Commentary: It is Time for DTA and All of Us To Face Reality

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Paul Simon once wrote: “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.”  I feel like that on many occasions as I write these articles and commentaries and people come away with sometimes the opposite of what I was really saying.  A reader yesterday sent me this article, I thank him because it sums up my view and the way I feel many times as I write columns.

The author of the blog was recently laid off from Dartmouth.  He writes:

“Teachers’ should be having a conversation about possible salary cuts NOT because it would bring them in line with the rest of the state or because generous spending on teachers’ salaries is “too Liberal”, but because there simply is not going to be enough money to pay them what they want.”

He continues:

“Teachers are going to have a choice. They are going to either have to accept dramatic paycuts and reductions in benefits, or they are going to have to go on strike. THE MONEY JUST IS NOT GOING TO EXIST WITH WHICH TO PAY THEM AT CURRENT LEVELS. This is not an ideological position: it’s a monetary reality.”

He then writes that people cannot see past ideology.

“It is entirely fascinating how folks cannot see past the ideological, however, when trying to come to grips with reality.”

I see this all the time.  I get accused of being a Republican on here at times because I believe that we cannot afford to pay city workers, firefighters, and various others what we want to pay them, what we are paying them, or maybe even what we SHOULD be paying them.

Three weeks ago I castigated the Republicans in the California Legislature because they did not get it.  They needed to drop their ideology and accept the fact that we needed to balance the budget and the numbers weren’t there to do it without raising taxes.  They weren’t.  The Republican leadership understood that.  The rank-and-file did not get the message.  Nor did they get the message that if we did not pass a budget,(as bad a budget as it was from both a liberal and a conservative perspective), the outcome would be disastrous.  As bad as things are now, they would have been far far worse.

This week we have to do the same to the DTA.  When I criticize the DTA, I am not bashing teachers.  I come from a family of teachers, I have been a teacher.  I believe teachers ought to make as much as we currently pay firefighters.  That is my ideological pre-disposition, but the world has changed.  We do not have the money to pay those kinds of salaries.  We may never have that kind of money.

We can no longer operate in the world today as though last year’s rules applied. 

All across the state, employees unions are having to face a grim reality and make a bad choice.  The choice is between jobs and salaries.  Every week in this country more than half a million people are losing their jobs.  Most of those people are not going to get another job for some time.  That means that everyone needs to engage in a joint sacrifice.

And many have done that.  State workers who make one half to a third of what teachers are making in Davis have accepted a 5% paycut which is in lieu of ten to twenty thousand of their co-workers losing their jobs.  In the county of Yolo, workers have taken voluntary paycuts for a year hoping to forestall almost inevitable job losses.  Even police in Sacramento have taken a paycut rather than see 70 of their colleagues lose their job.

On Tuesday night, the Davis Joint Unified School District vote to send out layoff notices to over 50 employees including nearly 40 teachers.  At the meeting, several of the board members pleaded with the DTA to consider a paycut.

Did Board Members want to do this?  No.  Many of them were on the verge of tears.  And it was genuine angst.  Richard Harris who has at times put his foot in his mouth, told me a few weeks ago very somberly, “Where are these poor folks going to get a job if they lose theirs now?”  And when?  There are no jobs to be had.  These people are looking at long unemployment.  In another town my sistfer is one of them, her cobra payment just to have health insurance is ridiculous.  Why would people do this when they have a choice?

I keep hearing, unless you are a teacher facing a paycut, you cannot understand it.  Teachers are understandably concerned about their retirement.  The district believes they can probably find a way around that problem if that is the hang up.

President Obama has called on this nation to sacrifice, engage in a joint sacrifice in order to get this country upon its feet.  For those who criticized the prior administration for failing to make such as call when the the US was attacked on 9/11, it is music to our ear.  But we must heed the call. 

The call means we must give up a little so that our colleagues and brothers and sisters can get a paycheck and afford their health insurance.

The district estimates a four percent paycut is what is needed to assure that there is no layoffs.  It may end up being less.  That is less than state workers are taking.  That is less than county workers are taking.  And that is much less than the 100% paycut their unfortunate colleagues have to take.

But guess what folks, this is not just about teachers, it is about schools.  It is about children.  Each teacher cut is a one more class they do not offer.  Not only is there a shared sacrifice needed to help their fellow teachers, but there is one needed to assure the kids get the best possible education.  We are lucky in Davis for the most part, but these kids get one shot at education.  This is their youth.  And if we have to make cuts, they do not get this time back.

We all need to step up.  But most of all we need to the leadership of the DTA to step up and explain to their colleagues who do not seem to understand that this is real.  There are no other cuts to be made.

I got a call yesterday asking why the administrators are not being laid off.  I said the reason is that they did their layoffs last year.  The district cut one of its two associate superintendent positions last year.  That means there is no associate superintendent of education.  They have not filled their business services director position.  They have not filled their risk manager position.  They have cut various assistants in the administrative office.  They have people there doing the work of several.  They have made their cuts.  And they have also stepped up to the table to offer to take a double cut to what the rank-and-file take.

The DTA has insisted that we can make cuts in other areas.  They have done this at school board meetings.  They did this on the radio with me.  They have not to my knowledge shown up with concrete numbers.  Instead we get questions on Tuesday as to why the school district is taking out a $10 million loan (they are not) and when they should spend down their reserve.

Let’s lay out the math here once again.  The state requires a district to maintain a fund balance of 3% of its general fund in case of emergencies.  How much is 3%?  About half of the payroll for one month.  Most districts average about 10% reserves.  Right now the plan calls for this one to maintain a 6% reserve.  How much is 6%?  About one month’s worth of payroll. 

A reserve is one-time money.  That means once they spend it and do not replenish it through future savings it is gone.  So yes, we could spend down that reserve, but it is not going to take us very far, and it is certainly not going to keep the district from laying off the employees.

The district made the difficult choice that it needed to deal with its structural deficit.  They did so in order to best and most fiscally responsibly weather this storm.  The fiscal expert they brought in, agrees with that approach.  Who could not agree with that approach?

Again, it is a horrible thing to do.  Board members were on the verge of tears when tjhey were being forced to lay off teachers and staff, but they did it.  They had no other choice.  The public has stepped up twice now to help the district.  They did last year when they gave $1.7 million to the Davis Schools Foundation that enable no teachers to be fired last year.  They did it again when they overwhelmingly voted for Measure W to give the district another $2.5. million  That money is now preventing us from engaging in 114 layoffs rather than 50.  There is nothing else the public can, will, or should be asked to do.  Notice that the district is not asking.  Neither really is the Davis Schools Foundation.  There is nothing more that can be done.

But the amazing thing is that there is one group in this community that can step up, can sacrifice, can make this happen.  It will cost them 4% of their salary to do it, but they can make sure none of their colleagues lose their job.

I am not anti-education.  I think anyone who knows what I have done can attest to that.  I am not anti-worker.  I am simply laying out the truth.  The reality of this situation.  There is not enough money to pay every teacher what they are currently contracted to make.  The choice is now theirs–they can take a paycut and save their colleagues or they can watch their youngest and most energetic teachers lose their jobs.

Cathy Haskell and Ingrid Salim, I like you a lot.  I think you are good people.  I am asking you on behalf of this community to stand up and do the right thing.  Lay it on the line to your membership and ask them to take one for their team.  This community will be forever in your debt if you do that.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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101 thoughts on “Commentary: It is Time for DTA and All of Us To Face Reality”

  1. Julian Anderson

    I am not a teacher nor do I have kids in school. But how is asking people who make very little to begin with to give up even more “the right thing?”

    It seems to me that the school board, the administration, and the community believe that the teachers should take one for the team in order to preserve the program. Don’t they “take one for the team” every day already with DJUSD’s lower pay scale and inadequate health benefits? Don’t they take one for the team every day in the classroom?

    They do it because the standards of this community demand it. And now the situation is saying that we can no longer afford the program the way it currently is. But in order to preserve it, DJUSD and voices on this blog are saying that the teachers must step up and sacrifice 2.4 to 4 percent of their salary to save it.

    I’m sorry but I thoroughly disagree with this point of view.

    The program the teachers provide is for the benefit of the community. If the community wants it as it is, then they should give up 2.4 to 4 percent of THEIR salary. When I listen to school board members pressure the teachers to reduce their salary, they are essentially saying “You need to PAY in order to work here.”

    If the community doesn’t want to see 40-something staff cut in a program that will impact their children, then let them pay for it. Asking the teachers to shoulder this burden is inherently wrong.

    I have read messages on this board saying that the community has already stepped forward by donating $1.7 million and my passing Measure W. Don’t forget that many of those donations also came from the teachers who live in Davis. Now you are asking that same group of people to give more….on top of what they already give in the classroom everyday (which is already less than what comparable districts).

    If DJUSD believes that they need to lay off 40-something teachers/staff and no one wants to see this happen, then there needs to be another solution to this than asking hardworking people to give up their salary. Teachers provide a service to the community and if it is a service that the community wants to preserve, then the community will need to answer. If the community feels that they have already ‘answered’ with the Save Our Schools effort and Measure W, then their voice has been heard. 40-something staff will need to be laid off if the program is to continue. But I believe that pressuring the teachers (which is what the school board, the district office, and this blog is now doing) is not ‘doing the right thing’.

  2. Mike Adams

    First, the correct quote is

    Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

    I think there needs to be a distinction made between short and long-term possibilities. I agree that in the short term there are budget realities that need to be faced. But as a community we should strive to connect the dots between huge defense spending and unregulated industries and the fix we are in now. As a society we are certainly capable of paying the salaries that teachers are getting now – just as we are capable of providing the necessity of healthcare for all. Our goal should be to allow a well informed citizenry to set priorities for a decent society. And to understand that growing inequality of wealth is destructive to a healthy, vibrant, free society.

  3. RIght on Julian!

    Julian’s comments on right on the mark! I am thrilled to see someone in the Davis community thinking straight about this issue. It is about the community coming together and finding solutions to the problem rather than asking the teachers yet again to sacrifice for the greater good.

  4. State Worker

    “State workers who make one half to a third of what teachers are making in Davis has accepted a 5% paycut which is in lieu of ten to twenty thousand of their co-workers losing their jobs.”

    I am a State worker that has taken 2 furlough days a month (not voluntarily), which results in a cut in pay of 9.2%. It should also be noted that 20,000 State employees received surplus notices (potential layoff notices) that may take effect if the budget does not pan out or the unions bargain for fewer furlough days. I am one of those people that has received a surplus notice because my seniority with the State is approximtely 8 years. I have made the sacrifice of a pay cut and yet I am still sweating the possibility of being laid off. So much for the promises of shared sacrifice…

  5. Mike Hart

    My family gave thousands of dollars last year to Davis schools and will do it again this year. We are big supporters of the system and feel very strongly that it is the parent’s responsibility to step in and cover any deficit, not lay it on the doorstep of the rest of the community. Digging deep is our shared responsibility as parents of students here.

    The problem with the whole discussion of layoffs is that it is misdirected. Cutting 40 teacher positions could be done painlessly for the students. Allow the administrators to get rid of 40 bad teachers. Unless you really want to ignore reality- we have at least that many here. These are grumpy, past their prime, waiting for retirement in place, sick of students and just done with being here teachers- they are here. Ask ANY student… If the administrators were allowed to do their job- you could fix the budget in a long afternoon. The students would have a celebration, good teachers would fill their roles and life would go on for DJUSD without a blip… Oh wait, I forgot about Unions- the real problem with the budget.

    The problem with unions is that it drags the entire discussion to the lowest common denominator. Rather than properly compensating exceptional teachers like the rockstars they really are; providing generously for the teachers that educate our children; for allowing the administrators to actually manage the teachers and advance the gifted and weed-out the weak, we are stuck with an endless battle to protect the marginal teachers with tenure…

  6. DJUSD Teacher

    All week this blog has been asking (really demanding) that the teachers do the right thing by taking this pay cut….did you ever figure that we have been taking pay cuts for years. This district never paid the full state COLA ….giving us one, two and one year a little over three percent cost of living (all the while the COLA being more and putting the balance of the money into more school programs all the while inflation was more, plus our health benefits have gone up every year.) You can give all the facts and figures you want, but being one of the teachers and working in the town for nearly ten years, I have seen my paycheck not keep up with my meager expenses. I can’t afford a house in this town – I commuted up until recently, and now I just got notification that my landlord is raising my rent 4.3% in September plus they are pressuring me to sign a lease NOW so they don’t rent my place from under me.

    To say that administrators did their share….hum they did cut two associate positions only to replace them as assistant positions – plus giving them a five percent increase for the next three years. The teachers and classified employees see the waste and all we are asking is for the administration/Board to cut that before we take a pay cut. And yes, teachers and classified personnel have been making suggestions to those in the budget office.

    During this week as we in the elementary schools have been working overtime to conference with parents, I’m finding some of these discussions demoralizing and degrading. Someone wrote earlier in the week the “young” teachers have more energy and should not be cut….I’m a better teacher now, with much more understanding and enthusiasm for the students and the curriculum than ten years ago when I was a “younger” person. This is a job that you do for the love of it, not to make a lot of money and to say that we are not doing enough….well maybe some of you need to volunteer in the schools, see how hard the teachers do work, all the levels we have to deal with and the demands that this community expects. See how the janitors and groundskeepers keep our schools clean and well maintained on their small budgets. Go and thank the secretaries, counselors, reading aids, who do a fantastic job every day working with the students, parents and administrators.

    I do have faith in this community and I appreciate the above comments regarding this situation. Just about every day I hear the students in my classroom talk about the sacrifices their families are making, whether it is a lost job, cut in pay, and unfortunately, there will probably be more. For this school district, there will be hard cuts, and yes, probably a pay reduction (along with furlough days)….most teachers are willing to do that, but first program cuts (which might mean teacher cuts) have to be made. You stated that it is time to face reality; the reality is this district can not afford to keep all the programs that it has offered in the past.

  7. Davis parent

    [i]Julian’s comments on right on the mark! I am thrilled to see someone in the Davis community thinking straight about this issue. It is about the community coming together and finding solutions to the problem rather than asking the teachers yet again to sacrifice for the greater good.[/i]

    I applaud that you mention solutions. What solutions would you propose? This blog is a good place to germinate those solutions.

    [i]They do it because the standards of this community demand it. And now the situation is saying that we can no longer afford the program the way it currently is. But in order to preserve it, DJUSD and voices on this blog are saying that the teachers must step up and sacrifice 2.4 to 4 percent of their salary to save it.[/i]

    It is valid that the teachers consider a pay cut. The classified staff appears to be accepting some kind of salary cut. The administration appears to be on record for potentially taking a cut. It will definitely look weird if the DTA did not acknowledge the issue.

    I could also okay (but still a little bummed) if DTA flat out rejects a salary cut. But it would be very disappointing if the DTA leadership repeats the distracting false premises as reasons for rejecting a salary cut. They have lost the opportunity to have some clarity of discussion on the issue, and they may regret it.

    It is not a $10 million load for the stadium, and the $4 million proposed loan will have no effect one way or another on next year’s salary budget. If Ms. Haskell can’t acknowledge that, then it is probably impossible to have that clarity.

    Measures Q and W provide funding for many (probably most) of the extra courses at the high school. You can’t cut what the voters approved. If DJUSD has excess courses that are under-enrolled and are not funded by parcel taxes, then it’s important to be very specific and identify those course.

    Making the assumption that the district will somehow come up with extra money at the end of the year to rescind pink slip notices like they did last year ignores important realities. Davis and DSF were lucky and fortunate to have raised $1.7 million. And the state and governor would have been more responsible in sticking to last January’s budget instead of a more optimistic May revise. It’s very hard to see how a lot of last minute money shows up this year.

    I would respect the DTA a little more if they could acknowledge these realities and simply say, “Thank you, but we as teachers decided that we just can’t afford it.”

    Instead there are insinuations that the school board and district are ignorant or hiding something. It’s tough to find a school district around here that isn’t issuing pink slips.

  8. Davis parent

    “And yes, teachers and classified personnel have been making suggestions to those in the budget office.”

    DJUSD Teacher,

    You are definitely appreciated.

    But why not make those suggestions here as well?

  9. Tough Times Ahead

    “I could also okay (but still a little bummed) if DTA flat out rejects a salary cut. But it would be very disappointing if the DTA leadership repeats the distracting false premises as reasons for rejecting a salary cut. They have lost the opportunity to have some clarity of discussion on the issue, and they may regret it.”

    I have always thought there is “pork” in our school system. Some of the programs/positions (e.g. Stage Technician) seem frivolous to me. However, teachers are insiders, and are more apt to know what classes are underenrolled, what classes do need the axe. Yet the best the teachers could come up with is “We shouldn’t be spending $10 millon on a stadium right now”, which has absolutely nothing to do with operating expenses and the whole teacher lay-off debacle.

    If the teachers don’t want to be seen as unreasonable in refusing to take a pay cut, then their leadership should come up w a defined list of cuts that need to happen in their opinion, that would negate the necessity of instituting a pay cut. So far, teachers don’t seem to be coming up with anything other than irrelavancies or vague ideas. They really need to get their act together, and come up with some solid proposals. If not, then 40 teachers will be let go. And I as a citizen will accept the fact that the DJUSD identified the fat that needed to be trimmed. What else can citizens think?

    DPD has it right in one sense. There is not as much money to go around now. So either the teachers have to take a pay cut, or programs have to be cut. Teachers apparently think the way to go is program cuts. I don’t necessarily disagree. But I would feel a whole lot more comfortable if there seemed to be a coherent plan for making the program cuts. It seems somewhat haphazard, and probably has more to do w seniority than substance.

    And, I might add, Colby taking a 5% raise is despicable. There is no excuse for that, IMHO! Also, I am tired of the whining by the School Board about how terrible they feel about all of this. If you can’t take the heat, then get the heck out of the kitchen! We are not interested in hearing how sorry you are about making tough decisions. All we are interested in hearing is WHY you made the decisions you did.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”On Tuesday night, the Davis Joint Unified School District vote to send out layoff notices to over 50 employees including nearly 40 teachers. At the meeting, several of the board members pleaded with the DTA to consider a paycut.”[/i]

    I have a question for the teachers who are posting on this blog and who are active in the DTA: How much of a role is your parent organization, the CTA, playing in determining your defiant stance on taking “only” 96%?

    I was informed (through an email I received last night from a member of the state assembly — not our member) that the CTA is now pressuring its local chapters (I’m not sure if “chapter” is the right term) to hold the line and not accept even small pay cuts.

    Can you report on this blog if the CTA has been in touch with your leadership on this issue, too, and if the CTA has influenced your union’s contumacy?

  11. wdf

    [i]Some of the programs/positions (e.g. Stage Technician) seem frivolous to me.[/i]

    The stage technician gets at least part of her salary from teaching the stage craft class. This is an ROP (Regional Occupation Program — a vocational-type program) offering which is funded by county money. It doesn’t come from the standard pot of money to fund teachers in the district, but can supplement some of the salary money.

    For info on the program in Yolo Co., see this link:
    [url]http://www.ycoe.org/depts/ssis/#YROP[/url]

  12. wdf

    Bob Dunning, excerpted from today’s (3/6/09)Enterprise:

    [i]TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL – the headlines in The Davis Enterprise go right to the heart – ‘Board approves teacher layoffs.’ – can we really be serious? – Davis, it’s all about the schools – how many times have we heard that? – and the schools are all about our teachers – these are indeed grim times, but there has to be a better way – our teachers are our treasures – losing even one is one too many –
    [/i]

  13. share the pain more

    State Worker,

    I too am a state worker, so let me answer some of your questions or address your statements.

    The furlough days were not voluntary. They were imposed on us by the governor. Once all state employees vote on the Tentavie Agreement between the union and the state (I have already voted have you? I voted YES by the way)then we will have 8 hours per month that we can use as we wish. This paycut will be 4.62% negotiated down by the union.

    You said, “It should also be noted that 20,000 State employees received surplus notices (potential layoff notices) that may take effect if the budget does not pan out or the unions bargain for fewer furlough days.”

    First, the budget has panned out. We have a budget. The union has bargained for 8 hours MapFlap (personal furlough day) per month to be used monthly, incrementaly, or saved and used before the end of the contract. Use it before your vacation time since you cannot cash it out and it has to be used before the end of the contract.

    Surplus notices are not layoff notices. Layoff notices are SROA notices. Surplus notices are for department reductions. The union negotiated expanded layoff protections, so only if your department or program is shutting down will you potentially face layoffs.

    Everyone is making sacrifices. I feel grateful to have a job because there are many who do not.

    I have respect and appreciation for teachers and the work they do, but everyone is going to have to come together and work together to get through these tough economic times.

    I would like to see more DJUSD administrators take more of a cut since they make more. The same goes for the heads of departments that work for the city and the city manager himself. It’s time to share the pain.

  14. john

    Can anyone answer a question for me, how many students are enrolled is some type of after school tutoring program? What is the pass/failure rate in the school district?

  15. Rich Rifkin

    [b]Julian Anderson[/b]: [i]”I am not a teacher nor do I have kids in school. But how is asking people who make very little to begin with to give up even more ‘the right thing?'”[/i]

    Very little? Teachers in California’s public schools are the highest paid teachers in the U.S. I don’t know what the average is in Davis, but the average in our state is $64,500 plus benefits and pension for a 184-day work year.

