Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD 10-22-12

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 at 7:37 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

I was unable to attend Monday’s board meeting, but am posting the agenda below, in case anyone who was there would like to comment on what happened:

1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info


2.0 Announcements
2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info
3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Expulsion Info
4.2 Anticipated Litigation Info
4.3 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 6:30 p.m. Info
6.0 Preliminary Business
6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info
7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
7.1 Anticipated Litigation Info
7.2 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
8.0 Expulsion Recommendations
8.1 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #06-13 Action
9.0 Consent Agenda
9.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action
9.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
9.3 (Item #3) Request to increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2012-2013 school year Action
9.4 (Item #4) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
9.5 (Item #5) Classified Personnel: Request to Create Positions for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year Action
9.6 (Item #6) Fiscal Transactions for the month of September 2012 Action
9.7 (Item #7) Final Change Order: Bid #1599-HVAC Renovations at Ayers Elementary, Mt. Diablo Elementary and Foothill Middle Schools Action
9.8 (Item #8) Final Change Order: Bid #1600-HVAC Renovations at Loma Vista Adult and Concord High School Action
9.9 (Item #9) Notice of Completion for Bid #1599/Contract C-903, HVAC Renovations at Ayers Elementary, Mt. Diablo Elementary and Foothill Middle School Action
9.10 (Item #10) Notice of Completion for Bid #1600/Contract C-904, HVAC Renovation at Loma Vista Adult Center and Concord High School Action
9.11 (Item #11) Notice of Completion for Bid #1613/C-912, Asphalt Paving Play Yard Improvements at Pleasant Hill Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Meadow Homes Elementary and Cambridge Elementary Action
9.12 (Item #12) Award of Design Services Contract: Renovation of Science Wing at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
9.13 (Item #13) Award of Design Services Contract: Renovation of Shop 1300 Wing at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
9.14 (Item #14) Filing of Amended Certificate of Signatures Action
9.15 (Item #15) Approval of Contract with Exploring New Horizons (ENH for Strandwood Elementary School) Action
9.16 (Item #16) Clayton Valley High School Attendance Area Action
9.17 (Item #17) Approval of Resolution #12/13-16: Native American Heritage Month Action
10.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion
11.0 Student Representatives
11.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info
12.0 Recognitions
12.1 School Improvement Grant (SIG) – Cohort 1 Report Info
12.2 Recognition of Improvement on the Academic Performance Index (API) Info
13.0 Public Comment
13.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
14.0 Communications
14.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info
15.0 Superintendent’s Report
15.1 Superintendent’s Report Info
16.0 Business/Action Items
16.1 Approval of Adult Education Course Titles for 2012-2013 Action
16.2 College Park Attendance Area Action
16.3 Meeting Extension Action
17.0 Board Member Reports
17.1 Board reports – two minute time limit Info
18.0 Closed Session
18.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action
19.0 Adjournment
19.1 Adjourn Meeting Info

What was most interesting about this meeting?


Here is a link to audio of the meeting:

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120 Responses to “MDUSD 10-22-12”

  1. Anon Says:

    No on Prop 30 and 38; Yes on 32. I will vote no on all MDUSD future taxes and measures for years until I see real reform at the State level and the MDUSD level.

    We need true education funding reform, not bandaid propositions that enable the state to remove the funds for their pet projects. This is the best reform they come up with, Prop 30? Why does 30 only have cuts in spending on Education? Where is the cut in spending on the all the other frivolous spending? Why do they continually use children, who have no say in this matter, as pawns? Why should we pay more taxes for education as proposed in 38, when we already pay some of the highest tax rates? Shouldn’t that money be used to fund Education, our Police, and Fire?

    I don’t have any more tax dollars and refuse to continually give to a system that is untruthful, not transparent, spends money carelessly, instead of really cutting out the nonsense spending – State and local levels. High Speed Rail for the State and the SASS department at MDUSD are perfect examples. MDUSD had money for thousands of dollars in raises? They couldn’t give any of that to the students?

    Clean up your act MDUSD. You are a disgrace and will continue to be until you become accountable for your policies and actions. It’s a joke how your requests for reports at Board Meetings go unanswered, all the back door deals, etc. Can you not even create a simple action list with running action items from board meetings with due dates for completion that are put the on upcoming agendas accordingly? Is it that difficult for all the education you all have? Board actions and requests are a total waste of your breath. If you can’t tell, I’m also voting no on Whitmarsh.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Since 2 years ago, nearly half of California voters voted by absentee ballots, if the CCT Editorial Board waits much longer, they will become irrelevant.
    Where are the campaign finance statements due yesterday ?

