Friday, September 30, 2005

Prop. 74. Voter guide

This is the argument in the Voter Guide. Note. It is not tenure. It is an extended probationary period.

Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status.
Dismissal. Initiative Statute.
Argument Against Proposition 7474
AND UNFAIR. It won’t improve student achievement
and it won’t help reform public education in any
meaningful way. Furthermore, it will cost school districts
tens of millions of dollars to implement.
Proposition 74 doesn’t reduce class size or provide new
textbooks, computers, or other urgently needed learning
materials. It doesn’t improve teacher training or campus
safety. Nor does it increase educational funding or fi x
one leaking school roof.
EMPLOYMENT REALLY WORKS. California teachers
are not guaranteed a job for life, which means they
don’t have tenure. All teachers receive after a two-year
probationary period is the right to a hearing before they
are dismissed.
Existing state law already gives school districts
the authority to dismiss teachers for unsatisfactory
performance, unprofessional conduct, criminal acts,
dishonesty, or other activities not appropriate to
teaching—no matter how long a teacher has been on the
criminals the right to due process, and our teachers
deserve those fundamental rights, as well.
Over the next 10 years, we will need 100,000 new
teachers. Proposition 74 hurts our ability to recruit and
retain quality teachers while doing absolutely nothing
to improve either teacher performance or student
achievement. Proposition 74 hurts young teachers
most. It will discourage young people from entering the
teaching profession at this critical time.
REASON—to punish teachers for speaking out against
the governor’s poor record on education and criticizing
him for breaking his promise to fully fund our schools.
The governor says that Proposition 74 is needed.
But university researchers say that they know of no
evidence to support the claim that lengthening the
teacher probation period improves teacher performance
or student achievement. Good teaching comes from
mentoring, training, and support—not from the kind of
negative, punitive approach imposed by Proposition 74.
VOTE NO ON 74. Proposition 74 is designed to divert
attention away from the governor’s failure on education.
California schools lost $3.1 billion when he broke his
much-publicized promise to repay the money he took
from the state’s education budget last year. Now he has
a plan that budget experts and educators warn will cut
educational funding by another $4 billion.
Rather than punishing teachers, we should give them
our thanks for making a huge difference in the lives of
our children—and for speaking up for what California
schools and the students need to be successful.
California Teachers Association
JACK O’CONNELL, State Superintendent of Public
NAM NGUYEN, Student Teacher

Tenure problem ? evidence please

The Governor argues that we need an initiative to change teacher tenure, but there has been no evidence offered that this is a problem causing school failure. The governor’s proposals are in Proposition 74.
We do not have evidence, that tenure is a problem. We have a few anecdotes from principals complaining about a few teachers. These principals were trying to explain why they were unable to turn around failing schools. This is not rational policy development, it is just scape goating, similar to Pete Wilson’s campaign for Prop. 187 blaming immigrants for the economic crisis of 1994.
We need to ask why the argument is made by the Governor and some editorial writers who do not work in schools that tenure is a major problem.
One source of repeating this message is the screaming on right-wing radio. A group has created an image that tenure is the problem. How is this position manufactured? This is, of course, only one of several ideological messages created there. See The Republican Noise Machine: Right Wing Media and How it corrupts Democracy, (2004) David Brock.

The author Barbara Ehrenreich describes a part of the manufacturing of this viewpoint in her excellent book, Nickled and Dimed on (Not) Getting by in America.(2001) She notes that most who work in the private sector of the economy work in a very authoritarian work place. It seems “normal” that bosses arbitrarily make decisions and even fire workers in many private sector jobs. Work life for many is dictatorial, not democratic. In the work life of editorial writers, apparently, this dictatorial work regime is “normal”. Since they have to write what their editors and owners want, and since they live with arbitrary dismissal, they think teachers should also suffer in this way. But teachers work in public schools, not corporate owned newspaper rooms.
Fortunately, through a decade of organizing and political work, teachers in public schools in many states in the U.S. have achieved the legal process of tenure. Teachers, working with others, established tenure to keep partisan politics out of the public schools. All tenure does is protect teachers from arbitrary dismissal. It protects the due process rights of teachers. Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system. You have read about these dismissals in the paper.
Quality principals at times remove poor teachers. Tenure does not prevent the removal of the incompetent teachers. It only provides procedural safeguards against arbitrary and capricious dismissal.
Why is this so important? Because arbitrary hiring and firing used to happen frequently. Hiring and dismissal of teachers was too often a petty, patronage based, unprofessional process by school boards and principals. Tenure is very important. It protects teacher’s freedom to speak and their basic citizenship rights. As a teacher you can speak out, make political statements, disagree with your Principal without having to fear that your school board or your principal is going to fire you.
Where is the evidence that tenure is a vital issue at all in school reform? Those making this case are confusing tenure at the college or university level with tenure in the public schools. They are quite different in their impact. Consider the just released report by the Harvard Center on Civil Rights on California drop out rates. California has one of the higher drop out rates in the nation, and our urban schools have a more severe rate than our suburban schools. Yet, there is no relationship whatsoever between states with high drop out rates and states with laws providing teachers with tenure.

