Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Children, Our Future Ballot Initiative this November

As you may be aware, there are three ballot initiatives being proposed for this
November to increase tax revenue for the state of CA.

The California PTA has endorsed the initiative named "Our Children, Our Future".
The press often refers to this initiative as the "Molly Munger" initiative.

The initiative's website has a tool that shows the amount of additional money
each school will receive if the initiative is passed by 50%+ of the California
voters

Alvarado would receive approximately an additional $449,000 in school year
'12-'13. That amount would grow to approximately an additional $781,000 in
school year '17-'18 and peak at an additional $1,057,000 in school year '23-'24.

Check to see what your children's school would receive at: http://ocof.advanceproj.org/widget.php

I am helping organize signature gathering for this initiative. If you are
interested in assisting or have any questions about this or the other 2
initiatives, feel free to email or call me at 415-401-0625.

Thanks,

Todd David

PS More information about Our Children, Our Future can be found at http://www.ourchildrenourfuture2012.com/

93 comments:

  1. I applaud efforts to increase spending on education, but equally important is that the money be spent intelligently with out of the box thinking. Teachers have had a raise of 27% beyond inflation since 1980, but you still hear they are underpaid. Many, myself included, would by instinct approve higher pay for teachers and believe most are underpaid, but are reluctant to approve higher pay without concessions by the union in work rules which protect the small number of teachers who are bad teachers, nonresponsive to parents, incompetent, etc.

    Washington DC spends over 30k per child and still gets atrocious results. This shows if you simply increase funding by 25% with no corresponding structural change, we won't see better test results.

    Currently for every dollar spent at Alvarado, a dollar is spent at 555 Franklin or in Sacramento, pushing paper and organizing things. Due to union work rules, these jobs are not ones in which diligent managers make sure everyone is putting in 100% efforts to do as much work as effectively as possible. They gain power from the number of employees they have and often promote friends, watch out for each other, etc. If the people there worked as hard as those in the private sector, 2 employees could easily do the work of 4-5 now.

    I believe teachers should earn more than cops or firemen, but they shouldn't be protected if they don't work hard, show good test score improvements for their pupils (I know some kids are different but improvement can compensate for this), be attentive to their principals, children and parents. Teachers should be rated by test scores, student reviews, principal supervision, parent reviews and other reviews, but not peer review as you get a blue wall of silence. The instinct to protect the weaker 20% of teachers from pressure has turned many in the public against supporting more funding.

    Also, we shouldn't just give raises, we should change the structure of education. We should have fewer bureaucrats and more tutors. Children with poor parents, overworked single parents, absent fathers, they don't just need a teacher in the classroom with more pay. They need some one-on-one time with a tutor when they get stuck. They need motivational speakers to convince them and their parents that if they study weekends, evenings, 15-20 hours a week, they'll get the same results all kids who study this much get, which is into a very good college and a degree, scholarship if poor, etc. However, the natural instinct to give up if they get stuck can't be ignored. We must provide tutors and ask them to stay late, come in on Saturday, and spend time in study halls with 20 kids and 2-3 adults to make sure there is quiet and help kids as issues come up. This works in the charter schools run by Geoffrey Canada.

    I may support this measure, but I need to know more. If it is blind spending. I doubt it will do the trick. How much money will result? Where does the money come from? Are taxes increased via sales tax, income tax, hotel tax? I would favor legalizing marijuana and having a substantial tax on it, and maybe other things, sports betting, etc. Portugal has legalized all drugs and drug addiction dropped, so this could raise a lot and cut prison budgets and put that money into the schools.

    We need more money, but we need to spend it intelligently. So tell me more. I'm on the fence. This is an opportunity but we need real change to close the achievement gap. Just cash, slightly smaller class sizes or raises for teachers with no change in work rules won't do it.

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  2. I believe a law replacing tenure with 3-5 year contracts for teachers, the same as for principals, so bad teachers could be let go and not rehired at any school, would do more to fix education. One bad teacher can do a lot of damage, and in our current system such teachers get blind support from Dennis Kelley, Ken Tray, and the attorneys and union heads to the degree that only 1-2 are let go without committing a crime each year. Also, all teacher pay is automatic, no merit pay, so principals really don't have power and the incentives aren't there when at most schools, great young teachers are often earning far less than some very mediocre older teachers, not to say one age is better, just that older teachers automatically earn more.

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  3. Floyd,

    I can give you a couple of quick answers:

    1. It is a progressive income tax

    2. Money goes directly to individual schools to decide how to best spend the money. Every school will receive a list of very specific categories for which the money can be used to further their students' academic outcomes.
    Only 1% of the whole initiative can be used for "administrative" purposes.

    Please keep posting questions about the initiative. I would like people to be as informed as possible.

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  4. Todd, it is good that only 1% can go to administration, that's a great protection. I'm scared it will simply go to teacher raises under the theory that you can attract better people, keep them happier, etc. but that increase in spending can just maintain the status quo. That could do some good, but minimal. To change a culture of underachievement, I think you need counsellors to convince parents to require their kids to stay later, be in study groups, and come in on Saturday if there are any areas they aren't at the highest level on. Asians do this, SF libraries are full of Asian kids, and the results are so great that poverty is no barrier. Poor Asians do better on tests than upper middle class whites and other races. Some of these kids don't have much support at home. They aren't lucky enough to have a supportive dad and a Tiger Mom. They may have no dad and a lackluster mom who just says try your best and comes home and eats junk food in front of the TV with a beer in her hand, maybe even drugs. I'm not saying all kids, but some kids.

    We have to break the cycle with these kids by doing something out of the box, something different. We need to convince these moms that the Asian way works and offer to provide tutoring so their children don't get stuck and discouraged, and to create a culture of obsession over achievement and focus on testing and grades. This culture works. By saying to parents and kids who aren't performing great, we'll help you, it demonstrates that society does want them to succeed and achieve their potential and does care about them.

    So I think just giving it to each school may only reduce class size or buy some supplies. I'd be more inclined to vote for this if I saw a cultural change to break the cycle of poverty and tutor kids and get them to work harder. I'd be more inclined if I saw creative spending. I'll probably vote for it anyways because education is so important, but my concerns may make the difference between it getting the liberal 40% of California and losing and it getting the liberal 40% plus 15% of the swing/moderate 20% and actually passing.

    I fear it could go where the last 27% went, to achieve nothing and hear the same complaints, or where the 30k per pupil in DC goes, like a road to nowhere in Alaska. I hope not, just fear it. I'd love to see creativity.

    The issue is due to the Unions, often a principal has only one choice when he or she gets the money, and it may just be class size or a counsellor. He may not be able to hire non-union tutors just out of college and create Saturday and after school study halls. He/she may be prohibited from offering merit pay or other incentives and just have to distribute it equally based on seniority. If this is the case, if it is this rigid, it isn't worth our tax dollars. If someone like Geoffrey Canada or Kevin Johnson or Michelle Rhee makes the decisions, it will be worth it.

    So I am not decided yet. Leaning towards it but want to know more.

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  5. So that's what it's about Todd, always more money for education as if money were the reason to why our kids aren't measuring up academically? No discussion of reform, no linkage to change of any kind. Never mind that California is at or near the top in tax rates for almost every category. Never mind that people and businesses are fleeing the broken system that pays its government workers more that the private sector workers who pay all the bills. Never mind that increased ed spending has never had a real positive correlation to educational outcome. Never mind that scores have improved despite dwindling finances. Never mind that the vast bulk of failing schools are still failing despite all the billions pumped into them.

    Todd, I know you mean well, but there is such a thing as educational reform and your constant requests for more money is way off the mark in an era of dwindling resources. There is no more money. Pedaling the money cure without serious reform will only prolong the day of real education reform. The promise of low admin costs is not a reform.

    With all the billions that is now "discretionary", that is, funding that has gone from restricted to unrestricted in the largest education finance change in decades (SBX 3_4, 2009), Our Children, Our Future promises of new tax revenue for school sites only will provide financial and political cover for less discretionary money for successful schools only increasing the disparity in per pupil spending. Billions more for education should be linked to reforms such as lower class sizes. Giving money to school sites sounds good and makes a good sound bite for naive parents, but will it really empower the school communities and their school site councils to make reforms or will all the union rules that prevent real change remain remain in place disallowing school communities to increase school hours or to provide tutoring, for example?

    The Molly Munger iniative is a thinly veiled PTA/CTA union-establishment scam parading as ed reform. Throwing more money at education on the promise of only 1% administrative costs shows how devoid of ideas the left is. Todd, your trolling.

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  6. I agree with Don. I'm going to vote against it unless I see real reform. Question Todd, did you vote for the current school board? Do you support the Michelle Rhee movement? Did you feel it was OK when the current board knowingly lied and wouldn't take a $1,000 bet on a lie detector test to prove they didn't know they were lying when they said it?

    Don has good points. If the union rules aren't changed, the union will say that you can't open the school on Saturday or have longer hours, and then the money will go into the general pool. Then the general pool will be corrupted to the point where some schools get all the money, and some get none, and they are creating jobs which do no real work towards fixing the gap, such as these "consultants" at the poor performing schools. Kids don't need consultants and counsellors and social workers. They need tutors and to turn off the TV.

    We have to bring back the idea that grades are #1 and studying is key. We need to break the cycle.

    This sounds like more money to the powers that are failing us to create jobs which will make no difference.

    I'm voting against this unless you can get agreements from the Union that it will make sure this money doesn't just go into the general pot.

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  7. Thank you for bringing this ballot initiative to our attention. It is important that our schools are properly funded.

    Currently, California is one of the least funded public school systems in the United States yet we have a more than 80 billionaires living in our state. California has the ninth largest economy in the world and accounts for 13% of the United States' GDP.

    If the nation and the state want California to continue to be one of the world's greatest economic engines, we need to support public education and build the bridge to our economic future.

    With recent budget cuts, class sizes are increasing and the school year is shortening. While I'm not an expert on school reform, I can recognize that a shorter school year and larger classes sizes and less resources in terms of teaching assistants, specialists, basic supplies, and administrative support do weaken the education a child receives. I also see that when a system is constantly being "cut-back" that it does not have the opportunity to be inventive or to grow in a mindful way. Instead, it is always struggling and fighting for survival which undermines its stability and potential for success.

    We need to commit to the next generation and make sure they receive the resources they need to participate in our democracy and to be contributing citizens in our communities.

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  8. Floyd and Don,

    Clearly, I'm not going to convince you to vote for the initiative and i respect that you have a different point of view.

    Like you, I am a strong proponent of more academic rigor at SFUSD. I simply don't think that adequate funding of public schools should be held hostage to achieve it.

    Is education reform needed? Of course. Is more academic rigor needed? I believe so. Have California's public schools been starved of adequate funding? I strongly think so.

    I think we should roll up our sleeves and work on these issues collaboratively and not hold one hostage to the other.

    I'm still happy to answer any questions about this or the other two ballot initiatives.

    Todd

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  9. It seems to me that this initiative has two main components, 1, more money and 2, direct school funding.

    I don't disagree with either in the abstract. What I disagree with is the failure to address the injustice and wastefulness of the current funding scheme while trying to pump in billions as a so-called fix.

    If sending funding straight to schools and bypassing districts is a good idea, and I think it is, why not propose an initiative to do just that with some the current ed funding?

    Here's the problem - SFUSD decides how much your child receives regardless of promises of direct school payments in the initiative because money is fungible and this initiative has no safeguards to prevent supplanting. That is to say,SFUSD will cook the books as it always does to make sure that district officials, not the public, decides who gets what and how much. Right now less than half of SFUSD's nine grand (approx) per student is spent on WSF per pupil funding. SFUSD could easily just reduce per pupil funding at their discretion and use the new Molly Munger money to make up the difference - the end result being that the District ends up with the Munger money in its coffers to do with it as it pleases. This really violates the spirit of Serrano which constitutionalized equal funding. Back then they thought that if only districts could be equalized students who be better served. They didn't realize that one day those district would choose school funding winners and losers.

    More money pumped into a corrupted system will only corrupt it further. Todd, real reform gives schools the tools to make changes they need, even if those changes don't sit well with the unions, which are there to serve the members (teachers) not the students. But this Board of Ed is bought and paid for by UESF. I'm sure they are all for this initiative to pump billions more in with no strings attached. They know it will just give them more wiggle room to adjust school site budgets as they deem appropriate.

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  10. I am really torn on this but I think I agree with Don. The union prevented neighborhood schools and the current policy lacking any certainty even of a school within 2-3 miles is driving some people to leave or go private and they are actually not giving patient people spots which are open now at desired schools. There are many spots at Alamo and Presidio and they won't let anyone have them, are just leaving these schools unfilled.

    This is besides the point, but the main point is this. You can only tax the rich so much before they move to another state. You can't do it forever.

    Therefore, if we're going to do it, and it is hard to get taxes through, we have to get some bang for our buck. I believe teachers should make more, maybe a 10% raise and an additional 15% available in merit pay. However, in return for this, I believe that we can thereby recruit better people to teach than we do now and get more people to try it. But what we have to do to guarantee kids don't have bad teachers is change tenure / seniority to 3-5 year contracts, so teachers can not be renewed, such as principals.

    Now when going for a promotion or transfer, you can't take a reference, you can't consider performance, test scores, or anything. You can simply meet and interview the teacher and see how long and where they taught. Union policy specifically prohibits consideration of peer review, principal review, test scores, or even great sites like ratemyteacher.com, which give you the real scoop on teachers.

    The irony is that most teachers are good, so 80% of teachers would earn more money under this scenario, but they won't go for it. They love to be able to not have the same stress. In fact, most teachers probably would go for it if votes were held in the same way elections are held, confidential ballots. In DC, most teachers supported this idea, but the Union leadership didn't allow it to come up for a vote.

    Also, we need to make a huge effort to convince poor performers to send their kids to tutoring and provide funding for it. We need to offer it Saturdays, pay tutors from colleges $20 an hour to run tutoring sessions, maybe 2-3 young adults with 20-30 kids, able to help them with problems. This works in charter schools and we should do it at other schools.

    So you can only raise taxes so many times. If we do so, which does have cost to our state, and don't get any concessions from the Union or ensure it can go to tutoring and school supplies, we lose an opportunity. We can't get the concession later, it just won't happen. The union will take the 10% raise and act like they are still underpaid, as they did with the 27% raise beyond inflation from 1980-2010. It's pretty significant, teachers still aren't rich, but they are much better paid than they were but you don't hear much credit for this.

    I think I will vote against it because I believe if you don't get the concessions as part of the package, you'll never get them. I won't be the UE's sucker. If they don't make a concession in conjunction with this, I will not be voting for it. It will probably pass, but I will not vote for it and I will not endorse it, and I will make sure the organizations I am involved in don't support it, which will probably cost it about 100 votes. However, if I do hear of concessions I will. I just don't think we'll ever get the concessions if we pass this blindly, as Don states. If not us, who? If not now, when? We've procrastinated on this reform for 40 years.

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  11. By the way, this initiative explicitly prohibits the money to be used to raise salaries or benefits.

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  12. Todd,

    This initiative is a lot trickier/insidious than simple direct school funding as you have made it out to be. In the section 14810 copied in the next post it clearly states that the LEA will have operational control over the school funding even if the school gets that funding (which I have already said is not likely to be fully the case given the lack of any per pupil legal requirements.)

    And in the section of 14806 also copied in the next post immediately after 14810, it says that 18% of funding will be used as per pupil grants for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. In other words, it isn't just a payout to schools, but an attempt to further divert more funding for some students to the detriment of others. Given that SFUSD already funds large numbers of low income students at double and even triple per pupil rates, and couple that with the fact that such funding has returned minimal to negative results for decades, why should I vote for an initiative which flies in the face of the law that rightly provides that students should be treated equitably?

    Todd, please don't over-simplify the initiative and mislead parents who may not have the time to read the text in its entirety. There is no reform whatsoever in Our Children Our Future. It appears to be another attempt to paper over the current failed funding scheme and to give more power to the union which is in bed with the State PTA, both of whom are co-sponsoring OCOF.

    Of course unsuspecting voters will likely say – “Geez – more money for schools? That sounds good.” This initiative is based upon the same kind of lies and tactics that the Board used to mislead SF voters on neighborhood schools, even though they claim to be proponents of them. But I diverge.

    In any case, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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  13. SEC. 14810. Neither the Legislature nor the Governor, nor any other state or local governmental body except the governing board of the LEA that has operational jurisdiction over a school, may direct how CETF funds are used at that school. Each LEA's governing board shall have sole authority over that decision, subject, however, to the following: Each year the governing board, in person or through appropriate representatives, shall seek input, at an open public meeting with the school's parents, teachers, administrators, other school staff and students, as appropriate (the "school community"), at or near that school's site, about how CETF funds will be used at that school and why. Following that meeting, the LEA or its appropriate representatives shall offer a written recommendation for use of CETF funds at a second open public meeting at or near the school site at which the school community is given an opportunity to respond to the LEA's recommendation. The governing board shall ensure that, during the decision-making process regarding use of CETF funds, all members of the school community are provided an opportunity to submit input in writing or online. At the time it makes its decision about the use of the funds each year, the governing board shall explain, publicly and online, how its proposed expenditures of CETF funds will improve educational outcomes and how the board will determine whether those improved outcomes have been achieved.

    SEC. 14806. Of the available revenues allocated for quarterly distribution to LEAs under section 14804(b), the Controller shall distribute eighteen percent (18%) as low income per-pupil grants. The number and size of the low income per-pupil grants to be distributed to each eligible LEA, and the number and size of the low income per-pupil grants to be earmarked for each K-12 school under the LEA's jurisdiction, shall be as follows:
    (a) Based on the total statewide enrollment of students in all K-12 schools who are identified as eligible for free meals under the Income Eligibility Guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture to implement the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 ("free meal eligible students"), the Controller shall establish a uniform, statewide per-pupil grant to provide additional educational support for these low income students ("the low income per-pupil grant").

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  14. On further examination of 14810 it appears that OCOF upends the current governing scheme of site council budgeting control with the approval of the LEA and gives control to the LEA with the approval of the community instead. In fact, OCOF doesn't even mention the site council in that section. How the State PTA could support an initiative that removes the legal rights of parents to oversee their schools is a disgrace.

    A public meeting is no replacement for the efforts of an SSC. Last year the Board held a public meeting as required by law to change many millions in discretionary spending prerogatives that affected virtually every school and only 2 people attended, myself and one other from Coleman.

    This measure is a boondoggle and I strongly urge you to take a closer look, Todd. After all, wasn't it you who wanted funds you've raised for schools through your other organization to be distributed via the authority of school site councils? So why would you now want to support an initiative that undermines that same authority?

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  15. Todd, you didn't answer my question as to whether you support reform in tenure/seniority, which is damaging many children in favor of an adult interest group, and whether you condemn the current board for their known, willful and premeditated lies to stop Prop H. If you ignore these questions I assume you are for the status quo and support, without reservation, the union and it's current goals, which includes the outdated and harmful concept that all teachers, regardless of performance, are equal and that the only way to differentiate between any teachers in pay, job security or priority for transfer and promostion is the number of years they have taught. Do you blindly support the status quo? If so, I agree with Don. This initiative isn't worth it. The money will end up doing no good. I see nothing in there about innovation or tutoring. It says it won't go to salaries, but maybe there will be switches, tricks, or later that will change. If you ignore certain of my questions I assume you are supporting the union and status quo.

    It would be damaging to raise taxes, so if there is no return on test scores, it isn't worth it. I'm generally for raising taxes on the rich, support ending the Bush tax cuts and Obama's new minimum tax of 30% on income over a million, even if it is capital gains. However, there is some harm to the economy and you can only do it so many times, so to do it in a way that won't change the status quo or increase performance through test scores and an improvement in closing the achievement gap would not be worth it.

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  17. Floyd,

    You can ask a question without being hostile. This isn't really about Todd who wants help with petitions. Whether he understands the measure fully I don't know, but it should be clear that Tarzan attitudes like "More money -good" may win over some people, but not everyone will be duped just because others will naively vote for ANYTHING that increases funding despite the consequences.I think most of them think that nothing is perfect and this gets more money - a lazy attitude at best and dangerous for democracy at worst. Most of those people don't even read what they are voting. And these people consider themselves pro education.

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  18. I'm sorry, I respect Todd for trying to do good. It's just he didn't address certain points I brought up and there are some union shills on this board, and others, who just post as multiple names and will say whatever the union line is. So when he didn't answer whether he was in favor of or opposed to letting a poorly performing teacher stay over a strong performing teacher because the former has more years on the job, I assumed he was generally for the status quo. I know the old Prop H, the one about funding, some of that money was misspent due to union complaints. There were schools who wanted to fund tutoring and were told that they couldn't. I guess if Todd doesn't answer certain questions I should assume the worst, though I do respect his hard work. It's just hard to debate if there is silence on certain questions.

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  19. Don't look at it as a debate. Todd posted about this initiative and made
    some assertions about it. I looked at the text and came to the conclusion that he's misinformed, IMHO. If he wants to tell me why I'm wrong or what is good about the plan, he can do so at his discretion. But I'm not owed an answer. Get off your high horse Floyd.

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  20. I'm not sure what debate you want and what my opinions on teachers or my opinion on Prop H (local school initiative) have to do with this funding measure.

    I've never been shy about sharing my opinions. If you find it helpful let me state quite clearly my beliefs on teachers and local schools.

    1. I believe a poor teacher should be fired or counseled out of the profession. Period. Principals need to be better trained to spot a bad teacher and understand the process to remove them. I also believe that an overwhelming majority of the teachers at SFUSD are good teachers and the argument that "bad teachers are to blame for failing schools" is way overplayed.

    2. I am for neighborhood schools. I believe strongly the BOE should change the order of tie breakers so that your neighborhood school has preference over the CTIP1 tie breaker.

    I agree with the BOE's opposition to Prop H. I don't believe it would have accomplished what its supporters claimed it would have accomplished (Namely, switching the tie breakers that I'm in favor of switching). In my opinion, it was poorly written.

