that scores are highest in elementary school. That is before the “other” influences of society kick in. There are over 100 schools in Oakland. Thank God one is doine OK.

    The layoffs and class size increases are not bogus and your contention that out of district kids cost more than they bring in is also inaccurate. And if your truly don’t like tenure or seniority, then voting against Measure E does nothing but entrench it, as good young teachers have already been laid off as a result of the budget cuts, and more are to come if Measure E does not pass.

  • If Measure E passes, it will only reinforce the status quo. If the State funding system for schools is really, truly broken, nobody is going to have the willpower or the public pressure to step up and fix it so long as band-aid parcel taxes are passed every few years.

    As for class sizes, they won’t go to 32 until 2011-12:

    http://www.alamedasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6666&Itemid=10

    The alterations to the teacher contract call for increased class sizes for grades K-3, as well as a decrease in the amount of student school days in the next two school years. K-3 class sizes will change from the existing 22:1 to 25:1 in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and 32:1 by the 2011-12 school year. The district will save about $1,735,380 by taking the K-3 measures.

    Temporary notices for 1/4 of Alameda teachers were supposedly sent out by May 15th:

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_15032452

    With unemployment in the Bay Area at around 12%, it’s hard to imagine too many (laid-off) people having sympathy for teachers getting lay-off notices.

    If you have data that shows that out of District kids bring in more money than they cost to serve, please show it. The reality is that the District refuses to consolidate schools to save money, so they try fill open seats with kids from out-of-district. (Kids whose families don’t pay the parcel taxes…)

    Here’s Rob Schmidt’s letter to the Journal yesterday: http://www.insidebayarea.com/alameda/ci_15318957

  • Hot R

    So it’s your contention that the AUSD would invite kids in from other Districts to “fill up” seats and keep teachers employed, even though those kids cost the District money at a time when the budget is being cut every year by the State? C’mon… Oakland actually won’t allow any more kids to get inter-district transfers because it costs them money.

    I think you think opposition to the parcel tax is some sort of “tea party” tax protest, with you playing the role of a liberty boy, tarring and feathering George III’s tax collectors. But nothing will change in the State if the parcel tax loses. The reason for that is that our current system gives school districts throughout the state unequal funding. Alameda unfortunately is among the lowest. No state politician of a district which gets more funds than Alameda will EVER vote to reduce funding for his district so that poorer districts can have more. That means the only way to break the logjam is the lawsuit already filed by the District. Unfortunately, that will take at least 5 years. That is why a parcel tax is necessary in the interim.

    It isn’t the teachers I feel sorry for – it’s the kids who will have their learning opportunities reduced by the larger class sizes. There is no question but that the quality of education will go down. And there is also no question but that the quality of the education is high (see Newsweek ranking for both high schools in top 3%).

    It is not just the teachers, but police and fire services who use seniority and tenure, so when layoffs begin in Oakland, and eventually in Alameda, good young police officers and firemen will be laid off to keep on the older ‘slower” and less enthusiastic(?) public servants to serve us (to keep your metaphor going). At least that was your logic with teachers…Where is the outrage? At least be consistent with your argument.

  • Methinks you’re confusing your targets…

    The role of school board trustee has become very politicized. It’s not longer just well-meaning parents with spare time on their hands – witness Board President Ronald Mooney who just took $5,000 from SunCal for an obsolete PAC: http://www.action-alameda-news.com/2010/06/18/suncal-donations-include-5000-to-political-action-committee-keep-alameda-schools-excellent/

    Witness how Tracy Jensen ran for Council. These people just view the school board as a stepping stone, not an end unto itself.

    The elementary school attendance zones create pockets of constituents for political board members to try to serve – if you want to be on the Board, you need money, and if you need money, you need to tap East-end and Gold Coast parents, and to get their support, you need to protect Franklin, Edison and Otis elementary schools. It’s pretty simple. Don’t try to say that the Board and the District wouldn’t do dumb things – most of them are working in their own best interest, not the District’s.

    One way to mitigate this problem is to relax elementary school attendance zones. Reserve, say, 35% of seats in every elementary school for kids from anywhere in the District. This would force the Board of Trustees to serve and think about kids from all over Alameda, not just the high-wealth neighborhoods that make campaign contributions. It would also break-up the de facto segregation of Alameda’s elementary schools along the lines of race and class.

