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Buchanan pushes for education reform

Original post made on Mar 2, 2013

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) is proposing laws that could measure teacher performance, streamline discipline and dismissal procedures for teachers and require reporting on suspected child abuse by school personnel.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:42 AM

Comments (6)

Posted by Rick Pshaw, a resident of Danville
on Mar 2, 2013 at 8:03 am

The problem with Joan's thoughts and with some California educators is there ALREADY ARE REPORTING REQUIREMENT ON THE BOOKS. The California Child Abuse Reporting Law is found in Penal Code Sections 11165-11174.3. See also Web Link

For Mr. Faraghan to say "It's hard to understand that it hasn't been required," is astonishing. It's no wonder that abuses occur with this degree of ignorance on the part of some.


Posted by Kimberley Gilles, a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Mar 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I am always nervous about using test scores. There are so many holes. What about teachers who teach the arts? computer science? robotics? P.E.? Are they off the testing "hook" -- even though their disciplines are VERY important? Which tests will you use -- SAT? ACT? STAR? The new "Smarter Balance" test ... that has NEVER been nationally calibrated? What about the cheating scandals that have gripped students ... and let's be honest ... teachers? Are there other more authentic ways to measure that students are indeed learning? Are there ways to account for -- and ameliorate -- the main factor in determining student performance -- specifically, poverty?

As a veteran teacher of 27 wonderful years in the classroom, I am committed to ensuring the quality of instruction all students receive at every grade level in every school. I am decidedly not convinced that testing is the most effective measure of high quality education. Testing may be convenient, but it is inadequate -- woefully inadequate.

And, while I'm at it, has anyone been monitoring how profitable test publishers, test tutors, and test prep centers have become? Does it occur to anyone beside me that an entire industry has sprung up ... on the backs of our children?

At the high school level, we are witnessing what one administrator admitted to me is an "epidemic" of anxiety and depression among adolescents. One source? The relentless measurement of students' academic trajectories. Young people are being so continually prepared for tests that they can barely learn or think! That cannot be what our school improvement movement intended. (Just ask Diane Ravitch, one of th founders of the movement who has since recanted!)

Yes, I am a teacher. No, I am not an apologist for poor teaching. I am asking for more nuanced, more imaginative, and more humane ways to account for our students' progress or lack of progress. We may have to give up a modicum of efficiency in favor of the truth ... in all its messy complexity.

Our students and, yes, our teachers deserve nothing less.


Posted by lori, a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Mar 4, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thank you Ms Giles for your comments. School is a business and getting into college is a business. These kids want to be kids as long as possible and should be. They do not need the added stress that is starting in elementary school regarding their futures.
Has anyone asked the students who they think are good teachers? No, and they will not due to the union. It is silly not to ask students what they think. Some will give thoughtful, caring replies, others will be immature, but an overall picture will be revealed.


Posted by Christa, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

In most districts, especially Redwood City across the bay, it's all politics. A teacher who admitted to teaching exact problems on the state math test was merely reassigned to a better school. Another was hunted for getting a kid to admit he lied about her to others including his whacked parents. My daughter had her---best experience ever.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:35 am

There is a central point made in the prior two opinions that I believe bears out the most angst and emotion in any discussion on this topic. The cottage now 'corporatized' industry that has evolved to support the post-secondary educational system is not by any rational measure the source of our frustrations. Point of fact as opposed to opinion, most reasonable individuals would accept that this industry of testing, counseling and preparing 'all' students for university life was created by US (i.e. parents). Yes, myself, yourself and virtually any parent that has raised a child over the last 20 to 25 years. We want all of our children to be IVY-ready regardless of whether they attend a state school or not.

Let us recall, that just two generations back (i.e. prior to the GI Bill rightfully afforded to returning GIs from WWII - our fathers, for some grandfathers), the notion of a university level education was something only for the privileged and scholarly families particularly in the Northeast. Yes, this is a generalization. However, it is an easily researched fact from reputable sources that the proportion of college degrees (e.g. BA, BS, 4-year) earned by lower to upper middle class families has grown exponentially since the Eisenhower era. During the Vietnam era, an academic deferment for many of my peers was yet an added motivation to pursue further post-secondary education then their fathers and so forth.

At that time, a young person did not need to chart their life's path by the time they had reached adolescence. One could 'mature' in their 20s to set themselves onto a proper path to contribute to society and themselves by their 30s. If a young man needed some discipline in life, conscription was always a decent option. For others, a trade with modest skills taught in 'shop class' was another good option. Today, it's either get into a great school or simply suffer with rest of the unwashed masses. For my perspective, this is untenable and unsustainable for generations to come after us.

As long as we continue as we have over the last couple of decades to overwhelmingly value the child that attains a professional position over the child that seeks a more hands-on skill or trade, we will just continue to add to the stress and anxiety that we profess to hate see laid upon our children.


Posted by Carolyn, a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

As a parent of one of Kimberley Gilles' past students, I put her in the top 1% of teachers my son has had. She knows what she is talking about and I wish more teachers would be concerned about our students actually learning. My daughter is just about to start Monte Vista and I would love to hand pick her teachers to be sure she will actually learn something rather than just have the attendance box checked that she was there. It is a sad, but very true statment for some of the teachers at that school.


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