Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 12, 2009

One to watch

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:47 am

Sigh, I’m having major issues with my internet connection, I just lost an entire post thanks to Comcast’s shoddy internet service.   I’ve tried to not complain too much after the AP&T switchover to Comcast, but seriously the internet service is unusable.   Someone is coming out from Comcast to fix our issue but we are seriously contemplating a new service provider.   I really miss AP&T.

Set your outrage meters to 11 folks because tonight the School Board will be taking comments about the Caring Schools Curriculm.   In addition to providing lesson plans, the school district has also provided a list of famous LGBT folks and includes folks like Harvey Milk and Elton John.   I’m not sure who came up with the list, but I would have swapped out Christina Aguilera for Lindsay Lohan and added folks like Frida Kahlo, Oscar Wilde, Ian McKellan (Gandalf and Magneto are GAY!), and Rosie O’Donnell.

Then there is the list of vocabulary words that manages to explain the words that some folks were afraid were not age appropriate for kids to learn without man bits and lady parts and how they work together. Such as:

Gay: Both men and women are romantically involved in a committed relationship with someone of the same sex.


Lesbian: A woman who has a romantic relationship with women.

Nary a mention about anything that Dan Savage would blush over.  Now if we are going to ban anything that talks about romantic relationships or committed ones we might as well purge entire libraries of the majority of books.   Starting with the fairy tales and working our way up to those teen novellas.

Should be an interesting meeting tonight, I imagine there will be a lot of caveating of remarks tonight starting with, “I have a lot of gay friends, but…” and “I am supportive of gay rights, however…”   Drinking game anyone?   Two shots for the before mentioned phrases.  One shot for anytime anyone says “gay agenda,” “indoctrination,” “age inappropriate,” “I’m a taxpayer,” or “I’m a voter.”



  1. Tequila shot when anyone calls for “Christian values” in the public schools.

    Comment by dave — May 12, 2009 @ 8:08 am

  2. That’s right kids—all those famous folks were gay. Not hard-working, well-read, talented, driven, or kind. Gay. Remember, the most important thing about you is who you are in bed.

    Comment by Ashlee, hetero, into bondage — May 12, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  3. Dave. Between you and Lauren calling “shots”. I’ll be lucky to make it through the first ten minutes of comments.
    However on the bright side I will not have to suffer through the rest of the battle.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 12, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  4. it is so hard to figure out the perfect drinking word. “Christian values” is great but so is “gay agenda” it is almost endless. In order to promote a more balanced diet than just alcohol I plan on the following:

    Real Family: sip of wine

    gay agenda: shot of something

    teach gay lifestyle: chip with guac.

    Mother & Father: chip with salsa

    bully: bite of ice cream

    the one I am torn over is “threat of a lawsuit”: you know it will be mentioned in several speeches, so pick your poison.

    What is the appropriate catch phase to listen for when you are going to eat meat on a stick?

    Meeting adjourned: asprin

    My husband and I are planning a great night in front of the big screen. As far as our kids go, we won’t worry about homework tonight and they will be fed pop-tarts and frozen meals for dinner and of course we will let them watch all the cartoon network and/or wrestling they want on any of our 6 televisions. Thank God we are a “real” family.

    Comment by member of a real family — May 12, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  5. Does anyone know what Comcast channel will broadcast the meeting? Six months in and I am still not sure where everything is on Comcast.

    Comment by Kerri L. — May 12, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  6. Kerry : 15

    Looks like those pushing free sex whatever.. those with no respect for others with traditional values are real drinkers.

    Enjoy your party.

    Comment by voter — May 12, 2009 @ 10:09 am

  7. We apologize for the trouble. We would like to make sure that this is corrected for you. Please send us an email including the phone number on the account. We will make sure that the right person is involved.

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

    Comment by Comcastcares1 — May 12, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  8. Voter:

    You said:

    Looks like those pushing free sex whatever.. those with no respect for others with traditional values are real drinkers.

    Are you equating this curriculm as an endorsement of “free sex?”

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 12, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  9. 7. I am experiencing email irregularities, arbitrary bouncing with incoming. I will go to the URL to pursue assistance, but I never had the problem with AP&T either.

    Comment by M.I. — May 12, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  10. 8

    I hope so!

    Comment by dave — May 12, 2009 @ 11:59 am

  11. oops, 10 was attempted sarcasm but I misread #8 —


    Comment by dave — May 12, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  12. hey, is anybody else creeped out at the message from the comcast guy?? why the hell is comcast monitoring this blog?

    i’m not one of those “wear an aluminum hat” conspiracy theory folks, but that just doesn’t seem right.

    Comment by david burton — May 12, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  13. Cable Guy…

    Comment by E T — May 12, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  14. “Respect for difference” should fall under a more generalized rubric of “Respecting Others”. Where is the AUSD falling down in its mission of educating children such that it needs to spell out specific lessons like those in “Caring School”?

