Focus on Educators February 2010

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PEA
FEBRUARY
2010
focus
on educators
responsible for the distribution of safety rules for all personnel concerned and shall appoint a District safety officer to oversee the condition of the district facilities.” Why this is of concern to me is that during our last great rainstorm, Foothill was left without electricity for 5 hours and the school did not have an emergency plan in place as to what to do for this kind of situation. The teachers were scrambling in the dark trying to maintain some kind of sanity in a crazy situation. I don’t want to harp on Foothill, because if it is happening to one site, then I am sure it is happening somewhere else. What should a school do when a situation like this arrives? What is the plan. As of yet, I have not received any productive feedback. I received a response of “we really don’t have an emergency plan for that.” I believe it is wiser and safer to have a plan in place BEFORE you need it rather than AFTERWARDS. I believe the part of the contract violated was “distribution of safety rules for all personnel.” I believe having a plan in place is considered a “safety rule.” Also, I would like to know…who is the District safety officer??? Now to address the next contract violation which is Article 11.1.6 which states, “The District shall provide EACH classroom with first aid kits with basic first aid supplies. Additionally, the District shall insure that disaster preparedness materials such as blankets, bullhorns, radios, water, rope, food packages and the like are available at the school site.” How are your kits folks?? Do you have what you need in the event of an emergency? I believe that EACH classroom kit should have in them: tarps, TP, cups, paper towels, flashlights, garbage bags, water and food packages. Several years ago at my school site we had a lock down for a couple of hours during lunch time. We didn’t have any food for them and they had to go to the bathroom as well, but they couldn’t leave the classroom. Are you prepared to handle 30 kids locked into your room that hungry and in need of the facilities??? Think about it. Next, I would encourage you to attend the March 11th PEA/CTA/PUSD presentation on Teaching and Your Legal Obligations. What are the legal requirements for you in the event of a disaster? Did you know you have to stay with your students until EVERYONE is collected by their guardian? What are the legal issues regarding breaking up a student fight, having
focus on educators is an award winning publication of the Pittsburg Education Association/CTA/NEA _____________________________________________________________________________________
Volume XIX, Number 6
In this Issue
President’s Message &
Informational Items….............. Pgs. 13 Focus Editorial……...……... ..Pgs. 48 Workshops Coming!..................Page 8 Hillview Students Picture…..…Page 8 Questions of the Month……….Page 9 PEA Calendar………… The Last Page
PEA President’s Message
My message this month will focus on safety in your work place not just for you but for your students, as well. PEA has filed a grievance with the district regarding Article 11.1.5 and 11.1.6 of our contract with the district. The first article states “The Superintendent shall be
suspicions regarding sexual abuse of a student or even giving a student a ride home? Find the answers and more by attending… March 11th at 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. at the District Office.
Wag More, Bark Less!
Chris Coan PEA President
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PEA Leadership 2009-2010 President Chris Coan
Willow Cove Elementary/ PEA Office
E-MAIL:[email protected]
Rep. Council Meeting Calendar
September 16 October 21 November 18 December 16 January 20 February 17 March 17 April 21 May 19 June 9 ******************
Elementary Vice President Cindy Joy
Parkside Elementary
Secondary Vice President James Vaughan
Riverside High School
Secretary Sarah Cullar
Foothill Elementary
Treasurer Chris Rohde
Pittsburg High
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 ******************
Committee Chairs Grievance Committee Iris Contreras
Foothill Elementary
Richard Higgins
Pittsburg High
Negotiations Team Marc Sternberger - Chair Political Action Committee - Chair Elections Chair Jim Goble – Chair Human Rights Committee Ruth Foster – Chair Women’s Issues Committee Deborah Cummings PEA Organizing Team Leobardo Zamora - Chair CTA State Council Representatives Chris Rohde - Pittsburg High Denise James, Valerie 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 Focus Editor Gen Camera - Heights Elementary Technical Editor Susan Harrison – PEA Site Secretary Focus on Educators is a publication of the Pittsburg Education Association CTA/NEA 1901 Railroad Avenue #A & #B 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 January 20th Rep. Council Meeting: Adult Ed. – absent Foothill – present Heights – present Highlands – present Los Medanos – present Marina Vista – absent Parkside – present Stoneman – present Willow Cove – present MLK – present Hillview – present Rancho Medanos – present PHS – present Riverside – present
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BASIC OF February is “Looking in Your Personnel File” Month
Have you ever checked your personnel file before? I know I haven’t and it is just a wise choice to see if everything in there is supposed to be in there or not. You will never know until you check it yourself. Here is the procedure: E-mail Christine Ghiselli, in personnel, via district e-mail and let her know when you will be there to look in your file. You are allowed to look at the contents, but you are not allowed to take anything away with you. You are allowed to make copies of things, but once again they stay in the file. Here is what you should be looking for: 1. 2. 3. There shouldn’t be anything in the file that you are unfamiliar with. For example, these might be warning letters or a letter of discipline. You should expect to find evaluations, and documentation of hire, etc. If something is in your file and you do not understand why or what it is, make a copy of the document. Do not take anything out of the file. If something is in the file that you disagree with let PEA know. If you want someone else to review your file, you must give written permission. CTA does not advise this unless this person is an attorney or someone representing you on some issue. A teacher may also want to write down what is in his/her file so that if anything is added later, he/she would have known what was in it on the date reviewed. The teacher may be asked to show ID and to sign that he/she is reviewing the file and this is standard procedure. 
