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State superintendent: Look at HUSD

By Eric Kurhi
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 10:55 am in Alameda County, Castro Valley, Fairview, General, Hayward, Politics, Schools.

Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of schools, brought up the Hayward Unified School District in his annual State of Education address yesterday. He used the district as an example of how bad things are, financially speaking. Specifically, O’Connell pointed out that the district is considering eliminating the class-size reduction program and cutting 170 positions.

A dubious honor to be singled out, but at least we know he’s paying attention to HUSD. But lest we think we’re special:

“I hear these kind of stories all over the state,” he said. “As painful as these mid-year cuts are, we can expect worse over the next two years.”

The Hayward school board will vote on cuts at its next meeting, Feb. 11.

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  • teachermama

    How embarassing for the school board! Only months into the new board, and they have already made one of the least responsible decisions in educational policy. Well, all the more reason to be vigilant, folks . . . I have a kindergartener in a Hayward public school, so I am seriously invested in class size reduction. I urge people to come to the board meeting on Wed., Feb. 11th, at 6:30 PM and let your voice be heard as best it can (get there early to get a card- you know how they are about lockouts). Bring a friend if you can. Please come and speak up to save smaller classes for grades K-3!

    If you are still reading this, then you probably care about class size reduction (CSR) as much as I do, or you need to be convinced that it’s important. It is hugely important. Studies in WI, TN and CA all show that limiting class size in the lower grades boosts short AND long-term academic acheivement. This is especially true for students in lower-income schools, of which we have many in Hayward. Studies further show that for CSR to have a maximum impact on achievement, the students need to be in CSR classrooms for at least three years. The US Dept. of Ed. says that spending four years in a CSR classroom is the equivalent to an extra 4-16 months of schooling.

    Smaller class sizes mean more opportunities for each student to participate in class, more individual assessment and attention from the teacher, more small group work, more space for collaborative projects and learning centers, more time spent on instruction and less time spent baby-sitting. Let’s make sure our Hayward students get a strong foundation in the early years to set them up for life-long academic success. PLEASE COME TO THE BOARD MEETING ON WED., FEB 11TH AT 6:30 PM.

  • teachermama

    There will also be a rally at City Hall before the Feb. 11th board meeting to support smaller class sizes in HUSD. It starts at 5:00. See you there!

  • J. W. Kyle

    so now what… the blog editor adds to comments >.. That ‘title above the date is niot part of my submission……???

  • J. W. Kyle

    tis incredible that the above sequences of submissions is not logged in at the right side of the ‘hayword’ blog page….(.see # 3 above,0 I note we see no reference to #3 at the
    page outset. Only when you log in does it appear ,, o.k,. ‘awaiting modification’ is the watchword, so all you folks using a ‘nom de plume’ are not to provoke me!
    Right ???

    Now for the real message here….. During the ‘forums’ which ran in several locations with repetitive questions from voters and ‘stock answers’ from candidates, my own questions, when it was allowed to be asked, was…”What is HUSD’s greatest need?”

    Only Conrad Hake came close to the answer which I sought. His answer in a word was ‘communications’. Now there is a guy I could vote for in year 2010 when two seats are up for grabs.

    Communications are an essential part of developing a strong, wide concern of any successful city or school district. It is the single greatest need of HUSD when you realize that communications, appearing in the popular form and use seen at the abused ‘public comment’ period available at Trustee meetings, is a complete contra indicating disaster when: 1.) the public comment period is divided into two periods of time upon the agenda. 2.) the comments are repetitive and the trustees do a good job of fighting off sleep induced by an emotionally excited delivery of poorly prepared remarks by the public which is‘organized’ by such as ‘teachermoma’ (teachermama ?) She may be a brilliant classroom teacher but she’d starve if she had to make a living as a community organizer..

    What the district needs, is a real dynamic in communications, as found in the example used by the City of Hayward (as it does with most City, County and State governance activity).

