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Our next HUSD trustee Q.: Communication breakdown?

By Eric Kurhi
Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 10:25 am in Alameda County, Cherryland, Fairview, General, Hayward, Politics, Schools.

Our next candidate question for the Hayward Unified School District trustee hopefuls had to do with a perceived lack of communication between the district, teachers and parents.

Parents, teachers and residents have criticized the district for failing to communicate effectively with the community. Some work has been done to help alleviate that problem with a revamped Web site and a public relations officer. What other ways as a school board member would you help the district improve its overall communication with the community?

 

Four-year candidates

 

Rick Bartholomew:

I would like to build a better cultural partnership with our diverse community.  From speaking with some parents, I found that one of the major communication problems is the issue of language barrier.  I would like to implement an outreach program that can bridge the gap between the schools and the English-language learner community.  One way to achieve this is by recruiting help from the different cultural organizations to be available to interpret critical situations that require immediate attention.  This solution would be in addition to the existing service provided by the district.

 

As a member of the school board I would also ask the parents, teachers, and residents how the board could be more effective in communicating with the community. I think it is important to ask for help in solving problems or making improvements. From those suggestions we should be capable of finding the ideal solution.

 

Jeff Cook:

(This question was left blank).

 

Sarah Gonzales:

I would continue to hold the superintendent and his administrators accountable for improving communications with the public.  I would also suggest to my fellow board members that we have 3-4 of our public meetings in one of our high schools each year so that people could attend meetings closer to their homes.  The downside of this is that the meetings could not be televised and would be recorded on audio tape and on written minutes.

 

Maribel Heredia:

The “revamped Web site” is great if you have a computer and Internet access. The “public relations officer” is also great if s/he can communicate and connect with ALL of our diverse community. I would ensure policy is written and implemented involving parental involvement accordingly to NCLB standards. We live in a diverse community and it is the leadership’s responsibilities to ensure parents and community at large are involved with their schools regardless if they have children or not in the district. It is in everyone’s best interest that our schools are doing well and our students are receiving the quality of education they need and deserve. This is going to take a community effort, but most importantly support from the district leadership/board:

 

Since all public schools are part of a larger school district, family and community involvement at individual schools depends, in part, on district expectations and support. The job of creating and coordinating a serious, consistent, systemic program of family and community engagement for any district requires senior leadership — preferably at the superintendent level — to establish beyond a doubt that the district is fully committed to family and community engagement.

 

• Conducting and analyzing parent surveys about school satisfaction.

• Setting a clear standard for what’s expected at schools and offering help to meet the standard.

• Staffing the effort by creating a high-level family involvement position and committing real resources to it.

• Districts hiring teachers or well-trained paraprofessionals to fill parent coordinator positions

• Superintendents and deputies holding principals accountable for strong and measurable outreach to families and community members

• Administration leaders sharing examples of effective family involvement practices with school staff

 

Dianne McDermott:

Communication is an age-old problem prevalent both in the private and public sector. Improving communication within the district does not take a budget, nor will it cost the district money to implement.

 

Communication takes a commitment from all parties and a methodology to document the issues and concerns of parents, teachers and students. Knowing what the issues and concerns are would allow the district the opportunity to resolve concerns and also hold them accountable to respond in a timely manner. A lot can be learned by documenting this process; people need to know that they are being heard, and if applicable, action to seek resolution is occurring.

 

Luis Reynoso:

The improvement of communication has to be an ongoing process as time goes by. The Web site and public relations officer is of no exception. Apparently the communications are dismal and continue as such. I will, once in office, appoint a communications commission to determine the faults from many perceptions and how to make improvements. Further, I will also participate in training the community to use the Brown Act and Sunshine rules to deliver items to the board agendas for voting. My perception alone to improve communications is not enough. The only way to improve communications is if and only if the community is given the respect and a voice with the authority for action at the district level. 

 

Two-year candidates

 

James Farley:

We would need to create a telephone log saying when the parent phoned in and noting the callback time from the district. Currently the district only has an e-mail log –- but not all people are computer literate. Doing this would expand our communication skills. I would also want oversight to make sure this is being done.

 

Lawrence Fitzpatrick:

The board has done nothing to improve the problems as they do not listen or care about Hayward students or parents. With all the parents who have protested and begged the school district to ask that kind of question is totally absurd. Until the parents are taught how and allowed to put items on the board’s agenda there is no true communication.

 

Conrad Hake:

I would actually add to the Web site by including a HUSD Excellence! Blog.  This would be contributed to by all the schools showcasing accomplishments and broadcasting project and program needs for those who would like to contribute time or give financial support.  An added bonus would be writing and input by budding journalists as part of their curriculum.  Blogs can be set up for more rapid information addition.