    When you ask about ‘the right thing,’ you ignore what the DTA action of not accepting 96% of their current deal means to the 40 teachers (and 10 other employees) who will lose 100% of their salaries. I’m sure you don’t think that prospect is ‘the right thing.’ But to simply pretend that it won’t happen if the DTA does not budge is folly.

    [i]”It seems to me that the school board, the administration, and the community believe that the teachers should take one for the team in order to preserve the program.”[/i]

    The idea is that 100% of the teachers (and all non-teachers employed by the district) should take a small hit so that: a) no teachers or other critical employees have to be laid off; and b) so that the quality of education of the children is not harmed. We don’t have a public education system to make sure teachers and other school employees live a great lifestyle. We have public education in order that kids get the best education possible. That must always be the priority of the Board of Education.

    Also, it is not the case that “others in the community” have not taken a hit. Unemployment is skyrocketting in our community. We are paying much more in taxes. Davis residents pay the highest school, parks, library and other taxes of any municipality in a 50 mile radius, not to mention our ghastly water, sewer and garbage bills (all far higher than others in our region). Our local businesses are suffering. Most are cutting back the hours of employees, if not firing people. I know a local businesswoman who will work 60 hours a week all this year in order to keep her doors open, without taking home any income for herself. To claim that others in the community are not taking a hit from the economic crisis is bosh.

    [i]”Don’t they “take one for the team” every day already with DJUSD’s lower pay scale and inadequate health benefits? Don’t they take one for the team every day in the classroom?”[/i]

    That’s all may be true, but it’s entirely beside the point. The question at this point in time is not whether we prefer to harm our children by firing 40 teachers or whether we prefer to keep all teachers and pay them 96%. Don’t pretend there is some other, better alternative right now.

    [i]”The program the teachers provide is for the benefit of the community. If the community wants it as it is, then they should give up 2.4 to 4 percent of THEIR salary.”[/i]

    You repeat that you believe no one else has it tough. That’s balderdash, Julian. And your proposed solution — the DTA solution — is not to preserve the income of the teachers. It is to fire 40 teachers so that the remaining teachers will keep their current salaries, which I might remind you increased from 2008-2008 at more than double the rate of inflation, according to the state standards for COLAs. If they take a 4% reduction, Davis teachers will still be making more in inflation adusted pay than they made two years ago.

    [i]”When I listen to school board members pressure the teachers to reduce their salary, they are essentially saying ‘You need to PAY in order to work here.'”[/i]

    Hopefully the Board is saying, our priority is the children and not your union. We prefer to allow all teachers to keep their jobs, and we don’t want to fire 40 teachers and 10 others, as the DTA would have us do.

    [i]”If the community doesn’t want to see 40-something staff cut in a program that will impact their children, then let them pay for it.”[/i]

    Again, you presume that this crisis is not affecting our community members who pay the taxes. This community is taxed up to its ears, and raising taxes again, when almost all of us are losing income and losing home value and so on is unreasonable and impractical.

    [i]”Asking the teachers to shoulder this burden is inherently wrong.”[/i]

    Even if it is ‘inherently wrong,’ the DTA offers no solution other than to make 40 teachers and 10 others take 100 percent of the hit. What you need to do is ask the DTA why those teachers (and the kids they are paid to serve) prefers that option?

  16. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”I might remind you increased from 2008-2008 at more than double the rate of inflation.”[/i]

    That should read: “I might remind you increased from 2000-2008 at more than double the rate of inflation.”

  17. wdf

    [i]Can anyone answer a question for me, how many students are enrolled is some type of after school tutoring program? What is the pass/failure rate in the school district?
    [/i]

    I can’t answer your questions completely, but I can tell you where to go. The Davis Bridge Foundation probably serves the most at-risk students in after school tutoring, and serves all grades, as far as I know.

    Here is their website:

    [url]http://www.davisbridge.org/home.html[/url]

    The closest evidence I know to pass/fail data is dropout rate. If you are patient enough to dig around a little, check out this site:

    [url]http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/[/url]

    School board meetings may discuss pass/fail rates at some point, but I don’t know which meetings they’ve been discussed.

  18. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Also, it is not the case that “others in the community” have not taken a hit. Unemployment is skyrocketting in our community. We are paying much more in taxes.”[/i]

    In case you did not see today’s Enterprise, Julian: “Things went from bad to worse between December and January as jobless numbers topped double digits in Yolo County and kept on going. Yolo saw unemployment spike nearly 2 percent to 11.6 percent, according to numbers released Thursday by the state’s Employment & Development Department. Statewide unemployment jumped 1.5 percent to 10.6 percent in the same period while the Sacramento metro area – El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties – saw a 1.6 percent rise to 10.4 percent.”

  19. Julian Anderson

    I’m not surprised to find a chain of blog postings from Mr. Rifkin trying to discredit my opinions. His postings in the past have a continual pattern of not supporting Davis teachers and their effectiveness. Good schools start with good teachers, despite Mr. Rifkin’s past claims to the opposite. We have good schools here in Davis but rather than support the teachers who help lead these good schools, his postings discredit the effectiveness of Davis teachers. As someone who has teacher friends and friends who have children in the Davis schools, I am familiar with the education scene here in Davis. Unlike Mr. Rifkin, I believe that protecting the local leaders in education is fundamental, rather than insinuating that they are overpaid and underworked.

    I disagree that teachers’ salaries need to be reduced. Why not look at different options instead of pressuring hardworking teachers to give up what LITTLE they do make (and yes, they do make little despite Rifkin’s claims to the opposite).

    Based upon conversations I have had with district teachers, it seems that there are indeed ways to run a more cost-effective program. First and foremost, the reduction of underenrolled and unnecessary courses offered at Davis Senior High School is something that should be addressed.

    This board has been filled with discussion about the new offering of a Baroque Orchestra. In addition to that absurbdity, did you know that the Orchestra currently has TWO teachers for one course? The orchestra director has an assistant who is paid a .2 FTE for that class. Entirely unnecessary.

    There are also sections of language classes that are under-enrolled. I have heard that there are some full-time teachers who have only 80 student contacts in their day. The average classload for a full-time teacher is 150-160.

    Did you know that the board and members of the community recently pushed and mandated a PE course called “Independent Lifetime Sports and Strength & Conditioning”. What in the world is that? There’s another unnecessary .2 FTE that is being funded.

    There are also a full slate of AP Art History classes that students say are a joke at DHS. Students do not take the AP exam and one of the teachers actively encourages his students not to take the exam, while they are watching movies and having parties. Why are we funding several sections of this?

    The high school and the junior highs also offers ‘study skills’ classes known as AVID, but the students who come out of AVID do not demonstrate any improved skill difference or better learning strategies.

    At the district office, there are positions that are not needed. Why are there two directors of special education? How about the recently created position of Coordinator of School Climate Activities? Friends of mine who work for DJUSD will tell you that they are unsure exactly what this position does. Sounds like another unnecessary salary. And why are there two directors for BTSA, the program for beginning teachers?

    State workers have taken a reduction in salary but that was mandated by the governor – it wasn’t something that they volunteered to do. Police officers in Sacramento are giving up their ‘raises’, not reducing their salaries. And Hammond, Colby, French, and Bryant’s offer to take a 5 percent salary reduction is misleading. They wouldn’t be taking a salary reduction, they would be giving BACK their salary increase.

    And salaries are a negotiable item for DTA, not something that is supposed to be pressured by board members in a public forum, which is essentially harrassing DTA to capitulate or look like the bad guy, despite their legal rights.

    40 proposed layoffs do not need to happen, nor does a decrease of 2.5 or 4 percent. Trimming the excess should happen first.

    A quality education lies in a quality program and in order to have a quality program you must have quality staff. Taking away salary, when other options could be explored, should be a last step instead of a publicly pressured strategic harassment.

  20. Julian Anderson

    Again, you presume that this crisis is not affecting our community members who pay the taxes. This community is taxed up to its ears, and raising taxes again, when almost all of us are losing income and losing home value and so on is unreasonable and impractical

    Your same logic applies to the teachers of DJUSD who live in Davis (of which there is a majority). Those same teachers are already paying for Measure W, gave to the Save Our Schools foundation, have spouses who have lost income, and have seen their homes drop in value.

    Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that the district’s teachers have to do it too. Not when there could be another way.

  21. Julian Anderson

    And to Rich, you should not put words into my mouth. Refering to my thoughts as “balderdash”, unreasonable and impratical was unnecessary and quite condescending.

    I never said that others in the community were not taking a hit, and I take offense at the way in which you manipulate my sentences to discredit a differing opinion.

  22. another district

    My father had a saying “Nobody wants to P-ss backwards.” So asking DJUSD teachers to take a cut is a truly bitter pill to swallow.

    Woodland, where teacher salaries and especially benefits never got as good for teachers as they did in Davis is having about the same number of layoffs as Davis. This despite having nothing like the Davis Schools Foundation or measure W and a larger student population.

    So if Davis had never paid more it would be different than giving back. Not economically different but certainly psychologically.

    Having said all this and with an understanding of the deep distress our economy is under I find it ironic that people have been so accepting of the failure of Sacramento to deal with the structural deficit. You can go all the way back to prop 13 on this but I would rather look at the effect on the state budget that the intransigence on taxes from the minority has had as well as the cutting of the car tax. These have been discussed at length but what has gone unnoticed is how the Governor spent the tax windfall from the stock boom of 2003- 2007 getting re-elected. When Bush cut capital gains taxes California did not follow, continuing to tax capital gains as ordinary income. California had no choice since prop 13 limited property taxes it was impossible to follow Bush on capital gains. When Google went public it resulted in a huge one time net tax increase for the state. The Governor facing resentment over his failed special election in 2005 spent every penny in the treasury pumping up public sector workers salaries.It worked and he got re-elected. Now the chickens have come home to roost on the economy and the Governor wants to take it back.

    This brings me back to my father because nobody wants to p-ss backwards. Now blaming the teachers seems a little short sighted. They are not the ones who set the cola or held up the budget or refused to raise taxes. They negotiated a contract in good faith based on the numbers as they were presented.

    The need for teacher cuts was cast in the Sacramento when the budget was passed. To say the teachers are responsible for the layoffs of others in their district misses the big picture. If California wanted to not have teacher layoffs it should have passed a budget that increased revenue enough to prevent them. How much more would each of us need to pay. Even if the entire 14 billion in cuts was from education that is less than $500 per resident. Now 4% of the $64,000 average teacher salary in Davis is $2560 cut per teacher. So it seems you are suggesting that teachers take a much bigger hit than the taxpayers in general or that somehow the layoffs dictated by Sacramento budgeting is the responsibility of the teachers in the classroom.

