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Beware Danville PTA School Parcel Tax Scheme

Original post made by Taxpayer, Danville, on Mar 14, 2010

The PTA, which recently has been taken over by supporters of the teachers union, is now sending out to all parents of our district a demand that they sign a petition to lower the number of votes needed for a parcel tax, from 65% to 55%. The PTA use to be a respected group of hard working parents, with common sense, who valued the community. Recently, they have been taken over by supporters of the teachers union, and their primary goal is not what is best for our community, but rather what is best for the teachers union. The PTA deliberately holds their meetings in the morning during work hours, so that parents who actually work for a living and pay the bills and taxes, can not attend. The teachers union has bullied misinformed parents into supporting the parcel tax scheme for the benefit of the teachers union. Please get informed, have common sense, and do not support a tax scheme,assuming that the PTA has your best interest at heart, because they do not!

Comments (73)

Posted by Katie
a resident of Danville
on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Thanks for letting us know. I don't believe there are any working moms in Danville, so all should be able to attend these meetings if they can reschedule their morning Starbucks runs and appointments with personal trainers.

Posted by Working Mom
a resident of Danville
on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:57 am

The whiners and haters are welcome to go reside elsewhere, rather than pollute our community forums with resentment. Most of us like living here and actually like and respect our neighbors.

Now off to work I go....

Posted by Amy Johns
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 15, 2010 at 8:41 am

Wow, Taxpayer, it doesn’t sound like you are very happy with the way education is being funded. I’m not either.

There are many different groups calling for much needed reform. But, reform takes time. There is an entire generation of children throughout California who don’t have the time to wait for reform to come. Their education is slipping away now. We live in a community that values education and sees the benefit of passing a parcel tax to attempt to make up the shortfall between what is needed and what the State of California provides. Education funding in California is, in my opinion, a mess. The State continues to cut money to education when every study that they conduct tells them it is necessary to spend more money on education or our economy will suffer for it.

The message that I sent out on behalf of PTA, asked members of PTA to sign the petition to qualify the initiative for the ballot, I did not demand it. I provided the link to to help our members read for themselves what the initiative would do. This initiative makes sense. It does not repeal the 2/3 majority requirement, it only adds an option for a lower threshold of 55% when specific accountability requirements are met. If a school district doesn’t want to meet those accountability requirements, they don’t have to and are subject to the higher 2/3 majority. Last April, delegates from across California came together for the annual PTA Convention. We voted and passed a resolution to support changing the threshold for local school parcel taxes to a 55% majority; thus granting the authority to all its Districts, Councils, and Units to act on this cause. We do this because we believe that it is the right action to take and to make sure that all children in California are taken care of, not just our community. I was not bullied into sending out this message, and I am not bullying anyone into supporting it.

Additionally, signing the petition does not change the law, it allows the people of California the opportunity to vote whether or not they want this change to be made.

Amy Johns
VP of Legislation, San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs

Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Danville
on Mar 15, 2010 at 10:53 am

Taxpayer, I am disgusted by those who are critics who cannot offer alternatives-your criticism is of no value if you don't propose other choices,it just smacks of a "not so subtle" anti-union message w/o substance.Thank you Amy for your explanation.

Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

Longtime resident: You want suggestions, I have them. Have the PTA support a petition to make tenure for the teachers to be after 8 years, not 2 years. That way, the teachers who do not cut it, are not protected for ever by the teachers union. We are blessed to have many great teachers in our district, but also some incredibly bad teachers, that we can not get rid of because of tenure. If we get rid of the bad teachers, we could increase class size, save money, and not need another parcel tax scheme for the teachers union. Of course, the PTA would never support a petition to increase tenure beyond 2 years, as the PTA no longer exists for the best interest of the community, but solely exist for the best interest of the teachers union.
Amy Johns: As an official of the PTA, explain to me the PTA opinion of raising tenure beyond 2 years for teachers. Let me guess, you do not support it. What a surprise.

Posted by beckyjean
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Mar 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

Actually, I thought the email sent out to all parents could have used a better explanation and I support the schools and vote for bonds. I think it is simply a case of "true believer" syndrome that it is easy to get caught up in when you only talk to people are in your group. I don't think it is wrong for the PTA to back the teacher's union, but it is also reasonable for others to want more input into the meetings. When I moved here from another district I was very surprised to see that all meetings were indeed held during working hours. The district that I moved from had firm policies in place that prevented ANY school/parent activity to be held prior to 5:30 pm. That policy was to allow for the reality that many parents do work and thus they were prevented from involvement in school affairs. It does provide a skewed result when only non-working parents are at meetings.

Posted by Cal High Mom
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

It is not accurate to say that all meetings are during the day. Cal High PTSA meetings are held at night, as are our various booster group meetings. At Pine Valley, our meetings were at night as well. This is obviously a unit by unit decision and whether meetings are in the day or at night the decision is NOT designed to keep people out. PTA strives to be inclusive to all, but there is no group that can please everyone's schedule. While working parents can't make meetings, there are many ways to help without going to meetings. I hope your school has evening events that you can participate in.

Posted by samiam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Actually, it has been my experience as a parent that PTA strives to be exclusive, not inclusive. They want everyone to provide money but they only want certain people involved in making the "right" decisions. Holding meetings during working hours, which I know is the policy at the Danville schools we have attended, is one way of doing that.

Posted by Ashley
a resident of Diablo Vista Middle School
on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I completely agree with Taxpayer, but go even further. Not only should parcel taxes take at least 65% with parent oversight of the use of funds, but teacher unions should also be abolished along with their pension plans (convert them to 401k plans like the rest of the world.) If teachers actually had to be accountable for thier performance and had their jobs, salaries and increases based on a normal business review system, our students might actually get good teachers who do their job rather than so many who put in their time just to get their money at the end of the day. There are quite a number of teachers who have seniority in our district who are really bad teachers!

Posted by Isabel Lau
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:32 am

Let's remember that the monies raised by parcel taxes are for programs that serve our children, not for labor unions.

When I was a PTA President in San Ramon we held our meetings at Bollinger Canyon at night so all who wanted to participate could take advantage of the invitation. It is a site by site decision and something that PTAs should consider when scheduling their meetings.

I did not feel bullied by the email - it gave me the choice to further investigate the petition and sign on if and when I chose to do so. As previously stated if the required number of signatures are collected the threshold question would be brought before the citizens for a vote.

It is all part of the CA process.

