Focus on Educators January 2010

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not appropriate for me to where ANYWHERE. One particular shirt caught my eye because of the wording. It had a picture of a pirate and the wording “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” I kept thinking about that one because it really hit a thinking spot in my mind. The utter ridiculousness of treating people badly and then expecting them to perform greater and higher in turn. As I have said before, as teachers we are the deliverers of the message to our students. We are the sole means for all of the districts plans and programs to be delivered. If we are treated with respect and dignity and consideration then of course the message will be delivered in a higher more enthusiastic manner. For the last several years when the district’s budget is being put together we have not even been considered as the recipients of a raise. When the plan was made to fund Staff Development Days for January 2010 and for the following school years, Staff Days were not considered. Our pleas have gone ignored and we will expect a pay cut. Sure district, go ahead and charge us $3.00 a month for the district’s choice of a 403(B). Why should we matter? Sure district, have us continue to pay the medical over costs for the last two years. No problem since our big fat raises have more than compensated for it. Of course I am being sarcastic folks as that tends to be my nature. The point I want to make is to demand that we become valuable assets to the district instead of a thorn in their sides. The pyramid should be that we as teachers are at the top of the pyramid and that the two bottom sides supporting us are the school board and the administration. Does it ever feel like this? Or does it feel like we are the last on the list of consideration by the district and the school board. Please Pittsburg Unified School District and School Board let the beatings stop and then treat us with respect and consideration so that morale CAN improve. Wag More, Bark Less!
focus on educators is an award winning publication of the Pittsburg Education Association/CTA/NEA _____________________________________________________________________________________
Volume XIX, Number 5
In this Issue
President’s Message & Informational Items….............. Pgs. 12 Focus Editorial……...……... ..Pgs. 35 BVAL Coach of the Year……..Pgs 45 Workshops Coming!..................Page 5 Questions of the Month……..…Page 6 PEA Calendar………… The Last Page
PEA President’s Message
While on vacation over winter break I came across lots of funny t-shirts at some of the tourist traps. Although many were quite funny most of them were
Chris Coan PEA President
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 Bill Barnes - 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
Staff Development Day January 29, 2010 Update
At this time, it appears that we will indeed be getting a .5% pay cut and experience a non-working day on January 29, 2010. The mediation session on December 14, 2009 was completely a waste of time as the district came prepared to not move a centimeter. We still have our arbitration date set for April 16, 2010. The decision was put to the members as to how they wanted to receive their pay cut with either a lump sum deduction or in small increments. The deduction in small increments was the majority of the choice and the first deduction will occur on our February 1st paycheck. If we do prevail in April, then the district will have to pay us back for the deductions and we will have to have the Staff Development Day shortly thereafter. Thank you to all who e-mailed or wrote letters as your activity has 2
been labeled vociferous. How’s that for academic language??? Way to go!
pitfalls of NCLB, I thought our next acronym was going to be:
As of March 1, 2010, our new PEA e-mail address will be [email protected] We have updated our internet service with high speed service and so had to make the change and therefore change our e-mail address.
NTL = No Teachers Left!
As thrilled as I was to see Barack Obama become our 44th President of the United States, I am not very happy with the new RTTT that has come from his administration. Now if I understand it correctly, RTTT is going to award merit pay to teachers whose students score high on the state tests---WHOA!!! That might work in districts like Orinda, Danville, Beverley Hills, and some of the wealthy districts where parents have the ability and means to give their children an educational head start right from birth. But to think that a test score measures the whole child and to monetarily reward a teacher for that in my opinion is ridiculous. I don’t know a whole lot about RTTT and plan to do more reading and investigating to educate myself about it, but in the meantime it scares me to think that PUSD has decided that they want these monies to flow into our coffers and have told us that they will now negotiate in good faith.
Wanna help out more with PEA? What can you do?
Every month, we need assembling/stapling/packaging volunteers for the FOCUS. This would be once a month on the Tuesday before Rep Council Meetings right after school at the PEA office. If you want to help, please contact PEA via e-mail; give a call at 432-0199; or talk with Jim Vaughan.
