Focus on Educators April 2010

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textbooks, larger class sizes and no pay raise in site. Nothing appears to be changing regarding these measures. The future looks bleak. March 4th was just the first step in a long process of public awareness. Did you remember to tell a friend or family member how these cuts are going to affect your job? Did you tell a parent how these cuts are going to affect their child’s education? Remember…they will listen to you. We have to keep the momentum moving forward. CTA President David Sanchez has declared April “Community Outreach” Month. We are the money he took from public education. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and explain how the cuts have hurt your classroom and your pocketbook. Create a video and post it on YouTube with your grade level explaining how these budget cuts affect your classroom. At Open House, take a moment to explain to parents how the cuts will impact your classroom teaching. Label items in your classroom that you paid for with your own money. Contact your legislators and tell them NO MORE CUTS! Use the toll free hotline at 1-888-268-4334. A major force of complaining can be aimed at repealing the corporate tax breaks that the Legislature handed out to large corporations and oil companies last year. They got a break while education got the cut….of $17 billion. Also we need to look out there and see that we vote for lawmakers who will stand up for public education and not be intimidated or take payola from big business. Please make a pledge to reach out to ONE person this month and tell them how education is hurting. If all
focus on educators is an award winning publication of the Pittsburg Education Association/CTA/NEA _____________________________________________________________________________________
Volume XIX, Number 8
In this Issue
President’s Message & Informational Items… Pgs. 1-3 NEA Election Results Pg. 4 Teacher of the Year….Pgs. 4-5 Informational Items….Pgs. 6-7 PEA Calendar……… The Last Page
PEA President’s Message
Okay, now that the March 4th Rally for Education is in the past now what are we supposed to do? We still have district wide budget cuts, loss of staff development days, worn out
standing united with the state Education Coalition in demanding that lawmakers keep their promise to repay public schools the more than $11 billion they are owed under state law. Write or e-mail the governor and demand he restore
530 of us did that then if those people told one other person we would have a movement of information going……let’s do it!
Wag More, Bark Less… but Bark About the Cuts to Education!!!
Chris Coan PEA President
PEA Leadership 2009-2010 President Chris Coan
Willow Cove Elementary/ PEA Office
Elementary Vice President Cindy Joy
Parkside Elementary
Rep. Council Meeting Calendar
September 16 October 21 November 18 December 16 January 20 February 17 March 17 April 21 May 19 June 9 ******************
Secondary Vice President James Vaughan
Riverside High School
Secretary Sarah Mathias
Highlands Elementary
Treasurer Vacant Committee Chairs Grievance Committee Iris Contreras
Foothill Elementary
School Board Meeting Calendar
August 26 September 9 September 23 October 14 October 28 November 18 December 16 January 20 February 17 March 3 March 24 April 14 April 28 May 12 May 26 June 9 June 23 ******************
Richard Higgins
Pittsburg High
Negotiations Team Marc Sternberger - Chair Political Action Committee Iris Contreras and Steve Longley - Chair Elections Chair Jim Goble – Chair Human Rights Committee Ruth Foster – Chair Women’s Issues Committee Deborah Cummings PEA Organizing Team Jim Vaughn and Bebe Vaughn - Chair CTA State Council Representatives Chris Rohde - Pittsburg High Denise James, Valorie Baca, Sandra Wilbanks - AEA Alternate Cindy Joy - Parkside Elementary CTA Director District C Eric Heins – Willow Cove Elementary NEA Director for California, District 3 Marc Sternberger – Special Education/MLK Technical Editor Susan Harrison – PEA Site Secretary Focus on Educators is a publication of the Pittsburg Education Association CTA/NEA 1901 Railroad Avenue #A Pittsburg, CA 94565 Phone: (925) 432-0199 fax: (925) 432-4854
Are you Getting your PEA Information???
Having the site reps attend their monthly meeting and then reporting back to you is vital in the communication chain of our Association. Roll call at last March 17th Rep. Council Meeting: Adult Ed. – absent Foothill – present Heights – present Highlands – present Los Medanos – present Marina Vista – present Parkside – present Stoneman – present Willow Cove – present MLK – present Hillview – absent Rancho Medanos – absent
E-MAIL:[email protected] 2
PHS – present Riverside – present 
provide us with an awareness of how we read people and set up prior assumptions based on past experiences. This workshop is open to everyone and will be held in the curriculum portable at the district office. Please RSVP at [email protected] by May 7th.
