Tuesday, February 23, 2010

S.F. Chronicle: S.F. school board votes to send pink out slips

This story by Jill Tucker from The Chronicle:
Nearly 900 San Francisco teachers and administrators will see a dreaded pink slip in their mailboxes next month, a mass mailing made necessary bythe district's need to brace for a $113 million shortfall over the next two years.

The school board approved the layoff notices Tuesday night, with district officials saying they hoped to rescind many of themas soon as possible, but given the dire budget situation,the cuts to programs and staff are bound to be massive.

The layoff notices must be sent to teachers by the state's March 15 deadline notifying them that they might not have a job next year. The notices could be rescinded in the spring or summer when the district has a clearer understanding of it budget situation.

"I do not want to sugar coat this for anyone out there," said Superintendent Carlos Garcia. "The reality is when everything is said and done there will be some layoffs this year."

In the meantime,318 teachers, 98 principals and assistant principals, 10 librarians and all other district employees who receive a layoff notice won't know whether they'll be back in August. Teachers with the lowest seniority are at greatest risk.

At El Dorado Elementary, 12 of the 15 teachers are within their first three years teaching in the district and likely will get a pink slip, said Principal Tai Schoeman.

"It's devastating," he said, adding that not all teachers want to work with at-risk students, but his do. "It's a great place to work because everyone looks out for one another. It took me a long time to get to that place."

District officials hope other cost-saving measures - increases in class sizes, furloughs, early retirements and cuts to salaries and benefits - will reduce the number of layoffs. Some of those efforts require union approval.

For now, the district is operating under a worst-case budget scenario, accounting for the huge number of layoff notices being sent out this week. The layoff list includes full- and part-time workers representing 800 full-time jobs.On Tuesday, parents railed against the layoffs and state funding of education.

"It's like a crime scene," said Crystal Brown, a parent at Sherman Elementary. "You can't just sit back anymore."

Brown, with six other PTA moms at Sherman, have organized a town hall meeting for Thursday at Marina Middle School to address school funding issues.

What started as a small gathering has ballooned into a massive meeting with 1,000 people expected, including state and local elected officials.


  1. Now that the pink slips are going out let's look at the real reason for class size increases - more than just blaming it all on the state. Rachel, you and your colleagues did nothing to scale back the newly “discretionary” categorical programs paid for with flexible monies, monies that, by law, could have been used instead to mitigate class size increases, given their new designation as “for any educational purpose”.

    Thus, at least in part, the reason we are going to have larger class sizes is because the District neglected to make the necessary cuts when it had the chance last June.

    Despite Rachel's undoubted hard work and sincerity, she is as much to blame for failing to safeguard the students of SFUSD as the rest of the Board and Administration, especially given the comments she made that are quoted below. (I communicated with her several times about the deficit being overlooked by the Board.) The damage to class size stems from the failure to take advantage of savings to be had from Categorical Program flexibility, savings that ought to have been applied forward based upon the recommendations to all school boards by the California State Budget Advisory.

    Rachel provides the information in her blog to see this negligence issue clearly. Here is what Rachel said:

    “The best case scenario, strangely, is if the state decides to cut unrestricted funds and give us categorical flexibility... So we must be careful not to take on spending obligations–like new programs or new staff–that are on-going if we use this money to pay for them.”

    Which, by the way, they did when they passed a massive central staff increase for Francesca Sanchez.

    She also said:

    “The moral is, if we play our cards right and are smart about how we use this flexibility, we may be able to blunt the worst of what is coming.”

    Rachel acknowledged the tremendous benefit that could be attained by using the categorical flexibility (millions worth). Yet she and the Board did not nothing, passing the budget in June without taking that recommendation from the CSBA.

    It is clear that Rachel knew very well that there was big trouble ahead. Here is what Rachel said in her blog on Aug 26 of last year:

    “If we don’t make adjustments now, these additional cuts will really hit us hard in 2010-11 and 2011-12, which the Superintendent has been saying all along. But I think tonight it really came home to the Board that we’ve got to start planning for the coming bloodbath. The major tool we have is the new flexibility for over 40 categorical programs that in the past were tailored to very narrow priorities set in Sacramento rather than locally. Flexibility comes at a price — a 2o percent cut in many programs — but it also presents opportunity to really realign our spending around our district’s priorities. “

