News

Teachers union defends decision to file grievance against Gunn principal

Union president: Grievance about Schoology, not homework

Citing "misconceptions and misinformation" surrounding the union grievance filed late last year against Gunn High School Principal Denise Herrmann, the Palo Alto Educators Association executive board emailed its members Tuesday apologizing if the controversy had made their jobs "more difficult" or caused any "complications" for teachers at work.

Union president Teri Baldwin confirmed the email message Wednesday after it was posted on Town Square, the Weekly's reader comment forum.

The message vigorously defended the grievance, stating, "If we don't protect our contract, why bother having one?"

"Union values call for collective action and support, which sometimes means we may not agree when a grievance is filed, but we must support the right of the union or an individual to do so. An injury to one is an injury to all," the message said.

Baldwin has said that the union viewed Herrmann's "directive" that teachers use Schoology, an online schoolwork-management system, as a violation of the union's contract. For her part, Herrmann denied she gave a directive but rather that she made a "passionate" request.

Several informal attempts by the union, its Gunn representatives and Herrmann to resolve the conflict since September ended in the filing of the official grievance in November. This followed an Oct. 22 message that Herrmann sent to parents, communicating her expectation that all teachers use Schoology and, one week later, a staff meeting during which she "issued another directive," the union message reads.

Herrmann said her goal was to foster increased communication between students, teachers and parents about students' workloads and have Schoology be the central place where all that information can be found, but some teachers objected to the burden that this would place on them.

"This action had two consequences," the union said of Herrmann's message to parents. "1) It publicly made teachers look bad if they didn't use Schoology and 2) it made public an issue that was being actively negotiated by PAEA and the district during ongoing bargaining talks. In characterizing the issue the way she did, Herrmann violated accepted bargaining practice. As a district representative, her actions influenced a sensitive bargaining issue and caused our talks to stall."

The union's executive board decided to file the grievance after the Oct. 29 staff meeting and was under a 10-day timeline mandated by the teachers contract to do so, according to Baldwin.

Tuesday's message also addresses what it describes as an "unfair portrayal" in a recent Palo Alto Weekly article that revealed the grievance, for which the Weekly had to file a Public Records Act request.

Baldwin told the Weekly Wednesday that she thought the title of the article, "Union rebukes Gunn principal over homework 'directive,'" was unfair because the grievance "was never about homework."

The union felt compelled to write to its members this week – its first official communication with teachers on the grievance -- to dispel any misperceptions about why or how the grievance was filed, Baldwin said.

Comments

74 people like this
Posted by Parent of Student with Dyslexia
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Teachers Union: Please stop objecting to actions administrators, parents, the school board and individual teaches are taking to make the learning experience wonderful for our students. How about proactively coming up with your own ideas and implementing them to address this issue?

A place where a student, teacher and parent can find all information required to meet expectations in school is what I believe schoolagy or any shared site is attempting to be. It is not helpful if only some of the teachers are using a tool that aggregates information into one central place and claims that requiring it's use is burdensome.

I support the notion of bargaining and the use of contracts, yet you are holding use of effective tools hostage to send messages to management at the expense of students.

To me, this behavior is not different than that of a bully.


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm

The most comprehensive, compelling and articulate portrait of teachers' unions since, "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren."


39 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Teachers teach because they would rather tell others what to do? I've seen principals support the teachers more than they should. Now I know why. Hermann is just trying to help her students! Why would a caring teacher not post homework on Schoology? Is the person teaching only for a paycheck? Why should a student who missed class or has questions have to rely on posting the question on Facebook and hope that someone else knows the answer? There are teachers who don't stay after school and who don't answer emails so Schoology is the next best resource for our students. But some teachers don't use Schoology either, which leads to stress for students. When else can a student contact a teacher? After class and get a tardy in the subsequent class? After school and be late to sports practice? Teachers need to be accessible to students who want help, otherwise, they should teach in a school where students don't care about grades.


60 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:06 pm

This union has become detrimental to students' well-being in every sense, emotionally, mentally and academically. Principal Hermann is looking out for everyone involved by coming up with solutions FOR EVERYONE, including keeping parents involved and the union is backing a few lazy teachers. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on this union. This grievance should be withdrawn immediately! Put your time to better use, encourage the resistant teachers to live up to their vocation.


23 people like this
Posted by Elementary was great
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I have been trying not to judge because we so support our teachers, but the letter, posted in full elsewhere, convinced me of everything it says it's trying to dispel.

know how badly behaved certain people in Churchill have been over the past few years, so I wouldn't want to take away from anyone else's power against that. I'm not sure the teachers have had to deal with that the way special ed families and others have, though. Unfortunately what I see is teachers who are powerful enough not to really care what has been done to our families and children and teachers who have simply run with the dishonest biases and petty personal politics infused from above, considering our own experience with retaliation from the district office. But again, this indicates a teaching community that doesn't have to face such things.

We've tried not to judge the teachers, nevertheless, it's hard to deal with the consequences of the fact that teachers support us and our child far less (probably never) than we have stood up for them. They have been at best silent, and at worst, oblivious and insular. Telling our kids about kindness and being upstanders and failing to live it in our experience. (Stand up for some petty contract grievance, but not the health and safety of the kids, or the wellbeing of families they impact.)

All I know is that for the last several years, we've had almost no ability to have dialog to solve problems, emails are almost never answered. How would you feel, teachers, if someone in the district office with a petty political reason portrayed you wrongly to the PTA and all of the parents then believed everything without ever speaking with you, and forever after treated you from an insurmountable bias about you and your character, almost like you were being shunned, you couldn't solve problems, couldn't normally communicate? Now imagine your child being treated that way. And now you expect me to have sympathy about WHAT?!!