Proposition 74 does nothing to improve learning or to attract and retain quality teachers.
Lets stop the blame game.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

See the prior posting for the most recent poll numbers. We are winning. The governor is losing.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The governor is a loser

PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey on Californians and the Initiative Process, September 2005
Mark Baldassare

Half of state residents say they have less confidence now than before Hurricane Katrina that the government can handle a major terrorist attack (51%) or a major California earthquake (54%).
62% of Californians think the nation is headed in the wrong direction.
November Ballot Measures:
. Proposition 74 (teacher tenure), 43% yes, 47% no
. Proposition 76 (spending and funding limits), 26% yes, 63% no
. Proposition 77 (redistricting), 33% yes, 50% no
. Proposition 78 (prescription drug discounts), 43% yes, 38% no
. Proposition 79 (prescription drug discounts), 34% yes, 40% no

Labor journalists ignored by media

Press Advisory: Sept. 27, 2005

Teachers and public sector unions mobilize to defeat Schwarzenegger initiatives.
Sacramento State Conference; Wed. Sept. 28.

Speakers and organizers from the union backed campaigns to defeat Prop. 74, 75 & 76 served to educate, agitate and organize faculty and students at Sacramento State University on Wed. Sept. 28, at the conference Democracy and Divisions in the House of Labor.
Last year the California governor fought to a draw with the legislature on his plans to re-shape the budget process including the funding of schools and universities. He blames the public sector unions for electing the majority Democrats who resisted his budget cuts. In response, the governor and his allies have placed Prop. 74 , 75, & 76 on the ballot to punish the unions and to reduce their political power.
Prop. 74 targets teachers as the problem in our public schools.
Prop. 75 severely restricts the ability of public employee unions to gain funds to fight political campaigns. It targets only unions- although corporations outspent unions 24 – 1 in the last election.
Prop. 76 gives the governor new powers to cut the budget without the permission of the legislature. It alters the Prop. 98 requirement that loans from school funds be repaid and allows the governor to raise tuition fees without further legislative votes.
While California unions mobilize their forces for this special election, the national union movement is deeply divided, with the AFL-CIO splitting into two opposing camps at their convention in July.
These divisions and the political clout of labor unions was a central focus of the conference “Democracy and Divisions in the House of Labor” set for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Wednesday, Sept. 28 in the Orchard Suite of Sacramento State’s University Union. Two labor journalists Harold Meyerson and David Bacon were featured speakers.
Background papers are at

Over the last 22 years, national labor union membership has been on the steady decline. In 1983, more than 20 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers were union members. In 2004 that statistic had fallen below 13 percent. Today, California holds the highest union membership in the United States with more than 2.4 million members, in both private sectors and government employment. In Sept.l2005, the politically savvy California Nurse’s Association voted to affiliate with the AFL-CIO.

The first session of the conference on Wed. made clear that the divisions in labor are a product of the economic crisis for working people; a crisis we all share. A crisis which the families of your students share.

The evening session;
Participants heard a major journalist report on the founding of the Change to Win Federation on tues. This is a history making event. You heard a direct report from history. This is a significant shift in political and economic power.

The conference was not covered in the press. This was not an accident nor an over sight.
The media and the press were notified repeatedly. No PSA’s were printed.
What was covered in yesterday’s news?
A Play area for disabled students was built;.
The Florin High Principal took a new position with Sac. City Unified.
Tom DeLay was indicted. ( we talked about that in the evening session)
A school hacking suspect was charged.
Fires raged in 4 counties.
A panel backed offshore gas drilling.
And many more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How CTA spends it political money

Good article on how CTA spends its political funds.,0,5793509.story?coll=la-home-local

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Unmasking whose big lie?

Daniel Weintraub’s using his regular column in the Bee to campaign for Arnold Schwarzenegger is not new, he has done it before. However the column of Sept.25, 2005 moved on to a new level. Now, Weintraub contends that those who disagree with the governor are not only opponents, they are propagandists and they are generating the Big Lie.

Since Weintraub has an important column and a voice at the Sacramento Bee editorial meetings, his new campaign merits some detailed analysis.

