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Poor, neglected HayWord blog!

Oh, hello there. It’s been a while since  a new post has appeared on the HayWord, although I see the commenters have been keeping busy regardless.

The holiday weeks were a little frantic around here. We a had reporter off for those few weeks on vaca, and that means everyone else has to pull extra weight . Keep in mind that the Review has two reporters on staff right now and you’ll understand who everyone else is.

Recent recap: We had the HUSD superintendent announce her resignation, an officer-involved shooting and Hayward’s first homicide of 2011. Also had a story about the proposed expansion of the BART maintenance yard, as well as an update on what’s going on with those school construction funds. Couple of recent profiles — a quick one on Library Commissioner Judy Harrison, a longer Hometown Hero on another library commissioner (that was purely coincidental) and transgender activist Kari McAllister. There were also the various feature stories of the sort that reporters are prone to do when they need to find something fast to help fill the paper. Keep in mind that as far as Bay Area News Group beats go, Hayward is the largest city being covered in all aspects — City Hall, schools, crime and courts — by a single reporter. And it’s true that I’ve been seen lurking around the San Leandro City Council chamber — we still have not replaced our beat writer for that city.

I’m going somewhere with this. Find out where after the jump.

I bring this up only because a certain HayWord commentor wrote my boss an e-mail, saying I should “get off my duff.” I am off my duff. If I was on my duff more, I’d have more contributions to the blog.

After that Jon Miller post, I received the following e-mail from an old friend:

“Hey I enjoyed the brief mention of Jon Miller in your blog. I was going to give you props on the Hay Word site, but I see an ocean of psychos have beat me to the punch. The worst thing ever invented: comments on news sites.”

I don’t agree with him, but that kind of bummed me out, along with some of the comments, such as one suggesting the HayWord should curl up and die. While I don’t agree with that, either, I didn’t feel particularly inspired to find the time to get entries posted. So I didn’t.

Then something else happened — over the past few days, three people I’ve interviewed, people completely unrelated to each other, asked me what was going on with the blog.

Not what’s going on in the comment section, they weren’t interested in that. But what’s going on with the blog and why hasn’t there been a post?

So it turns out there are other readers who like the HayWord but don’t touch the comments section. I found that inspiring, and will keep in mind that there are more wheels out there than just the squeaky ones.

Now, the blog is a supplement to the Inside Bay Area news site. I’ve always thought the purpose is to put out additional information on stories, info that gets clipped due to the size constraints inherent to print. Or for subjects that might not otherwise make it to print in the first place. And, of course, for the dialog that follows.

But I’ve also heard that people like to see stuff break on the blog, before it makes it to the paper. That’s what I use the Twitter account for. I also have a work Facebook account, but I consider that to be more for networking than getting stories out there.

But I’m interested — tell me what you’d like to see more of on the HayWord. I can’t promise to make it exactly what you’d like but feedback is appreciated. Someone mentioned another BANG blog allows users to have their own entries posted. That’s not something I’m averse to, if it’s an item of general interest and newsworthy.

So let’s brainstorm. Let me know what you’d like to see. If you don’t want to comment in the field below — I realize it’s considered a no-man’s-land by many — drop me a line at ekurhi@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Eric Kurhi

  • Michael Moore

    Eric, nicely said.

  • John W. Kyle

    Eric;

    Contrary to Mr. Moore, I think your blog related story to be poorly thought out.

    If you will, Pay me the respect of a read?

    In this household, the excuse for continuing the subscription is the wife’s need, driven by Religious belief, to review names of those with whom she shares her acquaintance, and whom she has survived.. Had she not contracted Type I diabetes 30 days prior to HS Graduation, she would have entered the Convent life. In those days Type I diabetics did not survive very long! Holy Names Schools lost, I gained a marriage partnership nearing 58 years duration.

    I had been subscribing, until a few years ago to two newspapers. The Chronicle as well as the Review. The expense became heavy as some investments, such as Bank of America are now dedicated to being ’penny stocks’! That’s right, B of A pays a quarterly dividend of just $0.01 per share. P.G. & E. may also, soon be placed in a position of reducing it’s dividend.

    Chronicle does a great job and is the better newspaper. It does not run to the Police blotter for it’s news, however it rarely mentions Hayward with there is always the exception that when there is a regional interest in a trial of broad interest, conducted at the Hayward offices of Alameda County Court system, some will; assume that the crime occurred here also,

    Hayward, whether it be the separate topics of administrations by City or School administration sharing the name is not mentioned, in a proactive manner, with sufficiency of occurrence in areas where it might aid solution to it’s problems.

