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Defeating the InDUMBents!

By Dennis Green

Defeating the InDUMBents!

Alameda has a bad habit of recycling incompetent politicians. City Council members term out and run for Mayor, or for the County Board of Supes. Every candidate for Mayor this year is recycled, and at least two of them are compost. But the all-time standout is AUSD Board Trustee Mike McMahon, running for a third term on the school board.

This is the very same McMahon with three relatives on the AUSD payroll, including his wife and daughter, the latter hired as “Webmaster,” with doubtful qualifications. The website she manages has manifested spelling errors and very poor design.

Moreover, McMahon does not recuse himself from board votes impacting his relatives, saying it’s not required by law. But common sense and ethics say otherwise. If we can’t trust our “Trustees,” we can’t trust the schools. That’s why McMahon’s re- election would almost assure the defeat of next Spring’s AUSD parcel tax initiative, just as Measure E was defeated this past Spring.

A vote for McMahon says that he’s been doing a great job. Yet in the eight years he’s been on the school board, they’ve come to the voters FOUR times for additional parcel taxes, which shows very poor financial management at best. During that same time, four Alameda public schools have gone charter, a majority for failing performance and proficiency scores.

Recent release of the 2010 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program results show AUSD students scoring only 67% proficiency in reading, a “D+” for the teachers, and scoring only 58% proficiency, even worse, on math, an “F” grade for the district teachers in mathematics.

McMahon opposes any serious reform in education, such as the suspension of tenure and seniority rules that protect incompetent teachers, and make sure that during layoffs, some of the best and the brightest get canned first. He has failed to speak out in support of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program, which calls for serious reform in return for billions in funding.

Alamedans for Fair Taxation, (AFT), is working to design a new parcel tax initiative that would bring many millions to the schools besides the nearly $75 million they receive now from regular property taxes — one that would be fair, unlike Measure E. It would charge each parcel a flat rate, pennies per square foot, commercial properties the same rate, (no cap), and cost big estates and shopping malls their fair share.

If McMahon endorses the AFT parcel tax proposal, he might thereby demonstrate an ability to think outside the box, and his own political coffin. If not, he deserves to be defeated and kicked to the curb like last year’s roadkill.

13 comments to Defeating the InDUMBents!


    The District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island will receive funds set aside for states who could document that they would use the money to implement certain overhauls. Those changes include greater teacher accountability, the use of data systems and support for the growth of charter schools.

  • Hot R

    Green One – I have a few questions…

    So are you for McMahon if he agrees with you about various proposed reforms and then against him if he does not? What about you claim of “corruption” and “nepotism”? All is forgiven if he agrees with you? And what is the position of the politicians running against McMahon and the other school board members? Are they for your proposed reforms?

    And the District DID apply for Race to the Top money, and the State of California did pass reforms necessary to make that happen. So what is your beef?

    Hope you read the headline in the Chronicle today about the State once again withholding funds from school districts across the State. Don’t you think that has anything to do with the 4 parcel tax proposals?

    And the STAR test results in Alameda were well above the State average and also above the previous year’s results in Alameda. In testing, the best predictor of future test results are previous test results. Although we all want children to achieve at very high levels, I refer you to Robert Freeman’s editorial in the Chronicle today (Should Teachers Be Paid for Performance?)where he pointed out that as a teacher he AGREED with being judged on test results, but only if the tests given the kids would count for something too, like promotion to the next grade, admission to college or trade school. Currently STAR test results count for nothing, and therefore the students have “no skin in the game.” So if you want to revamp the system, you can start with making the STAR test results count for something to the students, not just the teachers.

  • Hot R – the headlines in the local paper were that test scores improved in AUSD despite funding cuts. Doesn’t that show that money doesn’t equal better test scores?

    California ranked 16th in phase 2 of the Race for the Top contest. Guess the State reforms didn’t go far enough (?)