    Is there really a bully problem in Alameda schools? And if so, are suspected gays and lesbians or children of 2-mom and 2-dad households singled out disproportionately? Do adopted kids get picked on more frequently then fat kids? Or kids with really bad acne?

    I doubt it. But please chime in if you know otherwise.

    Comment by Matt Reid — May 12, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  15. In #14, surely you meant “where are families and society falling down?”

    Comment by Not That It Matters All That Much, But — May 12, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  16. #15 – no, actually I am not. Every school, no matter how secular, needs a set of “classroom rules” by which to function, which serves as a moral foundation. Apparently the rules related to “treating others with kindness and respect” are ill-defined, poorly-enforced, or both. That is, if you believe there’s a problem in the first place.

    Comment by Matt Reid — May 12, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  17. #12 Off-topic, but –

    Seems reasonable to me.

    Comment by Andy Currid — May 12, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  18. #17 – Andy, that sounds familiar now that I see the article. I just wish they would put half that much effort into making their other customer service, installation teams, and such half that responsive or competent. I’m with Lauren – I’d love to switch to something different.

    Comment by david burton — May 12, 2009 @ 2:15 pm


    Comment by Rob Siltanen — May 12, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  20. #16 Good Points.
    That is actually all the new Assembly Bill requires – clear rules, trained staff, parental notification of rules and when their children are frequent violators of the rules. The rules must protect all protected statuses equally, (you know, sex, race, nationality, handicapped, etc and the new clarification that sex includes actual or perceived sexual or gender identity…) The text of the law states “that no new curriculum is required…’

    But never mind the law; stay focused on all the hype; and be damned if you have an opinion that doesn’t meet the vocal call to inform K-5 about all the gender and sexual identities they can choose from…

    Comment by voter — May 12, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  21. …The new law wants schools to also track reports of violations of harassment rules and what action was taken.

    Take the time to read the text of the law!

    We should be dealing with democracy, not marketing.

    Comment by voter — May 12, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

  22. 14. Matt,

    You are probably familiar with the idea that in pools of students from tougher socioeconomic situations teaching in public schools can be as much about discipline as teaching the three Rs? Even in this district where learning can be the main focus, teachers will tell you that if they do not start the school year by laying down the law and letting kids know who is in charge a teacher can be at a huge disadvantage. Anecdotally, I know that a child with serious ADHD or just the average bad attitude student can divert a tremendous amount of energy and learning focus from a classroom.

    In terms of AUSD “falling down” on this job you ascribe to it, I’ll ask rhetorically, what is the overall responsibility of a school in general, public or private? The state seems to have included some kind of sensitivity training about bullying in that responsibility, but would that be necessary if individual parents and/or society at large was not already falling down on our collective job? Teaching is a big enough challenge without adding teaching basic social skills.

    The idea for this curriculum as I see it is for the community to close ranks around streamlining a curriculum for general good behavior so that it can be taught early (i.e. to young kids) as intervention, and hopefully NOT that often (i.e. an hour or so a year) so as not to steal more time from three R’s etc than we already do with all the standards testing for unfunded mandates like No Child Left Behind.

    To answer your question about frequency of occurrence, I’m not aware of stats for Alameda, but if you read the blog regularly you may recall Susan Davis posted a study in response to David Kirwin’s claim that other types of bullying account for the majority of incidents. DK’s response included the “damn statistics” argument that they can be manipulated to substantiate any outcome, but what Susan posted was convincing to me and that was to say that taunting around the gay issue is huge and in fact constitutes a large enough portion to warrant some specific attention.

    Right Susan? I’m sure Dk will counter if he thinks my paraphrase was inaccurate.

    Comment by M.I. — May 12, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

  23. I attended the BOE meeting tonight, and was one of the last speakers near midnight before the public hearing was continued until next Monday night, May 18, at 6:30 PM, at Will C. Wood Middle School’s Multipurpose Room.

    About 200 speaker slips (x 3 minutes each = 10 hours of public hearing time) were submitted tonight, and less than half got to speak before time ran out.

    Those who submitted speaker slips tonight but did not speak will have first crack at speaking (this time for only TWO minutes, not three) Monday night. Their names will be called in the order that speaker slips were submitted tonight, and approximate time slots and names will be posted on AUSD’s Web site later this week.

    I was saddened by the misinformation evident in many opponent’s comments tonight. The LGBT-specific curriculum supplement is to be added to existing curricula on other forms of harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, religion, nationality, etc. Adding the CSC lesson 9 to these existing lessons will simply give LGBT parents and students equal visibility to members of these other “protected classes.”

    #14–There most definitely IS a problem with bullying and harassment in public schools, and it starts in K-5 with kids using “gay” or other insults (not all of them LGBT-related, to be sure) to harm other students.

    Teaching accurate and age-appropriate vocabulary (which does NOT have to involve s-e-x education) starting in grades K-3 will help eliminate the bullying, harassment, and verbal abuse of “different” students (those in ALL of the “protected classes” referred to in AB 537, etc.)