    Let me provide an example which you might find useful if truly interested in changing the blog image! Either take my word for it, or tgo to the files of record for yor issue of Sept. 5, 1995. See the letter to the Editor entitled ‘Superintendent defended’

    Note that the man in question had not been successful in solving the truancy problem in the first year of his administration! He had also walked into a dispute with the teachers union in that same period.

    Serving in his initial term as Mayor, Michael Sweeny, walked into a political buzz saw when he appointed an independent committee to examine the questions raised by then Supt .Marlin Foxworth who at best had served but the first year of his contract.

    Dr. Foxworth justly pointed out that it was impossible to solve the Classroom transience rate then occurring at theb (average 36% level) and do it in one year! Laughingly, the Review had remarked in the article which provoked that letter to the Editor, That it ( the editorial dept.) missed the point made by Foxworth that HE was dismayed by the demand to cure the problem which coincidentally was the average amount of time spent by the typical enrolled truant at HUSD.

    Mr. Kurhi, prior to the election I personally provided you with a report which displayed a 49% (average) rate.

    Fish, cur bait or find a better means of employment! You fail to grasp[ the idea that all the negativity emanating from the Review is damaging The name Hayward. Perhaps I nighyt find an appropriate reading on the subject of ‘TRENDS AND FACTORS
    AFFECTING Real Estate values.’

  • qodrn

    After two days, I don’t have many thoughts about the blog. I would like to see more participation as well as reading. I know more people read this thing than write on it.

    I think at the appropriate time, Hayward should have its own blog. Hayward is really quite separate from Castro Valley or San Leandro/San Lorenzo.

    I would like to see more area items in the blog and tips about the area. This happens some times.

    Summaries of the city council meetings more often would be good. More information from advisory councils that are local.

    My tip for the day is go to http://www.oaklandgasprices.com to find out about local gas prices. For some reason, gas in Antioch and Concord is cheapest if you happen to be in those areas.

  • K Rocchio

    Eric, I would like to see some way to share any public events or happenings in the area through the blog. I know some of the contributors have been sharing this valuable info, but more often than not it gets lost in the shuffle by tagging it on to whatever happens to be the active headline at the moment. Some sort of monthly current events spot, not sure if it’s possible. This could also provide the local schools and charitable organizations a place to share/promote their events to the community.

    I enjoy reading the posts, although recently I have not been as quick to turn to the blog. With so few posts, the comments quickly get derailed. I think with more frequent posts the comments might stay more focused. Maybe, maybe not. I try to post my comments to the most recent post relevant to the subject, but sometimes that goes back a while.

    I also wanted to take a minute to let you know that I appreciate your efforts to keep us informed. I often see you zipping about town. I know you have a full plate and thanks for asking what we would like to see.

  • John W. Kyle

    Ms. Roccio’s two contributions, within 11 minutes on the morning of the 14th demonstrates a worthy as well as intense interest in the affairs of HUSD. Too bad that there is an insufficient supply of such interest by others, such as might have been developed on a wider basis, though out that portion of Alameda County which lays within the school District, had the Town Hall Meeting idea been met with open minds.

    Until recently I had hoped to bring, not an overwhelming number of folks together, but a group of such size as to be noticed and used as an example of what is possible as well as being really needed in HUSD. Significant early achievements by volunteers, such as to propel greater numbers of like minded folk. gathering as volunteers to save our schools.

    Ruccio brings up a startling reality or what might occur as a result of ‘business as usual’. She reports in one of her two closely timed submissions that ‘FITAG’ IS NOW SEARCHING FOR IDEAS BY WHICH TO REDUCE THE 2011 – 2012 SCHOOL YEAR BUDGET. She uses as a goal in that reduction a number exceeding $7,000,000.

    A recent report appearing in the Daily Review indicated that Hayward’s Police Chief is moving to Castro Valley so that his son might attend school in that Districts’ more successful system. The man is also moving his experience to The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department in that process. That act results in further loss of morale in HUSD’s community. There is no other way to describe that situation than to acknowledge, that we the remainder understand the Chief’s dilemma.

    FITAG is not a new idea. The concept was utilized in the 1990’s and coincidentally, is predicated upon the same premise, alert the public then ‘push’ them into recognition of the problem.
    The Town Hall meeting activity might have aided the income stream rather than concentrate on the manner of making the matter worse.