124 people like this
Posted by Elementary Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:01 pm

I am a teacher in this district and I am also upset. My union acted without input from it's members. It is defending a handful of teachers who aren't willing to do their job and make changes. The union is not seeing the big picture here. They are not focusing on what is best for children. The union has re-opened this can of worms to "defend" it's actions because teachers are complaining. I am embarrassed by my unions actions. The union exec. board has lost sight of who our clients are: the children.


24 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:10 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

...from the other thread:

I never had much problem with the Union, until they showed themselves to be negotiating AGAINST the best interest of our children.

For example - why is the opposition to Schoology even in the contract?

Our kids are really struggling to get a clear organized view of the s**t-ton of homework every day. Many teachers will not write down the homework on a piece of paper, some don't even bother to write it on the whiteboard. We had a teacher refuse to tell the kids a due date.

It was obvious long ago that some unified calendar-based system was needed to manage the GIANT S**T-ton PILE OF HOMEWORK that teachers created.

Get it? The teachers created this problem:

1) TOO MUCH HOMEWORK
2) NO ORGANIZATION IN THE CLASSROOMS

To follow this with a collective bargaining agreement opposing a tool that might solve the very problem YOU created is just evil.

Is your motivation to make school impossible? Why? Why make a huge problem, then negotiate against the solution? Do you understand that this demotivates kids, and REALLY ratchets up the stress level when they have a huge amount of work they cannot get organized.

When the Union shows collective interest in making our childrens life unbearable, then yes, you are going to get some blow-back.

Never had much problem with the Union. Until they opposed the well-being of our kids. Glad I can see the issues now.

We need to change this system and put the management of schools back under the control of voters.

#RightNow


51 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Dear PAEA: The parents in the community were already painfully aware that many teachers were not using Schoology. You should try navigating several "personal" website and Schoology to try to figure out assignments or test schedules in attempt to plan one's workload. I applaud the efforts of Principal Herrmann for exposing the elephant in the room. It's appalling that PAEA continues to beat a dead horse.

Dear Dr McGee: PLEASE hold the line this year on the teacher contract. The students need to organize their assignments, test dates, classroom resources/documents, useful links to course content, etc. in ONE place. The students also need teachers to keep their grade books current so that they know where they stand. The students should also be allowed to give honest feedback to teachers via current online survey tools that preserve their anonymity, and provide some standardization of feedback as well as free form feedback so that it can be compiled to give an accurate perspective on a class or teacher or...


33 people like this
Posted by Parent of Student with Dyslexia
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:47 pm

After thinking through this more, I have decided to CHANGE my vote on the Parcel Tax. After all, part of the money funds teacher salaries and we have to send a clear message that we will not tolerate this behavior. Teachers have to protest to their own union in order to create a different climate.


16 people like this
Posted by Such bad reasoning
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm

The above is such a bad and destructive argument against Measure A. How is anything going to get better if the district budget is cut 7%? Do you think our kids will benefit from increased class sizes and fewer counselors and fewer reading specialists? Do you think the funds provided by the parcel tax at 7% of the budget are not needed regardless of your opinion of teachers?

Totally agree with asking that Max Mcgee and the school board to hold the line against these greedy teachers. I hope the negotiations go in favor of our kids!

Change the culture of the teachers but don't starve the district of the funds it needs to make things better beyond the teachers. And don't think your kid will be better off if they're suddenly in a classroom with 27 or 32 kids--or more--with these same teachers.


73 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:03 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

Looks like it's time to consider "re-unionizing." When the PAEA Exec Council acts in opposition to teachers and students, it is appropriate to dismantle a decaying structure and rebuild a union shop that shows fidelity to teachers who are in the classroom working with students.

To all my fellow PAEA members - raise a voice for classroom teachers and students and demand that our out-of-touch leadership resign and return their cushy union stipends.

To the PAEA leadership - who are you people? Do you really think that dropping off pastries and coffee after a student tragedy means that you are doing your job? Get real. Between that sorry move and the grievance against one of our own (yes, Dr. Hermann is one of us), I'm just sickened.


23 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@Such:"The above is such a bad and destructive argument against Measure A. How is anything going to get better if the district budget is cut 7%?"


Obviously anyone would understand that less money means less services. The point, however, is somewhat different: If a voter feels that the district is NOT managing the schools, staff and district to the best interest of the students well-being, then a NO vote on Measure sends the message that they need to do so.

Put another way, Measure is a way to point out a grievance to the Union, District, Schools and Board. It is a long-standing grievance that has gone unaddressed. When the Board does not manage the districts to gain super-majority support in the community, then they cannot expect super-majority results in an election.

Had they worked to build community trust over the last 5 years of the parcel tax, they would be in a position to win our vote. They did not.

The Board has not worked to gain our trust.
The District has not worked to gain our trust.
The Principals in some of the schools (Jordan) has worked against individual students and parents.
There are some teachers at some sites that are overloading, pressuring, intimidating and retaliating against students. The Principals, Super, Board are doing nothing about it.

The health, well being and survival of our students is compromised by the appalling lack of leadership in the schools.

The homework policy is unimplemented, and the Union is fighting the use of Schoology to meet the goal of that policy. Not only are they fighting it, but when I read this letter, it is clear they have drawn a Red Line, and chosen Schoology as THE issue to battle over prior to Measure A election.

Of course we know the immediate, short-term impact of No on Measure A (it is small; if you read the analysis, there is very little tangible downside that some economizing will address). But there is literally NO OTHER MECHANISM to get the focus on the issues facing our schools.

