Friday, May 30, 2008

The community is talking ...

Below are just a sampling of comments from the online petition.. .the community, parents and teachers have a lot to say about this petition effort, just read up (oh, and sign the petition if you haven't already:

Great job with the petition! Thanks!

Things have to change

Time for a change. We need someone who knows how to implement changes.

Follow the example of John Swett's responsible administrator. Do what is best for this district that you profess to care about so much and let us begin anew.

For the betterment of the community as a whole, I urge the Superintendent to resign.

My mother-in-law is a teacher and it upsets me that not only are the children not being looked after in a worthy way but the people that are entrusted with their learning are not being rewarded for their precious jobs.

I have two children about to enter kindergarten and I teach high school. Mr. McHenry's tenure should be ended. He has lost all support from teachers. We work still without a contract, and spent a 18 months of the last contract cycle without a settlement. His mismanagement and double dealings should be stopped and new leadership found.

We mourn the death of communication and trust between district and their employees.

This administration is broken and needs to be fixed. It is alwful that PTAs/PFCs need to raise so much money to pay for basics that the district should be coverning.

No Comment Needed

Good.-Northgate Student

Life is a matter of making the right choices and picking the right priorities. Apparently Mr. McHenry is not capable of understanding the most important priorities of the school district and the community.

Please help the children of the district by removing him from his position and hire a more competent Super Int.Thank you.

I am a 1st grade teacher in Hayward Unified School District and believe that it is detrimental for ALL Kindergarteners to have access to the 20:1 ratio. Too many children never have an opportunity to attend a preschool and for some children, Kindergarten is their first experience with being in a formal school setting. Why not make this easier on them, the most important part of education, by allowing them to have access to the 20:1 ratio?

Where is the petition to remove the board as well?

MDUSD conditions/results are painfully obvious. No need to be redundant. Change is painful and long overdue. Perfection is not expected but neither is abysmal failure. Corporations are subject to change - sizing, personnel change, concessions by all to move forward. MDUSD is no different. Future advancement and improvement for the students is paramount...and has been a relegated priority in the past. Union and non-union interests have to concede a bit if the new, albeit temporary Dist Superintenedant is to succeed. Solutions have to consider resizing/restructuring MDUSD - which translates into special interest groups having to adapt as well. Those that are thwarting change with retirement in mind also need to adapt. No one should be insulated or isolated from economic reality at the expense of our students. The students have suffered way too long. We need to get a State level official involved. I've long favored a parcel tax...and amazed that there isn't one.

I am disappointed that Mr. McHenry feels he can hold Northgate area residents hostage.

MDUSD is stifling the progress of students at Walnut Acres, Foothill Middle and Northgate. Any success enjoyed by these schools cannot be attruibuted to the district, but instead to the dedication of parents, teachers and volunteers. Under McHenry's leadership, Northgate has become overcrowded, with fewer advanced placement offerings and more and more parents are pulling their support and heading off to private schools. The expectations at other middle and high schools in MDUSD, are FAR BELOW these Walnut Creek schools. For example, at El Dorado Middle, there is no homework required and teachers are reprimanded if they fail students. Yet at Foothill Middle, my student completes 3 hours of homework every night. MDUSD, under McHenry's poor leadership, now has an average teaching experience level of only 6 years! Yet I see no evidence of any professional development offerings for teachers over the summer at all. Teachers are overworked, expected to conference with parents during their prep times, not given a prep period for each subject (middle and high school), not supported by administrators with behavior problems, larger class sizes than ANY neighboring districts, NOT GIVEN ANY MEDICAL BENEFITS OR THE SALARY TO PURCHASE THEM, not paid for any of the time it takes to set a classroom up, close a classroom for summer, report grades, progress reports, conference with parents, grade papers, create lesson plans and they are given only $1.00 per student to pay for classroom materials per year!

Our current superintendant is lazy, rude to our community members, unappreciative of our teacher's and employees rights, and careless with our delicate budget situation.. For sure we need a new one.

Yeah, this isn't working out.