    But did they make adjustments? No. If fact we heard very little of anything from anyone on the Board or the Administration about these looming catastrophic problems, let alone any possible preemptive actions. And consequently, we got nothing in the way of solutions from the very people who were elected to safeguard our students from the worse fallout - class size increases. continued

  2. continued- On June 20th Rachel said:

    “The only silver lining to this dark cloud looming on the horizon is the fact that we have time — something that districts like San Jose, already forced to make massive cuts, don’t have. The plan is to start sketching out proposed cuts for 2010-11 much earlier than in previous budget cycles — as early as September or October of this year. Early preparation will allow us ample time to engage the community and examine all possible options with the goal of getting through the coming crisis with as little long-term damage to students and programs as possible .”

    Did they engage the community and examine the options? No. There was only silence from the Board. Then the news in January came like a sledgehammer. And we got slammed with huge class size increases and no choice in the matter whatsoever.

    Only a month earlier Rachel Norton was saying this:

    “Given the general budget horror show we’ve been watching for months, it’s somewhat strange that the budget the Board is considering for next year is not all that painful."

    Exactly right because you failed to take preemptive action.
    And according to Rachel's blog, Carlos Garcia repeatedly warned the Board about the pending budget deficit. I sure didn't hear Mr. Garcia speak up when SFUSD passed the budget last June.

    The Board and Mr. Garcia have not made any acknowledgement for their failure to act on information and instead place the entire blame on the State. We've heard plenty blame placed on the state. That's not the whole picture.

  3. To be frank, the SFUSD is getting what it deserves. It has been poorly run for years and thrown money away repeatedly. The idiotic lottery system chews up resources that can be used elsewhere and results in children being bussed all over the city rather than attending their neighborhood school. Running these busses not only costs money but harms the environment unnecessarily.

  4. So what about places like Daniel Webster and Paul Revere, whose successes are in part due to having lots of new hires?

  5. Don, even though I agree with some of your posts, I truly wish you would go away. So divisive and self congratulatory. I also think you post under several names to slap yourself on the back. Don't you have a job or anything?

  6. Don, could you explain what some of these categorical programs are? Ignoring realities as long as possible does seem endemic to SFUSD. I know at our school site the principal submitted a 2010-11 budget with no increases in class sizes, even though we were told the increases were inevitable. Why? Well, for one thing it temporarily placated the teachers and parents who also prefer to keep their heads in the sand and pretend they won’t be touched by this. The reason given was that it’s easier to raise class sizes later when the district forces the issue than to lower them once you agree to the increase, but I think it was more political than that.

    Parents should understand that these increases will mean an increase in split grade classrooms, which no one wants to teach. It won’t just be more kids in a room, it will be more kids at widely divergent levels with teachers who have to teach two curriculums. Expect student achievement to take a nosedive as teaching devolves into crowd control.

  7. Given that I have friends in places like Menlo Park and Piedmont (where they are trying to solve the crisis by asking every enrolled family to donate $1K, doubled their fundraising goals, and trying to pass another parcelt tax) that are facing their own horrible budget situations - the blame can't go entirely to SFUSD.

    This state is f*ing joke. I feel like Gavin Newsom and his buddies should engage in yet another round of civil disobidence and keep all the money that is supposed to go to the state from property taxes and pay it for our school system.

    As a parent, I'm wondering how to get the idiots in Sacramento to realize that this can't be good. Do I need to start marching on Sacramento with an armed militia?

  8. Agree with 7:16.
    If you want to hold the entire board responsible for the state of the budget, be my guest, but it is meanspirited and wrong to try to single out Rachel Norton for blame. One board member does not control the entire board, and Rachel has provided much-needed transparancy and a window into board doings which was sorely lacking before. This is the thanks she gets? Your vendetta against this board member makes you sound petty at best and, honestly, more than a little crazy.

  9. Here is the list of Tier III programs:

    Tier III includes all other categorical programs and were cut by approximately 20% over two years.
    Flexibility was provided for these programs for 2008-09 through 2012-13.
    • Administrator training program
    • Adult education*
    • Advanced Placement Grant Program
    • Alternative credentialing
    • American Indian Education Centers
    • Arts and Music Block Grant
    • CAHSEE Intervention Grants
    • California School Age Families Ed. Program (CalSAFE)
    • Certificated Staff Mentoring Program
    • Charter Schools Categorical Block Grant
    • Center for Civic Education
    • Community Based English Tutoring
    • Community day school*
    • Counselors, grades 7-12
    • County Offices of Education: Williams Monitoring*
    • Deferred maintenance
    • Educational technology
    • Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE)
    • Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools
    Program (II/USP)
    • Instructional Materials Block Grant
    • International Baccalaureate
    • High Priority Schools Grant Program
    • Math and Reading Professional Development
    • Morgan-Hart Class-Size Reduction (9th grade)
    • National Board certification
    • Oral health assessments
    • Physical Education Teacher Grants
    • Professional Development Block Grant
    • Pupil Retention Block Grant
    • ROC/Ps*
    • School Assistance Intervention Team
    and Corrective Actions
    • School and Library Improvement Block Grant
    • School Safety Block Grant
    • School Safety Competitive Grant
    • Specialized Secondary Program Grants
    • Student Leadership/CA Assoc. of Student Councils
    • Supplemental Instruction Programs/Summer School
    • Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant
    • Teacher Credentialing Block Grant
    • Teacher Dismissal Apportionments
    *Only certain portions of these programs are subject to
    “flexibility” as discussed below.

  10. And this is what the CSBA said:

    CSBA | budget advisory |March 2009

    While the fiscal challenges facing districts are immense, it’s
    important that boards consider this flexibility in the context
    of the district’s overall goals for student learning. This issue is
    obviously part of the immediate and difficult discussion about
    the specifics of the district’s 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets and
    the cuts the district must make. However, the board should also
    have a larger discussion to ensure that the flexibility is used to
    develop policy based on district and community priorities. The
    ability to transfer funds and to administer certain programs free
    of statutory constraints gives the board an opportunity to set the
    direction for the district’s educational program in the context of
    devastating cuts to education.
    During this time of significant funding reductions, boards
    should determine the priorities of the district and what
    the board views as its core mission. Utilizing this flexibility,
    boards need to ensure that limited resources are focused on
    these priorities since spreading resources too thinly could
    result in funding being spent on programs and services that
    fall outside of the core mission. While these discussions will
    certainly result in difficult decisions that will upset certain
    stakeholders, there can be no sacred cows for programs that
    are not aligned with this core mission.
    When discussing ways to utilize this flexibility it is
    imperative that boards understand that this option is limited
    both in terms of the relief it will provide, but also in the
    duration of the flexibility. The flexibility should be utilized
    as a tool to help focus resources, but it certainly can’t make
    up for the cuts that have been imposed on districts over the
    last two years, or the additional cuts that may occur in the
    following two years. Further, boards must be prepared for
    these flexibility options to end on June 30, 2013.

  11. Don Krause's Sock PuppetFebruary 24, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    I have been an SFUSD parent for 9 years now. In that time Rachel is the only Board of Education member to have made an effort to communicate with ordinary parents. I really appreciate her work. Don's attacks on her seem to me to be short sighted. Please don't drive her away with your snide attacks. Look at Sacramento if you want to see where the problem lies.

  12. 8:27: Of course it is not just Rachel and I clearly stated that. I agree with you that she has provided a window and I respect the work she does to provide transparency. I referenced her hard work in my post. But would it be fair to cite Rachel's documentation on the subject without attributing it?

    You seem to be less interested in the facts about SFUSD's crisis than in protected individuals whose job it is to serve the people of San Francisco. Providing transparency is one thing. Making the right decisions is something else. The Board blew it big time, Rachel included - not only she is a Board member, but because of the comments that she made on the record. The doesn't mean it is all her fault. The administration is far more to fault.

    I wouldn't even be talking about this if the leadership at SFUSD wasn't trying to shift all the blame. But it is true that the root of the financial crisis is state and national.

    I haven't yet mentioned all the other screw-ups by this Board. It is too much for readers to deal with all at once, particularly if they do not have a background in education finance and Ed Code.

    Anyone notice how the District has suddenly forgotten about the strategic plan?

  13. Some of the posters have forgotten to take their medicine.

  14. Hey, that last comment was from me, Don. I hit the wrong button. So sue me.

  15. Don Krause's Sock PuppetFebruary 24, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Don, why do you mention Rachel by name? You only do it because you know she reads this site. It is a personal attack. You should be ashamed.

  16. I don't see Don's comments as being snide. They are blunt and straightforward, but snide? If you sign on with the school board, you'd better be ready to take heat for your actions and inactions. I sense that Rachel Norton has thick skin. (I surely wouldn't want to be in her shoes. It truly is a tough job.)

