Friday, December 16, 2016

Our new contract demonstrates the District's respect for teachers.  The compressed salary schedule, 5% this year, 3% next year, and the new commitment to pay 80% of medical (removing the cap) will help the District retain teachers and has already facilitatied recruiting teachers.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Common Core Results in New York show huge drop

                  On average, scores in all grades and subjects declined by about 30%.

The red dots are charter schools.

Six Attend Summer Institute

Katie Webber, Claire Key, Guy Moore, Dean Vogel (CTA President), Mona Ricard, Carissa Weintraub, Anita Johnson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MDUSD Budget Disaster—COLA to Blame

I couldn't believe what I was hearing at last night's School Board meeting. The $17 million in cuts was horrifying enough. We (teachers and parents) were up in arms about the proposed class size minimum of 28 students, believing that it would kill some AP and Honors classes at some sites. We (parents) were distressed that we would not be able to pay to have our child bused to school. Librarians, music, special education, textbook adoption, custodial services, and the list goes on and on. All of these proposed budget reductions were proposed to meet a $17 million deficit by the 2011-2012 school year.

And then there was the news that $17 million was not enough. Actually, the number was more like $35.5 million.

I'll pause while you try to digest that number.



I was all the more shocked to hear the horrible news because our, um, esteemed Gubinator had released a revised budget on Friday, January 8th, assuring the public there were no cuts to education. So what happened? If there were no cuts, why did the MDUSD budget shortfall leap from $17 to $35.5 million?

Turns out that there is a negative COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). School districts get paid per student based on the COLA rate. If I understand this correctly, since the COLA has gone down, funding has also gone down. Can't you just see the Governor's budget and media people, jumping with glee when it was discovered that the COLA was down? What a spin! Now they could honestly tell the public that there were not additional cuts to education, the subtext being that they were compassionate individuals. Of course, there didn't have to be cuts because districts would already be receiving less.

I've never been great at math, but isn't that kind of the same thing as a cut?

So what exactly is there left to cut? How can school sites possibly be reorganized, heck, even redone, in order to weather this economic catastrophe?

Last night the Board voted to have school sites come up with possible solutions around the issue of minimum class size. I appreciate the Board making an effort to work with teachers and parents, instead of just making a cold decision that could adversely affect some sites and not others. It is important to receive input so that everyone is heard. Unfortunately, there has already been an unintended, negative consequence. I was floored to hear the conversations in the hall today—teachers suggesting which classes should be cut (not their own, of course), office staff adding in their two cents. The issue of summer school came up and the merits of providing this last opportunity for students who essentially 'choose' to fail. Inevitably the challenges of servicing the immigrant population in our community was raised. And it was not raised in a flattering manner.

We are all experts on what works and does not work at our school site. The community seems to know best when it comes to what teachers should and should not sacrifice (try telling a 2nd grade teacher who had a 50% increase in class size that teachers have not given their share in during this budget crisis!). But this expertise and this 'knowing what's best' for a site, does not make us the best decision makers. Really, what we experience for 90% of the school day is what goes on only in our classroom or only in the office. Everything else is hearsay.

Bottom line is that people are scared. People are overwhelmed. And asking school sites to make these recommendations is unfair as it has the potential to put us at each other's throats. Given all the added stress resulting from last year's cuts and the uncertainty of the future, we need to be one another's strongest support.

What can we do to salvage our students' education and still be a sane, safe community at the end of day?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teachers Donate Money & Food

Wow!  Thank you so much!

Over 60 cans of food were donated by MDUSD teachers at October's Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) meeting.  In addition, a teacher donated $50.  All food and monetary donations go directly to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County.

At September's Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) meeting, teacher representatives from every school in the district voted to make monthly donations of non-perishable food items to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County.  Often times canned food drives are focused around the holidays.  However, hunger happens all year long.  By donating food, teachers can have a positive impact on the community.

Mrs. Linda Ortega, a teacher at El Monte Elementary and a delegate on the MDEA Executive Board had a transformative experience in July, 2009.  While attending the National Representative Assembly for the National Education Association, Linda was inspired by stories of educators who had had monumental positive impacts in their communities.  Often times, these educator's contributions started out in small ways, such as volunteering time at a local food bank, or mentoring families.  Over the years, those small contributions outside of the classroom translated into big changes that have had a positive affect on thousands of lives.

A teacher has a public, influential position in the community.  So how, Linda wondered, could she and other teachers in the Mt. Diablo district use that influence to have the same kind of positive impact as other educators around the country?  One way is through donating food and money to a local food bank year round, not just during the holidays.

Every month, teachers are to give donations to the site rep to bring to the MDEA representative assembly (the 1st Monday of every month).  This October, teachers donated over 60 cans, and $50.  We are shooting for double that amount for the November meeting.  Our theme for November is SOUP, however any non-perishable, non-expired food items are welcome!

If there are too many items to transport to the MDEA meeting, call MDEA and we will figure out a way to pick up the items.

Click the link to learn more information on the Food Bank and make a monetary donation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Abuse of the Teachers

The district has informed teachers at Oak Grove Middle School that they will provide an additional two and a half hours of instruction every week next year with no additional pay. They are being ordered to provide more instructional time than teachers at any other middle school, more than than they spent this year, and more time than required by the contract. This additional instructional time has been imposed on top of the excessive amount of time required for meetings, reports, and observations that are demanded at a much higher level from Oak Grove teachers than at any other middle school.

We cannot stand by and allow this abuse to happen. Does anyone have any ideas about how we can support our colleagues at Oak Grove?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Beginning of Class Size Swellling

Last night, the School Board reacted to massive State Budget Cuts by agreeing to increase class size in grades 1 - 3 to 30 students. There are about a million reasons why this is a bad idea and about a million bad things that will happen as a result. One fact, however, is most important: they had no choice.

Education funding decisions in California are made by three or four people who probably have not seen in the inside of a public school classroom in their entire lives. The system is broken and we need to be part of the solution. Please:

Tell everyone you talk with - and call people you haven't talked with in a long time. Tell them:

We need a return to democracy: All budgetary and revenue matters should be decided by a majority.

We need to end the 2/3 vote requirement.

We need to make sure that every person and every corporation is paying their fair share of the state budget.

We need to make sure the state budget process is not manipulated, but is clear and fair.

We need a Democratic governor.

We need community member who understand the bigger picture - how the state governement works, how the election process works, how education works, and what the results could be if every child really received a free and appropriate education.

Please educate adults about why children are important - every chance you get!