  3. Doctor J Says:

    @TH, are you still working at posting the documents from last week ?

  4. Anon Says:

    Cashier for 3.5 hours…better off working at WalMart. Perhaps a few employees should have been fired for poor performance. They could affort a full-time employee.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    How important are principals to the success of student achievement ? “Our results indicate that highly effective principals raise the achievement of a typical student in their schools by between two and seven months of learning in a single school year; ineffective principals lower achievement by the same amount. These impacts are somewhat smaller than those associated with having a highly effective teacher. But teachers have a direct impact on only those students in their classroom; differences in principal quality affect all students in a given school.” Interesting article in Education Next. MDUSD still doesn’t have an effective Principal evaluation program.

  6. Anon Says:

    . . .and they could have paid for the Internet interface at the high schools, and all other schools by now, to collect their revenue by credit card, which was promised over 2 years ago.

    Oh, I forgot, that would have taken some action to complete. What a total dysfunctional school district.

  7. Gretchen Says:

    Flippin’ Tired, you made exactly the same points I thought of when I read Doctor J’s posts about training. Saying training should be done during the non-class hours of minimum days makes no sense. It is completely impractical. You are also right about it being a MDEA issue if they tried to do training outside of school hours.

    I’ll also add that too much teacher training is definitely NOT a problem with MDUSD. One of the reasons CVCHS will probably end up with higher API scores is because they plan to put MORE emphasis on teacher training. They wrote about it in the charter plan. It was one of the reasons they wanted to convert to a charter school.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    @FT&G: MDEA doesn’t have a problem with teacher training — as long as teachers are paid for it. MDEA demonstrated by their MOU’s with the SIG schools that a longer school day is fine — as long as teachers are paid for it. As the article from Ed Next points out, the Principal can become an effective instructional leader — teaching after observing the teacher in action. Nothing extra about that.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have been working on an indepth story looking at the WCCUSD’s attempt to turnaround its lowest-performing comprehensive high school by replacing the principal and one of the vice principals.
    Strong, effective leaders who are well-supported by the district and community are key to successful school improvement, according to WestEd.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    “Principal and teacher quality account for nearly 60% of a school’s total impact on student achievement, and principals alone for a full 25% (Marzano et al., 2005).” WCCUSD seems to be on the right track taking ACTION. MDUSD is spending all their time thinking and not taking any ACTION.

  11. School Teacher Says:

    I think it would be great to see administrators responsible for teaching at least one class (or a portion of the day or a particular subject in lower grades). I find that many of them didn’t (or haven’t) spent a lot of time in the classroom (along with many educational “gurus”), and it would great to see them “in action” so I can watch them model what they tell me I should do, and then we can look at the performance they get out of their students and see how effective they are. I understand that at City College in San Francisco one of their cost saving measures is to have department chairs go back to the classroom.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    This recommendation does NOT allow Rose Lock and Linda May to protect their friends and retirements.
    “Effective principals are those who boost academic achievement for all students, increase the effectiveness of theirteaching staffs, and consistently take leadership actions shown to improve outcomes for students. Therefore principal evaluation systems1 should place 70% of their weight on the ability of principals to increase student achievement and teacher effectiveness outcomes, with the remaining 30% focused on their demonstration of effective practices and leadership actions. Local school systems should then use these assessments to drive not only key accountability decisions,but also to support professional learning and growth.”
    Double digit API declines would doom the principals: Gregory Gardens -24, Silverwood -22, Westwood -33, Oak Grove Middle -37, Valley View Middle -19. Single digit API drops combined with not meeting school or student groups growth targets should be cause for reassignment: Cambidge, Vahalla, Ygnacio Valley E., Riverview Middle, and of course Sue Brothers and Kate McClatchy at the high schools. Single digit API gains with not meeting the school or student growth targets would be on a watch list.

  13. g Says:

    I agree. And certainly no principal on either 1,2 or 3 should be on ANY kind of PROMOTION

  14. g Says:


  15. Wait a Minute Says:

    Lets put it this way, IMHO.

    A bad teacher (which is fairly rare IMHO) will depress learning for their classes.

    A bad principal (which I don’t think is that rare in the MDUSD will depress learning for an entire school. Although some poor performing principals, are also suffering from a lack of district support–Sue Brothers is defintely not suffering from a lack of support).

