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Fremont says “no, no, no” to school cuts

By Linh Tat
Thursday, March 4th, 2010 at 7:12 pm in Education, Fremont Unified.

More than 300 Fremont teachers and other school employees, parents and students gathered at the intersection of Mowry Ave./Fremont Blvd. after school Thursday as part of a statewide Day of Action against education cuts. It was the typical rally, with cars honking and people waving signs and chanting.

For me, the most memorable part was listening to the head of the teachers union, Brannin Dorsey, lead the crowd in a song about budget cuts, written by Washington High teacher Matt Ballin and set to the tune of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Here’s a 10-second footage of the crowd singing (sorry for the poor quality) with some of the lyrics below (in blue):

Try to make me take a pay cut but, I say No, No, No!

Yes it’s been tough, and we’ve had enough, I say No, No, No!

I put in my time,

And I won’t take one less dime!

Try to make us take a pay cut but, we say No, No, No!

 

Try to make me raise my class size, but I say No, No, No!

Yes it’s too much, and we’ve had enough,  I say No, No, No!

Good teaching can’t be done,

At 35 to One.

Try to make me raise my class size, but I say No, No, No!

 

(Verse)

Services for children always bleed,

When those in power can’t see their own greed,

If you think there’s no money to be found,

Then I’m afraid you haven’t looked around,

There is value in what we do,

We deserve a bonus too.

 

Tryin to reduce our hours, but I say No, No, No!

We work more than you know, so just let it go, I say No, No, No!

You may want us to work less,

But we’re left with the mess.

Tryin to reduce our hours, but we say No, No, No!

 

Try to take away my prep time, but I say No, No, No!

It’s just not fair, we need time to prepare, I say No, No, No!

You may not understand,

It takes time to build a lesson plan,

Try to take away my prep time, but we say No, No, No!

 

(Verse) 

We all know we that we can’t save a cent,

If we don’t make a healthy investment,

In our kids and their future welfare,

I bet  they already think we don’t care,

But it doesn’t have to be,

Just sing along with me.

 

Try to cut the Arts and Phys Ed, but I say No, No, No!

Try to cut Libraries and Music, but I say No, No, No!

Kids will not succeed,

If they don’t get what they need,

Try to cut the heart of the school out, but we say No, No, No!

 

Try to make us cut more Teachers, but I say No, No, No!

They’ve just come on board, and then shown the door , I say No, No, No!

A better future can’t be reached,

If there’s nobody left to Teach!!!

Try to make us cut more Teachers, but I say No, No, No!

 

As for school board members, I heard Lara York was at the rally but didn’t see her. I did bump into Lily Mei, as well as Ivy Wu, who took the opportunity to also walk her dog. (She kept crossing the streets to keep her four-legged friend moving.)

Here are random quotes from today:

- “I hope they don’t cut PE and science. … You can learn about different things in the world.” — Valeria Leon, first-grader at Brier Elementary (about why science is her favorite subject)

- “I want to meet our reading goals. I was going to use the library, but I can’t go.” — Gianna Gemeiner, third-grader at Azevada Elementary (regarding the library being open only two days/week instead of five days like last year)

- “They’re cutting out science when Silicon Valley is right here. … (My daughter) might not even know her dream is to be a scientist. That’s something she’s not even able to experience.” — Joseph Tarquini, parent and worker at Azevada Elementary

- “I have been asked to picket outside my school, I’ve been asked to leaflet, I’ve been asked to write letters to the editor. … I don’t know any other profession… where they have to fight tooth and nail just to maintain working conditions and maintain pay. It is a crime, and it’s because the state of California cannot get their act together, and we’re not going to take it anymore.” — Brannin Dorsey, president of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association

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  • Brannin Dorsey

    I can attest that Lara York was there and so was Assistant Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi, Diana Brumbaugh (AP from MSJHS) and Marianne Schmidt (Parkmont Principal.)

  • ivy

    Yup. I saw Lara, too. Thanks for posting the lyrics. Couldn’t really hear all the words that Brannin was singing. I just got excited shouting “No, No, No!”

  • http://www.YourAmericanVoice.com Fazlur Khan

    A passionate rally with emotions reflecting on the faces of the students, parents, teachers and community members of Fremont. All deserve the appreciation of the community. It is such distrubing and distressing that the biggest State and the world’s Super Power does not have $17 Billion for 2 years education in the State, while hundreds of billions of dollars spent on unnecessary wars. I commend the efforts and leadership of the of the Organizers and Ms.Brannin Dorsey. I have committed to Ms.Dorsey and her leadership to work with them in their efforts to get funding for education.

  • http://www.ishanforcouncil.com Ishan Shah

    Mr. K, the community as a whole must stand beside our teachers, the parents, and most importantly: our students. However, we don’t fix anything by pointing our fingers at Federal issues. We need to figure out how to address things here, at our level, where WE can control what happens. The Feds need our help, by shouldering our own responsibility and taking care of local issues, we contribute to the recovery of the United States of America. I think anybody you ask will say they are for better schools. Its quite simple to say so, another thing entirely to have a plan to make it so.

  • VOR

    Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. were selected as finalists in the “Race to the Top” federal educational funding program. At stake is $4.35 billion in school reform grants.

    “One standout rejection: California, where districts have laid off thousands of teachers and slashed academic programs in light of steep budget cuts. Lawmakers there wrangled for weeks before passing a package of school reform measures designed to make the state more competitive for the funding.”

    The U.S. Department of Education named 16 finalists Thursday in the first round of its “Race to the Top” competition, which will deliver $4.35 billion in school reform grants.

    Selected from a pool of 41 applicants are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee. The winners will be chosen in April, and a second round of applications accepted in June.

    “These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

  • http://www.YourAmericanVoice.com Fazlur Khan

    VOR,it is very unfortunate our State could not get Federal Education Funds due to very poor leadership and
    presentation of our case.
    http://www.YourAmericanVoice.com

  • http://www.YourAmericanVoice.com Fazlur Khan

    VOR,thanks for a well written post about the Federal
    Education Funding. It is unfortunate that we could not make it due to the poor leadership of the State and presentation of our case by the State Education Superintendent.

  • VOR

    Mr. Kahn, I can only take credit when credit is due. The material I posted was a straight lift from morning news.

    It does point out our state government is broken and like in Humpty Dumpty, all the kings men can’t put it together again. Shame on them all, Democrats and Republicans alike.

  • Bruce

    The state had better try harder for the next round in June…

  • Godfrey

    California is bankrupt,the teachers unions for years have financed and campaigned for the Democrat politicians who drove the state over the financial cliff. The same public school teachers are barely educating the small number of students who actually graduate. I’m working my tail off to keep my small business from going down the drain and I haven’t pulled a paycheck out for over a year. And yet we are asked once again to find some compassion and support for public education and educators. Teachers need to stop teaching the kids sing silly songs and get a reality check, sorry the rest of us are all taped out!!!

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: if the state is maxxed out, it is not from over-paying teachers. California spends much less than the national average per student, while we have a higher cost of living. And Fremont gets less than the state average, due to the rules that were set up after Prop 13 passed.
    I think we spend too much on prison guards, there is a union with some clout it seems :-/
    I hear you about your own situation though…

  • J.R.

    Our money is being wasted on paper pushing bureaucrats(See Karen Bass and staff)and every superintendent(Arne Duncan)on the national, state, county and local level(why do we need so many)? The school district offices are replete with unnecessary redundant positions and waste.When the district does cut, they cut these phantom positions.

  • Bruce

    J.R.: Huh? Last year FUSD cut teachers. They’ll need to get a pay cut from the teachers this year, or they’ll have to cut more teachers. 20:1 for 1-3 is in trouble, which sucks because we get some money for it. I’m glad the board told the district staff they were not going to cut more counselors, and to come back with some cost reductions from the central office. But what do you mean about the office being “replete” with redundancy?

  • J.R.

    Bruce,
    I was watching a board meeting, and the question was asked “The position district public liaison” do we need that, and the response was “yeah, we have some measures on the ballot coming up, and we need to talk to parents”.I never got a call, and besides teachers are your best liaisons because they talk to parents every day. I have a good friend who told me that the main office just hired two new people, probably as a buffer for fake downsizing when the time comes. Along with cutting phantom positions, the main office covers their own quite well, and will never share in the pain.I’m not a teacher but this is outrageous.