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:32 am

Amy Johns, VP of Legislation for the PTA: Please do yourself and the alleged people whose interest you have at heart(our community, not the teacher's union)and go read the cover story in Newsweek this week, on how to fix the educational system, entitled, "Why we must fire bad teachers". Stop doing the dirty work for the teachers union by bullying parents to pass more parcel taxes, and instead work with the community to pass legislation to require more than 2 years for tenure for the teachers. As pointed out in Newsweek, the key to fixing the educational system is not more taxes, it is firing bad teachers who hide behind the teachers union. Care to respond, or do you only send teachers union propaganda to unsuspecting parents who mistakenly assume the PTA works for the community, not the teachers union?

Posted by Anaite Letona
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:36 am

I would like to clarify the questions regarding when PTA meetings are conducted. Every school in the SRVUSD has an active PTA. Meeting times and dates at each school site are determined by a consensus of their voting members and are dictated by their bylaws – voted upon by the membership. Anyone is welcome to join PTA at a school site to become a part of this membership. There is no intention to exclude members to those who can make it during the day. PTA values every member as they represent a broader perspective.

There are many PTA's that hold their meetings in the evenings and daytime. Many of our leadership roles are filled by parents who work outside of the home. Meetings that are held during the day are often attended by those who work outside of their home. However, to imply that if one attend's the meetings during the day you are not "actually working" is to clearly not understand the incredibly diverse group of people that make up any PTA. I have personally presided as president at a unit when we tried to move our meetings to the evening. This change was well advertised and at each meeting the same group that came during the day came at night. The parents who worked outside of the home did not make it in any larger number than previous meetings during the day. That is why each unit must make the decision that best serves their membership.

If you are interested in helping to improve the lives of children please join your PTA, get involved in the leadership and have your voice heard. PTA's consist of volunteers throughout the State who put forth their time and effort to ensure that the needs of kids are met. These people are both caring and responsible citizens who want to make the world our children live in a better place.

Anaite Letona
President, SRV Council of PTA's

Posted by Fed Up
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:05 am

I -- for one -- am fed up. I pay my taxes like everyone else. I do NOT have kids in the school district, and I'm tired of constantly be asked (no, required) to pay for those who do. Let's face it, the time of "free education" is over. You just want everyone to pay for all the "extras" that you feel your kids are entitled to. Well, parents in the district, give up your manicures, pedicures, gardeners, plastic surgery, BMWs, etc. and just put that money towards your kid's education. Just pony up.

....There. I feel better now.

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:11 am

Anaite Letona, President of the PTA: Thank you for your opinions. However, I note that you also have failed to respond to my request to your fellow officer,Amy Johns, on the PTA implementing a petition to require more than 2 years for a teacher to have tenure. This would be a great way in showing that you actually care about the community and quality teachers, and are not just a pawn of the teachers union. What is your response, please?

Posted by San Ramon Parent
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

As long as the School Districts keep successfully tapping their local parents and community at large to fund budget shortfalls, the longer it puts off the inevitable reforms that must be made. A parcel tax is simply a short-term fix.

The educational system seems a bit unwilling to look at its own organization with a critical eye and blames the State for underfunding. Many states spend less money per student with better results. It's not what you spend, it's the quality of the instruction and leadership of the site as well as the District.

Just as so many of us our enduring these difficult economic times by getting creative and making due with what we have (or less), so must the educational community.

Posted by fedupalso
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:23 am

well fed up are u a longtime resident paying 4k-6k for property taxes or are u in a newer house paying 9k-12 k a yr? yes we expect alot from our schools and childrn and life here in danville/san ramon.yes u have to pay for it..shouldnt everyone pay their fair share? thats why parcel taxes dont pass here! they are paing so much already.
ps i agree about tensureat more then just two yrs!!5 would b great!

Posted by Fed Up
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

I pay more than my fair share. I also live within my means. I didn't buy a house that I can't afford.

Posted by MS
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

Education budget needs to be balanced, spending should never exceeds the money collected, like any family or business finance.

We just had a parcel tax raise last year. Should we have another one this year, simply because we run out of money? Any decent people would think twice when vote, What is enough?

Posted by Andy
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

Somehow, I don’t think that you are thinking logically, here. California spends only slightly less on prisons than it does on education. There are 9 million children in the public education system in California, and roughly 200,000 inmates. Per pupil spending on education is roughly $5,000/ year and per inmate spending is around $43,000/ year.

When children are engaged at school it benefits the entire community, whether they are your children or not. Fewer tax dollars are then spent on law enforcement and later down the road incarceration. If children are educated and become productive members of our community, they too become taxpayers who will contribute to the overall well being of our communities. Even if you don’t like children, it benefits you to make sure that their education is funded.

Instead of hammering PTA members on union issues, understand that education can only get its funding from specific sources. There are different pots of money that can only be spent on certain things, for example, facilities dollars can only be spend on facilities. From my outside exposure to PTA they are trying to work within the system that exists, to make things better for the children who are here now, while at the same time working to exact fundamental change for the long term, within their guidelines.

The article I read in Newsweek did not equate tenure with wasting tax dollars; it said that tenure was a problem with performance and effectiveness. If you have a teacher that has tenure that is not a good teacher, and you were able to eliminate that teacher, you’d still have to replace them, and thus still spend the money to do it.

It's easy to complain about taxes and teachers, I, myself have complained about both at different times. But if we throw the baby out with the bathwater, we forget that there are a lot of truly amazing teachers teaching the children of today to be the doctors, software developers, and business people of tomorrow. Those children will be making the decisions on how to take care of the ageing community, which will be us.

Stop looking at the short term and think long term. California may not be able to compete on a national level, let alone a international level if we don’t invest in proper education and fund it appropriately.

Posted by Danville working single Dad
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 11:52 am

I for one am sick of this moronic "no taxes at all cost" approach that constitutes some people's entire philosophy. Maybe if "Taxpayer" (guess what - we are, too!) got a better education (try some math, econ and history) he would realize that that simple-minded approach is largely what got us into this mess - poor schools, crumbling infrastructure, our state in financial disaster. We certainly need to improve our educational system, but killing it doesn't improve it. And what's stopping you from attending PTA meetings? I've made it to many; sure, I work later to make up for it. And guess what - if the meetings are held after hours we aren't home with our kids when we should be. What were you saying about common sense? Try some...

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 16, 2010 at 11:55 am

If you decide to follow Taxpayer's line of reasoning, our great SRVUSD schools are sure to fail our children. Taxpayer seems to be a divider, lumping anyone who supports funding education as a supporter of the teacher's union. This method of expression is irresponsible and clouded in mis-information and simplicity.

Witnessing the amount of support for Measure C and the passion surrounding the budget cuts California schools are facing, I am certain that the smart educated people of this community, will "get informed, have common sense" and support the education of their children.

Supporting the education of our young people does not equate to supporting the teachers union. Its an investment in their future and the future of this country.