  23. Robin W

    I am appalled that the more senior teachers are willing to sacrifice the younger teachers rather than have everyone take a small pay cut. The teachers who are laid off will not be able to find other jobs in teaching or in any other field. What happened to compassion and concern for others?

  24. DJUSD teacher

    It’s easy to criticize when it’s not your salary being cut. This is not meant to demean anyone who has in fact seen their salary cut or have been furloughed. But you are asking us, the teachers of the school district, to give up a salary that is not even up to date with the cost of living.

    Did you know that we have not received the COLAS given by the state for the past several years?

    Did you know that a pay cut is PERMANENT and impacts our salary and step scale, as well as our retirement?

    Did you know that we receive less in benefits that in neighboring districts?

    Yes, we are worried about teachers with less seniority who could be facing pink slips and termination. At the same time, we believe that the school district can find other solutions BEFORE asking the teaching staff to give up part of their salaries. There are positions and programs that can be trimmed first.

    As far as I am concerned, show me that first and then talk to me about a pay reduction. Many of us do not believe that the district has fairly gone about this. Salary is a negotiated item that cannot be done in a public court of opinion, which is exactly what the schoolboard and the district has done to us. This strongarming and manipulation in public is fundamentally wrong and quite devious.

    If I could see that every other option was fully explored, then I would be more willing to consider sacrificing part of my already SMALL pay (despite what some on here are implying) to help fight the good fight.

    But too many of you are jumping to the conclusion that I and many of my fellow teachers are selfish and unwilling to cooperate. We have not seen DJUSD move aggressively to find other solutions. So why should we willingly say “Okay, take my pay”?

    Times are hard for everyone, yes. But those very same hard times are affecting me and now people on here are demanding (with aggression and insistance) that I should willingly make my hard times even harder.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”I’m not surprised to find a chain of blog postings from Mr. Rifkin trying to discredit my opinions. His postings in the past have a continual pattern of not supporting Davis teachers and their effectiveness.”[/i]

    I’m not surprised to see your ad hominem attack, Julian.

    I do credit you for pointing out a few courses which are undersubscribed and thus are probably worthy candidates for elimination. While gettting rid of them won’t prevent job loss, if a certain foreign language class can only attract a dozen students, while another has 30 kids, it would make sense (at this time) to eliminate the undersubscribed course. However, it is my understanding — based on listening to the school board meetings for the last couple of months — tht the total savings from such excisions won’t add up to much at all. I also recall someone saying at one meeting that most of the low-enrollment classes serve “special needs” students and thus it isn’t possible to get rid of those classes and move the students into fully subscribed classes. But I’m sure, nonetheless, that there are classes and administrative positions which could be cut — just not enough to avoid either a small pay cut or a big layoff.

    [i]”Good schools start with good teachers, despite Mr. Rifkin’s past claims to the opposite.”[/i]

    I have repeated saidly on this blog and in other forums that good teachers are undervalued and underpaid, and I have never disparaged the value of good teachers. Unfortunately, teachers’ unions have generally opposed paying teacheres based on merit. They also don’t want teachers laid off based on demerit. (The DTA, for example, fought to have layoffs based solely on seniority in the CBA.) As such, when the district fires up to 40 teachers next year, it won’t be the worst of the lot to leave. Many of those losing their jobs, due to the DTA’s intransigence, will be young, energetic and enthusiastic, and among the best the district employs.

  26. music lover

    Julian,

    “This board has been filled with discussion about the new offering of a Baroque Orchestra. In addition to that absurbdity, did you know that the Orchestra currently has TWO teachers for one course? The orchestra director has an assistant who is paid a .2 FTE for that class. Entirely unnecessary.”

    I agree with you that this situation is entirely unnecessary and needs to be fixed.

    HS band program has three classes, total enrollment of ~150 (average of 50/class). Choir has 4 groups and ~130 (average of ~32/class). Orchestra has 2 groups, 125 students (average of 62/class) with more to come next year.

    Since you are scandalized by full time teachers having only 80 students, how many students would you like to see stuffed into two music classes before you would allow for a separate third one?

    The orchestra program was given .2 FTE extra because it was already unwieldy to rehearse so many students in one class and they couldn’t get a third orchestra. That .2 FTE will convert into the third orchestra next year. Thank God!

  27. Julian Anderson

    Contrary to what you state, Rich, I did indeed counter your argument with substance and evidence. And do you intentionally set out to demean and condescend in all of your replies to people you disagree with? It’s unfortunate that I cannot express a differing opinion without you indirectly AND directly attacking me. If you are compelled to reply to this mesage, let’s see if you can do it this time without that undertone of sarcasm and contempt that permeates your responses.

    There is a fallacy in your argument that the “young, energetic and enthusiatic” are among the best the district employs. They are also the new and inexperienced.

    Your argument, Rich, is inherently biased towards teachers with seniority, which makes little sense. My friend’s children attended Davis High School and one son has had wildly different experiences in his social studies classes during his sophomore, junior, and senior year. When he was a sophomore, his history class was taught by a new teacher. That “youthful energy” was naive, immature, and she was ineffective at providing a meaningful education. In contrast, his AP US History teacher during his junior year was a teacher of many years experience who he ranks as one of the best teachers he has ever had. That same teacher was his AP Human Geography teacher and who has the skills, insight, and experience to be “among the best the district employs” as you so state. The teacher’s knowledge and skills came from years of experience in the classroom and knowing how to reach and teach students.

    The same situation applies to his daughter who had a junior year English class taught by a “young and energetic” teacher who did not effectively discuss the novels and did not teach them how to write. In contrast, her sophomore year and senior year English teachers were teachers of many years experience who applied that knowledge to their teaching to make it meaningful, relevant and educational. Again, their experience is what makes them “the best the district employs.

    I do not disagree with your argument that teachers’ unions do not promote merit-based pay or that they actively fight to protect seniority. But I will contend that you are incorrectly singing the praises of the ‘young, energetic and enthusiastic’ and that your reasoning on this is wrong. This is not to say that the newer teachers are not vital and important. But they are not across-the-board necessarily the “best” as you say. Yes, there are definitely veteran teachers who long ago ceased to be effective. But there are indeed many at the high school, junior highs, and elementary who are senior teachers that continue to highly educate and motivate our students because they have the knowledge and experience of years of knowing what works.

  28. Don Shor

    “Did you know that we have not received the COLAS given by the state for the past several years?”

    According to figures from DJUSD, between 2002-2007 certificate personnel salaries increased 19%. Statutory COLA during that period totaled 20.6%. The Consumer Price Index totaled 19.3%.

    “… we believe that the school district can find other solutions BEFORE asking the teaching staff to give up part of their salaries.”

    Many others believe that the other options have been explored and fall short of what would be required to achieve a sound budget that will pass the county board requirements. But if you have ideas that will achieve the savings needed, please suggest them.

  29. DJUSD teacher

    From a veteran teacher of 10 years who is: a) not burned out b) still full of energy c) still excited by her students d) still loving the job THANK YOU to Mr. Anderson for standing up for what we provide and have to offer. We DO want what is best for the students and we believe that they do indeed come first. At the same time, in order to give them the BEST you need to provide for the BEST for your employees (i.e. teachers) Pay less, get less. And I do know that there are money problems right now. But like others on here are saying, Hammond and Friends need to work harder to identify other peripheral services that can be cut FIRST before coming to DTA for cuts. Show us all the possiblities before pushing us to give up our pay. My husband is a state worker and we are already down almost 10 percent for his salary. I don’t want to willingly and unnecessarily give up 4 percent if I don’t have to. We already gave to SOS and we voted for Meausre W. How much more am I expected to give?

    Rich Rifkin: Has the Davis Enterprise reduced your salary yet? (and maybe they have – I know that they are struggling too)

  30. Don Shor

    A comment made to me by a board member during the Measure W campaign was “teachers = programs.” So when voters were being asked to vote to tax themselves (and all other property owners), it was to pay for teachers — to preserve programs. The flip side of that is: when you are suggesting specific courses and programs that you consider unnecessary, you are really saying: get rid of teachers. It doesn’t matter if the course is Level 5 Spanish or Baroque Orchestra. The point of discontinuing the course is to reduce the number of teachers needed. You are arguing for layoffs instead of salary cuts.

    After looking at the numbers in great detail, I really think the district’s only choice is between layoffs and salary reductions. That applies to administrators, certificated salaries, and all other district employees. There just aren’t enough dollars in all the other categories (books, services, operating costs, etc.) to cut. But if you have ideas, by all means bring them to a business advisory committee meeting, or post them.

  31. Don Shor

    I agree, Julian. My kids went through this district with teachers ranging from veterans to some who were managing a classroom for the very first time. There are advantages to each, but when I was a classroom volunteer in the latter case I could see the advantages experience would have provided in a room full of rambunctious kids.
    Through it all, though, I can only think of a couple that I considered sub-par. IMO Davis has really outstanding teachers.

  32. wdf

    [i]The high school and the junior highs also offers ‘study skills’ classes known as AVID, but the students who come out of AVID do not demonstrate any improved skill difference or better learning strategies.[/i]

    How do you know this? Are you someone with access to student records?

  33. Jack Spear

    With two kids having gone through the Davis schools, I can say with confidence that

    1. There are teachers in Davis who have no business being in a classroom. They have no pride in their work. They do not teach the subjects they claim to be teaching.

    2. These are not the teachers that will be laid off.

    3. Any effort to rectify poor teaching, either by retraining or replacement, is opposed by the DTA.

    4. There is no plausible scenario in which things will improve other than complete collapse of the system and its replacement by a more rational structure. This seems to be on the horizon. It will likely happen first in other municipalities and government agencies, but financial collapse will soon come to Davis too. Eventually, teachers will lose their pensions and be rehired at much lower salaries, if at all.

    We have had 8 years of financial mismanagement by the Bush administration and congress, The Obama crew, rather than changing course, is accelerating towards the cliff that’s ahead of us. Unfortunately we are past the point where the problem can be fixed.

  34. state worker

    Such a heated discussion. People should lay off the teachers. It isn’t easy for any of them. And if “teachers=program” then the school board should do everything possible to preserve both. Want a strong program? Keep strong teachers. Strong teachers are teachers who are valued at 100%. Strong teachers are not 96%. Yes, that might mean losing a few if things are as bad as it is, but after resignations and retirements, the actual number won’t be 40 but more like 20 based on DTA predictions I have heard. I agree with those earlier though who argue that cutting salaries should be the last thing done to teachers. Some of the arguments are that everyone out there is either furloughed or giving up money so teachers should too. Why should the school district choose that option instead of doing, like other suggest, some house cleaning? How many out here have actually been furloughed or had their salary cut? I work for the state and I’m down $300 a month. I don’t recommend it.

  35. PRED Old Timer

    What is boils down to is accept pay cuts and try to mitigate the damage or start in with layoffs. There is no magic money coming. The teachers can act like spoiled children all they want but it doesn’t fix a darn thing.

    Has anyone seen the piece on the violent armed robbery at the Taco bell? Things are changing out there and Davis has to come to grips with this new reality. It’s not fun, it’s not pleasant, but it must be dealt with.

  36. I See Trouble Ahead

    1) Julian Anderson is making some good points on where house cleaning needs to start at DJUSD. I have always believed there is “pork” in the schools. If DJUSD did some house cleaning, then teachers might be more willing to take the pay cut. DJUSD needs to listen to what teachers have to say, make some obviously needed cuts to show DJUSD’s good faith. Instead DJUSD is holding employer/employee bargaining sessions in public, using strong arm tactics. Typical DJUSD.
    2) AVID is a complete waste. My son went through this program, which warehouses kids w learning disabilities in w troublemakers. It is a complete disaster. My son almost ended up knifed bc of this ill conceived program. Law enforcement did get involved, thank goodness.
    3) Firing based on merit is an ill conceived idea. It sounds good from an idealistic point of view, but won’t work as a practical matter. Who decides which teacher is effective? How do you measure it? How good a teacher is turns out to be a very subjective/political thing.
    4) There are only two solutions here, or a combination thereof – teachers take a pay cut, or teachers get fired/program cuts take place. Neither one is desirable, but at least one is necessary. There just isn’t enough money to go around.

    One sobering thought – foreclosures throughout the nation are on the rise bc people are getting laid off and cannot make their mortgage payments. Laying people off hurts everyone in the long run. The foreclosure mess is a runaway frieght train…

  37. Rich Rifkin

    [b]Julian[/b]: [i]”Your argument, Rich, is inherently biased towards teachers with seniority, which makes little sense.”[/i]

    I have no bias whatsoever regarding a teacher’s tenure. None. Regardless, the rest of your argument suggests [i]you think[/i] I have a bias [i]against[/i] senior teachers, not [i]toward them[/i], as you mistakenly say above. Your basis for this misjudgment is because I noted that “Many of those losing their jobs, due to the DTA’s intransigence, will be young, energetic and enthusiastic, and among the best the district employs.” I stand behind that statement. That does not mean that some young teachers are not among the best at that jobs. It simply is a fact that it will be the lowest on the seniority scale who will be fired, not the lowest on the merit scale. My own experience at Davis High School was that my very best and my very worst teachers were those with the most experience. I had a chemistry teacher at DHS who was an alcoholic and a terrible teacher who did not belong in the classroom. He had been on the job a long time, back then, and could not be fired. I had a US history teacher who was (from his background as a boxer) punch drunk. I also had great teachers who were veterans, like Mrs. Moldenhauer, Mr. Ross, Ms. Kendall and Ms. Sprague. Another very good teacher I had was Mr. Tashima. I recall in the post-Prop 13 situation, Gene Tashima was one of the teachers who was going to be laid off, because he lacked seniority. (He was ultimately retained.) Mr. Tashima was not put on the pink-slip list because he was not a great math teacher. He was in that position simply because he lacked seniority, even though he was better at his job than some others who had been there longer. My belief is that there is not a strong correlation between ability to teach and longevity. There is some, as the worst teachers do tend to leave the profession earlier. But there are also a handful of older teachers in most institutions who never were or no longer are good teachers. Those folks, alas, don’t get fired when terrible situations, like the one we are now in, arise. The hammer falls only on those who have been there less time, and not because those young folks are bad at their jobs.

  38. another district

    Just like anything else there are good avid programs and bad ones. I have seen terrific avid programs and avid, started in Southern California has gone international. It has done so with good reason. Its sad that your experience with avid was a bad one and it could be possible that Davis with its well educated population isn’t a good fit for this program. This may be the reason that an avid position is on the block. Still, please don’t denigrate all of avid because it didn’t work for you.

  39. Doug Minnis

    It is unfortunate that the two options to the current district budget problems are pink slips or salary cuts. Either option has long-term negative impact on the teaching profession and the quality of education the children of Davis will receive.

    In my 60 years in the teaching profession I have seen many problems in districts that were solved with pink slips or salary cuts. Each time the ripple efect has been most harmful.

    Teaching attracts a good number of most talented and idealistic young people who have the ability to be successful at many jobs. Each time I have seen pink slips used the most talented left for more profitable positions and they were never recruited back to teaching.

    Applications for teacher education programs are down. I recently heard of an administrator in a neighboring district who advised a group of potential teachers that they should consider other occupations if they were not planning to be mathematics or science teachers. I am sure that the most talented among such a group will take the advise,

    Trying to rebuild the teaching cadre after a pink slip or salary cut period will result in a teacher shortage. Usually the recover period is typified by emergency credentials and a decline in professional talent.

    I am not ready to accept these two devastating options. I suggest we as a community continue to struggle to find other options.

    We are in this financial mess because the majority of voters in the state were not able to convince a minority to increase taxes enough to pay for necessary services. This minority made welchers of us all. I do not know many Davis folks who would not have accepted the suggested tax increase.

    Because the taxes were blocked, we are asking teachers to accept the cost of the minority action. There is no request that all employed citizens of the community share in this assessment. This is not acceptable to me. I suggest the following as a beginning of a Davis struggle to right the local fiscal crisis.

    If someone will provide a way to compute a self-assessment for as much as the proposed taxes would have cost I am willing to pay that amount to the Davis Schools Foundation. I would like to see others do the same. Such a program would offer the non-public employees to pay for services rendered.

    I also suggest that the Davis School Foundation use the Farmer’s Market Saturday community meetings to pass the collection plate. It may not result in much money, but it makes the effort to save the quality of Education in Davis obvious. It also will offer the opportunity to respond to the observation by some that the community is weary of financial support of the schools. The fact that we may be a bit poorer does not mean we are less resolved.

  40. Ph.Diva

    “We are big supporters of the system and feel very strongly that it is the parent’s responsibility to step in and cover any deficit, not lay it on the doorstep of the rest of the community. Digging deep is our shared responsibility as parents of students here.”

    I’m not necessarily for levying more taxes, but strongly disagree with your premise here. A good educational system and an educated populace benefit the entire nation–even those who elect to not have children–and so are the responsibility of everyone–even those who do not have children.

  41. Obamas tough Choice

    “President Obama has called on this nation to sacrifice, engage in a joint sacrifice in order to get this country upon its feet. For those who criticized the prior administration for failing to make such as call when the the US was attacked on 9/11, it is music to our ear. But we must heed the call.”

    Yes, Obama has made a really tough choice by asking us to sacrifice to save his job because he doesn’t know what to do. This is not music to my ear. This is Obama saying “I don’t know what to do, so you are going to have to make the sacrifices.” This is Obama making excuses for his own ineptness by blaming the country.

    This kind of rhetoric is not all that unusual for people like Obama.

    The most influential person in his life according to his own autobiography is someone who says “goddamn” america.

    His own handpicked attorney General called America a nation of cowards on race (excuse me Mr. Holder, but I am freely willing to tell you exactly what I think of you right to your face)

    Obama called the mortgage meltdown “America’s collective failure” (in other words its our fault)

    Then Obama tells us to turn our own Thermostats down and give up our SUV’s while his is really high and he goes around in the ultimate gas guzzler Air-Force-One as if his own rules should apply to us and not himself.

    And now Obama wants “us to sacrifice” while he has his cushy yale harvard latte sipping lifestyle.
    Mr. President, people did vote for you. They supported you. But let me remind you that that support is not unconditional, and you damned well better get your act together real quick or you will be out the door.

    😛

  42. another district

    “I had a Chemistry teacher at DHS who was an alcoholic.”

    This sort of personal vitriol seems to provide much of the anecdotal evidence against my profession. The failure wasn’t that the teacher wasn’t fired. The failure was that the teacher wasn’t sent to rehab.

    There seems to be a sense that there should be some easy way to get rid of teachers. I would like to know what you people propose for an evaluation system if you were to live in the world that you dream of instead of the one you live in currently. I have been evaluted at least once a year on average for 20 years. Some have been great others, especially at the beginning, showed areas of concern. I work on a small campus and I have more respect for some of my collegues than I do for others and I am sure they feel the same about me. Yet I don’t think one of them is so incompetent that they should be fired. Teaching is a tough job,make no mistake, the cavalier attitude of some of the posters on here towards teachers is so palpable that it is disheartening. Instead of paycuts you would throw out seasoned veterans before beginners, based on what criteria? What it feels like is an attack on all of us, the good, the bad and the ugly. I just hope it isn’t spelling.

    BTW, the only thing I have heard from CTA is that they are asking people to turn out after school to protest next Friday when the pink slips are due to hit.

  43. Julian Anderson

    And there goes Rifkin, manipulating words again. Sigh.

    Re-read your post Rich. You indeed have a bias against teachers with seniority and your comments back up this thread support that. Stop twisting words around and trying to prove your believed superiority with the English language. Your postings on the People’s Vanguagd over the past year constantly hammers teachers as being overpaid, underworked, and ineffective. It is common knowledge amongst many of us readers where you stand.

    The truth is there are good teachers and there are bad teachers.

    Just like bloggers.

  44. TTA has a point.

    I have always thought there is “pork” in our school system. Some of the programs/positions (e.g. Stage Technician) seem frivolous to me. However, teachers are insiders, and are more apt to know what classes are underenrolled, what classes do need the axe. Yet the best the teachers could come up with is “We shouldn’t be spending $10 millon on a stadium right now”, which has absolutely nothing to do with operating expenses and the whole teacher lay-off debacle.

    If the teachers don’t want to be seen as unreasonable in refusing to take a pay cut, then their leadership should come up w a defined list of cuts that need to happen in their opinion, that would negate the necessity of instituting a pay cut. So far, teachers don’t seem to be coming up with anything other than irrelavancies or vague ideas. They really need to get their act together, and come up with some solid proposals. If not, then 40 teachers will be let go. And I as a citizen will accept the fact that the DJUSD identified the fat that needed to be trimmed. What else can citizens think?

    DPD has it right in one sense. There is not as much money to go around now. So either the teachers have to take a pay cut, or programs have to be cut. Teachers apparently think the way to go is program cuts. I don’t necessarily disagree. But I would feel a whole lot more comfortable if there seemed to be a coherent plan for making the program cuts. It seems somewhat haphazard, and probably has more to do w seniority than substance.

    And, I might add, Colby taking a 5% raise is despicable. There is no excuse for that, IMHO! Also, I am tired of the whining by the School Board about how terrible they feel about all of this. If you can’t take the heat, then get the heck out of the kitchen! We are not interested in hearing how sorry you are about making tough decisions. All we are interested in hearing is WHY you made the decisions you did.