    But it is healthy to have someone, even if it's tenacious ol' Don, scrutinizing the decisions of the BoE. At least he cares enough to dig a little deeper than the rest of the chaps around here. And he uses his real name.

  17. Thank you Betty for showing some reason here. I certainly don't expect you to agree with me simply because you respect my right to speak out. But I really appreciate your comment. What I notice is that no one has yet made a case against what I have said about Board's lack of foresight. Instead, as usual, they try to kill the messenger. That happens when the opposing view has no case.

    If people here really care about education, don't turn important discussions in to issues about personality. When I say "people" I mean the anonymous person or persons who accuse freely.

    The point is that $10-20M could have been used to maintain essential services by redirect it from the flexed programs listed in my previous post. And the post after that explains the value of such flexibility.

    I went up to Sac a few months ago and addressed the State Board of Ed on this very subject. What good does flexibilty do it the districts don't take advantage of it? When you can't make the house payments you don't go buy go but a yacht.

  18. Or a better analogy is - if you can't make the house payments,sell the yacht.

  19. I think Rachael was the first to ban Don from her blog's comments. (The SF school Yahoo bog came after that). Thus the vendetta.

  20. Don, I don't think the idea of making earlier, even mid-year cuts to this year's budget was completely out of mind. Does anyone remember Miyong holding an open discussion at James Lick, I think it was at the end of last year?, to go over budget projections. He said in the meeting that cutting earlier would lessen the pain of deferring everything to the coming year (which is what happened).

    I kept waiting for follow up community discussions to happen but they never did.

    I don't know if District staff or the Board simply got overwhelmed by other issues/controversies.

  21. I attended that budget meeting at Lick. According to Rachel she cites Myong saying something like not cutting too much too soon.(Not sure if it was from that meeting) Then the budget deficit ballooned and it was too late.

    The Monday morning quarterbacking is only for the purpose of providing perspective to those hollering for blood from the State. I think it is important to understand that while the overall problem of the deficit is at the State level, there was lack of attention that amplified the problem locally. There is a lot of effort required to understand how this finance mechanisms work.And even then people are scratching their heads in befuddlement with the complexities.

    You know, Mr. Garcia made the point at the community summit on last Saturday that the state should not be penalizing districts for increasing class size. He didn't mention that they cutback the penalty by 400% at 25. Without a penalty structure districts could take the money and not use it for CSR. They have to have some kind of enforcement mechanism. People do not understand this issue. What it comes down to is this - class size reduction is a lousy way to save money because, even at the lower penalty, you loose 1 out of every 4 dollars to penalty. That is a very inefficient use of scarce education dollars and the reason why CSR should have been the avenue of last resort after applying all flexed Categorical monies to CSR first.

    Lastly, I'm talking about education, not personal gripes and petty vendettas. When Rachel refers to SFGATE commenters as troglodytes, I think she means any one on any forum who doesn't know what s/he is talking about or acting foolishly.

  22. Seriously, atleast Rachel Norton is a moderate. Have you ever seen Ms. Kim-Shree Maufas, all she cares about is "diversity" at whatever costs.

    She doesn't have a clue that making schools better is the solution not "making diversity" and achievement gap the focus.

  23. Seriously, atleast Rachel Norton is a moderate. Have you ever seen Ms. Kim-Shree Maufas, all she cares about is "diversity" at whatever costs.

    She doesn't have a clue that making schools better is the solution not "making diversity" and achievement gap the focus.

  24. Don,
    Too many postings. Go for a walk. Take a deep breath. Let other voices be heard.

  25. You may think Rachel is a moderate, but she voted for the solidly progressive agenda pretty much across the Board. She has not championed a moderate alternative agenda, although the perception from her campaign was one of her being a moderate.

    As far as exposing the negligence of the Board to take preemptive action, I could choose to take this information, be quiet, not make any waves and hope that the Board does better next time. But that isn't the way a democracy is supposed to work. Elected representatives are supposed to be held accountable. At least that was the way it used to be. Rachel is smart, well meaning and sincere. That does not mean she shouldn't be accountable.

  26. Don, please. You shut down the conversation with so many postings.

    That's even assuming some of the other characters posting here are not you, though some of them sound like you and you do have a known history of sock-puppeting on the sfschools listserve.