PEA Officer Elections Candidacy Forms Available Due into PEA by Thurs. April 29th
Elections for PEA Officers: Elementary Vice President, Secondary Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary will be held April 21 through April 28. (Offices are a one (1) year term). All members in good standing of NEA/CTA and PEA are eligible to run. Candidacy forms are available through your site representative or at the PEA Office. Candidacy Forms are due into the PEA Office (1901 Railroad Avenue #A or FAX: 432-4854) no later than 4:00 pm Thursday, April 29th.
Summer School Hiring Agreement between PEA and PUSD
Here is the criteria used in the hiring of people for summer school positions. 1. Current certificated employees of the District who apply for summer school teaching positions shall be given priority over outside applicants.
2. All summer school teaching positions shall be posted
at least twenty (20) calendar days prior to the application deadline.
Let’s Celebrate the “Day of the Teacher”
You are invited to celebrate and honor your profession.
3. Postings for summer school shall contain only
minimum qualifications, in order to ensure that the widest numbers of unit members are eligible for the positions. 4. The criteria for summer school selection shall be considered in the following order listed below. Each subsequent criteria will only be considered if a tie between applicants results from the preceding criteria and more applicants than positions are still available.
• • •
When? Where? How?
Wednesday, May 12th from 3:30 to 5:30 El Matador Restaurant in Pittsburg A Mexican style buffet dinner and a drink or alcohol beverage will be provided.
Credential(s) in the applied for subject area; Recent classes/grade levels taught in the subject area in the last three years; One point will be given for each formal training, including in-house professional development, completed and verified within the last three years, relevant to the following areas(proof of verification shall be the responsibility of the applicant): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Instructional Strategies Academic Intervention Strategies Student Engagement Strategies Content Standards Parent Involvement Student Motivation Classroom Management
Bring your fun with you and bring a friend or two! Please RSVP at [email protected] by May 10th.
PEA/CTA/PUSD Presents Unconscious Bias Training Workshop
May 11 from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. District Office Portable in the Back
CTA will be presenting this workshop to help all of us in our interpersonal relationships with students and parents and even with each other. This training hopes to

Culturally Relevant Teaching
The District will provide the Association with a list of summer school applicants by position and the District's most recent seniority list, if requested. In order to provide the opportunity for the largest number of unit members, no person shall be selected to teach summer school for more than three (3) consecutive summers, unless there are no qualified applications for the position(s).
became his new goal. Alex graduated with a Bachelor’s in Animal Biology and then entered the credential program at UC Davis. Alex has been teaching at Los Medanos for three years. His first year was in fourth grade and the second two in the fifth grade. Teaching science has been very important to Alex. He strives to make it as hands on as possible and works hard to improve science instruction for all of the fifth grade students at Los Medanos. Alex was instrumental in acquiring a grant to develop a garden being developed by the 4th and 5th grade students. He offers tech support for the staff and is the Accelerated Reader coordinator for the school. It is with great pride that Los Medanos honors Alex Bursch as the school’s TOY for the 2010/2011 school year!

NEA Representative Assembly Election Results Local PEA Delegate Election
Marc Sternberger, MLK Eric Heins, Willow Cove Bebita Montesinos-Vaughn , Foothill Cindy Joy, Parkside Elementary Eric Heins, PEA Marc Sternberger, PEA Lee Carpenter, Dublin TA Charles Shannon Cindy Tumin Sally Mills Christine Rohde, PEA Debra Carr 37 33 26 18 419 352 342 258 228 228 205 117
State CTA/Alcosta Delegate Election
Patricia was born and raised in Modesto, California from very traditional parents who always expected the best when it came to education. She was fortunate enough to attend Cal State Stanislaus, in Turlock, California which allowed her to live at home and still attain by B.A. in Liberal Studies and obtain my teaching credential. She moved to Pittsburg in 1996 where she has been married to her husband Sal for 14 years this coming November. It is her personal goal to maintain a close relationship with both of her daughters, ages 5 and 8, so they can always communicate and have an open relationship. Patricia has been teaching since 1993 for a total of 13 years as she took 3 years off to have her two daughters. Patty went into teaching because "I thought I could make a difference, if I could change a child's life or affect it in a way that it would make him/her a better person I wanted to make that change. I have always enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of a child when learning. My goal is to continue improving my teaching strategies in order to be the best teacher I can be."
Patricia Rodriguez, Willow Cove
Highlighted Candidates were elected… However attendance will depend on decisions regarding State and Local Status and funding availability.
Congratulations !!! “Teachers of the Year” Alex Bursch, Los Medanos
Alex Bursch grew up in Martinez. His early years consisted of attending school and swimming. He has been affiliated with the Pleasant Hill “Dolphins” for 16 years, first as a swimmer and currently as a coach. Alex started college at UC Davis with the intention of becoming a veterinarian. In order to be competitive in the veterinary school application process he started volunteering at an elementary school for community service. His volunteer hours increased along with his opportunities to teach lessons and work with small groups. Alex was hooked and teaching
George Patrick Wheable, Riverside
I believe a career in teaching to be one of the most important professions in the world. Where else do you have a hand in the development of a countries future? As a teacher, we help shape tomorrow. We teach the academic skills necessary to be a productive member of society, while demonstrating the social skills that are so vital within our community. After high school graduation, I didn’t know what I was going to do as a career. I enjoyed and had some success coaching. My future father-in-law, a teacher at Ygnacio Valley High School had a hand in my career choice. He knew that I truly enjoyed coaching and simply said, “coaching is nothing more than teaching outside the classroom.” It was then that I realized that I wanted to become a teacher. So I enrolled at DVC in Pleasant Hill and began my journey to become a teacher. It took me three years to complete my two year AA degree, while I worked 48 hours a week at a small tire and wheel store called The Rubber Tree. I saved my money from that job and paid for my first year at Chico State. To complete my junior and senior year at CSU Chico, I worked as a Resident Advisor in the dorms during the school year to pay my room and board. During the summers, I worked security at the Concord Pavilion and the money I made there paid for my tuition for each year. My family wasn’t able to contribute financially as much as they would have liked, but they helped where they could. They helped with the cost of my books, my phone bill and some spending money. More importantly, they were extremely supportive in every other way. As it turns out, I was the only member of my family that graduated from college. While attending Chico State, I earned my degree in Physical Education, with my goal to achieve my teaching credential. However, due to financial issues, I needed to leave before completing my teaching credential classes. I moved back to the Bay Area and began substituting at both the Antioch and Pittsburg Unified School Districts. The principal at Marina High (that was the name of one, of two continuation high schools within the PUSD) asked if I would consider a six week substitute assignment. I agreed. By the end of the three weeks, I was asked to stay for the
remainder of the year. PUSD helped me with a wonderful letter of recommendation, and I entered the Teaching Credential program at CSU Hayward. The principal, Greg Almand, and the Assistant Superintendent were very instrumental in me becoming a full time credentialed teacher. I really enjoyed and connected to my teaching assignment. As a high school sophomore, I wasn’t committed to school. If it wasn’t for my counselor and football coach, I would have been transferred to the local continuation high school, Olympic, in Concord. They both helped me stay focused on completing high school. For that main reason, I believe my life experiences have lead me to teaching here at Riverside. And I have every intention to retire from my teaching assignments right here at Riverside. I have been blessed to have a very successful career teaching here at Riverside High. I especially enjoy when former students come back to see me, and share their life stories after they leave our school. Some graduated, some haven’t, but all seem to really appreciate the time and effort that I gave them while we were together. After a few years, I began to understand how to teach. It is a combination of knowledge for the material and an ability to translate the material into information that can challenge and excite the students. A former colleague shared with me his definition of being old. He said, “When you have students who are the children of former students, you know you’re old.” As true as his statement is, I would prefer to think of myself as a part of many of my students extended families. I often refer to an example to my students, what they have is a “gift.” For example, when you receive a gift for your birthday, wrapped beautifully, you don’t sit there and admire the wrapping, you tear off the paper and bow, to see the gift within. This is the point that I try to share with my students. It’s not the wrapping, but the gift inside which counts. Many times I need to remind my students that it is not how you dress or the music that you listen to, it’s what’s inside which counts. Unfortunately, many of my students have never seen their gift. I feel it is my responsibility to expose them to their value
and contribution to our society. My goal with the students, who have been with me over the years, is that they can recognize the value in themselves and others. This is why I strive to do my best as a man, a father and as a teacher.
