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Fremont Unified eliminates parent conferences

By Linh Tat
Friday, November 20th, 2009 at 10:56 am in Education, Fremont, Fremont Unified.

There’s an article in today’s paper about Fremont Unified eliminating the two traditional parent conference days as part of this year’s budget cuts. Teachers had their work year reduced by five days (equivalent to about a 2.67 percent pay cut), so they’re not meeting with every parent. Some will still meet with parents who request a conference, but there are reports that other teachers are refusing to set up face-to-face meetings, opting instead to communicate by phone or e-mail. (District officials say they expect that if a parent specifically requests a meeting, that teachers would still honor that request.)

Some parents feel they’re not missing much by not having conferences, while others are outraged. Some feel the elimination of face-to-face time with teachers is a step back for a district whose leaders say they want to improve communication with stakeholders.

What do you think?

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  • Marty

    I think sacrifices need to be made so our firefighters can make executive salaries.

  • Jon Simon

    I know, let’s pay less taxes and demand more services, especially from teachers. At the same time, let’s Race to the Bottom with more top-down educational practices. You know why they call it top-down? Because educational quality goes down.

  • Jon

    “District officials say they expect that if a parent specifically requests a meeting, that teachers would still honor that request.”

    In other words, district officials say they expect that teachers will work for free. Which, of course, they will. They always do. I know teachers who routinely put in 10-12 hour days while people assume they only work from bell to bell. I suppose that one of the hazards of believing in your job and going the extra mile is that people will come to expect that extra mile.

  • Tracy

    If the parents want teachers to meet with them, then the parents need to pressure the board to not cut parent/teacher conference days. Parents are asking teachers to do work they are no longer getting paid for – those days were cut, not by the teachers, but by the district. Teachers didn’t decided parent communication wasn’t important, the district and board did.

  • Marty

    Jon, taxes rates are up across the board. With the exception of the unemployed and the underwater, there is not one person in CA paying less taxes this year than last year.

  • Gus Morrison

    This is the best example of the problem all government faces today. There is not enough money to continue to provide the same services we provided several years ago. Governing boards trim services, trying to protect the most important (in this case, classroom time) and you see the result.

    Make all the noise about taxes, firefighters, etc., but spend the time looking at revenues available to the governing boards and see where the money goes. If it is being spent inappropriately, it is time to replace the members of the board. I would guess that every one of them is trying as hard as they can to keep the important services as they try to keep their government solvent.

    Clearly you get what you pay for.

  • bbox231

    Gus this where the discussion de-rails. You cant ask folks to dig deeper into their wallets when they themselves are earning less and paying more for their own survival.

    Your “instincts” about how “every one” of our public servants are “trying as hard” as they can – - – - – IMHO flies in the face of facts. Take a look at pension headlines, take a look at squandered RDA funds, city-specific fire districting is a concept long outdated for most communities, heck take a look at the salary INCREASES . . . . . the list goes on and on.

    I see businessmen and woman in the private sector who are challenged to justify their existance and every penny they spend every day of the week – their total compensation is shrinking.

    And while I appreciate that there are aspects of the public sector that are feeling squeezed, the mentality is vastly different and ambivalence reigns supreme when all you need to do is wait for the taxpayer to buckle under the weight of ever waning services. . . . .

    Having said that – - Our public educational institutions have been at the wrong end of our economic priorities for far too long.

  • Jon Simon

    As a whole and for many reasons, not just the economy, we’re paying less taxes overall. The money has to come from somewhere. Prop 13 is the worst offender, robbing the young to give to the old, just like Medicare.

    If you weren’t aware, not only were days cut, most class sizes grew and prep time was drastically reduced. This translates to more work for less money. Yes, teachers make up for the lost time by working overtime for free. For instance, my wife worked on Veterans Day along with many others.

  • Marty

    Jon, I share your frustration with Prop 13. I’ve come around on that and fully agree with the reality of having restructure how the state pulls in the duckets.