    Even if not, you are driving people away by going on and on about your issues.


  27. Anonymous, feel better now?February 24, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    Anonymous, you sound a lot like other people so might I suggest that you go away, too? All these anonymouses must surely be you again and again. Does that make any sense?

    As for sock puppeting, accusations seem to rule this blog. It is disgraceful behavior. Unlike yourself, I write in my own name and I will not be put off by people such as yourself. Blog tip -ignore comments that don't interest you.

    Rachel took me off her blog because she doesn't like criticism. SFSchools did so because the moderator believed that I was using other identities. That was not the case. Someone known to me was online using my wireless router.

    Some of the behavior exhibited here is beyond sickening. No wonder you are all anonymous.

  28. Another blog destroyed by crazy Don and his sock puppet army. It's sad....just sad.

  29. I AM DON HEAR ME ROARFebruary 25, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    Don, you got banned from your pre school, you got banned from SF School Blog, you got banned from Rachels Blog. . . are you sensing a pattern here? It's always "not your fault" though right? Get a job or a hobby or something. Put down the microphone and let others speak.

  30. Yes Don Please stop hijacking these blogs.

    This is not your soapbox.

  31. Let's see there are 29 posts here

    11 by Don himself

    at least 5 asking Don to go away

    Perhaps Don should start his own blog and those interested in his commentary can subscribe.

  32. let's add on more "go away Don" to the number count

  33. Rachel Norton took an oath to uphold the law. But did she? You decide.

    Last year I wrote an article for Beyond Chron. Here’s the link:


    I was doing researching for it and wanted the District to provide Balanced Scorecard documentation from a sampling of school sites. At first Dep. Superintendent Tony Smith’s office negotiated with me for providing certain information. Then they retracted the offer so I gave them a public records request instead. They denied the request based upon the Deliberative Process Privilege, a denial that the First Amendment Coalition claimed to be utterly without merit.

    However, the district’s chief counsel, Maribel Medina, said the BSC materials were drafts and, therefore, protected.

    Just to be clear, the BSC is the same document as what the ED COde calls the Single Plan for Student Achievement. This document and all documents related to it, SSC minutes in the main, are unequivocally public record as they are created by the public in the context of publicly held meetings. It is the SSC and the school community that creates the BSC. It is beyond absurd to claim that documentation created in the BSC process is privileged when it is the public that created the documentation. How is the SSC and the community supposed to participate in the development of the Scorecard if it is exempt from disclosure as the District claims it to be? What is going on here is the District wanted to deprive me, Don Krause, of those documents.

    Why did the District want to prevent me from getting my hands on those documents? That was because they do not comply with Ed Code, a District acknowledged point of fact. They fail to provide the minimum information required for the Single Plan for Student Achievement. That means it is difficult for parents to determine if the school is spending its allocations in the manner they were intended.

    So I contacted Rachel Norton to ask her to intervene and to stop this injustice. This what she said:

    “I had a short conversation with him (Tony Smith) on this issue where he talked about the importance of retaining trust from the principals that they
    wouldn't be "dinged" for a "wrong" answer on the BSC, which used to happen regularly
    with the old Academic Plans. I agreed with him…”

    What Rachel agreed with is that the principal and the District should be given protection from the public constitutionally guaranteed right of review.

    She also said:

    “I'd support your right as an Alamo community member to review, comment on and respond to the plan (the principal) and your SSC are putting together before it's final. Why not start there?”
    > > Rachel

    The “right” to review that she refers to is the Public Records Act. It allows anyone to review any public records not exempted. The idea that a school community member can only review his or her own community’s records is a juvenile interpretation of the law. Rachel should know better as an elected representative.

  34. In my email to Rcahel I said:

    “… you asked Mr.
    > Smith to
    > > reconsider releasing
    > > > the drafts because you understood that they are
    > public
    > > records. If you agree
    > > > with his position why were you asking him to
    > > reconsider?
    > > >
    > > > I do not know how the community is best served by
    > > finding out about
    > > > problems later rather than sooner. In any case
    > public
    > > officials don't get to
    > > > decide which public documents they will treat as
    > > public and which they
    > > > won't. We have laws to decide that.”

    In the end Rachel said would review the BSC process. That never happened.