    Here’s where it gets ugly:
    A bad Superintendent like Stevie Lawrence (and he is without a doubt the worst superintendent in CA) depresses the learning of the entire district that has the misfortune to suffer him.
    Of course this also applies to the board that hired him!

  16. Jim Says:

    It’s interesting to see how often education discussions get polarized between whether the problem is “bad teaching” or “bad students/parenting”. The people who almost always get off the hook in these debates are the administrators whose job it is to actually MANAGE the system. They are all too often accorded no accountability for outcomes. Unlike WAM, I don’t believe that poor teachers are “rare” in MDUSD — a minority certainly, but not rare. But every organization has to cope with occasional employees who cannot perform as expected.

    Who is responsible for recruiting poor teachers in the first place? Who is responsible for the reputation of the district that helps determine the size and quality of the applicant pool? Who was supposed to communicate performance expectations to new teachers? Who was responsible for evaluating them and giving feedback? Who was responsible for giving coaching to teachers who were not succeeding? Who was responsible for terminating teachers who could not do their jobs?

    The answer to ALL of those questions is “MDUSD administrators”. I realize that the unions can play an obstructive, unhelpful role in these issues. And shame on them for defending teachers who clearly can’t do their job. I’ve seen it happen. But school districts aren’t the only organizations in the world that have to cope with unionized labor. There are constructive — and destructive — ways to manage a unionized work force.

    Where are the demands for more accountability from school district administrators — the ones who manage, defend, and exploit their monopoly so successfuly?

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Often over looked is that the 5 schools with double digit declines in API 2012 [-19 to -37] that I highlighted in #62, ALL of them had positive API gains in 2011[+6,+7,+5,+1,+8]. Something significant happened at those schools in 2012 — and the first suspect is the Principal. 3 Elementary and 2 Middle Schools. And then there is Sun Terrace . . .

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Scratch my post #67 — I was looking at the wrong report.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Often over looked is that the 5 schools with double digit declines in API 2012 [-19 to -37] that I highlighted in #62, some had positive API gains in 2011 [GG +1, SilvW +11, VV +3 and Westwood and OakGrove declines of -6 and -4].Sun Terrace had a -37 point decline in 2012 and -4 point decline in 2011. Something significant happened at those schools in 2012 — and the first suspect is the Principal. 3 Elementary and 2 Middle Schools.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the joint statement by MDEA President Guy Moore and Superintendent Steven Lawrence in support of Prop. 30:

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim, Barbara Oaks discussed these issues during her editorial board interview, saying she had let some teachers go before tenure and that she tried to persuade those who weren’t successful in the classroom to look for other jobs within the district.

    School Teacher: When Lianne Cismowski was a vp at MDHS, she did teach at least one class. I’m not sure if other teachers observed her, or what her results were. But, she is a National Board Certified Teacher who later became an administrator. She also mentored other teachers seeking National Board Certification.

    Here is my story about the administrative shakeup at Kennedy HS in WCCUSD, which is aimed at turning that low-performing school around:
    One student I interviewed moved to Kennedy this year from MDHS. He said he likes the principal at Kennedy, but said he didn’t like the rules. Do you think these tough measures would be effective at Mount?

  22. Anon Says:

    So with all the talk of teacher training. Why do we have short days? When are the teachers trained? Do they use the short days for prep or is it just early day off? Are they paid for full hours? I was under the impression that early days were for teacher development?

  23. teacher Says:

    Each school organizes their “short” day. I can speak for my school and for a few others-these weekly afternoon sessions are jam packed with data analysis and instructional planning, staff development, and committee work to continue refining programs and practice. The district’s focus on Response to Intervention (RtI) also requires additional collaboration and likely will result in student learning.

  24. g Says:

    For what it costs in ongoing annual contracts, certification of teachers and administration, travel pay, substitute teacher pay, etc. etc. I would hope RtI will more than just “likely” result in student learning.

    Once ‘certified’ are administrators being utilized fully to cross-train and pass that knowledge on to others in the district? Or must we continue to contract with RtI –indefinitely — while those same administrators go on the road, promoting RtI to earn “personal bucks” off of RtI training that we have paid for?

    Compared to costs per child for RtI, how much does this district pay to really help advancement of GATE students?

  25. anon Says:

    #71 Yes, would like to see these administrators step into the classroom and demonstrate what it is they say they want to see and what teachers aren’t doing, easier said than done. MDHS principal has balked at coming into classes to demonstrate. Cismowski is terrific.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    CCT endorses Mason and Lawrence.