The Board cannot continue to ignore parent complaints when the parents stop voting to send money down this rat hole.

No on Measure A.


25 people like this
Posted by Criminy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:08 pm

There simply is NO defense for the Teachers' Union!! They don't have a clue, nor do they give a damn about anything but high salaries.


33 people like this
Posted by Union Maid
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:21 pm

"Our current contract requires secondary teachers to post class materials, test dates, etc. online for the benefit of students. Although most teachers use Schoology, the contract does not require it. Some opt for their own web sites or other electronic means."

This is completely false. The current contract does not say which tool will be used because the selection of the IT tool is entirely within the ordinary management control of the district. The Rodda Act clearly provides that this is not a bargainable issue.

The union is trying to force the district to bargain over a non-bargainable issue [portion removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Gunn mum
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

It was disgraceful for Union to behave this way when our community is experiencing such difficult time! Total lost the confidence in this Union, especially its representatives! It put insult to our wound.


10 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Dear Teachers and everyone online,

I'd like to offer you all my condolences--which unfortunately haven't yet gone out of fashion in the District, or yet run their course--for whatever grief, pain, and loss have touched you this past year.

I think we've all been singed, but I also think that the teachers are some of the closest to the fire, and that for all of you to come faithfully to your classrooms, day in and day out, in the continuing knowledge that you've lost a precious student, someone you'd perhaps been individually devoted to, and in the knowledge that the surviving children in your classroom are expecting your best self every day because that's what they need in order to guide them through their own confusions and terrors --well, your service is devotion above and beyond the call of duty.

It is extraordinary.

It is extraordinary, and you are unlike any other high school teachers in this country at this moment, because as educators only you--many of you already carrying in your hearts the wounds of 2009-10--are now also suffering through that rarest of things, an "echo cluster." I know it's like being robbed of sleep, thrust back into a terrible dream.

Your service through this hardship makes you even more special, more tough, more brave, more understanding--as you bend your care and attention every day to the kids the community sends you, entrusting them to you so the adults can go about their necessary business every day of supporting their families, earning and providing, accomplishing chores and making civic contributions.

You are doing a beautiful thing.

Words are weak in such circumstances; we all know that too well. But still I say: I'm very sorry for your losses.

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (2009-2010)


24 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm

This is exactly why we need to vote NO on Measure A! We need to unite and force a stand with the teacher's union.
Parents, I implore you to exercise your voters' rights and vote for our students!


38 people like this
Posted by Former pa parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Dr. Herrmann is a wise and compassionate woman who inherited a mess. She has the best interests of the students at hand, and given a toxic Palo Alto culture, has been demonized and reprimanded by the teacher's union for "suggesting" they use Schoology. This has been an extremely difficult year in our community. Most teachers are there for the students, but sadly, a handful are not, and the squeaky wheels are getting all the press. Shameful.


22 people like this
Posted by Ferdinand
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Although I have no objections to contracts and their enforcement, it swings both ways. It seems some teachers are picking and choosing which parts of their contract to comply with. For example, while attending a BOE meeting, a parent presented some teacher practices which are a breach of their contract:

1. All teachers are obligated to give students an anonymous in-class evaluation so the students can give their feedback on such important and relevant issues as homework, support, etc. This is probably one of the most important opportunities for students to share their thoughts safely and it is definitely not happening with all teachers. Parents are also supposed to be given the same opportunity but that is of secondary importance.

2. Although some teachers may post grades in their classroom--the contract states that teachers are supposed to electronically post grades every 3 weeks. Personally, I think this is too much work for teachers and needs to be revisited, but the contractual agreement is there and being ignored.

3. Mid-quarter progress warning reports are supposed to be mailed/posted for kids with a current grade of C- or below. Not all teachers are doing this, leaving kids with dangerously low grades for an unknown amount of time to bring the grades up.

If you're going to demand the letter of the contract be followed, be sure that you are following it yourself!


21 people like this
Posted by PAEA power!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Gunn, Terman, and Juana Briones have had a toxic brew of union representatives for years. It's their history. It's our fault that we have turned a blind eye to teachers running the schools and not running them well. Remake PAEA before June. Throw away the donuts and coffee and re-engineer your organization to lead this district in the implementation of the homework policy, do what the principals have not been able to do (mostly because of threats from you) and stand up for students so not another child kills himself. Stop running the principals out on a rail, or to the district office like Katherine Baker. You wasted all your power, all our goodwill, and that whole noble profession thing while earning $100k by trying to put Denise Herrmann in her place. Next time get out your notepads, document a few errant inappropriate comments, and then do your secret vote to leak to various board members and connected parents. But jeez, you tried this clumsy club to the head approach in month three and then doubled-down by not letting a pesky suicide get in your way. Then you made it worse with a public letter blaming Herrmann for your publicity problem. This is not a joke: use the $150k Tabitha Hurley PR hack to draw up a plan to rebuild your brand. She hasn't been one dollar effective with the PAUSD brand, but maybe she could be helpful with PAEA. Whatever you do, don't try the hurt PAEA president routine, I know that's what CTA is going to propose next for you. They checked your letter, didn't they? How could they let you send that out? Teri Baldwin, we know that Kevin Skelly and Triona Gogarty were in charge of PAUSD and PAEA for so many years, but now you have inherited this toxic atmosphere. Gotta deal with it or resign and let someone else. We love you teachers, we support you teachers, but the released documents three weeks ago and now this letter makes all of you stink. Bargain for our kids, negotiate for our kids, and let us parents pressure the board to give you a raise and cover the upcoming health care increase.


