Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 24, 2010

No comparison

One of the things that I am hopeful of is that with the passage of Measure E that Alameda children benefit by getting a really firm grasp on the basics of reading comprehension.

Because clearly some opponents to Measure E clearly have difficulty with that particular skill.

The Committee Against Measure E/Alamedans for Fair Taxation have been utilizing the “kitchen sink” approach to campaigning against Measure E.    They literally have been throwing every single argument against Measure E and the School District against the wall  in order to see what “sticks” in the public consciousness.    As commenter Oh The Irony mentioned, the most recent post that I have screen capped for your viewing pleasure, attempts to outrage the 39 fans of CAME/AFT on Facebook with this nugget:

Since I have screen capped this (I like to do it early because sometimes things have a habit of disappearing) one person has “liked” this information.   Not, apparently, attempting to get a firm grasp at what the information actually reveals.

Let me attempt to decipher this post for you because it was fairly confusing when I first read it.   What CAME/AFT — led by the intrepid David Howard — is trying to say is that according to the information that he pulled off of the Ed Data Website, Alameda Unified School District has one of the largest numbers of Administrators and Support staff per pupil as compared to other school districts our size and that’s a bad thing.

Look, I know numbers can be hard and when you throw in words too, it just gets so confusing.   I mean how else would one decipher “Pupils per administrator” and “Pupils per Pupil Services Staff” other than to assume that any number attributed to AUSD = bad.

Because, I couldn’t write it any better than Oh The Irony, this is how s/he broke it down:

What they’re apparently unable to comprehend is that that’s a good thing from an efficiency standpoint. A high ratio means fewer administrators and staff per pupil than comparable districts. Using AFT’s own numbers AUSD is incredibly efficiently run as compared to comparable districts. The numbers are so good for AUSD, I think APLUS should post those numbers on their own website.

So you may be asking, how is it that CAME/AFT got confused, well here are the slide.  Please note that the measurement is Pupils per Administrator.  The lack of pluralization of Administrator is important.   So the ratio is Pupils:Administrator, singular.   One.

I took away all the other extraneous information to make it more clear.   For Pupils per Administrator, this is how AUSD measured up with the other similar districts (first column):

As CAME/AFT correctly surmised we are number 2 on this list, behind only Arcadia Unified in Los Angeles County.   But that is a good thing because it means that for every 384.7 students there is one (1) administrator.  It’s waaayyy above the average of 249.1 students per one (1) administrator.    This is a good number for the taxpayers of Alameda.  That means, unlike opponents have been saying, AUSD is not administrator heavy.  In this case, the higher the number, the less top heavy a school district is.

For Pupils per Pupil Services Staff, here are the numbers (second column):

This time AUSD is 3rd meaning that of all comparable districts AUSD has the 3rd least amount of support staff as compared to the number of students.  So while the average number of pupils per support staff is 228.7 to 1, Alameda’s s 335.7 student to one support staff individual.

Although many thanks to CAME/AFT for bringing up the point that AUSD is indeed running lean, even if they unintentionally meant to prove the point that Measure E proponents have been making all along.  Although it does make you wonder what other “facts” CAME/AFT have been spouting in order to get people to not support our schools.



  1. Brief update that I forgot to include in the post above. The latest message from CAME/AFT claims:

    Remove the 447 out-of-district students from AUSD – their parents don’t pay our parcel taxes – and the number of administrative staff per pupil goes up, up, up.

    Which makes me think that AFT/CAME believes that the number displayed is the amount of administrators/support staff to pupil ratio. Which would be a huge number if they were right. But they are not.

    However, even if you removed the 440 out-of-district transfers, the average ratio of pupils per administrator/support staff would be well above the average. In this case, the higher the number means the less staff spread around per student.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 24, 2010 @ 6:45 am

  2. and every other school district with out of district transfers would have to remove them as well, negating that lame argument.

    Comment by LR — May 24, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  3. What I find ironic is that Oh the Irony echoed the misleading ratio CAME published when in the “Stir it up” explanation Oh stated, “…AUSD has the second and third highest ratios for administrators and staff per pupil when compared to comparable districts.” Which was later clarified by Oh in,”Stir it up” #5.

    One wonders if the CAME people are really that dumb or if their intent was to confuse. It seems that whatever the intent, the result was confusing unless the District Comparison Charts were examined.

    Comment by jayare — May 24, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  4. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out if CAME/AFT is unable to understand basic facts or if they’re deliberately trying to confuse voters.

    The fact that they almost never take down or retract their “mistakes” — even when numerous sources point them out — makes me suspect the latter.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — May 24, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  5. Both.

    Comment by dave — May 24, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  6. 3 — I’ll admit to an erroneous choice of words in my original post, but unlike CAME, I’ll admit to my mistake, and I promptly clarified my meaning when you pointed out the error. Also unlike CAME, I can read a chart and I got my facts straight.