When all of the details of the bill are publicized I can't imagine that anyone in their right mind would willingly enter the teaching profession in the future. When teacher evaluations and pay increases are tied to student test scores, teachers will be forced to do nothing but teach the test, correct the exam, and administer the test again. Proper education, as veteran teachers know it to be, will cease to exist. I am afraid that this will be the final nail in our coffin if it is enacted. We have not had a good working relationship with our district office administration or our School Board since Reed McLaughlin left PUSD and we were rewarded with a long-overdue 7% raise (after almost no new raises in about eight years). I doubt that this current administration or Board will do anything but give us “empty promises”. Our last contract was a disgrace and the fact that we are paying higher and higher medical benefit payments, thus taking a cut in pay, leads me to believe that there is little or no credibility in the 2000 Railroad Avenue administration or the School Board. When you extend an “olive branch” to our union in the hopes to get us to get more money flowing in with RTTT, you need to remember that we are tired 3
Editorial By gen camera Race To The Top--- All the Rage --A new spin on No Child Left Behind?
I try hard to keep up with the latest that is going on in education, but the way things have been going since the beginning of the Bush Administration, my head is spinning with new ideas that lawmakers and non-educators come up with to make the job of a teacher more difficult and education to become less meaningful than in the past. Test, test, test, bubble, bubble, bubble, rigor, rigor, rigor seem to be the “buzz” words now, but where are the critical thinkers, the innovators, the problem solvers, and the people who can solve the great problems that we face in this world going to come from? It used to be that they came from the public school system. I hesitate to think that now these much-needed thinkers are going to come out of our task-driven classrooms that are demanded of us by administration and our government. After all the
of being jerked around, kicked in the teeth, and made to feel unappreciated. Have you ever received a pat on the back for your hard work in the classroom from the district administrators or the School Board? The district administration and School Board fail to realize that we are working harder and harder, with little respect and with more and more expected of each of us in the classroom. A perfect example of this is when the Superintendent just called off the January Staff Development day, failed to discuss anything with our negotiating team, and let us know that we would be losing .5% of our salary, and that was that!!! Coming to the table with NOTHING is NOT bargaining in good faith and is not only disrespectful; it is demeaning to us as educated professionals. We as union members need to speak up, support our union, and say “not on our backs again!” I hope PEA sticks to their guns and does not sign any Race ToThe Top – Memorandum of Understanding. Let’s all stand behind our union on this issue. gen (This article was inadvertently left out of the December focus. It should have been included with the photo of the Pitt High Marching Show Band in NYC – gen)
High, or did we just think about the talented, dedicated musicians who represented our blue collar community in New York City? My family didn’t even think about cooking our traditional holiday breakfast until all of us were in front of the television, and we had watched the great performance of the only band west of the Mississippi to even be invited. These kids, who are the product of our school system, from those of us who have been here for many, many years, and who have given all of our dedication, talent and effort to get them through a small school district that has had much to be proud of over the many years this district has been in existence. All we hear about now is testing, results of testing, and data driven curriculum. So I wish to send my deepest gratitude and congratulations to the kids, Jennifer Martinez, and all the dedicated parents who worked so hard for this magical moment. The band unified our community in a way that hasn’t been done for a long time. They glowed, they shined, and they made us proud! (Also, in the December focus, credit should have been given to Mary Britton, Heights, for the photo of Roxanne Patin – gen)
Dreams Fulfilled Pittsburg, CA to the Big Apple
By gen camera
Pittsburg’s Own Coach Victor Galli BVAL Coach of the Year
Taken from a CC Times article by Ben Enos After starting the 2009 season of Pitt High football with a 1-3 record, Coach Victor Galli and his staff called a team meeting, were able to motivate their young players, turned their focus around to playing for the team rather than as individuals, and went on to overcome their only BVAL loss to Deer Valley by beating them in the NCS quarterfinals. Galli has been a coach at Pitt High for the past eight years and in a joint effort with his coaches inspired his young players to win eight of their next nine games. The team went on to meet the De La Salle Spartans in the Division 1 championship. Even though they lost to DLS in the championship game, Coach Galli, his staff, and the young players on the Pitt High Varsity team are to be congratulated on such a commendable accomplishment. Galli was named the East Bay Coach of the Year for the first time and it is an honor he has earned. 4
“Ahoy Mattie’s”, said the announcer and preceding our Pride of Pittsburg Marching Show Band down the parade route was the Jolly Polly Pirate Ship and the four story high re-creation of the Macy’s parade’s 1947 Pirate. How appropriate to have the Pirate Band following the pirate theme in the parade. With chills, goose bumps, and tears in my eyes I watched our kids play “Alive and Amplified” in the resounding way that these kids always play. Following their presentation in front of the cameras for the entire world to see, they marched off playing the Pirate Fight Song. I know all of you were glued to your television sets at 11:00 for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Did we check their CST scores, did we make sure they had taken all the tests required of them at Pitt
And the Show Goes On . . . .