PREMISE UNIONISM
Means that the mistreatment of an individual worker creates the possibility of mistreatment for every worker.  Requires that workers come to the support and defense of fellow workers who are threatened.  Creates a balance of solidarity among employees.  Is the foundation of solidarity among employees.
“AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL”
Furloughs and Your $$$Retirement Benefit$$$
Many school employers are currently faced with decreases in school funding and must make difficult choices about how to balance their budgets. One possibility is to impose staff furloughs. CalSTRS wants you to be informed about the potential effects furloughs might have on your future retirement benefit. Your CalSTRS Defined Benefit retirement is calculated using three components: Service Credit x Age Factor x Final Compensation = Member-Only Retirement Benefit. Furloughs can affect either the service credit or final compensation component of this calculation. Employers have two options available when reporting furloughs to CalSTRS:
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5. 6.
Good luck! Chris Coan
1. They may reduce the number of base days required for a
class of employees and adjust the earnable compensation (contract rate) for the year accordingly. Doing so would result in your earnable compensation being less, but the service credit you earn would not change. Or
TAXES, TEACHING AND YOU
Here are just a few things you might want to take to your tax preparation appointment. 1. 2. Receipts for supplies you personally bought for your classroom. Union dues for PEA, CTA and NEA, but not any political action fees you added. Continuing Education Class fees you paid for. Any fees to get certified or credentialed.
2. They may elect not to reduce the number of base days
required for a class of employees or adjust the earnable compensation (contract rate) for the year and simply reduce your pay. You would, therefore, not fulfill the entire year’s contract. This would result in your service credit being less, but the earnable compensation would not change. A reduction in earnable compensation, if it’s one of your highest earnable compensation years, will result in a lower benefit calculation because your final compensation will be less. CalSTRS will us your highest one year final compensation if you have 25 or more years of service credit at retirement. If you are not eligible and your pay is reduced as a result of furloughs, CalSTRS will use any three nonconsecutive school years to determine the most beneficial final compensation for you, ensuring you receive the highest possible benefit in retirement.
3. 4.
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For more information about final compensation or service credit, see the CalSTRS Member Handbook, available at CalSTRS.com/publications.
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focus
ial
Editor
Editorial By gen camera Where is the Commitment?
When I received the email sent by Dr. Wilson announcing her retirement as of August 1, I must say I felt it was good news. I looked back at my welcoming article about Dr. Wilson to the September 2007 focus and it seems such a short time ago. Back in the March 2008 focus I wrote an editorial and called our recent influx of “Johnny and Joannie Come-Lately” district office administrators because of the revolving door that we seemed to be having at 2000 Railroad Avenue. The superintendent took umbrage with me and personally called to my attention that she didn’t appreciate my term “Johnny and Joannie Come-Latelies” and that all the new administrators truly loved our students and our community and had made a commitment to be here. Well let’s see how far that commitment went for some of them: • • • • • Sandy Hare, Curriculum was here about 2 years (a good one) Cindy Cathy, Curriculum was here about 2 1/2 years (another good one) Jim Schiffman, Personnel was here a little over a years Mark Bonnett, Business Manager was here about two years Dr. Wilson, Superintendent is retiring with three years
Now for those who have been in PUSD for 10, 20, 30, and even close to 40 years, this has not been much of a commitment from district office administrators to our students and our community. Do those of us who have been here for a long time ever get a pat on the back of recognition for all of our hard work from the district office or School Board or does that only happen when you receive a special award or submit your retirement papers to the Board? I think it’s only when you receive an award or retire that you are finally acknowledged. In fact the revolving door of district office administrators has been detrimental to the consistency and continuity that our students and staff need. Everyone comes in with new
ideas, new agendas, new ways to improve our district, and once they begin to implement their plan and hire their people, they are out the revolving door and the process starts anew. When I read the article in the Contra Costa Times about Dr. Wilson’s departure, I had to read it several times to believe that the accolades showered on her by Ferrante, Canciamilla, Ovick, and even Coan were about the same person I had come to know as the leader of our district. I must admit I had to glance back up at the photo to be sure their words and my thoughts were about one in the same person. Thanks to CSEA’s “gutsy” President Dee Lopez for telling it like it is in the article. When a person works in education we work with and help manufacture good students and good citizens, we don’t make cars, computer chips, or other consumable products, thus having interpersonal skills in working with all people is a personality quality and are the working conditions that are needed in the field of education. Neither PEA nor CSEA employees have had a good working relationship with the current administration. Even though Pittsburg Unified is now considered a “gem of a district that everyone is noticing,” (as stated in Dr. Wilson’s letter) this deals more with those of us who have been committed for years and who STAY in this community and who work day in and day out to make improvements rather than the revolving door administrators. “In the private sector, retiring CEO’s are often rewarded with substantial financial packages upon their retirement” was another statement I found hard to swallow. I cannot speak for every employee in the district, but I know that many people feel that this retirement might be a welcomed end and hopefully a new, brighter beginning. . Our district doesn’t need fixing, we need embracing. Why won't anyone take a look at who we have been for generations and simply say, "Let's build upon our strengths and look for ways to make us even better?" Pittsburg has long been a community of incredibly hard working, talented, athletic, and passionate people. Look at the three bond issues for building new schools and the parcel tax voted on by our citizens. They all care. Our board has adopted the mentality that if our test scores are not the best, we are failing. It seems pretty obvious that our current academic status is all they will respond too. As I’ve said before, aren’t our students more than just a test score? I guess according to the Board, the answer is “NO.” When all you do is check the data and look at students as a test score, you are defeating the purpose of creating the talented, well-rounded students and citizens we need in the future.
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Let’s hope that the School Board involves PEA, CSEA, the other unions and community members this time in hiring the next Superintendent instead of just two Board members going out on the hunt and bringing back someone who was not a good fit, in fact, who was kind of a “fish out of water” in Pittsburg. Also, I guess we have some lawsuits in our future so an outstanding choice and decision needs to be made this time!
Words of Praise and Appreciation Given to Staff
I must admit that I was thrilled at a Monday staff meeting held at Heights Elementary lead by Dr. Tracy Catalde and Dr. Frazier-Meyers. They were both there to talk with us regarding the Response to Intervention Program. Dr. Frazier-Meyers gave an honest acknowledgement and praise to our staff for all we have been doing with data from testing we have implemented, the intervention programs we have in place, our daily Board Math and Board Language, plus the dedication of our principal to improving our scores for our students, and her appreciation for the hard work and the over and above efforts our staff has been doing. Now this can be said for other elementary staffs as well, but I must tell you that her positive comments and her applause of our staff were the highlight of the meeting. Since I have frequently stated in the focus that staff praise and appreciations are rare, I want to thank Dr. Frazier-Meyers and Dr. Catalde for acknowledging our hard work on behalf of our students. It was about the first time I have heard this from the district office and the compliments were “music to our ears.”
professionalism, poise, and perfect personality to be in politics in Pittsburg. Unfortunately right now we don’t have any board members who have these same qualities as Ruben and the district moral and ill feelings towards administration and the Board are not good. I think many of us are looking forward to the election in November 2010 to get new board members who will work for good the way Ruben did during his tenure. Congratulations on the honor bestowed upon you Ruben, it is well-deserved.
A Different Kind of Board Member Proper Chain of Command Procedure
I heard from several people that a brutal, public statement made at a Board meeting regarding a certain elementary school and their “teachers taking a year off from teaching” while discussing their test scores was an absolute case of demeaning, disgusting, and disrespectful behavior on the part of a School Board member that needed NOT be said publicly. There is a proper chain of command to voice a concern and that would be to start with a district office administrator carrying this message to the school’s site administrator in a private meeting. Many people in the audience on that evening were appalled that this was a public statement that would be in the permanent record of a Board meeting. I would suggest that this Board member follow proper procedures when expressing their feelings regarding district employees. That would be the professional thing to do.
Congratulations to Ruben Rosalez
I read the following in the Board Minutes and wanted to be sure that I recognized and congratulated Ruben in the focus because of how much he meant to PEA, CSEA, and to our community while serving on the School Board. This is what I read: “The Board recognized this year’s recipient of the 2010 Equity Award, Mr. Ruben Rosalez. Mr. Rosalez was present with members of his family and expressed that “there is no greater honor than to serve others.” I could not let this statement alone express my true feelings about Ruben, and I just wanted him to know how much we miss him as a Board member. Looking back on Ruben’s tenure on the Board I remember him asking tough questions, challenging administrators, and being comfortable with investigating situations he wasn’t sure about. Although I miss all of that, I really miss the fact that Ruben was an advocate for students & employees and a friend of education. Ruben demonstrated that he had the
Brain Stuff. . . From Cambridge University – How Smart Are You?
Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed tihs psas it on !! ******************************************** Some Pittsburg Teachers are eligible for up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness for 5 consecutive years of service. They must be highly qualified and have received their first Direct loan after Oct. 1, 1998.” Dawn Thanks to Dawn Cova for contacting me regarding the important information above that might affect
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some of our teachers. Hopefully this will help you. Gen
• •
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Have unpaid student loans from college? Under the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest on their FFEL and/or Direct Loan program loans. You must have received your first loan disbursement after Oct. 1, 1998. Go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/ and enter Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers.
Another option is the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE). The APLE is a state-funded, competitive teacher incentive program administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). Under the provisions of the APLE program, CSAC may assume up to $19,000 in outstanding college loan balances. To be eligible, participants must teach in a California public school (K-12) in designated subject matter areas or designated schools serving populations of students from low-income families. More information can be found at www.csac.ca.gov and searching for APLE.



An Answer to the Superintendent’s Future Budget Cuts Email
By gen camera When I received the email from the Superintendent regarding the Governor’s future cuts to the education budget, I read through it carefully formulating some questions and answers to what she had to say. Here are a few of my comments: • Did you notice that she listed the 9 administrator positions being cut first? • Does she think we have forgotten that these cuts were on the backs of the school sites by cutting Vice-Principals? • Does she think that we forgot that the only district office administrator cut was when Pat LeGrande retired? • Does she think that we forgot this position was turned over to another district office person and instead of keeping the title of coordinator; it was changed to director and another raise in pay for district office administration? • I think her main purpose for this email is not only to inform us about the upcoming budget cuts, but her persistence in keeping downtown administration from any cuts.


And you know what---the Board will let her do just that! There are several places at the district office that jobs can be combined and coordinated with other administrative jobs. I think they need to do just that. I think her motive is to create the impression that district office jobs are taking the same hit that PEA and CSEA jobs are taking---not true!!! We’ve already lost class size reduction in nonQEIA schools in grades 2 and 3 and I think there is more to come on this front. After all I don’t think there is a care in the world downtown that teachers are given more students. But the polar opposite worry about that should be that our test scores will most probably go down. When you impact classrooms, there are so many more problems and so much less effective teaching going on. Also they want the public to believe that class size reduction is in our kindergarten classes, NOT TRUE. In non-QEIA schools you have about 32 students in the morning class and about 32 students in the afternoon class and the teacher from each class shares an additional hour of their teaching time with the other teacher. This is a plan B of CSR and it still has kindergarten classrooms impacted with too many students. Now my final concern is that this Superintendent (remember she is leaving on August 1 and will not have any stake in PUSD after that) will try to get rid of the elementary PREP teachers. Remember that we all lost one of the elementary PREP teachers and our lower grades are having to split classes to make our schedules work. This all came under the leadership of Dr. Wilson. Let me tell you how difficult this was for elementary teachers to negotiate and earn the PREP periods that we have. WE SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY STRIDENT that we never lose our PREP schedules and teachers because we will NEVER get them back! Since the Superintendent remarked in her email that we have taken steps to cut down on reducing energy consumption and we hired a specialist who was trained and continues to attend workshops about energy savings, and we were told that the moneys saved by turning computers, printers, refrigerators, and microwaves off during vacation times would save a lot of money and these savings could go toward future raises!!! Where has the
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savings of money gone and when will we see a raise in pay? What a joke this is! If no cuts are made to central office administrative staffing, I think it would be a violation of the proposal put forth by the Governor. He made it very clear that cuts were not to be made at the expense of student programs. This Board better look long and hard at everything being proposed by a “lame duck” Superintendent who no longer has an investment in our District or our community. There are so many more items in the email sent to all of us that I wanted to address, but I no longer have the space in the February focus, and I don’t have the time because I have about five hours of papers to correct and other school work to do this weekend. Gen
Ramon are not going to work in Pittsburg. Yes, this person may have some new and innovative ideas, but so will someone from within the district. Next, I want someone who respects all who work in the district, from the teachers, to the custodians. We don’t want someone who sets up a basic hierarchy the moment he/she steps into office and installs themselves as the head dictator. Finally, when we do go through the process of interviewing for the new Superintendent, let’s have an equal number of people from all of the unions represented in this district. Let us all have a say in who we want to represent and lead us. This way, if we all agree on a candidate, then we know this person is the right one for the job and feel that the decision was just. ~Anonymous Teacher Dear Editor, I say good riddance to Dr. Wilson. As a teacher of many years I have never seen such blatant disregard, both professionally and personally, for teachers as I have under this superintendent. She has taken a sick district and turned it into a bullying, dictatorship. The more she was given the more she wanted and for some reason she got what she wanted most of the time. Some of it can be blamed on the times, but the majority can be blamed on the lack of union member participation. It is fine to sit around and blame the district and union officials for not doing their job, but where are the members when we need them? Most of them don’t care unless it affects them directly, which leaves it wide open for problems to escalate like the ones at the high school and some other sites within the district. I personally am glad that she is leaving. In this case I am willing to get rid of the devil I know and take my chances on a new demon. Another Anonymous Teacher Dear Editor, I was not really surprised by Superintendent Wilson's retirement. Many administrators, who are just a few years away from retirement, find the place who will give them the most money. Since the PUSD school board decided to pay such a lucrative salary, compared to other districts of the same size, it was a great opportunity for someone wanted to boost their retirement pay. Most superintendents stay at least 5 years, more if they are doing a good job. Ours lasted only three. In her retirement announcement letter to all of us, she talked of all the wonderful things that have happened in our district over the last three years. She gave credit to many collaborators. But, as many administrators forget, it is the "sergeants in the trenches" who really win the war and in a school district, the sergeants are the teachers. She wrote of other sectors giving "substantial financial packages"
Letters to the focus Editor
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*The views expressed are those of the author(s) and don’t necessarily reflect the views or official positions of PEA
Letters to the Editor
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Several people talked with me regarding their desire to write about the retirement of Dr. Wilson and the impact they see in what has happened in the past and what they hope to look forward to in the future. Also, a situation happened at a Board meeting which disrespected the teaching staff at a school and someone felt the need to let others know about the very unfortunate public statement that was made. Again, I respect their right to anonymity. gen Dear Editor, When I heard the news that the Superintendent will be retiring in August, I must admit, I was shocked. But I immediately began thinking about the qualities I would like in the future Superintendent. This person needs to have been successful in his/her previous school district in many areas. But above all, it should be in teacher relations. Let’s be honest, no district will be successful if the teachers aren’t happy teaching. When a teacher feels like he/she isn’t being heard by those in an authoritative position, it quickly destroys moral and causes people to hate their jobs. Secondly, the new Superintendent needs to have worked for and been successful in a district similar to ours. When someone comes in and has only worked with the wealthy population, this is setting your whole district up for failure. Things that work in Orinda and San
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upon retirement. Dr... Wilson, I think your high salary was your substantial financial package and yet my salary has actually gone DOWN under your administration. Is that how you reward your "outstanding, highly qualified staff"? Do you not recognize the job that is done day in and out by your "sergeants" who are the ones making those test scores go up and making all those achievements at PUSD happen? Unfortunately, her letter came off more arrogant than thankful as she listed all the achievements of PUSD in the past three years. Her letter made it appear that it all happened because she was at the top. But all her "sergeants" know better. An “in the trenches” teacher Dear Editor, I attended the school board meeting on January 20 and found myself enraged by comments a school board member made about the staff of one of our elementary schools. This staff of teachers works extremely hard. Two years ago, they raised their test scores by nearly 50 points. Then, SAIT took over and last year they took a small dip. Ironic, huh? Now, this is normal to go down a year after having a huge gain. But when this board member said they “took the year off” last year, I almost couldn’t control the anger I felt in my heart. How DARE this guy make these comments? What educational background does he have? NONE! Has he ever set foot in a classroom? No! Has he taught a day in his life? NO! When someone told me I could make a comment to the board, I told him, I have talked to the board member before, and he doesn’t want to listen and no one can change his mind about anything. In talking with many of you, the members of PEA, I have found that you have similar experiences with him also. I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But when a person is in the position he’s in, he is supposed to keep an OPEN MIND and listen before making up his own mind about the issues. This is what good school board members across the United States do. This board member in recent years has been a stone wall. People have met with him and tried to discuss things with him. But it seems like whenever a teacher tries to reason with him or tell him what he doesn’t want to hear, he ignores them, and goes back to talking about data. Well, the data doesn’t tell you the real facts about what’s going on in the classroom or in the children’s home life. No matter how much you don’t want to believe it, this is the real data you should be considering. We’ve been telling you this for years. Yet, you take our opinion with a grain of salt. Why do you hate teachers so much Vince? ~ An Enraged Teacher
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use the district e-mail) Please keep your comments brief, sign your first name or just your initials, and we will publish as many comments as we are able to. Thank you, gen
On March 4, 2010
START THE DAY FOR STUDENTS
An Urgent Statewide Day of Action for Students and California’s Future
Last year, $17 billion was cut from schools and colleges. Entire art, music and PE programs were eliminated. More than 16,000 educators were laid off. And large California corporations enjoyed tax breaks. This year, in the wake of all these cuts, our students and schools are being threatened again. We can’t let that happen. We need your help in this urgent effort to speak out about the painful effects cuts are having on our students, schools and communities. On March 4, 2010, “Start the Day for Students” and be a part of the campaign to fight for the resources our students deserve. We must reform the state’s tax structure and repeal the tax breaks handed out to large corporations. It’s time everyone paid their fair share. We all know that education is essential to building a better California. Working together, we can make sure our students get the resources they need to succeed. Join this urgent action for our students and our future. Start today by making plans for March 4 and joining the conversation at
www.standupforschools.org
CTA California Teachers Association
www.cta.org
Letters to the Editor Please  email me at [email protected] or send me a note at the PEA office or to Heights. (Please don’t 8
STAND UP FOR SCHOOLS!
California Music Educators Association Honors Four Hillview Students
By Diane Klaczynski Four Hillview Junior High School students were selected to be part of the California Music Educators Association Bay Section Honor Band which took place on Friday, January 8th and Saturday, January 9th, 2010. The four eighth grade students were Lynsea Myers, flute; Anthony Guerrero, trumpet; Maggie Gonzalez, French horn; and Miriam Gonzalez on percussion. The concert took place at San Jose State University on January 9th at 1:45 p.m. The guest conductor of the 90 piece band was Tim Harris, director of bands at Chabot College in Hayward. The CMEA Bay Section extends from Mendocino County to Monterey County and from the Pacific Ocean to the Nevada border. We were awarded a grant for a new double French horn, and to repair a tuba that had been donated to us. The total value came to about $3500. Last week while I was doing a follow up with the foundation they asked if I was interested in another tuba. They told me there was a person in the Bay Area that had a ¾ size tuba that would like to donate it to a school. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. It is a real nice 4
Proceeds will help the jazz band get to the Reno Jazz festival and helps pay for trip & festival fees for the Beginning Band and the Wind Ensemble.