    For the past 10 to 15 years, since the Navy base closed, and the Navy took their additional school funding with them, relatives of Sacramento power brokers have lived in Alameda (Perata, Garamendi), and those two have apparently made no attempts to equalize funding for Alameda’s schools. However, the Garamendi and Perata families have been active supporters of parcel taxes time and time again. And only now, this year, has the District jumped on the bandwagon re: the lawsuit against the State over equalizing funding. This could, and should, have been done years ago. But again, the local patronage networks prefer to foist regressive parcel taxes on Alameda, and make lower-income families pay so that wealthy-families can keep their small, high-test-score schools open.

    BTW, we’ve heard from parents with kids in “the best” Alameda elementary schools – sounds like they aren’t everything their cracked up to be.

    Alternatives to Measure E:

    o Everyone in the District take a 10% temporary pay cut until State funding returns. Save $7 to $9 million per year.

    o Consolidate schools – the smallest elementary school in Alameda is less than half the size of the largest.

    o The inter-district kids may bring in ADA money, but there’s a corresponding cost to serve them as well, and their parents don’t pay the parcel tax. Consolidate the schools to save money and fill the seats with kids from Alameda who do pay the parcel tax.

    All of the above would likely have allowed for a much lower parcel tax – one that people could afford – and a tax structure that doesn’t prompt the business community to sue the District. (Legal fees well over $200K in two years – enough to pay for some teachers.)

  • Hot R

    Local politicians haven’t done much to correct the inequality because that issue is a non-starter from the get-go – even for smart savvy and connected politicians like Perata. Were any of the current council members also members of the school board at one time? I don’t think so. Although I don’t disagree with your political analysis, I don’t think they are building their constituencies for a possible shot at a lucrative (?) political office as you suggest. The East End and Gold Coast is in charge in Alameda because they have the most money, and will always represent their interests first – hence our current poor excuse for a mayor.

    You are ignoring the educational reason for small schools – studies have shown that small class sizes and local schools increase learning, parent involvement and donations. Large schools do the opposite. At least concede that part of the charm of Alameda is its neighborhood feel and sense of community. Consolidating schools (i.e. making them larger) will detract from the educational advantages we currently have. While we’re at it, let’s consolidate Alameda’s parks too. Why have a bunch of small parks all over town when we could just have one big park on the Navy Base? It would save money!

    And don’t even bring up the legal fees. Why are there legal fees? Because a few parents file a lawsuit and then drop it against bullying lessons? Or Berry and Borikas file their loser of a suit against the District just because they can? You are right, $200.000 is a lot of money better spent on the classroom. To blame it on the District is like blaming the Jews for the Holocaust or the Japanese-Americans for the cost of internment.

    I think I’m hearing you concede that the parcel tax may be necessary, but just not as much as the District wants, and that if the District had a more egalitarian approach to attendance that might be better for kids who are currently poorly served. I agree, although statistically, success in school is about parent education level even if you mix the kids from all over town. Fortunately there are exceptions…

    What is your prediction for Tuesday? If the District loses, will it be put it on the ballot again? Will the District make the cuts it said it would make, or are they faking it? And if the District wins, will there be junkets for all the school board members, and mass business failure in Alameda, along with a slew of new lawsuits?

    I am not sure it’s going to pass, because some people will listen to your arguments. But I do know your reasoning is wrong, and based on a selfish principle. I also know that the schools in Alameda are good (not perfect), and that consolidation of schools will not be good for education or property values. We may be entering a mean and lean time in America and God help to save us from ourselves.

  • And the East-end parents protecting their small schools aren’t selfish? If small schools are so great, then why are they the preserve of the wealthiest parents in Alameda? The east-end and Gold Coast may have the most money, but they shouldn’t have the most say in a publicly-funded school system that is paid for and supposed to serve both the rich and the poor. Yet, that’s the end-result here. A majority on the Board of Trustees is responsive to the East-end and Gold Coast, and ignores the rest. We expect everyone to represent their self interests, but we also expect our elected officials to see through that and serve others as well.

    Look at all the documents they published on the master plan – they cite the high participation numbers from the wealthy neighborhoods, and just went with what those people said, without normalizing survey results across the community. “Wealthy white people showed up to the meetings, so we’ll do what they want!” Everyone pays, so everyone should be represented. That’s a key point Measure E supporters ignore – a publicly funded school system is supposed to serve everyone in the community, not just the noisiest or those with the deepest pockets.