    Tough Times ahead is on to something here. We need to cut extras. If there are positions like “stage technician” ,”Japanese 10″ while cutting math, music, and/or science, teachers, our priorities are backward. We don’t need the DTA to take paycuts. What we need is for the school board to get rid of unnecessary fat or pork, which means losing unnecessary positions.

    If Chinese 4 or Japanese 10, stage technician, horticulture, and anything else along those lines need to go before math, music, science or reading. The school board needs to cut those first. It is about priorities. I don’t know how many positions those are, but they need to be the first to go.

    Also, I think it is wrong for certain administrators to be making double or more of a teacher’s salary. That is unfair. A double % cut does not make it even because they get paid over 300% more. That needs to stop, and I don’t care if it makes up a huge percent of the budget or not. It is the princple of the matter and James Hammond needs to do the right thing and halve his own salary because it is the right thing to do while everyone else has to sacrifice. 😉

  45. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Your postings on the People’s Vanguagd over the past year constantly hammers teachers as being overpaid, underworked, and ineffective.”[/i]

    I have never said or implied that good teachers in Davis have ever been “overpaid, underworked or ineffective. In fact, I have said the exact opposite repeatedly. Your charge is pure calumny.
    –[url]http://lexicondaily.blogspot.com[/url

  46. another district

    But you have repeatedly expressed a view that teachers should give up compensation in one form or another to balance the budget. This view rightly or wrongly is seen by many to be anti-teacher.

  47. David M. Greenwald

    I don’t know why that’s anti-teacher rather than the unfortunate reality of the situation we face in Davis and across the state.

  48. another district

    TTA has a point:

    Why is it the responsibility of the DTA to come up with a list of cuts, take a paycut or seem unreasonable? They have a contract and are living up to their responsibilities under the contract. They don’t have the power to implement any cuts they identify, that is the job of the trustees. They didn’t create the budget mess so why should they be held responsible for it? The reality here is that you want to blame the teachers for the fiscal mess. The district has a remedy for the insolvancy, layoffs. If you don’t like the layoffs instead of putting your hand into the pocket of the teachers why not put in into your own and cough up the $2500 that people are suggesting the teachers contribute. To put up less is simply asking others to give more than you are willing to pay yourself.

  49. another district

    As I said rightly or wrongly but also remember Rifkin has written about his opposition to tenure and measure W as well, although he later claimed he voted for W. So when you put it all together it comes across as anti-teacher. But as I said above the pay cut being suggested is an average of $2500 per teacher. The community wants to balance this budget on the backs of the teachers. Until people pony up 4% more of their pretax income for the schools they shouldn’t be demanding as much from the teachers.

  50. Julian Anderson

    Rich, deny it all you want but I am not making untruthful charges. I have repeatedly read over the past year or two your barrage on teachers, the fact that the Davis schools are good because of the students not the teachers, and that they are paid highly and work a short work year.

    For someone who is so adamant to prove himself, why don’t you stand by your statements? You have every right to them and while I disagree with your position, that is the nature of debate.

    “Another District” said it best when s/he asked why it is the responsibility of DTA to solve the budget problem. But so many of you here are ready to say that the teachers are wrong for not wanting to readily give up 4 percent of their contract.

    Again, I wonder how many of those calling for teachers to give up part of their salaries have done the same?

    I read that Save The Schools is revving up their campaign again. I am ready to donate to show my support.

  51. David M. Greenwald

    “Why is it the responsibility of the DTA to come up with a list of cuts, take a paycut or seem unreasonable? They have a contract and are living up to their responsibilities under the contract. “

    It’s very simple. The district fiscal staff has worked out a budget that puts the district into a positive budget certification. That budget contains layoffs for 40 teachers and 16 other individuals (give or take).

    they argue that the given situation requires cuts from the teacher side. Given that teachers account for two-thirds of the budget, it seems likely that is the case. But if DTA does not think it is the case and believes there is an alternative it is in their best interest to come up with that alternative or you know what the result will be.

    The DTA has a choice at this point. The district has made their assessment. That leaves them with an alternative–layoffs, paycuts or finding a third option.

  52. another district

    I have suggested that third option, that the community donate the same amount or an equal percentage of their paychecks as you are asking the teachers to donate. If not don’t complain about the teachers being responsible for the layoffs, they are no more responsible than anyone else in this community and they should not be asked to give up more than anyone else in this community. The union does many things but paying one teacher’s salary at the expense of another teacher’s salaries is not one of them. If you disagee please explain why teachers should give up more than anyone else to subsidize the Davis schools. I just don’t get it.

  53. David M. Greenwald

    The community has already given $1.7 million last year to prevent layoffs. It also voted 3 to 1 to give another $2.5 million per year for the next three years. I wait for the first move by the teachers before helping as I did last year with the Dollar-a-Day campaign.

  54. Rich Rifkin

    ANOTHER: “But you have repeatedly expressed a view that teachers should give up compensation in one form or another to balance the budget. This view rightly or wrongly is seen by many to be anti-teacher.”

    For you to say that my view on this is anti-teacher makes no sense. Please reconsider your conclusion. If the alternative is firing 40 teachers or retaing all teachers but at a slightly lower wage is anti-teacher, that makes no sense to me.

    Because my position is contrary to the DTA’s, it’s fair to call my view anti-teachers’ union. However, I am standing up for those teachers who will be fired; and in so doing, standing up for the children who would be hurt by their loss.

  55. Rich Rifkin

    ANOTHER: “Why is it the responsibility of the DTA to come up with a list of cuts, take a paycut or seem unreasonable? [u]They have a contract[/u] and are living up to their responsibilities under the contract.”

    The contract expires June 30. Thus, new terms will apply next year. The old contract has language which says that the conditions and terms of it remain in effect if there is no new agreement in place, unless one party notifies the other (in January) of a wish to change specific terms, such as salaries. I believe the district gave that notification.

  56. skeptic

    “Why is it the responsibility of the DTA to come up with a list of cuts, take a paycut or seem unreasonable? They have a contract and are living up to their responsibilities under the contract.”

    I agree with this statement.

    Asking DTA to come up with a list of cuts puts them in the awkward position of working against their own members who might teach some of those classes.

    Most teachers are indeed good, honorable people. But some of the most malicious back-stabbing and negative talk can originate among teachers as well. You have to wonder if individuals are really looking at the big picture or advocating for their own continued employment.

    For instance, one DTA comment is that the secondary school has more than an average number of courses that should be cut back. Are these observations originating from the elementary teachers? Would the teachers of those courses agree that this is a waste?

    If you wanted to watch DTA implode from dissension and infighting, that might be the way to go — tell them to declare where the waste is in teaching.

    DTA suggestions should be welcome, but viewed w/ some skepticism.

  57. Rich Rifkin

    Rich, deny it all you want but I am not making untruthful charges. I have repeatedly read over the past year or two your barrage on teachers, the fact that the Davis schools are good because of the students not the teachers, and that they are paid highly and work a short work year.”

    Reading what ANOTHER DISTRICT said clued me in to your strange thinking, Julian. You equate holding any position different than the DTA as being “anti-teacher.” That’s the only explanation I can come up with for your absurd notion that I am “anti-teacher.” FWIW, I should tell you that I count a few teachers in he Davis school district and teachers in other districts in California among my closest friends.

  58. Julian Anderson

    Rich, the only strange thinking around here is yours and the revisionist history that you insist on creating, as well as a desire to put down any opinion that is contrary to yours.

    Again, have you had to give up any of your salary? Easy to ask others to do so though.

    And for the record, I do not hold that any position different than the DTA’s is “anti-teacher”. But your position as posted on this blog and this very thread has been. The only absurbity is your continued denials.

  59. wdf

    [url]Some of the programs/positions (e.g. Stage Technician) seem frivolous to me.[/url]

    The DHS auditorium (Brunelle Auditorium) gets plenty of use. You can’t rely on the custodial staff to take care of it. There’s a hydraulic section of the stage, lights, sound system, curtains, accoustic walls. I don’t know if the Stage Technician is full time, but she’s at least responsible for teaching the stagecraft class, which trains students to run the everything and is funded by money from the County Board of Education. There are already current savings by having trained volunteer students run things.

    If you eliminate the Stage Technician, then you have to give serious consideration to shuttering the auditorium. There is no other facility in the district that can comfortably hold that size of audience.

  60. another district

    “among my closest friends.” There is an old joke my jewish father told me. He said the three biggest lies in the world are:
    1. Your check is in the mail
    2. Some of my best friends are jewish
    3. I’ sterile

    Rich you seem to think that being anti-union is different than being anti-teacher. I wonder how many teachers would agree with this. You are correct we see the union as being made up of teachers. The union’s interest is the interest of the teachers. You will not divide and conquer the teachers with this line of attack. This is why seniority is important, those that have the most time vested in their careers get the most protection. Those with the least time vested get the least protection. When push comes to shove who has the best chance of recovering and finding a new carreer, someone young or someone old? We have reached a real low when this concept needs to be explained.

  61. Rich Rifkin

    Earlier this week, there was a disussion on education policy between Megan McArdle of The Atlantic and Dana Goldstein of The American Prospect on blogging heads. Among the topics they discuss are the notion of merit pay for teachers and the changes proposed in the Washington DC school system. The audio and video quality is not great, but the interview is well informed:
    [url]http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/18134[/url]

  62. skeptic

    “This is why seniority is important, those that have the most time vested in their careers get the most protection. Those with the least time vested get the least protection.”

    But those with the most seniority maybe thinking more about preserving their retirement than in the quality of education in the district. Younger teachers are looking forward to building their careers. You can get skewed self-interest that may not correspond to the best thing for the students.

    Those young members are also your future members. How much loyalty do you generate if their memories of their early careers are anxieties about getting pushed off the ship?

  63. another district

    Skeptic:

    I think about retirement everyday but I don’t let it get in the way of my job. You want a better system suggest one. I asked a while back for suggestions nobody spoke up. This seems to always be the case. I have repeatedly asked on different threads for people who criticize the seniority and tenure system to suggest something as an alternative yet I never see anyone post anything. The closest I have heard was Rifkin who once proposed offering old teachers alternative job placements. Of course this happens when people get out of the classroom and take administrative positions.

  64. another district

    Looking at WDF’s links to what is happening in other districts is informative. I have yet to see any other ditricts push for paycuts like Davis has. It seems that Davis has a more conservative slant on teacher pay than Rocklin or Roseville.

  65. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”The closest I have heard was [b]Rifkin[/b] who once proposed offering old teachers alternative job placements.”[/i]

    What?! I never said that. I don’t even understand what that would entail. If you can prove me wrong, by linking to where I said anything like that about alternative job placements for old teachers, I’ll happily apologize and buy you a large coffee drink for your efforts.

  66. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, I don’t recall anyone else on Vanguard suggesting “alternative job placements” either, though it’s possible someone did and you mistakenly recalled that it was me.

