News

Ravenswood may cut entire library staff

Trustees slash technology staff that helps students, teachers, with computers

Peering into a future of hard times, trustees of East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District Thursday voted to slash the staff that provides computer services to children and teachers, among other positions.

Trustees balked at laying off the district's entire library staff -- but were warned that if they do not do so within weeks, they'll be forced to make other, equally unpalatable choices.

They also voted to eliminate the parent coordinator at the district's Child Development Center, a custodian and an office manager.

The district, which serves children in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, is planning for a $3.2 million – or 17 percent – cut to its $18 million unrestricted operating budget for 2011-12.

Class sizes this fall will rise to 25 in K-3 and to 31 in grades 4-8, officials said. Twenty-one teaching positions and two management posts will be eliminated by attrition, according to James Lovelace, director of human resources.

Officials also have said they'll have to close a school – their preferred term is "consolidate."

The necessary cuts will get worse mid-year -- to the tune of $350 per student -- if California voters do not approve a five-year extension of sales and income tax and vehicle license fees sought by Gov. Jerry Brown, Board Chairwoman Sharifa Wilson said.

With her recommendation to eliminate the district's entire library staff of 3.5 full time-equivalent positions, Superintendent Maria de la Vega said she hopes to recruit volunteers to keep the libraries open.

That plan was sharply criticized by current library volunteers –- several from outside of the district –- who said a professional staff is critical to maintaining the school libraries. The current staff of 3.5 is spread among seven campuses.

"Volunteers cannot run a library –- there's way too much that goes into that," said parent Dena Bloomquist, a weekly library volunteer in the Flood School library, where two of her three children attend.

Bloomquist said when she told her three sons of the plan to eliminate the library positions one of them asked, "Do they want us to read less?"

Angelica Santana, a librarian who divides her time between Willow Oaks and Cesar Chavez schools, said, "For our particular student population, closing our school libraries would mean greatly reducing our students' access to books."

Many, she said, "do not have the financial means to purchase books at local bookstores nor can they easily arrange for transportation to public libraries."

The technology cuts will "devastate the progress" Ravenswood has made in bridging the digital divide, said Susan Allen, a Palo Alto resident and former technology volunteer at Ravenswood who is now on staff.

"Our students have so much less than students in other districts around us, where they go to high school."

Allen said she moved from volunteer to staff status because, for legal reasons, only staff is permitted to have keys to equipment and network passwords.

"When a teacher says, 'I've got a virus,' or 'I can't put my grades in,' a volunteer can't fix that," Allen said.

But the layoffs of 3.5 full-time-equivalent technology positions will most hurt Ravenswood students who go on to high schools such as Menlo Atherton and Woodside, where other kids are more tech savvy, she said.

"Please reconsider this for the sake of the students," Allen told the board.

De la Vega said after four years of cuts to the district, 'it's difficult to know where to go."

"We have one more board meeting before we have to finalize our budget," she told trustees.

"We'll bring additional cuts in case these (library cuts) are not approved, but it has to be a yes or no. It's been very difficult on all the staff here because we've had cuts for the last four years, and people have taken on two jobs or three jobs."

Trustees, faced with making cuts for the fourth year in a row, tried to explain what they're up against.

"We're obligated by law to make sure we have a balanced budget, so we can't stick our heads in the sand and pretend like the money's magically going to come from some place," Wilson said.

In addition to its $18 million unrestricted operating budget, Ravenswood receives about $22 million in highly targeted federal and state "categorical funds" to address specific conditions, including poverty and the more than 60 percent of students who are English language learners.

But Lovelace said the district also anticipates a 10 percent to 15 percent cut in categorical funds.

About 80 percent of Ravenswood students are considered low-income under government guidelines, and 30 percent each year are new enrollees, according to the Ravenswood Education Foundation.

Test scores in the district have inched up in recent years, and voters in May narrowly gave two-thirds approval to renew and increase a parcel tax, which will cost property owners $196 per parcel per year.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

Silicon Valley has been working for years to provide the technology to replace the ever-increasing costs of public education--

Khan Academy:
Web Link

Google Books:
books.google.com

Internet Archive:
www.archive.org

The folks at the Ravenswood City School District need to wake up, and make the shift to digital education, and digital information sources.

This is another example of how labor unions are strangling California and Californians.


Like this comment
Posted by Carolyn Tucher
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

These are tragic cuts. Our children deserve better.
Oakland is slashing its public libraries. San Jose is considering similar
reductions.


Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm

> Our children deserve better ..

Yes they do. They deserve to be able to take advantage of the paradigm shifts in information technology that are replacing the traditional brick-and-mortar libraries with personal electronics (such as Kindles/Sony’s/Kobos/Smartphones/etc.) and wireless networks that allow everyone to “tap into” a universe of knowledge/entertainment that is now available via the Internet, and/or other digital distribution means.

Certainly the publishing industry “gets it”--
---
Web Link

At the time nobody doubted e-books were going mainstream, but the speed of that disruption has been astonishing. Last month, Amazon announced that its e-book sales now exceed the sales of hardcover and paperback books combined. Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis ultimately expects some 50% of the $90-billion global book market to go digital. How big a piece of that pie Kobo will carve for itself remains in question; they say they’ve currently got about 10% of U.S. e-book sales, roughly the same as Apple’s iBooks store and well behind Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
---

Interestingly, every prediction about the success of e-books/-e-readers has underestimated the success of this new technology (to date), while all criticism have been more-or-less unfounded. So—why is it that the public sector continues to cling to paper books, and expensive, people-centric models of providing students, and the public, information?

Ravenswood has about 4,500 students. It could buy some sort of e-readers for these kids at $60 (el cheapo variety)-$400 (iPads), for any where from $250,000 to $1M, paying for this hardware via the downsizing of its library staff, and facilities. Instructional staff could put together lists of books needed for coursework. Those books in the public domain, would likely be found on one of the major book archives (Google/Internet Archive), while those not currently on these archives could be scanned locally, and maintained on the district’s web-site until they appear elsewhere. In-copyright e-books, would be leased via a site license.

Now is the time for school districts all over the country to begin to look seriously at their options. Shifting laterally to e-books, as well as web-based instruction, is clearly a viable option for cash-strapped schools districts. The number of books available to students goes up, the costs to provide library services goes down.

What’s not to like?


Like this comment
Posted by SP
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Khan Academy is great. But your crazy to think it could just work in Ravenswood. Have you seen the videos of Los Altos? Every student has a computer on the desk. Every student can read English. And there is a teacher in the classroom who not only knows the subject matter, but I am sure gets pretty good at fixing computer problems. KA does not save money. It makes the teachers more effective when the environment is right. Ravenswood has a hard time keeping the few computers they do have from being stolen. How do you do KA when you have a classroom of kids who do not read?


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

As a former teacher of 30 years, I MUST comment on the above postings.
Technology is a fantastic ASSIST in a classroom. However: The hardware of technology must be available; The software must be in several languages; Trained professionals MUST be present to facilitate, monitor, interpret, modify this tool to fit the individual needs of the student.
Advocates of the use of technology in the classroom do not seem to address many important issues. Among these are: the school funding process, legislative strictures upon schools, immigration issues and their impact on schools, social/economic influences,etc.
If teckies are truly interested in helping the education of our children, it is my opinion that they need to get involved in issues that influence the use of technology in the classroom. I urge them to visit schools, raise funds for schools, talk to teachers, parents and students of schools in varying neighborhoods.
Obviously, the next step is for them to DO something about it !!


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Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm

> Technology is a fantastic ASSIST in a classroom.

The professional teacher who posted this misses one of the key issues of the day--the Internet (and digital technology as whole), is disruptive to "traditional information (and teaching) methodologies. Case in point--technology allows teaching to go on anywhere in the world, on a 7/24/365 basis--not the traditional 9-3/180 day cycle that we have come to know as "the public education system".

The underlying theme of this posting seem to be: "change is almost impossible" (or words to that effect). Whereas the use of digital technologies offers teachers, parents and students the tools of change that they can carry around in pocket (such as a "smartphone").