    You’re obfuscating the issue with the statement that ” we’re paying less taxes overall” because on a household basis across the board, ever family earning income in CA is paying a greater portion of that income to the state than they were last year. That is indisputable. I’d even say as wage income and sales tax rates have gone up, the burden in CA has been transferred to the middle and lower ranks.

    And BTW, I work a tremendous amount of OT without extra pay. And I rarely take issue with that privilege, of working hard that is.

  • Gus Morrison

    Box,

    My point really is that there isn’t enough money to continue the way we always did things. When there isn’t enough money, and there is no way to add any more, you need to cut something. Fremont cut library hours, animal shelter hours, street tree trimming, and other discretionary programs to maintain core services at an acceptable service level. Most governmental agencies will do the same. Public safety and maintenance take 90% of the money and are the most important things a city does.

  • bbox231

    Gus ,

    We absolutely agree that there isn’t enough money to continue doing things the way we have.

    MY point is that before we go asking for more – let’s sweep clean on the uses of what we’ve already got – and the evidence suggests that there’s room for improvement.

    Until THAT priority is addressed – dont expect taxpayers to part with more of their fewer and harder-earned dollars. But – your response – that more is needed is exactly what the public sector serves up first – - – and, if taxpayers are not willing to fork over – - – well, just cut more services – just trust that our effiecencies are world-class.

    The “public safety” black hole is a great generalization which many have historically been unwilling to question. Recent findings about pension abuses suggest that this is a sector where abuses have been occurring and additional scrutiny is required.

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  • Californiaguy

    We are entering a new era, The State is not only broke but billions in debt.
    Most all cities are near broke. School Districts are suffering. There is just so much money for state and local government, no one wants to pay more taxes.
    We have to get used to getting less services.
    What can we do, STOP local and state governments from spending money on non essential services, like the Bullet Train, Peripheral Canal, etc.
    These things are nice, but we cannot afford them. I am not happy about this, but I am also pragmatic.
    The whining and complaining will not fix the problem. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem!

  • Godfrey

    California guy has it right. We have entered into a new era. I fear,our State has a long slow road ahead to recovery. I don’t believe that more Government is the answer. Our State Government must back off from these crazy anti business environmental regulations.
    It’s criminal the way The Board of Equalization and the Franchise Tax Board harass small business. We need to make California competitive again for all business,large or small. With a broader tax base in the future we will be able to again afford the public sector services that we have been accustom to in the past. But if we don’t start showing our Private sector our Love and if we don’t immediately cut more spending then we can look to the State of Michigan as our model for our future. A shrinking population of educated citizens and burned out cities like Detroit is where we are heading and it ain’t pretty!

  • Brandalyn

    I agree with Californiaguy. I think we are missing the point here. Beyond what we CAN do about the Bullet Train, etc., the bottom line is whether or not our kids’ education is suffering from this cut back. The parents should also be a part of the solution by only requesting a conference when absolutely necessary. I realize this is just one more step backward for the CA education system; however, I also believe this will not be a permanent problem. We all need to hang in there, and stay focused on taking an active role in our childrens’ education at home.

  • Fremont Lifer

    I just wanted to thank Brandalyn for her positive post – so often commenters (and I include myself in this) are in the habit of anticipating negative outcomes, and it’s nice to hear somebody say that things will improve in time, particularly if we’re proactive.

  • bbox231
  • bbox231

    Imagine that – a local media is appearently the driving force which encourages a public inistitution to weed out underperformers so that higher performers can be retained . . . .

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-teachers18-2009dec18,0,6523820.story

  • Teri Hu

    Oh for goodness sake!

    I teach in FUSD, and I sent out a letter that provided my personal contact information and offered to meet with any parent who was concerned about their kids’ performance if they wanted. Not one taker out of 160 students.

    It’s always been the high performing students’ parents who monopolized conferences, not the parents of the students who really NEEDED intervention, anyway.

    If a parent was really worried about how their child is doing, they don’t need to wait for our annual pre-Thanksgiving waste-of-time…just contact the teacher and talk to them.