    I should repeat: I have no problem with old teachers; no problem with experienced teachers; no problem with teachers of any age who do a good job in the classroom for their students. I do have a problem with the idea that just because someone has more years on the job that person makes more money. I believe in a merit pay system, where teachers whose students make the most progress in a school year are rewarded for the success of their kids. I concede though, that in some cases, it is not easy to objectively measure progress, and in those cases, some subjectivity (such as a principal’s evaluation or peer review) would have to play a part.

  67. Jack Spear

    “those that have the most time vested in their careers get the most protection. Those with the least time vested get the least protection. When push comes to shove who has the best chance of recovering and finding a new carreer, someone young or someone old? We have reached a real low when this concept needs to be explained.”

    Yes, it’s very clear why the teachers like this. But as a parent, my main interest is in the quality of the education my child gets. And seniority keeps teachers in the Davis schools who do not belong there.

    I won’t give names. But there are teachers doing real damage in our schools. They teach so badly that kids come out hating math and science . Every parent knows who they are. They won’t be the ones laid off.

  68. Fed up with unions

    Julian Anderson…don’t you guys get it? This isn’t about teachers…or their jobs….this is about dealing with the reality of declining revenues and cutbacks that must be endured. I’m really not sure why the teacher’s union should have too much say in how the DJUSD wants to staff it’s needs. Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that the union isn’t interested in what is best for the education of our kids….they are interested in preserving well paying jobs with flexibility and relatively short work years for their most senior members, regardless of the impact on the students.

    If the union wants to cut jobs, then the first teachers to be let go should be the ones least qualified to deal with larger classes and less support. Any other solution is a less than optimal solution for the education of our children, who are hopefully learning that when an industry or company is unionized, it is the beginning of the end.

  69. another district

    The union doesn’t want to cut jobs. The budget from Sacramento demands cuts. So you have a better idea of who should be cut so lets just throw out contract language that has been in place for perhaps 50 years or more because its not a perfect solution. So easy to say so hard to change. You say you are fed up with unions. What would you prefer, sweatshops, serfdom, indentued servitude, slavery, no minimum wage, no labor law at all? What would you replace them with?

    Good try Rifkin but you already see the problem with merit pay, how do evaluate merit? When I taught honors science classes the goal was to get them prepared for higher level science classes and college. They went to Harvard, MIT, Brown, Stanford, UC and other top line Universities. Now I teach at risk students and the goal is to get them a high school diploma. In which case would I get the merit pay. What about the special ed teachers who work their asses off and see almost no progress. So you see what makes a good teacher may not be that easy to evaluate but let me give you some ideas that many on this blog would never even dream of as being important qualities because they would either take them for granted or really have no idea about what goes on in school:

    1. Is the person on time and prepared.
    2. Do they use up all their sick leave every year or have they any accumulated.
    3. Do they know the material and can they convey it at levels challanging to every student.
    4. Can they control the class.
    5. Do they pay attention to the individual needs of the students. Are they tuned into what is going on with every child’s needs.
    6. Can they hang in there when things don’t go as planned.
    7.Are they respectful of the school staff and their collegues. Do they understand that respect is earned.
    8. Are they able to admit mistakes.
    9. Can they teach it different ways for different learning styles.
    10. Does student work improve over time based on the educational objectives of the teacher within the context of the curriculum.
    A good evaluation tool seeks to observe these things and many more. Notice that being liked is not one of the criteria.

    I could go on and on but just this many variables would be extremely hard to evaluate for merit pay. And that is why its so easy for people that don’t spend their lives in school to try to reinvent the wheel yet so difficult to implement these changes. Teaching and learning are such complex tasks that simple rhetorical phrases like good teacher, bad teacher and merit pay really add nothing meaningful to the conversation.

  70. David M. Greenwald

    I’m with you on the merit pay issue. In my days in academia, I saw enough problems with teaching evaluations by professors and college students to want to avoid that pitfall. As much as you try to avoid the issue, there is a subjective element which makes it “political” in the small “p”/ workplace mentality. I just don’t see a good way to do it.

  71. I Admire & Respect Teachers

    I know everyone is passionate about their particular view, but I must say that it’s sad and unfortunate that we have teachers who are on the chopping block because of the budget. Teachers give so much to children and they truly do deserve to be paid much more than they are. Unfortunately the economic climate that we are living in at this time does not allow it.

    My hats off to teachers. I admire and respect the work you do. Thank you.

  72. Rich

    Merit pay is catching on all over the country. In places it is used, even the unions that fought it have changed their tunes. Most importantly, it has succeeded in improving student performance.

    A few good articles to read:
    “Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers” [url]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/education/18pay.html[/url]

    “Merit Pay for Teachers Shows Results”
    [url]http://blog.heritage.org/2008/01/30/merit-pay-for-teachers-shows-results/[/url]

    “Obama supports merit pay for teachers”
    [url]http://thehill.com/campaign-2008/obama-tackles-merit-pay-after-getting-nea-endorsement-2008-07-05.html[/url]

  73. wdf

    [i]Looking at WDF’s links to what is happening in other districts is informative. I have yet to see any other ditricts push for paycuts like Davis has. It seems that Davis has a more conservative slant on teacher pay than Rocklin or Roseville.[/i]

    If you rely on newspapers alone to get the full story, you might lack some nuances like whether teachers and other employees will take cuts or not. The latest Enterprise story (March 4) did discuss paycuts, but in other districts that issue maybe discussed more behind closed doors rather than in public meetings. Most of the recent school news stories have centered around pink slips ahead of the March 15 deadline.

    I would note that Davis has come off better than many nearby districts in issuing pink slips. If you link above, you will find that Fairfield-Suisun is issuing 286, Vacaville 81, and Dixon 65. But here are a few more stories, the first one explicitly about pay cuts.

    Lodi USD, Superintendent pay and budget issues:
    [url]http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2009/03/05/news/5_lusd_090305.txt[/url]

    Lodi USD, cell phones and budget cuts:
    [url]http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2009/03/07/news/6-cellphones-090307.txt[/url]

  74. Fed up with unions

    Another district and David Greenwald:

    The same arguments that you make regarding merit pay can be made by any industry and any group. Whether or not merit pay is done equitably and fair in any business is always up for discussion. However, many businesses still find a way to do it. The academic profession should also figure it out. The problem is that for whatever reason, there is a long history of protecting seniority and mediocre performance (eg the tenure system). Teachers should receive no more or no less protection than any other industry.

  75. David M. Greenwald

    You could be right. But there are several distinct disadvantages with teaching, and again this from my observation of how evaluations work at the college level, and I know that some are singled out for a variety of reasons that have little to do with quality of teaching.

    First, there is not clear-cut and visible output. In other words, how do you measure good teaching? In baseball I can tell the difference pretty clearly between a good hitter and a great hitter. In teaching, less so.

    Second, there is little direct supervision. In a lot of other industries there is direction supervision, in teaching there really isn’t. You may have an observer come in a few times, but even then, it’s a small snipet and the teacher knows you are there.

    Third, I know a number of professors who are good teachers, but they are tough, it’s hard to get good grades. On student evals they always get lower than other professors. That’s a political element.

    Fourth, along the same lines there is a political element which is why we have a whole host of protections ranging from tenure to other things.

    Put that altogether and I think it’s difficult to do a true merit pay.

    Personally, I don’t think bad teachers are so much the problem in schools as a number of other things that I would work on first.

  76. wdf

    [i]Did Board Members want to do this? No. Many of them were on the verge of tears. And it was genuine angst. Richard Harris who has at times put his foot in his mouth, told me a few weeks ago very somberly, “Where are these poor folks going to get a job if they lose theirs now?”[/i]

    I think David’s comment here added a little bit more melodrama than what I saw. The comments in response (“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”), as a result, missed the mark IMO. Board members clarified for public understanding that this wasn’t something they relished or particularly wanted to do, but something they had to do to meet their obligations of fiscal responsibility.

    There is room to debate how to make cuts, but arguing over whether tears were shed or not is silly.

  77. another district

    David measure W is what 120/year this equals about 0.2% of the average teachers salary and a dollar a day is 0.5%. So I would argue that before you ask teachers for 4% you should go into your own pocket somewhat deeper.

  78. David M. Greenwald

    Well I gave several hundred dollars last year then spent my April, May, and June in such poor shape financially that I at times had to choose between food and gas. So I would suggest you not be making judgments about how deeply *I* should go into my own pockets. I have not seen the teachers give anything yet. You know what, if the teachers agree for right now to take the paycut necessary to allow zero teachers to be laid off, I will agree to go out into the community and help raise money, as I did last year, to make sure none of them have to.

  79. David M. Greenwald

    But you know more to the point. County workers have been taking paycuts for quite some time now. I don’t see anyone raising money for them to get their full paycheck. Many will be laid off. I don’t see people paying money for them not to lose their jobs. They help poor people and other disadvantaged people. It’s not like their jobs aren’t important.

    Same with state workers who are taking paycuts and may face layoffs.

    Heck we lost 600,000 jobs across the country in February, are we raising money for them?

    I believe in education but at some level I think you’re being very selfish here.

  80. Lets get it right

    The issue here is not teacher performance and besides it is always difficult to judge a person when direct observation is so limited.

    The issue is lack of money and when faced with that you either try to find more revenue or you cut costs. The tax base of the State is shrinking and I would imagine the cuts being discussed now will get worse. For those who doubt how bad it is, open your eyes -many people are losing theirs job and more are seeing salaries cut. The people losing their jobs are faced with not getting another job anytime soon. I have never experienced an economy this bad and it really is time to share the pain.

    Hopefully Davis residents will give again, but also teachers will have to give up something and I would like to see the Union give up part of the $1000 per year of union dues (to help offset what the teachers are giving up). I agree teachers are underpaid but a teacher’s salary looks pretty good when compared to the salary of an unemployed person. A stark reality is that before the situation improves there will be both salary cuts as well as layoffs.

    If teachers cuts are necessary make sure there are very good reasons for the cuts. Layoffs should be the last resort. Perhaps some cuts could be avoided simply by asking some of the teachers to consider retirement now.

  81. another district

    But are you advocating that all these people take these cuts and blaming them if they don’t for the layoffs. Teachers may take cuts or they may not I really don’t know where the DTA is at. I do know you would expect them to be resistant and resent all these people telling them what they should do and then blaming them for the ecoonomic conditions of the country or the intransigence of the state’s Republicans on taxes and the 2/3 rule. This is what I find offensive along with them being asked to take a disproportionate hit relative to the rest of the community.

  82. David M. Greenwald

    I’m not advocating. In a perfect world, no one would take cuts and we’d pay teachers what they are worth. In the absence of that, we are in the game of mitigating damages while at the same time recognizing that everyone is in this boat in one way or another. The reality is that there is not enough money in the district to fund every teacher at current level. I have seen speculation that that assessment is not correct, but Bruce Colby has been over the numbers more than anyone here and he doesn’t believe that to be the case. I have been over the numbers countless times and I agree. So unless someone comes up with an alternative that’s where we are.