 

A second thing I would pledge would be to regularly circulate to community events, listening where possible, speaking where appropriate, always encouraging dialogue.

 

Kelly Rocchio:

HUSD must provide timely and accurate information to the community.  When they fail to do so, that void is filled with rumors and gossip.  Perception can quickly override reality when there is a lack of communication.

q      While the Web site is a start, it must be accurate and current.  We should promote positive programs and events before they occur, not just post pictures after the fact.  We need to give the community time to get involved and encourage participation.

q      Building Connections and Stability -– Prioritize school staff retention, allowing them to build connections with the families and students.  These connections will last a lifetime!

q      Community Forums and Workshops –- Community Forums will give participants an opportunity to engage and discuss hot topics with leaders in the district.  Workshops addressing all levels of learning and subgroups can help to guide families through the education system and encourage involvement at all levels.  We must reach out to our community and ask for their input.

q      Access and Visibility — It is important that our board members be accessible and visible at our schools and events.  Our leadership must be approachable and open to sharing ideas and listening to the constituents.  We must promote our district with PRIDE!


Sheila Sims:

Build coalitions with teachers, parents, residents to encourage their participation in the schools. There is great expertise in the community, reach out. We must be a cohesive team to educate our students.

 

I would suggest that we institute a bimonthly newsletter to be sent to parents and teachers outlining activities, testing dates, projects, changes in staffing, mandates and policies, and other issues that affect their students.

 

It is important to work with the press by letters to the editor explaining important issues that affect the schools. Such as best practices in education; why the block schedule is effective; what are the budget issues; explain there is dissatisfaction with NCLB; why many believe that a voluntary preschool is a way to close the achievement gap.

 

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  • observer
  • Hayward339

    These pieces are great, Hayward Review, but way toooo late given the early voting going on this year. As for the comments, it seems too many of the candidates are focusing on the How and not the What and I think that’s where the problem lies. It isn’t how you communicate, it’s what you communicate and it starts right at the school doors where parents are treated like their kids by the Principals and teachers in terms of information and participation. I appreciate the emphasis on involving the community in terms of parents, students, and teachers, but you’re all missing a huge component that makes private schools work so well – the alumni! There is nothing to be proud about after you’ve left the school system. I don’t know anyone who is boasting about graduating from a Hayward school. This is an invaluable measure of how well you’re serving the students, the parents and the community. HUSD needs to think of pull marketing not push marketing.

  • Hayward Voter

    I think Jeff Cook’s response speaks volumes about his position on communication. It, at least, is a reminder of his history on the board.

    Observer, your post really cements things for me. Ms. Heredia has been less than truthful during the whole campain. She misrepresented her position on charter schools. She says that she is against them and thinks they are bad for the public schools. Yet, her daughter is enrolled in one. She says that she feels lied to about teacher qualifications. Now, Ms. Heredia calls herself a teacher. If you check her credentials, she has an emergency 30-day substitute teaching credential. She is NOT a teacher and should not call herself one. Observer’s post really shows Ms. Heredia for what she is. A phony and a fraud.

  • J. W. Kyle

    Hayward 339 , your contribution at position 2 above comes very close to the point I have tried to get across inthese blogs, all along the lines of particpation, after graduation, by children attending private or parochial schools.

    Manu of their parents look back to the time when they were active in ‘parents group actibity in and outside the classrooms durinhg school hours. Many others are active in fund raising activities.

    Recently St. Joachim’s celebrated the 50th anniverary of the School opening and All Saint’s, also In Hayward will be celbrating the 60th anniversary. Those that you see attending are not only the students but their parents who look for old faces with whom they were so closely associated during the days that many regard as their happiest because they sacrifices they made in terma of time as wealth were their happiest moments largely because the center of their effort was ‘outside’ themselves. Expressed another way, for parents, it was their least selfish moments that made them happy and fun in their reminiscence of those days.

    What the folks in the HUSD service area fail to understand that the many retirees would come forward to aid in resolution of the current difficulties if they had but the chance to participate.

    As an activist at St Joachim’s some 25 to 45 years ago I sat on a parents club activity involved in examining applicants who desired to enter their children at the 7th grade level in a desired transfer from public school. The standard question which I posed was; Why now at this late moment, was it money or some other problem?

    You would be astonished at the answers which included the idea of the lack of PTA or other opportunity to become involved. Reputedly, the answer suggested that they felt excluded!.

