Monday, March 22, 2010

MDUSD board votes to eliminate jobs and hours Tuesday night

Theresa Harrington at the CCTimes has recapped the cuts the MDUSD is looking to make at Tuesday night's school board meeting. Check it out: Contra Costa Times

Monday, March 8, 2010

MDUSD Schools Named as "Persistently Lowest Achieving"

The names are out. Here is the PRESS RELEASE from the California Department of Education.

According to the press release:
State and federal laws associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program require California to identify the state's low-achieving schools and to require the persistently lowest-achieving 5 percent of those schools to implement one of four school intervention models. The identification of the 5 percent of persistently lowest-achieving schools in California is a multi-step process that is informed by both federal and state law (SBx 51) by Senator Darrell Steinberg, (D-Sacramento).

The 6 Mt. Diablo School District Schools include:

Tier 1 Schools (Tier 1 List):

Tier 2 School (Tier 2 list):

Mt. Diablo High School

For more information on the Persisently Lowest Achieving Schools including definitions of Tier 1 and Tier 2 check it out HERE.

So it looks like some major changes are in store for these schools. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Board Meeting March 9th - Agenda

Some very important items on the agenda this time around, including:

BUDGET CUTS - see agenda item for spreadsheets and supporting data in order to cut over 15 million dollars annually. Includes district wide support staff, special ed cuts, change of high school graduation requirements, more.

The Second Interim Report will be discussed.

14.4 Resolution ordering an election to authorize up to $348 million of General Obligation Bonds and establish specifications of the election order. Resolution PDF

Parent Involvement Policy Revisions

Certificated lay-offs / Agenda Item

Elimination of PM custodians at Diablo View Middle currently funded by City of Clayton

Roll over (through 2013) of current collective bargaining agreement with MDEA. Agenda

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day of Action Around Town

Statewide Day of Action!

Will you participate after school? See the MDEA site for information about after school activities. KRON 4 news this morning has been having ongoing coverage outside El Monte Elementary in Concord.

This is a photo a friend sent just now from in front of El Dorado Middle School on Concord Blvd. Hopefully we'll see more photos and more involvement throughout the day. Will Sacramento listen? Why do I feel pessimistic about that?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 4th Statewide Day of Action

Have you heard? Schools around the state, and within MDUSD, will be recognizing the Statewide Day of Action, this Thursday , March 4th.

Here is some more information about the Statewide efforts:

Locally, I heard the Mt. Diablo School District schools will be having a "disaster drill' at each school at 8:30am.

From CVHS:
On March 4, 2010 the Clayton Valley High School community will START THE DAY FOR STUDENTS!

On March 4th please join CVHS students, teachers, staff and community members in the Statewide Day of Action in an effort to speak out about the painful effects cuts are having on students, schools and communities throughout California. In the last two years, $17 billion was cut from California schools and colleges and now students and schools are being threatened again. We can't let that happen!

We are asking you to join us and be a part of the campaign to fight for the resources our CVHS students deserve.

On Thursday, March 4th at 7:00 a.m. we will gather in front of the high school to send a message to Sacramento that education is essential to building a better California. Please consider joining other parents and community members in this important demonstration of support for our school.

There will be a district-wide "Disaster Drill" at 8:30am.

This "Disaster-Drill" will occur simultaneously at MDUSD schools to symbolize the disastrous conditions our students face as a result of the cuts to public education in California.

At CVHS there are ways to get involved too:

On Wednesday, March 3 in the afternoon and evening we will be working on posters in the C-Wing. Please consider joining us. Everyone is welcome.

If you prefer, make signs with your students at home. We do ask that all signs use appropriate and inoffensive language. Some examples of slogans include:

Public Education Cuts are a Disaster
State Cuts Threaten the Future of CVHS
Protect CVHS Students from the Budget Disaster
Budget Cuts = The Death of Quality Education


Finally the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) is organizing after-school demonstrations at the following locations:

Ygnacio Valley Rd and Oak Grove;
Treat and Clayton Rd; and
Monument and Contra Costa Blvd

MDEA has also posted links to flyers, information pdf documents and more. They call for the district wide disaster drill to be at 9am, so I do believe they are leaving it to the school sites for the most convenient times. I hope you'll join in somehow. Our voices need to be heard.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Special Ed needs meaningful discussion, is the status quo working?

So .... after reading the CAC parent letter about the MGT report, and characterizing it as recommending a "dismantling" of MDUSD Special Ed programs, it seems clear that CAC did not like the report recommendations. If I am correct, CAC agreed with the choice of MGT, or perhaps even recommended MGT as the firm to conduct the study. Now, MGT came up with a solution that could, if adopted, save the district upwards of 29.5 million dollars. (See Exhibit ES-1 on page 10 of the MGT study).

Also according to the study, I see that it notes that our students are not performing as well. The report notes "Lower percentages of students with disabilities scoring at each level for both English and Language Arts and Math compared to the state." Are we concerned that it appears our special ed students are underperforming when compared to the state and other districts? (Exhibit 1-5).

I guess what I'm curious about, and maybe others are as well, is what is the solution? For a savings of 29.5 million dollars it certainly seems the report deserves a good, objective look, don't you think? In light of the findings that our kids are underperforming those statewide and in comparable districts, shouldn't we consider there might be a better way? I'm just asking . . . and hope we can bring some intelligent, objective solutions to the table.

In light of the fact that special ed is ~23% of our district's budget, yet serves only 11% of our students, it seems we need to be diligent in the assessment of what next...

Are kids transported all over because specific programs are built in particular (sometimes far away) locations, and not necessarily served at their home schools?

Should Principals be empowered at their own school sites? Or are the directives from the "top down" (district to school site) the best way?

I'd like to see discussion amongst parents. Objective, thoughtful discussion and ideas would be useful now. Completely bashing the report in light of some of the discoveries within it, hardly seems reasonable. So what next? Share your ideas here.