  27. anon Says:

    You’ve have got to be kidding! Lawrence? The phony “educator”. Good job vetting the candidate, CCT. Perhaps he phoned in his interview because he was too busy lecturing at the barber college.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    It sounded like CCT was leaning Barbara Oaks until she demonstrated her ignorance about the bond issues. Frankly, we are still waiting for Theresa’s report on the interviews.

  29. soooo frustrated Says:

    Anon – Wednesdays at my school are a minimum day and that is usually the days teachers are there the longest due to staff meetings/collaboration time/and/or staff in-services.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    @So Frustrated, so please explain to us why teachers are taking all the absences with substitutes for training, data analysis, and other school and district business.

  31. teacher Says:

    #80 Part of the challenge of the profession is that teaching historically been a very isolated and independent job where teachers work within their four walls without benefitting from the expertise, experiences, and knowledge of others around them.

    Embedding time to collaborate with others at a site is important, but as a classroom teacher can become isolated at a site, a site can become isolated, as well. There is an important synergy and extended knowledge base that is created by bringing teachers together from various sites. Our schools are VERY different and we are much better when we are moving together, rather than as separate cogs in a wheel. The opportunities created for this collaboration are invaluable. The experiences teachers have had recently at the “symposiums” and data meetings have been very useful and informative.

    I anticipate that someone will suggest that an administrator who attends meetings and trainings could bring the information, learning, etc. from district events to the site. Yes and no. If everything were to be delivered second-hand and all knowledge were to be held by an individual, it would be very unproductive and ineffective. The responsibility cannot be placed on one person.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Monday morning at Chevron: CCT Sunday editorial painting Chevron management as unethical in dealing with MDUSD; booze, secret meetings to avoid “receipts” at Superintendent’s home, $15,000 campaign contributions, a MDUSD Board trustee who is a management employee at Chevron. Chevron’s image is tarnished. Should be an interesting day at Chevron.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @Teacher#81 Professional Development or “Continuing Education” of teachers should NOT take away from “instructional time” by employing substitutes. How do you rationalize that 40% of the teacher absences requiring substitutes are for professional development, data analysis, and school and district meetings ?

  34. anon Says:

    Doctor J,
    Can’t find the editorial you are referring to online. If you would pos a link, that would be much appreciated.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon See post 76. Endorsement posted yesterday morning at 9am. I believe its published in today’s newspaper, but have not checked.

  36. Anon Says:


    It’s reassuring to be vindicated by the CCT editors who pull no punches regarding Whitmarsh, the bond scandal and the lack of transparency. They lay the CVHS charter at the Dent doorstep where it belongs. Even better would be to add-in no particular order-the bathroom scandal, the busing chaos, the special education failures, school closure mistakes, and the SASS boondoggle. Don’t forget how great employees like Denise Rugani were driven away. Next time I’d encourage the editors to go in depth on the education issues that still adversely impact the children in this most dysfunctional district.

  37. Wait a Minute Says:

    Here is the link again. Its a damning indictment of the corruption and incompetence of “Chevron” Sherry, Stevie Lawrence, Greg Rolen, Eberhart, etc!

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#86– I believe Sherry’s “selling her soul” began with ButtercupGATE — Sherry refused to deny that she was there when asked point blank on this blog. However, maybe it goes back to her 2008 election financing, since it appears there were many back and forth contributions with Eberhart. I am not sure Sherry raised any of that money. She failed to file her campaign donation disclosures due Oct 5, and now it appears she missed Oct 25 too. Does not appear she is being very open and transparent. What is she hiding ?

  39. anon Says:

    Thanks all! Just read the editorial, that one is going to sting, ouch!!!

  40. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa said she was going to give us a blow by blow on the CCT interview with the candidates. Should be interesting.

  41. g Says:

    Dr J: I believe Sherry sold her soul long before ButtercupGate. It began when she tied her horse to the Eberhart wagon for 2008.