    I spent 3 years dealing with this stuff with the 40 kindergartners and their grades 2-5 peers at Franklin Elementary during noon recess. The proposed LGBT SUPPLEMENTAL curriculum just helps the LGBT community get equitable and equal coverage as a “protected class” and lets them be more “visible” to other families.

    Comment by jon Spangler — May 13, 2009 @ 2:52 am

  24. #23 – a-ha! we may have found ground zero here. Help me understand what you did while 3rd graders called each other “Gay” on the playground? As a responsible deputized staff member, how did you assist? Did you spank them? Could you sit them on the wall? Could you raise your voice in an authoritative manner? Explain the process for addressing these issues – not from a psychology masters thesis theoretical abstract point of view, but from the ground. I want to learn three things here –

    1) do educators really consider the term “gay” when implied to mean “stupid” or “odd” as serious as the use of the “n” word to refer to African Americans? Or calling the fat girl “fat”?

    2) what mechanisms do educators have at their disposal today to enforce mutual respect between students?

    3) Beyond “prohibitive” moral education “Don’t hit, steal, call names…” how does the AUSD pursue “proscriptive” moral education – “Respect one another, do good deeds, respect your elders”- this is why Lesson 9 is so hot -because it expands from the prohibitive to the proscriptive.

    My guess is that if we take a good hard look at (2) we’ll put this issue back in to the “teachers do your job” court, which is where it belongs.

    Comment by Matt Reid — May 13, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  25. The thought that any curricula will “solve” the bullying problem is preposterous. It is rather like saying we can achieve peace through arms buildup and warfare.

    There has never been a school where there was no bullying, I would venture to say.

    People need to think about this entire issue from a different perspective: empowering sensitive children.

    Right now, the hot button issues rest with what the parents think, not with what our kids experience.

    And it is not just about “teachers doing their job”, it is about the greater issue of people in general not wanting to engage in confrontation, and also about the reticence of parents to be proactive with their children with regard to preparing their kids for what they might experience, and checking in with them when they are down to find out why. Most of the time, it will be because of a playground situation, not because of classwork.

    Comment by E T — May 13, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  26. 25. there are no perfect solutions, so are you saying since the curriculum is not likely to completely resolve the issue it should not be pursued at all?

    24. the “teachers do your job court”, what does that mean? I thought their job was to teach three Rs type stuff for the most part. Teachers are integral to socializing children of younger ages, but I don’t see that as their main function. In theory any curriculum like this is to deal with the issue as a preemptive move so that teachers can spend more time teaching subject matter and less time intervening on social issues. You seem to think teachers should also be behavioral cops.

    LGBT harassment is a valid issue of concern independent of comparisons to other kinds of discrimination. Constant attempts to undermine concern about the LGBT harassment with comparisons to race, etc. are all red herring.

    Comment by M.I. — May 13, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  27. ” You seem to think teachers should also be behavioral cops.”

    Which is exactly what this proposed gay agenda curriculum makes them … behavioral cops.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 13, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  28. #26 – the people who are undermining concern viz-a-viz anti-LGBT discrimination are the ones who are not answering questions 2 and 3 I pose above in #24 – namely, what do responsible adults in positions of authority have at their disposal today to combat hurtful words and bullying in AUSD schools? and if there is in fact an epidemic of bullying and abuse which is disproprtionaltely targeted toward gays in AUSD schools, why haven’t the adults charged with ameliorating this problem used the means at their disposal to do so?

    Seems to me there are two types of adults directly involved in this discussion – parents whose children come home from school and relate these stories from the school yard, and teachers/aids/volunteers who actually witness these events. It is to the latter group that I address my questions, and thus far haven’t heard much in response. I am in neither camp (so sit down and shut up right? 🙂 , which is why I was so eager to hear Spangler’s point of view. If you yourself have direct experience in AUSD schools on this topic, and the experience is less than 10 years old – please by all means share your experiences.

    Now there is an entirely separate discussion here which is inevitably conflated into this debate about the appropriation of language – the terms “gay” and “queer” in particular. One of the tearful high schoolers last night took great umbrage that the word “queer” was bandied about in a pejorative way – perhaps not understanding that the word has perfectly legitimate usage relating not in the least to sexuality dating back to 1508- and is in fact PROPERLY USED as a pejorative Certainly many young people use “gay” to imply “stupid” or “lame” and remain completely ignorant to the cultural etymology which connects homosexuality with strangeness and uni-dimensional aberrance. They just associate an emotional state and reaction with a term. They heard it in the movies, at home, wherever. I realize that THIS is precisely the battle being fought by the “LGBT agenda” – and really has nothing to do with bullying, et al. But it’s about as much the fodder for K-5 curriculum as removing gender from language is (“matriot” instead of “patriot” – “testosteroneria” instead of “hysteria” ad nauseum). I say leave that debate to the postmoderns in academia- teach the kids to treat others with respect, and enforce with strong discipline.