Michael Whitaker: 13 years experience in teaching; 12 years teaching at Highlands Elementary Michael Whitaker is truly an exceptional choice for Teacher of the Year from Highlands Elementary. She exemplifies the hard work, dedication and professionalism that is necessary to improve the skills and opportunities of our students. Michael is tireless in her efforts to raise the achievement level of each child. She is knowledgeable and well versed in the best instructional strategies and practices in the classroom. Mrs. Whitaker is meticulous in her preparation. She is often used to model instruction for other teachers. Michael has a way of bringing out the very best in every child. She is able to build their confidence so that they believe that they are able to accomplish whatever they set their mind to doing. Michael finds ways to build on the strengths of each student while addressing their deficits. Michael is passionate about teaching. She is remarkable in every facet of education. It is an honor and a privilege to have her here at Highlands Elementary.
Michael Whitaker, Highlands
California State University—East Bay. During that time she decided that she wanted to be a teacher, so she got a job at a daycare in order to get more experience. Working at the day care led to becoming a preschool teacher! The remainder of her college years were spent as a preschool and day care teacher until she got hired here in the Pittsburg School District as a Language Arts teacher. Christina says she plans to continue teaching in Pittsburg because she loves the staff and the students! Another congratulations is in order because Christina and her husband (and fellow teacher) Michael Zenzano, just had their first child, Landon, on February 26th!
Christina Zenzano, Rancho Medanos
Christina Zenzano has been teaching for 5 years as a Junior High School teacher. However, she actually began teaching in high school! When she was a senior in high school she volunteered to teach Catechism classes one day a week at her church. She enjoyed it so much that she continued to volunteer there for 4 years while she went to college at 6
What To Do If….?
What does a teacher do if they see students in a physical altercation? I asked Dr. Re'Join Frazier-Myers, director of student services, for an answer. The first thing you need to do is call for help and inform someone in the office. Next attempt to breakup the fight, but while doing so and physically laying a hand on a child, announce your intention " I’m breaking up this fight!" Immediately write-up an accident report and give it to your administrator. Under no circumstances are you to walk-away from a student fight as you could be cited for negligence. What does a teacher do if they are asked by their administrator to change a student's grade? Your grade you give is your own. Administration does not have the right to order a change in a grade. According to Ed Code 49066 "the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final." You must be able to explain your reasoning behind the grade. What do I do if there is a school emergency? I don't know my sites disaster plan. Schools must establish safety plans and inform their staff of the safety plan and they need to do this EVERY YEAR!! Your SSC should have already written up the plan. Please make sure your site is educated on what the plan actually is. Don't wait until a disaster occurs. PEA has grieved this and has been assured that the safety plan and emergency supplies are ready to go and the sites are prepared. Is this true? Contact PEA if this is not the case. How do I know if I have a student that has a history of violent acts? Where do I find out this information? According to Ed Code 49079 the district must inform a teacher of each pupil who has engaged in violent acts for the last three years. This has been brought up by PEA with PUSD administrators and they have agreed to set up a binder in the school site office with the required information. This confidential information will be made available to any employee that has contact with these students. This binder is to be made available at the beginning of the school year and will be kept up to date as the school year progresses.