    Always looking for his next ‘opportunity’ he saw the Chevron connection and an easy to handle marionette in her, but it’s really hard to say what she saw in him–just stars in her eyes, maybe.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have reposted the editorial in a separate blog post, so blog readers can comment on it there:
    Like the editorial board, I was surprised when Oaks said she didn’t realize initially that Measure C would fund school improvements. She said she was asked (by the district) if she would support a bond measure to fund solar projects, which would end up saving energy costs and generating money for the general fund. This admission, which the editorial board found “stunning,” reinforces the widely-held belief that the main goal of the bond measure appears to have been to fund solar projects and that the list of projects appears to have been thrown together hastily, with little input from school sites.
    On March 16, 2010 — one week after the board voted to put the bond measure on the ballot — Pete Pedersen sent a memo to site administrators asking them to review their requests from the 2002 Measure C and update their priorities. He also attached a list of tentative projects, based on the 2002 priorities he thought had not yet been completed. He asked that site administrators return the lists by March 30, 2010, stating that if he didn’t receive any revisions, he would assume their priorities remained unchanged, for a Facility Master Plan update that he expected to complete by April 9, 2010. (Again: this was AFTER the board approved a $348 million bond measure, which shows that the district really had no clear idea of what it planned to spend that money on, other than solar.)
    I received copies of all the responses Pedersen received. The response from CPHS noted that 10 out of 14 projects on his tentative list had already been done. Instead, CPHS named the following three projects as priorities: telephone system, Wi-Fi, and “new grass athletic field with proper grading and drainage.” The CPHS list also noted a request for paving between wings in all but planter areas, with proper grading and drainage, including paving the area next to the gym.
    The request is not signed, so it’s unclear if Oaks was the one who filled out the form. But, since she didn’t retire until June, 2011, it would appear that she was the one responsible for it. So, it’s unclear why she said she wasn’t aware that a majority of the funds would pay for school site improvements, unless the district had not clearly informed principals of that fact.

  43. g Says:

    The entire bs of Pedersen not knowing which projects had been completed by 2002 money is just that–bs. He was the district asst. supt directly overseeing what the project management company was doing.

    Asking school admins to go over lists to see if their “priorities had changed”–more bs when you look at the shuffling of admins from site to site. Who knew what had been completed at their old site, or what priorities had been listed by the ex-admin at their current site? Pedersen knew–but solar was the name of the game that was only being played in the back rooms at the district.

    Considering the context of the skewed information we were all being fed to get both bonds passed, who among us, including the Times Editorial Board, knew in 2002 that a main goal was to build and prepare to build new schools in Bay Point, and just throw up dozens of modulars/portables in Concord? Who knew in the Spring of 2010 that priority #1 of the new bond was solar?

  44. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Teacher @ 81 and others regarding teacher time to learn, collaborate, plan, etc.;

    Much of (not all, but maybe a good majority) the learning and collaboration can and should be done virtually – teleconferences are relatively easy to set up and maintain, and are cost effective. Virtual sessions cut way down on travel time (and travel reimbursements), cut out time away from “the office”, while providing the much needed “face time” and collaborative dialogs sessions many need / find beneficial. Virtual sessions can be captured / recorded and referred back to and shared with others as appropriate as learning tools.

    What does it take to bring this district into the 21st century?

  45. teacher Says:

    #94 and #83 – Many professions not only provide paid time for professional development or continuing education, but also provide incentives. They do not require training to occur on personal time though I’m sure employees are more than encouraged to continue learning on their own, as are we.

    The specific trainings mentioned earlier are meant to be delivered district and site-wide so that positive instructional learning impact will be across the district. If we attempted to train in a “continuing education” fashion, then we would not have systemic reform. We would have a smattering of learning that is not focused or centralized.

    We used to have staff development days sprinkled throughout the year so that we could engage in ongoing learning and collaboration activities. Those are long gone so we are left with the option of being released from our classrooms. It is definitely not optimal and there are surely newer methods to be utilized, but those would take $$ to implement – updating hardware, wiring, facilities…..

  46. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Teacher and Sooo Frustrated, “Doctor” J knows more about what happens at school sites than you do, even though you actually work there.

    “Doctor” J also thinks principals should be instructional leaders, in between principal meetings, parent meetings, IEP meetings, SST meetings, 504 meetings, Title 1 meetings, student discipline, suspensions, writing the Single Plan for Student Achievement, writing the Safety Plan, attending PTA meetings, chairing the Site Council, multiple teacher evaluations over a single school year…and about a few hundred other things that principals have to do.

    “Doctor” J, I invite you to step from behind your district desk and actually visit a school site. Pick any one. I doubt you’ll find the principal with his/her feet up, eating bonbons and watching the security camera feed. Every principal I’ve ever met needs roller skates and extra-strength vitamins.

    If you can come up with a time to teach principals everything they should be teaching the teachers, and the time in which to do this teaching, paste your plan here and we’ll all applaud. But be sure you don’t take the principals off campus, or you’ll just be complaining that they don’t spend enough time on campus. Ready…set…GO!

