Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 6, 2013

Bits and pieces, again

Sometimes there are just lots of little bits of news, not big enough for an entire post, but not insignificant enough not to share.

Yesterday, Susan Davis posted this bit of great news on Twitter:

Which means that, hopefully, everyone can be on their best behavior and work together to finalize a contract.   As I wrote in this post, the District and AEA weren’t that far apart, number wise, but of course the District’s proposal was contingent on teachers buying into the Professional Learning Communities to get the annual $1000 stipend during the two year pilot.

In other school related news, Ruby Bridges Elementary did not meet its fundraising goal via the gospel show which would help send 100 Fifth graders to sleep away Science Camp.   It fell a lot short of the needed dollars, so if you have a few bucks you can spare to help out, you can give the Ruby Bridges campus a call at 510.748.4006 to see how you can help.

On Monday night the new formation of the Open Government Commission met and it was sort of anti-climatic.  Because the members of the Commission follow the elected official who appointed them, three of the members were thanked for their service and three new members appointed by Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft, Tony Daysog, and Stewart Chen were all seated on Monday night.   Former City Council candidate, Jeff Cambra, (appointed by Stewart Chen) was appointed as the chair.

Tonight the Alameda Hospital Board will be interviewing and appointing a new member to take over the vacated seat of Stewart Chen.   So, little tidbit I just learned, if there is gridlock at the Hospital Board level about who to appoint then the task is left to the City Council to appoint a member to the Hospital Board.   I am assuming that the Hospital Board will be loathe to leave this decision to another elected body, so here’s hoping that the appointment is undramatic.

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8 Comments

  1. John Stewart didn’t ask Ms. Rhee about cheating allegations where unusual amounts of erasures and corrections ( ongoing over her tenure) on D.C. test sheets cast a shadow over her “great” track record with “raising” test score in D.C.. Really? Yes, Rhee-ly. He still asks some decent questions about tests as a measure of education taking place and efficacy of teachers. Rhee is as officious as ever. puke.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-4-2013/michelle-rhee

    Best to watch the whole thing, but the meat on this is at 1:30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcV3JPHLzNM

    Continuation, but if you’re in a hurry go to 1:45 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Er5ofF550M

    It’s in conceivable that my comments will effect the new negotiations so I will post them as opposed to wait. Many of us who are now often antagonized by actions of the district were more than willing to give Ms. Vital benefit of the doubt for over a year and we fully embraced her. Slowly we’ve come to have the creepy realization that there was a level of disingenuous behavior all along and that perhaps we’ve been punked. It’s hard to swallow one’s pride especially when you think you’ve been duped by somebody who you thought was listening , was actually methodically executing their plan all along. I’m not saying everything in the plan is bad, just feels bad to have it administered in this way. Ms. Rhee is a monster. Ms. Vital for all her administrative prowess and good intent, disappointingly seems to lack certain leadership skills many of us thought she would exhibit, like a long view and some humility with regard to administrative salaries, just as one example. I’d still prefer to continue working with her than starting over. Just saying….

    http://homeworktips.about.com/od/studymethods/ss/leadership_2.htm

    quote from this link on pros and cons of autocratic leadership: “This form of leadership is one of the least desirable when it comes to building trusting relationships and making friends!”

    Comment by M.I. — February 6, 2013 @ 9:41 am

  2. Is anybody aware of any detailed descriptions of what AUSD administration proposes for PLCs in Alameda?

    My Google research has found nothing much more than generalities and platitudes about working together using such terms as ” collaboration, formative assessment, team work and implementing goals”. I have no doubt that there are teachers who work in hunker down mode, plowing along year to year with minimal interaction with their peers who could be inspired and improved in their methods by something like PLC. Just curious about implementation.