12 people like this
Posted by teacher who will step up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm

What you don't hear is that in negotiations the union has been trying to get language in the contract around full inclusion to create a better learning environment and support for all students and the district has said no to that and their focus is all about Schoology and nothing else. Teachers, who are the union, want the district to support a Special Ed program that is flawed, not because there aren't great Special Ed teachers, but because full inclusion was put in place without a plan. We want more time to plan with special ed teachers, to better serve all students. We want more supports in the classroom to support all of the students. That is what the union is really fighting for, to get language in the contract that helps all students. Something we have been asking the district for for years now, yet no help has come. They aren't trying to get rid of Schoology. Apparently, it is too expensive to implement full inclusion properly, so it looks like that that language won't get in the contract. But, don't worry, I am sure you all will get your Schoology, who cares about full inclusion, right?
The union is not a small group of uncaring individuals as everyone is suggesting. The union is all of the teachers and the few we elected to represent us, they are teachers as well. To the teachers who have gone on here and spoken badly about their union, have you stepped up? Have you served on a committee? Have you put yourself in the position that our Executive Board has volunteered for, knowing that they would get public scrutiny, yet still stepped up to represent us? I know I haven't and seeing all of this negativity (to put it very nicely) has made me want to step up and take a more active role in my union. I know that if I am fighting for not only my rights, but for the rights of students, my union will back me up and I am proud of that. I bet those who are saying how disappointed they are in their union won't hesitate to call on them when they have the slightest problem at their school or feel that their administrator violated the contract against them.


34 people like this
Posted by Jesse
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm

My family supports Dr. Herrmann. Teachers need to be using ONE tool to provide information to parents. Schoology works and I hate the fact that some teachers don't use it.

Our vote is no on measure A.


Like this comment
Posted by Hahaha
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:08 pm

[Post removed.]


58 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:13 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

@teacher who will step up

Yeah - I've stepped up, and I've served on committees, offered to volunteer, stood behind Baldwin's leadership, read every communication, voted, and weighed in AND still find I find that our leadership is broken.

Stop the shamming and address the core crisis - we are losing beloved kids and we need to do our part to prevent these tragedies. Without outing teachers and students, I'll confine my comments to this: we CAN do better and we CAN adopt practices (Schoology is just one possibility) that may prevent another reading of the SCRIPT.

Our union should be part of the solution - but when we file grievances and get all hung up on details, we lose our place at the table. I would rather be part of the conversation. What about you?


8 people like this
Posted by PAEA power!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Ok, looks like I was wrong about advising PAEA to not play silent. Teacher who will step up is making it worse. Call her up right now and tell her to not open up the special ed topic. Teachers are trying to negotiate the kids out of their classrooms. They don't want to be responsible to teach them. It gets worse, this is the wrong road. PAEA: regroup and reimagine your power. Your losing this new publicity battle by using outdated tools. Make up a bunch of awards for teachers each month at the board meeting, Max McGee will let you give out certificates right after he gives his out. True, it hasn't made us forget the suicides or PAEA, but it's clever. You are not a bunch of coal miners, you are professionals, refocus on kids, be the good guys.


38 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Reason is a registered user.

From PAEA: "It publicly made teachers look bad if they didn't use Schoology "

This is their biggest worry? Someone making the teachers look bad? Really? At this point in the crisis, you are worried about someone making teachers look bad? I don't think you need any help there - your emails alone have done a fine job of making teachers look bad. Maybe because your actions really are bad. Has that ever occurred to you? Let alone the homework issue, inordinate pressure tactics in the classrooms, and the suicide cluster. I don't think the teachers need help looking bad; you got that covered.


Dr. Herrmann was trying to get the teachers to use ONE tool, so that students have ONE Calendar to consult for the homework overload you guys keep piling on. Allowing each teacher to choose a different web site/tool is a nightmare for the kids. Why don't you get it? Blaming Dr. Herrmann for your recalcitrance is outrageous. Then following up with an "I'm - sorry - the - other - guy - made - us - look - bad" email is not really an apology. It is yet another smear on Dr. Herrmann. And another attack on the students and parents trying to survive in this district.

In fact, by all accounts Dr. Herrmann was trying to keep you from harming yourself. If you want to look good, start doing what she asks. Start implementing Board policy. Start lowering the pressure on students. Start managing the "bad apples" out of the classrooms.

In short, if you want to look good, start doing the exact opposite of everything you are currently doing. You will look much better.


Why would the Union choose Schoology as their Waterloo? This is like a textbook example of how to lose an election. Is this really where you want to draw the Red Line? Start printing the pink slips now...


Vote No on Measure A

Return control of the schools to the voters.
Stop pressure on students.

#RightNow


23 people like this
Posted by No on A
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Money talks. No on A.

Just like McGee and his decision on Zero Period, it is time to take back control from the status quo. Not only are teachers in this district paid well, their kids get to go to Palo Alto schools for free. They don't have to live in the district. Enough.


12 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

It would be interesting to know which PAEA union reps use Schoology.

In every discussion at the High Schools and on these forums, parents complain about the amount of homework. PAUSD even has a homework policy. How about the union propose an immediately effective way to measure the amount of homework and implement PAUSD's homework policy? Without some way to measure homework, the policy is just words no matter how many times it's repeated.


26 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:39 pm

@PAUSD High School Teacher,

Thank you (hugs)


67 people like this
Posted by Support Dr Herrmann
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm

My family supports Dr Herrmann! Thank you Dr Herrmann for your courage and leadership. Thank you!


21 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:34 am

Wow, that letter is kind of appalling--the union board does.not.get.it.

I'm glad to see some of the teachers who have posted here get how bad this looks to those of us on the outside.

