Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 4, 2010

E for everywhere

Yesterday, the Judge in the Measure H lawsuit ruled in favor of the school district saying that Measure H, as written is legal and uniform.   Susan Davis posted the press release from the School District on In Alameda.     This is a huge win for the school district, despite threats from the opposition that they are going to be moving forward with an appeal, Michele Ellson has the quote:

David Brillant, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, said he’s not surprised by the ruling and that he is already working on his appeal.

“I’ve already prepared my notice of appeal and have been preparing to write my opening appellate brief,” Brillant said in a statement. “I am looking forward to presenting my arguments to the First District and continue the fight against split roll taxes.”

It appears that the plaintiff’s lawyer is driving this engine more than anything with a vow to “continue to fight against split roll taxes.”   Nice to be able to do it on someone else’s dime.   At this point, the cost to fight the parcel tax will probably cost the plaintiffs more than paying the parcel tax will actually cost.   But it’s the principle, right?


Despite even the plaintiff’s lawyer not being surprised with the ultimate ruling (full PDF of the decision here), that hasn’t stopped the opposition from raising the spectre of AUSD possibly losing the Measure H case and therefore Measure E being invalid as well.   And I still love the irony of using the cost of the Measure H lawsuit as a reason to vote against Measure E, given that the leadership behind the Measure E opposition are the plaintiffs to the Measure H lawsuit.   Only in Alameda can you file a lawsuit against someone and say, “see, they’re bad because someone has SUED them!”

But to end this weekend on a positive, Yes on Measure E note.   Check out the pro Measure E video :

This video is a really good reminder that there are a lot of great Alameda businesses out there supporting Measure E, like Alameda Bicycle and Tuckers, that deserve the support of Measure E supporters.   I know there are the other stalwart businesses that support our schools like Daisy’s, Books Inc, and Otaez, but if folks know of others go ahead and list them out so that we can thank them for their support with our business.

And, interesting tidbit, but apparently Alameda is not the only school district floating a parcel tax to support the schools and we are not the only Measure E either.    Los Angeles school district is also voting on Tuesday on their Measure E:

As well as the Cabrillo school district (Peninsula Coastside):

The deadline is closing in soon, so mail in those ballots today!


  1. What stuns me is the fact that CAME complains about “wealthy” parents supporting a parcel tax for the community’s public schools.

    But Ed Hirshberg has enough money to take a lawsuit against a school district all the way up to the Supreme Court.

    Who’s really wealthy here?

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 4, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  2. What stuns me is that CAME contends that property values have nothing to do with quality of schools.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  3. #2

    Do Good Schools or Good Neighbors Raise Property Values?

    Click to access staiger-040506.pdf

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 4, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  4. Good schools, or the perception thereof, has plenty to do with property values. Does this study of one county in North Carolina really convince you otherwise ANT?

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  5. #3

    The Five Factors of Good Location

    “Schools are another important amenity – even if you don’t plan to have kids, if you want to sell your home this is something many buyers will be on the lookout for. The distance from and quality of local schools both play into this.”

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 4, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  6. #4 & 5

    The study is from a very credible source and conducted by scholars in their field. It doesn’t say that schools aren’t a factor in home prices, but only one in many.

    Home prices are lower in the West End and Northside than on Bay Farm, Gold Coast and East End. Is one to conclude that this is because the schools in the West End and Northside are not as good?

    The whole discussion of Measure E (as many other issues in this community) loses all perspective. There are good arguments to be made all around. We all seem too eager to label the opposition on any issue as the spawn of the Devil.

    The same goes for everyone on the Council. I certainly have my differences with each and every one, but they’re all decent folks.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 4, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  7. While the families that moved to Alameda schools are going through a rude awakening now, the people who think that schools aren’t a factor in helping protect their home values as the other shoe drops (yes, I expect a lot more carnage in housing to come) will be in for an even ruder awakening.

    That is simply my expectation. I’m not calling anyone the devil.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  8. In case it wasn’t obvious… I meant: families that moved to Alameda FOR schools…

    We moved here for neighborhood schools. Workwise, it would be much better for us to be back in San Francisco.