    Why should Franklin (274 seats) and Edison kids enjoy their small schools while Bay Farm Island kids have to go to schools with over 600? Or Washington with over 400 kids? You just reinforce my point – parents in wealthy, predominantly white small schools are looking to protect what they see as a privilege at everyone else’s expense. Those large schools you don’t like? I guess those large schools are for everybody else’s kids but yours, is that right? That’s plain wrong. Let’s have more diverse schools and have some of the goodness of highly educated wealthy parents rub off on some of the less fortunate kids. Wouldn’t that be more egalitarian and progressive? Oh wait… those wealthy parents are too selfish to do that… As for property values, if schools are consolidated and test scores at west-end schools rise, won’t that help property owners in the west-end?

    As for local political office – the school board is a stepping stone to council, which is a stepping stone to county supervisor, which is a stepping stone to Sacramento. Johnson ran for county supervisor after, what, 10 years on council? Tam was going to run but backed out. Jensen sat on the school board, then ran for council. Lucrative? With SunCal’s contribution, Ron Mooney now has $11,000 in a campaign fund that was created to pass Measure H two years ago, and he won’t answer questions about what the money is for now.

    Your comparison of local businesses suing the District to the Holocaust/Internment camps is way out of line and shows how little consideration you have for the victims.

  • Hot R

    All fencing aside…What’s your prediction? What will happen if it does pass, and what will happen if it doesn’t?

  • If it doesn’t pass, the sky isn’t going to fall, contrary to threats from the District. A lot of wealthy white parents will put their kids into private school for a year, which is probably what they should do instead of commandeering their neighborhood public school. (It’s funny how some Measure E people think that threatening to move out of Alameda is something that should worry ‘no on e’ people.) The State budget will eventually come through, and it probably won’t be as bad as the District claims. Some schools might be consolidated, and some kids will go to a different school for a while. Next year’s a whole new ballgame. The Pro-E people will probably try to organize another more modest parcel tax to re-open their pet schools.

    The District, back in April, seems to have borrowed over $10 million as a stopgap measure.

    Resolution No. 10-0050 of the Alameda Unified School District Requesting the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County to Issue Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRAN) in the Name of the Alameda Unified School District for Fiscal Year 2010/11 in the Principal Amount of not to Exceed $10,200,000.00 and Authorizing the Sale Thereof and Authorizing Preparation of an Official Statement in Connection Therewith

    If it passes, the business community will sue over Measure E as well. The judge who ruled on Measure H is rumored to be tight with the local democratic community, which includes the PTAG people, and members of the Board of Trustees. Any appeal on Measure H to a higher court outside of Alameda stands a chance of winning. Some businesses are likely to shut down and move away. The tax will also hurt private individuals that own income property – Measure E hits 5-unit rentals, many of which are owned not by businesses but individuals as income property.

  • Hot R ignore the many studies that show class and school size have very little to do with outcomes. (See D.C. And Harlem) the most important factor is quality of teaching, which can be measured by student test scores, observation and intensive interviews. There is a huge reform movement at work in America, supported by President Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, encouraging teacher accountability and evaluation, in place of tenure and seniority/senility rules.

    If Measure E fails, which I believe and hope it will, Superintendent Vital, whom I’ve interviewed at length twice, will be free to bust the unions, and begin the real debate about reform, which will never happen if we keep passing parcel taxes. I suspect, from her demeanor, that Measure E is over the top precisely so that it will fail. She’s a very clever woman.

    Hot R assumes that a quality education is all about small classes and ore money. They telling that to UC Berkeley, where 60 percent of undergraduate teaching is done by Teaching Assistants, lower division lectures number 400-600 students, and somehow those students still get a quality education.

    The comparison of “No on E” backers to the Holocaust is just plain dumb, and typical of the sort of logic we’ve heard from E backers all along!

    DG

  • Hot R

    C,mon Dennis…So now the Superintendent is complicit in a conspiracy to break up the school district to break the unions hold? What’s your next project – to break up the fire and police unions? They operate with seniority also. “`Don’t forget alameda Electric…

    There is a huge reform movement led by Arne Duncan, the failed head of the Chicago school district for Christsakes! But here’s a news flash for you. California didn’t qualify for any funds from “Race to the Top,” because they didn’t pass the necessary reforms. And Race to the Top does not involve larger class sizes.