Kids matter--their well-being matter. That comes first. It's not even clear that Hermann was violating any sort of contract. The grievance was a union power play that wasn't supposed to be seen by the public when there was education parcel tax up for vote.

I actually consider unions very important, but PAEA's leadership has shown itself to be dangerously self-absorbed and selfish at a time when children's lives are at stake.

So Teacher who will step up: Glad you think we'll get the Schoology that shouldn't have been a negotiating point under the current circumstances. Do it fast enough and you may get that extra chunk of change you want from me and my fellow voters.

See, that's how it works--I'm actually pretty mellow in my offscreen life and I've been amazed how angry and widespread the anger is at the district and the union. Some of those nice parent school-volunteers you count on to get out the Yes-on-A vote? Don't count on them. Don't even count on them to vote yes. Some of them still will, but enough to pass the parcel tax? Not at all clear--because it looks to them like you don't care about their kids as much as you care about having the upper hand with the district.

PAUSD High School and Elementary School Teacher--thank you. I know a lot of you are wonderful teachers and I know you care about our kids.


26 people like this
Posted by Union Maid
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:36 am

Scott Bowers is the problem. He has a conflict in that he is married to a bargaining unit member. He personally benefits from the raises and bonuses he negotiates on. He also has just done a terrible job understanding the legal situation such as the Rodda Act and what is bargainable and what is not.

The union is not entitled to bargain over the IT system that the district uses. That is not "wages, hours, and working conditions" under the Rodda Act -- that is squarely within the management prerogative. The union is entitled only to some indicental costs that might be associated with any transition to the new system.

The law makes it clear that Denise Herrmann was right and Bowers should go. The grievance was totally baseless, there is no basis for the claim that Herrmann violated the contract by asking teachers to use the management IT tool. [Portion removed.]



12 people like this
Posted by Voting Yes
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:44 am

Voting against the parcel tax to "send a message" is the wrong way to make positive change happen. Attend school board meetings, work with your principal, attend site council and/or PTA meetings. Increasing class sizes, cutting programs, reducing counselors does nothing to help our kids - it just increases the stress on the system.

Let's keep our eye on the ball - helping our kids!


13 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:10 am

An Open and Inclusive School Board
Create school board meetings that welcome public participation with focused discussions and reasonable end times.
Redirect spending on lobbying, legal expenses and PR back into the classroom.
Recommit to transparent government by minimizing closed door meetings of the school board.
Make decisions based on data and best practices, with full transparency and open discussion.

Directly from Ken Daubers website. He hasn't been successful in his first few months. Just like any politician . As soon as he's elected he forgets all his promises.....ask the students how they feel about his leadership. Let's see the legal bill. Public participation as long as you agree with him is encouraged. A new school board and the constant turmoil is only worse.



24 people like this
Posted by paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:59 am

Wow. This letter had decisively turned me against the teachers union and against measure a. Nice job, Teri Baldwin.


22 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

I agree ...Its time for Scott Bower to move on. He's been the YES MAN for the last 2 superintendents.


23 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

The teachers are not a sovereign district unto themselves. The Union is trying to keep up that appearance, but let's look at two facts:

1) they chose Schoology as their Waterloo - the Red Line, the battleground for individual teacher rights to do whatever the hell they want, students be damned.

2) they benefit from a Measure A tax which is levied on the district. Not levied on a hundred individual sovereign-teacher districts, but levied on ONE district.


You either face the facts that your money comes from ONE place, and your teachers need to act as ONE system for the good of the students,...or no more money.

Vote No on Measure A.

Schoology is just one of a dozen teacher-sovereignty issues we are facing as a district of voters.

Vote No on Measure A.


18 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:44 am

This has nothing to do with Measure A and those of you using this as your personal platform are just plain wrong. Talk about SPITE.

Measure A renews a community commitment to keep our school district one of the best in the state (because it already is) and has nothing to do with Schoology, homework, Unions, principal's directives, etc. etc. Measure A was put into place to address the drastic budget reductions from state funding, and has made an extreme difference in keeping our District funded. Our amazing school district KEEPS OUR PROPERTY VALUES HIGH.

Voting against Measure A cuts over $13 MILLION from the District budget, which would cut grievously deep into all systems, across all schools, positions, and essential services.

Whether you're Union or non-Union, whether you hate teachers or administrators, whether you have school-age children or not-- doesn't matter. Keeping our District funded and our property values high DOES.

I challenge all of you to put your names on your posts. Stand up and be recognized.


17 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:54 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@Jeanie writes: "Measure A ... has nothing to do with Schoology, homework, Unions, principal's directives, etc. "


Well, yes it does. If you believe as I do that the mismanagement of the schools has directly harmed our kids, then you do not give more money to an organization that has harmed our kids. duh. You want my vote? Earn it.


@Jeanie: "Our amazing school district KEEPS OUR PROPERTY VALUES HIGH."

I don't by this sensationalism. Our property values are derived from many great things about this community. I think you could hardly claim a mismanaged district with a suicide cluster is premier among them. Maybe you could claim test scores help property values, but that is derived from good students, and enrichment and priority from parents. Good parents are attracted to schools with good scores, they bring a focus and student motivation that generates good scores.

If anything the mismanagement of the schools detracts potential buyers from this virtual feedback, and will show a decline in scores as the public realizes the mess created.

@Jeanie writes: "I challenge all of you to put your names on your posts. Stand up and be recognized."

[Portion removed.]

Play nice.

Earn my vote.


10 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

Thanks Jeanie Smith: you are correct. YES on Measure A.

Measure A directly funds 85 teachers & staff. Increasing classroom size to send a message about Schoology seems highly ill-placed and will only negatively impact our children (and YES OUR PROPERTY VALUES TOO).