    One last thing, if you read the article you will notice that I refer to district assistance in getting documentation. That was for the previous year’s records and I wanted to acknowledge those that assisted me in pouring through thousands of pages of documentation. My editor advised not to get into the subject of the violations of the public records act, being off-topic from the main subject of the article.

  35. Betty westbrook said:

    "I don't see Don's comments as being snide. They are blunt and straightforward, but snide?"

    Hi Don.

  36. Don, while you were preening yourself, you posted:

    'Flexibility comes at a price — a 20 percent cut in many programs — but it also presents opportunity to really realign our spending around our district’s priorities.'

    Don, Rachel was making the point that opting for flexibility wasn't costless, as you're pretending. Repurposing those dollars would have meant less overall $$$ for the district. I can't fault them for not considering that a optimum cost of action : I'd have went with Rachel and Garcia's plans, but there's good arguments not to.

    The reason you're so annoying on this blog is not only that your vendetta against the BoE and SFUSD staffers, but you also ignore the cost-trade offs on budget, on student assignments, etc. Your answer to problems with a neighborhood school assignment system and capacity is to build more capacity at the schools with not enough slots for their neighborhood. Which, not only would be fiscally irresponsible, especially now, but also for most campuses its physically unfeasible. But the hypocrisy & self-contradiction of your ideas never is gets through your invulnerable layers of preening self-importance. Maybe because of all those sock-puppets in the way.

  37. There aren't any sock puppets. But I suppose in your anonymous world, just the accusation is enough. But I guess that if you are OK spending your time working for the district and surfing the internet on the public dime, then these eyhical considerations would mean very little to you.

    Then there is the fact that you have no idea what you are talking about. There is no loss of funding in the repurposing. The state reduced the funding by 20%. There was no choice for the district in that. The only choice was how the remaining 80% of the affected funds could be spent. Get a basic education on this issues if you are goinf to comment.

    On the other hand, there is loss of funding (25%) in class size increases.

    As far as a vendetta - I would call it accountability. But those that would prefer that I remain silent try to call it a vendetta.

    Please don't lecture me with your nonsense.

  38. I might as well also respond to your uninformed comments regarding the assignment system. We had 92,000 kids at one time that went to their neighborhood school in San Francisco. Now we have 55,000 and not enough room and dozen of properties rotting away. The Civil Grand Jury has ruled upon the poor use of District resources.

    As far as the insults, they speak more to your character, not mine.That goes for all the anonymous' who trade in lies and innuendo.

  39. Why don't you all get in a room and argue in person? This is getting really old.

  40. Why doesn't each family using the public school system just pay $1000 per kid to make up the shortfall? It's much cheaper than private school tuition, and it's more fair than continuing to disproportionately tax those of us who don't use the system.

  41. If you don't like Don's postings, and obviously many here don't, then don't respond to them. It's that simple.

    He has a right to post, but engaging him only encourages him to defend himself. I'll stop commenting when I think his points are valid if you'll stop disparaging him when you disagree. Agreed?

    I think he posts twice as often because he feels the need to defend himself. Don't be complicit.

    Sorry for yet another post about Don. (My last one.)

  42. 12:53

    Most public school families would find $1,000 a true hardship. Remember that half our families qualify for free lunch. Poverty really does mean *poor*. We have kids coming to school hungry. This would be a huge step backward from the American idea of free schools. It would cause many families to drop out.

    The idea of taxing people for the schools is not a fee-for-service thing. It's the idea that everyone in a civilized society has an interest in us having an educated population.

    We do have disproportionate taxation, but thanks to Prop 13 it is longtime versus new homeowners, and longtime corporate property owners versus individual homeowners. On the national level we have also pushed the tax burden down onto the middle class and away from the wealthy (those who make $250,000 and above, especially), thanks to George W. Bush and others. I would be very supportive of revising Prop 13 to make it more fair, and restoring tax fairness for the middle class.

  43. Regarding the funding cuts:

    I was having a conversation with another mom the other day. We both grew up in the seventies and went to public school. I asked her how many kids were in her classes in elementary school. She said "28, 30." And I recalled how many kids were in my elementary classes "30, 32."

    It's true that the teacher often was too busy to answer questions. My grade 1 teacher had a strong Dutch accent which was very confusing at the time.

    It was far from ideal, but it was quite typical for the time.

    I hate to dig up the war stories, but I think it is helpful to put the current budget cuts into perspective. As a society, I'd don't think we've often been able to afford public schools with classes sizes of 22.

