Saturday, October 29, 2005

Jill Stewart creeps in again

It must be the Halloween Season.
Jill Stewart, writing for Orange County papers and the Sacramento News and Review has been consistently anti teacher and pro Schwarzenegger. Her writing is sort of a very local level of Ann Coulter. ( see prior posts on this site)
In her post in this week’s news and review (Oct.27) she goes after CTA, the California Teachers Association. Fine, they can take care of themselves.
But, lets look at Stewart’s writing.
As she tells the tale, clearly there are at least 15 teachers working with Arnold’s recovery team who are anti CTA. The people listed in the pro Prop. 74 ads and e mail have been examined on the Alliance for Better California site. ( click on link to the right)
I am certain there are at least 15 anti CTA teachers. At one time as many as 40% of teachers were registered Republican.
These folks object to CTA funding the currently successful campaigns to defeat Prop. 74, 75 & 76. The decisions to support or oppose a proposition are made by the CTA Assembly, a large body of 800 plus delegates. ( I was a member over a decade ago). Positions are recommended by a committee and then adopted by a majority vote. Only after a position is adopted does CTA provide funding for campaigns.
Yes, I am confident there are disagreements. I have had some myself. That is called democracy. You participate, you vote, you accept the decision of the majority.
Stewart is trying to advance herself with a strategy similar to Judy Miller of the New York Times scandal. ( Known within the Times as the Miller mess). Stewart takes the campaign efforts and reports them as facts. They are propaganda. These selected “ spokespersons” were presented to news organizations and real news people saw through the thin, staged, campaign stunt. Stewart, on the other hand, reports on the campaign gimmick and pretends it is news. I assume that Stewart hopes to one day reach the level that Judy Miller reached. If the News and Review had real editors, they would see through this.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Key Propositions: a dead heat

Key California Propositions: a dead heat

The Public Policy Institute is a reliable, independent polling organization. Oct. 28 report.

Prop. 73 Parental notification on abortion No. 48%; Yes, 42 %
Prop. 74 , Teacher permanent status and dismissal; No 48%, yes. 46 %, undecided 6%
Prop. 75 , Union dues used for political purposes ; No, 46 %, yes 46%, undecided 8 %
Prop. 76, State spending controls, reduce school funding; No, 62%, Yes, 30 %, undecided. 8 %
Prop. 77, Redistricting now ; No 50%, yes, 36%, undecided. 14%

With the election this close, the difference will be who turns out.

Duane Campbell

The Governor is losing


Governor Revs Up Reform Sales Pitch, But Maybe Too Late
George Skelton
Capitol Journal

October 27, 2005

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally is back on track, trying to pull his "reform" initiatives to victory in the Nov. 8 special election. But his long derailment has cost him dearly.

A new poll to be released Friday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California is expected to show that Schwarzenegger's ballot propositions have made no appreciable gains in recent weeks, despite heavy TV advertising by the governor.

None is drawing support from a majority of likely voters.

And the fate of one measure, the anti-union Proposition 75, now seems a tossup after having been favored by a 25-point margin only two months ago.

Meanwhile, a large majority of voters continues to disapprove of Schwarzenegger's job performance and thinks California is headed in the wrong direction.

Obviously, the governor — despite all his communication skills — has not been selling himself or his "reforms."

And one reason, I suspect, is that he hasn't been engaged in the type of marketing he finally began Monday night — taking his case directly to ordinary voters.

Most of Schwarzenegger's selling this year, except for marginally effective TV ads, has been to loyal customers: Republican audiences and conservative talk-show listeners. He has posed for staged photo-ops and sat with doting radio hosts. But those sales already had been made two years ago, when he ran for governor.

Schwarzenegger's strategy has been to solidify his GOP base and generate a big conservative voter turnout. Fine.

But until this week in his personal campaigning, Schwarzenegger has practically ignored Democrats and independents — and, most importantly, the non-ideologue swing voters, who actually pick and choose carefully when deciding on candidates and propositions. They're usually about one-third of the electorate.

Talk to virtually any Schwarzenegger rooter outside his strategy team and you'll hear a common complaint: that he has failed to make a strong case to non-ideologues for his initiatives, especially the centerpiece Proposition 76, which would impose a new state spending limit and reduce school funding guarantees.

Monday night in Walnut Creek, an upscale suburb on the east side of San Francisco Bay, Schwarzenegger participated in a 40-minute, televised public forum sponsored by a newspaper and a TV station, answering unscripted questions from an independently selected cross section of voters.

His strategists' previous MO was to choreograph "town hall" meetings and fill them with invited Republicans and business supporters.

The difference couldn't have been more stark. In Walnut Creek, Schwarzenegger looked alive, exhibiting wit, thoughtful responses and passion. He seemed focused, on his toes. By contrast, in canned campaign appearances before idolizing fans, he has sounded bored and trite.

He'll be doing perhaps half a dozen of these forums around California before election day.

But the governor refuses to allow any adversaries on stage with him. On Monday, his two opponents — Senate leader Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Rose Ann DeMoro, director of the California Nurses Assn. — were forced to appear separately from the governor for 40 minutes.

That seems a Schwarzenegger mistake. No California Democrat or union leader can match him as a communicator.

As Republican consultant Dan Schnur observes: "That was the best night Schwarzenegger has had in months. He was at his best. The only thing that could have made it better is if he and Perata had gone toe to toe.

"The contrast between Schwarzenegger, 'the reformer,' and Perata, the politician, would have been overwhelming."

Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director, says strategists won't allow the enemy to share the stage with the governor because "there's no one of comparable stature" and whoever was up there "would have nothing to lose by taking cheap shots."

But cheap shots often miss and, anyway, Schwarzenegger is skilled enough to deflect them. After all, the highlight of his 2003 election campaign was a televised debate with cheap-shoting opponents.

And why hasn't the governor participated previously in a Walnut Creek-style forum? No TV stations offered any, Stutzman says, or "we would have done some." There's interest now because the election is close, he explains.

But that seems a cop-out. There are Rotary and Lions clubs — and big civic groups — all over California eager to hear from the governor and pepper him politely with questions. Local TV would jump at the coverage.

I suspect this governor — like Gray Davis before him — avoids such appearances for the same reason he rarely holds news conferences: It requires some preparation and risk. And for his staff, extra work.

Meanwhile, if any of Schwarzenegger's ballot measures can be salvaged, it'll be up to him.

"He's the only one who can sell his program," says political analyst Tony Quinn, a Republican. "He put these things on the ballot. He called the election.

"This election was about 'Arnold can sell anything.' That was not a bad idea last January."

Then the reform express got derailed.

A bigger problem even than the derailment, however, has been the destination: a special election that voters never wanted and will cost state taxpayers $55 million. That's a hard ticket to sell.


George Skelton writes Monday and Thursday. Reach him at

Monday, October 24, 2005

Real School Administrators oppose Prop.74

October 21, 2005
Superintendents join rest of school community in flunking governor’s measure.
An organization of California’s 58 county schools superintendents has voted to oppose Proposition 74. In a statewide vote last week, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) rejected Proposition 74. California’s school superintendents joined the school boards, state superintendent of public instruction and teachers in urging a “No” vote.

“Proposition 74 is not reform,” said Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools, one of the CCSESA members who voted to oppose the governor’s “ill-considered” measure, said, “the governor's ill-considered Proposition 74 is a simpleminded proposal that contradicts everything we know about making better schools.”

Jordan said Prop. 74 would “stifle young teachers and drive some of our best and brightest teachers out of the profession. If you had to devise a formula to guarantee that the old guard will strangle at birth all renewal and innovation in the system, you couldn't do better than by instituting Prop. 74.”

Needing 100,000 new teachers, Jordan said superintendents voting to oppose Prop. 74 concluded it would make a teaching career less attractive. “Becoming a teacher is difficult enough. In the last few years, the state has raised the bar considerably. Now is not the time to make entry into the career even more burdensome,” said Jordan.

Under current law, teachers can be fired at any time for a number of reasons, including unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance in the classroom. “The governor is basing his campaign on stories about isolated examples. Existing state law already allows administrators to fire bad teachers for unsatisfactory performance or unprofessional conduct, no matter how long they've been teaching. “Teacher ’tenure’ is really nothing more than the right to due process,” said Jordan.

“Prop. 74 was written without the input of informed educators or administrators. It disregards proven reforms and adds new complications and costs. Implementing Prop. 74 would costs tens of millions in administrative overhead, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. That's money not spent on reducing class size or buying textbooks and supplies,” Jordan said.

“Prop. 74 is not only a deterrent to recruitment, it's a direct attack on thousands of young California teachers who are already in the system. It would apply retroactively, stripping due process rights from teachers in their third, fourth and fifth years of teaching.

Jordan pointed out that “only one state, Missouri, one of the poorest and most struggling state school systems in the nation, has a teacher probation period as long as five years.”

She said she and other superintendents concluded that “Prop. 74 is bad for our schools, our teachers and our students.”

The California School Boards Association voted to oppose Prop 74 because it will “impose new unreimbursable costs, add to and complicate collective bargaining, create an environment for more grievances and take away districts’ ability to define unsatisfactory performance for themselves.”

The League of Women Voters of California voted to oppose Prop. 74 because of its fatal flaw that retroactively strips due process rights from 18,000 third, fourth and fifth-year teachers who have already completed their probation period.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Improving teachers or firing teachers?

The Governor has proposed Prop. 74 to make it easier to dismiss new teachers. This is typical of his thinking.
Teachers can already be dismissed (fired) for poor performance in the classroom. Under current law all that teachers get after two years of successful work is the right to a hearing before they can be dismissed.
Rather than scapegoating teachers as this initiative does, educational reformers need to focus on helping teachers to improve.
Teaching is such a complex act that it takes a long time to learn to teach well. Many do not hit their stride until 3-5 years of teaching. It is not like it was in making movies.
And, teaching without necessary support contributes significantly to teacher failure. Research by Ken Futernick and others studies indicate that between 30 and 50% of new teachers quit within the first five years, particularly in urban and low income areas. Most quit because the job is too hard and the successes are too difficult to achieve.
The high turn over rate is a serious problem. In low income schools you may have a school with 30- 40 % new teachers or first year teachers. In such places the new teachers have too few experienced teachers to support them.
In the last decade California has established a program BITSA, for beginning teacher support. It is often helpful, particularly when the BITSA coach is skilled. But, it , like nearly all of California’s school programs is under funded. And it calls upon skilled mentor teachers to work even more hours.
We could improve teacher quality. Essential steps would be to provide more time for learning to teach. Time is a crucial variable, particularly in the first few years. For example, at the secondary level new teachers could have a lighter load for the first year while they are learning. And elementary teachers could have a lighter load by giving them more support personnel or give them substitute teachers for 6 half days per year so they could visit and observe more senior teachers.
In Toledo, Ohio, New York City, and a number of school districts around the nation the teachers union has worked with administrations to assist and to develop new teachers. All teachers have a vested interest in the success of new teachers and in reducing the current high turnover rate.
Teachers working conditions in urban and poverty schools are often miserable. And few administrators have the time or the skills to help new teachers.
If the governor wanted to improve teaching, there are many ways to do so.
Placing Prop. 74 on the ballot is not one of them.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