    Oh hell, I admit… I like the summer weather better over here too.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  9. Now that Hirshberg and Borikas have lost the suit, has the District indicated that they are suing Hirshberg and Borikas for the District’s legal costs in defending against this suit?

    Comment by John — June 4, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  10. I’m not a big fan of David Howard, but that doesn’t mean that what he says is always wrong — or right.

    And please be careful of the arguments that you make as they can be used against you.

    If you argue that home prices are primarily determined by the quality of schools, then you support DH’s argument that Measure E is a plot by East End parents to enhance their schools to the detriment of others. Obviously, if neighborhood A has home prices higher than neighborhood B, it is because Neighborhood A has better schools. The AUSD therefore is favoring Neighborhood A. Those who live in neighborhoods with lower home prices are paying the same parcel tax as those who live in higher value neighborhoods. Therefore, those neighborhoods with lower home prices are subsidizing the better schools in higher value neighborhoods.

    Be careful of the arguments that you make as they are two-edged swords.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 4, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  11. My kids go to Lum, so let me re-phrase. I didn’t move to a particular neighborhood for a particular school. I moved to a neighborhood that has a neighborhood school. That is something we all have now, and will all lose. My expectation is that will affect Alameda AS A WHOLE.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

  12. And I really like Lum and I’m going to really miss the excellent teachers that just got pink-slipped.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 4, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  13. 10. sorry, but we all sink or swim together on this ship. There are no degrees of drowning. Whether before or after this tax there are some neighborhood schools which have higher or lower API scores, or different socio-economic demographics etc. is a distraction from the big picture, which is that this is an above average school district, particularly with regard to how much we do with so little in the way of funding, and it will be devastated from top to bottom if the tax fails.

    The entire property value argument or perceptions of preferred neighborhood schools can become a futile chicken and egg conundrum which again distracts from the over arching reality that we have a good district which will sink as a whole if this tax doesn’t pass.

    David Howart and his divisive spin are irrelevant.

    Comment by M.I. — June 4, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

  14. “Home prices are lower in the West End and Northside than on Bay Farm, Gold Coast and East End. Is one to conclude that this is because the schools in the West End and Northside are not as good? ”

    compare graduation rates, dropout rates, AP scores, university attendance, etc. etc. between Alameda and Encinal and see what happens

    Comment by E — June 5, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  15. We’re all in this together.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 5, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  16. What’s really sad is that if E passes, all this passion for schools will be put to rest for many. Money is great, but how it’s spent is more important. I know one former AUSD employee who was both a teacher and administrator brag that he makes more now in retirement from his benefits than he did when he was working. He’s probably an exceptional example but it didn’t fill me with confidence that that our extra tax dollars will be for “the kids”. I hope some of the passion that has come out in getting the vote will next be directed to making sure that the people in charge at AUSD are good stewards of our vote of faith–and our money.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 5, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  17. #16 — The measure explicitly states that the revenues won’t be used for administrative salaries.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 5, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  18. 13. “David Howart and his divisive spin are irrelevant”.

    Yes, but no more divisive or less relevant than some on the other side. Both sides tack towards the hyperbole and away from reality close to election day. Fact is, the AUSD structure for doing education in this city may face change by starvation in the near future. No telling what the next structure will look like. Probably a lot more charter type schools and less state control.

    Comment by jayare — June 5, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  19. #19 — You think the pro-E side is doing stuff as bad as the defamation, racial baiting, impersonation, sensationalism, and flat-out lying engaged in by CAME?

    Wow. I’m beginning to have my doubts about the ethical standards in this community.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 5, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  20. #19 look at your #17. If you believe that, you definitely have the right handle.

    Comment by Jayare — June 5, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  21. Why can’t AUSD do something similar instead of asking for more handouts?

    The results? Test scores went up.

    So did attendance — for both students and teachers. The district is spending one-third of what it once did on substitute teachers, Clark said.

    And the graduation rate likely will be more than 80 percent for the first time in years, Clark said.

    Comment by Joise — June 5, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  22. Joise: you neglected to mention that another school district with a 4 day week, moved back to the 5 day week and that the

    …research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance. In fact, there is mostly just anecdotal evidence in reports on the trend with little scientific data to back up what many districts say, said University of Southern Maine researcher Christine Donis-Keller.