    And Dave and Higgledy, you’re completely right. I suspect they are both stupid and intentionally misleading.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — May 24, 2010 @ 10:23 am

  7. When you say a high ratio of student to administrator is good for Alameda taxpayers, I suppose that’s true in the most simplistic, politically palatable way possible. But when there are so few people working at the district level that no one has time to return a parent’s phone call and major tasks such as curriculum rollouts are being handled by busy school principals doing double duty, that’s moving into the territory of losing efficiency because essential tasks can’t get done. And with the district’s stated plan to move more such administrative work to the school sites (for principals to do, presumably) it’s only going to get worse. This district has been in crisis mode for so long that this kind of management is starting to seem normal, but it shouldn’t. The core work of what schools do — teach the most essential concepts to children — is being eroded and there’s less infrastructure to ensure that new educational ideas get added to the classroom. I guess that’s fine with people who think the world should have stopped changing in 1955, but it’s not particularly helpful to kids going into a complex global economy.

    Comment by Jan — May 24, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  8. 7
    Which brings up a salient point. Since we’re trying to prepare these kids to meet the challenges of a complex global society, where can the average parcel tax payer find the text book listings that are used to teach these complex subjects? I think that AUSD should have (if they don’t already have) an online synopsis of every class taught in AUSD schools including bibliographies.

    Should be an easy task for the schools in this complex society and would help shed some sunlight on just what is being taught.

    Comment by jayare — May 24, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  9. 7 — I agree that there are some functions that need to be handled by administrators, but I think that the numbers that AFT/CAME has cited are an effective rebuke to those who claim that the District’s problems are the result of a bloated administration. The facts simply do not support that theory.

    What I really find most disappointing is that I have yet to hear a single opponent of Measure E condemn the tactics of AFT/CAME. As Lauren points out, AFT/CAME has repeatedly disseminated false information, and continues to cite to the same demonstrably false information even after its falsity has been established.

    Most disappointingly, even when AFT/CAME has flatly accused Measure E supporters of being motivated by racism and provided maps showing the homes of these alleged “racists,” I have not heard a condemnation of these tactics from a single opponent of Measure E. I realize that not all opponents of Measure E are affiliated with AFT/CAME, but by remaining silent in the face of these attacks, those opponents of Measure E are tacitly approving AFT/CAME’s tactics.

    The thing that concerns me most is that when this election is behind us, we are still going to have to live together in the same community. There may very well be good faith reasons why some people oppose Measure E, but when the visible opponents of Measure E resort to lies, name-calling and intimidation, and when others remain silent in the face of those tactics, it is going to make it much harder for our community to come together on June 23, whatever the outcome.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — May 24, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  10. The word TRUTH and the name David Howard have never met each other yet. Of course that is just my opinion, and yes I have reason to say this.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 24, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  11. #7. In 1955 when I was in H.S. we had about 450 kids per class year, and we had at that school, a Principal, a Vice Principal, a Dean of Girls, a Dean of Boys, and four or five counselors. Other HS in the San Juan Unified had the same. We also had a full time librarian and a full time assistant librarian, full time coaches and full time janitorial staff. Californians were willing then to pay for Class A education for us – we went to college well prepared and those of us who went to state-sponsored higher education got fine teaching. Since Prop 13 we have been operating on the theory that we shouldn’t have to pay for anything, and look what we get for that attitude.
    #9. It is easy to throw around accusations of racism, but how does one counter that? “Am not!” doesn’t cut it. It is best, I think, to just make the positive and cogent arguements and avoid the stupidity of name calling and bogus distractions.
    I like the approach, for example, of not boycotting business owners who don’t support our schools, but patronizing the ones who do. Much more civil and effective in the long run.

    Comment by Kate Quick — May 24, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

  12. #11 — I agree that it’s impossible for the people accused of racism to counter those charges. My point is that by remaining silent in the face of those bogus claims, opponents of Measure E are condoning claims that their neighbors are racist and that these claims are going to have effects long past the end of this campaign. And if you’ll look back at my previous posts, you’ll see that I’m in complete agreement with you about the boycott/support issue. I had dinner at Otaez this weekend for that very reason.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — May 24, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  13. Lauren – I “liked” the group on facebook so I could comment. I’m engaged in a back and forth right now, but they’re really playing fast and loose w/ the statistics. Here’s my most recent post (and link to the google spreadsheet that explains it)

    So, I see how you generated your data but there are a few problems.

    First, you’re comparing a metric to other districts w/in 5% of the same metric. This is an unhelpful comparison, as you’re seeing who’s really good or really bad within the A students, rather than the population at large. You need to look at how Alameda compares not to other districts w/ similar pupil/admin ratios, but to districts w/ a similar number of students. I pulled the data from site based on districts w/in 25% of the 10,271 enrolled students to compare. This led to 42 districts w/in +/- 25%. I also calculated the ratios against the lower number to see what that did to our rankings. View the linked spreadsheet to see how we rank. Basically, for pupils to administrators, we are ranked #4 out of 42 and #6 if you remove the 447 non-resident students. Similarly, we are #10 out of 42 for pupil to pupil services staff either way you slice it.

    Bottom line is compared to school districts that have to support the number of students Alameda does, we are very efficient in use of administrative and pupil service staffs.

    Incidentally, the 447 is an arbitrary removal b/c all districts have that problem, and if we base the target ratios to residents only, then residents would suffer where out-of-district students have to be supported in the schools.

    Comment by Matt Parker — May 24, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

  14. Keep up the good work, Matt.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — May 24, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

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