  • J.R.

    Bruce,
    Another thing, the taxpayers, and by extension the education system should not be used as a job bank. You either have valuable skills to offer to the benefit of the district or you find another line of work. It’s just that simple!We know what teachers do, we know what principals do, but do we really know what supers and asst supers do? Do we really need all of them on the national,state,county and local level?

  • Linh Tat

    Actually, J.R., FUSD’s public information officer was laid off in December (or maybe the beginning of January; I forget the exact date).

  • Bruce

    JR: I don’t have a good perspective on the jobs at the district office. I know they’ve been told to find something to cut at headquarters. I talked to the former PIO a couple of times, she was really responsive and helpful. I don’t think she was redundant. Do you think it can all be taken out of the head office? From the size of the cut, I don’t see how they can avoid pay cuts across the board.

  • WastedMoney

    Funny that people think throwing more money at a school is going to immprove its API. School API scores are based on students performance, and depends on the kids studying harder, and their parents being more responsible. Buying top dollar laptops, projectors, new buildings and paint is NOT going to make these kids study harder or their parents more responsible. Kids in 3rd world countries are much poorer and their parents at a much lower standard of living than the poorest communitiesin america. Still they do good in school.

    How come basic common sense things get missed by our politicians and administrators.

  • Godfrey

    Bruce, I’ve heard the less than national average and Prop-13 nonsense excuse before. As we all know the Teachers Union throws it in our faces endlessly every election cycle when they need a pay raise or a school bond passed because after all,it’s for the children. The best excuse you left out though is the the spending comparison per student to poor old Louisiana or Mississippi,that’s the one that always makes me laugh. The time for excusses is over the teachers need to get back to the classroom and stop standing on the street corner singing silly songs and carring signs Oh,and good luck with passing any future school bonds.

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: Godfrey: I’m talking about >Fremont< here. How is it not a real issue that Fremont gets $700 a child less than Pleasanton? How would you like to run your business with 20% less money coming in than your competition, yet the same expenses. This is a real issue, not an excuse. And whether you like Prop 13 or not, this offset comes from the way money was divvied up 30 years ago, and has been cast in stone since then.

  • VOR

    Kids can learn. As this CBS report from Harlem proves:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6271471n&tag=contentMain;contentBody

    It takes a community to raise a child.

  • J.R.

    Thanks Lin,
    It had to have been January. Bruce, No, of course not all, but some can realistically be dealt with. Next item is that teachers union should not protect under-performing teachers who are from year to year passing kids who aren’t learning and parents are asking each other “did your child learn much in so and so’s class, and are they a good teacher? This is a real problem and we need real objective criteria to judge teacher competence. We just let go a bunch of young, talented, dedicated teachers and we are expecting many retirements over the next five years.

  • Mei Mei

    I’m sadly reading all of these comments as it seems the readers of the article missed the point of the rally. We are facing budget cuts for the second year in a row. The district, like many districts around our state, has no money to provide the city’s children with a P.E. teacher, a Computer Lab teacher, or a Science Lab teacher at each of the Fremont elementary schools. Classroom teachers used the time that students were benefiting from these special courses to plan instruction, evaluate student performance, make phone calls to parents, display student work, conference with specialists, conquer the ever-enlarging mound of paperwork that is required of them and prepare upcoming activities. Children no longer are able to access the school library on a weekly basis, as it has been cut by 50%. Kindergarteners languish is classrooms crowded with 30 kids, some without English at that age, all levying for the attention of one teacher. Next year, children in first through third grade will have 2 thirds the amount of teacher interaction that they were afforded this year as class sizes will increase to 30 students per one teacher.
    If you were concerned about teacher quality last year, take a look at it this year and next. Even the cream of the crop of teaching staff are stuggling to meet the needs of their students with less and less.

  • Godfrey

    Oh Bruce,Oh Bruce!!the academic life has sheltered your perspective,you have been mislead as to the way the real world works,it’s now time to grow up,come into the real world,your an adult now,come to the light!! Life is hard,my profit margins are far less than my larger competitors,more than 20% but how could that be? And yet I still survive? I know it’s hard for you to understand,but you can do it!!try!! try!! Please don’t follow the other Eloids into the cave,try! try!!