    I'm also pro-choice and pro free market.

    Anything else?

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  21. Don,

    I'm confused about your issue regarding the school communities deciding how to use the money. Yes the LEA's have to approve what the school community decides.

    I'm missing where you believe evil intention is on this plan.

    Todd

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  22. Todd,

    Read Section 14810 which I posted above. It clearly states that the LEA decides. It says, "At the time it (the LEA) makes its decision about the use of the funds each year, the governing board shall explain, publicly and online, how its proposed expenditures of CETF funds will improve educational outcomes and how the board will determine whether those improved outcomes have been achieved."

    In other words, the initiative mandates that 555 Franklin tell schools what they will do with the money, pending the traditional rubber stamp of each school. Why has the school's governing council been sublimated and replaced with a public meeting? The answer - there is a big argument between the powers that be in Sacramento over whether the State or the LEAs should have more power of the purse. But there is no argument that parents and communities should be passed over for the same. The professional class wants to pull the strings because they keep themselves afloat through their decisions and parents would make decisions in the best interests of children.

    Also, it is already the primary job of the governing board to make sure that the individual academic goals of the district's schools are met. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the BOE doesn't even read the school plans let alone analyze how they're doing. So what makes you think that they will be able to do so with this new plan?

    Todd, did you even bother to read the initiative that you ask everyone else to support?

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  23. I am a sunshine soldier and a summer patriot. I will parade around in my uniform while the weather is mild, but as soon as it gets cold, I will be nowhere to be found. And so I will take a position for a different order of tie-breakers, in favor of neighborhood, but, as soon as the Board says Boo!, I am nowhere to be found.

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  24. We'll see if the board does it on their own. I doubt it. Now there is no neighborhood preference for high school. Prop H would have been better because they never will pass it without the pressure. It will be the same in 10 years, people will be able to live across the street from a school and be sent miles away.

    As for this proposition, Don makes some great points. Todd makes some good points too. I just fear this initiative will not lead to the change we hope for unless it specifically mandates it. School site councils should be empowered.

    The problem with the board now is it is 7-0 for everything the UE wants, total status quo, no real challenge. If they control it, I'm afraid it will be mis-spent. The current money could, if spent better, get way better test scores. It would be nice not to have furlough days and have smaller class sizes, but we need some change.

    I think that most San Franciscans wanted a neighborhood guarantee, but too many bought into the idea that the new system provides that or that the proposition would have forced kids to switch mid year, which was not true.

    We might have lost Prop H because details were misconstrued, but I think in the case of this proposition, secret details were intended to be in there, such as overpassing school site councils and giving the BOE the power. I am afraid this won't be spent effectively.

    Another initiative should be written, same tax, same funding, but the money goes to tutors, study halls, reducing class size, reducing furloughs, specific positive things.

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  25. Don--

    Take a look at the BOE meeting last night.

    The BOE voted 7-1 to protect teachers at SIG schools from layoffs over the strong and very loud opposition of UESF. The BOE cited that it is better for students to have consistency of instructors at the SIG schools (where SFUSD has invested lots of money into professional development). This vote greatly angered UESF because it ignores seniority in dealing with pink slips.

    If one is going to be critical of the BOE when it votes for policies that UESF endorses, one should also acknowledge when the BOE is strongly and publicly disagreeing with UESF.

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  26. I meant my previous post to be directed towards Floyd, not Don--sorry about that.

    Don--I read section 14810 to mean the exact opposite of you. If seems to me that the LEA has to approve what the school community approves not the other way around.

    IN SFUSD that would mean 555 Franklin would have to approve what each school community decides.

    I'm guessing we are going to disagree on this interpretation.

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  27. Todd,

    Here's what the initiative says:

    "Each LEA's governing board shall have sole authority over that decision..."

    It can't get any clearer than that.

    I like having more money raised for schools, but I don't like the schools getting cut out of the authority on how to spend it. To some extent ithat is a moot point because many of the best reforms are prohibited under UESF/SFUSD's contract anyway. Lowering class sizes is one thing that could be achieved and if SFUSD were to pledge that all or most the money would go to achieving that end I would vote for the initiative despite some reservations. However, SFUSD would also have to assure the community that they would not lower WSF per pupil allocations and make up for the drop with the new money from the OCOF. This is the most likely game the Board will play and I know that because the are doing it right now. They have lowered per pupil allocations for the last 3 years, but have increased allocations to many underperforming schools to the tune of double and triple average per pupil expenditures with precious little to show for it except an exodus of families to districts that actually believe in equity and the idea that all students deserve to be educated, not just the ones who underachieve.

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  28. Don--
    I think you are taking the language out of context.

    I think it is more accurate to say the LEA's have final approval.

    Todd

    PS I have a correction from a previous post. The BOE decision to protect certain teachers from layoffs last night was for all Superintendent Zone schools, not just SIG schools. And the vote was 5-1, not 7-1 as I mistakenly posted.

    Commissioner Maufas dissented and Commission Murase was absent.

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  29. fDoes anyone know if capital gains and investment income is included as part of the income formulas with any of these ballot initiatives? As many of California's wealthiest citizens are living off of "investment income" and not "working", it seems that the funding of public schools and programs should come from "investment income" as much as they should come from "earned income."

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  30. Todd,

    To the extent that the decision-making for this money is an important issue let's be clear.

    I posted the portions of the initiative above, but I will post it again below.

    The language of the initiative is unambiguous. This is what it boils down to: The BOE (LEA) makes the final decision, but it is legally required to get input from the community. It is not required to abide by that input. It's legal requirement ends by holding two public meetings.

    Some people will dismiss an issue like this as a technicality - people who can't be bothered with the process and believe that school funding decisions will be made in the best interests of their children by the public officials in charge. If that were the case why did the legislature create school site councils to make those decisions?

    Who makes the decisions on how this money is spent is the most important part of the proposal, even more important than the amount raised. It is these decisions that will determine whether the money was raised for the maximum benefit of the individual schools and their students. Todd, have you considered what would be a good use of the money you want to raise and don't you want to be sure that it happens?

    Regarding your other post, the BOE decision last night to overrule seniority is in the interests of those SIG schools. The district made the right decision to stop the revolving door. But I hear the union is going to mount a major legal and PR battle to stop what they view as an effort to dismantle seniority.

    Conversely, SFUSD did not make the right decisions when they impoverish higher performing schools by diverting funds into the Superintendent Zones without regards to minimal per pupil funding standards.

    SEC. 14810. Neither the Legislature nor the Governor, nor any other state or local governmental body except the governing board of the LEA that has operational jurisdiction over a school, may direct how CETF funds are used at that school. Each LEA's governing board shall have sole authority over that decision, subject, however, to the following: Each year the governing board, in person or through appropriate representatives, shall seek input, at an open public meeting with the school's parents, teachers, administrators, other school staff and students, as appropriate (the "school community"), at or near that school's site, about how CETF funds will be used at that school and why. Following that meeting, the LEA or its appropriate representatives shall offer a written recommendation for use of CETF funds at a second open public meeting at or near the school site at which the school community is given an opportunity to respond to the LEA's recommendation. The governing board shall ensure that, during the decision-making process regarding use of CETF funds, all members of the school community are provided an opportunity to submit input in writing or online. At the time it makes its decision about the use of the funds each year, the governing board shall explain, publicly and online, how its proposed expenditures of CETF funds will improve educational outcomes and how the board will determine whether those improved outcomes have been achieved.

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  31. It's amazing Maufas got reelected despite her daughter stealing and being a high school dropout. Start at home. What a union stooge. Nothing hurts our children more than the current seniority policy. I agree with Todd, the vast majority of teachers are good and probably a third are very good. But 20% are awful and shouldn't be teaching. Maybe 10, maybe 20, it's not scientific, but UE loses a lot of credit defending these people.

    I do give the board credit for that vote. It's been a while since I agreed with a vote by the board. It's a nice feeling.

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  33. What is it with these deleted posts? If you have something to say say it.

    I agree, they should raise the tax on capital gains. I think California should say, since the rich are getting 15% capital gains tax and it should be 35% or the highest rate, that any capital gains over $1,000,000 in a year will be taxed at a 20% rate for the state, to make it come to 35% total, or maybe 30% to make it come to 35% federal plus the highest state rate, so we take away this unfair advantage, raise a ton of money and make sure the rich pay what they should.

    This money should go to tutors, schools, and higher education tuition reductions. And arts. This would be fair because the rich in this state are making a killing by getting 15% capital gains tax cuts and they have enough, so that money should instead go to benefit all of us, particularly the poor.

    My only reservation on this is we need concessions now. Whenever I hear the UE will give concessions later, I call BS. They won't do it unless they have to. I heard in the '80s that tenure/seniority would change one day, it's been 30 years. It's abusing innocent children to give seniority.

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  34. I am not willing to blindly throw more money at low performing schools. Doing so is often at the cost of the rest of the school system, which is not underperforming. Doing so is fiscal irresponsibility with taxpayer money.

    I want to see value added testing at the start and end of the school year. I want to see Vermont style essay testing to expand beyond the multiple choice testing.

    I want to use the existing standardized multiple choice testing used not so much to evaluate the students, but rather to evaluate the teachers in whether they can perform the minimum task of teaching to the test. Teaching is a profession vastly more that the ability to teach to the test, but if that teacher can not meet the mininum of teaching to the test, that teacher needs attention. These are the reforms I want to see locally and statewide. Anything less is throwing money down a sewer.

    Some think tenure has to be undone for real reform. That is a free market business model. Education is not a business. Leave tenure alone.

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  35. Charlie, if you leave tenure alone, 1-2 teachers are let go per year. All teachers are paid the same. So what difference will it make if the Vermont style test results show they are not able to teach to the test? What will we be able to do about it? 80% of teachers are great, but the public will be happy to pay them more if they they know that really bad ones aren't protected. Everyone remembers a bad teacher or two, and resents the protection. Why do we pay cops and firemen more? I think in SF, cops are overpaid, 100k with no degree, sometimes more? I think most teachers are underpaid. But without change in tenure, change is meaningless. Most teachers would make more under most plans, but it would require giving up the absolute guarantee. 80% of teachers make less to protect the 20% who shouldn't be teaching. Charlie, I think you are being naive to say this. I don't think the reforms you advocate will happen without reform of tenure.

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  36. They still have tenure in Vermont, but with Vermont style essay testing, at least for the subject of English, the tenured teachers who need remedial work get identified and get the help they need (and want!) Most teachers who stay in the profession really want to be making a difference, or else they would leave teaching.

    It costs more and takes more work to do Vermont style essay exams. But it is not money down a rathole. Can we say the same for a lot of the educational spending that is going on now?

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  37. Oh, crap, I was happy to see this blog back in action but the trolls are still running the show. At this point I think Kate should shut it down.

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  38. 7:32 Frog and Toad,

    What are your ideas on the subject? You do not need to engage in debate with those you view as trolls, but you could simply lay out your ideas for all to consider. That would be a valuable addition to the discussion.

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  40. The deleted comment was a double entry that I have now erased.

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  42. Although I do agree Toad has a bad attitude. I mean, if he doesn't like what he reads what about some constructive criticism? calling to shut down the whole blog because HE is unhappy to see some posters here strikes me as very selfish behavior.

    Toad, if you have concerns about hyjacking, fine, but stop with the nonsense, please.

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  43. Some off you are way off the subject. The topic is about the initiative Our Children, Our Future. You can't have a good discussion if you can't stick to the topic.

    Harping on about turning off the TV or having essay tests is just small pieces of a very big puzzle and saying the same tings over and over is the online equivalent of shouting. Don't be a one-issue reformer. Besides, education is like health. You don't get it right by doing only one thing or another other. You have to do a lot of things right. But it is a lot easier (and more facile) to conclude that if we just did this or that everything would be fine, including allocating more money.

    In regard to the topic OCOF, the point is more money is just more of the same old one-issue type refrain that is heralded by the unions and bureaucratic class who only want to pump up the current system. Until we remove the barriers that prevent most of the money we currently give to districts from reaching the classroom, there is no good reason to give more. It is just enabling more of the broken status quo.

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  44. I believe this following discussion IS on topic.

    1. The proposal is to increase taxes for more educational spending.

    2. My hesitation is if the money will be well spent. My idea of well spent is:

    a. to be able to identify the bottom 20% of teachers by such criterea as whether they can teach to the test.

    b. to use standarized multiple choice exams at the beginning and end of the school year for a value added analysis of student performance.

    c. to use Vermont style essay exams to identify teachers who need professional development and to give them that professional development. The reaction to low scores is not to fire the teacher, but to work on the teaching that is going on. Tenure stays. It is inadequate teaching skills that go.

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  46. We all need a carrot and a stick, just human nature. Frog and Toad, you are ridiculous to call people trolls who disagree with you. Is that what troll means? You can disagree without being disagreeable. So the people who don't agree with the status quo are posting valid reasons, how horrible, shut down the blog. That's insane thinking.

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  47. If I understand Don correctly, the Number One barrier to money getting to the classroom in San Francisco is the discretionary spending practices of our Superintendent of Schools.

    Don has argued that Mr. Garcia, supported by the Board, has funded the Superintendent Zones at the expense of the rest of the district.

    Furthermore, Don has argued that unlike other school districts, SFUSD, has not allocated its discretionary funds in a responsible manner in regards to shortfalls from Sacramento. Something like Sacramento is giving us less money, but more local control on what little money we do receive.

    To Don, the Number One problem is the Superintendent. Do I understand you correctly?

    I do not really care who is in charge. I am interested in how the money is spent. To Don, I am missing the big picture that we cannot trust the guy. Do I understand you correctly, Don?

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  48. Dr. Phil was saying the other day that, in a discussion, we can make our goal that the other person might understand our position. That is all.

    The goal is not to finally arrive at the other person necessarily agreeing with us. It is not a competition for my position to prevail at the end. If I have made myself clear enough, and if the other person is willing to consider alternate points of view, that is a successful discussion. Make my position understandable, and leave it at that for others to take it or leave it as they choose.

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  49. Stay-at-home Dads talking about Dr. Phil. This blog is ready for a burial.

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  50. Charlie,

    It is better to ignore the nonsense. It is nobody's business but my own that I choose to work out of my house. If someone wants to make fun of that they've got big problems.

    To answer your question which is taking us off track (but I will oblige you), the answer is no, it is not the Superintendent that is the No.1 problem. It is the Board that OK's his "rob from Peter to pay Paul" policies. Why do you think the Board is agreeing with his recommendation to go around the union contract (re: seniority) and keep the staff in place in those SIG schools in the Supe Zones? The BOE and Garcia want to make sure the SZ succeeds even if it means that low seniority teachers are removed from other underperforming schools. They don't care enough about those schools to want to be fair about seniority because he has staked his reputation on the 9 schools. And this from the Superintendent whose made equity his main theme.

    Even if other low performing schools were to have their teachers retained as well there are still thousands of underperforming students at average and high performing schools who would get no benefit. That's why budgeting should be done without winners and losers.

    Charlie, if you want to be sure that the money is spent wisely and fairly, you better care who is in charge. We have people in charge who believe it is OK to pick school funding winners and losers - that it is OK to take from some to benefit others. It is like taxes - take from some to give to others except this is done with a child's education instead of his parents' 1040.

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  51. Ralph is for the status quo. He wants to shut down this site because people disagree with the status quo. He wants to singly make bad each person who disagrees with the status quo. He supports the current situation, and opposes those who fight for change. Only stay at home dads and moms have time to post about this. So if you disqualify any stay at home dad or mom from posting, you get everyone quiet and maintain the status quo, call them trolls, now it's a bad thing to be a stay at home dad? Anyone who doesn't just say the status quo is great should be silenced, according to Ralph. Because stay at home dads say things Ralph doesn't like. Ralph thinks he has a right to say Dr. Phil is off-limits, can't be mentioned, because he says so, so to not be banned, we have to all not mention all things Ralph disapproves of. This is censorship. Ralph, it is not your decision what we post. It is our decision. The blog shouldn't be shut down unless we all become your automotons mindelessly and obediently following your narrow-minded, bigoted rules.

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  52. "The SF K Files is a place for parents who are seeking a kindergarten in San Francisco."

    Not anymore.

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  53. I treat Don and Floyd with respect because they back up their positions with the reasons with their positions. I often disagree with them, but I see where they are coming from.

    This is Kate's blog, and if she has seen anything out of bounds, she will tell us to tone it down. Shutting down the blog recently was a telling us to tone it down. When we do not tone it down, Dr. Phil might ask us, "How is that working for you?"

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  55. "The SF K Files is a place for parents going to kindergarten in San Francisco."

    I can suggest several good kindergartens for you Ralphy, and if you're considering delaying K there are several good pre-K programs that might accept someone such as yourself.

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  56. Don, you sound like you are blaming both the Board and the Supe. The thing with the Superintendent Zones is a direct outcome of the fixation on standardized tests. All the publicity is from the low scoring schools getting better scores, by hook or by crook. The Board and the Superintendent did not invent the game, but they will play by those rules. That is where I see them coming from.

    Now, I have been big on exams too, but, not exams as more of the same. So I do not doubt their intentions, only their programs. And if war is too important to be left to the generals, public education is too important to be left to those in charge. All parents and residents of SF should take a look at what is going on, and put in their two cents.

    Getting back to OCOF, more funding for the schools in SF will only result in more funding in playing the test score game. No Thank You.

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  57. Charlie,

    Please clarify. Test scores have made public in a very quantifiable way the poor performance of many schools. This publicity was from their failure, not so much from any turnaround, as you have said. There isn't any sign of a turnaround, only a marginal increase last year in a few SZ schools. Other SZ schools scored even worse. We can argue about the value of testing, but that is not to the point.

    The Superintendent carved out a very small group of schools and put all his eggs in that basket - and he did so with the Board's blessing when he created the Superintendent Zones. In the meantime many less fortunate at-risk students at schools outside his Zones are left without his favored status and extra funding. This is not the way to run a district. A Superintendent and Board should be expected to treat all it students with equanimity.

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  58. On second thought, perhaps I interpreted your meaning differently than what you intended. I think you wanted to say that the effort to turnaround low performing schools has garnered all the media attention. There hasn't really been much media attention on the Supe Zones. If more people actually knew what was going on with the financing of them SFUSD would have trouble. Which brings me to your point. Parents should look at what is going on, but SFUSD has kept this very hidden and will continue to do so unless it can report some big turnaround.

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  59. Don, your remarks of 10:59 are closer to the mark.

    The focus is on a school, as a whole, that was not scoring at barely proficient levels, finally, as a whole, passing at the minimally proficient level. You can get the school as a whole to pass by getting better students (for example, by installing feeder patterns for MS or by drafting southeast residents to stay in the SE for elementary school in the new student assignment system). The actuall performance of individual students need not improve, as long as the new mix of students at that long suffering school changes and gives new numbers of how many can pass as proficient at that grade level in that school. This is smoke and mirrors.

    This is also how the testing and reporting of profient schools is played. The Board and the Supe did not invent it. But if that is what the feds and the state ed dept. want, that is what they will get.

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  60. Right, and that is why it is so off the mark to identify schools as opposed to students for extra funding, as with the Supe Zones. Many just as needy students get nothing and all because SFUSD wants to be able to show that it could turn around a few schools. But what about the rest? And that barely touches on the subject of the obscene amount of money that is going into Garcia's pet project to the detriment of other school budgets and students.

    By the way, Ralph seems concerned about SDF K Files not addressing K issues. Why doesn't he ask Kate why she allowed Todd to post the topic of this thread?

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  61. The lopsided amounts of money reserved for the SZ (and now the favoritism on layoffs and overlooking of lack of seniority at the SZ) are there, partially, to bribe well performing students located there to choose schools there and to stay there, to bring up the average and get respectable numbers at that school of how many students can pass as proficient.

    To me, this smoke and mirrors game is a meaningless waste of money if we cannot identify the one-on-one low scoring student as having improved. This is where the testing I am talking about comes in. I would pay all of that bribe and overspend in the SZ and play favorites for the SZ vis-a-vi layoffs if the achievement gap of individual students improve.

    Whatever it takes. But be honest about it.

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  62. What do you mean by "whatever it takes"? Do you mean you're willing to agree that SFUSD spend any amount of money on remediation despite the effect it has on the budgets of other schools? If that is so, I can't agree with you on that at all. We shouldn't be gutting one child's education to double down on another. It's moral turpitude. Unfortunately, that is what we have now.

    It is an interesting side note that the far-left leaning Board of Ed supports ending seniority as it applies to the Supe Zones. Why? Because they have come to understand belatedly that they must do away with seniority for real reform to happen. Hallelujah! They have finally and at long last come head-to-head with their own conflicting beliefs.

    And the result is that the SZ schools get to keep their teachers but other schools will have to dump more of theirs instead and many of those schools are also low API.

    The BOE has backed itself into a corner. If small scale reform in the Supe Zones requires a small scale breach of seniority for the plan to succeed, meaningful scalable district-wide reform understandably requires a large scale breach of seniority. Fortunately for the Board and their leading man, they are small thinkers with small plans. Dennis Kelly may lose this battle, but he's still winning the war with these knuckleheads in charge.

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  63. Don, I have asked you for a "Bill of Rights" of minimum funding for schools outside of the SZ. So far, all I have been able to nail down is that an ES the size of Alamo should have at least one counselor. And toilet paper.

    Envy over the spending levels at low performing schools is not part of the equation, for me, at least. I say whatever it takes and that means the spending levels there are not tied to any percentage of total spending. You are to protect the spending levels at the good performing schools by saying what, at a minimum, is needed at that school.

    You might want transportation, or a certain class size, or some other specific service. That is the work I have cut out for you. Some parents have balked and said they do not want to do the work of pulling a school up by the bootstaps or fighting to save minimum services. We are losing them. If we make the parents work too hard, we lose them for the privates or the suburbs. Bd of Ed, please take note.

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  64. There is what you think and there is the Law.

    Most of the money comes into districts as revenue limit unrestricted funding. This was created in the mid 70's after Serrano to equalize funding per pupil statewide based on ADA. Then the the legislature started adding categorical funding for special needs. The framers didn't count on districts using the revenue limit funding in a discretionary way, as though it were categorical, and therein is the rub. The State Constitution requires equal funding. It isn't a matter of deciding what each school needs and then funding it. That is not a system that is workable.

    But to oblige you for the sake of argument, I will say that every student should get his or her exact constitutionally guaranteed share of revenue limit funding, however much that goes to the district divided by the number of students. Most of the time that equates into class size. So it makes sense to say that class sizes should be a guaranteed maximum.

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  65. I will leave the particulars of budget and funding issues to you, Don.

    The general idea I want to cover is that Our Children, Our Future is a tax to raise money for the schools. I want our schools to spend the money it now receives wisely.

    I would reduce costs by reducing the school year. Rellocate funds to work on the summer gap problem for low performing students. At first glance it sounds like making the gap bigger by making the summer longer, but we do not have the numbers to verify that. Maybe what we can afford to do is the accept that summer vacation is here to stay, however long or short. We can best help those who need help with the summer learning loss problem, not by shortening the summer vacation period, but by helping them spend their time away from school productively. It might not take much. Much less than summer school for all, which you cannot make them go to anyway and which we cannot afford. Summer is suppose to be down time. But for many, it is too far down.


    And spend money on all of that testing that I like.

    Then we get to the area of equity and discretionary spending. I follow the talk about rich districts and poor districts.

    Question: Does Serrano protect districts or does Serrano protect students? If Serrano protects only districts, SFUSD can do all the lopsided discretionary spending for SZ it wants. If Serrano protects students, and I think this is what you are saying, Don, then there is an outside limit to the lopsided discretionary spending for the SZ. You have a case.

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  66. I'm not sure what to tell you, Charlie. You have some strange views. You say there is a summer gap problem, but there is no evidence to suggest it. Then you say we should make the summer longer and simultaneously pour more money into solving that summer gap. Why not use the money to shorten summer? If OCOF was intended to address that problem specifically I could get behind it - or if it reduced class sizes.

    Why don't you read up on the Ed Source web site on how districts are funded. It would be a lot easier than having me explain it here. It comes down to this - after the district funding was equalized on the State level, no one considered that politicized districts would distribute per pupil funding in a manner that goes against equity. Before all the categorical money started to flow, the whole point of Serrano was to make sure all students got a relatively equal share. If students with greater needs got more it could be understandable to a point. But that isn't how it works. Schools get more and thousands of at-risk kids get little extra. In any case, the last few years demonstrate that whether funds increase or decrease to individual schools, it has little effect on outcome, which is primarily driven by other factors - that's assuming a basic level of service.

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  68. To clarify students at certain favored schools get more but many students not at those schools, students with equally great needs, get less.

    To answer your question, for all practical purposes the State funds districts, the districts funds schools and students, with some exceptions.

    Serrano is not the funding mechanism. Revenue limit funding is the result of Serrano. OCOF does an end run around revenue limits to try and avoid administrative costs. Which is to say, the cost of administering the present system is way too high. Why not fix that instead of patching it with this initiative?

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  69. People have rights, not districts. So I believe Don makes a strong case that there must be equity within the district. When is it unequal, given the different needs of different students? When is the lopsidedness of the discretionary funding for the SZ unreasonable? That is the question that Don is pushing and we are the better for it that Don is having us think in those terms.

    I do not know when too much in the SZ is too much. I am much more in tune with when there is too little in the schools outside of the SZ. When I went to ES, it was a small one, and it still had a vice-principal. The principal had help from a vice principal. But today? Things like that.

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  70. People here in SF have bought into Garcia and the BOE's line that the school budget shortfalls outside the Superintendent Zones are entirely the fault of the State. SF voters by and large will vote for anything that delivers more money. But the y will ignore the funding policies within this district that enable millions to be diverted out of some schools and into others, all for the purpose of making Carlos Garcia's signature pet project a success and to hell with the consequences for those that have to go without as a result of those policies. The problem with his small scale reform is that even if it is successful it is still only small scale. And it isn't scalable because it requires that the union agree to end seniority which it will never do, as demonstrated by the events of the last BOE meeting. And in the meantime the amount of money poured into the SZ is triple what goes elsewhere and we have marginal improvement at best, most of which is the result of testing irregularities. One of his SZ schools (I believe it was Sanchez if I remember correctly) had its API score go unreported due to testing "irregularities".

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  71. And the policies in the Supe Zones are profligate. They spend millions to provide free computers and other "services" to parents of students when many classrooms in this district don't have adequate or any computers to run on Carlos' new districtwide high speed broadband service.

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  72. Anyway, we should spend more on K-12 education, but that doesn't mean we should vote for anything that attempts to do that. There are several serious negatives to this initiative. I hope Todd will consider those. And we should be doing anything that contributes to inequity as this measure does with the 18%.

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  73. 1. Please explain the 18% problem with OCOF.

    2. Even if some of the taxation is regressive, I would not necessarily oppose it. As a whole, income tax is progressive, not regressive. The higher income bracket should have the higher marginal tax rate. No flat tax talk from me.

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  74. Of course I mean to say we shouldn't be doing anything that contributes to inequity.

    Regarding the 18%, it simply says that 18% of the money will go to "low-income per pupil grants". This will further increase the giant disparity between schools with loads of categorical money and those without. There is very little correlation between money and performance. Why should we continue to feed that utterly unfounded contention that we can solve the achievement gap by taking from some and given to others? It is about union reform and family reform. There is plenty of resources for the low performing schools at present. Class sizes should be the focus.

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  75. How about no on OCOF, but a yes on a SF parcel tax for class size? Would you get behind another parcel tax? I think Westside homeowners are relative winners in the new SAS and should be hit again with the "pledge drive."

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  76. Charlie,

    I will not vote for any tax raising initiatives until students, not bureaucrats, get their fair share of the money we already have. The US and especially California spends more and gets poorer results than any other country.

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  77. Then you need to define your fair share. What services, what funding, what minimum standards? Not just they got more than me.

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  78. All students should get an equal share of available funding, excluding that which is set aside for categorical expenditure. That fair share should go directly to the schools for the school to decide how best to deploy it.

    It is easy to define fair share. Divide 6 million plus by all unrestricted money, excluding certain categories that are intended for infrastructure and maintenance.

    OCOF, in its design for direct school aid, implicitly recognizes that it is the state and districts that are sucking up the money. So why don't they put forth an initiative to stop that drain on our resources? For example, set a maximum amount that any district can spend on administration and repeal those portions of the ed code that are bogging down the system.

    As for services and funding, maximum class sizes should be set by the state based on available funding. That way district wouldn't be able to divert it away from classrooms.

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  79. It's amazing that something unfair to one group, funding disparities between districts, once fixed, suddenly becomes unfair the other way. It's never enough just to make something unfair fair. Many schools on the west side are starved for funds. The money being spent is not getting results. The board is strictly focused on the poor, and hardly give the middle class a second thought. If we didn't have so many good schools on the west side, the ones they're starving, this District wouldn't have all the stats they brag about. We have a lot of Asians, period. Having 52% Asian and 15% white in the District is more conducive than 67% white to high scores, on paper it's not 15% but some are down as DS and ONW. They're obsessed with those who do the worst, but instead of pushing their families to make their kids study harder, to do flash cards with them daily from age 2, to turn off the TV, instead of hiring tutors, they hire bureaucrats and consultants for a lot of money who don't achieve tangible results.

    If the board ever got the Latino and AA test scores up close to equal, I'd respect them. They're spending money to create jobs for people who didn't get a good enough education from SFUSD to compete in the private sector.

    They really get a lot of benefit from the westsiders. We wouldn't have a high school that beats all the big private high schools in SAT Average and beats every other public high school in SAT Average without them. They really take a lot of families for granted and just abuse them. They should be greatful. Without the westsiders this district would be Oakland Unified School District or LAUSD, not the high achieving district it is, the highest urban district. And the reason it is high is the performance of those who are screwed and work hard and do it on their own, not those who get results by government aid.

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  80. Sounds like, Don, you want two things:

    1. A division between fixed costs and variable costs, with equal sharing of variable costs, and

    2. Discretion placed out of the hands of the superintendent and into the hands of the individual school on how to spend on variable costs. You do not trust central administration with the Serrano requirement for equality within the district as well as between school districts.

    I am sure you mean to provide flexibility for spending according to need, for example, with special needs. But when has a 555 Franklin abused that flexibility? It is too Procrustean to object to any difference of spending for one student over another.

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  81. Discussions like these have a tendency to get oversimplified because it is hard to rectify the extraordinarily complex funding of education in a way that provides some flexibility and differentiation for individual needs against the legal and moral logic of equity.

    I do believe that students have different requirements and those requirements have different costs. Special education is an example. But we should set per pupil minimums based upon annual state-to-district apportionmments such that each student is given his rightful and equal minimum share before we begin to dole out more to some than to others. Right now Central Office officials decide how much to give each school and the less they give the more that is left over for them to use for their own purposes, like Superintendent Zones, for example.

    If educational outcome is a function of money, the total amount we spend should show a total educational outcome in aggregate. By this logic,, what the "underserved" promoters are talking about is lowering education outcome from some so that others can increase, funneling money away from some schools for the benefit of others.

    From my own personal point of view, I think money is a smaller issue than many believe. Having more money doesn't make you smarter. Nor will it make you more educated. A teacher can have all the supplies, a small class size and plenty of professional development, but all these factors pale next to having students who are committed and enthusiastic about learning.

    In the end, OCOF is just another attempt to shovel in more money with a twist. The difference is that most of it goes directly to schools. Well...that is a tacit admission that administration is the problem. Instead of doing an end run at a high cost to the economy with new taxes, why not just fix the problem that is our bloated education bureaucracy.

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  82. Professional sports imposed a salary cap to control runaway payments to unproven draftees. Maybe we need something like that for the SZ. Maybe spending in the SZ cannot be 2 times or 3 times as much as the district average, or something like that.

    I believe Serrano protects equality of funding of individual students, not of individual districts. There must be equality within the district, giving, however, a large leeway to local control and local judgment on needs. Yet, the equality within the district must mean something. Don is responsible for alerting us to this need for equality even within the district.

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  83. It is the opposite with Serrano. Districts get funded, not students. Districts receive funding based on ADA and it has to be within $350 dollars in total revenue limit apportionment per pupil. But that doesn't mean students within districts themselves all get an amount within $350 of each other. The problem with the law is that the districts do what they want with the money and it in no way assures that each student will get a fair shake in a statewide or districtwide comparison.

    Because of all the different pots of comped money it is very hard to talk in absolute terms. When students at SIG schools get the Title money, the QEIA, Targeted Improvement (TIIBG), SIG grant, and, therefore, already have at least double the per pupil WSF allocation, it seems rather obscene to pile even more money from other pots into SIG schools. And the return on the investment has a long term history of being zero to negative.

    As for alerting people to this problem, if only I could. But most people don't understand it and don't care to understand it.

    In progressive San Francisco, you don't need results to convince people. You just need to appear as if you have good intentions as in throwing money at the so-called underserved.

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  84. That school funding is as complicated as the tax code. How about a simple requirement of minimum funding levels at each and every school, whether SZ or not, at some base year, increased by a share of any increase in the overall budget? Maybe not an equal pro-rata share, but at least $1 for every $3 or $4 of increase seen in the SZ. This sharing in the increase of expenditures would be way better than being completely shut out.

    Candidates for the School Board should commit to this Revenue Sharing for nonSZ schools with the SZ schols.

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  85. Charlie,

    The point is that we ALREADY set aside categorical funding for the purpose of schools like those in the SZ. The issue here is that the district wants and does take the non-categorical funding and unequally commit that money to it as well. The reason it wants to do this is because no one is the wiser when the lost budget share is attributed to the State drop in ed funding even though it is only partly the cause. In the meantime the massive influx of money to the SZ, regardless of the quantity, is likely to have some sort of positive effect on those select schools. The district can claim success without taking any responsibility for it role in exacerbating an already bad situation for average school funding. It is really deplorable.

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  86. I do not see spending in the SZ as limited to categorical funding, that is, non-general fund money, if I am discussing the terms correctly. The main idea should be for equality within the district as well as between districts. After all, people, not school districts, have rights.

    Equality does not mean everyone gets the same amount of money. You have to leave room for different needs and for the on the ground teachers and staff to do their job without micro-management from above.

    When is the spending so out of balance that there is unequal treatment? I leave that to you to define. My approach is to look at whether your school is getting its basic services provided. When airplane passegers got stuck on the tarmac for hours and hours, they suffered and the FAA or the Congress decided that passengers needed a Bill of Rights. That is my approach too for the schools outside of the SZ. There are minimums not to be crossed.

    What should be the minimum at your school?

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  87. Charlie,

    This will be my last post on this thread. I disagree with your call for a minimum funding level. I think it is the wrong approach. We don't tax people so that we can deliver the minimum. We want to deliver the maximum. Why should revenue limit money go more to one student than another? What is this? Your child doesn't go to the school cafeteria to be told that he gets the minimum daily requirement for lunch, while the other gets the food piled on. In any case, there is zero evidence to show that extra funding yields better results. It might make you feel better, but it is not doing one thing to raise achievement.

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  88. It is always helpful to outline what you want, not just what you do not like. We cannot enact a program of "I do not like this and that." We can enact a program of what you affirmatively propose, if we so choose.

    I think you proposed something that called for equal amounts of dollars per pupil at each school, not counting "categorical funding."
    I guess all funding would have to be coded as categorical or non-categorical. You want an absolutely even split of the non-categorical funding per pupil.

    I disagree. It does not bother me that schools in the SZ get more funding per pupil than outside of the SZ. They have one tough job in the SZ. It does bother me if funding outside of the SZ is cut to the bone beyond some minimum standard. Airline passengers get a Bill of Rights about treatment while on the tarmac. Schools outside of the SZ deserve protections too.

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  89. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  90. Next time you need the fire department or police department just remember that there are other people who are more important than you and your family and that they are entitled to the service before you. And don't forget to pay your taxes by 4/15.

    Public education is not a welfare agency. It is supposed to be for all- not for some more than others.

    Charlie, read Ed Source on how education funding is done. The whole purpose of categorical funding is to supply extra where is extra is needed. The whole purpose of non categorical money is to educate all the public school children of California in an equitable manner, consistent with the Cal constitution of which Serrano's legislative legacy is a part. You're just thinking off the top of your head in terms of what you think is fair or right. Let's elevate the conversation to something a little more substantive.

    OK. Now I am done. Take the last word please.

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  91. "This will be my last post on this thread. " - Don Krause

    (We all knew it wouldn't be.)

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  92. Fill in the blank:

    I want _____.

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