Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chasing Rodriguez: The Concord Movie to benefit MDUSD

You do NOT want to miss your chance to own a piece of HISTORY! Concord's own Hollywood stuntman (really) has taken on a fabulous project in order to benefit MDUSD. Please check out to pre-order your DVD. Watch the video above to see your favorite local business owners and how they are supporting this effort. All profits will go to directly benefit MDUSD schools. Can you think of anything better than to provide opportunities for our local talented young actors and actresses, and they get to help benefit their own schools? Thanks Jeff Mosley!

Oh, and the first 500 who pre-order actually will get to attend a special movie screening at Concord's Brenden Theatre! I'm off to order now, how about you?

Monday, June 22, 2009

When bad teachers happen in the MDUSD, kids get suspended??

I just had to write about this, as I had heard about this teacher all year long. What does it take to get the attention of administration at a school? Well, in this case it seems it took a student "defying state education code" to videotape one particular unruly day.

"The students weren't behaving," Moore said of the third-period introductory algebra class. "The teacher couldn't control the students. They were making a ruckus every day, making it difficult to learn."

The ninth-grade students threw things around the room. Shortly after Christmas, students told this newspaper, someone put Play-Doh in the microwave, causing the substance to explode. It resulted in a smoke-filled classroom that teacher Michael Huang refused to air out. In other classes Huang taught, they said, students lit trash can fires and smoked cigarettes or even marijuana."

What makes students behave this way? This behavior is unacceptable no matter how "bad" the teacher is, don't you agree? But should "good students" be forced to endure this? But when complaints were made of this behavior and the teacher's actions all year long, why does it take someone having to "break the rules" to "blow the whistle" on the situation? What is wrong with this picture?

Part of the article describes the teacher's actions:

"Her daughter and classmates, who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of campus retaliation, said Huang tried coaxing students by offering extra credit if they would raise their hands and say "thank you." His Taiwanese accent was difficult to understand and he often sat at his computer instead of teaching, they said.

Huang also yelled at them and ridiculed them in front of the class, they said."

I'm glad to hear this particular teacher has resigned. Teachers like this should not be in our schools. But geez, what do you do about students like this? Seems there is enough blame here to go around.

What do you all think?

For the full article about this teacher and the events leading to his resignation, read the Contra Costa Times article written by Theresa Harrington: Girl Suspended for Videotaping Unruly Class

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's talk about the New MDUSD Superintendent

Today, starts the behind the scenes search for the new MDUSD Superintendent. Today, in a special session of the board (3pm), they will begin to work together in forming the criteria for selection of a new Superintendent. There will be public input meetings held, and all are encouraged to contact board members if you have input.

What do you think is important in the selection process?

What do you want the board to know?

Should it be someone from within?

Share your thoughts here, and if you're interested in this process stay tuned for public meetings about this, remember the goal is to have someone in place by the end of this year.

Here is agenda starting with the 3pm meeting today: AGENDA special meeting. Public comment is on the agenda, so go and voice your opinions, concerns, wants and needs for a new Superintendent.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great PINK SLIP information and how they are rescinded | MDUSD Teacher News

With the many questions swirling around about teacher pink slips, and how and who are rescinded, Sherry Whitmarsh, MDUSD Board Member graciously took on the question:

The process for school district employers conducting a Reduction In Force (issuing and rescinding pink slips) is dictated by the California Education Code (Ed Code). This Ed Code policy governs all the public schools in our state. It uses seniority and certification(s) to determine the order in which pink slips are issued and rescinded. For certificated staff, (teachers) those most vulnerable to layoff are probationary teachers, followed by teachers who have achieved permanent status with the district. Although not required by Ed Code, the district also noticed all teachers on temporary contracts. This was done to guard against any errors that, if corrected during the layoff hearing, would have afforded these teachers rehire rights.

Temporary teachers are those who have been hired for a specific time period, or who are holding a position for a probationary or permanent teacher on an approved leave. They are often assigned as long term substitutes, or serve in a teaching position over a portion of a school year. Correctly classified temporary teachers do not have rehire rights under the Ed Code.