    Given those two choice, I prefer paycuts to layoffs.

  83. Rich

    “First, there is not clear-cut and visible output. In other words, how do you measure good teaching? In baseball I can tell the difference pretty clearly between a good hitter and a great hitter. In teaching, less so.”

    It is not that hard to compare apples-to-apples with teaching. What is much harder, of course, is apples-to-oranges.

    The clearest apples-to-apples analogy is with teachers at an elementary school. You measure the mean and median standing of an incoming class in a number of subject areas. You then measure those same subject areas at the end of a term. You can compare teachers in that school based on the progress of their students over the term, and you reward those whose students advanced the most relative to where they started. The best teachers always help their students make the most progress.

    Some merit-based programs modify this slightly by including a principal’s evaluation to credit or dock individual teachers on more subjective criteria, such as how well they help or work with their fellow teachers and how they interact with students’ families.

    A Stanford study on merit-based systems — it was published in 2007 but I could not find it on-line, today — asked the question, “Do these programs discourage teacher-to-teacher mentoring?” That’s an important question, because it logically follows that a new teacher might need guidance from an experienced teacher, but won’t get it if the experienced teacher’s help would result in a loss of pay. The Stanford study found this does not happen any more in merit-based schools than in traditional programs. There was a difference, however, in that teachers in merit-based programs sought out help more from other teachers and principals in their districts in order to improve their performances. In traditional programs, teachers are much less apt to seek out help.

    Where you get apples-to-oranges usually is in the higher grades. Try to objectively compare the performance of a music teacher with one teaching auto mechanics. Yet merit programs have successfully tackled this challenge. It is not perfectly objective. It can’t be. But that does not mean the merit systems don’t work in improving performance. They involve more peer-to-peer review principal oversight, student evaluations, and objective testing of students from start to finish, comparing the progress with progress in the same courses previously measured.

  84. Lets get it right

    The issue here is not teacher performance and besides it is always difficult to judge a person when direct observation is so limited.

    The issue is lack of money and when faced with that you either try to find more revenue or you cut costs. The tax base of the State is shrinking and I would imagine the cuts being discussed now will get worse. For those who doubt how bad it is, open your eyes -many people are losing theirs job and more are seeing salaries cut. The people losing their jobs are faced with not getting another job anytime soon. I have never experienced an economy this bad and it really is time to share the pain.

    Hopefully Davis residents will give again, but also teachers will have to give up something and I would like to see the Union give up part of the $1000 per year of union dues (to help offset what the teachers are giving up). I agree teachers are underpaid but a teacher’s salary looks pretty good when compared to the the salary of an unemployed person. A stark reality is that before the situation improves there will be both salary cuts as well as layoffs.

    If teachers cuts are necessary make sure there are very good reasons for the cuts. Layoffs should be the last resort. Perhaps some cuts could be avoided simply by asking some of the teachers to consider retirement now.

  85. Low cost solutions

    I’m not advocating. In a perfect world, no one would take cuts and we’d pay teachers what they are worth. In the absence of that, we are in the game of mitigating damages while at the same time recognizing that everyone is in this boat in one way or another. The reality is that there is not enough money in the district to fund every teacher at current level.

    I agree with you somewhat but I have to caution you. Yes it is not a perfect world and tough choices have to be made. Yet those tough choices are not being made by the school board or the DTA.

    The school board says we have to layoff 20 teachers and there is no way around it and we have to sacrifice. Yet many of the administrators are making huge Salaries. You could save many of those 20 jobs if administrators salaries were halved. James hammond makes a Salary much larger than the average teacher. Other administrators make huge salaries as well. I suspect if they were willing to make their paygrade on par with the teachers, there would need to be a lot fewer than 20 layoffs. That would prove the school board was serious about tough choices. So when you say “we are in the same boat” I have to cringe because there is one boat for teachers and a yaht for administrators.

    That being said, someone else made a good point. Neither the district nor the DTA has set priorities. We want Japanese 10 with 2 students per classroom, we want to pay for a tiny school at DHS with fancy laptop computers to serve rich students, and we want the moon as well. But then we cannot afford that and have to cut basic subjects like math, science, music, and reading. Neither the DTA nor the SB has addressed that issue. Someone else mentioned “stage technician?” now really!

    And this stuff about the stadium is the latest in keeping with that attitude. It is not simply about the seperate pots of $. It is what the school board chooses to focus on in their meetings. And right now stadium upgrades is on top of the list of priorities.

    It also deals with how the district chooses to deal with a problem. For example, look at the Laptop highschool within DHS. Do we really need a seperate school with seperate administrators and faculty to serve people. Can’t we find lower cost options? Can we not just simply allow students to take a computer class within DHS and get the same effect?

    Sometimes it almost seems like the most expensive, high cost solution is the order of the day.
    😉

  86. wdf

    Julian Anderson says:

    [i]Why are there two directors of special education?[/i]

    I think there are two co-directors because it is one full-time position taken by two people working half-time. I notice on the district calendar at their front page that there is an advisory committee on special education meeting tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the district offices. I find that these meetings are usually open to the public. If you would like to ask questions about how the special ed. program is structured, you might have a good chance of getting your questions answered.

    There is also a budget advisory meeting on Wednesday afternoon, posted on their website.

  87. David M. Greenwald

    “Yet many of the administrators are making huge Salaries. You could save many of those 20 jobs if administrators salaries were halved.”

    Can you show us the math on that?

    I don’t think that is the case.

    “James hammond makes a Salary much larger than the average teacher. “

    That’s true, Hammond is a Superintendent with a doctorate and he gets paid commensurate to what other Superintendent’s get paid. For better or worse.

    “We want Japanese 10 with 2 students per classroom”

    Do we now get to make up our own facts?

    You’ve conveniently ignored a few facts in your analysis. First, there has been a severe cutback in the administrative office. You have seen the departure of an associate Superintendent which means that several other individuals are now taking up those tasks.

    Bruce Colby who people have complained about taking a 5% raise, which I agree he should have forgone, but nevertheless, he is now doing the job of three people. As though he didn’t have a full job before.

    So have the administrators had to sacrifice quite a bit? And they will all take a reasonably sized cutback. And yes they get more money to begin with, but that’s the way the world works for better or worse.

    “And this stuff about the stadium is the latest in keeping with that attitude. It is not simply about the seperate pots of $. It is what the school board chooses to focus on in their meetings. And right now stadium upgrades is on top of the list of priorities.”

    How do you justify this statement? The stadium is tops on the list of priorities? Based on what? They have had two discussions on the Stadium, one in December and one in early February. They have had a budget discussion every single meeting since November. How do you qualify this as the top list of priorities based on that?

    They determined it was a more pressing concern than the facilities issues at Emerson. They have come up with a financing scenario and they are proceeding with it.

    “the Laptop highschool within DHS. Do we really need a seperate school with seperate administrators and faculty to serve people. Can’t we find lower cost options? Can we not just simply allow students to take a computer class within DHS and get the same effect?”

    Is this more inventing of facts? I have no idea what you are talking about.

  88. wdf

    Low cost:

    [i]We want Japanese 10 with 2 students per classroom[/i]

    You seriously exaggerate. This year there are two Japanese 1 classes, averaging 22 students, 1 Japanese 2 class with 32 students, and a combined Japanese 3/4/5 class with 23 students. You can eliminate the Japanese language program, if you like, and make them take another foreign language instead, but then you have to staff those classes at roughly the same level. I’m not sure that you get any savings.

    I’m still trying to find the mythical underenrolled Chinese 5 class that a couple of folks say exists, but I haven’t had any luck in finding it. If it exists, please tell me who teaches it, what room, and what time so that I can see how many students are in there.

  89. wdf

    [i]How about the recently created position of Coordinator of School Climate Activities? Friends of mine who work for DJUSD will tell you that they are unsure exactly what this position does. Sounds like another unnecessary salary. And why are there two directors for BTSA, the program for beginning teachers?
    [/i]

    Julian,

    Is it possible you could call the district and ask these questions yourself? That’s what I often find myself doing when folks like you ask these questions. I appreciate the opportunity to learn things about the district and sometimes meet some nice and interesting folks along the way. But I think you are losing out on a valuable opportunity to learn things firsthand. I will probably investigate these questions sometime later, but if you find out first, please share. These are tax funded agencies who have an obligation to explain themselves to the public, especially those who live in Davis. thanks

  90. David M. Greenwald

    The Climate Coordinator position was created about 2005 after a series of hate crimes, bullying, and other issues came to the fore. I’m partial to keeping that position, in part because my wife was among those who worked so hard to create it in the first place out of a very legitimate need. And also, you’d be trading the position for one teacher. I think they perform a valuable function in the district and the community. We have not done enough imo to address these ongoing problems.

  91. in holding pattern

    I wish my husband & I had been given the choice of a 5 – 10% cut or a layoff. We would have taken the cut and then groused with other employees about how the top level people weren’t taking as big a cut as they should, or how extravagant their travel appeared, or whatever. But we wouldn’t have been paying $800+/month for COBRA on our piddly unemployment income. Unemployment is more demoralizing than taking a pay cut and knowing you are worth more than you are making. DPD is right about this.

  92. wdf

    Greenwald says:

    [i]The Climate Coordinator position was created about 2005 after a series of hate crimes, bullying, and other issues came to the fore.[/i]

    Could you describe a little that Mr. Lewis does? I am aware of instances of conflict management that he has participated in. I see some value to that. But that is all.

  93. another district

    At the time the climate coordinator was needed for real and political reasons.Real because the district was unwilling and unable to address many of the social issues of bias and prejudice that were common in the school. It might be that under Hammond, a man who, if you knew him, you would do everything you could to retain, the climate coordinator might no longer be needed. This may be the evaluation that the trustees are making.

  94. another davis parent

    I agree that Dr. Hammond is a HUGE asset to our school district. He is sincere, hardworking, honest and full of integrity. He agreed to come here and take over a district that was in shambles because of the previous administration. This was and continues to be a difficult task. His willingness to be open and honest with parents, teachers and staff is a breath of fresh air. Do I agree with all of his actions, probably not. But I trust that he has done his research and comes to his conclusions after much consideration. I truly believe that his decisions and actions are based on what is best for our district as a whole. Our schools cannot satisfy the needs of every student but they do a pretty darn good job of satisfying the needs of most of our students. Sometimes we have to look beyond what is best for one student and do what is best for the majority.

  95. wdf

    San Joaquin, Calaveras counties, pink slips:
    [url]http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090303/A_NEWS04/903030325/-1/A_SPECIAL0258[/url]

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