    Comment by Matt Reid — May 13, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

  29. 26. No, Mark–I actually think that it is laudable that the district is engaging the issue. But I am not sure this curriculum is going to have the desired affect, and I also agree with Matt that what needs to happen is empowering the adults to have zero tolerance for intolerance and bullying.

    But that means that volunteers, teachers and staff have to be willing and able (e.g., empowered) to be confrontational when the need arises. The law and the school districts have been enforcing the opposite for a long time, in other words, disempowering teachers, volunteers and staff from saying or doing anything to intervene, because of parental backlash.

    Diversity is what makes humanity interesting. We should not be waging war but celebrating our differences. How awful that diversity is being used as a bludgeon in this our local drama. Being “different” is what so many aspire to, but then it is used against them.

    Who suffers from all of this, the parents who are causing the hullaballoo or the kids?

    The kids, of course.

    Comment by E T — May 13, 2009 @ 7:12 pm

  30. 27. the unfortunate reality is that the cop work comes with the territory. My point is to help minimize that by using focused curriculum to deal with specific problems as a matter of efficacy.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  31. Matt,

    Since you watched the show the other night I am a little surprised that you seem to be breaking it down into a clinical etymology. Straight from the gut and heart, the side in favor won the day. Unlike trolls on a blog, with the exception of the woman from Sacramento who I thought was pretty lame, the speakers opposed were quite compelling, but from a much more analytical perspective.

    As with a jury, all the arguments must be taken into account. I saw only three speakers of a great number opposed who were not Asian. All were respectful and articulate and many gave relevant credentials for the issue at hand. ( whether any had foriegn language inflections which some did, is TOTALLY irrelevant by the way). The legal argument that parents should be able to opt out because of existing ed code on “health ed” curriculum was the only argument which got traction with me. The other first amendment arguments that those opposed would be stripped of their rights to disagree, was much weaker.

    The fourth grade curriculum which requires a group discussion where students are asked to rate their level of discomfort seemed to be the area of greatest concern. One mom gave a pretty vivid example of how her kindergarten or first grade daughter was alienated in a voting exercise where she chose John McCain and the vast majority supported Obama. I got what she was saying about the reversed discrimination situation and the first thing which came to mind was that we adults use secret ballot for just such reasons.

    I have been trying to read the SunCal initiative and have only scanned portions of this curriculum. A careful reader might note by comments pertain to the generic LGBT situation and I have tried not to make unequivocal statements supporting this curriculum since I have not read every line. My response to the descriptions from the meeting would be to eliminate situations which create those tensions.

    When Lauren posted the kindergarten curriculum I posted immediately that simply having kids pair up before coming to a discussion circle was an unnecessary occasion for a child to be an odd one out. Some people may have thought I was facetiously mocking critics of the curriculum with that one, but as I said in the post, if we are to be micro-critical, then throw out all those possible speed bumps.

    My thoughts about certain details in the curriculum like come to the circle with a partner, is that they are well meaning attempts to encourage kids to bond as part of the greater purpose, but if you design for the highest sensitivity level of any child, you need to accommodate a lot of possibilities even when they seem a little absurd. Some would say that describes the entire exercise.

    I am squandering time this a.m. not doing desk work to make this comment but I want to re-read grade 4 curriculum to see about tweaking it. I am still inclined to pursue this curriculum in some form, because in the big picture this discrimination in deeply embedded and ingrained and all that is cumulative from a young age, and starting to work with kids early is probably more effective than disciplining teens for saying “gay” as a term for “lame” and worse.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  32. In my experience, when kids are asked to express themselves, particularly on matters that might be controversial, they tend to clam up.

    Heck, even a “how was school today,” usually elicits a monosyllabic response.

    Do the people that have created the curriculum really understand the audience for which it has been created? Or are they caught up in an untested academic model that is slightly unrealistic?

    That is what I question the most, and I have a feeling that this lies at the heart of concerns that have been expressed about vocabulary and group sharing methods by many people who have written in about this issue.

    In the Chronicle today, it is noted that San Francisco’s school district is having similar difficulties with the development of their own curriculum. The district offices have been inundated with hate mail.

    This is pathetic in a society that supposedly champions the rights and equality of the individual.

    It is the adults that need the training. Children are modeling what they see and hear from the adults in their lives.

    The religious who object to the lifestyle would be surprised to find out how many GLBT families regularly attend and are tithing members of religious institutions, how many volunteer in their communities and give to charities.

    Comment by E T — May 14, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  33. 31- “Straight from the gut and heart, the side in favor won the day.” Hmmm. I had trouble reading on, but am glad I did – as this specious sidebar proved a departure from the rest of your post -which otherwise conveyed a good thoughtful look at the matter.