  44. I have a similar recollection. I also remember that there was at least one and maybe two aides that floated throughout the school. They'd cover our classrooms for various things and perhaps do some remedial work with some kids. I've often wondered whether this isn't a better use of resources, particularly at the 4/5 grades.

  45. 3:42 PM:

    They do have aids in the school now. Unfortunately, I think they are a disproportionate target of the cuts.

    But, yes, it's interesting that most of us are survivors of a thirty kid classroom with an occasional teachers aid.

  46. Part of the Main, yes, your recollection about class sizes of the past is true. But did we have so many English learners back then? Today our district, and state, has the added burden of teaching a large percentage of our kids not only to read and write and do math, but also to speak English. I'm not griping about it, just stating a fact. It does play into the equation of how many kids a teacher can effectively teach.

    Also, in kindergarten we were learning to do art, maybe learning our ABCs, and taking a nap. We were likely only there for 3 hours, max. Second graders are doing division problems. It's a different world today, with different standards to meet.

    Just something to factor in...

  47. Hi Betty Westbrook,

    "But did we have so many English learners back then?"

    In a word, no.

    I'm not recommending, just reflecting.

    It's unusual in any society to be able to affort to have class sizes of 20:1.

    I'm aware of all the studies.

    I'm not sure about the difference in math requirements today or vs back then. What I see taught in schools today seems to be behind what I was taught in my 30:1 classroom.

    I think I've mentioned that I'm a EE (electrical engineer). Up until about grade four, the requirements for what kids need to know hasn't changed much.

    Many countries in the world introduce math concepts earlier than we do here (see Singapore math) with class sizes of 30:1.

    India has class sizes of about 60:1.

    Not that I'm suggesting big classes are a great thing. Just reflecting comparatively, without any particular conclusion, except to say that a 20:1 class size in a bad economy is a tall order.

  48. If families find $1,000 a year a "hardship" to educate their children, then they shouldn't have children.

  49. 5:53, a modest proposal*: instead of educating these children who should never have been born, let's fatten them up and feed them to the families in pacific heights and laurel heights. this would solve the problems of overpopulation, unemployment, tax-wasting welfare pinko commie welfare proposals like free public schooling, and provide a little culinary variety for the four star restaurants on fillmore and sacramento streets. it would be so much better for the economy, wouldn't it, and it would go a long way to solving all the social problems in the poorer parts of town. surely the parents will welcome the easing up on family expenses in the short run, and they'll become motivated to turn away from their welfare-cheating ways.

    it worked so well in ireland back when. amazing how some things don't change over the centuries, like a**h****s.

    *with apologies to jonathan swift

    "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to their Parents, or the Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Publick."

  50. I found this interesting link:

    Student Performance and the Changing American Family:


    Significantly, the study notes:

    "The most important family characteristic influencing student performance is parents' education. For example, students with one or two college-educated parents performed significantly better than students whose parents were not high school graduates."

    Obviously, there isn't much we can do about this, policy wise, in the immediate short term.

    "Income, family size, and mother's age at child's birth were modestly significant. For instance, a student whose family earned $40,000 annually outperformed one whose family earned only $15,000; a student with one sibling performed better than a student with four siblings; and a child of an older mother scored higher than a child born to a young mother."

    We could implement policies to discourage families from having more than two children. I don't think this is draconian. If you're really interested in social justice, it is only right to encourage women not to have children in their teens and to limit family size.

    "Surprisingly, whether the mother worked had a negligible effect, after accounting for other family factors."

    "In addition, single-parent status by itself was not significant. This result suggests that any performance gap between students from one- or two-parent families arises from other differences, such as family income or size or parents' education."

    And we can skip the Jonathan Swift stuff. I don't think the previous poster was suggesting serving up babies. It is perhaps impractical to ask poor families to pay $1000 per year toward their child's education. However, the current system makes it appear as though there is no cost to society at all to educate a child in the public system. That approach is clearly not working.

  51. If I see the term "sockpuppet" used one more time on this blog I'm going to pull my hair out. Seriously, I would rather read Don's posts (or skim them or skip them entirely) than have to read about sockpuppets. Such an annoying word.

  52. Anonymous,

    Will you please stop posting so much?

  53. Anonymous,

    You said:

    "To be frank, the SFUSD is getting what it deserves."

    SFUSD is all of us. Do you really think the children of this district deserve this?