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Danville working single dad: Who said anything about "no taxes at all cost"?...The issue is whether we need one parcel tax after another to fix the educational system, or if there are other ways to improve the system without bankrupting hard working families...My suggestion is to improve the quality of teachers by making tenure longer than two years of service, and stop the teachers union from calling the shots...Unfortunately, the PTA has become the pawn of the teachers union, and their answer to every problem is a parcel tax...It is funny that the officers of the PTA have so much time to bombard families with demands for parcel taxs, but refuse to respond to a request to address where they stand on tenure of teachers...

Posted by samiam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Actually, not everyone has the luxury of flexible hours which would enable the to attend meetings during the day and make up the work later. My former school, which had a much higher PTA participation rate (people who attended vs kids in school) even though it was in a worst performing district, handled evening PTA meetings in the following fashion. The meetings were scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on the third thursday of every month, daycare was available for parents who needed it for nominal costs. The daycare was held in a classroom and local teenagers were guarenteed a minimum amount of money for their labors. The PTA payed that amount to the girls. I have found the PTA to be exclusive here. I came from a school in which I was very active, I was in coordinated volunteers, coordinated fund raising for specific projects, helped out with teachers, ran the school carnival, worked with the school nurse to buy glasses and shoes for kids whose parents either couldn't or wouldn't provide for them. It is very much a closed club here. No one has wanted anything from me but money. No ideas, no input wanted.

As far as more money, that is a two pronged issue. The first being that everyone must recognize that there is simply less money this year. That is a fact, no one I know has as much as they had last year. Many people have lost their jobs. The local schools are seeing an increase in the applications for reduced lunches. This is an actual problem that needs to be acknowledged by the school community and it has not been.

The other issue is that the schools will have to actually look, and I mean, REALLY look at how to reduce costs. The pink slip flood which they do almost every year has become meaningless, because it is done every year. It loses its impact when we see it again and again. The school class size issue is problematic, I know that in the school my boys attend in Danville, most of their classes are around 30 kids already..An actual accounting of kids vs classes should be listed. Could the school reduce the number of administrators that it currently employs? How many classes do we have that are not truly useful or server primarily as baby sitting? I know that my son in his 6th grade "wheel" has not found a lot of value in those classes. No results were produced in most of them, or as he put it, kids love that class because the teacher lets the talk and eat in it. That looks like a class that could be cut. All the schools in this district as for additional funds on registration, if the economy continues to tank, those might not be forthcoming. If I understand the law, the district can not force anyone to pay them to register for school. Perhaps some planning might be needed to insure that isn't a "surprise" next year. One example I can think of was a recent widow with four children in Danville schools. She certainly did not have the resources to pay enrollment fees. She may not be alone next year.

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm

It is true that there is some waste in the education system and that the community should probe and continue to probe the district to ensure they are getting what they pay for. This is why you get to vote for parcel taxes and for the Board of Education. But with the state cuts, this community has the opportunity to minimize the impact on the children by mitigating the cuts from Sacramento.

Yes, teachers need to be held more accountable. Yes, there are some bad teachers in the school system, in every system, that are defended by the teachers union.

If you got a beef with SRVEA or CTA, take it up with them. Don't put the kids on the front line of your ideological war on taxes.

If I have to pay taxes which we all do, I would much rather pay local taxes that support my community then excessive state and federal taxes in which 90% of my money is lost in the bureaucracy.

I say support local taxes, support education, and support the community and its children! At this point, we can't rely on anyone else to do it for us!

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Samiam: Thank you for your opinions, which are honest, heart felt, and correctly point out the big picture issues facing all of us in this horrible economy...The teachers union in other communities, such as San Jose Unified School District, understand that parents are really struggling financially, and their teachers union have agreed to be part of the solution by agreeing to a sustantial reduction in salaries and benefits...They have put the community first...Unfortunately, the teachers union in our district still think we have golden spoons to write checks for one parcel tax after another, and more "enrollment fees" again and again...It is time for them to follow the lead of other districts and reduce their salaries and benefits, agree to larger class sizes, require longer than 2 years for tenure, and stop using the ill informed PTA as their pawns for more parcel taxes...

Posted by Steve Mason
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hey "Taxpayer", when you are going to flame an organization such as the SRVSD at least have the courage to use sign your name.

I'm old enough to remember when we could have a debate on issues and didn't use inflammatory language and unfounded innuendo to make our points. Maybe if Taxpayer had attended Monte Vista as my kids did he or she would be prepared to debate openly and honestly, since Monte Vista has an outstanding debate program, one of many outstanding programs at a fine school.

Posted by Steve Mason
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hey "Taxpayer", when you are going to flame an organization such as the SRVSD at least have the courage to use sign your name.

I'm old enough to remember when we could have a debate on issues and didn't use inflammatory language and unfounded innuendo to make our points. Maybe if Taxpayer had attended Monte Vista as my kids did he or she would be prepared to debate openly and honestly, since Monte Vista has an outstanding debate program, one of many outstanding programs at a fine school.

Posted by Teacher in the District
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I'm not even sure where to begin (and apologize in advance if this venting is not very cohesive): there has been such an incredible amount of teacher bashing at the local, state and federal (country) level that as a teacher in this district, I truly believe that most citizens of the United States (in particular this community) DO NOT value teachers (sure, there is plenty of lip service given to teachers about how much we are appreciated but none of that seems to matters when it comes right down the specific talking points. And I say this because in the community where my daughter goes to school, which is not this one, it's not lip service that's showered on the teachers, it actions through parents insisting and therefore funding smaller class sizes, keeping elementary prep time, allowing no more than 30 students per HS science class. I have never heard or read in the local paper about a community member complaining that teachers salaries were too high or that teachers weren't doing their jobs or that all the teachers in the district should be fired...ouch!).

I read the article(s) in Newsweek about "what's wrong with education." Not once was a teacher interviewed for any article (qualifier: that I remember). Why was that? Because no one wants to hear about what actual teachers face on a day to day basis? I think it's because no one wants to believe that the teachers are telling the truth when we say that class sizes are too large, or that some students literally just DON'T want to work, or that there is so much material we are expected to teach that there is litter time left in each 50-55 minute class period for effective review, or that students who require extra help simply don't have time in their schedule during lunch or after school to meet with a teacher who does want to help them? I know, I'm just another whiny teacher. How about we abolish the notion of education being a right and return it to education being a privilege? Get rid of compulsory education. Let's put unruly students in community service with the option of returning to school if their behavior allows them to properly participate in all school activities (ie: do their blessed HW). How about we implement behavioral standards for students and volunteer commitments for parents (like private and charter schools...also mentioned in the Newsweek articles) and if these expectations are not met, the student/parent are told to find another school?