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: putting your name twice was a typo. I’m an adult and I behave like one. You seem to be more interested in being provocative than addressing a serious point. Good night.

  • Godfrey

    Bruce,if I offended you I apologize,perhaps I was tired from a hard week and it was late,but it was not my intent to insult you,I’m sorry. My intent was for you and many who post here to please step outside your comfort zones and rethink your arguments for financing public education. I’m a small business man and I can assure you that after two and a half years of recession my world has changed and I don’t think we and I mean all of us know how or when it will end. But this I know, it’s my opinion this is a transitional recession and for the private sector(small business)in California we are never going back to what it was before it started. Yet the educational establishment is expecting the Private Sector and citizens to continue underwriting it and supporting it as usual and that’s my point,you and others may need to rethink your arguments. Put yourself in my shoes,see through my eyes,can you imagine how insulted I was on Thursday afternoon as I drove through the intersection of Mowry and Fremont Blvd and seeing all those students waving signs and then learning here they were also singing a silly song. It’s my opinion the public educational establishment in Fremont didn’t do themselves any favors in allowing this or encouraging it and I don’t mean you Bruce but others,what were you all thinking?

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: thanks for putting your position better. Can’t type more than that right now, but wanted to acknowledge what you said.

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: back on line for a bit, will respond a bit more. I’m sorry you feel insulted that teachers, parents and kids are protesting, but I do not apologize for the fact that my friends were out there. The schools have been getting cut for years now. You think Fremont getting hundreds less than the state average per student is not an issue? You think the payment per student for California being at the bottom for the whole USA is not an issue? This is how it affects my children:
    Libraries closed. Young teachers laid off. Class sizes increased by 50%. Dilapidated 40 year old portables that leak. Counselors laid off to the point where the ratio is 700 students to one counselor, and then proposals to lay off more.
    So don’t tell me that we are making “excuses”. These are real issues and people are going to protest about it. We are >wayyouthe existing public school system<, lay it out. But if your response to the current situation is that everyone should just shut up and take it, it's not going to happen.

  • Bruce

    Well I wrote a longer response, but it seems to be stuck in moderation. Oh well…

  • Godfrey

    Bruce, maybe insulted is too strong a word and I’m not sure it fits, maybe disappointed or maybe sad. But I can only say whatever emotion or reaction or point that was intended to be made to the public wasn’t made to me. But I’m just one guy who happened to drive through the intersection on Thursday afternoon. However, I’m not anti public education I have real concerns about education but I think you missed my point when I said, I believe this is a “transitional recession for California.” Bruce,I didn’t mean our State would be better or wealthier when it’s over. I meant the general economic future for our State is doubtful. I just think educators need to lower their expectations and retool their arguments because this could be a long go. I also think Teachers should stop using children as stage props,it’s wrong. Bruce,I know you don’t agree but don’t shoot the messenger.

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: Now that it has posted, I see a good chunk of my carefully proof-read rant got mangled because I used left arrow and right arrow signs to bracket points I wanted to emphasize. I meant to ask for what you think should be done to make school financing more predictable. The current system sucks!

  • Godfrey

    Bruce: Making school financing more predictable because current system sucks! Now there’s a good place to start because we both agree on something. Bruce I don’t have all the answers but I know the educational establishment is way to insulated from the business community. Part of it is politics because business guys tend to be more conservative and I know most teachers are more liberal. But I’ve lived in Fremont for twenty two years and I’ve owned a business in Newark for twenty and I’ve only met one local teacher in all that time. It’s my opinion you guy’s are way to removed from the community. You mentioned run down buildings,I think the Mission San Jose High School campus is an antique and needs to be torn down and replaced with an all new campus. I could really get on board for a school bond for that. However unless something changes in the wasteful education spending there is no way I would vote for or support such a project. But Bruce,the answer to your question is not in Sacramento or your Union,it’s here,it’s local. You guys need to stop the street theater with the kids and get out and meet the people. I know that’s easier said than done but this State is at the bottom of the well and we are all looking for a way out. I think you would be surprised at the support you would get if you only just asked for it.

  • Bruce

    Godfrey: to clarify, I’m a parent, not a teacher… so I think I am part of “the people”. A lot of parents are upset at the changes we see happening. I think we need to agree to disagree.