Monday, August 18, 2008

From a teacher's perspective . . .

This came to me today from a teacher. One who wishes to remain anonymous but is just as concerned as many of us about what the future holds. I will post it here, and invite any other teachers, parents or staff who wish to contribute, to do so here on comments, or email your letter or story and I will post it here anonymously (if you wish). Please comment. We have to rejuvenate interest now that school is upon us. What are YOU going to do this year to assure our teachers get a contract and we avert a strike? Will you be working on changing the board majority?

From my view……… a teacher’s perspective.

I have been working in my classroom the past two weeks. Like many teachers, I have been putting up bulletin boards, arranging furniture, putting together back to school packets, planning curriculum, and the list goes on and on. I have been a teacher at the elementary level for 9 years and I have children who attend these schools. I consider myself someone who wears two hats. Professionally, I am a “highly qualified” teacher. My other hat is that of a parent whose children are being educated by the Mt Diablo Unified School District team. Yes, our team starts at the district level, and then trickles its way down through many layers of administrators, then principles, then teachers, then to the students. I feel I have a unique perspective. As a fellow parent, I hope that my insight might help promote and encourage others to step forward and voice the need for change immediately!

Parents, we should be outraged that our elected school board has let one of the largest school districts in California fall to dead last in teacher salaries. Ultimately the school board was elected to oversee the superintendent, whose job it is to maintain a fiscally responsible district. It has been proven time and again in board meetings that our district is in a financial mess. The state budget crisis plays some roll, but this has been brewing for years.

Even if the medical benefits were up to par and offered by the district, our salary schedule is now far below the low average in 14 other areas school districts. For this reason, highly qualified teachers have left. It is outrageous that we have lost most if not all of our best and brightest math and science teachers. It takes a specially trained and dedicated teacher to reach and teach students in these fields. Our teachers are being drafted away for better pay, benefits and even signing bonuses. The district would never admit this but if you talk personally with these teachers, this is what they are saying.

Our current school board is a dysfunctional mess. Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange have stepped up and are trying to turn the district in the right direction. I want the public to call on Linda Mayo, Dick Allen, and April Treece. These three board members have done little to hold the superintendent accountable for the quality of your child’s education. Sure we hear these glowing little speeches from them in public, but what have they done really. We elected them…..they should be disappointed with the leadership of the district and calling for an end to the teacher contract dispute before a strike. Parents, do you realize that the teachers are not asking for the moon. If this is settled, it looks like a single teacher will get benefits immediately. That is it! The rest of medical will be phased in over the next few years. If I am not mistaken there is no salary increase with this contract (maybe 1%). So, since I have medical with my husband, I will get no pay increase at all. Not even COLA…the district has kept that for itself for quite a few years now!

I challenge all parents to take the time to be informed about the current school board and the teacher contract. The current leadership has clearly failed. Be a voice for your child! Be a voice for teachers! I am a passionate teacher who is working hard for your child. But, most importantly, I am a passionate parent who wants my child to have the best education possible. Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinions and the truth!


  1. I completely sympathize with this teacher. Never has MDUSD been in such a mess. Our complaints are falling on deaf ears. The board majority has made it clear how they feel about things. The only way we will get anywhere is to change the board. We have to get April Treece out. We as teachers are going to have to work very hard to assure that happens. It's going to take every teacher or unhappy MDUSD employee contacting everyone in this voting community they can think of getting them to make a commitment to re-elect Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh as a new board member. If we don't come November Treece will be right back in there and nothing with have changed. There needs to be a HUGE movement to make this happen.

  2. The mess has been noted on and readers told to come back here and support efforts to make a change.
    The mess has gone on long enough.

  3. So maybe the teachers finally need to inform the parents as to what the hell is going on at back to school night. Maybe some of us parents should organize a rally outside of schools to SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS! GET A CONTRACT NOW! Anyone up for it?

  4. So maybe the teachers finally need to inform the parents as to what the hell is going on at back to school night. Maybe some of us parents should organize a rally outside of schools to SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS! GET A CONTRACT NOW! Anyone up for it?

  5. I would love nothing more that to stand up in front of my parents at back to school night and tell them what is going on. We have been told we can not discuss or defame the district on school property.

    However, I do think that it is time for parents to encourage teachers start talking about what is going on. Many teachers don't talk about it because they are not sure if parents will support them or turn them in.

    It would be great to see the parent communities at:
    Highlands Elementary
    Pine Hollow Middle
    Mt Diablo Elementary
    Diablo View Middle
    form some sort of cooperative group to get the information to the public.

  6. The administration and board have heard from the teachers. No results. It is going to take the parents and interested members of this community to send a message. Enough of you aren't mad as hell.

  7. Anytime that any group of parents or teachers or employees or community members would like to get together and discuss what is currently going on in the school district and what it will take to fix the problems, Paul, Sherry, and myself are available to meet to have those discusions. We have had several already and we would like to have more. If people are educated, things will change for the better. I can be reached at or by calling me at 925-304-1546. We would be happy to meet, anytime, anyplace.

  8. Can we get some parents/teachers together from each school to email Gary and set up a meeting outside of school? I think most teachers know of a few parents at their schools who might be willing to help activate. Although the meetings held last year were informative, we now need to meet and figure out what the next step is.

  9. parents need to make sure that you reach out to the community at large, they are a huge majority of the residents in our area you need their help

  10. This teacher's comments are very accurate! I, too, work in the MDUSD, and have been teaching for 18 years. It has really gone downhill. We need to vote out April Treece, who seems to have a definite crush on McHenry. How else can anyone understand how she can play deaf and blind to all that's gone on, and to all the pleading and heartfelt speeches from teachers and now parents. It's time for a change! Please vote for Eberhart and Whitmarsh in November!

  11. I am a single parent -- and a teacher. The only reason I can afford to work as a teacher (a job I love despite, and because of, the inherent challenges) is that my father died young; I inherited early and as a result have no mortgage. No one enters teaching expecting to get rich, but we need to earn enough to survive... Far too many teachers cannot afford to live in the communities where they teach. Too many must juggle second jobs to make ends meet. The intangible rewards that keep us in the profession don't put food on the table -- or gas in the tank. As both my kids begin the year with subs because MDUSD can't find anyone to take those jobs, and as I say goodbye to colleagues who've left the district or the profession entirely, I'm all too aware that I'm one of the lucky ones... I have a choice, because I can afford to stay. For many other teachers, it isn't choice but necessity that drives them, and it's driving them away.