Yes, the Teachers Union is way out of line with it's attack on Principal Herrmann. But to throw Measure A out in response makes no sense.

And I also challenge all Palo Alto Online users to use their real name. All of this anonymity creates a hostile and unneighborly tone in the forum.


8 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:16 am

YES On Measure A:
Further evidence that Palo Alto property values are significantly impacted by our school system is that the largest Real Estate agents in Palo Alto are supporting Measure A and even allowing phone banking in their offices.

They understand that prospective buyers are very influenced by the quality of our schools.

Again, this does not excuse the Teachers Union but let's not "throw the baby out with the bath water" and defeat Measure A in order to send a message that negatively impacts our kids.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:16 am

Jeanie Smith @ Midtown,

The PAUSD 2014/2015 Budget book shows a budget of $182 Million, of which 60% ($109 million) are spent on schools (principals, teachers, school support staff, utilities, etc).

The other 40% ($73 million) is spent on "other". Please explain, why the first cuts would be teachers, when there are $73 million of "other" where cuts can come from? especially if the school district is prioritizing students & teachers first?


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:16 am

Jeanie Smith @ Midtown,

The PAUSD 2014/2015 Budget book shows a budget of $182 Million, of which 60% ($109 million) are spent on schools (principals, teachers, school support staff, utilities, etc).

The other 40% ($73 million) is spent on "other". Please explain, why the first cuts would be teachers, when there are $73 million of "other" where cuts can come from? especially if the school district is prioritizing students & teachers first?


12 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

@Eva

Yes it's true that real estate agents are the main "reason" that PAUSD overloads children so badly, leading to the highest school suicide rate in California.

Apparently they are willing to sacrifice the health and safety of our children to raise property values.


25 people like this
Posted by Hilary
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

I have had three kids in PA schools and though not perfect Schoology promises to improve kids lives by making the management of homework and assignments easier. Throughout elementary, middle and high school there have been recalcitrant teachers who would not participate in the online school system for no other reason than they did not want to and that principals could not make them. These teachers and the Union that is supporting them are out of step and tone deaf to the best interests of the kids and their parent who are struggling to keep track of assignments and grades. It is embarrassing that other school districts are far ahead of PA on this issue.

I have always supported money for schools had have made substantial PIE contributions as well. I will NOT be voting for Measure A as a protest vote to the Union.


19 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

Oh please...the only reason real estate agents are supporting Measure A is they are worried about their income. The bad publicity this school district is receiving throughout the county hurts their bottom line.


25 people like this
Posted by Schoology Now!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm

For years we have been told that teachers have the right not to use Schoology because is the contract. Now we are finding out that isn't true. Next steps:
1. Issue a directive ordering teachers to use the system universally beginning no later than fall.
2. Apologize to Denise Hermann for forcing her to apologize for doing her job.
3. Compensate teachers for the time required to migrate to Schoology
4. Watch the school board like a hawk to make sure the new contract doesn't cave in to the union demand to bargain over something that is a a management prerogative.
5.Find someone who isn't married to a teacher to negotiate with PAEA. The foxes are loose in the henhouse.


8 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Who are the union reps at Gunn? It would be interesting to check their rate my teacher reviews as well as know how compliant they are with record keeping. I used to be aware of one but she, thankfully, is no longer at Gunn. I wouldn't mind sending personal emails to voice my disgust of their position.

Where does one find the PAEA organizational reporting chart.

Very narrow focus of this letter and just incredulous that they choose this as where to place their efforts and resources.


24 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mum
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I and many Gunn parents support Dr. Herman's call to use Schoology and many things she did to our school! Any of you against using it should try to use some of these teachers website to find out yourself! Many our families tried to find information from their websites: it's so hard, out dated, so little information on it! How do you think we should encourage teachers cooperation by using their own websites which are out of date, inconsistant? Homework/test/project stacking? Do your homework to check out all their websites before you file your grievance!


13 people like this
Posted by Tenured teachers must adapt or go
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

We have a generation gap within the teaching community. In secondary schools, especially in middle schools that serve as the bridge between elementary and high schools, the Old Guard entered service under less stringent requirements and scrutiny than newer teachers. For example, a teacher with a multiple subject credential (generalist - for elementary education) could easily move into a mathematics teaching position that would be reserved strictly for truly qualified, single subject math teachers today. Some of these older teachers are still clueless about the STEM subjects they teach and resent the less experienced but more academically qualified teachers of today. Many veteran teachers also have problem with learning new technology and tools. It's natural, change is not easy. Still, most teachers do their best to change with the times. They are to be admired for their efforts and spirit, and they set a good example for our kids. We experience similar challenges in the private sector all the time. However, in the private sector, we mandate employees to use certain IT tools in order to standardize and improve data exchange and communication. Schools must do the same, and if that means putting this into the contract, so be it. Personally, I think it is ludicrous to base certain school policies such as use of particular software/ cloud services on a contract. Who is the administrative head of the school anyway, the principal or the Union? Also, teachers who are resistant to change need to convince the rest of us why their way is better. Otherwise, they need to move on. There are plenty of enthusiastic, qualified, and innovative teaching candidates out there looking for jobs. And parents who can't wait until particular teachers retire (since they can't be fired for incompetence).


25 people like this
Posted by against teacher bullying
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

One good thing that has come out of this grievance is that we now clearly see what some (I emphasize some) of the teachers really care about. And what they will do to get their way. We also see what Gunn principals have been up against in trying to do the right thing for students. Denise Herrmann has my complete support and clearly the support of most people. Hers was a brave stand.