    When I moved to Hayward, the eldest of my four was ready to start school. Having been notified of ACCEPTANCE at a Parochial School, I naively moved with the thought in mind that all that I has to do was smile nice when the letter of acceptance was presented at St. Joachim’s rather than St. Jarlath’s in Oakland.

    I sure received a rude awakening….. Entry refused for the simple reason that the 50 ( fifty !) available seats had already been filled. The tyke had to attend Longwood school k & first grade. Not one to take no for an answer I volunteered at St. Joachim’s for Saturday maintenance efforts… met some great people and ‘assaulted’ the Pastor. Gave him a light slap with a tapered trim brush loaded with water based paint. Quickly I suggested that he step out of that garment thus enabling a quick wash job, which if unsuccessful would be replaced.

    Two to three weeks later, half a shovel full of sandy loam landed on a nee pair of shoes worn by the same Priest. Deeply apologetic. I indicated to him that some of the slovenly work habits of the Irish, even with the second generation distance from the old country were probably the basis of a behavioral problem.

    On return home that day, wife advised that our child was now accepted at St. Joachim’s on the single condition that ‘assaulting of a priest’ must end.

    If not aware, be advised that the St. Joachim’s School building was built entirely by volunteer labor !

    Volunteerism is not dead in Hayward but it does lie in a dormant State at HUSD!

    I find it odd that a member of the Fitag group was nearly successful in bringing about a ‘recall’ as result of personal disappointment in not having been chosen as replacement for the departed Sarah Gonzales, the lady who resigned from Board of Trustees early in 2009. Had there been success at the recall, the expense of that activity would have had much additional negative impact on the current budget.

    One of the things which must occur, is a major attempt at reduction of money loss experienced with the ADA money problem which is heavily influenced by Truancy/transince rate Reported at 49% for school year 2009/2010. Does any one see improvement in those numbers since October 2009?

    Start asking questions folks.

    Do not seek help from the Chamber of Commerce… they think FITAG is the answer. Not only is the occupant of the General Manager a new hire, but the Chairman of the Board at C of C proved indifferent when he failed to return calls on the subject.

  • qodrn

    In my travels yesterday, I noted that the Hayward police were happily tagging just about every car parked on Gading with one of those Orange stickers and a ticket. Watch out, car parkers!

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Anybody read the Review article on Special Education? I am very concerned about HUSD’s thinking on returning students from NON-Public School placements (for students whose special needs are complicated by autism or behavioral issues) being returned to local school campuses. Neither our school site administrators nor the majority of our staff are ready, willing or able to absorb these students without a huge amount of training and supportive services from the DO.

  • K Rocchio

    Kathi, I wasn’t able to find the article you refer to. Would this be a change to save money? I know they have discussed the amounts paid in the past for sending some students to other campuses. I can’t imagine bringing back students identified as needing additional services, when we struggle to provide the basics. Can you post a link to the article you mention above?

    Also, I want to thank Eric for the write-up on the Chamber Gala scheduled for January 22nd. While the write-up briefly mentions the contributions of Ms. Lisa Davies at Bret Harte, any parent having a student attend this school over the last six years is familiar with her hard work and leadership. Ms. Davies and her staff work hard to make sure each student at Bret Harte excels both academically and personally. She has done an amazing job at raising the expectations in HUSD. I am so happy to see her success recognized! Thank you for all you do, and a well deserved congratulations on this honor Ms. Davies!

  • John W. Kyle

    All,

    Shockingly, I am greatly concerned that Ms. Booth is deeply concerned over the budget cuts affecting special education.

    Obviously Booth missed Ms. Roccio’s expression over ‘FITATG’S’ need to find a $7.6 MILLION cut in the budget for school year 2011-2012. ( See her # 60 under “Threat of State takeover…..“ Dec 2010 by Kurhi…)

    The last thing I expect from either ia an attempt tp bring State Senate Bill # 1317 into play. That bill took effect this month and affords opportunity to fine, even jail parents who neglect a child’s school attendance.

    With last year’s truancy rate slightly above 49% one would think that these two would lead the charge for enforcement of the law…….. We left over $5,000,000 on the table in the form of lost ADA MONET…… THAT IS A WHOLE LOT OF NICKLES AND DIMES….

    Each expressed opposition to the Town Hall Meeting and other good, untried ideas.

    Go to it ladies, you had all the answers last year…. What now?