While not every tool that might turn public education "upside down" in a decade is on the shelf at Fry's, the basic technology can be found up-and-down Silicon Valley. What's needed is an openness to change, that is embraced at every level of the school system--all the way to Washington, DC.

We spend about 8% of the US GDP on K-12 education. We're not getting all that much back, using the current system's methodology. Using digital technology (albeit on the back of an almost Depression), the tools are on the shelf. It's time to pick them up and put them to work.



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Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Att: Go-Digital-Now. I will try to make my comments professional, polite and decent.
You ask me to be open. I ask you to also be open. I have tried to implement the use of technology in all of my classes during the last 10-20 years of my teaching career. However, ONE computer for 180 kids does'nt make it.
Re: "change is almost impossible" is not what I said. I said that not most kids have the teck to be able to take advantage of the learning that can happen. I also said that a "Mentor" must be present.
I also ask you to stop concerning yourself with the 8% of GDP on K-12 education. I think you might be best enlightened should you get yourself involved in some nitty-gritty issues of education in the USA. It is a frightening situation !
I am curious in learning (should you care to share) where you were educated/trained.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm

P.S. to GDN: Have read "1984"? Big Brother does not always know what is best for individuals.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Sorry, i meant to ask if YOU had read "1984" ?


Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

> i meant to ask if YOU had read "1984" ?

Ok .. 3rd time’s a charm. ..

And what does that have to do with anything? The premise proposed in the earlier postings that the use of technological tools to provide access to information for everyone would not seem to be the theme promoted in 1984. Did you yourself read this rather bleak, and not very accurate view of the future, yourself?

> Big Brother does not always know what is best for individuals.

Which is why digitizing the world’s intellectual endeavors, and making them available to everyone, via the Internet, and e-readers, will lead to lessening the impact of BB.

> I am curious in learning (should you care to share) where you
> were educated/trained.

Not certain that putting personal information on a site like this one is a particularly good idea. With that in mind, will have to decline your challenge. However, will say that there are probably more degrees on my resume than yours, and twice the number of years of work experience on my resume than yours. Oh, and add a stint as a Company Commander of an Army Line Unit.

> Re: "change is almost impossible" is not what I said.

Maybe not .. but that’s what you probably meant. The tip off was the opening gambit of “budgeting process”.

> ONE computer for 180 kids does'nt make it.

No .. it doesn’t. But this is where this interchange gets interesting. Why only one computer? Was this twenty years ago, or last year? Where did money come from to buy “technology” in your school/district. Why didn’t you decide to start a “computer toys for tots” drive, collecting just about anything with value, and converting those dollars into computers? Did you approach any of the companies in your district about donating old computers to your class? Did you talk to local government agencies about donating old computers that they were “refreshing” to your class? Will be very interested in your answers.


Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Seems some guy over on Twitter ran a "Ed Technology Teachers Survey" in March (2011). The link below is a collection of answers to the question:

> What’s the hardest obstacle to overcome in integrating
> technology in your classes?

Web Link

The answers are incredibly interesting, because it would seem that most of the people answering appear to be more on a Merry-Go-Round than in control of their situations. There is an almost "child-like" unawareness that mastery of the topic includes learning every aspect of the topic.. That means having to trouble shoot simple problems, learning the terminology of the technology, and not seeing one's self as a "victim" of the "geek engineers".

Ed Tech teachers would not last very long as managers in start Silicon Valley companies, if they used the same excused in the Valley, that they used on this survey.

> twice the number of years.

So .. missed a previous comment. Only one decade long in the work force that this teacher man.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Go-Digital-Now

People are needed to implement any kind of technology. In order to access technology, schools must have computers, internet access, software and someone to decide on, purchase, troubleshoot and maintain all of the above. Even old, donated computers need someone to troubleshoot, upgrade SW, maintain them, train people on their use, etc. The computers themselves are the easy part.

You are naive to suggest that a district like Ravenswood has money for "technology" sitting around. Or that the parents have the contacts to ask for corporate donations. Over 75% of the kids are English Learners and over 85% are socio-economically disadvantaged and there are kids in the classrooms who would easily be special ed kids in PAUSD that are not in Ravenswood (and yes I know because I volunteer in the classroom there).

There are schools in our area without enough paper and pencils for their students - and no I am not kidding - much less without technology in our classroom.

If you feel strongly that technology belongs in a classroom, and I totally agree, volunteer to fund raise for Ravenswood, find volunteers to research, purchase, train the staff, and maintain the software and hardware.


Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm

> People are needed to implement any kind of technology.

Let's start with those people being the staff of the schools in question. Most off-the-shelf technology is designed so that ordinary people (not necessarily people with BS/MS/PhDs) can read the manuals, and figure out the instructions.

Networking has traditionally been the bugaboo, and 20 years ago, it was pain. Not really the case any more. And .. the IT people have a clear responsibility here. (And if they can't get the job done, then teachers need to begin to hold these people accountable, but "complaining loudly".)

> Even old, donated computers need someone to troubleshoot,

Maybe .. but they can also be sold to a refurbisher, and those dollars turned into machines. BTW--HP has some very nice Netbooks for under $300.

> You are naive to suggest that a district like Ravenswood
> has money for "technology" sitting around.

Let's start with the Ravenswood budget. Do you have a copy? If so, can you provide us with the total dollars, and then tell us where the expenditures go? Oh, and could you also give us some sense of what the yearly pay increases (salary+benefits) have been? If you don't have copy, how do you know what kinds of money might be lying around?

> There are schools in our area without enough paper and
> pencils for their students

We hear that all the time. The US is spending about 8% of its GDP on public education (that's about $900B. Up until 9/11, the education system was getting twice what the military got). So, with $900B (spent by all levels of government) .. why is it that there isn't enough money to pay for paper and pencils? where is it all going? (Nationally, we are spending over $10,000 per student. Did you know that?)

> Or that the parents have the contacts to ask for
> corporate donations

They seemed to have the political savvy to organize rent strikes, and to oppose the rescinding of the EPA Rent Control Law. So .. why are they all of a sudden incapable of asking for help from companies like HP, and Apple, for computers? Got an answer? Don't you think that large companies like HP/Apple/Cisco would get some great press if they helped out?

This issue of Ravenswood also calls into question whether there is sufficient critical mass for EPA to sustain itself successfully as a city.







Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

According to the article, and the Ravenswood web-site, the district has a budget of $40M (unrestricted and restricted fund), and 4,500 students. That comes to about $8,888 per student. This is a little low of the 10,000 (more-or-less) national average, but still, $9K's not chicken scratch.

So .. why can't Ravenswood make things work for $9K per student?


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Dear G-D-N, There is no way I will be able to convey to you the value of teachers in the classroom. We are not professional money raisers or community/political activists. Maybe we need to be. In my opinion, teachers are educators. The word educate comes from the Latin infinitive, educere" meaning to lead forth. Teaching is to facilitate--the bringing forth of what is within. It is our intent to use whatever "tools" are available to teach our students. Sometimes, it is a butterfly that flies into the classroom, or a "lock up alert" or an earthquake drill or a required standardized test...whatever. It is connecting the event to a learning experience that makes it a learning experience. Connecting young, eager minds to life experiences is what teachers get excited about.
I may be older than you, but I am not dead. Age is not a factor in this conversation. (Even though you seem to have hinted I am out of touch).
You seem to be somewhat preoccupied with the $$$ involved in education. Money does not educate our youth.. teachers do. I ask you to invest some time in visiting and talking with teachers, parents and especially the kids. School is out now, so go outside on the sidewalk and putter or something in order to chat with passers-by. Visit other neigborhoods. Involve yourself in the people around you. Find out what is really going on in not only your community but OTHER communities.
I must ask you again what have you done to HELP teachers in your community ? Do you know anything about your local schools? What have you done to help your local schools?
Do know any local schools? Have you ever visited any of them?
I just re-read your posting. Thus some additional comments. I was educated at the University of Michigan where i earned a MBA and I was postgraduate at Yale for two years.
My bottom line is for you to find out more nitty gritty info.







Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Go get 'em Jerry! Keep educating all of us reading these posts- they're much appreciated.

Palo Alto Mom, thanks to you as well, for your volunteer work & insight, based on your knowledge & 1:1 experience; it echoes my experience working with young people here in their teens.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Martinson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Hmmm. I did not intend to embark on a crusade. GND just seemed to touch a tender point. As I see it, teachers are not appreciated in our society. GND appears to be out of touch with life outside his/her cubicle of existence. Sie la vie. Thanks for your support.


Like this comment
Posted by Wha?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

To those posting here - Go-Digital-Now will not hear your arguements. I suspect that GDN is the same person who thinks all your public libraries in Palo Alto are also a waste of staff and money, and that it would be cheaper to buy every citizen in PA a Netflix account and a subscription to Google books. GDN is right that we are heading towards digital books, but the other posters are right in saying we still need people involved. And we are in a time of transition into the digital age. We are not there yet. And who will teach the disadvantaged stutents to use the computer? Another computer? Go online and learn? Crazy talk from someone that doesn't deal with disadvantaged people.

Funny that GDN says he/she read 1984 and declines to state where they went to school, but thinks computers are the way to go. Computers are Big Brother incarnate.


Like this comment
Posted by School Friend
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

It will get worse. In a few days the Legislature will vote merely whether to extend existing tax levels, namely to maintain the current sales and other tax levels due to expire in a few weeks, so the Calif. Governor and Legislature can work out the budget and arrange for a electorate vote in Sept--after school starts. My fellow fiscal conservatives are reluctant to do so. Call your Calif. State Legislator and tell them to vote yes. Otherwise schools will be devastated even more!


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Allen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I'm the one quoted in the article. Ravenswood is trying to 'go digital' in many ways. We have had incredible gifts from HP and Cisco on an on-going basis. Most of our classroom desktop computers were donated by law firms who do an upgrade of their computers every 3 or 4 years and give the old ones to Ravenswood. We have 75 Googlers coming next week to upgrade the software on our 450 netbooks and 2 school sites' computer lab and classroom desktops. We have 217 more netbooks coming. All of this was paid for by special grants or gifts. Last year a husband and wife donated 50 LCD projectors in honor of their 50th birthdays!! The district has no budget for tech hardware.

Teachers use on-line programs to supplement and support their teaching. There is some amazing work going on in this area in Ravenswood. We are trying to prepare our students to attend high school and college with the tech skills they will need.

But hardware alone won't do it. It's fairly easy to get that donated. No one wants to donate to support salaries for tech support people. Private industry standard is one tech support person for every 100 computers in a business. We average about 1 tech support person for every 400 computers.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Jerry, computers can't replace teachers or other mentors/leaders needed in the classroom - espec in disadvantaged areas. I have a lot of teachers in my family & I know full well how underappreciated & underpaid they are.

Having lived, worked & volunteered in a disadvantaged community, I know full well it's not always about the money when it comes to using resources and becoming self-educated - but money of course helps. On a wider scale, of course the money is crucial, but if it's not there, it takes super resourceful, tenacious people who are informed & fiercely committed to education to make an ongoing difference. Teachers are only partially responsible. Parents & administrations need to be equally fierce & resourceful, but they're not, for many reasons.

I have had the privilege to work with some of the most truly gifted & brilliant of technologists, musicians & entrepreneurs in Sili Valley. Two of the qualities they all have in common, besides intelligence, are passion & resourcefulness. They aren't all wealthy & have all struggled financially. It's that passion & resourcefulness which keeps them on keepin' on, & that's required of teachers & students now- all the while teachers pay for materials from their own pockets, dread the likelihood of the pink slip & the students are absorbing that they don't matter much because education suffers constant cutbacks.

This is where parents & administrators need to step in w/passion & resourcefulness - en masse. I don't see this happening- granted, I don't have kids - but this needs to happen in this area. Then of course increased use of digital can have a broader & deeper role in education. It's a tool, not a solution. But a tool smartly used becomes an important *part* of the solution. These solutions & their tools need to be driven passionate, resourceful adults who put their energy where their mouths are. Many teachers are already there. What about the teachers & administrators?


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Sorry, in my last sentence, I meant *parents* & administrators.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Hmm - many of the parents in Ravenswood work 2 jobs just to keep their families housed and fed, they depend on the teachers and administrators to provide the passion in the classroom. That does not mean they do not care about education, they value it very much.


Like this comment
Posted by Leland Francois
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Its very unfortunate the Ravenswood Community and School District
continues to be chopped, disected, split, reversed, suspended,
devalued, demolished, buried and everything but complimented for
its survival after these disasters......Leland Francois, Ravenswood
History Project and Gardenkits Products.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Palo Alto Mom, I am not convinced about the parents. I had working parents, incl one who worked 2 jobs, plus we had a number of pets. My parents still managed to generate passion for our educations. Kids spend less time at school than at home & need to get the message about how crucial education is. While some parents in Ravenswood do care deeply, I see many parents caring more about money, valuing it over education, and getting their kids to work at the first opportunity - as young as 14, for example. Frankly, I see more striving re money than education, & it makes me sad. This isn't just because this is an expensive area; it's also due to their values. Working hard, get a job at a young age - I see over & over how these things often matter over education. While I understand it - believe me - after many years living in EPA & being a hard worker myself, I understand it - but I can't agree w/it. Something has to change & it has to change at home, as well.

Upon many years of observation and much thought, my conclusion about these families is that they do indeed look to the teachers & administrators for the passion, because it's their job & their responsibility, but that's a crucial error. There is no way that
something as vital as education should be left so largely in the hands of outsiders. For non-native English speakers and people of little formal education, it's imperative that they develop a passion for it at home. I don't mean this in any sort of nasty way, or in a judgemental finger-pointing way, either. I saw this time & again growing up & for a long time during my many years here in EPA. It makes me very, very sad - not because they're bad parents or anything like that, at all - but that it's really quite easy to inspire passion in youngsters about learning & education.

On another note, the parents, students & excellent teachers at Ravenswood deserve a lot more than the lousy history of Ravenswood. Do you recall when members of the school board, on more than one occasion, got into trouble for misusing their county-issued credit cards - they used them for personal expenses? How about the head of the school board getting taking a deal for sexual battery charges, for assault against someone he was on a commission with? How about the problems w/other previous leaders? Ravenswood deserves so much more than this legacy. But in these trying times, how can they focus on the present while planning for the future for these children?


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

NO I am not elderly/out of touch, but somehow I read *SALES* into some efforts to "educate" taxpayers that they are now obligated RUSH RUSH to buy luxury technology such as iPADs for every deprived schoolchild etc. I don't even have one myself, though I will buy one sometime, planning prudently. Meantime, there are plenty of books available at the public libraries, easily accessible to everyone. Yes, transitions in information delivery are happening, to some extent.
Teaching is not the same as technology, either.
Some tech people are dismissive of teachers, guess they are trying to sell some costly hardware- their proprietary SW


Like this comment
Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 9:31 am

> I'm the one quoted in the article. Ravenswood is trying to
> 'go digital' in many ways

Thank you for adding these details. This is the sort of information that school districts will not publish in their yearly budgets/reports, etc. However, it does go a long way to tell the truth about what is going on in Districts like Ravenswood.

> The district has no budget for tech hardware.

Yet, they have $40M (or more) available to spend. As pointed out in a previous posting, this comes to about 9K per student. The question why Ravenswood (and other school districts) can't get the job done has not been answered yet.

> We average about 1 tech support person for every 400 computers.

IT Staff:
Web Link

The mission of the Technology Department is to provide access, service, support and professional development in educational media, telephony, and technology for the entire Ravenswood City School District community. By providing a technology-rich academic environment to students, teachers and staff, we support the integration of technology into the curriculum to foster improved student academic achievement and literacy, thus fulfilling the mission of the Ravenswood City School District.
----

Maybe it's time to outsource those function to private industry. A "computer-based" environment does need "attention" from time-to-time. However, well-designed for low-maintenance, it takes less time these days than in the past. Looking forward, it would pay for schools to use solid-state discs, rather than hard-discs, to reduce one of large single-point of failures. Wireless networks can replace wire-line connections, and many of the problems of the past will be gone.