  • “But California officials faced a steep climb after the state was ranked 27th among 40 applicants in the first round. The judges in that round criticized California for several deficiencies in its application, including a lack of support for the proposed reforms from teachers unions.

    In the second application, union leaders from just one-third of the districts with active unions signed on. That prompted state leaders to promise an “ongoing dialogue” with the unions to try to resolve disagreements. However, changing the way educators are evaluated and paid would require an overhaul of seniority rights in contracts.”

    Read more:

  • Hot R

    You’re right they didn’t get the money. But Ca. did enact reforms.

    “The plan called for placing effective teachers and principals in low-performing schools, revamping state education standards, expanding the use of data to improve academic achievement and requiring teacher and principal evaluations to be based in part on student performance.”

    Sorry, your point about the relationship between the test scores and
    the lack of necessity for adequate funding is not well taken. The
    test scores were based on tests taken last April before there were larger classes and laid off teachers.

  • Hot R – Pro-Parcel tax people have been telling us that AUSD has been suffering ongoing budget cuts for years now – and trying to justify parcel taxes on that basis – that started well before last April.

  • Hot Ron M: Students face tests, grades, scores all the time that impact their lives and their futures, every time a teacher gives a test or grades a paper. Their performances are judged constantly. All we’re saying is that teachers should be accountable as well, and that their own performance can be measured in part by their students’ test scores. If good teachers are responsible for student success, then lousy teachers are responsible for student failures and dropouts.

    Your rhetorical ploy of just posing more questions without ever answering any, taking any position of your own is getting more than tiresome, but an obvious obfuscation. I won’t support McMahon no matter what, but I might have a little respect for him if he wises up about the parcel tax possibilities. If he once again, with your help, presents us with one as unfair as Measure E, we will defeat him AND the new tax proposal.

    Hope you read the op-ed piece in the SF Chron this week about teachers’ unions, for it’s on their heads that California hasn’t qualified for RTTT funding. And no Trustees brave or intelligent enough to stand up to them.

  • Hot R

    Gee Green One it was your article. Don’t we get to ask questions? I’m the only one who goes to this site besides Barb. Why do you write your articles – just to have two people agree with you?

  • Smart voter

    There are a whole lot of us watching and reading this blog and enjoying Dennis Green making a fool of you ” not so hot rob “

  • Maybe california will do better in phase 3 of “Race to the Top” –

    “But, for now, we know two things: California lost the competition by only 17 points, and our liabilities haven’t changed that much. We still have no way to measure teacher effectiveness in the classroom, and we still don’t have much support from the teachers’ unions about implementing Race to the Top reforms.

    California needs to ask itself some soul-searching questions before it applies for Phase Three of the reform funding. But one question it shouldn’t ask is whether or not we should go through with the reforms we’ve already passed. Our children can’t afford the status quo.”

    Read more:

  • propubliceducation

    Great article, Dennis! Really appreciate your insight! Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time and expertise to do the research that you regularly do for the rest of us!

  • Hot R

    Gee Smart Voter (I mean Greenie) that really hurt! And probupliceducation (I mean Greenie) what research are you referring to, because the problem with the article is that there is no law against relatives working for the school. If you noticed, McMahon actually voted for furlough days, reducing his “relatives” pay. Gosh, I think he has nepotism all wrong. And you don’t know how to read stats propublic (I mean Greenie) because the scores went up and are above the state average too. Parcel tax proposals were a result of State budget cuts. How about focusing on our State politicians for some of your ire?

  • No ire, Hot Rocks. None of this stuff is THAT important! Not in the cosmic scheme of things, where your condescending insults have no fire. Wet, limp noodles, but I’m sure you’re used to hearing that. No comparison of test scores is meaningful, since the overall results are so dismal, less than passing or even average on any grading curve. No wonder you’re so defensive, representing failing teachers in a district that can’t even qualify for Race to the Top funding, and has only itself to blame for State cutbacks, recently filing its first feeble lawsuit in 15 years! You make us all laugh.

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