In order to be classified as probationary, a teacher must have a valid credential, be teaching within their credential area and serve the district for a period of at least two years. Permanent status is given to probationary teachers at the district's discretion, after serving two years in probationary status. School district employers may also 'non-reelect" teachers in their second year of probationary service, provided such notice is given probationary teachers prior to March 15th, of their second year of probationary service. If no such notice of non-reelection is given, second year probationary teachers are awarded permanent status on the first day of their third year of employment with the district.

Ed Code also governs how laid off teachers will be rehired. Generally, all permanent teachers must be rehired, in order of their district seniority, before the district may rehire teachers who were laid off while on probationary status. Rehired second year probationary teachers become permanent teachers on the first workday of their third year of service with the district.

The Ed Code provides rehire rights to probationary teachers for a period not to exceed 24 months. Permanent teachers have rehire rights for a 39 month period, during which time they may refuse one (1) offer of reemployment from the district , and still retain rehire rights. Probationary teachers may not refuse an offer of reemployment within the 24 month rehire period, without forfeiting their rehire rights with the district. Both probationary and permanent employees, who are rehired within their respective eligibility periods, retain their original seniority date, as well as all rights and benefits they had prior to being laid off.

Friday, June 12, 2009

$12 million dollar budget reduction list for Tuesday, June 16th

Here we go again, with a goal of $12 million to be slashed Tuesday night, here is a partial list of "big ticket items" on the chopping block, as noted on the agenda for the evening (for budget reductions start at page 159):

Reduce home to school transportation by 11 Bus Driver positions and (1) clerical position. Eliminate all home to school transportation except in the Bay Point/Pittsburg area. Continue NCLB and home to school bussing. Work with County Connection to try to reestablish routes. (Per the CCTimes: "Nicoll said cutting buses for hundreds of children in the Crossings and Crystyl Ranch areas of Concord could be controversial." )

Eliminate one member of the Superintendent's Council. There would need to be a reorganization of duties among senior staff (starting in 2010-2011).

Eliminate administrative assistant for one member of the Superintendent's Council (2010-2011).

Eliminate one Senior General Maintenence Worker.

Eliminate Director of Purchasing.

Delay transfer of Meals for Needy Funds to Food and Nutrition Services. District has been transferring funds from Meals for Needy to Food Services. This would reduce the transfer by $100,000.

Additional reductions to Tier 3 programs. To be determined - this one item alone = $2.3 million dollars. What will it be? I have heard that cuts from this category will be considered on June 30th. Hopefully we'll have a list of what these will be before then. Perhaps a board member will give us more information on this one.

If you're interested in seeing the recommended athletics funding plan, then start at page 170 on the AGENDA.

New Article by Theresa Harrington at the Contra Costa Times: Mt. Diablo school board expects to cut $12 million more from three-year budget, bringing total cuts to $43 million


Thursday, June 11, 2009

How will you help our ailing MDUSD schools?

There has been a seemingly never ending assault on our schools here in the MDUSD. With the failure of Measure D and the continued failure of our state to put kids and education first, it just gets worse every time we look. Next up, $12 million more will be slashed from our budget at next Tuesday night's board meeting. So what can you do?

The district wants you to donate your $99 that otherwise may have gone to Measure D, to them. I think it is a very interesting idea. This giving campaign, started by Ygnacio Valley High parent, Teresa Torbett and introduced at the board meeting on June 2nd, resulted in over $2,700 in contributions that same night. You can read more about Teresa's effort HERE . I applaud Teresa's efforts. We need more grassroots thinkers out there, as we are left in a position of having to scramble for support and lost programs. With proactive, visionary parents like Teresa out there, we will get there. She was also featured on a recent episode of Channel 7's "Beyond the Headlines" discussing the ground level efforts within our district and at our schools. She also discussed more locally the Ygnacio Valley /YVHS Community Action Group

Next up, the parcel tax may be re-introduced to the ballot in November. Hopefully the community will realize that every single vote counts. Though Measure D got the majority vote, in this instance, the minority ruled. It is not acceptable. The cuts made in the last few weeks, and surely the next ones coming, will be felt by all within this district come August when school begins again. No VP's, larger class sizes, no sports, no elementary music, reduced library services and more. Every student will feel these cuts.