    Fortunately, our teachers who supplemeted the shortage of nuns, in the days wheh new parochial schools were rising faster than the numbers of nuns, we hired teachers who stayed, particpated with parents in various activity and in many cases were ex-public school employess. Noe we find exhausted teachers in HUSd ravelling some distances to rfind affordable housing and devoid of any idea of returning in the evening to associate with parents.

    Evidence? Look at HEA and ask yourself why the President and vice president perioically trade off the pheir positions and in one case, the Husband of one took a job with satte education offices so he no longer seem sirectly involved with HUSD.

    The real irony, in my mind is that had we taken up the idea of establishing ‘commissions’; ( in the fashion of Hayward City Hall, that a lot more volunteers would cojme forward if they were granted some formal opportunity to work on solutions to various need outside the classroom. It would be cost effective and would place the commissions in a relationship of reporting directly to Trustees without much time taken away from administration.

    I point to the site resident ides wher we would invite one effecttive individual from each service area of our various schools to determine need, and provide follow through on all aspects of selection of prosepective residents, implementation of residence standards and quality of the Manufactured home intro duced to the chosen sites etc.

    A site resident would become involved with students after school and on Saturdays or Sundays dependent upon need; the important thing is that the very presence of a site residence discourages vandalism and illict night use of the grounds for drinkinh and whatever…..

    The next on the list of commissions would be the sports and promotions committee which would endeavor to engage itself in two or three actvities that would not only be entertaining but would be capable of raising funds to supplement the sports equipment [art of the HUSD Budget.

    I could suggest others if you had the time to inquire….!

    Nothing happens unle3ss you make it happen and it is my personal opinion that administration has Trustees so involved that they have no time to think outside the box….IF THE RESIDENTS, THE STAKEHOLDERS OF HUSD,

  • J. W. Kyle

    damn! I hit the wrong buttons again, no time to edit mis-spellings above…..

    IF THE RESIDENTS, THE STAKEHOLDERS OF HUSD WISH TO SUPPORT THE IDEA OF IMPROVING THE IMAGE AND EFFECTIVNESS OF OUR SCHOOLS, THEY MUST GET INVOLOVED WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE A PARENT …. IT’S A MORAL OBLIGATION AS WELL AS THE SMART THING TO DO IF YOU WISH TO SEE PROPERTY VALUES RE-BOUND WHILE SALVAGING SALES TAX REVNUE AT PLACES SUCH AS SOUTHLAND… WHERE THE ‘DROP OUTS’ GATHER FOR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR!

    WANT TO SEE SOMETHING INTERESTING? GO TO ‘GOOGLE’ AND SEARCH : Cristo Rey School, Chicago Illinois.
    See something which is taking off like wildfire since the 1994 inception of this activity started by an elderly Jesuit. There are now about 20 such schools spread across the country; San Francisco is being subjected to a feasability study for another.

    IMPORTNT THAT WHEN YOU GET TO THE WEBSITE< CLICK ON THE LINK AT LOWER LEFT INDICATED AS “CBS 60 Minutes:” it is a 12 minute expenditure of time which can be copied by a determined community!

  • K Chan

    To see a truly effective alternative school approach, check out Purple Lotus just across our border in Union City. Check out their scores and ask why doesn’t HUSD welcome schools like this one in their District – isn’t it about effective teaching of children?

  • J. W. Kyle

    IN RESPONSE TO K.Chan at item 6.) above….

    Just the name Purple Lotus suggests that there is some sort of race separation in Union City. But to be fair, it would be well to provide some clues, such as a website address AND/or the location of the Purple Lotus.

    Here in Hayward it is seldom seen that folks do investigation based on a name alone without some sort of effective ‘teaser’ such as you see in the electronic medis when ‘teasers’ are used to attract folks to newscasts. So, is it charter school or montessori? Perhaps an association with the Buddist facility in Union City? Common Chan, give us a few words to wet curiosity!

    One of the odd ocurrences in Union City was their practice, during the early 1990′s, to provide a course in the curriculum not found in HUSD. That device gave impetus (‘PERMISSION’) to students in HUSD to ‘transfer’ thus aiding Union City to fill empty seats and gain the ADA money associated with high ocupancy. It baskfired and put HUSD at a major disadvantage when suddenly, Union City, in response to new development in residential housing, found that it needed to push 250 students back into HUSD. That must have had a poor affect upon those students who lost acquaintencships as well as familiarity with teachers. It put HUSD in a hell of a bind looking for desk spaces around THE VARIOUS SCHOOLS AND A BUDGET PROBLEM SPENT IN MORE PORTABLES.