If salaries via the school boards for "technology support", a "friends" organization can raise enough money to supplement the cost of outsourcing the IT support.

Ravenswood Education Foundation:
Web Link
REF Annual Report:
Web Link

So far, no one has mentioned this organization. Have they been helpful? And, who is lobbying the School Board about IT/Technology in the Classroom? What is the REF position on using its money for "technology".

It also does not hurt to have a comprehensive, long-term, plan in place that identifies technology use, along with costs.

5-Year Technology Plan:
Web Link

For those familiar with this plan, is it flawed from the "gitgo"? Is it impossible to achieve? Is it totally unfunded? How many people making all sorts of "can not get there from here" claims have read this plan? Has the school board said: "No Way!"?

> I'm the one quoted in the article. Ravenswood is trying to
> 'go digital' in many ways

Thanks again for bringing this information to the table. No one else posting seems to have "boots on the ground" as you seem to. You are encouraged to try to get a document that quantifies the general status of Technology at Ravenswood. Since your name is posted on the IT web-site, it might behoove this discussion for you to comment on the technology plan on the Ravenswood web-site in terms of its being appropriate for the needs of the district, and its funding needs.





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Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

> Funny that GDN says he/she read 1984 and declines to state
> where they went to school,

Why is it funny? Care to explain why stating where someone went to school changes any of the arguments on the table?

Don't have any problem saying Orwell's wrong-headed view of the world (at least from an American point-of-view) was read in high school.

In our classless American society, are you suggesting that people somehow are more "respectable", based on where they went to school?


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Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

(Because of the restrictions on the number of links per posting, this response will be presents in parts.)

Part I

> You seem to be somewhat preoccupied with the $$$ involved
> in education

Quite true. Education has slowly grown in its costs to the point where it is consuming about 8-9% of the GDP (about $1T a year). Yet, we are not the nation with the highest literacy rates, or the top of any educational performance metric that seems to be applied to “education” around the world:

Web Link

The whole topic of education cost/performance seems almost taboo at the local school district level. It does get an “airing” at the University level, and independent think tanks,

A Primer On American Schools (2001)
Web Link

but ask a classroom teacher how much of the US GDP education is consuming, and you will get nothing but blank stares. “I’m an education professional—I should not have to know anything about the costs” .. seems to be the mantra that has been instilled into the 3M-5M public school teachers around the country.

And what are we getting for our money? The factsheet above reports that of the 30 (or so) countries compared for educational performance, the highest the US ranks is 15th out of 30, being in the 20’s for the rest of the rankings. For the money that we are spending (about $10K average at the national level) it is not hard to believe we should have be at the top of the rankings. How many teachers, if asked, are likely to know these global comparisons? And how many will be quick to provide testing results that every child in her classroom exceeds the scores of the #1 ranked nations in these comparisons?


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Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Part II

> Money does not educate our youth.. teachers do.

And teachers don’t work except for money. Money for salaries, money for pensions, money for healthcare, money for classroom aides. Teachers don’t work “for the love of it”. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of the facilities. Most school districts do not keep financial records that allows one to find out how many dollars have been spent on education over the years. But buildings are not cheap. Here in California, new buildings for schools cost up to $1,200/sq. ft.

Complex Issues Affecting CA School Construction:
Web Link

Despite massive public investment, estimated nationally
at more than $500 billion …
---
Web Link

Web Link

o School districts have an estimated $271 billion of deferred building and grounds
maintenance in their schools, excluding administrative facilities, which averages $4,883 per student.

o In a 2010 state survey, 10 states (CO, DE, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, ME, MT, NJ) reported needing an average of $4,400 per student for deferred maintenance.

o Public school facility investment aligns with the wealth of the community the school is
located in. Between 1995‐2004 schools in low wealth zip codes had one third the funding for capital projects as schools in high wealth zip codes.
---

What virtually every teacher will tell you is: “I don’t know how much of the US GPD consumes. Does it matter? I will tell you my school is underfunded, and that’s a fact! So, ask that teacher: “how many dollars does your classroom receive?” Again, in 99% of the cases, you’ll probably get another glassy-eyed response, and again: “what does it matter, we need more money!!!”