    “The broadest conclusion you can draw is that it doesn’t hurt academics,” said Donis-Keller, who is with the university’s Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 6, 2010 @ 7:17 am

  23. Yes, but one narrow inescapable conclusion is it saved money.

    Comment by Jayare — June 6, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  24. #23, Is the most important thing to save money? Or is the most important thing to educate children well?

    Also from the article:

    “Many districts that have the shortened schedule say they’ve seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance. But others say that not only did they not save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren’t in class enough and didn’t have enough contact with teachers.[Emphasis added]

    “The school district in Marlow, Okla., is switching back to a five-day week after administrators decided students were not being served well by attending school only four days. The 440-student district tried the shorter week the spring semester this year to save $25,000 in operation costs.”

    The article also notes that these experiments mostly have taken place in small, rural districts.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 6, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  25. What’s, “well”? And this is Mayberry, by the way.

    Comment by jayare — June 6, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  26. Well enough to recognize hypocrisy, for a start.

    Comment by dave — June 6, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  27. From the article, it seemed as if the school districts where the 4 day week was more successful were those in rural spread out areas. This makes sense because possibly teachers and students miss school for reasons other than illness, such as not enough money for gas for the car or car trouble, or other troubles of being distant from school. Since currently in Alameda, no one in high school is even 5 miles from their high school and we have a good public transportation system to get them there, I don’t see how we would be a good fit for this plan.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — June 6, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

  28. And there is a big difference between a 440 student district and a 10,000 student district, even though small compared to San Francisco or Oakland.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — June 6, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  29. 21. sorry to be insulting but I think your post 21. is apples and oranges, you think you are adding2 plus 2 and getting four but you aren’t.

    16. Denise Shelton, I hear you but remember that everything is relative. My teacher wife is frankly not certain about her retirement because she has spent more time focusing on teaching and in the short term on her immediate pay checks, which are embarrassing.

    I regularly run to her blabbing about things like the fire department pensions, which I think are outrageous and I ask her about how AUSD compares, and her come back is that any apparent “gravy” in teacher pensions should be considered payback for relatively low pay to teachers during their active careers, though AGAIN that is rhetorical since I don’t think she and I have a clear handle what she will actually have coming after retirement. I do know the current monthly income is pathetic. If we discover a pension jack pot I’ll let you know.

    The pay schedule is confusing, but as one example, a teacher who only has a B.A. will never ever earn more than $56,000 a year as a teacher. It requires a masters and other teaching degrees to get above that. When my wife started teaching twelve years ago the starting salaries were in the low $30,000. They slowly creep up through the “step increase” system, which is technically a raise. But they are really compensating for having to start out in the basement and come up to parity with other similarly qualified professionals.

    We know of many teachers who chose the profession because of the job description to TEACH, who were later shocked when they cobbled together details like losing much of their previously accumulated SSI in lieu of public employee benefit. It is not like they are stupid or lazy, but that it takes such intense focus to do the job well, that they put some of these details on the back burner. The latest teacher who left law to teach was blind sided by that one, but don’t worry about her because she already got her pink slip after on year.

    I post this anecdote because I know the picture many people form of teachers is that they are calculating slackers who plod through nine plus months waiting for their ten week vacation in Maui and also they are public servant drones who punch a time clock for years while they salivate in anticipation of their big fat retirement packages.

    In the interim they contribute THOUSANDS a year toward health benefits while working and in retirement contribute similar amounts until they are 65 when they are forced on to Medicare, unlike firemen who get FULL medical for their entire families for life.

    Bigger than the problem of pensions in general is that the actual accumulated cash invested from teacher paycheck contributions were DEVALUED in the great stock market plunge of 2008 to no fault of teachers themselves. And even the pension funds themselves may not have been devious, just incompetent when it comes to having gone along with the Wall Street status quo and not minded the store more carefully. It is sickening.

    Comment by M.I. — June 6, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  30. Responses 22-29 were on expected lines, what a shocker!

    We won’t know if it will work in Alameda unless we give it a try, not rely on opinions from armchair quarterbacks and people with a vested interest in the status quo (aka spouses of teachers).