NAEP Reading results and school reform choices

A little history of California schools.
In 1994, the reading scores of California schools hit bottom. We ranked 49 out of the 50 states on the NAEP exams. ( see prior articles) An educational crisis was recognized.
The reading crisis was blamed on a Whole Language approach to reading. We eliminated that. We replaced it with drilling phonics. And, we stressed standards and testing. We test teachers. We test the kids. California practically banned bilingual education. We changed the teacher preparation to a standards based approach. (SB 2042). We created a number of systems to shut down failing schools. Two governors have come and gone. ( One Republican and one Democrat).
Now, in 2004, California’s 8th. Grade students rank 49 out of the 50 states, below Louisiana and Alabama (for example).
The educational consultants who advise the governor are scrambling to reassert their prior positions. But, it is clear. The decade of business led reform has not improved reading scores.
There are at least two reforms which have not been tried;
1. listening to teachers and engaging them as professionals in school reform efforts
2. adequately funding the schools.

For more see my book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. ( 2004) Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NAEP Reading Results

summary from NCES.
Overall Reading Results for California : NAEP
In 2005, the average scale score for eighth-grade students in
California was 250. This was not significantly different from1 their
average score in 2003 (251), and was not significantly different
from their average score in 1998 (252).
California's average score (250) in 2005 was lower than that of the
Nation's public schools (260).
Of the 52 states and other jurisdictions2 that participated in the
2005 eighth-grade assessment, students' average scale scores in
California were higher than those in 1 jurisdiction, not significantly
different from those in 5 jurisdictions, and lower than those in 45
The percentage of students in California who performed at or
above the NAEP Proficient level was 21 percent in 2005. This
percentage was not significantly different from that in 2003 (22
percent), and was not significantly different from that in 1998 (21
The percentage of students in California who performed at or
above the NAEP Basic level was 60 percent in 2005. This
percentage was not significantly different from that in 2003 (61
percent), and was not significantly different from that in 19percent).
Student Percentage at NAEP Achievement Levels
Perhaps we can slow down the spin if we print the actual summary of the National Asssessment of Education Progress.
See the link for the data on California.

State Superintendent comments on the low test scores

Jack O'connel. Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"Unlike our statewide assessments, NAEP is not aligned to the content taught in California’s classrooms and, therefore, is not as sensitive to changes in student achievement as our California Standards Tests. Unlike the California STAR assessments, average scale scores and other results from NAEP contain sampling error, so it takes a greater increase in achievement to register as significant on NAEP. Results on our statewide tests, which are aligned to our rigorous standards, indicate that a focus on high expectations is leading to steady gains in student achievement.

[ translation ]
We like the state test scores better. The test writers are the same people who write the text books.

"There is some positive news in the results. For example, California Hispanic students who are not English learners have made significant gains in reading and math, and the gap between those students and white students has narrowed. Score gaps among black and white students and economically disadvantaged students have also narrowed, even as the proportion of economically disadvantaged students has steadily increased.
"California’s poor showing relative to other states in reading is at least in part due to the fact that California has the highest proportion of English learners in the nation and also that we assessed a higher proportion of our English learner students than any other state. While California excluded 12 percent of its English learner students from the 2005 NAEP reading assessment, Texas’ exclusion rate, for example, was 37.5 percent, and New York’s, 29 percent.

We don’t want to talk about the reality that we have been promising that our rigid reading program designed for English speakers does not seem to be working. We will just keep making positive statements because we know we are correct. And besides, who needs reading anyway?

"California policymakers believe it is important to test all students regardless of their challenges, and we have stuck to high standards and expectations for all students. The result is that our state doesn’t fare as well as we’d like on some national comparisons, but our students are better served if we hold high standards and gather more complete data. If we continue to focus on California’s rigorous standards in the classroom we can expect the achievement gains seen on our state tests to be reflected on the next NAEP assessments."

Our rigorous standards have not improved reading scores for the last 8 years, but we know they will in the future.

Note, the reading materials and the reading programs in California have not been modified to adapt to non English speaking students. This is the over application of Prop. 227.