What does this have to do with bullying? My experience as a parent of two children who went through PAUSD is that mental health concerns take a back seat, again and again, to teachers who dig in their heels and say my way or else. It could be administrative, homework or attendance issues. The child's mental welfare fades into the background if a teacher feels crossed. This behavior has to be recognized for what it is - bullying. When you exert your power inappropriately over someone who is vulnerable -- just because you can -- you are being a bully. It has to stop.


5 people like this
Posted by One teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

@Marc Vincenti:

As one teacher to another, I thank you for your kind, compassionate words, one of the only sane comments made on this thread. You have experience with this and as a teacher I appreciate that you know what so many of us feel. I appreciate a voice of sanity popping up every now and then to remind me that I do not have to completely lose faith in humanity every time I read this forum.


14 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@One Teacher: "remind me that I do not have to completely lose faith in humanity every time I read this forum."


You wanna lose faith in humanity? Have you kid bullied by a teacher every day for a year. Then watch that same teacher retaliate against your kid when you complain. Then watch the Principal backup said teacher.

Faith in humanity exited this situation long, long ago.

What we are trying to do now is put the pressure on the system to:

- admit that it has some very serious problems
- solve those problems

So where do you stand? Denial of problems, or are you on the side of making life better for the students? Part of the Problem or Part of the solution?


21 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

At one point in our history, unions served a useful purpose, especially for those employed as laborers. Over time, this usefulness has turned to relentless greed as representatives continuously work to up the ante contributed by already generous employers. In many cases, this unfettered greed is causing cities all over the country to consider bankruptcy.

The teachers unions are no different. Getting more for members who are doing less than ever before is their mantra. How does any of this benefit the children in our schools?

Perhaps, when the next contract expires the board can choose not to renew and keep on those that want to work without union representation. With the salaries currently paid our educators (just published in the Daily Post), I doubt there would be a mass exodus of teachers or administrators. And,if there was I'm sure that it wouldn't be difficult to attract good teachers from within the state to fill the vacancies. It would also be easier to get rid of the bad apples in the system.

Voting No on A can be the start of a broader message that says we demand accountability from our school board and our teachers.


16 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:29 pm

One Teacher,

I see, everyone who's critical of teachers in this thread is not "sane" and causes you to lose faith in humanity.

Do you even understand why people are angry and frustrated? Do you think there might be any "sane" reason why people in a district that has historically supported its schools would be debating this parcel tax?

Your terms are a means of undermining views that don't agree with yours without actually considering them.

It's disheartening to see how easily you dismiss this. I don't actually *want* to vote against Measure A, but this is sort of attitude that's driving me to do it.


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm

@Bill,
You wrote: "Oh please...the only reason real estate agents are supporting Measure A is they are worried about their income. The bad publicity this school district is receiving throughout the county hurts their bottom line."

McGee's arrival was a chance to solve some real problems here and that chance is waning. The tendency toward cover up and glossing over is only going to make things worse. Covered up problems have a way of festering and coming out explosively, at the worst times. Allow them to get bad enough, and when the proverbial $hit hits the fan, it may no longer be possible to clean it up. THAT would be far worse for their bottom line.

If our school district has a reputation it doesn't deserve for long enough, it may not be able to recover it even when it deserves it again.

My household already voted NO. If the district finally gets the message, works on trust, communication, streamlining its bureaucracy and openness, we will be happy to help ensure any future ask is passed.


19 people like this
Posted by Ha ha ha
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Misconceptions? Seriously? Do you think parents in this town are stupid?

Get your heads into the daylight and use Schoology. Period. If you can't, get help. If you won't. get out -- very, very quickly.

Stop playing your stupid brand of shameless, irresponsible politics with children's futures and lives.

Watch Measure A go up in flames: read ZERO raises.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent of Gunn Alums
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm

@Gunn parent: Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Ha ha ha
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:01 pm

I do agree with one thing Teri Baldwin said:

"An injury to one is an injury to all"

Ms. Baldwin, when you injure one student by not supporting the use of Schoology, you injure them all.


7 people like this
Posted by greenmom/silvia
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Away with the teacher's union! What do they care about their students or anything else? It is only about themselves!!! We do not want those teachers around for our children!! lets keep only the real teachers, we also have those, the ones that care to follow directives to help their children. What a shame, suing the principal because she gives her subordinates a directive!! What do they think they are? That is why Palo Alto High schools are going downhill, families are opting out, and our children are paying the consequences with their lives!


12 people like this
Posted by Hyperbole is not helpful.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Hyperbole is not helpful. Please tone it down. Stick to the facts. Try to bring parties together to solve problems instead of driving them apart by blaming and screaming.

Let's model for our children behavior we want them to learn. Let's, through our actions, give them hope that problems can be solved.

Mistakes were made. Let's put down our torches and armaments and roll up our sleeves. There is work to be done...TOGETHER.


34 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

@against teacher bullying said:

"The child's mental welfare fades into the background if a teacher feels crossed. This behavior has to be recognized for what it is - bullying."

I agree completely. Thank you for stating it so accurately.

I'm very sorry that teachers feel under attack by society. But that doesn't justify the kind of harm that these teachers are inflicting on kids.

Teachers and schools who aren't willing to work within healthy, appropriate boundaries need to quit their profession. We parents are simply not going to this continued abuse our kids with insane levels of stress and homework.

And no, I'm certainly NOT going to "tone it down". Children are dying. I have every intention of yelling, and screaming if needed. That's how democracy works.


19 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

@hyperbole,

You are talking to us like we are children who haven't already made Herculean efforts to work together with people who hold all the power and do not have any reason to work with us. You say, "Mistakes were made." That's interesting. I don't think I have EVER ONCE heard anyone in the District say "I'M SORRY" much less, I'm sorry, we will work to fix this even if it embarrasses me or my colleagues who should have been fired long ago.