    But this is AUSD, the only solution they can think of is taxes. No innovative problem solving approaches for us, thank you.

    Comment by Joise — June 7, 2010 @ 7:24 am

  31. #30:

    “…The only solution they can think of is taxes. No innovative problem solving approaches,” except, perhaps, laying off 130 teachers; streamlining the central office; and coming up with a multi-point Master Plan that includes magnet schools, charter schools, creating partnerships with foundations to help attract more money to the district, and implementing entirely new ways of tracking, monitoring, and responding to the performance of individual students and school sites.

    Not much innovation there.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 7, 2010 @ 7:55 am

  32. Higgledy,

    You forgot about the landmark lawsuit that AUSD initiated.

    But I guess Joise’s suggestion is the only answer.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — June 7, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  33. Very innovative indeed … doesn’t appear to have worked as evidenced by the fact AUSD is back with bowl in hand asking for more bailouts!

    Comment by Joise — June 7, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  34. Joise,

    The Master Plan is something that was started after H was passed. It has two scenarios — what will happen with E and what will happen without E. The “without E” scenario is truly frightening.

    As for the lawsuit, it took more than three years to get the lawsuit off the ground. It’s not easy to get comptent attorneys to take on litigation that will require immense resources on a pro bono basis. As to whether the lawsuit will work, it could take a decade or more for the litigation to be completed.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — June 7, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  35. 34 — none of the stuff you mentioned so far sounds “innovative”, just the same old tired approach.

    I am surprised you are so gullible as to find the “without E” scenario “truly frightening”. How else is AUSD going to drum up support other than painting a doomsday scenario?

    C’mon, sheeple!!!

    Comment by Joise — June 7, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  36. Josie,

    How many school board meeting have you been to? Have you met with the Director of Finance to see the real numbers and get detailed answers to specifics? All of your “OMG they are terrible sneaky liars” comes from what facts?

    Comment by Member of a real family — June 7, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  37. Joise,

    I’m not sure how you can cut $17 million/year off of the current budget without it being a doomsday scenario. I realize that no one has done the math on your unproven 4 day/week scenario, but I suspect that given certain fixed costs, even that proposal wouldn’t come close to making up the difference — especially since many families would leave Alameda under those conditions, meaning that even more cuts would have to be made. I, for one, would not send my kid to school in a district that only has classes 4 days/week.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — June 7, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  38. You also have to think about what parents who work would do with their children on that extra day off. The article says daycare (in those very small, rural areas) cost “a few dollars a day.” I can guarantee it would cost more in the Bay Area. What if the parents can’t afford that? Should they leave their children at home alone?

    Also, I don’t know if you’re in the workforce, Joise, but if you are, how motivated would you be if your employer cut your days and pay by 20 percent? How well would you perform? Would you even stay with that employer? Teachers in AUSD already make less than most teachers in the Bay Area. How little do you think they deserve?

    And finally, the fact that you don’t think AUSD is doing innovative work just shows how unfamiliar you are with education policy. What AUSD is doing is exactly what is being called for by leading education reformers.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 7, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  39. 30. That’s offensive and you are an ignoramus. What I stated are facts about teaching benefits and have nothing to do with my bias, deal with it.

    Don’t know til we try it… yeah, we should save money by reducing the school year a day at a time until experts like you are satisfied with the cost. At that rate the school year will be three days long.

    Comment by M.I. — June 7, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  40. #38

    Perhaps we do not need 13 years (K-12) of public education in order to have good learning outcomes? Some communities are moving to a three year diploma.

    Community colleges offer many of the same courses taught in high school. Is that duplication necessary?

    Also, is the purpose of the public schools to provide free childcare?

    I don’t know if the four-day school-week is a good idea, but it is a good idea to question if our current system of public education is cost effective in producing good learning outcomes.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 7, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  41. # 39 Great analysis M.I. I agree with you. Three days ought to cover about everything.

    All kidding aside, the Fed GS-9 pay schedule (which is couple grades higher than most Gov workers start) for 2010 begins at 41.9K and tops out at 54K. Roughly equivalent to a BA in a professional government job.

    Comment by jayare — June 7, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

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