Here is a heartwarming story I asked Mary Britton, second grade teacher at Heights to write. It is typically the spirit of Pittsburg and our country to help those in need. From her idea came the unity of our students, families, and staff. Thanks for everyone involved in making a difference where it was needed, not just in Pittsburg, but in Haiti. In the next edition of our focus, we will let everyone know the amount of money raised. Thanks to Mary for this great article. I watched Mayor Gavin Newsome on television when the city was getting ready to install coin counting machines in special places in San Francisco. I loved his phrase “Let’s get change to make change.” That is what we are trying to do at Heights. gen
Heights for Haiti
By Mary Britton I've had a sad school year due to family problems, and I've felt pretty gloomy and tearful most days. But oddly enough, the earthquake in Haiti is helping me heal. I knew our students were seeing the horrifying pictures on television, and I wondered how to help the children cope. The idea of having a penny drive popped in my head. I ran it by our principal and the teachers who responded with an enthusiastic "YES!" So we set out jars, told our classes, and the kids began bringing in change. It was heartwarming to see our Pittsburg families respond so generously--the very first morning I needed another jar! By Friday we had collected a HEAVY, impressive pile of coins and bills, which Kirsten Gunnerson (Student Council Advisor) and I loaded into our trunks. On Saturday I went to the coin counting machine at Safeway. It was a joy to dump a bag of bright coins into the machine and hear them kaching-chingching down the chute, and to watch the amount add up, sometimes just one cent at a time. The process was quite mesmerizing--I had to watch the coins carefully, as there were all kinds of things besides coins in those bags--pesos, bits of crayon, a tiny hoop earring, and other odd bits. As my hand swished through the bright copper, I realized I hadn't thought of my own woes for an hour or so--I was joyful and thankful knowing each coin would provide a bandage, a drop of medicine, a brick for a school. The machine stopped at $152. I told the Safeway clerk I'd be back tomorrow...and the next day, and the next! She beamed at me when I told her why I was there. People can be so good, so kind, so caring. Later that weekend at the Lafayette Safeway, I had a humbling experience. Again, I was carefully sifting though the shiny pennies before pushing them down the chute, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a homeless man stumble into the store. It reminded me of a story I'd once heard about a wealthy lady who flew to India to help Mother Teresa. When she arrived she met her and cried, "Oh Mother Teresa, I've come all the way from Chicago to help you!" Mother Teresa smiled sadly and answered, "My dear, are there no poor people in Chicago?" Then not a minute later, as this
rotary valve Mirafone, which is worth at least $2500.
(left to right: Miriam Gonzalez, Anthony Guerrero,
Lynsea Myers, Maggie Gonzalez)
An Upcoming Fundraiser--The Crab Feed is Saturday, March 20th 6-9 p.m. Hillview Cafeteria - $35.00 Contact Diane Klaczynski at [email protected] for tickets or stop by the Hillview Main office to pick them up 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. M-F This is a non alcoholic event. No tickets sold at the door.
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story was going through my mind, I saw a small metal object in the coin tray and picked it out. Imagine my surprise--it was a medal of Saint Teresa-- a powerful reminder that wherever we live, sad, lonely, hungry people need our care and love. My fellow teacher, Micaela Gomez, told us the penny drive "is helping our students grow up to be compassionate people...and to heal from the shock and helplessness they must feel." Once again, I'm grateful and awed to teach in Pittsburg, where our staff, students and families feel the heartstrings pull from across the globe and know they can make a difference in a hurting world, one penny at a time.
???Questions of the Month???
Did you know that your FINAL Evaluation needed to be completed by January 15? If it didn’t get completed, then you and your administrator can extend the timeline only if YOU consent to an extension. If you do not consent then it is all over for this year, however you can be evaluated the following year as well.8 Did you know you have the power to suspend a student from your classroom? The suspended student CANNOT be placed in another teacher’s classroom. The procedure is to send the suspended student to the office with work, if possible. Send a referral as well and call the office and let them know that the child has been suspended from your classroom. You are also required to call the parents to notify them of the suspension. Did you know if you take in another teacher’s student/s due to a lack of substitute teacher being available you are to be compensated by the district? This is to be handled by the school site and NOT your responsibility to take care of the reimbursement. However, do take care of yourself and double check on your paycheck and with an office staff person. Did you know you are to be notified by June 1st as to what your next years teaching assignment will be? Did you know that it is stated in the contract Article 11.1.6 that the district shall provide each classroom with first aid kits with basic first aid supplies? Additionally, the District shall insure that disaster preparedness materials such as blankets, bullhorns, radios, water, rope, food packages and the like are available at the school site.
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PEA
Calendar
FEBRUARY 2010
2 3 Groundhog Day PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 12 President Lincoln’s Birthday 14 Valentine’s Day 15 President’s Day 16 Fat Tuesday 17 Ash Wednesday 17 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 17 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 22 President Washington’s Birthday
MARCH 2010
3 17 PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM St. Patrick’s Day
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17 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 17 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 28 Palm Sunday 29 Passover begins at Sundown
Next Deadline for Articles MARCH 8 STAY INFORMED @  WWW.CTA.ORG & WWW.NEA.ORG THE BACK PAGE
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