    And at what point do we reach the point of no return for class sizes? 32-1, 40-1, 50-1? Remember that all students do not come to school equally prepared. Assuming the same ratio of good teachers as say, good “posters” like yourself, and 10% lower pay, as has been suggested at this site, then where exactly will these teachers come from – the legion of unemployed who will step into the cushy teacher jobs with 50-1 student to teacher ratios in the classroom? And don’t forget that is 5 sections a day, or 250 students per teacher. Will these new “great” teachers receive training first, or can anyone teach a class of 50 and do a great job?

    I heard your prediction. Now here’s mine. If Measure E passes, no businesses will move out of town because of the increased tax burden of Measure E because their taxes will actually be lower. The District will eventually win its lawsuit, or there will be a political settlement. No more businesses will file any more lawsuits – content to let Borikas and Berry go down in flames alone.

    If E loses, the District won’t cease to exist, but educational nirvana will NOT be achieved by combining the east and west end as you suggest, although that will only happen in middle and high school. Why should it with much larger classes, longer commutes and less parent participation than in neighborhood schools. Many fewer kids will take AP classes, play sports, be in the play, or join clubs, because there simply won’t be funds or room. The dropout rate will increase with no after school programs and less teacher contact(that means burglaries will go up). The achievement gap will get wider. Big traffic jams around 8 and 3. And you will save $1 a day if you don’t count the value of your house. Welcome to the mean streets of Alameda.

  • Hot R – your doomsday prediction for a Measure E failure scenario is no less fantastical than you accuse Dennis’ conspiracy theory re: the Superintendent. Word on the street is that the Supe is not well liked among the teacher community, one reason being her tendency to pull people in from out of District rather than promote long-time Alameda teachers. Removing “Coop” from Encinal isn’t going over well with a lot of parents either.

    California didn’t pass any reforms to qualify for Race for the Top funds because the teacher’s union (CTA) wouldn’t play ball on the sort of reforms that Dennis is talking about. (So there’s another alternative to parcel taxes for you – get the teachers on board with Race to the Top and there will be federal money for our schools.)

    Your continued reference to the fire and police unions is a red herring. What do you say to someone who ways “Gee, you’re right, we need to break tenure and the union’s strangle hold on the teachers, firefighters, police, and prison guards too…” ? How does that make holding teachers accountable for results wrong?

  • Hot R(od): Hey, I was voted “Teacher of the Year” at Hayward State, loved my students, taught a class of 60 for $700/month and had a great time with them. And they learned enough to go into the profession of advertising upon their graduation, all of them.

    And I have written several articles published in the Alameda Sun and Journal about what a joke the fire and police “Public Safety” contracts with Alameda City Hall are. Just check out the “Fire Line” and “Police Blotter” and see what firestorms and crime waves they’re saving us from. So, yeah, I’d say bust those unions too!

    When I interviewed Vital, (somebody I doubt you’ve ever talked to even casually), she made a number of comments about the election outcome that lead me to believe she has a real “Plan B” that ain’t in the Master Plan — not a conspiracy at all but a logical fall-back plan, and that is to take a meat ax to the faculty and staff, which she is prevented from doing by current contracts.

    Finally, several lengthy articles about nationwide school Reform have been published in the New York Times and its Sunday Magazine, detailing the resistance to Arne Duncan’s plan/contest by the unions. Often headed by failed teachers! But great progress is being made in Harlem and D.C., and it always hinges on gutting tenure and seniority, firing incompetent teachers and awarding Merit Pay, especially to those young hot dogs you seem to want to throw under the bus.

    Your predictions are laughable. If Measure E passes, the Fascists will have won, those who don’t grant us opponents a right to our views, who use authoritarian and collective national socialist tactics, and an undemocratic, anti-community spirit of domination.

    As for my personal loss/gain, I don’t have a dog in this fight. Although I live in Alameda, 22 years now, I don’t own a home in Alameda, or rent. I’m a kept man, and if my sweetie ever talks me into marriage, we’ll put my name on the deed, and at age 70, I’ll be sure and file for the exemption every year!