First, he states the case the way the Schwarzenegger people see it:

Daniel Weintraub: Unmasking the big lie at schools

Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, September 25, 2005
“When a couple of dozen students from the leadership class at Sutter Middle School near downtown Sacramento gathered in the library the other day for a glimpse at a grown-up press conference, they probably had no idea they were going to see a modern demonstration of one of the oldest tactics in political propaganda: the big lie.
The occasion was the endorsement of Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for governor, by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. The two Democrats used the moment to bash Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his policies.
"He said he wouldn't cut education," Angelides told the students, "but he did."
The treasurer's statement was the latest attempt by Democratic leaders and their allies in the teachers unions to persuade voters that the budget proposed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year and approved by the Legislature reduced funding for the schools. The governor's opponents think that if they repeat this lie often enough, people will believe it. So far, they have been right.
The truth, however, is that while Schwarzenegger did not give the schools as much as he once promised he would, his budget this year increased funding for education, and not by just a little. It provided $3 billion more for kindergarten through community colleges, including a $2.5 billion increase for K-12 alone. That was a 5 percent boost from the year before, or nearly $400 for every student enrolled in the public schools.”

So far Weintraub is correct about the numbers. But, a fundamental quality for fair reporting or debate is to consider not only the evidence which supports your thesis, but to give a fair hearing to evidence opposing your thesis. ( That Angelides and Nuñez are promoting a Big Lie)

In a feign at balance, Weintraub concedes that " Schwarzenegger did not give as much as he once promised he would," this softens the issue.

You see the $3 billion was not just a promise, it was the amount required to go to the schools by the constitutional provision called Proposition 98.

So, while the budget this year did increase, it did not increase enough to meet the constitutionally required Prop.98 re payment. Arnold took money from the schools and forced a second year of borrowing from the schools.
That is what the Teachers union and the major Democrats are saying. Now, you can agree or disagree, but it not about creating a big lie, as asserted by Weintraub, it is about does the governor fund the schools at the constitutionally mandated levels., Weintraub opposes this constitutional mandate so he dismisses it.

Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub tries to make the issue spending growth.
In this the Governor, and Weintraub, try a bait and switch. Recall that Arnold’s first act was to cut the VLF tax, cutting the money available to government. So, is there a tight budget, you bet. About 3 billion of that was caused by the governor’s actions a fact not mentioned by Weintraub.

Then lets look at this statement,
“Since 2000, the numbers are even more dramatic. State and local funding for the schools has grown by nearly $10 billion in this decade, despite an almost constant budget crunch in Sacramento. Per-student funding, usually considered the best measure of how the schools are doing, has grown from $6,266 in 2000 to $7,402 today, an increase of 18 percent.
The growth in education spending during those years has been worth about $34,000 for every class of 30 students.
So while it is true that California schools get less than the national average, and less than they would like, they have not been cut in recent years and certainly not starved, as some would have you believe.”

Again, the numbers are accurate, but the argument is duplicitous. Schwarzenegger was not governor in 2000- 2003. He was elected in Oct. 2003. He did not write these budgets. The budgets were generous to schools- as mandated by Proposition 98. Actually it is widely acknowledged that his first budget, for the 2004-2005 year, was a virtual mirror image of the budget Gray Davis would have passed- except for the cuts to school funding and the repayments to school funding if cuts were necessary for a crisis period.

This history is all quite urgent since the governor proposes in Prop. 76 to give the governor the right to make just such cuts in times of financial crisis.

Without knowing the inner workings of the Bee, which I don’t,
I cannot tell why this particularly scathing column attacking the integrity of the governor’s opponents appeared this week.
This may be Weintraub's effort to state things his way (partially) in an effort to win the debate at the BEE editorial board for the Bee's endorsement of a No or Yes vote on Prop. 74 and 76. Or, perhaps the board has already decided, but kept it a secret and Weintraub is trying to get his dissent as the predominant theme.

It is worth noting that just a few weeks ago, the Bee praised Arnold for fulfilling the mandates of allocating gasoline tax money to road improvement, citing the Prop. 42 requirement to do so.
They have not explained why fulfilling a constitutional mandate to roads is an honorable policy option, but fulfilling a constitutional mandate to school funding is not worth mentioning.

Then Weintraub continues, “The increase this year is all the more remarkable because it came at a time when the state was facing - and still faces - a $6 billion gap between projected spending and tax revenues. The budget for the schools was almost exactly what was recommended by the state's nonpartisan and widely respected legislative analyst, Elizabeth Hill, and was supported by almost every Democrat in the Legislature, including Núñez.
Projections suggest that school budgets will continue to at least keep pace with enrollment and inflation in the coming years, and probably do better. The real question will be not how much money should the state's taxpayers spend on the schools, but how should that money be spent?”