POP QUIZ “The Duty of Fair Representation (DFR)
1. ___The association has a duty to listen to nonmembers. 2. ___An agency fee payer has a right to vote on the results negotiations. 3. ___Once a site representative refers a contract issue to his/her president or staff person; he/she has complied with the duty of fair representation. 4. ___If a non-member wants staff assistance on a Reduction in Force hearing, the association is obligated to provide it. 5. ___Authorization for agency payroll deductions can be bargained by the association without the consent of fee payers. 6. ___The association is not obligated to discuss bargaining issues with bargaining unit members until the ratification meeting. 7. ___The association must bargain a special issue regarding a sub group (such as job share teachers) that has 100% support of that subgroup. 8. ___The association must include at least one religious organization in the contribution list available to religious objectors. 9. ___Itinerant, temporary or casual teachers paid out of categorical, grant, or booster funds, have a right to be represented by the union. 10. ___The association has no obligation to allow an agency fee payer to sit in on bargaining. (ANSWERS ON PAGE 7)
What To Do If You Find a Bullet On Campus
A member had requested that I find out what to do in the event that a bullet was found on campus. I asked Dorothy Epps, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel for an answer. She replied that if a bullet or any object that is of a safety concern is found on school property the situation should immediately be referred to the Principal. Under no circumstances should staff or students pick-up the item. If the principal is not on the site, then the office staff may know how to reach 7
the Principal and /or the office staff can call the Superintendent's office and they will get someone there on site ASAP. *******************************
regarding the loss of last January’s Staff Development Day and the loss of pay as well.
Budget Subcommittee Report Out
On Wednesday, April 14, 2010 the budget subcommittee leader, Enrique Palacios, reported out their suggestions to those attending the school board meeting and to the school board members. Their suggestions were categorized into three groups of green, yellow and red. The green list of cuts were items that would be able to be taken with fair simplicity and required no negotiations of any kind. The yellow and the red list of suggestions were a bit more “sticky”. These were items that required negotiation with labor groups (PEA) before they could be agreed upon. Of these items were the following: ♦ Cut the 3 upcoming Staff Development Days and reduce our pay by 1.9% ♦ Cut the first 2 days we work prior to the students arriving with about a 1% pay cut. This would mean starting the work year 15 minutes before students arrive on the first day of school. ♦ Freezing the salary step ladder ♦ Cutting prep teachers and prep classes and having all teachers have prep time after school hours which would extend the work day After discussing this with the Bargaining team the response is that there are no reopeners and the contract is closed until June 20, 2011. If you remember, we settled and signed a contract 2 years ago and this contract was for 3 years. The last line of the contract says it ends June 30, 2011 with no re-openers. You cannot open the contract for certain little items. Once the contract is opened, then it ALL becomes open for negotiation.
“The Duty of Fair Representation” (DFR)
(ANSWERS) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. T F F F T F F F T T
A Book Worth Reading: “ The Death and Life of the Great American School System”
by Diane Ravitch
Diane is a former Assistant Secretary of Education and used to be a strong supporter of NCLB. She used to be a strong proponent of charter schools, standardized testing and merit pay. She has now taken a 180 degree turn and is an ardent opposer of NCLB which she believes is too quick to demonize teachers and teacher unions. This book is worthwhile reading for teachers since we wholeheartedly agree with her findings. It is nice to finally hear a logical, concise explanation for the problems with education that doesn’t involve us as the heart of the problem.
--- NOTICE --The Staff Development Day Grievance Arbitration date set for this past April 16th has been cancelled and we are waiting to hear when the new date will occur. We met prepared for the meeting instead. The assigned arbitrator from the state was very ill. This particular grievance is
Union Code of Conduct
 I will not criticize any union colleague except to the individual directly.
 If any union colleague is being criticized in my presence, I will confront the criticism and ask that it stop.  I will not participate in any conversations with management that criticize or negatively speculate about any union colleague.  I will settle my differences with colleagues within my union.  I will engage in debate, offer others every opportunity for debate and respect minority viewpoints, but I will observe and support the majority mandate of my union.
1 2 4 14 PM 14 PM 21 21 22 28 PM
APRIL 2010
April Fool’s Day Good Friday Easter PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM Administrative Professionals Day Earth Day PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00
MAY 2010
5 Cinco de Mayo 5 PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 8 “WHO Award” Ceremony – Hs Lordships, Berkeley 9 Mother’s Day 12 “Day of the Teacher” – El Matador – 3:30-5:30p.m. 12 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM
19 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 26 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 31 Memorial Day Observed
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