Time for a change!!! Change (in this case) can only be good!

How long does he need to prove he can't do the job? Do you think it's a coincidence that the entire teaching staff gave him 11 F's and a D in job performance?

get rid of him. his dishonesty is surpassed only by his incompetence.

Nothing but a downward spiral has occurred in this district in the past 10 years under the leadership of McHenry. He has not fullfilled the duties of his position and should be terminated as Superintendent. The district would be better off without a superintendent in the interim, than we are with McHenry.

It's about time!

District needs to put teachers first by settling a contract that starts to build toward full benefits. McHenry does not support this way of thinking.

It's time...

Gary McHenry does not listen to teachers, parents, or community members. He is defensive about his opinions and does not cooperate to make changes.

I think it is noble that McHenry's son stood up but still think we as a community need better leadership asap.

I'd like to see students/parents start a "penny" drive at schools to buy out McHenry's contract.

I understand that Gary McHenry really, really wants to be superintendent, but it's time for him to put the parents' and students' and teachers' needs before his own. He is an incompetent administrator, and simply put, far too many students have received a less adequate education because of him.

Re: McHenry not aware of budgetSee: Contra Costa Times July 15, 2005McHenry " I literally live or die by the budget"

We need a parcel tax

Do you have anything to add? Feel free to do so here?

AND by the way... have you signed the petition yet? There's been over 25 signatures added just this morning to the online petition - pass it on.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Petition presentation - get your signatures in...

This just in:

The next MDUSD Board meeting will be held Tuesday, June 3, during which we (parents) will be presenting the board with signed petitions letting them know that we are unhappy with our superintendant, since he is ultimately responsible for the the district; nine years is sufficient time to fix issues and not create any more.

Additional signatures and completed hard copy petitions will be collected in the next few days so that there is enough time to get a count before the next board meeting.

Friday 5/30 - 8:30am - 9:15am Starbucks Concord/Landana (near Concord HS)
Friday 5/30 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm Newhall Park Bocce Court #8
Monday 6/2 - 8:30 am - 10 am Starbucks Concord/Landana

If you or anyone you know may want to set up pre-designated times and locations for collecting, please let me know so that we can get the information out there. I'd really appreciate any help I can get.

And of course, the easiest way to do this would be to sign the petition electronically. As you can see from the signature counts, we're at almost 150 electronic signatures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Did you sign the petition yet??

Did you sign the petition yet? ONLINE or a hard copy version? DOWNLOAD HERE

Well, here's your chance to talk about it, get the word out and to tell others why they should sign it:

Denisen Hartlove, a reporter from The Concordian newspaper, is looking for information on the Petition to oust Superintendent McHenry. She's hoping to hear from someone who's signed the petition and is willing to speak publicly about same for an article. Denisen can be reached at 925-408-7901 or at, and thanks anyone who contacts her in advance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

MDUSD releases new Negotiation News

There have been some new developments in the MDUSD/MDEA mediation process. For those new to the blogs and what is going on in our district, these are the negotiations between our district (MDUSD) and our Teachers (MDEA).

You can also see negotiation news at the district website - click HERE.

From the District Negotiation News today:

"Bargaining teams for the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) and the District met on May 16 in their continued effort to reach a settlement in the current contract negotiations."

The headlines were as follows:

Local Schools having some fun!

For Friday, we thought we'd highlight some of the great things going on around us... in hopes that it will spur you to action... to keep the good things happening. The assembly today at Woodside Elementary was something many kids have never seen before, and maybe will never see again. This came from a reader of the blog, and if you have good things happening in your school, please send it in for the next Friday feature:


Full armour, full contact jousting ON HORSEBACK! Yes, horses on the field! 3 of them in fact. The Knights of Avalon came to Woodside as the featured guest performers at a celebratory assembly honoring the students' efforts in their recent spell-a-thon fundraiser. They showed off some amazing riding skills and featured some medieval games on horseback. They are also performing this weekend in Livermore at the Scottish Games and perform at the Renaissance Faire in Gilroy.