    Now, as to why you sidestep my push for teachers and administrators to speak up and hold themselves accountable and for the Jon Spanglers of the world to account for how we know about problems and allow them to continue at the most basic “on the playground” level, this is beyond my comprehension.

    Comment by Matt Reid — May 14, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  34. #31 — I believe that when the students in the 4th grade lesson plan are asked to stand up in groups, they are being asked to demonstrate their level of comfort with being an ally to a boy who is being teased, not their level of comfort with homosexuality.

    So it’s really about exploring feelings around “sticking up” for someone who is being bullied.

    Empowering children to be vocal allies/witnesses is considered to be a strong detriment to bullying.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 14, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  35. #34
    Like this young man.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 14, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

  36. 33. “specious”? Whatever. The great majority of those who spoke in favor were very effective as speaking from a place of empathy, as contrasted to many in opposition who were often legalistic etc. and who themselves side stepped their own apparent aversion to the subject of LGBT with “specious” references to loosing their first amendment rights. Those in favor carried the day from the perspective of anybody who was listening from the heart.

    As to me sidestepping some point you have made previously, your “Jon Spanglers of the world” and teachers being accountable is lost me, incomprehensible without context. For a point you made to be consciously sidestepped it would have to recognized as a point in the first.

    34. I did go back and thoroughly reread the grade 4 curriculum and I got from it the exact point you made about kids sticking up for other kids, not emphasizing their comfort level with homosexuality, as in my view some of the speakers to BOE misrepresented it.

    There are parts of the curriculum which seem contrived. In the grade 4 curriculum it states from an imaginary Robert’s view that “I haven’t had one teacher that is obviously uncomfortable with it.” It being his two moms. This seems like an attempt to reinforce the way we’d like it to be which is O.K. I guess. But among those who spoke in oppositions were some teachers who must never have taught “Robert” because they were explicitly uncomfortable with it,. at least being discussed in the school context. But I suppose as teachers they would be professional enough not to be “obvious” about that on the job.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

  37. I still want to know why the BOE is not requesting that AUSD address the requirements of AB 397 which is both designed to reduce all forms of harassment at public schools, and unlike any LGBT curriculum, is required by CA State law.

    I’m not sure what MI means in post #31, it looked to me that there were many more speakers opposing the staff proposal than there were speakers supporting the curriculum, and by a very wide margin, but I did was not home to watch until past 9 pm, and the monitor in the Council over-flow room was not working. Despite the high school students favoring the “K-5 Gender Orientation, & Sexual Identity Curriculum”, from what they said harassment is a much more serious problem in the upper grades. While nation-wide there have been two child suicides attributed to harassment, it is so common in upper grades it’s not considered newsworthy, but every unnecessary death is equally sad.

    Pulling “heartstrings” by showing pictures of a handful of kids out of a country of over 300 million may be emotionally distracting, but in the harsh reality of full examination it is not a strong argument. I ‘got’ the understanding of kids trying to gauge which sign to stand under, and the reality is it is a lame lesson. – Contrived and phony, or harshly private for a child to reveal real sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Any real peer intervention will be dependant on much more relating to the social fabric, SSA, part of has a good description of some of the group dynamics involved. Every lesson seems bad, and many speakers pointed out the reasons. For the kids, its bad, for the community it is terribly divisive, for AUSD it has damaged political goodwill and public trust.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 15, 2009 @ 12:51 am

  38. #24:
    Volunteers respond to bullying as we are trained to, depending on the situation. Sometimes a conversational an educational conversation during a “time-out” worked. For more serious offenses, we took the offenders to the office for discipline by the principal, who is responsible for such things. (Any form of corporal punishment, or any physical contact like shaking a student, is strictly prohibited to protect kids from physical or sexual abuse.)

    But disciplining a bully after the fact is not a good way to teach kids better (e.g., non-violent) ways to interact. The goal of the anti-bullying and inclusion curricula (for all the “protected classes” in AB 537, etc.) is to teach mutual respect and acceptance so the bullying does not take place in the first place. And the LGBT-specific tools that teachers have asked for is the “missing link” in their existing tool box for teaching tolerance and acceptance of all.

    If you REALLY “want to learn…from the ground,” volunteer at your local elementary school and see for yourself. That’s the best way. Don’t just take my word for it–see for yourself. Alameda’s kids and teachers need the help, and you will find your answers.

    1) The simplest answer to your #1 is YES. Every insult is taken seriously—whenever we or the teachers hear them, that is. (And more bullying is are missed than caught, because there are usually 2-4 adults supervising 40-100 kids. We cannot be everywhere—I’ve tried…)

    The K-5 victims of these taunts and slurs do not understand or differentiate vocabulary like we do. The harm or potential harm to a victim of harassment varies widely, but abuse is still abuse, no matter which particular words are used. The age and social context, the language used, and the students involved all make a difference in how we respond, of course, but there is no such thing as a “good” insult, and they are all hurtful to their victims. Needlessly so.

    Rating words and excusing the “less harmful” ones does not work for a kindergartner. It just hurts. And it needs to stop.