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Dear Mrs. Booth,

    I understand you were involved as a special education advocate in the past. Perhaps you can get involved again. After reading the article on the Sunday paper, I visited the special education link at HUSD. They have parent meetings, hopefully that group of parents can take advantage of your expertise. HUSD received over 3 million for this department over a year ago (ARRA Funds). What did they do with the money? Is FITAG cognizant of that portion of the budget, or has the general fund swept this money like they did with money’s from Lucy’s school?
    Newer HUSD parents like myself need people like you involved; please disregard comments from deranged minds and continue enlightening us with your wisdom.

  • qodrn

    another 7.5 million. I think maybe it is time for the district to let the K-3 low level of students go. That won’t save 7.5, but it is a good start. I would suggest cutting the school day down to 7 hours for everyone. Also starting school after Labor Day. It is crazy to get kids back to school, and then a week later they get a holidy. Wrecks the whole flow of stuff.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Mrs. Roccio,
    Keep up the good work informing us about FITAG. Has this committee considered shorten the work days of district personnel during the summer? Have they considered revising high paying secretaries positions? These are the positions farthest from the classroom. How about some eliminating positions of administrators/coordinators, etc? What about year around schools? As much as I would love to keep them, I would rather sacrifice this commodity than eliminating days of instruction for all children.
    I am desperate here, I will have two children in this district soon, I see good programs going away, programs that my children will never be part of.
    Thank you for all your volunteer work! I am out there as much as I can, however with younger children at home is a bit difficult. Take care.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Eric,
    I appreciate your work at the Review, the blog and your intense schedule to keep us informed under severe financial restrictions.
    I am a subscriber of the DR. and I read this blog periodically. I just wish certain individual will stop participating! I know I am asking too much, in the meantime, I skip all scribbles that are insulting to others, and descriptions of past accomplishments that are irrelevant to the issues we need to share with the community. I have gathered very good information here, please continue to provide this forum for us, and hopefully many of the people that used to participate come back soon!
    Thank you again.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Ms. Roccio and Lucy’s Mom,
    The article was in yesterday’s Review, front page that contains the local section. While HUSD has not spoken publicly about this issue, many of the surrounding districts have begun to attempt to relocate the Non-public School placements. Bear in mind, that by and large these placements occurred here because HUSD was not equipped to deliver the necessary services these students need..

    NPS placement requests result in a battle that many parents are not able to handle. They most often happen when students have “failed” miserably in our current system. They have been suspended because their behavior issues create problems for the mainstream classes and there is no safe place for them to go to regain control and composure. They are labeled as trouble makers, recalcitrants, fakers, manipulators…all of which may be the case given the special needs issues. However, the site administrators and the majority of staff are not willing or able to assist these students. They lack training and committment.

    Our para-educators are not trained to handle such problems. Furthermore HUSD does not want to pay for one-on-one aides and are forever cutting the classroom aide positions.

    I do bellieve that HUSD has issued a mandate for Special Education, to cut the numbers identified and whenever possible to avoid NPS placements and to swiftly return those already placed back to their home school. HUSD consitantly complains about the “encroachment” of Special Education on the general budget…each and every time they do this it makes parents and students feel as if they should be guilty because they have special needs which cannot be met in the mainstream classrooms. It is neither the fault of the parent or the child that the Federal Government has mandated services and then does not provide the necessary funds to provide it.

    I would hope that FITAG will not buckle under to the pressures to cut in this department…our students are already receiving short shrift in many cases.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Thank You Mrs. Booth!

    What do you know about RTI? Teachers have mentioned to me that this is the way Special Education plans to send all students to general education. Are we prepare to adopt this framework? All this is kind of new to me; I appreciate your insight.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Lucy’s Mom,
    I have some limited information on RTI, Response to Interventions. Essentially this plan is designed to limit the number of referrals for testing by the classroom teacher. As I understand it the following must take place:

    1. Classroom teachers must determine/diagnose what may be a “learning disability” in a student and then implement methods of intervention to meet the needs of the student. They must exhaust all methods before they can refer a student for testing.

    2. I don’t know what expertise a classroom teacher may have in determining interventions, but as a cost saving measure they must attempt to provide for the student in their classroom. I am sure that a teacher with a general education degree has little to no training regarding how to help the dislexic child, the child with speech issues, the child who has auditory processing difficulties…and many other learning disabilities.

    3. I am not sure what the policy will be regarding parental requests. Currently the law states that parents may request testing and the district cannot deny the request.

    4. I am extremely concerned that this places an undue burden on the classroom teacher and may very well be detremental to the student in question. As far as I know a general education teacher does not receive the training necessary to do what the district is suggesting. In addition, while this intervention process is taking place, the teacher may become overwhelmed and the rest of the class will most certainly be adversely affected from an academic and social stand point.

    5. When we have students who exhibit behavioral issues teachers are definitely not equipped nor do they understand the intricacies of behavioral modification for students with ADHD, OCD and other disabilities that result in their acting out. It is extremely difficult for the untrained to understand that many of these students cannot control outbursts and other forms of acting out…the results can be so very detrimental to teacher, student and the rest of the class.

    Obviously if there are less referrals, there will be less cost for psychologists testing and other specialists that may be needed to determine the best path for these students. It appears that this “new” plan is dollar driven…not student driven.

    I am, to say the least, not thrilled or comfortable with this plan and I would venture to say neither are the teachers.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Mrs. Booth,

    Thank you for the information.
    Another task added to our teachers’ busy schedule. I hope parents get involved before RTI is implemented district wide.

  • K Rocchio

    I will definitely bring the suggestions given here to FITAG. I know some of these have been on the list before and need to be looked at again and there are some new ideas as well. I really appreciate the thought of shortening the DO day during the summer. It is sharing ideas like this that I hope to help represent your thoughts in this group. In regards to the special ed info, thank you so much for sharing. I can tell you there is a parent of a special needs student on FITAG. I will do what I can to find out details on the $3M ARRA funds and let you know what I learn.

    REMINDER: There is a Special Board Meeting tomorrow night (1/19) at 5pm at the District Office to discuss ELL Programs and Services.

  • qodrn

    Parts of Mission Blvd (of course the part by my house) are really a slow mess today. The road work has closed most of the left turn lanes from Mission (meaning I have to sit at a very slow light to get home) and most of the time they have only one lane open. Avoid Mission between Carlos Bee and Tennyson if you can.

  • teachermama

    I would love to read what Ms. Rocchio has shared about FITAG. Where can I find it? It seems like the only way to get clear, reliable information from HUSD is from community volunteers.

    Qodorn – we are already up to 32 students in K-3. It is exhausting for all involved.

    Returning the NPS students to regular campuses is a terrible idea! The special ed. dept. has a hard enough time providing services to the students who need them already.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Teachermama,
    I suggest that this is where ALL teachers should draw the line. To return NPS students is something the school site and the staff is not equipped to handle. With respect to other Learning Disabled, I don’t believe that you should be responsible for designing, determining or implementing “Interventions” without an aid in the classroom and strong support from the district. It places an undue burden on teachers and the rest of the class. I hope that HEA will take a strong and defiant stand against RTI.

  • teachermama

    Qodrn, starting school after Labor Day is a wonderful idea, even if it means going later in June. I would also like to get my class list at least a week ahead of time, and keep the same kids for the whole year. Moving (literally) hundreds of kids on the 15th day of instruction is so disruptive, it’s like starting the year all over again. A huge waste of instructional time.

  • K Rocchio

    Agreed, the student shuffle after the beginning of the year is very disruptive and often upsetting for the students. I believe you are being modest when you state class sizes are at 32:1, seems 34:1 has become the new standard and we can’t even stop there, often pushing in “redirects” to top that number.

    Did anyone else make it to the meeting last night? I know I saw Mr. Kurhi and the room was pretty full. I’m just curious what you felt the overall vibe of the meeting was. I spoke very early of my concerns for ALD, but it seems the speakers were all under the impression that ELD, along with all other ELL services, were on the chopping block. Instead of discussing logistics of the language dev programs, it ended up being a defensive discussion for these programs. Just wondering if anyone else got the same idea.

  • John W. Kyle

    All.

    I am much amused by Ms. Roccio’s intense interest in FITAG.

    She recently advised blog devotees of the fact that FITAG was searching for a way to reduce the budget for school year 2011-12 by something in excess of $7,000,000.

    On top of the cut needed to meet concerns of the State for School year 2010- 2011 ?

    One can only guess at apparent cause of failure to utilize the tool which became available on January 1, 2011. SB 1317 is a tool which ought be applied to parents of truants. Something in excess of $5,000,000 in annual state funding is lost due to truancy at HUSD.

    Why the reluctance to enforce the law?? Surely any initial action taken under the provisions of that law would draw attention of neglectful parents. Perhaps there is fear of loss of votes in year 2012 ?