I recently read on SFGate about the ex-CEO of ebay taking on unions (state employees, teachers, nurses, firefighters and police). The bottom line always seems to be that all those mentioned above make too much money. Really? I have a daring question: what is wrong with a teacher (I believe we are paid the LEAST out of all the others mentioned above but I could be wrong) wanting to make a decent livlihood in their profession as a teacher? Why must I as a teacher apologize for making a decent salary? Not all of us can afford to have our career be seen as charity work. I rather enjoyed the article about the super. in DC (I think her name is Bree?) suggesting that teachers make $130,000 each year (with the option of increasing that). Of course the caveat is that their salary is directly tied to student performance on standarized tests, a move Obama supports. This lead me to consider that having a decent salary linked to standarized test scores isn't so bad IF the students had a valid reason for doing their best (other than keeping their parents' property values high). So, I think that a student's standardized test score should be linked to their college acceptance. Then perhaps students will take the test seriously and teachers will get a better representation of what they have helped students learn.

As always, there is a bunch of talking heads (ie: experts) making suggestions about how to have teachers fill yet another role in YOUR children's lives. How about the principle in the article that required his teachers to eat lunch with a student once a week...and refused to pay them extra for this. In fact, the district balked when the teachers asked (how dare they?) for compensation for this extra work (You are reading the writing of a teacher who has students in her classroom eating lunch at least once EACH week...and I do this because I want to. But, making it mandatory and then not having the decency to offer compensation is a slap in the face...another example of how communities really don't respect teachers but just continue to want us to fill in the gaps).

I get the idea of increasing tenure to 5 years (most people and admin know about that time whether or not someone is going to "cut it" as a teacher). Don't forget that teachers only receive tenure if they receive good evaluations. There are temporary teachers in the district that have been teaching for more than two years and don't have tenure.

I get the idea of making it easier to fire bad teachers (although I've witnessed two principles get rid of "bad" teachers within two years of giving a poor evaluation, so tell me what is so difficult about that?) There are firing standards in place. I think rather than attacking teachers as a whole, the conversation should focus on implementing the process of releasing a teacher.

Just some ideas to add to the conversation.

Posted by Richard
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

This took some digging, but this how my county one percent property tax is divvied up:

FLOOD CONTROL Z-3B 0.73857 %
CC RES CONSV 0.01695 %
EAST BAY MUD 1.41467 %
BART 0.66096 %
K-12 SCHOOLS ERAF 12.84545 %

This doesn't include another $500 in education parcel taxes. This area obviously cares very much about education.

Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Steve Mason: Those of us who have children in the district can not obviously use our real names in questioning the need for more parcel taxes, and questioning the power of the teachers union. That is the purpose of blogs like this, to share ideas and opinions without threats of retaliation. I am not "flaming" the school district, which is a great district, but rather questioning more parcel taxes on hard working families that are facing increasing financial hardships, while other viable options exist. By the way, some may feel that you posting your real name is certainly not "courageous", but rather an attempt to gain favor for your children in the district, or with your friends who are in the teachers union. By the way, suggesting that we lack "courage" in not listing our real names, is "inflamatory language". Your debate skills need some work.

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Of course Taxpayer would choose the easy shot against Steve Mason without commenting on a teacher's perspective or county statistics. Sounds an awful lot like the PTA not answering your question about tenure. Hypocrisy!

If you care to comment on Teacher in the District's post could you please share your professional opinions about education on the following quotes from his/her post.

1. "I read the article(s) in Newsweek about "what's wrong with education." Not once was a teacher interviewed for any article (qualifier: that I remember). Why was that? Because no one wants to hear about what actual teachers face on a day to day basis?"

2. "I have a daring question: what is wrong with a teacher wanting to make a decent livlihood in their profession as a teacher? Why must I as a teacher apologize for making a decent salary?"

3. "Don't forget that teachers only receive tenure if they receive good evaluations. There are temporary teachers in the district that have been teaching for more than two years and don't have tenure."

4. "There are firing standards in place. I think rather than attacking teachers as a whole, the conversation should focus on implementing the process of releasing a teacher."

Posted by samiam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I do not think it is teacher bashing to say that there is simply less money available. Almost everyone I know has had to take a pay cut of 10% or more. Many other people have lost their jobs. Anyone trying to live on annuities would be facing a reduction in income as well. The economic reality is that there may NOT be additional funds for education. That is not teacher bashing, that is not a lack of respect for education, that is not lack of care, it is simply a lack of resources. Houses in my neighborhood have been repossessed. Those will result in further decrease in value and in tax income. The district does have to look at ACTUAL reductions as a possible outcome. That means we don't pink slip everyone then play musical chairs throughout the district to place employees. Do all reductions have to be employees? If so, teachers should be the absolute last group cut. Perhaps secretaries, janitors or admin staff could be reduced? Are there classes that we really don't need or are not effective? I don't want to see the schools harmed, I paid a premium to move here because of the schools. However, reality requires a realistic view of life. I do not think incoming revenues will rise much this year, the money isn't there. For those who say money should stay locally, I agree. However, the powers that be force the redistribution of property taxes at the state level to satisfy their goals. We, as tax payers, do not have a choice as to what taxes we pay, if we do not pay them they simply attach are wages.

For those who note that we pay too much for prisons, I agree. What can we do? Every time California has tried to reduce prison expenses some Judge has come in an forbidden it. The huge medical costs are being administered by a federal judge with no allowances made for our budgeting issues. The proposal to ship inmates out of state was shot down by a lawsuit by the Prison Guards Union. I am sure they only had the inmates rights in mind, not their own jobs. I think the federal government ought to pay the interment cost for every prisoner who is here as a result of the federal gov. decision not to enforce immigration law. It would allow California more money for schools and colleges (which have REALLY taken a beating in the current budget).

Just a note to the San Ramon teacher, I think one of the reasons that people might expect a teacher to have lunch with a student and not be paid for it is that teachers are seen as professionals. Professionals are often expected to work outside of core hours without additional payment. This is seen as normal by most of us, so we don't really see it as a problem. I have had to interview people during lunch, work during lunch, take customers to lunch, take phone calls in the restroom, that is pretty normal. I think it is simply a difference in world views, not disrespect. Actually, it might be respect if you realize that it means Teachers are seen as professionals not hourly workers.

Posted by Christy
a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I can't think of a better way to spend our tax money than on the education of our future doctors, pharmacists, scientists, etc. We risk losing an entire generation of the best and brightest children due to inadequate funding of schools. Parcel taxes ensure that our tax money stays right here, in the San Ramon Valley. As a concerned parent, I have already signed the petition, and I hope you will too.

By the way, CTA has not endorsed the parcel tax initiative!

Posted by samiam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm

The itemized property tax bill has 44.42% of all property taxes going to srvusd.. (that is srvusd + k-12 eraf)
An additional 2% to the school superintendents office and 6% for community colleges.

That is over half our property taxes for local schools...that does NOT show a lack of financial support for education. This will be effected by a reduction in the value of homes with the falling real estate market, which the school district does need to think about.

The concept of tenure should be done away with. Everyone should be evaluated every year on current performance. This would be fair to everyone and provide an incentive for new teachers to take a chance. Currently, the best new teacher will be laid off in anyone, anywhere it the district has more senority then he/she does. That is foolish.

As far as apologizing for wanting to make a good salary, why? Everyone wants to make a good living, we are a capitalistic society. However, one has to be realistic as to the market forces. I recently attended a meeting with a very profitable software company discussing raises with employees. They stated that there had not been raises for three years and they were not planning on giving them this year because they didn't need to. There are not enough extra jobs in our economy to make it necessary for the employer to increase wages to keep people. The people involved were all educated and skilled. This is the market/world we have now. Perhaps it will help others understand why people are not as sympathetic to requests for wage increase for public employees who have job guarantees.

Posted by Ashley
a resident of Diablo Vista Middle School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

In response to Reader and Teacher in the District, I will comment on the quotes from the post

1. Teachers in this district have an incredibly supportive parent base to tap into, so if a teacher from here (SRVUSD) had been interviewed there couldn't be the day to day complaints of gang or gun violence. There will be some students who are more diffcult than others, but I don't believe teachers are so naive when they choose this profession they do not know that. We as parents know our children can be difficult, but like teachers, we chose to have them in our lives.

2. Teachers make a lot more than a "decent" salary for the work they do. Working ONLY 40 hours a week for 9 months of the year with having weekends and holidays off to be paid a salary of 75,000 is quite a nice living - not just decent. In addition, the way the pension system works also affords them a much nicer retirement than regular businesses.

3. With regard to tenure, from what I understand how it is determined, for the most part it is based on the STAR test and other tests like it (GM, COGAT, etc.) When teachers are teaching to a test to get tenure, they are not teaching our students in a way that information is going to be retained. Here again, they are failing to do their job. In addition, I think temporary teachers fill positions that need to be filled, but don't get the benefits that tenured teachers do so it saves the district money (ulterior motive maybe?)

4. Finally, with regard to being able to fire teachers in this district, there may be "so-called" standards in place, but you need to do the research on the actual difficulty of really being able to get rid of a bad teacher in SRVUSD and California in general because of the teacher unions. For facts and flowchart, I refer you to the Los Angeles Times article in May 2009 titled, "Firing teachers can be a costly and tortuous task."

I have lived my entire life in California going to grade school all the way through the UC system and have been saddened at the demise of our state's education. We can't just keeping putting patches on the problem (parcel taxes and the like) and think it is going to get better. Like a house that is too old, we need to rip the system down to the studs and build from the ground up!

Posted by jrm
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Okay, as I read this passionate thread an ironic observation stands out to me, "Teacher in the district" who is irritated she might have to have lunch in the cafeteria once a week with students cannot even spell the word PRINCIPAL correctly. Unbelievable....
In my grade school in Nebraska we learned the correct way to spell PRINCIPAL was principal, because he/she is your PAL. Additionally, when we saw teachers from other classes having lunch with students it gave us a chance to see other teachers we would have in coming years, plus, this is old school, but we would all endeavor to sit next to our teacher at lunch because we had a chance to talk with them in an informal setting. TITD should view this as an opportunity to inspire students who really respect the teaching craft and have never had a meal with their teacher before.
And I so appreciate the adroit tax breakdown from a previous contributor to the thread......

Posted by becky
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Actually, I could easily spot the best teachers in the elementary school my boys went to. They would walk their "kids" into the cafeteria and set with them monthly without anyone asking them. Two of the three third grade teachers also took each kid out to lunch, (taco bell or mcDonalds) when they mastered the multiplication tables. For anyone who is waiting to take a pot shot at these fine teachers, I would like to proactively state that they were nationally recognized and most parents clawed and fought to get in their class.

Posted by becky
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

The teacher who wants to make primary education a right is, I hope, an exception to the professionals in our district. Education is one of the few equalizers in this society as it allows underprivileged children the opportunity to move up. That would be incredibly sad. Additionally, if you are working in this district you do not even come close to having the issues that some in other districts do. I am thinking of the music teacher in Richmond who was assaulted by her students.

Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I can't take the time to read all these posts since I am so tired from working all day and giving - what is it - close to 40% of my income over to taxation? While I disagree with Taxpayer's ridiculously inflammatory remarks, I also disagree with the guy who said "no taxes at all cost" is moronic. No one is suggesting "no taxes', we're saying no MORE taxes. If the state, counties, cities and school districts in general had been better stewards of our money, we wouldn't be in this situation. I have worked in the private sector my entire life, and when I compare it to how government is run I am disgusted. The waste, fraud, incompetence, entitlement, and lack of accountability in government has gotten me personally to the point where I say "deal with the mess you created", and unfortunately that includes the schools. More money will not solve this problem.

Posted by Local Mom
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

Wow Taxpayer, that's some interesting logic...if some teachers don't get tenure then we'll save money and not need a parcel tax? So, we wouldn't hire new, better teachers to replace those who leave...after all, those classes and students still need to be taught. What do we do, just cancel Algebra or English or History? Good thing you are not in charge. Also, why do you assume that all "working" people work 9-5 jobs? Many of us work different hours. I for one would not be able to attend a 5:30 or later meeting on my work days--that's when I'm at the office. There is no time that would work for all.

Posted by S. Elaine
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I am a parent of an elementary school student in Danville and I am amazed that someone would conclude that "the PTA deliberately holds their meetings in the morning during work hours, so that parents who actually work for a living and pay the bills and taxes, can not attend"

They actually have them in the morning that the parents of these young children can attend meetings while they are in class, since the majority of these students are too young to stay home alone in the evening PTA meetings. The PTA is simply accomodating the needs of elementary school parents. Shame on you.

Have your opinion about the parcel tax, that is your right.. but don't concoct hidden agendas and motives to bolster your stance.

Posted by C.B.
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 9:57 am

Since when is "Newsweek" the "tell all, know all" publication? its another completely "spun" media Time Mag, USA Today, CBS news, BS.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 10:49 am

S. Elaine, though I agree with you that no conspiracy exists to keep working parents from attending the PTA meetings by holding them in the morning, I also find it impossible to attend due to my work schedule.

If I were able to be a stay at home parent, I might be able to attend an evening meeting if my husband were available to stay with my kids or perhaps a neighbor. For me, this would at least give me some options.

That said, I have been able to keep up with things nicely and have been given opportunities to volunteer during evenings and weekends, so I don't feel like I am missing out in these areas which are important to me.

Posted by Really?
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

52% of the state's General Fund now goes to education. Add on top of that all the local add ons. Yet if you read the article in the paper, there has been no change in school status in the last 20 years. If it was a good school then, it still is. If it was a bad school then, it still is. So how has all this spending improved our childrens education? I daresay that it has gone down in quality, not up. How about the teachers show us some payback on the extra money we've already given them, before coming back to the trough yet again.

On another note, were you aware that the SRVUSD gets about $3,000 per student while urban centers, such as Oakland, gets three times that amount? Seems fair to me...

Posted by Resident 47 years
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

The same old wheel goes round and round!!! Tenure has always been the breeding place for disasters at every level! The only reason people are now sticking their heads out of the sand is because their pocketbooks are in question and they are feeling the pinch! How about ineffective principals in these schools??? Traditionally they are transferred to another school, to muck up the works. This has gone on for years!!!

Whether the Union or the District is to blame...take your pick!!

Posted by David Brower
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

What seems to get run all together in these sorts of discussions are a number of issues that might usefully be kept separate.

What is the right funding level for schools? Are our local levels high or low on a historical and comparative basis against systems we'd like to be compared against by results? It doesn't seem like the funding of California schools is high by historic, inflation adjusted levels, or in the SRV, against other well-performing districts out of state.

Do local supplementary taxes make much difference? At the margins, yes, but it does not truly solve the structural problems of school funding in California. It is, unfortunately, the only optionthat available at a local level.

Can our schools be run better and more efficiently? Yes, always. Every official faced with budget problems will claim to go after "waste and fraud", even if the problem is far beyond that. In my opinion, fixating on the teacher's union and the people in the PTA is missing the real point.

How much do "bad teachers" and "tenured too early" teachers cost as a fraction of the SRVUSD budget? It doesn't seem like too much, given the district testing results are about as good as they get in the state. Is that to say that there aren't bad teachers, or ones tenured "too early"? Based on the results per dollar, anyone would have to accept that SRVUSD is doing well, with fewer rotten teachers having bad effects than many other places.

The actual effects of the current budget gap are pretty clear -- there will be layoffs, there will be larger classes, there will be fewer new books, and fewer programs than used to be available.

Will that hurt the quality of education? Some will say it is obviously harmful, and others may say that everyone should suck it up and things will be OK. The actual results of the experiment won't be known for years. There's a risk taken with either conclusion.

Do people care about the quality of the education? Many do, but it is clearly true that many others do not place as high a value on it, and don't like being asked to pay extra for what they perceive to be luxury. People are self-interested, and one would hope that the information they use to make decisions is well considered.

The facts, locally, are that per-student funding is low, and getting lower; that results have been historically good even with low relative funding; and that scapegoating unions and the PTA does not address what is really important. The value of our communities and our properties are closely tied to the quality of the public education we provide. Enlightened self-interest says that people ought to care, and be somewhat tolerant of the inefficiencies that are present in anything.

It's a bit like being hung up in a debate about whether Safeway Macaroni and Cheese is an acceptable substitute for Kraft, when the real problem is you're stuck in an adjustable mortgage that just ballooned to a high rate.


Posted by Chet
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Just in case you forgot Mr. "Taxpayer" we live in a democracy. 51% should be all we need to win elections and to change policy or taxes. This super majority is Un-American and pure nonsense. We have elections to give say to the majority not to let some smaller minority call the shots.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2010 at 8:10 am

David, nice perspective. I do tend to agree that teachers are tenured too early but your comment that this likely doesn't represent a large chunk of the overall budget is well taken.

Chet, just an FYI. Majority is 50% + 1, not 51%.

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

Chet, do you really want to make it easier to raise taxes? I don't.

That's the main reason Proposition 13 was passed - the people (you and me) wanted to take control over a property tax structure that was totally out of whack.

Politicians are pigs - there's never enough tax money coming in so they can buy votes, union votes, teacher votes, you name it.

Posted by Gayle Larson
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

David, thank you for your objectivity. It is sorely needed given the tone of this thread.

Posted by Cynthia Byers
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I agree whole heartedly with Gayle Larson and appreciate David's perspective as well as his ability to remain objective.

On another note, I have been involved with the PTA's in four different schools over the last 13 years. Next year I have been asked to be PTA president of Iron Horse (again) and to continue on as Cal High's PTSA president.....I will probably do it, for two reasons. The first reason is we have far too few parents who are willing to take on these rolls (gee, I wonder why?) and the second reason is simple. I have found that the men and women i have met and worked with over the years have been bright, hard working and have all had one thing in common........they wanted the best for the children in our community. To infer that we are "exclusive" is ridiculous. My Boards have consisted of more people I didn't know than those I did. It is so easy to point fingers and blame others when times get about we all try a little "grace under pressure" and stop the finger pointing?

Posted by Reader
a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Cynthia Byers: Thank you for your time and effort in supporting the schools with your PTA leadership roles. I would be interested, however, in your opinion as an insider in the PTA:
(1) Do you believe 2 years is enough time for tenure as a teacher?
(2) If the answer is no, are you willing to do "what is best for the children in our community" and use your leadership role with the PTA in advocating for more than 2 years?
(3) Can you give us some examples of things that you have done as a leader with the PTA that were for the "best for the children in our community", that the teachers union did not support the PTA on?

Posted by David Brower
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 18, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Reader --

I'm not sure what you are complaining about. Are you saying the schools will have enough money next year if they cut out the waste, fire bad teachers, and stop giving tenure at two years? I don't understand how that works, with dollar figures. Please explain.

Do you think the current funding (before the planned cuts next year) are sufficient, or too high?

If you think it is too high now, what level of funding, compared to other districts in and outside of California do you think is appropriate?

I'm completely undecided about the timing of tenure. How does it really effect costs, and how does it effect the quality of the education one way or another? Or is there some other measure than cost or quality you think is appropriate for us to consider?


Posted by Reader
a resident of Danville
on Mar 19, 2010 at 7:24 am

David: I am not complaining about anything. Many people have posted concerns about the PTA, which usually has a very good reputation. Ms. Byers is apparently a leader and officer with the PTA, and so I was interested in her opinions on issues involving teacher tenure, and whether the PTA always goes along with the teachers union on issues, or whether the PTA is truly independent of the teachers union. I would love to hear from her, as I think that would share some light on concerns some people may have. Also, since it appears clear that class room size is going to increase, logic would suggest that we need to do a better job of only keeping and promoting quality teachers, as those teachers who are failing with smaller class sizes are going to fail even worse with larger classes.