    Once again I point to the Hayward City website at http://www.hayward-ca.gov and suggest that those who are really concerned about improving this school district, use the ‘link” on city website, at it’s left side, entitled ‘commissions’. Note the number of volunteers (when all seats are filled) in the various areas of city wide concern which are addressed by volunteers sitting on those commissions. It has been proven to be a major assist to those many agencies of governance that employ the technique.

    Problems or more aptly, areas of concern, are segregated into categories and volunteers apply to council for opportunity to serve on those ‘commissions’ dedicated to a specific area of concern and which fits the interest of both the volunteer and the City. What does HUSD possess in this concept? Just the Personnel Commission which handles only personnel matters…. Everything else is dumped on administrative staff and trustees.

    Frankly the trustee’s job does not pay enough for them to be involved in all the potential, creative and hopefully successful commissions which HUSD needs to create in attempts to correct the poor public image that we all now deprecate. It is made worse with seeming denial by administration for real participation of those volunteers who would inevitably come forward to serve in specific tasks in their area of interest if invited. HUSD Administration and Trustees should just follow the example of the City whose own image is presently damaged by HUSD’s use of the name Hayward. Presently HUSD is notorious for frinding up and then discarding volunteers.

    Failing to get the point? Then I’d suggest to administration and current Trustees that the school district be re-named…. Try ‘Mt. Eden Unified School District’ as a starter suggestion…. “the separate images of the City and School district are bound together by common use of the name Hayward. consequently we are not able to improve the image of the City when it is tied to the school district. They just wrap around each other in the use of the name Hayward and share a common fate until the district, it‘s employees, unions and trustees finally see the light..

    Of course that thought offends many in the city, including myself, but it only makes the problem worse in the sense that whatever is presently left of the concept of ‘community’ at HUSD just simply isn’t sufficiently present for the need. I find it extremely difficult to understand laissez-faire directed by the administration toward the community, a reverse of the original definition of the (frog) expression? Frankly the poor image is just as much the fault of the School’s many recognized union members as it is that of the local residents who complain about the poor showing in the measurement of school success commonly in use. ( Nothing happens unless you make it happen ! )

    My guess is that most teachers of HUSD do not live in the district and would resist creation of commissions for fear of having to become involved with that activity, however brief whether or not the involvement is direct. Shucks , ‘tis easier to just organize ‘rallies’ on a periodic basis, in late afternoon, than risk another evening or two in Hayward every school year.

    A case in point ! I FEEL MUCH ABUSED BY ADMINISTRATORS WHO DESTROYED “the site resident concept which I introduced to Longwood School with a great assist from then City Manager Jesus Armas and Larry Lepore who served at that time as head of the M & O Dept at HUSD Arriving in Hayward from other locales in 2005 (?) certain new officials thought they knew a better way and successfully worked to unravel the concept. Had it been expanded would we not now enjoy the use of the reputed amount…’only about $100,000 per year’ in costs due to vandalism?
    Would that $100 K be of any assistance in resolving the current budget crises if a commission was established to oversee and advise re-activation of the site resident program at other schools? Would those site residents be available to assist in other school centered activity, on weekends, in a quid pro quo arrangement of free use of land, (no rent but duties are to be performed,) on which to locate their modular, prefabricated HOME?

    I spent much personal time and money gathering details on that subject traveling to other school districts where the site resident concept is successful.

    Sometimes a holder of PhD can be so smart that he loses sight of practicality ! I am reminded of the inventor Thomas Edison who asked an engineer associate to determine the volume of a light bulb…. A week later the associate said he was stymied by lack of arithmetical formula to make the determination. Where upon Edison instructed the poor fellow to fill the bulb with water, weigh it and work from there!

    The present M & O guy brushed me off with the remark….. Longwood isn’t our biggest problem…… amusingly, I agree!

  • mocosa

    I had just signed a paper at my kids school supporting the teachers whom have been givin pink slips due to budget cuts. I’m not really understanding everything behind them due to the fact part of obamas stimulus package goes directly to education to prevent job losses and as a matter of fact to add more jobs to the schools.

    Who can we blame now? Do we blame arnold? Do we blame the same people who run our school district? How can we tax payers/parents fight back to prevent the loss of some of the best teachers in hayward?