    Anecdotally, as the spouse of a (former) 12 year teacher in Alameda high school history departments, I’m aware of a lot of collaboration and cooperation, including pre-school year retreats voluntarily organized by the history department, as well as other other ongoing networking, and having drinks together at the end of the week, also known as “collegiality”. This was not compulsory, but peer pressure has an effect when all your colleges meet year after year and you don’t. I was also recently speaking with a teacher from an out of district charter who described effective teaching requiring 68 hours a week. This was not hyperbole but a spontaneous number based on her experience. When I went to open house for my sons at Alameda High, many teachers described their “office hours” for students to seek help, which included Saturdays.

    As a by stander, I’m curious exactly what kind of time commitment PLCs in Alameda might entail. I’m certain there are teachers who would be improved by more collaboration who would be induced to participate by $1000 a year, but I also think there are many who don’t need to be induced because they already exceed these markers and who may find it difficult to set aside the time. I’m sure the latter would be happy to take an additional $1000 if they could get credit for their current efforts. As a teacher I would be wary of any proposals which were vague. I’m not knocking this effort but I have concerns.

    I hope PLCs as proposed in Alameda are more efficacious than videos like this one : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAlZRwCPO9w

    Comment by M.I. — February 6, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  3. Hi Mark, Don’t know if this offers the level of detail you’re looking for, but the PLC proposal is posted on AUSD’s Labor Negotiations page.

    http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/cms/page_view?d=x&piid=&vpid=1316091466750

    Comment by Susan Davis — February 6, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  4. Jeopardy has the teen tournament on and just like every year by far the majority of smart kids are from the South.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 6, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  5. Hard to believe they don’t come from California. We need to Pay our Teachers more. They are only the Highest paid in Country…..I know this will come as a Real Shocker……….

    ____________________________________________________________________

    San Francisco Schools Accused of Using Lunch Money for Other Purposes

    Some California school districts are using school lunch money for other purposes, the state Senate charged in a report on Wednesday.

    The report singled out San Francisco Unified School District among several others who are “illegally dipping into student meal funds, misappropriating millions of dollars intended to feed California’s poorest children.”

    The federal government gives schools money to buy meals for children whose families can’t afford them.

    San Francisco serves about 33,000 free meals to students every day, and about 62 percent of the students qualify for them, said Blythe

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California school districts have misspent tens of millions of dollars intended to provide subsidized meals to low-income students, according to a state Senate report released Wednesday.

    The California Department of Education recently ordered eight districts to repay about $170 million to programs that offer free and reduced-price lunches and breakfasts, according to the investigation by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.

    In most cases, the cash-strapped districts used the misappropriated funds to pay for other expenses, such as salaries and equipment, according to the report, titled “Food Fight: Small team of state examiners no match for schools that divert student meal funds.”

    The cafeteria fund diversions have led to cost-cutting measures, such as shorter lunch periods, inadequate staffing and serving processed foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables, the report said.

    The cases mentioned in the report may only represent a fraction of misappropriated meal money in California because the state doesn’t have the resources to monitor how its nearly 3,000 school districts spend their cafeteria funds, the report said. Most of the investigations were prompted by whistleblowers.

    Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger said Wednesday that the Department of Education plans to hire and train more staff members to monitor district meal programs and conduct more frequent reviews later this year.

    “Our goal is to be sure every dollar set aside to feed California’s children is spent for that purpose, and that purpose alone,” Zeiger said in a statement. “From my point of view, they are literally taking food out of the mouths of kids.”

    The department ordered the Los Angeles Unified School District to repay $158 million to its cafeteria fund after state officials found misappropriations and unallowable charges, according to the report.

    The Los Angeles district, the nation’s second largest, said in a statement Wednesday that it has been working with state education officials to “ensure full compliance to federal and state guidelines. All disputed costs for the years in question have been adjusted accordingly.”

    The Department of Education also ordered repayments, ranging from $369,000 to $5.6 million, from the Baldwin Park, Centinela Valley, Compton, Oxnard, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Ana districts. Another six districts were ordered to repay smaller amounts.

    The San Diego and Santa Ana districts are challenging the department’s findings.

    California school districts provide 2.4 million free and reduced-price meals every day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides more than $2 billion a year in meal subsidies to California, which provides an additional $145 million.