    2) You can sometimes enforce behaviors like not hitting each other, not name-calling, etc., but you have to teach “mutual respect,” not enforce it. Modeling respectful behavior is terribly important for teachers, parents, and volunteers.

    Again, teachers and parents have asked for the supplemental LGBT inclusion curriculum so they have additional age-appropriate tools for teaching mutual respect in a uniform, practical, and proven way.

    3) I am not clear on what you meant in your #3—proscriptive means to prohibit, per my M-W dictionary. I am not a classroom teacher and cannot tell you what goes on in the classroom.

    Ask your local elementary school principal or the AUSD curriculum office how they see the task of teaching students social rules, proper (polite) behavior, and how kids can get along better with each other.

    Like most professionals, public school teachers equip their students with knowledge and skills in may different subjects using a variety of methods and techniques. We have asked teachers to socialize our kids as much as we ask them to teach math, spelling, reading, science, or computers.

    While AUSD teachers now have approved curricula for dealing with racism, sexism, disability issues, religious discrimination, etc., they do not have an approved classroom tool set for dealing with LGBT issues, like welcoming and including students who have two-mom or two-dad families.

    Since many such families DO exist in Alameda, and their kids are often bullied or verbally abused out of other’s misunderstandings and fears, this lack of tools poses a problem.

    If you want “teachers (to) do their job,” then give them the curriculum (tools) they need to teach tolerance re: LGBT issues in an age-appropriate, comprehensive way. That’s what the proposed curriculum—or any curriculum—does. If you really want to support teachers, give them the tools they need and ask for.

    Comment by jon Spangler — May 15, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  39. #33:

    Although LGBT, racial, and other abuse occurs less often today than it did when I was young (decades ago), it still happens too often. Too many kids suffer (and die) from bullying.

    Did you think we had somehow abolished or grown beyond it as a society or a species? (We have not, in case you were wondering…)

    Matt, have you ever been on a public school yard? Susan Davis, who is a parent, has spent 6 years on the yard at Otis Elementary.

    If you spent a few days with her or with another dedicated current volunteer at your local public school, you would have much better answers to your questions. They are only a few blocks and a few hours away, if you care to really invest in education (your own).

    I think I would find your evaluation of Alameda’s talented and dedicated public school teachers much more credible once you have actually experienced that world, as I have. I think you would quickly understand many things, and I doubt that your views would remain the same.

    1) These issues and problems you ask about are very, very real. Bullying is not constant and not nearly as bad as it was 30 years ago, but it still happens too frequently. And any bullying is too much bullying, for whatever reason.

    2) There are not enough volunteers and noon supervisors to notice every single episode of misconduct. (Try it with 3-5 adults watching 40-100 kids.) But kids do not need a Gestapo watching over their every move, they need to learn how to respect each other and get along.

    3) Bullying occurs for many reasons, because little kids fear and do not understand many things, like disabilities, different religions (or none), different nationalities or ethnicities, genders, or perceived sexual orientations. The proposed LGBT curriculum will help kids understand each other better.

    4) Teachers, parents, and staff need sound tools to teach civilized, proper behavior to our kids, including tolerance and acceptance of diversity.

    I am now 57. I experienced repeated verbal harassment and heard many LGBT-related epithets from my peers at Lincoln Elementary School in Redwood City (1950s-1960s). I still vividly recall the hurt from being called “faggot,” “homo,” and more. (FYI, I am straight and always knew I was from grade 2.)

    Although LGBT, racial, and other abuse occurs less often today than it once did, it still happens too often. Too many kids suffer (and die) from bullying. The best place to teach tolerance, mutual respect, and other alternatives to anger, fear, and violence are when kids are young enough to change, as in grade school.

    I volunteered to lead weekly jail Bible studies for adult men for a decade, and I have seen how much easier it is to change when you are 7 than when you are 17 or 47. And I invite you to spend some time volunteering in a jail if you want proof of that concept.

    Comment by jon Spangler — May 16, 2009 @ 12:12 am

  40. It would, and in the future, could be possible to achieve the core goals of this curriculum with out raising so much as an eyebrow, or violating 1st ammendment rights our the varied segments of our community. It is obvuios we need a ‘common ground’, and this proposal is a failure in that and other regards. It is unfortunate there was not a motion simply brought to the BOE to try to get classroom readers in K-3 to better reflect the school community. This would require the LGBT activists to not make a big issue of the
    motion and the new reader purchases should make a goal to truly balance the number of readers to our community based on levels of ethnicity, religion, and different family types, and various types of handicaps, etc. and not advocate for any group, just include positive roll-models for children of all sorts of families as they exist in our
    varied school communities.

