SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘C.K. McClatchy’ Category

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.

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Written by alicemercer

June 24, 2010 at 5:34 pm

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.

Budget forums begin next week…

The district has scheduled four community forums to discuss SCUSD budget cuts. Each is scheduled from 6:30p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

• Feb. 17 – McClatchy High School, 3066 Freeport Blvd.

• Feb. 23 – Rosemont High School, 9594 Kiefer Blvd.

• Feb. 24 – Luther Burbank High School, 3500 Florin Road

• March 3 – location to be announced

Complete results of both of the district’s online surveys will be released next week.

Written by scusdobserver

February 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Strengthening our perimeters

The recent case of Gary Tudesko, the Willows student who was expelled (then reinstated) for having hunting guns in his pickup truck (parked next to his high school campus) referenced the question of whether school officials have the authority to enforce what goes on beyond the school’s sidewalk.

Today’s protest by Westboro Baptist Church zealots
on the edges of the McClatchy and Rosemont high school boundaries brings up the same question. Does the state’s education code need to be strengthened to better protect our students on their campus perimeters?

Let’s forget about gun laws and free speech laws for a moment. The pertinent question is: do we want our students potentially exposed as targets because the safe zones around our schools do not extend far enough to protect them from possible harm?

Written by scusdobserver

February 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Time to Listen Instead of Pretending to Listen

Attention SCUSD board members! You need to collectively get your heads out of the sand and direct the interim superintendent to provide you with the simple costs associated with school expenses (programs and services). Community advocates are on to something important as a possible alternative to lay-offs — it’s time to listen instead of pretending to listen.

It is dreadful public policy-making to have an expectation (stated or not) that community people, parents and teachers must themselves decipher byzantine budget documents in order to do what is the job of the superintendent and her staff.

One example: Why can’t board members direct the superintendent to present a list of every outside consultant and third-party provider (e.g., ALS, SAVA,) employed by the district?

What are these consultants/providers doing and what do they cost? Period.

From this data, you might have a productive discussion (with teachers, administrators, and supporters) about the viability of these services and whether any programs deemed “necessary” could instead be provided on a site-by-site basis.

The proposed cuts (and the imminent threat of teacher layoffs) is spinning out of control and wreaking a detrimental impact on teachers’ livelihoods right now.

A committed group at C.K. McClatchy High School is disentangling pieces of the budget to create a master schedule for students next year.

Here is what McClatchy teachers predict: 50 fewer course sections offered (which translates into 1000-1200 students with holes in their schedules and at least 600-700 unable to take the electives they need to get into college), no library, no EL intervention classes, the destruction of McClatchy’s award-winning music program, and a seriously reduced counseling staff (3 of 4 counselors were pink-slipped).

To think that McClatchy will rebound in the fall when and if the district decides to rescind some of the lay-offs is…

…well…it’s just laughable.

The absurdity of the demand that teachers need to find fiscal ways to fill these budget black holes also seriously impacts their ability to actually do their jobs: teach!

Written by scusdobserver

March 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm