Friday, June 4, 2010

School Year Calendar Finalized

PRESS RELEASE: Fewer Instructional Days due to Budget Cuts

June 4, 2010 (San Francisco) – The San Francisco Board of Education has approved an instructional calendar for its 2010-11 school year, which includes four furlough days agreed upon between SFUSD and the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF).

The furlough days are part of the District’s cost-cutting measures as it faces a $113 million shortage of funds from the state of California over the next two years. The district estimates the furloughs, in which schools, child development centers and district offices will be closed, will save approximately $9.2 million.

The school year begins Monday, August 16, 2010. In addition to other regularly-scheduled holidays, schools will be closed for furlough days on:

· Monday, November 1, 2010
· Friday, February 4, 2011
· Friday, March 25, 2011
· Monday, April 25, 2011

The Office of Public Outreach and Communications
San Francisco Unified School District
555 Franklin Street, Room 305
San Francisco, CA 94102
TEL: (415) 241-6565
FAX: (415) 241-6036

71 comments:

  1. This is sick. If SFUSD is really so committed to closing the education gap, they would not decide on LESS instructional days.

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  2. If SFUSD was really commited to education, it would check residency, to make sure that dollar in = dollars out.

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  3. Agreed it is sick to balance budgets on the backs of schoolchildren rather than spreading the pain. But the real problem is located at the state level, which has disinvested from public education to the tune of $1.7 billion dollars over two years. And if SFUSD doesn't balance its budget, it risks being taken over by the state (ironic, huh). The furloughs are *very* regrettable, but will help save a few hundred teaching positions--it's a decision between more/fewer days and more/fewer teachers.

    Of course, check residency. I'm pretty sure this won't solve all the problems of the world, or the district, as the poster at 11:43 seems to suggest (any more than Meg Whitman's proposal to balance the state budget with "no new taxes" and cutting "waste, fraud and abuse" will do any good--a childish proposal, that). Residency fraud is drop in the fiscal bucket, especially considering that at least some of out-of-district kids are bringing net $$ with them (even accounting for some of those displaced from the Clarendon set going private).

    But, hey, obsess away....pay no attention to the man behind the curtain in Sacramento.

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  4. The fact that you are writing such a long position statement on such a lovely sunny day indicates that you realize that the residency fraud situation is a deal breaker.

    I don' buy in that the people who cheat using an assumed address bring net $$ with them into the city. The fact that they cheat inherently means that they can't afford private school and therefore cheat.

    There's no man behind the curtain in Sacramento. We are the men and women behind the curtain, and we pay the greater share into the pool of money that does not come back from Sacramento. We can't get our kids into schools in this city.

    So, yeah, the residency fraud thing is not the only reason our schools are in crisis. However, one of the things the city could easily do something about. They don't because it is not politically expedient.

    You bet I'm going to "obsess" about it.

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  5. @2:50 --

    I don't understand your point. For what is residency fraud is a deal breaker, and how is it politically expendient?

    I'm sure fraud happens a little bit now, but you're really shouting in the wind until next fall, when residency will make a significant difference.

    More on topic, I'm disappointed the days weren't consecutive, but I understand that the teachers gave up to create them, so the days were assigned to minimize impact on them.

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  6. What I don't understand is why they can't have a chunk of days and smooth it out via payroll. The teachers are on salary aren't they? They get paychecks in the summer when they're not working. Why can't they make Thanksgiving a full week or spring break two weeks - something that makes more sense, and smooth out the pay bumps behind the scenes?

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  7. 5:33, the teachers are on salary, but the classified school employees are not. They are paid less than the teachers, and consecutive days off would mean a big hit in that particular payroll period for them--for families that most likely are payroll-dependent to make rent, food, etc.

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  8. "I don' buy in that the people who cheat using an assumed address bring net $$ with them into the city."

    I believe the point was that outside-SF students bring their per-student $$ with them when they enter the system. Yes, most likely this means that some families who don't get Clarendon or other prized schools then go private or parochial, and take their per-student state funds away from the district. But I bet there is a net gain overall--not as many students leave the system as join it from outside SF, because some families are willing to take a non-trophy but decent school like Harvey Milk or SF Community instead of Clarendon.

    To be strictly fair, no one doesn't have *any* assignment because of fraud--it's a question of parental judgment about whether to accept or not what is offered--the anger here is about not getting a spot at one of those trophies thanks to people taking them from outside SF, right?

    In the previous and recent era of declining enrollments, and residency not mattering within SF for assignment (as it will in the future), there was less incentive for the district to crack down too hard.

    Please note that I am not condoning or encouraging residency cheating. I do think it doesn't help the cause to go on about how the district loses money (which is probably not true) or that people don't get assignments at all for their kids. Exaggeration isn't so helpful--the real effect, which is to deny residents scarce spots at popular schools, is pernicious enough to encourage an outcry.

    I also think the district will have more incentive to crack down now that internal SF address will matter for school assignment. Not sure we really need this hue and cry so much as a focus on restoring state funding, as suggested by 12:31 from June 5. Residency fraud is real, but a bit of a red herring compared to the big issue of a significant decline in funds from the state.

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  9. "To be strictly fair, no one doesn't have *any* assignment because of fraud--it's a question of parental judgment about whether to accept or not what is offered--the anger here is about not getting a spot at one of those trophies thanks to people taking them from outside SF, right?"

    I don't think anyone here is looking to shop anyone for going to Cesar Chavez or Thurgood Marshall.

    There's a kid I know from Oakland who waits for a bus to a good-but-not-trophy school at the same time and place my kid picks up his bus. His mom works in SF. Am I going to shop him? No.

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  10. Well, looks like we can keep the kids up late on Halloween.

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  11. 7:24,

    Your argument doesn't hold water. There are many families, in S.F., that are not only interested in "Trophy" schools. We are only interested in decent schools.

    Many, like me, that live in the SE of the city will not put our schools into the worst of the worst in the city. So we fight for the moderate schools that are fairly close to where we live. So not all parents are interested in "Trophy" schools. We just want schools that will educate our children without the issues that are prevalent to the SE schools.

    Please don't use the asinine argument that we should move either or that we made a bad choice in where we decided to live. I bought the house before I was married and had kids. I never thought of the school district I was buying into. Now, I own and the area, though good, the school assigned to the area are the worst of the worst.

    So families that cheat, regarding living in the city, even if they get into moderate schools are cheating real San Francisco families hoping for a fair bid in the lottery system. Hey, if they want to send their kid to Malcolm X or El Dorado or any of the 1 or 2 raking schools. I say let them in. But if they are getting into schools like McKinley, Milk, or any of the other lesser but decent schools, they need to be fined and have their children taken out of these schools. Because there are still loads of S.F. families out in the cold for decent schools in the city. We live here pay all of the taxes. We should be able to have the schools we want ahead of those that cheat and don't live here. So for those that are accepting of the practice, I hope that one day your child is denied the chance to go to a school of your choice because someone else cheated. They you may know how those of us feel and are impacted by these cheaters!!

    So may you reap what you sow.

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  12. It seems like the District's policing mechanisms (people ratting out others; parents being made to pay only a fine) both invite abuse and yet punish in a very mild way. Look on school district's websites north of us (Marin) and east of us (Albany) and you will see that the onus is put on parents to prove residency on a regular basis. Can't do that and you are OUT at the end of the school year. I'm not saying it needs to be done every year, but definitely every other year parents need to prove that they live in the District. That would knock out many more fraudsters without this creepy thing of having parents and kids turn others in.

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  13. Instead if 4 less instruction days, would it not serve the interest of the students to reduce the compensation SFUSD's employees by the equivalent amount? This is a perfect example of how the interests of the students are not the same as the interests of SFUSD's employees. And I, for one, am "for the children."

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  14. Um, their pay *is* being cut....

    I know people here like to trash the union, but the union at least offered protections from having their payscale reduced. In the long run, it would be terrible if teacher pay was reduced whenever times got tough (i.e., all the time in this era of permanent fiscal drought due to Prop 13). Pay for even experienced teaching, when teaching was an unmarried or older (post-children) women's profession, was low low low. That would be a discouragement to recruitment and retention for sure. The fact that the union negotiated for fiscal relief but maintained pay scale is a good thing for quality, in the long run.

    Btw, before you jump all over me, I'm not a teacher nor do I have a vested interest in their pay other than as a parent of kids in SFUSD. I am intruiged by some (not all) of the ideas to trade teacher tenure for higher pay in a bid to weed out the bad apples. I'm just saying that there is a long-term benefit to the children in maintaining teacher pay at sustainable/liveable levels. As a parent and community member I rue the loss of instructional days, and would gladly pay higher taxes to stop this loss; but I think teacher pay is an important piece of the quality puzzle--and I also believe teacher quality matters more than almost any other factor in education including class size and length of school year (any factor that is besides home life, which schools have little control over).

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  15. four fewer instructional days.

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  16. "would it not serve the interest of the students to reduce the compensation SFUSD's employees by the equivalent amount"

    You mean, just give them an across-the board pay cut, but make them work the same amount, despite a contract to the contrary? Would that even be legal???

    And couldn't that be said about ANY of our paychecks?? I am just thinking about various employers over the years saying, "You know what? It would really benefit us to start paying our employees less money!!" Saying it "serves the interest of the children" discounts the real impact that a pay cut has on people who aren't making a lot of money to begin with.

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  17. To answer a couple different posts - The education cutbacks are not 1.7 billion but closer to 12 billion. There is a problem with spreading out salary reductions over the year as the districts get their funding over usually 4 allotments and they are related to ADA. Districts already have to borrow using something called TRANS notes just to make it from one allotment to the next. A salary spread would exacerbate this problem.

    There also seems to be some confusion among some who blame SFUSD for the issues related to the contract with the unions. If they could they would just reduce every employee's salary rather than cut instructional days.

    Also, it is highly unlikely that SFUSD would go into State receivership under the circumstances. There are over a hundred districts already flirting with insolvency. There is no way the CDE can take on receiverships of this magnitude.

    Lastly, did anyone notice that schools did not adopt an updated BSC for 2010-11? What ever happened to the Stategic Plan? It walked out the door with Tony Smith. I guess social justice wasn't as important as they said it was. Well, not important enough to include in the BSC the unpleasant realities imposed by the budget cuts. I can understand when a school here and there doesn't get it together, but the whole district?

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  18. Every SFUSD employee impacted by furloughs is taking a pay cut. The furlough days are unpaid. For teachers and other contract employees, this reduces the days for which one is contracted, with a resulting cut in pay (less days = less money).

    Also, since these furloughs are to be a total shutdown, there may be related cost savings from building use/maintenance. From what I understand from states that have switched to four days a week public services, these savings may not be very large - but those states often raised the hours in a day (so that public employees still worked forty hour weeks), which might offset savings.

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  19. I understand that SOTA accepts students from out of district. If this is true why isn't anyone concerned about it?

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  20. 11:11 .. WHAT???? Is that really true? That's horrible!

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  21. It's called an intra-district transfer. You can do it legally. Check out SFUSD website for details.

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  22. Slow down, everyone. The Ruth Awawa School of the Arts was specifically designed as a *regional* school for the arts. That is part of its mission, to educate top-flight artists from around the Bay Area. This is how it sustains itself as a top-quality school for the arts, by drawing on talent from a wider area. Many of these kids go onto Julliard, Oberlin, Berklee (in Boston) and other strong arts programs.

    www.sfsota.org

    The non-audition school for the arts, the Academy for Arts and Sciences, is aimed at San Francisco residents.

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  23. Every SFUSD employee impacted by furloughs is taking a pay cut. The furlough days are unpaid.

    Working fewer days for less pay is not quite the same as reducing the compensation rate.

    If SFUSD's mission is to serve the children, and it has just negotiated a new contract with its biggest supplier (the teachers union) shouldn't the district have worked to reduce the price of delivering 181 days of instruction, as the District's revenues do not match its cost structure?

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  24. 11:49 AM:

    So as a regional school, do surrounding regions contribute financially to SOTA?

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  25. If SFUSD's mission is to serve the children, and it has just negotiated a new contract with its biggest supplier (the teachers union) shouldn't the district have worked to reduce the price of delivering 181 days of instruction, as the District's revenues do not match its cost structure?

    What a terrible idea that would contribute to losing good teachers and undermining the quality of teaching. The issue of revenues not matching costs is about how we fund education--Prop 13 and its aftermath. That is what needs to be addressed, not degrading the quality of education by paying teachers less. I hate the furlough days, but between length of school year and teacher quality, I take teacher quality. They made the right decision.

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  26. No, SFUSD should not looked to have further drop teacher pay. Among other things, teachers already leave SFUSD for better-paying districts.

    Besides, teacher pay is partially funded through Prop. A. I don't know how the legal language works, but the last pay increase - and there is none planned other than the step/column raises - was entirely due to ongoing Prop. A funding.

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  27. Yes, and Prop A is paid for by the tax payers of San Francisco. Not the taxpayers of Daly City.

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  28. So as a regional school, do surrounding regions contribute financially to SOTA?

    School funding in general is complicated, and SF residents do pay for certain elements of all schools (facilities upgrades, teacher pay, and Prop H), SOTA being no exception. But most money comes from per-pupil state funding, which moves to the school with the student. It's not like there is a huge pot of money coming from SF to the schools. It mostly comes from the state (via income taxes and other sources).

    I believe the reason to keep the school regional (though most students are from SF) is to keep the quality of the students very high--which benefits the student body as a whole. And to recruit in difficult disciplines, such as boys in performing arts. Unlike Lowell, which easily fills up its quota with a very high academic standard from within San Francisco (almost all A's in middle school and the highest test scores), SOTA is not quite able to do that in all disciplines at the standard they want/need.

    For SF students who want a focus on the arts who don't make the audition or portfolio cut, there is the Academy for Arts and Sciences.

    Not everyone likes this emphasis on the highest-level students and call it elitist. Matt Gonzalez of the Greens used to attack both Lowell and SOTA for being elitist. Or you could argue that finally there is a place for gifted kids. In any case, that is what is in place at this time.

    I guess you could get all worked up about this (small) subsidy of SF residents for regional arts education on the high school level. Let me just say--the outside-SF students are relatively few; the funding from SF (diluted across the whole system) is relatively little; and we are funding high-level arts education from which we presumably all may benefit some day. These are all in some sense "our" kids and future artists.....I'm proud of my city for having this school.

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  29. 1:35 PM:

    I don't think it is a matter of getting all worked up.

    It is a matter of paying for it.

    And also, of keeping enough capacity of good school programs for tax paying San Francisco parents.

    Maybe that's not an issue at SOTA. Fine. But the families of out of district students should pay for what the state doesn't. No one is forcing these families to live out of district. It's their choice.

    These principles seem to be lacking from the larger school picture in SF, for some reason.

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  30. People endure wage cuts in the non-unionized private sector all the time. For many it beats losing their job and attendant benefits. I'm not making an argument about whether SF teachers are adequately paid for their 9-month work year or how their pay compares to other districts or whether cutting teacher wages would be good public policy. I"m just saying it's not illegal to cut wages as long as you pay minimum wage. The employees can take the reduced wages or go elsewhere.

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  31. 3:39, Every time I start thinking maybe we teachers don't need a union anymore, someone like you makes this kind of asinine comment and I realize, yet again, that despite all of our education and training, many parents do not see us as professionals. I do not teach as a charitable act -- it's my job. I love it, but I expect to be fairly compensated.

    Since you feel that someone should take a pay cut to subsidize the school budget, perhaps YOU should offer to do so. I don't plan to myself, thank you very much, but I'm sure your donation will be very much appreciated.

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  32. Sota and Lowell cream off the best students. Imagine if SFUSD did not have these schools, Lowell in particular. We take the highest 20%of achievers and remove them from the rest of the schools. Lowell and SOTA deprives every other school of the academic diversity that they need.

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  33. Clustering the highest achieving students at Lowell benefits the students who attend other high schools when it comes to getting into the University of California. There is a UC program called eligibility in the local context and it guarantees admission to UC to students who graduate in the top 4% of their high school class, even if their GPA and test scores don't place them high enough for admission compared to (for example) students from Lowell. If all of the Lowell students were spread out among the other high schools, they would probably be the ones filling the top 4% of the senior class and scoop up all of these admissions to UC which were intended to increase the chances of students at formerly underrepresented high schools at UC.

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  34. "Since you feel that someone should take a pay cut to subsidize the school budget, perhaps YOU should offer to do so. I don't plan to myself, thank you very much, but I'm sure your donation will be very much appreciated."

    Socialist hogwash. Look around. People in industries of every kind are getting laid off and or having pay cuts. Have you read the headlines about city jobs? I don't like the idea of reducing teacher salaries, cutting instructional days, etc. but what makes you special that you should be bullet proof in a severe recession? Whenever you uncoupled salaries to revenues you are flirting with economic disaster. The problems with CAL tax structure may not be the fault of teachers, but until a solution is implemented no one is immune. That's why you got a reduction in hours and rightly so. We must learn not to live beyond our means even if leftists don't care whether there is money in the coffers to pay salaries. We don't need to wait for the bankruptcy of European socialism to hit the shores of America. California is already bankrupt and your socialist ideas do nothing to pay the bills.

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  35. Socialism isn't the only cause of bunkruptcy.

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  36. California is already a semi socialist state. Reliance on government for liveilhood has grown exponentially and is expanding daily. The public employee union obligations are driving the City of San Francisco towards insolvency. Its long history of unionism has made it particularly vulnerable. Other cities too.

    The only thing that stands in the way of schools getting better is the teacher's union. It prevents virtually every reform.

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  37. Why should SOTA get a special benefit that gives even one penny to out of district students? Because they want to be the best? All our schools should strive to be the best.

    No, I don't agree with the rationale that SOTA has to attract outside talent to rate. It is a public school. If a charter did the same the anti charter activists would bust a gut over it. I get the feeling that pro SOTA people are writing in here to keep the benefits coming exclusively to their priviledged school.

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  38. "Sota and Lowell cream off the best students. Imagine if SFUSD did not have these schools, Lowell in particular. We take the highest 20%of achievers and remove them from the rest of the schools. Lowell and SOTA deprives every other school of the academic diversity that they need."

    Why do schools "need" academic diversity? I don't want an academically diverse school. I want a school where the students are fairly similar so the super-bright kids are not getting bored because it's moving too slow and the slower learners are not lost because it's moving too fast. I know, public school teachers have strategies for coping, but it gets harder and more disruptive as the kids get older and their differences become more obvious to them. I would rather have my kids in a school where the teachers have to spend less time "coping" and more ability to move the whole class together.

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  39. 1.If SFUSD is really so committed to closing the education gap, they would not decide on LESS instructional days.

    2. If SFUSD was really commited to education, it would check residency, to make sure that dollar in = dollars out.

    3. IF SFUSD was really committed to education it wouldn't be pissing away valuable staff time on a suit against the State and let the appropriate advocacy groups do that instead of the government essentially suing iteself and taking money out of the pockets of children and classrooms.

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  40. Although I agree in social responsibility and not being insolvent, I do not favor pay cuts for teachers. This is S.F.. We have some of the highest paid transit drivers in the U.S.. I say cut their pay and give it to the teachers, especially since we are certainly not getting the best service from MUNI.

    We get far better service from our teaching staff and all school staff. That is how we help solve the budget issues. It may not solve the entire crisis but I bet we could get enough out of the MUNI budget to forgo the furlough days.

    As for SOTA, if people want to send their kids to SOTA but don't live in S.F., they should indeed contribute to the schools. Their school district should have to pay to have their kids attend S.F. school or allow the same number of S.F. children to attend their best schools.

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  41. "The only thing that stands in the way of schools getting better is the teacher's union. It prevents virtually every reform."

    I have my kids in private school and have made many critical remarks about the teacher's union, but I call total BS to this comment. If you put a typical under-performing school's student population, with its high proportion kids coming from lousy home environments into a non-union private or charter school, student outcomes are not going to miraculously improve.

    Non-union charter schools have had occasional and much-touted successes, but they've hardly been a panacea in predominantly low-income communities.

    In public union-teacher schools with less challenged populations here in SF, results have been steadily improving. Schools get better when the home lives of the kids you put into the schools get better.

    I do fault the teacher's unions in a number of areas, but saying that eliminating teachers' unions will make schools better, in a vacuum, is false.

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  42. To June 9, 2010 9:25 AM

    In New York, an adequacy lawsuit in the mid 90's helped bring NY schools from among the lowest per pupil, to among the highest in the US and, more importantly, coupled with some great educational reforms they are making serious academic progress today. In fact, California (and SF) should look to NY for some serious educational reform that goes beyond money. Importantly, though, they do fund significantly more per pupil than California.

    It is unfortunate that California (and I count myself among the plaintiffs as a PTA president!) must resort to this, but it's clear that sometimes lawsuits are the last resort. In this case, I'm all for it.

    My middle school kids will not be the beneficiaries of this - I'm sure it will be a decade before we see the result and outcome, assuming success. But count me in for the long haul as the future of California depends upon it.

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  43. 9:25

    SFUSD is not paying the cost of the lawsuit. It is being carried out pro bono by the law firm. SFUSD is lending its name as plaintiff (along with the PTA and individual plaintiff children, and several other school districts around the state, some urban, some rural, some big, some small).

    And as 10:08 pointed out, this is long-term strategy that has yielded results in other states.

    Kudos to those who pulled it together, and to the lawyers for working pro bono. This is a matter of justice, and it's about time.

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  44. Unless Rachel Norton is wrong in her most recent piece on the lawsuit, SFUSD is devoting the efforts of paid staff to the suit. That means we are using
    district resources (money) to pay for it. Do you agree with that or not? I agree with the suit in principle, but I do not agree with using district resources to prosecute it. I'd like to know just how much time will be devoted to it. The time and effort that the legal department expends on this suit is time and effort not spent doing other district work, work that will likely be done with consultants instead. Is Norton mistaken?

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  45. This is what Rachel wrote:

    It’s very important to note that this district is incurring no legal costs (other than the staff time required on the part of the General Counsel and the Superintendent) for being a party to the lawsuit.

    I suppose you can ask, but my guess is the time allocation from the Supt. (who is an exempt employee and on salary, right?) and the General Counsel are fairly small--some PR of course, and looking over legal docs to be sure that they don't violate legal policies of the district. The bulk of the work, where the money is being expended on lawyer's fees, is most likely being done pro bono by the law firm as part of their charity work.

    In terms of costs to benefits, I would argue this is (small) money well-spent. We can spend the next ten years cutting and cutting or we can start looking at long-term solutions to the budget crises--which are structural in nature. It worked to large degree in NY. Time for us to force California to address these issues. Let's not be penny wise, pound foolish.

    I say this even though, like the other poster, I am a parent whose children will most likely not benefit from this lawsuit. I support this as a stakeholder in California's future, not only as a parent of my kids.

    You, of course, may disagree about this small allocation of resources to address underlying issues. Feel free to write to the BoE and Supt Garcia about it; speak up in public sessions of the BoE; write letters to the editor, etc.

    Obviously other strapped school districts agreed with SFUSD that this was an important step....

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  46. 10:08

    "It is unfortunate that California (and I count myself among the plaintiffs as a PTA president!) must resort to this, but it's clear that sometimes lawsuits are the last resort. In this case, I'm all for it."

    When you say you count yourself among the plaintiffs, what do you mean? Are you acting as a plaintiff on behalf of your PTA and did your PTA vote to authorize that or do you mean on behalf of yourself and that you happen to be a PTA president?

    If SFUSD is so concerned about State Ed funding, why did they ignore the legislature and the new laws passed for over a year which gave SFUSD and every other district vast new flexibility to use funding in ways that could have decreased the deficit? They ignored the advise of the ACSA and many others when they failed to do so, then in January of this year they acted as if the sky had fallen.

    There is more to this deficit story than meets the year, but everyone is buying into Garcia and Co. explanation that is was all the fault of the State in order to hide their failures. I do agree that the bulk of the issue is the funding shortage no doubt, but that does not absolve SFUSD of its responsibility to use what funding they get effectively. In fact it increases the need for it. They failed in that regard when they neglected to use categorical flexibility to supplement general fund which then have been used to offset losses in staff. But they don't want to talk about that.

    Did your PTA pass an updated BSC this year and if so could you tell me which school it is?

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  47. Even with pro bono legal counsel, you can't have a lawsuit without participation by the parties. Litigation just doesn't work that way. Witnesses need to give testimony at depositions and trials. Knowledgeable representatives of the parties need to provide facts and documents for the attorneys to work with. It's any entity's general counsel's JOB to assist outside counsel in legal matters involving the entity. How much time will it take? Who knows? That's largely up to the opposing party. No responsible lawyer would give a client a prediction like that. No, Don, I don't have a problem with the district using its resources this way.

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  48. PTA President,

    When someone else's money is at stake no one seems to care how much of it will be spent. Do you you think SFUSD should spend $100K, $500K, 1 mil? This is all money that could be diverted for classroom use. What is the purpose of a school district anyway, education or litigation?

    You did not answer my questions about district behavior vis-a-vis the budget mess. You want to be part of the suit to defend funding. Will you also defend accountability for expensing that funding or will you conveniently ignore it? And how much of your own personal money will you put on the line to defend your principles? It is easy to do so with our students' resources even if your our children get no benefit from it.

    I'm not against the district's involvement per se. But I'd like to know how much it is going to cost. That's fair, isn't it? Do you write plank ckecks to your vendors as PTA president? Why should we be expected to allocate resources in unknown quantity?

    Can you tell me about your BSC, too?

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  49. Also this is a patently false statement:

    "It's any entity's general counsel's JOB to assist outside counsel in legal matters involving the entity."

    SFUSD does not have to participate in any way whatsoever, unless it is called to testify. This is purely voluntary and you know it.

    Please answer my questions. You are not required to do it. But it would be a public service and provide value to the discussion. Not to do so means you are avoiding expressing the answers.

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  50. SFUSD should clarify its exposure to the suit. What are the downsides? Will the assembly punish districts that sue them? In an era of favors and quid pro quo it is unimaginable to think that law suits have no unintended consequences.

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  51. Will the assembly punish districts that sue them?

    No, most members will thank them. Most are Democrats (along with a majority of Californians).

    It's also far-fetched. Everyone's been expecting this lawsuit for ages--it's not a crazy move on anyone's part.

    Reasons the legislature has been unable to solve this on their own: a Republican guv, of course; but more importantly, a system in which a majority party (the Dems) cannot act because all important legislation requires a 2/3 vote. So there has effectively been a coup by the Republican party that controls just over 1/3 of the seats. They have maintained strict party disipline with one exception. It's all very undemocratic imo, but that's how it is. The Democratic majority will welcome this action in moving an agenda they care about and opening up space for schools to be funded.

    Remember too that SFUSD is joining with many other districts for this suit, including rural districts in Republican areas. Also the beloved PTA and a rainbow of diverse families. There is a lot political cover here.

    Financial exposure is very, very small. Downsides, political costs? Unlikely. Upsides, such as forcing long-term change on the real issues? That's why they are undertaking this suit.

    Unless you want to see public education gutted (as some would like), it's an easy call to join this suit.

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  52. Don,

    PTA president, here - I meant that, as a member of the CA PTA who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, I am part of it, too.

    And PTAs don't manage the BSC - the SSCs do. And, yes, our SSC did agree to continue the BSC from last year and spent our time prioritizing the budget (what there was of it) given the situation this year.

    I'm not saying my school because I don't want you harrassing me.

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  53. Don, you are mixing up replies and assuming they are all from the PTA president - they are not.

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  54. I accidently wrote PTA when I meant SSC. I figured the PTA president probably knows what is going on with the SSC.

    Anyway, I don't know what the big deal is about answering a couple simple questions. You wrote into the blog and made statements to which I had questions. Instead of answering them you then insult me. Typical online behavior. As for mixing up people, I'm writing in my name, you are not. If you want to be sure not to be confused with others adopt a pseudonym.

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  55. I am confused by this exchange on the topic of the lawsuit. Why the venom? No one is harassing anybody. Seems like this blog has more than its fair share of touchiness.

    I don't know much about the litigation in question but I know this - you can't get blood froma stone. Should education win, other social services will lose.

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  56. "Erik Hanushek, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, disputed that. Lawsuits over state funding haven't improved student achievement, he said. "I do not think this is going to be very helpful," he said. "There's no way to determine how much money is needed to achieve the standards if you don't think about changing how we organize and run schools."

    How are the plaintiffs going to prove that the problem of student achievement can be solved through additional funding? DC spend $25k with little success.

    I wish the schools were better funded,but I also wish that we spent what funding we have on education. Those who don't think there is massive waste in the ducation bureaucracy should consider that after all is calculated, only about half of education dollars reach the classroom. That is a much bigger problem than the recent cutbacks and that is what Erik Hanushek is talking about. Why doesn't this suit raise that issue or are they protecting the union jobs and the bloated bureaucracies?

    Now all the anti charter activists will respond by berating the Hoover Institute and Dr.Hanushek.

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  57. Why demand more money in a lawsuit if the availaility of that money can only be inceased at the ballot box? The litigation is being pushed by unions through their proxies. They realize that the fate of unions is linked to their members pay. If you want to increase school budgets scrap the Education Code, the CA Department of Education and most of the district admionistrators will become unnecessary. Send the money directly to schools and defund the bureaucracy and the need for it. Then and only then ask for more money.

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  58. "Unless you want to see public education gutted (as some would like), it's an easy call to join this suit."

    And if you don't agree with me you're zenophobic child-hater.

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  59. "People in industries of every kind are getting laid off and or having pay cuts. . . . but what makes you [teachers] special that you should be bullet proof in a severe recession?"

    Because schools shouldn't be affected by market swings in quite the same way that private industries are. I'm not the teacher to whom this comment was directed, but I am a parent. And I don't want to have to tell my kid some day that she wasn't able to get a good education because she had the bad luck to be born six years before a recession. When demand for a product falls at a business because of an economic downturn, there is less work to go around, and people are either laid off or their salaries are cut. But there is ALWAYS a demand for good teachers and a solid education (or at least there should be). Sure, when revenues are down, I recognize that some belt tightening is inevitable. But when we refuse to tap into the state's wealth to pay to educate the work force and leaders of tomorrow, we risk an even worse economic disaster.

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  60. You said it, 8:38. With less money for schools we need solid, experienced, well-paid teachers more than ever. Wanting to pay teachers less and drive good people away from this very difficult job is so short-sighted. Think about the future, not your petty problems with the union. Do you want your kids to have good teachers? Pay them a decent salary. Do you want your kids to have less good teachers? Keep insisting that education should be treated like private enterprise and that teachers should tighten their belts. Teachers just took a big pay cut in order to keep their jobs--not enough for you?

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  61. This idea that California is "semi-socialist" is not only silly and entirely false, but absolutely ahistorical.

    I strongly recommend that people laboring under such a false impression of our state take a look at some California history, including some campaigns like "Ham and Eggs" and many, many others.

    For those not so out of touch with reality, the LAO is recommending that 98 be suspended for at least the coming year.

    On the waste-mismanagement angle, I do not understand how cutting school budgets will solve this problem. Is there waste? Of course - although not to the extent people believe there to be. Will those wastes disappear if school funding is cut? No - those wastes will continue, and school sites will suffer. To use SFUSD examples, Francisca Sanchez ran up her $35,000 travel expenses during the current budget crisis. A great portion of that is spendthrift and wasteful. Do you really think that an eye-for-an-eye cut would be taken by Ms. Sanchez?

    I don't know what the solution to the (again, not very big) waste issue is, but the idea that it's easy to find, huge, and resolvable just by cutting means less pencils in classrooms, not fewer consultants and trips.

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  62. The reason we have a bankrupt state is due to one thing; We spend more on social services and public employee benefits than we take in in revenues from our economy. Liberals will say that we just need to raise taxes. The problem is that California already has one of the highest tax structures in the nation. We cannot raise taxes without choking off the economy. We cannot raise money to stimulate the economy because we have little credit and have a poor record of creating jobs through government spending.

    We most certainly do have a semi-socialist state and that is what is wrong with California and why we can't afford to educate our children.

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  63. 12:06, and your suggestion is what? Go back to child labor? Eat the children of the poor?

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  64. Stimulate the economy. Lower taxes which would attract businesses rather than chasing them out. Stop inviting illegal alien in to use our public services. Respect those that have applied legally and want to become Americans. Fix Prop 13 but lower all taxes across the board.

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  65. "Erik Hanushek, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, disputed that.

    Right, no ideological bias at that conservative-liberatarian think tank :-)

    Stimulate the economy. Lower taxes which would attract businesses rather than chasing them out.

    You would think after 30 years of supply-side, trickle-down failures that we would know better than to listen to this drivel. Is the middle class better off after a generation of cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations? Have real wages gone up or down for those in the bottom 80% of the economy during this time? In the famous words of dear Ronald Reagan, are you better off today? Are most people, especially the middle class?

    Time for a change. Keeping taxes low for the wealthy and corporations is not a change, but status quo. We've tried it and it benefited the CEOs and major investors, but not the most of us: we need two incomes to barely make it, and our schools and community services are cut to the bone. Time for a change. "Keep taxes low" on corporations is tired, tired BS, though no doubt we'll be hearing lots of it now that corporations can spend unlimited money on political campaigns as a "free speech" right thanks to the Supreme Court.

    Time to take back some power for the rest of us. Our parents were much better off than we are in real terms (wages and social services and education).

    Start by closing the corporate tax loopholes.

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  66. Thank you, 12:18!!!

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  67. We have some of the highest corporate taxes in the world in California after the already high federal taxes. Trickle down? If you tax corporations more they just pass it to the consumer and the end result will be inflation and stagnation. The only one paying more will be you. You've been listening to the socialist nonsense in SF too long. Look at Europe on the verge on bankruptcy from England to Italy, Greece to Spain. Ya, that's some model! Please tell your friends at Workers of the World Unite. They will give you a free card.

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  68. Greece, Spain, Italy have some problems for sure--that have in part to do with fiscal mismanagement and having no currency control. It's more complicated than having social welfare programs. Countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, and our neighbors in Canada have higher taxes, more extensive social supports, less inequality, and are fairly stable. As conservative German leader (in German terms--she supports the social welfare system) has noted, they "still make things" in Germany, so maybe their industrial policy has had a positive impact as well--support for keeping manufacturing over the U.S. bias toward the financial industry.

    But anyway, this red-baiting (Workers of the World???) of a fairly traditional social democratic position just shows how far the debate has shifted to the right in this country. It's not communistic to want a little more regulation, a few more taxes, and more social supports. Nor would it kill industry and its CEOs to give back a few of the phenomenal gains they made at the expense of the rest of us in the last 30 years. They are stealing our patrimony and eating our seed corn....time to re-balance.

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  69. I suppose your idea of stimulating the economy is borrowing a trillion from the Communists in China and then giving away favors to your friends who got you elected. And to no economic avail. California unemployment is 12%. But I suppose it is all Bush's fault and will be for the next 20 years. Your still referring to Ronald Reagan's trickle down even though Busg was the biggest free spending "conservative" in the history of Republicanism. If you REALLY want to have a dialogue, don't refer to standard low taxation theory is drivel. I was only following up in kind on your attack mode retort. If you want to know why the ideological divide is so great, you needn't look far.

    How do you feel about Obama's ultra conservative education policy? Is that Bush's fault too. I mean he started NCLB which Obama just loves so much he decided to strengthen merit pay, national standards and privitization.

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  70. "On the waste-mismanagement angle, I do not understand how cutting school budgets will solve this problem. Is there waste? Of course - although not to the extent people believe there to be."

    I disagree. There is tremendous waste, but not entirely because the bureaucracy is badly run. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. There is waste in the main because the whole system as created by the onerous education code is divorced from what schooling is about. It is because big bureaucracies are about politics not academics. Bureaucracies are required to do so much for accountability yet result in little accountability or benefit to students while spending vast sums of education resources.

    It is a system that creates programs and jobs, the purpose of which is to maintain those programs and jobs whether or not they do anything to increase achievement. In other words, the education bureaucracy is not about education. It's about self-perpetuation.

    If you got rid of half of SFUSD central office tomorrow along with much of the pointless requirements of State law, the schools would run better as the money would actually go to instruction. How many have ever seen a principal's boss, the SOIS, at the school? Yet there job is to oversee schools and personnel that they never review.

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  71. ("Erik Hanushek, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, disputed that.

    Right, no ideological bias at that conservative-liberatarian think tank :-))


    Don says - In Ravitch's new book which Carolyn was kind enough to loan me, ( she probably thought I needed the education) Ravitch says :

    Eric Hanushek of Stanford U. studied the problem of how to increase the supply of high quality teachers. Hanushek is a friend of mine, and one of the nation's best economists of education."

    12:18 Don't dismiss scholarly work simply because it comes out of an institution that has leaned one way or another. Would you only have education policy run be left wing think tanks and summarily dismiss all scholarly efforts with any perceived past or present political affiliations? How would you decide what is a good quality study, the political implications of it?

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