Then, we have individual schools ramping up their fundraising efforts. Some with specific goals for the summer in order to supplement their programs come fall. Strandwood started by asking families to donate the $100 that would've otherwise gone to Measure D, direct to the school. Their goal is to raise over $56,000 this summer. Bancroft Elementary also started a $1 a day campaign and in just over a week brought in over $36,000. These schools and others were featured in a CCTimes Article today. These schools are looking to fund programs and assistants to aide in their growing classrooms. The impact of grades 1-3 going from 20 students to 31 will be profound. Some of these fundraising efforts are geared directly at providing an aide for each classroom come fall.

Personally, I'd like to see the individual school communities create a needs list (i.e. aides) and then create a campaign to help support that. Whether it be a $1 a day, or the flat $100, it will go a long way if EACH family contributes. I worry the district's fundraising campaign will not come close to the funds needed to restore any programs. I further worry that these monies will be considered "one time" money. Just as the district could not use the stimulus money to restore ongoing programs and positions, it seems too this same restriction would hamper the district from using any of these donations to restore anything "we" at the school levels will feel. I hope that if I'm wrong, one of the board members will correct me.

But for now, my advocacy would go toward the individual school sites to support their own needs. It is now that, we have been forced to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, we must all pitch in and give to our schools. If your school is having a fundraising drive, advertise it to your community, not only school families benefit from good schools.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Get Ready, more budget cuts to the tune of $12 MILLION, coming to a district near you

Yes, sad news indeed, with the news coming from the state, our board is faced with the daunting task of cutting yet ANOTHER $12 million dollars next Tuesday night at their board meeting.

Where will they cut? Read the Superintendent's Message outlining the cuts here: Message from Superintendent. He also answers many of the questions I hear frequently asked. The full list of cuts on the agenda for Tuesday will be available on late Friday.

We keep saying, "can it get worse?" Well, yes, it can.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Superintendent speaks on (possible) Swine Flu Death at El Monte

Superintendent, Dr. Dick Nicoll discusses the funeral services and crisis services available at the school site on this video from the CCTimes:
(course it would've been nice had the Times confirmed the spelling of his name)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MDUSD votes to eliminate class size reduction and 5th grade music

What a depressing evening listening to this board meeting. They just voted to eliminate all the items that were recommended to be cut for tonight which included class size reduction in grades 1-3 and 9. Plus eliminate 5th grade music starting in the 2010-2011 school year, reduce library services and more. Grades 1-3 can now go to 30:1.

They are discussing additional cuts now. Over 200 people have been logged on to watch it streaming live at


Monday, June 1, 2009

37 Million over 3 years? Yes, its worse than we thought in MDUSD

The state has hit us again. Just when we thought that 28 million over 3 years was bad enough, we've been hit with another 9 million. The MDUSD school board now says it must cut 37 million over the next 3 years. I have always been an outspoken advocate for the MDUSD. There is much good in the schools and within our teacher and student population. The failure of our state legislatures and the more local, yet smaller failure of Measure D, has left our district a shambles. These kinds of cuts are going to strip our schools down to the bare bones.

Now, some may say that is good - get back to basics - but the world today is about basics AND MUCH MORE. Can we even pretend to be able to ready our students for the new world of technology ? Have you seen the video Shift Happens, or also called, Did You Know? If you've not yet watched this, you really should. It touches on some interesting facts, just a couple of those are that:

  • 25% of India's population with the highest IQ's, is greater than the entire population of the US. It means that India has more honor students , than America HAS kids.

  • The Top 10 In Demand Jobs in 2010, didn't exist in 2004. That means we are currently preparing our students now for jobs that don't exist yet. Using technologies not yet invented. In order to solve problems we don't know are problems yet.

So given the future of technology and how quickly the world is changing... how well do you think we're doing? I think I know the answer.