Focus on Educators June 2010

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contract 2 years ago we were not very pleased with the results as the contract gave us nothing. The contract also didn’t take anything away and locked us in until June 30, 2011. There have been several requests by the district and the school board for us to open our contract so that we can bargain away our Staff Development Days, freeze our step ladder pay scale, take furlough days and reduce our paycheck. We will not. We have already given for the last 2 years. The contract is closed. Those fortunate enough to be retiring this year see that for the last 3 years our paycheck has gone backward not forward and this has affected the amount they will receive for retirement. As I meet with other Presidents across the state I realize how lucky we truly are to have a closed contract. I see the terrible impact around me in the form of 5-10 furlough days, 5-10% pay cuts, massive teacher lay-offs and prep teachers being cut. Now in hind sight I see how lucky we truly are to have a CLOSED contract. Now as we stand in the middle of a huge state wide budget cut, education is taking a big hit. It affects us all in so many ways. We make less than we did 2 years ago, we pay more for our medical, we have fewer supplies in the classroom and have had to use battered textbooks for an additional year. California public education is 46th in the amount of spending per child and with the additional 4 billion dollars cuts by the May budget revise where does that now leave us?
focus on educators is an award winning publication of the Pittsburg Education Association/CTA/NEA _____________________________________________________________________________________
Volume XIX Number 10
In this Issue
President’s Message & Informational Items… Pgs. 1-5 Teacher of the Year….Pgs. 5-6 Scholarship Winner….Pg. 6 Ex Bd. Results……….Pg. 6 2010 Retirees………..Pg. 6 Conferences…………Pgs. 7-8 Excerpts……………..Pgs. 8-9 PEA Calendar……… The Last Page
PEA President’s Message
As we close the 2009 – 2010 school year it is a good time to see where we have been to help us figure out where we want to go. When we settled our
Children’s education cannot be put on hold until the funds reappear so that means we are robbing the education of our future generation. What can we do? Tell your Senator and Assembly person to keep the promise of Prop 98 and fund public education in its entirety. Tell your Senator not to cut ANYTHING from education. A recent California Tax Reform Association report found that
large corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes and this is costing the state of California billions of dollars a year in new revenue. These big loopholes and the tax breaks lawmakers gave to these large corporations and big oil companies last year must be closed. CTA asks you to tell your Senator and Assembly person to support the Repeal Corporate Tax Loopholes Act.
Wag More, Bark Less!
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 May 19 Rep. Council Meeting: Adult Ed. – absent Foothill – present Heights – absent Highlands – present Los Medanos – present Marina Vista – present Parkside – present Stoneman – present Willow Cove – present MLK – present Hillview – absent Rancho Medanos – present
E-MAIL:[email protected] 2
PHS – absent Riverside – present
CTA Presidents Lobby Day
The Impact of Budget Cuts on Students and Schools
Gov. Schwarzenegger is cutting another $4 billion to public education from the May Revision. His proposal manipulates Proposition 98, the minimum school funding law and seeks to eliminate child care. The Governor and Legislators must keep their promise to students and honor the budget agreement, AB 4X3, made last year. This agreement restores $11.2 billion in money owed to schools and colleges under Prop. 98 as the economy improves. CALIFORNIA’S SCHOOLS HAVE SUFFERED MORE THAN $17 BILLION IN BUDGET CUTS OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS. These cuts are having a dire effect on our schools. 16,000 educators were laid off last year and at least 20,000 educators have received layoff notices this year. This doesn’t include temporary teachers or education support professionals. Some class sizes have almost doubled, leaving less individual attention for students, especially those who need help the most. Many students no longer have access to art, music, physical education and career technical education programs, courses that help keep kids interested in school and give them a well-rounded education. Even before any additional cuts, California’s schools already ranked 50th in the nation in staff-to-student ratios and 46th in per-pupil spending. Community colleges were cut by $520 million in 2009-10 alone, representing 7.9 percent of their overall budget. CSU students have lost roughly 10% of their faculty and some 2,600 instructors. Lack of course availability is requiring as much as seven years for the average college student to graduate. “Educational Opportunities in Hard Times,” a UCLA report, found that 67% of principals in California reported increases in class sizes this year, with 74% of elementary school principals reporting larger class sizes. 75% of principals said that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.
CTA – Oppose SB Bill 955Huff (R) Diamond Bar
Attacks teachers and ignores the real problems facing our schools.
Gov. Schwarzenegger and some lawmakers are attacking public education and teacher rights in a new bill that will make it harder to keep quality teachers in local classrooms. SB 955 would gut teachers’ due process rights and protections against discrimination. Like the governor’s initiatives that voters soundly defeated in 2005, the Huff bill would not save local schools districts one dime and does nothing to improve student learning. Rather than focusing on the real problems facing our schools like larger class sizes and cuts to student programs, this bill simply blames teachers. Senate Bill 955 (Huff) proposes to: • Eliminate the March notice to RIF’d teachers and eliminate their right to request a hearing. • Allow districts to ignore teacher experience in the classroom when making layoff and rehiring decisions. These decisions would be based on teacher evaluations, even though many districts do not conduct them regularly as required by law. • Eliminate teacher due process rights in a dismissal hearing. • Authorize assignment, reassignment, and transfer of teachers based on evaluations and subject matter needs, and without regard to experience.
Class Size Reduction Program
Coalition representatives note that administrators had complete flexibility in class size for years. The result is California’s overcrowded classrooms. Supporters of the Class Size Reduction program are emphasizing that:
♦ Research proves smaller classes improve student learning. They cite a study by the Public Policy Institute of California that found five of California’s largest school districts have seen a significant increase in 3
student test scores since the class size program began. ♦ Smaller classes are especially vital for highneed students. For instance, research in the Los Angeles Unified School District determined that reading scores rose by 19..5%, math scores by 29.2%, and language scores by 22.5% for high-need students in small classes. ♦ Parents and teachers know smaller classes work. More than 70% of voters believe reducing class sizes is a very effective way to improve public schools. CTA members are being urged to contact their members of the California Assembly and California Senate to urge them to vote against SB 556 (Sher), SB 837 (Alarcon) and any other measure that would boost class sizes. CTA members can go to the Politics and Legislation link on the CTA web page ( to find out more information about how to contact their lawmakers and updates on the battle in Sacramento to protect the class size reduction program. *******************************
3. 4.
Click on “My Profile”, Click on the “Update Beneficiaries” tab and complete fields.
If you have any questions regarding this plan or need a paper version of the beneficiary registration form, please contact CTA Member Benefits at [email protected] or call 650-552-5200.
Procedures to Follow When a Member is Accused of Child Abuse
1. Immediately talk to your CTA staff person to obtain a referral to a CTA-affiliated attorney. Do not talk to your Principal even if you are 100% innocent.
2. In the event that criminal charges are filed against
you or another member, the only “privileged” or confidential communication is between you and your: Spouse; Attorney; Clergy. Communication between you and your CTA staff person, or anyone else, is not privileged and may be used against you in the event the criminal charges occur, so do not discus the matter with anyone, including your colleagues or administrators. 3. If accused by a principal, parent or another party during a meeting, immediately excuse yourself from that setting in order to contact your CTA staff person. Do not talk to them even if you are 100% innocent. 4. Do not respond to the accusation in any way (including a denial of the incident) until you have consulted with legal counsel. We are educators and we like to talk. This is a case when, to protect your job, you need to stop talking.
Is Your CTA Death and Dismemberment Beneficiary Information Correct?
As an active CTA member, you are automatically eligible for benefits under the CTA Death & Dismemberment Plan. This plan is provided by the CTA Economic Benefits Trust and requires no premium payments from you. It provides up to a $2,000 Death Benefit, up to a $10,000 Accidental Death and Accidental Dismemberment Benefit, and a $50,000 Occupation/Association Leader Accidental Death & Dismemberment Benefit. We strongly recommend that you register a beneficiary. By registering a beneficiary, you will have peace of mind, knowing that proceeds will be paid according to your specifications. If you have not registered a beneficiary, or if you can’t remember whether you did, or you realize it’s time to update your beneficiary, please take a few minutes to do so online by following these steps: 1. 2. Go to, Sign in (registration is required for first-time users; please have your Membership ID ready),
What Can Local Chapters Do?
All local associations should advise its members of the requirements of the law and of the necessity to follow the mandatory reporting provisions. They should also ensure that the school district is providing comprehensive inservice training with respect to the detection of child abuse. Communication with the parents and the community regarding the legal reporting requirements of school personnel should be made to avoid as much confusion and ill-feeling as possible.
Educate teachers in the correct ways of dealing with students. Explain how “touching” students or any type of physical contact can lead to false accusations. Local associations should ensure that all members fully understand the appropriate steps to take to protect their job and credential status in the case of either alleged violation of the reporting laws or accusations of child abuse against the member.
The Validity of Walk-Thru’s
It has come to my attention that a couple of the administrators that have performed walk-thru’s for the last 5 years have not been completely knowledgeable in what they are sent to observe. After a recent walk-thru two very professional teachers accompanied the administrators at a walk-thru at their school site. At the end of the walk-thru they all met together to process and create the write-up from the observations. There was much misunderstanding on the part of the administrators as to what they were observing. The principals of ELD Strategies and how they are properly done with a class were incorrect. The alignment to the standards for the grade level were incorrect. The time frame on the “I-we-you” of a lesson were incorrect given the fact that it is the end of the school year. Language arts writing strategies were incorrectly defined (i.e. a cloze sentence frame). A teacher was praised for covering the entire observation check list within 15 minutes. The students got nothing out of the 15 minute lesson. This is crazy and not teaching! It is doing a dog and pony show! I have spoken to Dr. Wilson, Linda Rondeau and Dorothy Epps about my concerns and how the whole process of classroom observations appear to be invalid. Until the walk-thru administrators get training and knowledge in ELD Strategies, language arts processes, the grade level standards specific for each grade level and what is reasonable to observe within a 15 minute time view I believe the following: We should NOT hold much value in the feedback from these observations. They have the weight of a grain of sand. C. Coan
Hillview’s teacher of the year is Mrs. Becky Pounds. She teaches Algebra and PreAlgebra. Even though she has only been at our school for a few years, her dedication to the students shined through from day one. She is a well liked teacher who makes great connections with the kids. She comes to us from New Mexico. Growing up, she didn’t see herself as a teacher. When she went away to college her plan was to become an engineer. She married her husband Marv, who was a cattle rancher and saw her life as a wife and mother living on a ranch. When her husband made a career change, she ended up going into teaching. She felt drawn to the career from her time tutoring kids. She taught in New Mexico until her husband’s job change brought her out to Pittsburg. We are very happy to have her at our school. CONGRATULATIONS Becky on being district teacher of the year!
“Teachers of the Year”
Josefina Diaz is Foothill’s Teacher of the Year for 2010. She is a great gift to the teaching profession and we are lucky to have her as a member of our team. Josie, as we call her, is very passionate and committed in all that she does for her students. Josie received her Bachelor of Arts from Cal State San Bernardino and her credential from Cal State East Bay University. Josie has been a teacher for four years but she has been in the educational field since she was 19 years old. She began as an instructional assistant then became the Coordinator of their After School Program. Her student teaching was done at Foothill in Mrs. Steffani’s Kindergarten class. When she became fully credentialed she applied for a 4th grade position in the Dual Immersion Program at Foothill where she was for three years. Right now she is a second grade teacher in a regular, mainstream second grade class. We are very happy to have someone as intelligent, committed, passionate and knowledgeable as Josie Diaz in our staff.
Josefina Diaz, Foothill
Presenting Becky Pounds, Hillview
“District Teacher of the Year”
Sandi Dias, Stoneman
Mrs. Sandi Dias, a second grade teacher at Stoneman Elementary, brings to her staff and community a wealth of experience and knowledge. She has been a teacher for 32 years and has taught everything from preschool to adult education and special education. She came to Pittsburg Unified School District in 1982 and joined the Heights staff. After a few years at Heights she moved on to make an impression at Los Medanos and Foothill, before settling in at Stoneman. She has been an active staff member as grade level lead teacher, mentor teacher, and has served on numerous other committees. Throughout her years, Dias says her favorite part of the job is how no two years have been the same. She looks forward to the diversity in each year, and she says the changes are exciting challenges that keep her feeling young! When she is not teaching creative lessons that utilize both the Open Court curriculum and her depth of experience in education and children, Dias can be found knitting sweaters, blankets or teddy bears. On the weekends, Dias enjoys time on the green, cheering on her daughter, an award-winning golfer and recent high school graduate. Dias also manages to squeeze time in to plan new projects for her husband to complete on their cabin in Lake Almanor. She is grateful for the support of her colleagues at Stoneman and always believes it takes a village to be successful!
Pat Wheable Phyllis Tutt Ann Custer
Riverside MLK Adult Ed.
PEA 2010 $$Scholarship Award$$ Winner Allison Hayes
The PEA - 2010 Scholarship Award Winner of $500.00 has been given to Allison Hayes, daughter of John and Tammy Hayes. Allison plans on attending University of Colorado at Denver and majoring in health sciences. The Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr. Award of $100.00 for each has been donated in honor of Dr. Barbara Wilson's retirement and will go towards a scholarship fund for Riverside and Adult Ed. college bound graduates. 
PEA Executive Board 20102011 Election Results
V.P., Secondary V.P., Elementary Secretary Treasurer Arthur S. Pruyn Cindy Joy Tammy Carr Gale L. Higgins
“Recognition of the Teachers of the Year 2010”
Josefina Diaz Dan McCoy Michael Whitaker Alex Bursch Staci Belleci Raisa Rangel Sandi Dias Patty Rodriguez Rebecca Pounds Christina Zenzano Aaron Alatorre Foothill Heights Highlands Los Medanos Marina Vista Parkside Stoneman Willow Cove Hillview Rancho Medanos PHS 6
Kathleen Caballero 38 years of service Genevieve Camera 38 years of service Charles Christensen 36 years of service
Ronald Coniglio 29 years of service Miguel Cortez 29 years of service Ralph DeVries 32 years of service Rosanna Erickson 16 years of service Suzanne Fritsch 16 years of service Jay Marchus 27 years of service Susan McAdam 21 years of service Linda Nakaji 23 years of service Jerome Russo 28 years of service Carol Tinsley 25 years of service Corazon Willie 35 years of service Diane Abono 38 years of service Virginia Arellano 38 years of service Deborah Banks 34 years of service Valerie Bryan 27 years of service Annie Clawson 32 years of service Stella Orona 31 years of service Tim Rognlien, 21 years of service
Equity and Human Rights Conference March 4-6, 2011, Fairmont, San Jose Summer Institute – July 31-August 5, 2011, UCLA
Organizing Academy 2010
In April several PEA members attending the Political Organizing Academy in Santa Rosa for lots of hard work and planning. Steve Longley and Iris Contreras focused on the Political Action strand of the academy and came up with a timeline for how they will proceed with the upcoming school board elections. We will have 4 seats opening up and PEA would like to have the best teacher friendly and teacher supporting people to fill those seats. Please be ready to help them in the coming months and please join their committee. Who sits on the school board directly affects YOU and your job here in Pittsburg so this is a very important committee to be on. Be a mover and a shaker. The Community Outreach strand of the academy was headed by BeBe Vaughan and Jim Vaughan. They have sent out a survey to PEA members to see what organizational affiliations they belong to. We would like to strengthen our local by having ties with the local community and a positive presence. The third part of the Organizing Academy is Internal Organizing and I focused on that one. I applied for a grant from CTA for $9,000 and got it. This grant money will be spent trying to strengthen our local association with better communication, meetings with members at school sites and general membership meetings, a PEA Web Site, and retreats for the Executive Board and Committee members and chairs to plan and strategize. All in all it was a start with a game plan. Now we just need YOU to join in and help. C. Coan
Upcoming Conferences from CTA
www.cta/ for more information to register Summer Institute – Sunday-Friday, August 1-6, UCLA Region I Leadership Conference – Oct. 15-17, 2010 Asilomar GLBT Conference – Oct. 29-31, 2010 Westin Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage Good Teaching Conference – North January 21-23, 2011, Marriot, San Jose
CTA African American Caucus Issues Conference
By, Tammy Carr I attended the CTA African American Caucus Issues Conference May 15th held in the Hilton San Francisco Hotel. I was fortunate to enjoy hearing from a variety of presenters. The morning started off with a panel discussion on African American students and public education. The basic premise was that there are differences that should be addressed when relating to the African American student. The panel had a major focus on male students in particular.