    What you really have to keep in mind is the relatively young age of the Union City residential tracts. It does not have a lot of ill advised apartment complexes created in the 1950 1965 period 5hat occurred in unincorporated areas in the area between Harder and Tennyson. Those low quality structures sprang up before Hayward annexed it to combat the antics of County Supervisors who over rode their own planning commission recommendations in a high percentahe of occasions. Now hayward IS JAMMED WITH STUDENTS WHOSE TRANSIENT FAMILIES ARE CONTRIBUTING TO A HIGH CLASSROOM TRANSIENCY RATE! HOW DO YOU RAISE SCORES WHEN YOU DEAL WITH YOUNGSTERS WHO MOVE IN AND OUT OF THE DISTRICT ON A FAIRLY FREQUENT BASIS?

    GET EDUCATED CHAN!

  • substitute

    In response to Hayward Voter, I am offended by his comments stating that substitute teachers are not teachers. Substitute teachers ARE teachers that are providing a valuable service to the schools and the community. Substitute teachers teach in the classrooms when the assigned teacher is absent, and to think of us as doing something less valuable than the assigned teacher is an attack on our profession.

  • J. W. Kyle

    To all:

    For well over a year I have advocated that the new theater in ‘down’-town Hayward, be asked to include in their scheduling, some films which are imported from areas of the world where English does not predominate nor find usage except as ‘sub-titles- on cultural films intended for export.

    Had our Civic and Business leadership picked up on this there might have been at least one screen using the spoken language of another culture with English Sub-titles.

    In the 1960′s the old Centerville District Movie house, (built well berfore WW II) had a capacity of 500 seats. Where a smart entreprenuer began showing films in Farsi, Hindu and languages used by the emigres who flocked to US Colleges and then found their significant talents in demand within Silicon Valley.

    A big problem developed in Centerville ( Now known as Fremont) when the fire marshall had a expressed objection to over sold seats. Seems he had this contentious idea that 550 people in a 500 seat theater had life threatening potential in event of fire or earthquake.

    Little Kabul sprang up in that area offering restaurants and other shopping opportunity when folks either arrived early to secure tickets for first showing or tickets fot the late show, after dinner & shopping.

    Now, some of those folks are no dummies, they wound up contolling some major electronic gadget companies; worse yet they own nice homes and have incredibly smart kids. The one thing they seem to lack is enough opportunity to see movies which remind themselves and/or introduce to offspring the culture of their rootstock.

    They have money in their pocket and I see no reason why they should not be induced to seek entertainment, or employment such as in the English as a second language classes of HUSD.

    Geez, they might even introduce construtive thought on parental involvment and partcipation at HUSD.

    Nah, It is all for naught! “Haywardians” are not smart enough to grasp the idea! Even dumber, we continue to flaunt ourselves as being a ‘diverse community’!
    30

  • J. W. Kyle

    Observer, #4 and #5 above were mine You apparently posed your complaint under another b;og…

    # 5 was a pick up on # 4 which escaped the screen while I typed. # 5 was an attempt alert readers to pick up on the the mis-spellings in # 4 were pretty severe. it was inadvertant since there is apparently no way to re-enter a posted blog and “spell Check” is absent from the program.

    If you think the advice about visting the website of the Chicago School was an attempt to PUSH CATHOLICISM..
    …. I AM INCREDULOUS AT YOUR ASSUMPTION.

    The School in Chicago was the recipient of a very generous donation by a man I do not think is Catholic.
    Being an adherent of another belif system does not mean the donor is unable to recogonize a worthy idea.

    Had an adherent of another faith done as much for Alameda County as that donor did for Chicago, I would be one of the early volunteers even if the opportunity meant mopping out the latrines at the end of the day!

    The whole point being good ideas ought to be introduced at HUSD if and I repeat if, they aid resolution of the drop out or transiency rates in Hayward.

    So there, take that and use it as a target!

  • K Rocchio

    I want to thank all of you who got out and voted Tuesday! It has been an exciting journey and I have made many new connections. Running for a seat on the Board was a step outside my comfort zone and it was a rewarding and challenging experience. I do still believe our students deserve great leadership and an environment that provides them the best opportunity to succeed.

    I had the pleasure to meet all of the candidates during my campaign and I believe we will see some changes in the coming years in our District. I also believe that the number of candidates interested in making a difference speaks volumes to the interest our community has taken in our schools. I hope that together we will continue to express those interests and stay connected to the education process.

    There are some tough challenges facing our newly elected Board of Trustees and I wish them all success in their new positions. I assure you that I will continue my involvement and build on the connections I have made during this process. I look forward to working with many of you by my side. I believe that together we can all make a change and give Hayward a new direction.

    Again, congratulations to the Board!

    Kelly Rocchio