    There were several pro-curriculum people I was talking to outside of City Hall Tuesday night. None of them had been aware of the Anti-harassment requirements of AS 397 that AUSD should be addressing. By discussing the issue we determined we all support the following concepts to provide safe and welcoming schools for all our students:

    1. AUSD needs to meet the requirements of CA anti-harassment law, (AB397) which does not require a “curriculum”, but thru the requirements does protect everybody by having a known set of rules and consequences for violating the rules, as well as protection for those who complain about violations of the anti-harassment rules and keeping District records on violations and remedies for a prescribed period of time.

    2. That it would have been much better for all intents and purposes for the BOE to have simply approved a policy for classroom readers for Alameda Youth to reflect our community, than to approach and propose the K-5 Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Curriculum in the way they did.

    3. That our teachers should be provided the training they required to be able to intervene in any forms of harassment they witness at their schools, including middle and high schools.

    4. The need for AUSD to be completely forthright and to stop with the misleading statements.

    From subsequent meetings with members of religions and cultural groups and other individuals set against the proposal it has also been suggested that the District must follow the “First Amendment Framework for Finding Common Ground” for achieving goals relating to 1st Amendment issues. This recommended guideline for dialogue for highly charged topics was put together by; the American Association of School Administrators; the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD); ‘BridgeBuilders’; Christian Educators Association International; the First Amendment Center; and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

    It is requested that because the District did not form an inclusive and representative committee to assemble and promote the present proposal the motion to adopt this proposal be declined, and that the District follow the above cited guidelines which can be found on Board President McMahon’s website, ( ), and put a committee together that is representative of the community to the greatest reasonable degree possible.

    It follows that the present committee should be disbanded because it is evident that this committee is interested in only defending their position and opinions and is not willing to work toward common ground to a way of teaching our children in a safe, accepting, and welcoming schools in a manner which does not violate the Constitutional rights of others in our community. In short the present committee is unacceptable for reasons of extreme bias.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 17, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  41. In the past couple of months we have lost 1/2 of our channels on Comcast. We use to have about 80 now we have about 30-35. Is this all over Alameda or is this just us?

    Comment by Joel — September 7, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  42. You may have to get a digital box from Comcast if you don’t now have one. Subscribers get two free.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 7, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  43. Jack,
    I went to Comcast and they told me I would have to pay an addition $18 per month to get the same service I had. I said forget it more out of principal than anything. I would be willing to pay $50 more somewhere else than give Comcast another penny.

    We will go with AT&T, Dish network or Direct TV….Any suggestions? We figure AT&T for Internet.

    Comment by Joel — September 12, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  44. Jack,

    They didn’t offer us a second box for free but we swicted to dish anyway, so screw ’em.


    We just did this for similar reasons. My wife and I found that cable is a lot less interesting without Independent Film Channel which at Comcast was only available in a package of 19 other channels we didn’t want for an additional $20 a month.

    Several points, first on Comcast. We dropped just TV cable at first to allow extra transition time on email which bumped our rate on the remaining internet from around $35 a mo. to $68. When I went to drop the internet they gave me a song and dance about giving us the old rate to stay, which pissed me off. Also if you cancel and return there are new start up costs, yadd-yadda. When I argued about not being told this initially, more obfuscation ensued including hype about their cable being faster than any DSL etc. Best I could tell it was all B.S..

    AT&T install was fine, service is fine, dish install was a pain in the butt.

    To get a comparable rate on internet and TV from AT&T required a package of DSL and Direct TV. They also give you free introductory to endless HBO and Showtime so we are having a field day for several weeks but it is such a sh-t storm of channels I have yet to figure what we get for the base rate other than a few I insisted to be confirmed when signing the contract, like IFC. HD is amazing.

    DSL is 1.5 to 3 MB per second, but for another $5 monthly they double that. My son said it’s faster than the cable though he has always complained about “lagging” with internet video games which we naively let him get into by buying his own X-box. A long and irritating tangent. I can’t tell if there is more “lag” with DSL but figure he can pay the $5 if he doesn’t like it.

    I have advise on installation I am glad to share to possibly avoid some grief. I asked in advance which direction the TV dish points, south east, but believe it or not they mounted the dish on the northeast corner of the house pointed southeast. Dish mounted with big lag bolts, with no pilot holes or caulking. It was done before I could blink. The installers were very polite but were crazy with ladders, shattered holes in wood trim with improper masonry bits and strung wires like mad squirrels even with me standing over them. It’s all about get in and get out. I ended up drilling holes inside my house and routing the wire through my own attic because I didn’t trust them. In the basement they promised to staple a phone wire to the joists but left them wadded into a joist bay. I should have checked every inch of the installation before signing off but forgot.

    Only after the install was near finished by the contract employees with Direct TV t-shirts, did the supervisor from Direct showed up. When you schedule the installation order be militant about getting the supe out early to walk through the installation options. Cable must run from the dish directly to each TV location, either on the outside or inside the building. A phone line must be strung from nearest phone jack to each TV. I was blind sided by this last one. Bottom line, don’t leave grandma to field the installation unless she is athletic and intimidating.