Latest California Test Scores

California Students' Math, Reading Scores Among Lowest
By Emma Vaughn
Times Staff Writer

2:49 PM PDT, October 19, 2005

WASHINGTON — Despite slight gains in math scores, California elementary and middle school students still rank among the lowest nationally in reading and math, according to test results released today.

With 40% below basic proficiency, California eighth-graders' reading scores were the third lowest in the nation, after Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

"No matter how you look at this data, California is at the bottom," said Russlynn Ali, executive director of Education Trust-West. "There is something systematically wrong with the way we approach educating all students in this state."

Jack O'Connell, California's superintendent of public instruction, attributed the state's low reading scores to the number of students permitted to take the test who were still learning English.

"We accepted a higher proportion of English learner students than any other state in the country," O'Connell said. "Our exclusion rate of English learners was 12%, while Texas' exclusion rate was 37.5%, and New York's was 29%."

While math scores in California remained significantly below the national average, there has been consistent improvement in student performance over the last 15 years.

Results showed that 28% of California fourth-graders were proficient or better in math, up 3 percentage points from 2003 and 15 percentage points from 1992. Eighth-grade improvement in math was not as significant, but still managed to be the highest of the decade with 22% at or above the proficiency level.

"It is really puzzling because we have grade by grade content standards in both reading and mathematics," said Stanford education professor Michael Kirst. "But it appears that these are only paying off for mathematics. This really calls for a deeper exploration into why mathematics is doing so much better."

More than 640,000 students nationwide took the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress test, a federal exam used to measure the performance of fourth- and eighth-grade students.

Three results were given: basic, proficient and advanced. Students at the proficiency level "demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter," said the U.S. Department of Education.

The top-performing students in both grades and categories came from Massachusetts, where 44% of students were above the proficiency level in reading for fourth- and eighth-grade.

Despite significant improvements in both tests, the District of Columbia averaged the lowest scores across the board, with 69% of eighth-graders and 55% of fourth-graders scoring below the basic proficiency level in mathematics.

California remained closer to the bottom of the test results in part because the exam was not aligned with the content taught in California's classrooms, O'Connell said.

"Results on our statewide tests, which are aligned to our rigorous standards, indicate that a focus on high expectations is leading to steady gains in student achievement," he said.

While California's education standards are regarded as the most rigorous in the nation, it is clear that the state's curriculum is doing little to improve performance, Ali said.

Overall scores in California reflected many of the national trends, with fourth-graders performing markedly better than eighth-graders in math and reading. Nationwide, math scores among fourth-graders were up for every major racial and ethnic group since the most recent test, in 2003.

Some education experts attributed the disparity to a long-term trend of dwindling academic focus on older students.

"It's time we got very serious about bringing reform to our secondary schools, particularly to help older students grasp the critical reading skills they will need to be successful in high school, college and the workplace," said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust.

At a meeting with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings today, President Bush called the report encouraging and said it reflected the positive progress of No Child Left Behind, the education law he made a centerpiece of his first term domestic policy agenda.

"It shows there's an achievement gap in America that is closing; that minority students, particularly in fourth grade math and fourth grade reading, are beginning to catch up with their Anglo counterparts," he said.


While the "experts" ponder what is wrong, perhaps they should ask some teachers.
The actual reports can be found at I encourage you to look at the reports rather than the spin zone of advocates.

Award to Tom Campbell on Prop. 76

To lie, falsehood, untruth, fabrication

Today’s Award.
I am speaking from my talking points; don’t let facts get in the way.

Goes to : Tom Campbell : Director of Finance. (on leave)

In an op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee on October 19, 2005 he says,
“You have probably seen the attack ads on TV, saying proposition 76 will cut education funding. They are false. The non partisan California Taxpayers Association has estimated that education funding will increase under Proposition 76, as compared with current law.”