So any discussion about the school systems needs to include meaningful contributions about rethinking the service delivery model so that it is not so “capital intensive”, looking for ways to educate without having to actually spend $500B a year on buildings that are being used by “teachers” that are producing substandard educational products.


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Posted by Go-Digital-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Part III

> I must ask you again what have you done to HELP teachers in
> your community

I pay property taxes that fund the schools, in large part. In my community, the average teacher’s salary is $88K, and many teachers are making over $120K a year (plus 30-odd percent of their salaries in “benefits”). Teachers work 186 days a year, and get lifelong pensions of up to 72% of their exit salaries. Teachers making these amounts often claim to have two degrees, and are touted to be “the best teachers in the world” by the local school board. So, it’s difficult to see why they would need much help—given how intelligent, and educated, they claim to be. (And in my community, most of the real “educating” can be attributed to their parents involvement in their life-long learning path.)

I did put in three years of my life, serving in the US Military, to help keep America safe for present and future generations. So, it might be appropriate to ask in return, what have you done (or most teachers for that matter) to keep America safe? Does military service count for anything in your “calculus”, or are the men and women of the US Military just “cannon fodder” to people in the education industry?
> Do know any local schools? Have you ever visited any of them?
Well, yes .. visited every school site in my town, actually.

> I may be older than you

Maybe .. but if you are, it’s not by many years.

> Ravenswood API

Ravenswood’s budget is about $40M this year. What will the taxpayers expect to see in terms of performance for this expenditure? The following is a link to the Academic Score Card for Ravenswood Elementary--

Ravenswood City Elementary

Web Link

API/2010: 688 (800 is “Proficient”)

School In PI Status (Program Improvement Monitoring Active)
---

So .. it’s very hard to understand exactly what this $40M will be achieving. Ravenswood would seem to be a school that might be of interest to “education professionals” to use as a test center for “alternatives” .. since the present methods do not seem to be working.

This series of postings are intended to put some facts and figures on the table, rather than the “hand waving” and innuendo of the “professionals” that seem more interested in flaunting “degrees” (like peacocks flaunt their multicolored tails) than actually discussing the realities of education delivery, costs, and failures to deliver at whatever cost.

People interested in better understanding the issues facing American education are encourage to read the link pointing to the on-line source of: “A Primer On American Schools (2001)” on the Hoover Institution web-site.


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Posted by Mr. Ironic
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

Computers are great but my son is in the ravenswood school dist. and I as a parent am the IT for my sons teacher. Money just isnt there I just hope they dont close my sons school. There even is barely enough money for the after school programs. Plus I almost sure ravenswood teachers dont make as much as their local counterparts.


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Posted by Also There
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

I also attended the Ravenswood School Board meeting as a long-time library volunteer in a Ravenswood school. I would like to highlight that ALL THE RAVENSWOOD COMPUTER TECHS were cut at the meeting, in addition to all the librarians being put on the block -- probably to be cut in two weeks. Thus, whether one has computers or not (I have seen very few), none of them will work in a few months because no one will be keeping virus software up to date and otherwise maintaining the computer environment.

Meanwhile, may I point out that the resource of value that will be removed next week is the functional libraries at Ravenswood that serve the kids. So turning this into a debate on technology or teaching is cruel, self-serving, and ignorant.


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Posted by Wha?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

While we are at it, GDN, what does this have to do with the topic?

"I did put in three years of my life, serving in the US Military, to help keep America safe for present and future generations. So, it might be appropriate to ask in return, what have you done (or most teachers for that matter) to keep America safe? Does military service count for anything in your “calculus”, or are the men and women of the US Military just “cannon fodder” to people in the education industry?"

I sincerely thank you for your years of service. But it has NOTHING to do with the Ravenswood school district.

I haven't looked at all your links (too many to be useful) but I know a teacher in the Ravenswood SD and she gets a pink slip every summer and doesn't know until near opening day if she still has a job. That is not the way to reward teachers for their great service. Oh, kind of like not appreciating our vets. Now I get it! You think teachers, like vets, should get lifetime health care and help with tuition and great loans on housing. Ok, point taken.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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