Absolutely amazing, and one of the great things about the schools in our district. The PFC came together to pull this assembly off, the parents and students worked hard and the site administration supported it - everyone had a fabulous time together today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flunk the Budget Not Our Kids! - Update

See Contra Costa Times article posted, "Schools spared worst, but budget cuts still loom" by Shirley Dang, covering the California budget May revise announcement and the 11am press conference today in Walnut Creek HERE

Here are a few photos of the 4pm rally at Civic Park. In attendance were MANY teachers, parents, community members, MDUSD Board Members Paul Strange and Linda Mayo and a few kids too. Featured speakers were Mike Noce (MDEA), Contra Costa Superintendent of Schools Joe Ovick, Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, Assemblyman Guy Houston, a rep from Senator Tom Torlakson's office and speakers representing local PTAs, teachers and other nearby districts. You can relive the rally and speakers, thanks to Tom Torlakson's office, HERE.

From CTA's website:

"The six-week, statewide CTA bus tour against proposed state budget cuts will make four stops in the Bay Area on Wednesday, May 14"

Here are the details for Walnut Creek's activities today:

Bus Stop Walnut Creek, 11 a.m. -- Civic Park, near District Offices of Assemblyman Guy Houston in Walnut Creek.

A huge 4-6 p.m. protest rally is planned with speakers including teachers, parents, administrators, plus Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier and state Senator Tom Torlakson. Location is Civic Center Park.

Several of us are planning to attend the 4pm rally in Civic Park. Will you be there? If you want to go, and want to join up with us, let us know!

The California Revised budget (aka the May Revise) is due today. We're holding our collective breath to see if our budget troubles will get even worse. Schwarzenegger is now proposing borrowing against future lottery revenue to ease the budget deficit. See KTVU's report.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Board Meeting Running Late ?

Hi all, are you at home listening for the board meeting like I am? Its 8:00pm and it seems they are running behind in their closed door session? Must be a good one! I called KVHS to be sure it wasn't a technical difficulty but they are standing by. GOOD JOB KVHS!

That means its not too late to listen in if you're just getting here:

Update: Well, its 8:45pm... still no meeting on KVHS... maybe I'm the only one listening ... :)

(will probably have to see how it ends up in the morning!)
Having a little extra time on my hands this evening, I added a new widget to the side bar over there ------> to show some recent comments. Hope you find it useful. Its especially nice when folks comment on older posts, it keeps the conversation going.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Times blogger comments on McHenry's Ouster Effort...

Jackie Burrell of the aPARENTly Speaking blog at the CCTimes has commented on the recent events surrounding the Mt. Diablo School district:

The big news out of Mt. Diablo last week was the parent petition to oust superintendent Gary McHenry. The anonymous petition began circulating on a number of blogs first, now it’s up on, where people can sign it electronically. This has been a tough year for McHenry, one that included a no-confidence vote by the 1,900-member teachers union, a call for McHenry’s ouster by two board members, and a secession attempt by families at the district’s top-ranked Northgate High and its feeder schools. Now, the union is stepping up its protests over still-stalled contract negotiations. It’s got to be pretty tough on McHenry, but we’ve got to say, he’s not making this any easier. Apparently at the board meeting last week, McHenry told teachers that board meetings are for parents, not teachers. Actually, Gary, they’re for taxpayers - the folks who pay your salary and whose hundreds of millions you’re spending.

Read the entire post by clicking here

Sunday, May 11, 2008

'Work to Rule' and what's up with the teachers

This coming week is the "Week of the Teacher" and the teachers are ramping up their show of solidarity by conducting a "Work to Rule" action thru-out the district. MDEA's organizing team has asked the teachers to talk to parents this week and to explain the Work to Rule action with a statement similar to:

“... teachers will be demonstrating their solidarity with each other by entering campus as a group at 7:30 and leaving together at 2:30. We will also be participating in solidarity activities.

There will be no club meetings at lunch or after school and no tutoring at lunch or after school. Teachers will not be meeting with parents outside of the school day.

