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