Posted by Cynthia Byers
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 19, 2010 at 9:11 am

Reader - I am more thatn happy to answer your questions, quite openly and honestly, although I feel somewhat certain that you will feel my response to be disappointing.

I have never been involved, nor do I plan to be involved with the Teachers Union or with tenure, that is certainly not my backround nor do I pretend to know the full picture. I worked on Wall Street prior to having my four children, and although I do have my opinions it is not my role as a PTA president to share them on any kind of platform.

As for examples, I can give you many. I have helped to create, as well have backed many programs in our community which promotes kindness within our schools and community, amongst children, teachers, and parents. I have helped to reinforce no child left behind by meeting with Leadership classes to ensure that our children, no matter what age feel part of their community. I have brought speakers in to help parents become better parents, to help them understand how their role changes as their children do, clinical nutritionists to promote healthy eating, directly related to a child's well being. I have worked with our children at all levels to instill the idea of giving to the less fortunate and have run the Cross Count program at IH for 10 years, delivering food, books, clothes and kindness to those who need it most. I have promoted the idea of appreciating our teachers to the fullest, understanding quite well, that if our teachers are miserable, just as in a family, if the parents are miserable, so too will the children be.

Truly, I could go on and on......I do what I do because from the bottom of my heart I believe that postive role models and positive actions are what our children need to see, hear and live.

Posted by Reader
a resident of Danville
on Mar 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

Ms. Byers: Thank you for your response. I do believe all those things you listed are very beneficial for the students and community, and I appreciate those things. I am not sure why you assume I would be disappointed in your response. The only thing I am disappointed in is your failure to share with us your opinion on whether 2 years for tenure is appropriate. You worked on wall street, you have years of experience working on the PTA, you have done some excellent things for the district, so you must have an opinion on tenture after 2 years. I am sure you encourage those who serve on boards with you to be honest and candid, and not be afraid to share thoughts that others may not agree with. Please share your thoughts on tenure after 2 years. Hopefully, an honest and responsive answer, will silence those who have posted concerns about the impartiality and bias of the PTA. Thank you.

Posted by 3Xparent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Over time our schools have decreased performance for most children in the basics. My belief is that children benefit from instruction during the day given by the teacher and backed up at home with some homework. Over time we saw less instruction during class time and ever more homework teaching the subject instead. Thus a child was more self taught or taught by their parent working with them than by the teacher. Most students, except for perhaps the brightest, don't do well in this system. This is not looked at by SRVUSD.

Over 20 years, we saw lack of report cards, guessestimates in math, lack of phonics, as experiments on our children. Over time, we noted that textbooks once for all students are now only for AP students as they are deemed too difficult for everyone. Over time we saw grammar instruction go to zero.

While we continue to have requests for increasing funding on our taxes, with construction bonds, and now by lowering the mandated required percentage to pass a tax, until there is movement within the education community to teach again, to get rid of bad teachers and not just move them from school to school and tenure, I will say no to this continuing request and demands.

ps Kindness and charity may be wonderful personal attributes but to move forward in the workplace you need learned skills such as reading, math and science. That is what needs fixing not ancillary programs. When there is movement by teachers and their union which okays all the work rules, then perhaps funding increases will take place.

Posted by David Briower
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

3X parent, you say that schools have decreased performance, but I'm not sure what data supports that. By my recollection and comparison, my own children are doing work fully equivalent to what was presented me as a child in a good school district. Comparitively on standardized tests, SRVUSD is doing very well for a California district. Do you have data to support your conjecture?

When you observe requests for "increased funding", do you know if there is an actual increase per-student, inflation adjusted, compared to the better days of your memory?

The starting point of this discussion is a warning to "Beware the Parcel Tax" scheme, yet no one who is against it has found the time to find a single budgetary number to explain why it isn't needed. Instead, the vector of attack has been resentment about unions and tenure, again, with no supporting budgetary or performance data.

This lack of data and factual arguments relevant to the specific issues in a ballot choice make it difficult to come up with an informed opinion. Without the data, we are left only with the emotional strawmen of "all taxes bad, bureaucrats and unions evil" vs. "anything for the kids, we [heart] teachers" There has got to be more substantive to talk about. Please!


Posted by Cynthia Byers
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm

To 3X Parent and Danville:

I believe incompetency in any form, in any profession should not be tolerated, however, it is, across the board, in government, schools, businesses.
I believe that tenure is something that should be earned and I am not sure two years is enough time to prove that, however, I also realize there may be reasons for this system that I am not educated about. As I stated, this is not where my energies lie, I am much more involved with school activities that surround our children on a daily basis.

3X - I am not a Teacher, I am a is not my job to teach reading, writing or math to any of our children. It is not even "my job" to take on any of these "ancillary programs".........I do, as a volunteer, because I know I make a difference in many of these childrens lives. Many of these attributes you are so willing to dismiss as "unimportant in moving up in the workplace" are the very attributes which may help them to lead a more joyous and fulfilled life one day. I am not willing to debate life issues with you, we are most obviously very different people. You have been judgemental and dismissive about what I do, I have been taught much better than that. By the way, I am 4X parent and each and every one of my children are very proud of the work I do.

Posted by samiam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I think one issue that was stated earlier but is not being addressed in the final comments is the concern that there simply may NOT be additional money. The economy has tanked, almost everyone I know has taken a pay cut. Many others have lost their jobs. The real estate market has reduced in value, lowering tax revenues. The schools also rely upon "volunteer" registrations fees, those fees may not be as forth coming in a terrible economy. If someone is in danger of foreclosure or going to a food bank, additional contributions will not be a priority. I know that the number of children using the federal lunch program has gone up in the district. The school district needs to make REAL plans to accomodate a reduction in income. If the money is simply not there, you will not be able to simply as for more from the public. As I stated early, this area values education, to the tune of 1/2 of the taxes we pay, however, if the money is not there, no wishing, crying or wringing your hands will change it. Real thoughts of how to get through this need to be considered.

Posted by 3Xparent
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

To db: The following sources may answer some of your questions. National Assessment of Educational Progress compares across all 50 states including funding as well as testing. Our district recommends And of course SRVUSD has their budgets and other financial information on line as well. By the way I was not comparing my education and my memory of that education to that of my children's education. I was comparing the changes from child #1 to child #2 and on to child #3 all within SRVUSD. Nor was I comparing any quantifiable data - all the examples were observations of SRVUSD who observed the changes to no phonics, guesstimates in math, etc.