The highlights were: • using different cultural aspects of communication • the necessity to listen to a student about concerns before sending them to the office • including parents in the education of their child • remembering parents have a vested responsibility to their child’s education • parents should be encouraged to participate in their child’s education • always set high expectations After the panel discussion there were breakout sessions to attend. I chose to join the Dealing with the Disconnect: Ethnic Minority Leadership Development workshop. The presenter, Sharron Lewis Campbell, had table groups discuss some opening questions and share out to the whole group before launching off on her presentation. These questions brought great insight and dynamic conversation. The most meaningful question for me was, “Do you think African American teachers have an additional responsibility towards other African Americans?” I found that the lack of support was quite detrimental to teachers in general, but when this happens for an African American teacher in a small minority of a school it can be damaging to the self in ways that may go back to aspects of racism. The presentation also included statistics mentioning the shortage of black teachers, especially male teachers. 2% of the United States 4.8 million teachers are black men and ½ of black male teachers leave the profession before retirement compared with 30% of all teachers. Sharron also emphasized the responsibility of African American teachers to support each other and advance achievement in leadership roles. During lunch we had a keynote speaker named Lateefah Simon who works with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Not only was she an excellent speaker, but she is a Mills woman (my alma mater). Lateefah encouraged all teachers to keep going, to continue to be that positive force in a child’s life. She used her own life experience to emphasize the necessity to build up a child’s self worth when other areas of their life can be so destructive. It was quite moving and something I will cherish to have been a part of as an audience member. It renewed my sense that one person can make an impact on the course of a child’s life in an extraordinary way. The last workshop I attended was Empowering African American Students to Learn: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gap. The presenter, Reena Doyle, showed all of us quotes from students about what they need to
love to learn and if they should be paid to learn. Some of the messages were heartbreaking like, “Teachers care about us, but not me…” and “You have to like children… stop telling me you don’t like children”. There was a consensus about being paid to learn. In a word they wanted the money to go towards education. In summary there are gaps, but there are no definitive answers because we are all individuals. We as educators must use our professional judgment and want to create an environment in which students want to learn, even if this means veering from the system. The conference was a wonderful opportunity for me in terms of growth. It also solidified some ideas I’ve had regarding leadership. I feel like I can branch out to help others on this road to achievement in leadership and be an advocate for students. CORRECTION: The “Alcosta Leadership Conference” article in the May issue of the Focus was written by Deborah Cummings – the Women’s Issues Chair.
“When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking”
Author, Mary Rita Schilke Korzan When you thought I wasn’t looking, you displayed my first report, and I wanted to do another. When you thought I wasn’t looking, you fed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals. When you thought I wasn’t looking, you gave me a sticker, and I knew that little things were special things. When you thought I wasn’t looking, you put your arm
around me, and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears
come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt--but that it’s all right to cry. When you thought I wasn’t looking, you smiled, and it made me want to look that pretty too. When you thought I wasn’t looking, you cared, and I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking--I looked...and wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn’t looking.
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today. Billy said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?” And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen. I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be. You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write, write, write. And then I make them read. I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful over and over and over again until they will never misspell either one of those words again. I make them show all their work in math. And hide it on their final drafts in English. I make them understand that if you got this (brains) then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (the finger.) Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true: I make a goddamn difference! What about you?
“What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If Things Don’t Work Out, You Can Always Go To Law School”
Author, Taylor Mali He says the problem with teachers is, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?” He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true what they say about teachers: Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. I decided to bite my tongue instead of his and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests that it’s also true what they say about lawyers. Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite company. “I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor,” he says. “Be honest. What do you make?” And I wish he hadn’t done that (asked me to be honest) because, you see, I have a policy about honesty and ass-kicking: if you ask for it, I have to let you have it. You want to know what I make? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face. How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups. No, you may not ask a question. Why won’t I let you get a drink of water? Because you’re not thirsty, you’re bored, that’s why. I make parents tremble in fear when I call home: I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
One Hundred Years from now
(excerpt from "Within My Power" by Forest Witcraft)
One Hundred Years from now It will not matter what kind of car I drove, What kind of house I lived in, how much money was in my bank account nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.
T-Truth E-Encouragement A-Assurance C-Care H-Heart E-Effort R-Respect
It takes a special person to be a great teacher.
JUNE 2010
2 PEA Executive Board – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 9 PEA Rep Council – PEA Office – 1901 Railroad – 3:45 PM 9 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM 14 Flag Day 15 Last Day of School (Instruction) 20 Father’s Day 21 Summer Begins 23 PUSD School Board Meeting – 2000 Railroad Ave. – 7:00 PM
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