When with and speaking Victor By Makaela Huntsinger PHS Theatre Director The Pittsburg High School Thespian Society is having one of its best years ever! In November, the Thespian Society staged a very successful production of BREAK A LEG! This play within a play farce was a great success, due in no small part to the hard work and dedication of the over 25 students who put in many, many hours of work. Our next main stage production will be PIPPIN. This will be the first musical done at PHS in 4 years! The students and staff are very excited about the production. The musical will incorporate all areas of the performing arts at PHS. The music will be provided by the wonderful students of the wonderful bands and the amazing vocalists at our school! The show is March 25-27 in the CAB. Tickets will be $7.00 (1/2 price opening night for PUSD staff!) If you just can’t wait till the end of March to see the PHS Thespians in action, we will be doing a Dinner Theatre on Feb 22 at 6:30 p.m. Smits Family Restaurant is graciously hosting our dinner and performance. The performance of Murder Me Always has been directed by Peter Bowman, a PHS junior! Tickets are $25 and include dinner as well as the show! Please contact Makaela Huntsinger at PHS with any questions.
congratulating him on this well-deserved honor he was quick to tell me, “The program is all about the kids and everyone involved from the coaching staff, the teachers, and the administration have done something good for our program and for the community. It makes me feel proud that we are focusing on classroom success, success on the field, and scholarships for our athletes.” Galli also stated that he was so proud of his athletes for coming back and defeating Deer Valley High School and for going on to meet De La Salle. The defeat to DLS means that they were beaten by the team that went on to win the state CIF championship and that was an accomplishment in itself. Congratulations Coach Galli---- gen camera (photo courtesy of Andreas Kaiser)
Letters to the focus Editor
 *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 Please email me at [email protected] or send me a note at the PEA office or to Heights. (Please don’t 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
What is BETTER than Dinner and a Movie? Dinner & a PLAY! The PHS Thespian Society is doing a Dinner Theatre at Smits Family Restaurant on Feb 22. For the wonderfully low price of $25, you will get your choice of Tri-Tip, Chicken or Pasta and a Murder Mystery! Come support the work of the PHS Thespians and enjoy a good dinner at the same time! Dinner starts @ 6:30 PM. Please contact me for tickets. Please feel free to pass this on to ANYONE else you think would be interested! See you all at dinner!
PHS Thespians
Makaela Huntsinger PHS Theatre Director
workday is 7 hours and 25 minutes. For High School teachers the workday is 7 hours and 25 minutes.
Bullying 101
January 26, 2010 from 3:45 - 5:30 District School Board Room
Everyday in our schools, students are teased, threatened and tormented by bullies. Ignoring bullying creates a climate of fear, hostility and violence. Learn how to recognize bullying, examine its characteristics and find out what you can do as educators to prevent bullying among your students.