    Comment by John — February 6, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

  6. Report questions how California schools managed lands

    Associated PressAssociated Press

    Posted: 02/04/2013 11:01:25 AM PST
    February 4, 2013 7:3 PM GMTUpdated: 02/04/2013 11:01:27 AM PST

    SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers are questioning how California’s schools have managed the more than 5.5 million acres that the federal government granted to the state when it joined the union, according the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Analysts at Utah State University found most of the land given to the California school trust has been sold off, mismanaged or neglected, the newspaper reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/YscYo3 ).

    A report by the university’s Center for the School of the Future, found that of the original land, less than 500,000 acres remain.

    Still, California has done better with its lands than nearly two dozen states that have nothing left of their school land trust, according to the report.

    “While we point sometimes at California — and to be honest there is, on the part of some people, snickering — California at least has some lands left,” said Richard West, executive director of the center and author of the report.

    The land was given in trust by Congress when California joined the union to support the education of children, the Chronicle reported.

    As in other states, the land sold off in California was gone before the start of the 20th century.

    “In the old days, they sold off everything anybody wanted,” said Jim Porter, public land management specialist in the California State Lands Commission.

    The remaining land produces about $6 million in royalties and revenue each year, with all the proceeds going to the state teachers’ pension fund, the report said.

    A vast majority of that revenue is generated from geothermal leases at the Geysers along the border of Sonoma and Lake counties. Oil, gold and other minerals also generate some revenue.

    West argues education officials should be part of the conversation about how to use the school trust, which is overseen by the State Lands Commission. The commission is composed of the lieutenant governor, state controller and finance director.

    In an odd twist, California is still owed about 51,000 acres from the federal government for the land trust because some of the initial parcels designated for education support already were occupied.

    The State Lands Commission is working with other states to pursue legislation that would push federal officials to turn over the remaining land to California and any other states owed acreage.

    In the meantime, the commission wants to expand solar and wind efforts, which could increase revenue for the school land trust, Porter said.

    ——

    http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_22516090/report-questions-how-california-schools-managed-lands

    Comment by John — February 6, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  7. Teacher pensions

    While other states use the land trust proceeds for libraries, technology, schools and other programs, California deposits all revenue into the teacher pension fund, as directed by the Legislature in the mid-1980s.

    Why support the pension fund rather than schools directly?

    “My guess is political muscle,” Porter said, noting the pension fund needed financial help from the state. “You’ve got to get the money from somewhere.”

    The Utah researchers questioned California’s use of the money and whether it met the intent of the Continental Congress when they established the school land trust.

    “A retired teacher does not help the school at all,” Bird said. “If I lived in California I’d be out right now looking for an attorney … because somebody needs to speak up for the children.”

    Jill Tucker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jtucker@sfchronicle.com

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Federal-gift-of-land-to-schools-went-awry-4245077.php#ixzz2KBOQK2fg

    Comment by John — February 6, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  8. Thanks Susan, I thought I had read the labor document, what you directly me to is slightly more detailed than what I had recalled, but barely.. The requirements of minimum participating groups make sense because by definition it can’t be implemented by individuals. It is still not fleshed out in a very meaningful way and there in lies one of the main issues, time. The minimum time requirement is 1 hour a week, but that is not likely to be enough time to even hammer out an agenda. In a way it makes sense for site administrators to hammer out templates, perhaps with department chairs where they exist, but at some point depending on what is decided I can see if the template gets too detailed before teacher in put that some folks will feel they are having something foisted on them without that input. Catch 22. This is really not something non-teachers can discuss very far without being completely out of our depth, but intuitively one can see where a lot of time and work is required to just get it up and running, let alone get down to brass tacks. That is not to dismiss it, I just don’t get a lot of clarity from what is available for review . Like I mentioned, a number of individuals and departments basically have this covered in many ways, so the rub is that in order to bring others along using this program may frustrate those who are already up to speed.

    Comment by M.I. — February 7, 2013 @ 9:51 am


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