  • Hot R

    Let’s see what we agree on…Teachers should be accountable for results. They should be paid a lot more. The unions do protect a few weak and incompetent teachers, police, fire, and prison guards. An achievement gap exists in Alameda.

    But Alameda has been all about reform – ACLC, Chipman Charter School, ASTI, etc. The teachers are among the lowest paid in the 9 Bay Area counties. They have voted for an even lower contract with more furlough days and increased class size. I never said I want the young teachers fired. But the defeat of Measure E will guarantee it. Your tax protest vote against E will not achieve anything except diminish education in town. And please don’t misuse the term “fascist.” Your blog and postings are proof we still have dialogue in this country.

    Arne Duncan wants to pay teachers more money and incentivize the system. Other reforms are going on now which pay the kids money to do their homework and produce better grades. Are these to your liking? What it suggests is that the rewards of doing a good job, or putting off short term gains for longer term ones, are no longer viable options in our commercialized society. Still others suggest foregoing the last year of high school – not neccessary they say, and it will save money. And comparing a college class of 60 to a middle school or high school class of 60 is somewhat disingenuous, don’t you think?

    Teachers should always be accountable for results. In fact studies show that students don’t ever recover if they have two bad teachers in a row. So I agree we have to get rid of them. But how do you compare the 3rd grade teacher in Orinda with her counterpart in Oakland? Is the elementary school teacher teaching students how to read more important than the advanced placement teacher preparing students for national exams? What if an English teacher takes a 10th grade student from 5th grade reading level to 8th grade reading level in one year, but that student still reads 2 grade levels below his grade? Did the teacher do a good job? It doesn’t appear so on paper. And the teacher in Orinda with a class that all reads above grade level must be doing a better job, right? The problems in measuring performance in ethnically diverse and socio-economically divided schools throughout AUSD, Alameda County, California and the nation are quite complicated and no reformer has come up with a system addressing these problems.

    The key to educational reform is not teachers, but parents or lack of same. The breakdown of the family is the single most important factor in the education of children. Next is the influence of social media, TV, the internet and the lack of values inherent in our current culture. Unfortunately these things are much harder to either attack or change than attacking teachers for not teaching better, or unions for protecting them.

    Whatever happens tomorrow, I enjoyed exchanging views with you.

  • Gee, Hotter, you sound like a teacher! But the sophistry is still in play. “How can we possibly measure the results of good teaching?” Lots of ways. You don’t compare the teacher in Orinda to the one in West Oakland, for starters. You compare the teacher in Orinda to the other teachers in Orinda, the teacher in Alameda with the other teachers in Alameda. Simple.

    And yes, I know the classroom is a mystical world, presided over by Merlin, but the outcomes and results are easy to measure. When I taught “Bonehead English” at UCSB y department director had to judge how I was doing before she renewed my position from year to year. I could tell which students didn’t belong there, and passed them through to Eng. 1-A, and I graded on the curve, on a pass/fail basis, where 5% of my students got A’s/pass, and 5% got F’s/fail.

    So…if students’ performance can be evaluated, regardless of ethnic background or income level, why not teachers? Saying that Alameda teachers are paid less compared to blah-blah-blah is meaningless. For the hours worked, they’re still very highly paid, and the cushions of tenure and seniority protect the best and the worst alike. Outmoded.

    You offer no suggestions on how the system can be reformed, just back-pedal on your defense of it. I still have many friends among teachers and retired teachers and when I share my views with them, I get the same snap-back I’m getting from you, very self-serving, so that’s why I have to assume you’re just another teacher posting anonymously. C.S.

    D.G.

  • Hot R seems to be falling into the classic teacher trap – they want credit when test scores are high, but when they are low, it’s the fault of the family, TV, the Internet, lack of good cultural values, etc. Isn’t a the mark of a great teacher that he or she can overcome all those hurdles and still get the kids educated? And as it stands now, we can’t get rid of ‘bad’ teachers, as evidenced by the parent strike in Oakland a couple of months back, against a teacher.

  • Hot R

    Test scores are now high. That doesn’t seem to make any difference to you as you are still against Measure E. Newsweek Magazine rated both AHS and EHS in the top 3% of the 27,000 public high schools reporting. ACLC and AHS are 10’s on the academic state API scale (10 being the highest) and Encinal is a 9 when compared to similarly situated schools. Meaningless? Laughable? Blah blah blah?