Well, not quite honest. Has Dan forgotten the bitter budget wars this Spring in which the Democrats and Nunez tried to increase school funding? They were forced to compromise on this budget by the requirement of a 2/3 vote and the threat of the governor’s initiatives (2 out of 3 of which are now lagging in the polls).

Here is how the BEE reported on the compromise on July 8, 2005.
“The spending plan increases education spending by $384 per pupil over last fiscal year but does not include $3 billion more sought by Democrats and education leaders.”

Since Weintraub follows the legislature closely I am confident that he knows that the statement that this budget was supported by almost every Democrat is not accurate.

Now, it is accurate that this budget was supported by Elizabeth Hill, the non elected legislative analysis. But, that still does not deal with the Proposition 98 obligation. Hill, like Wientraub opposes the Prop. 98 obligation.

More to follow on this story.
Comments welcome. Use the feedback button.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lets Hear it for the Teachers

The alliance for A Better California is looking for posts.

Scenes from the Campaign

Let's Hear it for the Teachers
Julia Rosen Thursday, Sep.22, 2005.
The governor might think it is a good campaign tactic to attack teachers, but we don’t. Today at a news conference we brought award-winning teachers and concerned parents to implore the Schwarzenegger campaign to stop the “witch hunt” of California educators. The teachers and parents asked the Governor to stop his attacks, and start addressing the real problem facing our schools.
We have responded to the “Tell us Your Story” feature of the governor's website - a feature that called for mean stories about teachers- by launching our own feature on this site. We have affectionately titled it "Let’s Hear it for the Teachers". It is a place for the BetterCA community to share stories about teachers who have made a real difference in students’ lives. The governor's handlers may have taken down their website in shame, but ours will proudly celebrate teachers who are addressing the real problems facing our schools.
Please share you stories and ask others to do the same. as Kim Labinger, a 4th grade teacher at Edison Elementary School in Glendale and California State Teacher of the Year for 2005 said:
I would urge the public to respond to the Alliance website and take time to let the world know about an outstanding teacher in your or your child’s life. And I ask the Governor to stop his attacks and start working on real reforms.

A good place to tell your story. And, I encourage letters to the editor of papers.
Frankly, Prop.74 does not have the money that 75 & 76 have. I encourage all to use the letters pages to combat the Governor's spin.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Governor and Prop. 74: Peter Schrag

Peter Schrag, as he often does, has it mostly correct. I might disagree with parts of this, but he has all of the basic facts correct.
Unlike his colleague Dan Weintraub, he does not have a endless anti union agenda.

Peter Schrag: School 'reform' in state: More nibbling at the edges

By Peter Schrag -- Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, September 21, 2005
California hardly needed another reminder that its least experienced teachers are nested in the schools serving the neediest children - the schools with the highest proportions of poor and minority students - and that the most experienced and highest paid are concentrated in the schools serving the most affluent.
Last week, the Education Trust-West provided still more evidence - not just for the state generally but each individual school. With some significant exceptions, the gaps, as measured in average teacher salaries, are large and sometimes huge, running to $10,000 a year per teacher and sometimes more.
On almost the same day, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a report showing that American schools were rapidly falling behind many other nations in high school graduation and college attendance rates.
A half century ago, according to the OECD data, the U.S. high school graduation rate led all nations. In the period between 1985 and 1995, the U.S. was ninth among the 21 OECD countries in high school completion.
By 2003, the United States, where just over 70 percent of students graduated more or less on time, was 16th, behind Germany (with well over 90 percent), Greece, Norway, Japan, Ireland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Poland, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland and Sweden. And as the OECD unnecessarily reminded us, for a nation that hopes to maintain its knowledge economy leadership, that's troubling news.
The two sets of data, of course, pointed to the same thing because it's the poor performance of poor and minority students that's the prime cause of the low national school completion rates and the low level of achievement that goes with them.
But as those numbers were being released, California's leaders were battling over two ballot measures, one, Proposition 74, to increase the probationary time for teachers from two years to five, the other, Proposition 76, capping state spending and restricting growth in education funding. Given the scope of our educational problems, they're worse than irrelevant.
Both are part of the governor's "reform" agenda; neither addresses the challenge of bringing better teachers and other resources to the neediest students. If anything, Proposition 76 will make it harder.
And in seeking to raise the probationary period for teachers, California would leave the company of states such as Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Maine, Illinois and Washington that have probationary periods of two years or less, and join Indiana and Missouri, the only states that require five years for teachers to get permanent status.
What remarkable educational success have they achieved?
Meanwhile the gremlins in the Legislature are hard at work trying to weaken, defer and generally confuse the standards, tests and other accountability measures that, however flawed, have been the most important forces in getting schools to pay more attention to the state's underserved kids.
Nor have the California Teachers Association and its allies been exactly helpful. Getting better teachers and resources into high poverty and high minority schools is going to require far more flexibility in class size, working conditions and differential teacher pay than the CTA, still stuck in its industrial union model, has been willing to accept.
In his quick, unplanned transition from January's demand for merit pay to his embrace of Proposition 74, the governor flitted by what he called "combat pay," an unfortunate phrase that revealed the barrenness of the governor's education planning. But it came closer to the real needs of the state's neglected schools than anything he's proposed.
If "combat pay" meant additional resources to bring teachers who are genuinely well qualified to high-poverty schools, both with better pay and by providing lighter teaching loads, more support from counselors and reading specialists, even safe parking, it would almost certainly make a difference.
That probably would take more money, but just as crucially, it requires a more efficient allocation of resources. Increasingly, school districts are facing explosive retiree health costs that will eat even more into classroom spending, a problem that the unions and the Democrats continue to duck - probably expecting that in a crisis, the state will bail the districts out.
Similarly, the state's across-the-board class size reduction system is throwing nearly $2 billion into a politically popular program that, at the very least, requires more flexibility so that funds can be concentrated where they're most effective.
There's no reliable data so far showing that the nearly $2 billion that's spent annually on CSR is generating commensurate gains in achievement.
Probably the most encouraging thing the governor's done is the creation of a committee of distinguished educators and community leaders - it's headed by Ted Mitchell, former dean of the UCLA education school - that, with foundation funding, is trying to determine how much the state really needs to spend to create an adequate education system, and how to spend it, and not spend it.
That in itself is an enormous task. Getting the state to adopt any such system will be even tougher. So far we're just fiddling at the margins.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Governor's view of Teachers