As to my memory of increased funding; our district has passed parcel taxes in 04 and 09 and according to their budget that equals 3% of their revenue. Other local taxes equal 8% which is what I believe Richard on 3/16 refers to from your property tax bill. Also we passed construction bonds in 98 Measure D and Measure A in 02.

To Byer - yes I understood you were a volunteer. I am sure your school and children appreciate your efforts but in looking at funding and performance and how that should affect funding it rests on what happens in the classroom. The specific examples I mentioned happened, and continue to happen, in the classroom. Those are facts that bear on this issue of whether or not to lower the percentage required to pass a tax for education that is sponsored by the PTA.

And unions who okay all work rules, tenure, salaries and performance are all part of the educational reality as citizens look at this issue.

Posted by David Brower
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 22, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Thanks 3X, this link is fairly informative about current funding:

Web Link

From this, we see generally that California doesn't spends less than many states on K-12 by many normalized measures, and that there are fewer teachers and larger class sizes. In this presentation, this is presented as a cost-of-living issue.

"California’s average teacher salary—$59,825 in 2005–06—is higher than that of any other state. However, the relatively high cost of living in California is a contributing factor. In comparisons of teacher salaries among states, both the cost of living in each state and the seniority of the workforce play a role. The American Federation of Teachers looked at average teacher salaries in 2000–01 and determined that when cost-of-living factors were taken into account, California ranked 16th in the nation."

Some will note that this adjustment is from the AFT, a organization that may be attempting to justify "overpaid union jobs." Still 16th isn't top of the class.

I'd appreciate a source of longer-term data over about 40 more years, being the 20 years before prop-13 and the 20 years after, inflation adjusted. Haven't found one yet.


Posted by Ralph Hoffmann
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:24 am

Does this mean that the PTA, until recently, was run by opponents of teachers?

Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:47 am

The proponents of a parcel tax had better hurry to get their slice of the pie before the pie is all gone!

Posted by Ben
a resident of Danville
on Mar 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

The California Teacher's Union should be ashamed of themselves. I know many California teachers who believe the union is a cancer to the education system. Teachers are grossly underpaid, however, the protection they receive from the union is destroying the education system.

Give a 25% pay raise for all teacher' now.
Then - evolve Tenure over the next 10 years - starting with new teachers - you have to perform for ten years to get tenure.

Implement Pay for performance -
You do not perform, you are fired. (Real life lessons)
Ad performance bonuses and raises based on performance.
You perform consistently for 10 years, you qualify for tenure
(Let's reward the good ones)
The tenure qualification is reviewed every 3 years (no, you do not get to "retire" after ten years - you still have to perform to keep the tenure status.)

Get the private sector involved - yes allow professions to teach - how many qualified, passionate, people do you think are out there that could support our education system? (This goes back to providing realistic compensation to our teachers - in a realistic job market)

OK so much for the fantasy, there is no way we will change the most powerful labor union in the country next to the United Auto Workers... Oh, wait, look at the auto industry now.

Posted by Paul
a resident of Danville
on Mar 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

Ben makes some very good points, and I believe that this could be a stake in the ground for true reform.

Posted by Fraud
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm

My big problem with the Teachers' Union is how it brainwashes its members regarding GPO and WEP and then whines to the public about it in an effort to get them repealed. WEP could be tweaked (not eliminated) to make it a litter fairer. But, GPO is absolutely fair. In fact, teachers are treated BETTER than a typical two income family when it comes to GPO. Teachers only face a 2/3 reduction, whereas two income families who aren't teachers face a 100% reduction. The greed exhibited by the Teachers' Union on this issue is astounding. It's because of its ridiculous selfishness on this issue that I'm suspicious of other things the Teachers' Union says.

Posted by Collins
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Mar 24, 2010 at 11:51 am

I do not have any children in school. I do have grandchildren in school. My son was educated in California. My husband and I were educated in California, as were both of my parents. To follow Fed Up's logic, "we got our education, the heck with everyone else". Don't you think that while you were in school, there were taxpayers with no children in school paying for your education? I was stunned to read your comment about "the time for free education is over". If you really mean that, maybe you would like to live with the consequences of a new generation of people taking over who are not educated. I, for one, do not.
Education is a must. If you do not believe that, then try living in a country where people are not educated.
As a long time Danville resident, I do not get manicures and pedicures. I also have never had plastic surgery, nor do I drive a BMW. My time is spent with my family. I also worked until I became disabled. Some of my time is also spent becoming more educated. My particular interest is history. This pursuit has enlightened me about the consequences of an uneducated populace.
I will gladly continue to pay taxes so that every child gets a good education,while thanking God that I live in a country that provides this.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

To the above poster, well put!

Posted by Nan
a resident of Danville
on Mar 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

We just voted in a parcel tax and class size is going up to 28 in the lower grades, counselors are being cut, the fall. I'm beginning to doubt alot of what they say anymore.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Mar 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Hey, where's anti-tax anti-school anti-union superhero Mike Arata to throw his two cents (because he's too stingy to give more) in? How can we be informed without his wisdom to guide us? Mike must be visiting Kim Jong Il to see how he deals with errant educators. Come on Dolores, he was a regular contributor to your print rag, just like psuedo-genius Vlado Blech. Surely you can find him?
For the record taxpayer, we've seen no answers from you on basic questions posed here, just as you've accused others of failing to follow through.
Let me ask you the most basic of questions, taking your nonsensical debate point that somehow bad teachers cost us more than good ones: Where the @&$% ARE all these horrible purveyors of math and science? In which schools? Where did this chip on your shoulder originate?
Here's a fact for you bucky- my daughter's school has 31 full time teachers. I don't have 31 children, not being mormon and all, but I have enough neighborhood friends that most of these 31 have been covered - even if I have no personal experience with each and every one. There are a couple who by most accounts should be teaching older kids. And there are a couple that are merely "good" though perhaps not great. But never, ever, have I heard of, seen, or dealt with any bad ones. So where are these Danville boogie-teachers Taxwhiner? Show me, that we may smite them. I mean, the wife and I are paying $13K a year, so we darn well better burn 'em at the stake if they aren't up to par. Bring those marshmallows and hot dogs.
Your thinly veiled argument may have some people on this board fooled, but I'm not one of them. I imagine the same people who bleat endlessly about teachers being overpaid would do the same regarding police and fire fighters. And then they would be the first to complain when Truck 32 didn't get their flaming ego-house put out in time.
Give me thy address Taxevader, that I may send a fine cheddar to accompany thine whine.

Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm

let the kids be me

Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I'm leaving the good ol USA and heading South. I can use all the tax dollars I save on kevlar jackets, clean water and phone calls to home.

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