Working to rule highlights the many unpaid duties teachers perform. It lets the Board and the community know that they are in danger of losing this valuable asset.”

“We appreciate the support of informed parents in these difficult times.”

I know of at least one school who's staff has met and decided NOT to implement the work to rule action this week due to open house schedules and other events. Many though, are implementing this action. But regardless of whether your school is participating, it is important to recognize all the teachers do for our children, our schools and for our families outside of regular school hours. The teachers as stated above, have been asked to begin informing parents as they want the parents to be educated as to what is happening in our district now with our teachers.

Further, From the Contra Costa Times tonight: ". . . , teacher union activity has ramped up in protest of unsettled contract negotiations.

Starting today, members of the Mt. Diablo Education Association are expected to refuse to perform any unpaid duties such as advising clubs or tutoring after or before school.

Dan Reynolds, a teacher at Mt. Diablo High School, said he will stop advising the Class of 2010, suspend his lunchtime lecture program and boycott the honors English courses he teaches during zero period, the hour before school officially begins.

"I'm definitely conflicted," Reynolds said.

He wants to help his students but said that he needs a raise and district-paid medical benefits.

On top of all this, the Mt. Diablo School district is contemplating more cuts which could be announced as early as this Tuesday night's board meeting.

Celebrate the DAY OF THE TEACHER by fighting for our kids


REMINDER of an event taking place this Wednesday, May 14th at Civic Park in Walnut Creek starting at 4pm (its suggested to arrive by 3:30pm):

MDEA's Mike Noce sent the following:

"Celebrate the DAY OF THE TEACHER by fighting for our kids"

"There will be a press conference /rally at the gazebo in Civic Park located in downtown Walnut Creek. The park is located next to where the old library was .We have Sen. Torlakson, Assemblymember DeSaulnier, Joe Ovick and others speaking. The focus is making our communities aware of the devastating budget cut proposals and their affect on Public Education. We are hoping to motivate our community to contact their local legislators to protect school funding and take a balanced approach to solving the budget problems. We are hoping for a large turnout. We welcome bringing signs to the event. We will also be collecting signatures on a petition and handing out bandaids to symbolize that cuts hurt."

Click on the flyer below (2 pages) for more information as well as suggestions of the kinds of signs you might want to make, creativity is welcome.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Breaking News: PETITION now online

I was just sent the link for the petition to oust Supertintendent McHenry, it is now ONLINE:

Check it out. It looks like it keeps all the personal information entered private and not on the internet, so I guess folks should feel safe to sign and pass the link around.

If you're out getting written signatures, feel free to post any stories here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting Signatures ?

Posted per request:
"If you are a parent working to get signatures, where will you be? Post here if you like and let people know where they can sign a petition. Also, are you interested in helping to get signatures at other school sites? Or getting signatures off campus at off hour events? Some teachers have said they want to help get signatures, but not at their own school sites, so email the coordinators, and they'll help you find area events to attend.
Email: and let them know where you'll be and the online blogs can help get the word out to get as many signatures as possible.

P.S. If your school has an event coming up and you'd like to see an off campus petition effort there, email the above email address."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Petition to Remove MDUSD Superintendent McHenry

I had heard it was in the makings, it is now here. A petition to remove Superintendent Gary McHenry. You'll see the Petition reads as follows:

"We the undersigned, demand that the Board of Trustees of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District remove Mr. Gary McHenry, the current District Superintendent, from his position. Under his management the District continues to be impacted by, among other things, errors in budgeting, inability to settle employee contracts, lack of long range strategic planning, historically low employee morale, poor communications, poor customer service, and lack of community trust. Superintendent Gary McHenry cannot correct the problems of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and cannot win back the employee spirit and community trust. Superintendent Gary McHenry must be replaced immediately."

(Mr. Writer has posted the petition on his site - YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE PETITION HERE), or it can be emailed to you directly if you have an interest in printing the petition and circulating it. You can see the petition and/or print it by clicking on the thumbnail above too. Or email the address below to have it emailed to you.

Also, I hear that within the next day or so this petition will be available online so that it may be circulated and signed electronically - so as soon as I get that link too, I'll post it.

E-Mail when you have completed petitions, we'll help you arrange to get them back to the appropriate organizers:

Meeting REMINDER Tonight 7pm

Don't forget the MDUSD Community Meeting at Mt. Diablo High School tonight at 7pm for the Mt. Diablo High School feeder pattern schools.

We hear teachers are being asked to make signs and attend the meeting to highlight the fabulous things our teachers do on their own time - for free! Since this is Teacher Appreciation Week at many of our schools please think of the the extras our teachers do outside of school hours (lesson plans, copying, correcting, special events, carnivals, book fairs, fund raisers, communication, report cards, progress reports, phone calls, emails, classroom prep, tutoring before and after school, school site/district meetings, attending PFC/PTA meetings and much much more!) I know at my school sites teachers have (on their own time) helped start gardens, helped weed and beautify the campus, install playground equipment, helped coordinate art and science fairs and even have to sometimes take their lunches or after school time to help some kids serve detention!) Thank a teacher this week, even if it isn't your own....

Thank you for all you do for our kids! Your efforts are appreciated every day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wow, its been a BUSY last couple of months

In case you haven't noticed, there is a lot going on in our school district, and I thought I'd use this opportunity to do some recapping and referencing some timely posts on the topic of our district and its future.

We had previously recapped the coverage on these important budget issues on a post entitled "The Coverage is Everywhere on this . . . ".

Since then the Times has covered a recent teacher ". . . march against budget cuts and contract."
Today the Times has a story about the blogging of school issues and a push toward change. Thanks Shirley!

We told you that Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier responded to a recent letter protesting the state budget cuts, and about a petition you can download to Say No to an All Cuts Budget.

So, we started the month of April with a meeting on April 12th at Rocco's with Paul Strange and Gary Eberhart (School Board members): Meeting Recap is here

On April 14th, we had a letter writing campaign organized by Mt. Diablo Parents for Progress: Letter Writing at Monte Gardens

We then had a another meeting on April 26th with April Treece (Board of Education President) and Dick Allen (Board of Education Vice President) at Rocco's: Meeting Recap is here

To recap some of the blog posts of late, I've posted below some of the most commented, controversial, or informational:

First, a post that garnered over 50 comments over at the MDUSD blog authored by Board of Education members Paul Strange and Gary Eberhart. This one was all about our District's budget and some insight into how we got to where we are now: Budget, Budget, Budget - Who's in charge of the budget? These board members have also started to podcast the board meetings, and you can see how to do that here: Board Meeting Podcasts Now Available!

We had Andre Gensburger (aka Mr. Writer) pose a very important question at the last community meeting (April 29th) at Pine Hollow Middle school "What is being done to resolve the split within the board over the issue of the superintendent in order for there to be an effective direction for the board as a whole? " You can listen and read of the (non)results here: April Treece responds

You can also read of Mr. Writer's recently posted strong viewpoint: Somebody Tell Me What is Going on?

Then, some very important questions are still being asked by some Northgate parents. These questions were originally asked of April Treece and Dick Allen (Board of Education President and Vice President), and never answered. To date, only Paul Strange has offered up his answer. Check the Northgate Blog for this one: Still No Answers, We're Not That Patient and Mr. Strange's follow up answer: Board Member Reply

We also had the Northgate High School Blog call for Superintendent McHenry's resignation in their blog post: No Accountability! Then No Confidence!

So parents, if you're reading this now... its not too late to jump right in and get involved. Ask questions, keep reading the blogs and get informed. We will do our best to keep you advised of events and activities you can get involved in and we welcome your voices. Importantly, the following events are coming:

Tuesday, May 6th: Community Meeting at Mt. Diablo High School
Thursday, May 8th: Town Hall Meeting with Tom Torlakson at Las Lomas
Tuesday, May 13th: MDUSD Board of Education Meeting
Wednesday, May 14: Rally at Civic Park in Walnut Creek (details coming!)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tom Torlakson at Education Town Hall Meeting

From Tom Torlakson's office:

Education Town Hall Meeting in Walnut Creek

5/8/2008 6:30:00 PM Las Lomas HS, 1460 South Main St., Walnut Creek

On Thursday, May 8, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., I will be hosting an Education Town Hall meeting at Las Lomas High School, 1460 South Main Street in Walnut Creek.

At this town hall, I will discuss the state budget crisis and the proposed education budget cuts. I encourage you to attend to share your thoughts and perspectives about the proposed budget cuts and how they may be impacting your children, your school, and your community.

As I have argued since the Governor released his budget plan in January, these proposed cuts to education--if enacted--would have a disastrous impact on our schools and our children. These cuts would not last just for a year or two. They will impact our children for a lifetime. These cuts would not heal!

I believe California schools are already woefully under-funded. I believe we should be investing more money in our schools, not less. Are we going to invest in our schools, or are we going to retreat? (See Tom explain at San Ramon Valley's recent Flunk the Budget event why he believes we should be investing more money in our schools, not less: CLICK HERE FOR FLUNK THE BUDGET, NOT OUR CHILDREN)

What do you think? I hope you will join me at Las Lomas High School on May 8 to discuss this extremely important issue.

Contact: Tom Torlakson Phone: 925-682-9998 Email:


Friday, May 2, 2008

Say "No" to an "all cuts" budget!

As a result of the recent effort by Mt. Diablo Parents for Progress, many of us visited Monte Gardens Elementary and wrote to our California legislators, and the Governor, in protest of California budget cuts which will impact our state's schools, and our children's education . Like probably many of you, I received today, a letter from Assembly Member, Eleventh District, Mark DeSaulnier. He makes some points in his letter that warrant highlighting, and repeating:

  • California already ranks 46th of 50 states in per pupil spending.

  • California ranks dead last in the number of counselors, librarians and other support staff.

  • These proposed cuts will erode our ability to provide a quality education for our children.

This letter goes on to note some action items, things YOU, your friends and neighbors can do NOW to Say "No" to an "all cuts" budget!

Visit the Assembly Democrat's Budget website: At this site you'll find ways you can CALL, EMAIL, FAX or petition your support of a budget that does not take away from California Children.

You can download a petition here:

Have your friends, family, neighbors and community sign the petition. It reads, "We, the undersigned, oppose an "all cuts" solution to California's fiscal emergency. An "all cuts" approach will do irreparable harm to California's education system, state parks, veterans programs and other vital services."


Also, stay tuned for a LOCAL event taking place in Walnut Creek on May 14th where your voice can be heard. Join community members, legislators, teachers and others to protest these state budget cuts now, before its too late. More information coming - but mark your calendars now.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CCTimes Reports: Teachers March Against Budget Cuts and Contract

Some of our MDUSD teachers marched from Mt. Diablo High School to Todos Santos Park today to protest state budget cuts (and comment about the lack of a contract or benefits).

From the Times:

CONCORD — After the last school bell of the day rang, Mt. Diablo High School English teacher Steve McCoy walked to the front office and tied a black armband around his right bicep. With help from his fellow teachers, he hoisted a banner and marched down Grant Street toward Todos Santos Plaza.

"The governor's budget is virtually an attack on education. In our local district, we've been bargaining in good faith for a year and still have no contract or health benefits," said McCoy, his sleeves rolled up. "We're being squeezed from all sides."

He joined dozens of the school's teachers who marched in downtown Concord on Thursday afternoon to protest state budget cuts and an unsettled contract that has left 1,900 Mt. Diablo district teachers without paid medical benefits or raises.
Mt. Diablo school district spokeswoman Sue Berg said that the district shared the frustration of teachers worried about their contract and their jobs.

Read the rest of the article here:

Hopefully Shirley Dang from the Times is still working on a larger story about the MDUSD issues . . .