From the Sacramento Bee. Sept. 19,2005.

Dancing with lemons

Schwarzenegger, during a speech seeking support for the teacher tenure initiative, said he'd recently learned about the "dance of the lemons" from educators.
He told the Republican Party state convention's delegates on Saturday that the "dance" refers to the movement of incompetent teachers from "school to school to school" by principals who can't fire the teachers because of tenure.

"I say they shouldn't dance from school to school but dance them right out the door," he said.

Controller Steve Westly, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, later responded on behalf of teachers, saying "there are more lemons in Sacramento than in our public schools."

This reveals the views of Republicans in private conversations. Re: Prop. 74.

Teacher Tenure: Prop. 74

The Sacramento Bee published the following letter to the editor on Sept. 19, 2005.
Teachers, working with others, established tenure to keep partisan
politics out of the public schools. All tenure does is protect teachers
from arbitrary dismissal. It protects the due process rights of
teachers. Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system.

Now, in Prop. 74 the Governor wants to extend the present probationary
period for teachers from two years to five years. How many of you
would put up with a 5 year probationary period in your job?

Why is this so important? Because arbitrary hiring and firing once
happened frequently. Hiring and dismissal of teachers was too often a
petty, patronage based, unprofessional process by school boards and
principals. Tenure is very important.
It protects teacher's freedom to speak and their basic citizenship

This initiative targets teachers as the problem in our public schools
without facing the problems of school budgets and finance which are the
responsibility of the governor and the legislature.

Our real problem is finding ways to keep new teachers in the schools and
to help them to improve.
Please vote No on Prop. 74. for more on this see

Duane Campbell

Friday, September 16, 2005

Civic Purposes of Schools

The Civic Purposes of Schools.

It is not enough to just give more tests.

Recognizing that individuals do not automatically become free and responsible citizens but must be educated for citizenship, there has been in recent years a growing call for new strategies that can capitalize on young peoples idealism while addressing their disengagement from political and civic institutions so that we can
better preserve and enhance Americas tradition of citizen involvement. How to achieve this goal, however, has been a matter of considerable debate among experts representing various perspectives and disciplines. Political scientists, for example, focus on the political; educators focus on what happens in or near the classroom;
service-learning advocates focus on service and volunteering; and youth development specialists focus on the developmental experience of the young person.
In short, there has been common interest in increasing youth civic engagement but no common ground as to how to do this effectively.
___ _____ _______ __ _______ _
For more than 250 years, Americans have shared a vision of a democracy in which all citizens understand, appreciate, and engage actively
in civic and political life. In recent decades, however, increasing numbers of Americans have disengaged from civic and political institutions such as voluntary associations, religious congregations, community-based organizations, and political and electoral activities such as voting and being informed about public issues. Young people reflect these trends: they are less likely to vote and are less interested in political
discussion and public issues than either their older counterparts or young people of past decades. As a result, many young Americans may not be prepared to participate fully in our democracy now and when they become adults.
Recognizing that individuals do not automatically become free and responsible citizens but must be educated for citizenship, scholars; teachers; civic leaders; local, state, and federal policymakers; and federal judges, have with the encouragement of the president of the United States, called for new strategies that can capitalize on young people’s idealism and their commitment to service and voluntarism
while addressing their disengagement from political and civic institutions. One of the most promising approaches to increase young
people’s informed engagement is school-based civic education.
In late 2002, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and Carnegie Corporation of New York,
in consultation with the Corporation for National and Community Service, convened a series of meetings involving some of the nation’s most
distinguished and respected scholars and practitioners in this area to determine, based on solid data and evidence, the components of
effective and feasible civic education programs. Representing a diversity of political views, a variety of disciplines, and various approaches,
these individuals disagree about some aspects of how civic education should be conducted, but nevertheless share a common vision of
a richer, more comprehensive approach to civic education in the United States. This report is a powerful statement of their vision.
Civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent
and responsible citizens throughout their lives. Competent and responsible citizens:
1 are informed and thoughtful; have a grasp and an appreciation of history and the fundamental processes of American democracy; have an understanding and awareness of public and community issues; and have the ability to obtain information, think critically, and enter into dialogue among others with different perspectives.
2 participate in their communities through membership in or contributions to organizations working to address an array of cultural, social, political, and religious interests and beliefs.
3 act politically by having the skills, knowledge, and commitment needed to accomplish public purposes, such as group problem solving, public speaking, petitioning and protesting, and voting.
4 have moral and civic virtues such as concern for the rights and welfare of others, social responsibility, tolerance and respect, and belief in the capacity to make a difference.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

School funding gaps

From EdTrust West

Hidden Gap - California
Dear Friends,

The hidden teacher-spending gap data that you're about to see provoke all sorts of responses, some emotional and uncomfortable. For many, these data are hard to hear. We know that many of our partners and friends, Superintendents, school board members, state and local policymakers, teacher leaders, and educators among them, have worked hard to change the patterns of teacher distribution in their districts, only to have their proposals rejected at the bargaining table or by other constraints.

But we've got to remove the constraints and change these patterns. These reports are not about blaming any one entity or group of individuals for slow progress. Rather, by elevating this issue to public attention, we're trying to do what good advocacy organizations do for good leaders: strengthen their hands by giving them additional information and ammunition to use as they work to change long-standing patterns and practices that run counter to the public interest.

Listen to the Press Conference held September 14, 2005 (MP3 File)

View Flash Movie About
The Hidden Gap:
_ Sacramento
_ Los Angeles
_ San Francisco
_ California

click on the title above as a link.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Daniel Weintraub and Republican talking points about Katrina

Daniel Weintraub has become the Sacramento Bee's primary political columnist. And, he frequently writes about education and school related events. These opinions have been the subject of prior posts on this blog.
However, today's column on the Katrina response is particularly interesting.
Look at it. I think I see the Republican talking points here. While even George Bush now admits failure by FEMA, Weintraub does not deal with the Bush Administration failures, only the failures of the state and local officials. hmmmm.
Is this writing is revealing of Weintraub's sources or his perspectives?

Daniel Weintraub: First responders in a major disaster: You and I

By Daniel Weintraub -- Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Story appeared in Editorials section, Page B7
"Now that the dust, or the muck, has begun to settle in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this is a good time to consider how Californians might respond to a disaster of similar proportions.

The first and most enduring lesson from Katrina may be this: Be prepared to take care of yourself, and your neighbor if possible, for at least three days after any major disaster. Don't expect to get help from anyone, including government. If help comes, great. But don't assume that it will….

Katrina exposed vast weaknesses on both fronts along the Gulf Coast and especially in New Orleans. City and state officials did not do enough to protect their fellow citizens from disaster or prepare to respond if one hit. Evacuation plans were not followed, buses were left unused in parking lots that later flooded, police could not or would not show up for duty, the American Red Cross, designated by the law as the first responder for evacuees, was blocked from entering the city with food and water, and the governor refused to sign a request turning over control of the National Guard to President Bush.

Given the scope of local and state incompetence, if not corruption, the president should have acted sooner to try to take over the response, even if it meant going public with delicate, behind-the-scenes negotiations and declaring the obvious: Louisiana officials were overmatched and needed to be shoved aside, even if they resisted."

For comparisons, see the analysis by the Los Angeles Times linked to a prior posting.

Monday, September 12, 2005

About Accountability : AYP Problems

W. James Popham is a leader in school measurment

September 2005

September 2005 | Volume 63 | Number 1
The Whole Child Pages 85-87

All About Accountability / AYP Wriggle Room Running Out
W. James Popham

Although I've never been a death-row inmate awaiting execution, I can imagine how such prisoners must feel as they watch their attorneys exhaust, one by one, all eligible appeals. Even though public school educators in the United States may not realize it, they are now facing a similar end-of-the-line scenario with respect to adequate yearly progress (AYP), the accountability cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

If student scores on a state's NCLB tests aren't high enough to classify a sufficient number of those students as proficient or above, a school (or district) is designated as having failed to attain its AYP targets. Those AYP-failing schools that receive Title I NCLB funds are then placed on a sanction-laden improvement track that can soon “improve” a school all the way into nonexistence.

When President George W. Bush signed NCLB into law on January 8, 2002, critics of the law predicted calamitous consequences for U.S. public schools. They prophesied that most public schools would soon flop on AYP and, therefore, be regarded as “failing.”

Those dour predictions have not materialized. On the contrary. In many states, the number of AYP-failing schools has actually diminished during the three years that the law has been in existence. Such reductions in AYP-failing schools have prompted many NCLB proponents to gleefully contend that the law is “working the way it was supposed to work.”

But most of the early NCLB “successes” are illusory. Many public schools have been reaching their AYP targets primarily because state-level education officials have taken advantage of loopholes in the law so that their state's schools can appear to be successful. But just as is ultimately the case with death-row lawyers, these officials have now used up almost all available loopholes. Beginning this year, a noncushioned AYP sledgehammer will start pounding many schools. Let me explain why.

One of the most prominent ways in which states have shrouded low-performing schools' test performances is calculating a school's AYP using confidence intervals. A confidence interval is a plus-or-minus error band, such as those we see almost hourly before any important election. These error intervals tell us that a reported opinion poll is accurate only within a particular error range—plus or minus 3 percent, for example. Confidence intervals estimate the accuracy of sample-based data (for instance, the likely voting preferences of 2,000 voters interviewed by telephone) as a representation of the population itself (in this example, all registered voters). Of course, when a school's students take a state NCLB test, those students are not a sample. Rather, they constitute the complete population of students whose test performances will determine the school's AYP status that year. Providing an error range, then, makes no statistical sense because once you've measured an entire population, there's no need to employ sample-based estimates of that population's performance.

Despite outraged assertions from a number of qualified statisticians that applying confidence intervals in AYP calculations is flat-out wrong, federal officials have nonetheless allowed states to use confidence intervals—most likely to limit the number of schools that would otherwise take an AYP nosedive. But most states are already analyzing their schools' AYP data using confidence intervals and thus have used up whatever camouflage this statistical chicanery provides. Such states will now be obliged to identify many more AYP-failing schools.

A second AYP loophole stems from loose language in the original NCLB legislation. Even though the law calls for adequate yearly progress by schools and districts, it is technically possible to interpret the law in such a way that, for the initial few years, a school need not display any progress at all. Yet that school can still reach its AYP targets in each of those years. This seemingly contradictory situation arises because most states have adopted a cunningly staggered 12-year timeline that does serious violence to our understanding of what the “yearly” in adequate yearly progress actually means.

Most of these staggered AYP-increment timelines work in the following way: They are completely flat for three years (requiring no test score improvement at all), require higher scores for one year, then revert back to not requiring improvement for the next three years. This sort of stop-and-go timeline continues for a number of years until the law finally obliges a state to establish enormous, blatantly unattainable test score increases every year and to keep pushing until 100 percent of students supposedly reach this level of proficiency. Federal NCLB officials have also approved this tactic for monitoring schools' “yearly” progress.

When the 2004–2005 school year ended a few months ago, most states had used up their first batch of these timelines' no-progress-needed years. In many states, NCLB scores must now be appreciably higher if a school is to meet its AYP targets.

Have student scores improved on NCLB tests during the last three years? I suspect they have. But perhaps those scores have shown improvement simply because teachers and students have become increasingly familiar with the tests' content and format.

Some educators might take solace in secretary of education Margaret Spellings's much-heralded infusion of “flexibility” into NCLB compliance procedures. But don't let your hopes hop too high. Consider, for example, the increase in the number of students with disabilities whose test scores can now be counted as proficient in a school's AYP calculations. Recently, Wesley Bruce, assistant superintendent in the Indiana Department of Education, reported that applying these more flexible guidelines had, indeed, helped a number of additional Indiana schools reach their AYP targets. Unfortunately, that number was only two!

I fear that critics' pessimism regarding NCLB may not have been misplaced—but merely premature. With AYP wriggle room running out, U.S. public school educators might begin thinking seriously about what they will prefer for their last meal.

W. James Popham is Emeritus Professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies;

Copyright © 2005 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

© Copyright ASCD. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

L.A. Times: Put to the Katrina Test

The times has done a thorough job of analyzing the positives and the negatives of the katrina response.
click on the title above.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sacramento Bee's new rules on letters

Subject: Re: Vote No on Prop. 74
Date: September 9, 2005 10:50:22 AM PDT

During the election campaign season letters commenting on candidates or issues must be written in response to an article that appeared in The Bee. Letters that say, in effect, "I'm voting for . . . because . . ." will not be considered for publication.

John Hughes
Letters Editor

At 10:54 AM 9/9/2005, you wrote:

Teachers, working with others, established tenure to keep partisan
politics out of the public schools. All tenure does is protect teachers
from arbitrary dismissal. It protects the due process rights of
teachers. Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system.

Now, in Prop. 74 the Governor wants to extend the present probationary
period for teachers from two years to five years. How many of you
would put up with a 5 year probationary period in your job?

Why is this so important? Because arbitrary hiring and firing once
happened frequently. Hiring and dismissal of teachers was too often a
petty, patronage based, unprofessional process by school boards and
principals. Tenure is very important.
It protects teacher's freedom to speak and their basic citizenship

This initiative targets teachers as the problem in our public schools
without facing the problems of school budgets and finance which are the
responsibility of the governor and the legislature.

Our real problem is finding ways to keep new teachers in the schools and
to help them to improve.
Please vote No on Prop. 74. for more on this see

Duane Campbell


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

CTA Says No on Prop. 75

Teachers, Nurses, Firefighters, Police
Kick-Off "No on 75" Campaign With First Television Ad

Alliance for a Better California Says 75's Hidden Agenda is to Clear Opposition to Education, Health Care and Public Safety Cuts

The Alliance for a Better California, a coalition of teachers, firefighters and nurses, kicked off their campaign today to defeat Proposition 75 by unveiling their first television advertisement. The 30-second spot begins airing statewide today and explains to California voters that Prop. 75 has a hidden agenda to silence the voices of teachers, nurses, firefighters and police who spoke out against cuts to education, health care and public safety earlier this year.

"Like previous California initiatives, Proposition 75 has a hidden agenda. Its real agenda is to make it easier for the Governor and his big business pals to cut school funding, health care and public safety," said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign team and donors are behind Prop. 75. The top seven donors to Prop. 75 are major contributors to Governor Schwarzenegger. According to The Orange County Register, "Citizens to Save California, a coalition of business and anti-tax groups formed to promote Schwarzenegger's agenda, [gathered] signatures to help put the union-dues measure on the ballot."

"California teachers spoke out when the Governor broke his promise to repay the $2 billion he borrowed from the education budget. California nurses took the Governor to court when he tried to roll back the hospital staffing law that protects patients. California firefighters and police officers attacked the Governor's plan to eliminate survivor benefits for family members when an officer or firefighter is killed in the line of duty," said Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California. "If Proposition 75 passes, who will protect education, health care and public safety?"

Lewis Uhler, the lead sponsor for Prop. 75, told The San Francisco Chronicle that he specifically targeted the measure to place restrictions on only public employees, including teachers, nurses, firefighters and police. Prop. 75 would not impact any other organization that makes political contributions, including corporations. However, according to the non partisan Center for Responsive Politics, corporations already outspend unions by a 24-1 margin nationally.

"This is not a measure designed by Good Samaritans to help us. This measure was designed by anti-worker activists to hurt our ability to protect teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, the issues and the communities we protect," said Tom O'Connor, a San Francisco firefighter. "Prop. 75 targets us with new restrictions and government bureaucracy to further tip the imbalance of power in the Governor's and his corporate contributors' direction."

The Alliance for a Better California represents 2.5 million California teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and public employees. For an electronic version of the ad, visit the new web site:

"Just like in 1998, we will talk to Californians…our neighbors, friends and family about the hidden agenda behind Prop. 75, and we will defeat it," said consultant Larry Grisolano.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Questions for labor day

There is one local newsperson who makes it central to his writing to campaign against unions and to complain about union influence at the legislature.
Daniel Weintraub of the Bee.
There is a second writer ( more of a gossip collector than a newsperson) Jill Steward, printed in News and Review who writes diatribes against unions in general and teachers in particular.

I just wonder if these two took Labor Day off- with pay or without pay?
Duane Campbell
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