Ward Elections for WCCUSD Group Formed

I have pushed before for ward elections as a way of reducing the impact of large amounts of money. Now this has moved a step forward. Anton Jungherr and I organized a meeting on Sunday (4/29). The group leaned towards promoting true ward elections where members are voted on and also reside in the ward and towards using “method 1” involving gathering 500 signatures to get the County Board of Education to vote on it. In our next meeting (5/20), we will discuss the argument for this change, review information about the process and other school district experiences, set up a PAC, and discuss how to get community input into the actual drawing of the ward boundaries. As a working name, we have “Citizens for Positive Educational Change.” We also have a Yahoo Group set up as a mailing list. You can subscribe using this address: wccusdreform-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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4/23/2006 Bayside Council Meeting

The April 2006 general meeting of the Bayside Council of PTAs happened last Monday. It was the usual sparsely attended affair (but a quorum). The officers for next year were elected. The upcoming State PTA convention and our stalled bylaws revision were touched on. Two new initiatives were discussed:

  1. A Principal Relations Committee
  2. A Food Health Committee

Principal Relations

At the February meeting, Linda Takimoto, raised some concerns about how principals related to PTAs. We had a committee meeting in the interim to discuss how to present the issue for discussion at the next Board meeting. At the April meeting, the main points discussed on this topic were:

  1. PTAs need to have clearly defined mission statements and goals so the principals know more about who they are dealing with (and that the PTA is not just a fundraising machine!)
  2. The Bayside Council should lead units by example in this respect by adopting a mission statement and goals.
  3. Respect is a two-way street. PTAs must respect the role of the principal if they are to expect respect back.
  4. The PTA through this committee should work with Dr. Harter (Superintendent) to ensure that parent engagement and parent group engagement will be an important part of the framework for hiring and evaluating principals.

Healthy Foods

PTAs are often identified with the sale or distribution of festive supplementary (and less healthy) food. At the same time, the PTA is committed to healthy food for the mainstay meals in the schools. A parent has recently formed a committee to research and encourage the use of healthier and more appealing foods in school lunches.

Article: Teacher Retention Study

The SF Chronicle had an interesting article about a new report from SF State, A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Can Learn, based on teacher surveys. I thought the key quote was this:

“Teachers need to be asked to identify features of their work environment that are problematic and need to be addressed,” said the study’s author, Ken Futernick, director of K12 studies at CSU’s Center for Teacher Quality.

What I found interesting was two things that weren’t there:

  • There wasn’t much of an emphasis on more money.
  • There is no bristling by good teachers about the protection of bad teachers.

I’ve always felt that part of the problem with salary negotiations with teachers in resource-constrained situations where there isn’t much to offer is that teachers have little incentive to look at “the big picture” when school districts show no interest in improving conditions for teachers in ways that don’t cost as much money. Hopefully, this article will raise awareness of this issue.

A SILENT HERO

This is a letter from Kevin Rivard, long-time WCCUSD parent activist, posted originally on wccusdtalk.

Charley

—–

Prodded by another posting, I would like to give praise, kudos’s, thanks and express my personal deep felt admiration for a person of this community who has been there for the students of this community, for over 20 years, committing her life and soul to making the schools a better place for students and teachers with hardly a congratulatory note from the institution she has supported.

Susan Wittenberg has once again come through for the teachers and the students of this community with her dream of recognizing six teachers, one citizen and one non-certificated employee at this years Teacher Excellence Award dinner to be held on Saturday, May 19.

But most amazing is once again Susan has managed to collect support to give out $61,500 worth of new and continuing scholarships for the students of this district.

The West Contra Costa Public Education Fund, an independent and community supported organization has been around for over 20 years and Susan has been there the whole time. Asking for nothing, but support for the kids. I wish I had half the tenacity and vision that Susan has had and still has, she is truly a silent hero.

The number to get more information and tickets to the event and also information how you can help Susan support the teachers and students is 510-233-1464.

Thank you again, Susan.

Kevin [Rivard]

Numbers for WCCUSD 2006 Campaign Fundraising

As I said before in my posting about the need for electoral reform in WCCUSD, the November 2006 campaign for three WCCUSD School Board slots was ridiculous in the disproportonality of the campaign fundraising. I recently had the opportunity to brave the county elections office and pick up the end-of-year filings.

Two candidates who did campaign, but raised less than $1,000, didn’t have to file: Anton Jungherr and Robert Brower.

The “3 Ms,” Meade, Miles (elected), and Medrano, were endorsed by the teachers’ union and the main non-credentialed staff union. This is the source of the non-cash contributions for these candidates.

Dwarfing everyone else in the field is the de facto “bond party” ticket of Ramsey (elected) and Kronenberg (elected). Not only is the total of their contributions enormous, but the concentration of these contributions coming from unions and businesses with an interest in the bond construction program is also…enormous.

2006 Reported Contributions

Candidate Cash Cash and Non-Cash
Marguerite Meade $1,573 $8,004
Audrey Miles $2,283 $8,539
Antonio Medrano $14,737 $19,902
Madeline Kronenberg $102,963 $102,963
Charles Ramsey $137,198 $137,198