    Yes performance can be measured. Let’s use your experience at Cal State as an example. If you were a “great” teacher, then why pass certain student on to English 1A, and how could you have failed 5% of your students who remained? Shouldn’t you have raised their scores through your hard work, insight, and inspiration? Or could it be that they came to your class unprepared, despite their admission to college, and despite your best efforts they had to go to a lower level class, or failed your class due to their inability to learn, poor attendance, lack of study methods, English deficiencies, and lack of work ethic – all traits acquired BEFORE you ever knew them. You saw your job not to raise them up, but to pass them on to a lower level class, and planned on flunking at least 5% due to your use of the curve. For that you get teacher of the year? Wouldn’t a great teacher overcome every obstacle as you suggest?

  • Test scores?

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/alameda/ci_15318957

    My Word: District’s scores don’t add up to support for Measure E

    By Rob Schmidt
    Posted: 06/17/2010 01:30:29 PM PDT
    Updated: 06/17/2010 01:30:29 PM PDT

    The signs say I can protect my property values by voting for Measure E. Sorry, but property values plummet because schools turn out students who are not prepared for either college or a job.
    Why aren’t any yard signs protesting the almost unbelievably low academic performance that has been nearly unchanged since the first parcel tax promised to preserve excellence in Alameda? Where are the letters to the editor demanding to know why a third of all Alameda students demonstrate less than basic proficiency in language arts and math skills?

    That’s 67 percent proficiency achievement! And that’s an average. When you look at individual schools the picture gets so bleak that parents should be up in arms, and the district should be returning money they have taken under the false pretense of preparing kids for jobs or college.

    Visit the test results pages of the California Department of Education’s website. Look at the performance of our schools on tests that measure student understanding and skills as they progress through the Alameda school system. With the wonderful exception of some of the East Side schools, what you will see will make you angry. When did a mere 50 percent proficiency or better become “excellence?” When did voters say that 31 percent proficiency in algebra was a sign of good schools?

    U.S history? It’s 52 percent proficiency or better. High school chemistry? It’s 39 percent proficiency or better. It goes on and on. And these are district averages! When you exclude the East Side school scores proficiency drops into the 20 to 30 percent brackets “… and lower.

    To those who would say, “Well, these are just test scores “… they don’t mean anything” I say, “Look at the scores of the schools and districts you think represent excellence in academic performance.”
    Still believe scores are irrelevant?

    This district has taken our parcel tax money and returned “… rhetoric. Smart, dedicated teachers are directed by district leadership that does nothing in between parcel tax elections. The signs are clear: Your property values are not endangered by a failing parcel tax — they are endangered by school leaders who cannot tell the difference between excellence and mediocrity. In their hands your Measure E taxes are squandered.

  • Oh, Hottie! You’re failing the careful reading test. I taught English Lit and Remedial Composition, (“Subject A”), for ten years at UC Santa Barbara. I also spent several summers grading borderline Entrance Exams in Composition, which determined which student need the Remedial classes, which the students call “Bonehead English.” Sixty-eight percent of entering freshman fail the test. Those are the top twelve percent of all students graduating from California public schools.

    That means that a very small percentage of students graduating from public high schools are achieving a level of competent, literate standard English composition. That’s when I first learned how badly those schools are failing their students. I moved some directly on to English 1-A because they demonstrated proficiency in the first week of classes. Some of those kids had choked on the exam and some had unwisely come to the exam drunk or loaded. Some kids failed the ten-week course because they just didn’t get it – grammar, syntax, diction, rhythm, etc. A small number of those repeated thecourseand passed it. Many failed repeatedly and eventually dropped out of the University.

    But I didn’t fail a third of my students, let alone the numbers cited by Bob Schmidt. Your sophistry is amusing. Do you really believe there aren’t any lousy teachers lurking in AUSD behind the cover of tenure? Do you really believe the “excellence” promised by Measures A & H have been delivered? Do you really believe the good teachers will slack off if Measure E fails? Or that they will flee Alameda for Orinda? God, let’s hope not! I’m not cynical enough to believe that for a minute

  • K.K

    Mr. Green, thank you for a great article. The poor and bad performing, Administration and teachers should be removed. They just like to get salary not doing their jobs.

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