  47. Jim Says:

    @95 Teacher — You’ve put your finger on the problem, which I see all over, not just in cash-strapped CA. Districts have reduced PD days, making it difficult to do any kind of face-to-face training. (You may think that many professionals still have that in the private sector, but that is not my experience. All but the largest companies have cut back on in-house professional training, except where employees are getting trained on a specific new critical system, where the vendor includes training in the contract.) These days, knowledge employees typically learn whatever they can on their own time, often finding their own instruction, as they try to keep their skills updated and maintain their marketability in a volatile job market.

    Teachers are at a specific disadvantage in this new world. They are some of the most isolated professionals anywhere in the economy. As a private sector employee, I had interactions (meetings, calls, emails etc.) all day long with peers, people who supported my function, and the people I supported. It was relatively easy to see if I was falling behind, skill-wise, or if someone else needed some additional training. In the typical school district, however, two teachers with dramatically different approaches (and student outcomes!) can be teaching almost next to one another, and the less successful one will never realize what she could be doing better. That needs to change.

    Virtual training is going to be the wave of the future, and teachers will be expected, more and more, to do it on their own time. The technology can be expensive, but not nearly as expensive as hiring substitutes (and bearing the costs of that essentially lost student instruction time). The good news is that there are more and more good tools out there that make it much more viable for teachers to learn collaboratively and work together, even when they aren’t together in the same room. Our students are learning how to learn in that fashion (albeit with almost no help from their schools), and I suspect their teachers will have to catch up with them, if they want to continue to maximize their impact on student learning.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    @Teacher, Most professionals have “continuing education” requirements to maintain their licences — doctors, lawyers, etc. Many have to pay out of their pockets and attend on weekends and nights. Teachers don’t.I agree with you that systemic reform is important. To do that in a district, it needs to be led by the Supt. But don’t take away from instructional time. The real smoke screen is that 40% of the substitute costs[buried in the budget] amount to a few million dollars that could be used foracross the board training. However, the KEY is that each principal must get her or his “instructional team” in synch. When you think of what a principal should be doing: think how Bruce Bochy managed the SF Giants to two World Championship in three years with essentially two differnt rosters. He built unity and maximized the use of the talent. That’s what a Principal should do — but its awful hard when Julie B-M has some clerical person filling your roster of teachers “with the next person on the list.” @FT, you want to know how upside down MDUSD is in how it expects its principals to “do everything” ? Ask some of the experienced Principals who transfered in from other districts this year how screwed up MDUSD is. Try Charla Hernandez, Angela Hotchkiss, and Kristan Martin-Meyer — if they dare talk since they all have been warned of the vindictiveness in MDUSD for not towing the company line.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Teacher: Measure C is providing the money to needed to use more state-of-the-art technologies. Now that the solar projects are up and running, the district is moving onto its lower priority items, such as updating hardware, wiring and facilities.
    The district also has established a technology committee tasked with looking at what types of technology to purchase with Measure C money. Now is the time to speak up, if anyone has suggestions. But, of course, I don’t know when this committee meets, since I don’t think agendas or minutes are posted. However, I believe Rose Lock is heading it up.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of the lists of projects, I have just received the following email from the Drama teacher at Sequoia MS, urging the Sequoia community to purchase the “Chasing Rodriguez” DVD so the school can get a stage in its multiuse room:

    “Hello Everyone,
    Here’s just some information on the movie I was in a couple of years back. You can now order it for $17.95 and $3 of every purchase will go into a stage fund.
    I am trying to get a new stage for Sequoia Middle School. I would like one with lights and sound. It would also be nice not to hear every step that a student takes. This is a very professional video and kid friendly.
    Thanks for thinking about it and make it a great day!
    Jane Enloe
    Sequoia Middle School
    Drama/6th Grade Core”

    The interesting thing about this is that former Sequoia MS Principal Hellena Postrk (who is now a SASS coach) specifically requested a new stage as her number 2 priority (behind air conditioning) on the Measure C “Review of Site Facility Needs” that she submitted to Pete Pedersen back in March of 2010. Now, more than two years later, the school has solar panels and is getting air conditioning, but apparently the staff there still has not been given any assurance that it will get the stage it has been asking for since 2010. So, it has resorted to establishing its own “stage fund,” even though Pleasant Hill taxpayers are spending millions in Measure C money to pay for school improvements in their community.

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