    Still glad we switched. good luck.

    Comment by M.I. — September 12, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  45. Joel, It depends on which set top box you want. HD-DVR is $18, or at least that’s what I’m paying each for two. The non-HD box is somewhere around 7 or 8 bucks a month. The boxes I referred to as being free were ATSC/QAM boxes which you need if you have analog sets.

    Personally, I have had very good luck and service from ComCast. After reading Mark’s trouble with sat tv I think I’ll stick with ComCast for awhile.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 12, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  46. Jack,
    The $18 isn’t for the box, it is just to get back the channels I had a little over a month ago. They decreased the service for basic cable, so if I want the channels I had it is $18 more a month + whatever they charge for the boxes.

    Comment by Joel — September 12, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  47. How many people are now just watching over the internet? Has anyone converted their lines so a laptop is the new TV remote?
    I’m not a big TV fan, and look forward to dropping most of the Comcast bundle.

    I never even bother with the landline phone anymore, and basic cable was fine so it seems silly to pay $20/mo more so wife can watch one show she likes that requires extra package. I’m amazed at the amount of things on the internet that I would rather watch than the bunk that makes up most of TV offerings. I do still occasionally enjoy John Stewart and the Colbert Report

    Fast internet is priority and provides more than cable, with cell phone costs, its time to trim redundant services.

    Comment by Dave K — September 12, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  48. # 47
    For me it’s still too much a hassle to watch Internet TV. Especially HD stuff. What pisses me off is that cable companies make it very difficult or impossible to copy content (for your own use) from their set top boxes. There are some great music concerts in HD and 5.1 sound that I’d like to archive for my own use but it’s impossible (or almost impossible) to do it from Comcast unless you use their DVR box to record (which they own and you rent- -another scam)

    I’ve thought about shooting HD using an 1080p camcorder directly off the screen but haven’t gotten around to experimenting yet. Rather than get HBO and the other so-called premium channels from cable I rent movies from Netflix on blu-ray. Much better resolution and if you like something, you can buy it.

    For instance when we still had Alameda cable, I recorded the Derek Trucks Band Songlines HD Live concert in Chicago on the Alameda cable box DVR . Couple of weeks later the cable box DVR went belly up and I had to exchange it, losing all the recordings. Ended up buying the Concert on DVD from Amazon.

    # 44
    Mark, is the HD on ATT Sat as good as cable? Download speed on Comcast is close to 6 MB per second which is iffy for Internet game playing or HD streaming, can’t see how you could stream from DSL with those slow speeds. Does ATT have “On Demand” movies in HD?

    Also, are you saying that Sat requires each TV to have its own cable run, i.e.: no splitters? And its own phone line? Wow, what a mess!

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  49. #48 “it’s impossible (or almost impossible) to do it from Comcast unless you use their DVR box to record”

    CableLabs unclenched just a little last week, this might get a bit easier in future with your PC, assuming Comcast will deign to rent you a CableCard:

    Comment by Andy Currid — September 13, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  50. Comcast announces small rate hike for Oct. 15

    It’s a yearly ritual but one that has a little less sting this time.

    Comcast announced a rate increase effective Oct. 15 that will translate into a 1.6 percent increase in monthly cable service. It’s still an increase but it’s not the 4.5 percent increase last year for cable subscribers or the 5 percent increase in 2007.

    Comcast said the Digital Starter package, taken by a large number of users, will increase by $2.04 from $59.95 to $61.99. If you’re on a promotional offer, you’re good to go until the promotion period ends.

    There’s also a $2 increase to lease a cable modem for Internet service from $3 a month to $5 a month. There’s also the same increase for modem users who get Comcast Digital Voice though if you use a modem to get both services, you’ll only pay the increase once. You can also buy your own modem for about $150 and avoid the monthly fee.

    Comcast said the fee hike reflects the increased cost of doing business, rising programming costs and investments in future technology. The fee increase for modem leasing in particular is due to the switch to DOCSIS 3.0, a new delivery technology that allows users to get up to 50 megabits per second for downloads.

    Read more:

    Comment by Joel — September 14, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  51. If you don’t need (or want to pay for) DOCSIS 3.0 speeds on Comcast, bear in mind you can buy a DOCSIS 2.0 modem at retail for $20 – $30, if you shop around (I paid $21 for an open box Linksys modem from Pays for itself in 4 months at Comcast’s revised lease rates. With DOCSIS 2.0, you’ll get around 12Mbits down / 5 Mbits up on Comcast’s network in Alameda.

    Comment by Andy Currid — September 14, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

  52. 47 if Comcast is 6 mb we have to pay ATT the $5 for game speed I guess. Our initial impression was that HD was improved. We have plenty of on demand choice but who wants to pay for any of it, not us?

    The cable feed from the drop is split into two dedicated home runs to each TV and so the sat cable is. The extra phone line is a pain and was something which was not explained by the phone sales person.

    Comment by M.I. — September 14, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

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