Well. The California Taxpayers Association may be non partisan, but they are not accurate in their predictions. They are a Republican support group.
See the Legislative Analyst’s views on the costs.
“This measure would grant new authority to the Governor to make reductions in almost all state funding.”
And, “Proposition 98 is a measure passed by the voters in 1988 which established in the State Constitution a “minimum funding guarantee” for k-12 schools and community colleges (K-14 education).” ..
“Over time, however, the net impact of the Proposition 98 changes and related changes in the measure would be to lower the minimum guarantee for k-14 education.”
“By converting the $3.8 billion outstanding maintenance factor to a one-time obligation, the measure eliminates the requirement for $3.8 billion to be restored into the annual base funding over time.”
Sorry to be so technical. I encourage readers to read the analysis of the Legislative Analyst and the California Budget Project.

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

Monday, October 17, 2005

Latino Leaders oppose 74, 75 & 76

Nunez, Padilla, Latino Leaders Unite Against Governor’s Agenda, Urge Community to Vote No on Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77

Monterey Park, CA – Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and L.A. City Council President Alex Padilla gathered with other California Latino elected officials and community leaders for a press conference today in order to show that they are united in opposition to the Governor’s agenda, which takes California in the wrong direction and hurts Latino families, and instead are working to support good schools, affordable health care, safe communities and a better quality of life.

“The Governor’s so-called reform agenda – which was dreamt up by Pete Wilson and his staffers who now work for Arnold – hurts our public schools, threatens quality health care and cuts funding to local law enforcement,” Speaker Núñez said. “The Governor’s people have said outright that they are counting on us to not turn out to vote. But we’re here to show the Governor that the Latino voters cannot be taken for granted, cannot be brushed aside, and cannot be silenced.”

“We are opposed to these phony reforms because they hurt our public schools, threaten quality health care and cut funding to local government and law enforcement,” said L.A. City Council President Alex Padilla. “These initiatives are designed to shift power to the Governor and make things worse for the average Californian.”

“This weekend, we will be walking precincts in East L.A. in the name of my late husband, Miguel Contreras,” said Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE/HERE Local 11 President. “I ask the Latino community and all hardworking Californians to get out there and show the Governor that we won’t be silenced, and we won’t be ignored.”

L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, a native of Los Angeles, said, “The neighborhood where I grew up in East L.A. was tough. And now the Governor is trying to cut funding from the essentail services that make our streets safer, such as the police and fire departments. I know that the Latino community will not accept the Governor’s dangerous agenda.”

“As a Latina woman, I can tell you that the Governor’s ideas are wrong for California and wrong for women,” added Assemblymember Cindy Montañez (D-San Fernando).

“His agenda is being backed by the same right-wing extremists who want to roll back Roe v. Wade and women’s rights. He may underestimate us, but Latina woman no longer trust this Governor to keep his word and we will reject his agenda on November 8th.”

Participants in the press conference, held at the East Los Angeles Community College, consisted of elected officials as well as Los Angeles community leaders, including Congresswoman Hilda Solis, State Senator Richard Alarcon (D-Sun Valley), Assemblymember Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes, SEIU Local 660 President Annelle Grajeda, SEIU Local 1877 President Mike Garcia, Salvadoran Legal and Education Fund executive director Carlos Vaquerano, Silvia Beltran of Homies Unidos, and President of Latino Movement USA Juan José Gutierrez.

The Alliance for a Better California is a coalition of nearly 2.5 million firefighters, nurses, teachers, police officers, and other working Californians and community members who oppose Propositions 74-78.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

L.A. Times on Prop. 74

The Los Angeles Times has long been a Republican paper, particularly in the editorial pages.
This is an example of the corporate control of media.
They have taken a Yes on Prop.74 position; as expected.,0,5047483.story?coll

For more on media control see

and see:

and see, David Brock, The Republican Noise Machine: Right Wing media and How it Corrupts Democracy. (2004)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Weintraub on teacher job security

Today's California Insider, the blog of Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub, has a long description of how well Arnold gets along with nurses. It is a puff piece.
Then, Weintraub has this to say about job security for teachers.
Teachers and job security
Here is a Bee story on Prop. 74 taking up the issue most often used against the measure: that it would make it harder to recruit good teachers. I'm not a huge fan of 74 because I think it only tinkers around the edges when we need much more radical reform. But like the teacher featured in the story's lead, I doubt this rap is accurate. It's been my experience that talented people don't shy away from a job out of fear that they will be unjustly fired. They just assume they'll do fine. In fact, the opposite might even be true. Teachers with great potential might be repelled from the field if they think colleagues who aren't pulling their weight are overly protected by our current laws. Teachers who go to work in private schools and most public charter schools have little or no job guarantees, no matter how long they have worked there. And these schools don't seem to have much problem recruiting.
What do others think of this?

PTA on Prop. 76

October 7, 2005
Initiative Could Devastate Public Schools; Hurt Students
Anaheim – Today California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell joined with California State PTA President Brenda Davis and over 100 members of the PTA to oppose Prop. 76, the “Cut School Funding Act,” citing the initiative’s devastating impact on public schools if it were to pass on November 8th.

At a time when our state is already 8th from the bottom in per pupil spending, Prop. 76 would reduce school funding by $4 billion every year, about $600 per student – and that is unacceptable,” O’Connell said. “It eliminates Prop. 98, the voter-approved minimum school funding guarantee and locks school spending in the basement. Our students deserve better than that.”

“The California State PTA has made defeating Prop. 76 our top priority through November because it would result in major funding cuts to schools and hurt our kids,” Davis said. “That translates to more overcrowded classrooms, more teacher layoffs, more cuts in arts and music programs, fewer textbooks, elimination of more librarians, physical education specialists, nurses and counselors.”

“Prop. 76 would amend the California constitution, giving the Governor unprecedented budget powers to override state laws with no public oversight,” said Nancy Adalian, Director of Legislation for the California State PTA. “It would allow the Governor alone to cut additional funding for schools in the middle of the school year, creating havoc for local school budgets.”

“Our state can’t afford Prop. 76, because it makes a bad situation worse in Sacramento,” said Kathy Steinberg, Director of Education for the California State PTA. “It does away with any incentives for the Governor and the Legislature to work together.”

The LA Times said that under Prop. 76, “the governor could exercise any whim or impose any political vendetta,” and calls it “a really bad idea.” (4/18/05)

Prop. 76 would also cap spending on voter-approved programs like the early childhood programs that are already paid for with the tobacco tax. In some counties, that will translate into cuts to pre-school programs and other child health programs.

Proposition 74 and the Sacramento Bee

Proposition 74 and the Sacramento Bee.
On Sunday, Oct. 9, the Sacramento Bee editorial board published an editorial urging a No vote on Prop.74; the Schwarzenegger proposal to extend probationary status for new teachers from 2 years to 5 years. While I applaud their position, their reasoning agrees with the governor on a number of important points.
Now, on Monday, Oct. 10,2005, the Sacramento Bee news department writes its major piece on Prop. 74 “Education plan faces voter test.” By staff writer Laurel Rosenhall. Keep in mind that news departments and editorial departments are separate.
The article which appears on page 1 is the first in a series on the major propositions.
The news article starts off with the case of Ryan Armitage. Unfortunately it also starts off using the Schwarzenegger frame on the issue. The first four paragraphs of the news story claim that Prop. 74 is about tenure. It is not.
Do California teachers have tenure? No. That is a misleading campaign spin. What they have after two years is due process rights- an opportunity to improve, and the right to a hearing. Simply put, teachers have a right to a fair hearing before being fired.
Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system. Quality principals at times remove poor teachers. The present laws do not prevent the removal of the incompetent teachers. The present law does not grant tenure. Tenure is the property right to a position (as a teacher). The proposition 74 proposals do not grant tenure.
The news story by writer Rosenhall is not an extreme nor partisan position, but she did make the substantive error of starting off with the framework provided by the governor’s campaign.
The remainder of the story is a rather balanced description of the two sides of the argument. The writer uses the press procedure of getting comments from two opposing sides. For example, she compares the positions of Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institute with the studies done by Linda Darling-Hammond. A careful reader will know that one is an opinion piece from a major conservative think tank and the second is a summary of research.
I encourage readers to keep in mind the role of well funded conservative think tanks in promoting a viewpoint. See the information in David Brock, The Republican Noise Machine: Right Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy.
In an interesting part of the story the author compares the governor’s proposal for a five year probationary status with those of other states. 33 States require 3 years of probationary status. Only Indiana and Missouri require five years.
Margaret Fortune, educational advisor to the governor sees this as California being a trend setter. Recall, Margaret Fortune- is the former director of Sacramento High School, where a highly controversial charter school was established behind her advocacy. Fortune is an advisor to the governor, along with Karen Young, and Alan Bersin, Secretary of Education and former failed superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, and others make up the Schwarzenegger educational team. These folks see the current attacks on teachers contained in Prop.74 as good policy.
Writer Rosenhall completed a reasonably balanced story on Prop. 74. It is good to see that writers with integrity can write news stories without bending to the demands of the partisans. Most current polls show Prop.74 failing along with Prop. 76.
Next steps: After defeating Prop. 74 and 76 on Nov.8, it is obvious that we need to organize a campaign to defeat Schwarzenegger ( and his anti teacher educational advisors) in the 2006 election.

Duane Campbell

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fight the lies: No on Prop. 74

Fight the Lies!
End the blame game !
Vote No on Prop. 74. Vote No on Prop. 75

There will be at least eight initiatives on the November 8 ballot, and three have particular importance to public schools.

74 Prop. 74 would extend the required probationary period for k-12 teachers from two to five years. Proponents say that this will give administrators more time to evaluate new teachers to be certain that they deserve “tenure”. Yet experience tells us that a probationary teacher can get consistently good evaluations and still be let go by a district without reason or an appeal.
Do California teachers have tenure? No. That is a misleading campaign spin.
What they have after two years is due process rights- an opportunity to improve, and the right to a hearing. Simply put, teachers have a right to a fair hearing before being fired.

Fortunately, through a decade of organizing and political work, teachers in public schools in California and many other states in the U.S. have achieved these rights to a fair hearing. Teachers, working with others, established these job protections to keep partisan politics out of the public schools. Teachers are protected from arbitrary and political dismissals.
Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system. Quality principals at times remove poor teachers. Tenure does not prevent the removal of the incompetent teachers. Good teaching comes from mentoring, training and support, not from arbitrary and political dismissals.
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. Protection of teachers’ rights is very important. It protects teacher’s freedom to speak and their basic citizenship rights. As a teacher you can speak out, disagree with your principal without having to fear that your school board or your principal is going to fire you.
Proposition 74 does nothing to improve learning or to attract and retain quality teachers. It targets teachers as the problem in our public schools, ignoring the inadequate levels of funding provided by the governor and the legislators. Over the next 10 years we will need 100,000 new teachers in California. Proposition 74 hurts our ability to recruit and to train new teachers. It will discourage young people from entering the teaching profession.

For more go to the Alliance web site link.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

High Stakes Tests Fail

After analyzing National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test
data from 25 states, three prominent education researchers have determined
that there is no consistent link between the pressure to score high on a
state-mandated exam and that state's student performance on the NAEP.
Sharon L. Nichols, the study's lead author, concluded: "A rapidly growing
body of research evidence on the harmful effects of high-stakes testing,
along with no reliable evidence of improved performance by students on
NAEP tests of achievement, suggests that we need a moratorium in public
education on the use of high-stakes testing."
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