The Race to the Top Grant Application Process and Timeline
The Race to the Top (RTT) is one of the competitive grant programs funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, P.L. 111-5, as amended by P.L. 111-8, under which the federal government will award $4.35 billion in funding over the course of the next year. Although every state is eligible to apply for RTT awards, only a small subset of states (10) are expected to receive the awards, which will be made on a competitive basis by grading state’s applications on a 500 point scale. RTT awards will be made in two rounds with the first set of awards in April of 2010 and the second set of awards in September 2010. States that want to be considered for the first set of awards, must file a notice of intent to apply with the United States Department of Education (“ED”) by December 8, 2009, and must submit their final application to ED by January 19, 2010. California intends to apply for RTT funds in the first round. California’s decision to pursue an RTT award has significant implications for CTA and its chapters. If California were to receive an RTT award the amount would be between $350 and $700 million, approximately half of which would pay for state level reforms and the remainder of which would be distributed on a per student basis to those Title I school districts that agree to participate in the state’s plan. Some districts that do not agree to participate will receive no RTT funding. To secure an award, California will need to demonstrate that the state has a comprehensive education reform plan (“state plan”) that is supported by both local school districts and local stake holders (including union representatives) and that addresses four key issues (each of which is worth up to a specific amount of points on the RTT application): (i) developing and adopting common core standards and aligned assessments (70 points); (ii) implementing a statewide longitudinal data system to improve instruction (47 points); (iii) improving teacher and principal quality by expanding certification avenues, developing annual evaluation systems that include student growth as one of multiple measures of teacher and principal performance, linking those evaluations to key 6
Questions of the Month
Is an administrator allowed to videotape their observation of me for reviewing for my evaluation? No, they may not. Article 10.10.1 from our contract states that Observations of the work of an employee shall be conducted openly. The use of eavesdropping, closed-circuit television, public address or audio systems and similar surveillance devices shall be prohibited. If I miss a mandatory staff meeting due to illness do I have to bring a doctor’s note? No, you do not. If you are ill then you are ill. If you are sick for more than 3 days you may have to bring in a doctor’s note verifying your illness. The decision requesting this is based on whether the district sees a pattern of illness and absences. Article What if I am a classroom teacher and I have finished my days work and I want to leave early? Can I? No you cannot. We all have contracted work days and must stay our contracted work day times. For Preschool, the workday is 7 hours. For the Children’s Center the workday is 7 hours and 30 minutes. For Elementary teachers, the workday is 6 hours and 50 minutes. For Junior High teachers the
personnel decisions (certification, retention, dismissal and compensation), and ensuring the equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals (138 points); and (iv) turning around the lowest performing schools in the state (50 points.) California will also need to provide certain data to ED, about the state’s use of federal stimulus funds to date, including information regarding evaluation systems now used in California school districts.
The Implications of RTT for Local Chapters
To secure the most points for its application, California needs to show that local school districts and local stakeholders, including unions, support the state’s plan (worth a total of 45 points.) To do that, ED is asking states to secure the signature of local school districts on a model RTT MOU, which commits each district to implement certain portions of the state’s plan. The California Department of Education is currently developing a model RTT MOU for this purpose. The Department also is currently reaching out to school districts to secure their participation in the RTT, which, in turn, will likely prompt some school districts to reach out to local chapters to seek their support for the district’s implementation of some, or all, of California’s RTT plan. Because ED has asked states to secure not only local school district support for the state plan, but the support of local stakeholders as well including unions, school districts who are participating in the RTT may approach local chapters and ask them to sign a RTT MOU. The California Department of Education has indicated that by signing a RTT MOU the “local teacher’s union” is “documenting [its] agreement to participate in and meet the requirements of the Race to the Top.” Local chapters should not sign a RTT MOU without first fully understanding what aspects of the state plan the school district is agreeing to implement and bargaining over those aspects of the state plan that involve mandatory subjects of bargaining.
Signing the RTT MOU may be taken as an indication that the chapter agrees with the school district’s RTT implementation plan as specified in the RTT MOU and, hence, as a waiver of the existing provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that contradict the school district’s plan as well as a waiver of the chapter’s rights to bargain those aspects of the plan that involve mandatory subjects of bargaining. CTA therefore recommends that local chapters not sign the RTT MOU without bargaining with the school district over RTT implementation issues. PEA has not signed the RTT MOU and has submitted a Demand to Consult and Bargain this MOU with the district over all the mandatory subjects mentioned in the RTT application.
8 Ways You Can Stay Healthy At Work
You can protect yourself and others by following these key action steps: 1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle through rest, diet, exercise, and relaxation. 2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available. Be sure to wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. 3. Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Germs spread this way. 4. Cover your coughs and sneeze with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your elbow. Dispose of tissues in no-touch trash receptacles. 5. Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean, such as telephones, computer keyboards, doorknobs, etc. 6. Do not use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment. If you need to use a co-worker’s phone, desk, or other equipment, clean it first. 7. Don’t spread the flu! If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home. Symptoms of flu include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting. CDC recommends that sick workers stay home if 7
WHAT is the Legal Significance of a Local Chapter’s signature on a RTT MOU?
they are sick with flu-like illness until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines. 8. Get vaccinated against seasonal flu, when vaccine is available in your area. If you are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications you should receive the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available. People at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes.) For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit
1 6 New Year’s Day PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 18 Martin Luther King Jr. Day 20 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 20 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM
3 PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 14 Valentine’s Day 15 Presidents’ Day 17 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 17 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM