SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for June 2010

Special meeting tonight

6:00 p.m. Closed Session
7:00 p.m. Open Session

Serna Center
5735 47th Avenue
Sacramento, Ca 95824
Tennessee Community Room

6.1  Public Hearing re Provisions of the Letter of Agreement between Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and Sacramento City Unified School District (AB1200).

6.2  Ratification of Letter of Agreement between Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and Sacramento City Unified School District (AB1200)

6.3  Resolution No. 2627 Rescind Notice of Layoff – Classified Management.

7.1a  Approve Job Descriptions:  Chief Accountability Officer and Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer.

7.1b  Approve School Calendars for the 2010-11 School Year.

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Written by scusdobserver

June 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm

SCUSD 10-14 plan — putting children first

Read the SCUSD document here:

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/45026013/SCUSD-Strategic-Plan-2010—2014-Putting-Children-First

Remaining dates for community input:

July 6    Tuesday    6:00 p.m.    Leonardo da Vinci K-8 School
July 7    Wednesday    6:00 p.m.    John F. Kennedy High School
July 8    Thursday    6:00 p.m.    Luther Burbank High School
July 13    Tuesday    6:00 p.m.    Serna Center

Link to send an e-mail to your board member. Choose by area.

Written by scusdobserver

June 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

Why the high school counselor issue is important to elementary teachers

During the recent labor agreement vote between SCTA and SCUSD, a lot of secondary teachers expressed concern that although elementary issues (CSR in K-3) were addressed, their primary concern, the reduction in the number of school counselors were not directly addressed by the agreement. Many voted for the agreement in spite of that, because they saw the value of elementary CSR. I think it is important to understand why this is so critical for all teachers (including elementary teachers like myself).  I had some conversations with two high school teachers in the district, Lori Jablonski (McClatchy) and Larry Ferlazzo (Luther Burbank), here is what I found out.

Counselors at high schools provide two valuable services. They help kids with emotional and other problems that need to get solved. Given how many students there are in a comprehensive high school (or even a middle school) and how they are distributed (multiple teachers), they can easily fall between the cracks. Having a counselor to refer students to is a critical safety net.

In addition, they advise students on what classes they will need to take to meet their academic goals. Many colleges require that a counselor write a recommendation letter for applicants for admission or scholarships. At McClatchy, they were originally set to have ONE counselor for the entire school of over 2,000. The Superintendent’s most recent email indicates that the level will be about 3x that figure. But, that would just be at QEIA schools (not McClatchy), and at those schools, it would mean shifting money from other programs (like CSR at Burbank). Even then, that would increase counselors to 1 per 1,000 or 1,500 students. Will that be enough? High school teachers don’t think so.

How would you feel as the parent of a student in one of these high schools? How do you feel as the elementary teacher of some of these students? All of us (elementary, middle, and high school teachers) spend a lot of time preparing these students to be college-ready, it would be a shame if they missed the “finish-line” because there wasn’t a counselor to help them with their paperwork. That’s why this issue is not just important for secondary. We need to make it clear that counselor staffing is our next priority and that any further money or savings should be spent on returning counselors.

Written by alicemercer

June 24, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Corporate restructuring

The news that Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is seeking permission from trustees to hire a chief accountability officer for SCUSD does not allay very real fears that Raymond is accelerating a push to develop a corporate education culture in Sacramento.

Consider these job titles: Chief Talent Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Portfolio Officer…all with annual salary ranges between $125,000-175,000. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a strong proponent of privatization, devised this idea of “administrative restructuring.”

These executives (most who have never taught in a classroom or been a principal) make the rounds throughout the countries’ school systems while changing job titles and descriptions. It’s a smorgasboard of CEO’s. Raymond was a chief accountability officer before he was hired in Sacramento.

The ultimate goal is to run the school system like a corporation –SCUSD teachers will have continued pressure to “teach the test” and improve API scores — data will be relentlessly tracked and tied to performance by the chief accountability officer.

This reform leads to what education historian Diane Ravitch calls a huge mistake:

Teachers — not just union leaders — are unhappy, frustrated, and demoralized. So are parents, because they don’t like the high-stakes testing regime either. They don’t like that their children are losing time for the arts, science, history, geography, physical education, foreign languages, and everything that is not tested. They may not be well-informed, yet they know that their children are missing out on a good education.

Time for the board to step up

By Lori A. Jablonksi

Sixty-seven teachers at C.K. McClatchy High School voted this week to overwhelmingly support the collective bargaining agreement between the district and Sacramento City Teachers Association.

I want to make sure I do my best to convey the general sense and mood as
McClatchy teachers gave their approval to donate to the District over $1,000
annually for the next two years to fund elementary class-size reduction and
to establish a retiree benefit trust.

Teachers voted with no guarantee that the counselors we so desperately
need at the middle and high school levels will return.  And they did
so without any word whether pink-slipped high school teachers would be
back in the classrooms next year.  One teacher called his vote a “leap of
faith” that the Board will finally “get it” and start paying attention to
the budget and actual spending, rather than just approve what the District
staff presents.

Another, a teacher with teens soon to start college, had tears in her
eyes as she voted (actually, quite a few did).  She told me that with her
husband furloughed and with the astonishing increases in the price of
tuition she had no idea what she was going to do about her kids’
college future.  This agreement, she said, would essentially wipe away
what little discretionary income her family had left each month. (She
noted too, as did several others, that at least with furloughs they could
spend the day off at home. A bit of gallows humor, perhaps, in a
terrible situation.)  Nevertheless, she told me she voted for it, as did
over 90% of the McClatchy staff.

Most concerning to me, however, was the overall sense of skepticism
expressed that Superintendent Raymond and the members of the Board of
Trustees truly appreciate that the teachers have agreed to make a
significant financial sacrifice in order to repudiate the “race to the
bottom” mentality others were so quick to embrace:  that furloughs (teaching
fewer days!) in any way, shape or form are consistent with “putting kids
first.”

Now that the agreement has been ratified, the District, thanks in large part
to its teachers, should be celebrated far and wide as a place where the
school year was kept intact, students and families were not turned away
through furloughs, and the true education mission was preserved.

It is now time to ask SCUSD board members to step up and match the
commitment shown by District teachers to keep cuts as far away from the kids
as possible.

Over the past year, I have joined others, including Board Member
Rodriguez, in advocating for a “line-by-line” budget review public work shop
in order to ensure that all dollars budgeted and spent are done so with
priority concerns–our kids’ classroom learning experience–in mind.

This is a plea to create such a process.

It will help re-assure teachers, parents and the community, at this
crucial time when so many are sacrificing so much, that the District Board
of Trustees are determined to leave no stone unturned to find ways to reduce
the cuts to teaching and support staff going forward.   We might even
discover a way to fully fund our middle and high school counselors and
restore some reality to the oft-stated principle that we believe in
nurturing a college-going culture in this district.

Agreement passes

SCTA reports that there were 1607 ballots qualifying.

The final vote was:
1009  YES
598  NO
63%  support

With these results, the proposed contract has been ratified by the membership.

Why a “voluntary” contribution instead of furlough days?

I’m hearing some folks express concerns about the “voluntary” contribution being put in the contract concession, instead of furlough days. This idea was kicked around since about March or April, but hasn’t been clearly explained or articulated. Here is why I think it’s a better deal:

  1. Once days are given up on the calendar (especially around Thanksgiving) they are hard to bring back, even if the days you try to bring back are at the end or beginning of the year.
  2. Fewer days are bad for kids (less instruction), bad for teachers (less gross pay = less counting towards retirement, etc.)
  3. A contribution is easier to “sunset” or end in an agreement
  4. We can control where the money is allocated more specifically (only for bringing back certificated staff via CSR and returning counselor positions).
  5. It puts us in the position of putting kids, and their education first.

Whatever way it was done, this does involve money. As you can see from some of the comments on other posts on this subject, there will be pain, but I hope this gives a little more clarity about why this method was chosen over furloughs.

Written by alicemercer

June 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Posted in SCTA

Tagged with , ,