I agree with another dad. Kids are dying. I feel like getting in a few people's faces and screaming WHAT THE EFF WILL IT TAKE TO GET YOU TO CARE ABOUT KIDS LIVES MORE THAN YOUR EFFING SELF?!!!!!

Sometimes you have to get angry. If anything, this town is way too calm and polite. Sometimes rolling up your sleeves means taking someone else out to the woodshed. It's long overdue.


29 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Teri Baldwin: You are an embarrassment to the teachers you pretend to represent. "misconceptions and misinformation"? Hardly, you made your views pretty clear, made a complete *** out of your self, and just called more attention to your colossal blunder with this ridiculous rebuttal.

Do the right thing, resign as the disgraced "leader" you have become.


22 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:35 pm

The purpose of government unions is:
1.) to take as much away from taxpayers as possible, and
2.) work to ensure that their members do as little work as possible
3.) protect inept and lazy employees.

The unions do nothing for the people (students) and institutions (schools). Taxpayers (voters) should not bargain with the unions.

After reviewing the salaries (recently published in the daily newspaper) of PAUSD employees, I don't understand how any one would support the parcel tax. How can you justify paying a PE teacher at Jordan $150K per year. The PE teachers show up just before classes start, and bolt out the door at 2:50. Counting summers and breaks, do they even work 9 months in a year. The compensation is absurd.


19 people like this
Posted by 2kids
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2015 at 2:27 pm

It is unbelievable that this is even a topic. If the school board approved the software it should come down as a directive,where are they on supporting the principal. I always thought it was incredulous when my kids were in middle and high that there wasn't a program that everyone had to use. They do it in colleges. We live in the most techie part of the country and the school district can't come together on one program to use throughout the district to communicate with the students and parents. CRAZY


12 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Many students do not look at Schoology according to what I have heard from the student and teacher community. Can Palo Alto ever dispense with the "elephant in the room," and ever deal with the real issue (s) ?


6 people like this
Posted by Annonymous 2
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Umm...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2015 at 10:55 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:51 am

The union, the teachers, and the school district are all missing the message. Palo Alto voters showed their displeasure by voting in "residentialists" to replace "traditionalists" who were seen as favoring the developers over residents' interests. Citizens felt their protests about traffic and monster houses were ignored by the city council. The voters could do the same with Measure A, since they feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously by the teachers, union, and school district. The voters could also elect new school board members who will effectively address their concerns. The citizens support our schools. Do not leave them no other option.


5 people like this
Posted by I don't understand
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

Why i the Union singling out the Gunn Principal? Trying to eat a young?
Why is McGee not having her back and putting himself between her and the Union? It is a DISTRICT wide policy after all, not Ms Herman's personal agenda. I don't understand.
And I think Unions have their place supporting in the weakest in a society, but teachers unions (and many others) have their very own agenda. I wish the teachers would trust in their value and skill and vote the Union out. I never supported my union and their agenda, it just doesnt feel right or even ethical anymore.


20 people like this
Posted by PAEA power!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

PAEA is not singling out Denise Herrmann, it is their role to quickly train and suppress the new principal into submission to the mob. I think Herrmann responded as any rational leader would do when one child killed himself: with action. But action or change frightens PAEA to its core, thus they saw this grievance to the end, nothing mattered with making their point, not suicides. PAEA pressure has been responsible for every principal firing or change in the last few years, and PAEA should openly take responsibility for it, after all, it's power they wanted.


6 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Observer,

The point of everyone using Schoology is not that all students will look at it, but that it will be easier for the district to assess homework loads and see whether the schools are in compliance with the district's homework policy.

I suspect that has something to do with the attitude of the union. If the information can't be gathered, then teachers can't be monitored or told to amend their ways.

I'm still holding onto my ballot in hopes that the union pulls its act together, but I think they don't get it.


7 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

No OPar, the purpose of Schoology is to indeed have students log into it and check to see if they have homework.Also to have parents log into it and spend time on it so when the parent/ teacher conferences roll around they could have answered their own questions about why Little Jhonny isn't up to par. I love all these students who know how to Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram but when you tell them to go check Schoology they can't be bothered. Bu let's make that the cornerstone of anger. Smh.


9 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Teacher,

It's both. More than one thing can be true at one time. Please don't blame kids for being kids. Immaturity is to be expected of them.

To those of us who work in the private sector, the balking at using a new data system by teachers looks absurd. The rest of us expect to change systems every couple of years. So the petulance over using Schoology looks, well, childish.

Except that children are more flexible and adaptable.

You want my money? Quit grousing and get on board. I suppose you could quit and stomp off, but in the private sector, you *will* be expected to update your computer skills on a regular basis--because that's how it is for the rest of us.


7 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 4:23 pm

OPar-
You can't have it both ways either.
But I do use Schoology. I use it to post homework, update the class, archive content, test preparation, I project so kids can see changes, I use it like the well oiled machine it was intended for. And then I hope and pray that beyond the 18 or so kids that use it like they're supposed to the other ones can get off their phones or texting saga long enough to check it out. Using the same arguments I've seen here I too am baffled when in the epicenter that is Silicon Valley in 2014 I still have parent conferences with these highly educated NASA types whereas the first thing I ask them is "Do you have a parent Schoology account?" Then the awkward silence begins...........I love your comment. So simple, yet so telling of this new age parenting style. "Please don't blame kids for being kids". That's code for : "I expect you to parent my kid on your watch and I'm going to let them be their own person on my watch and then blame you when that doesn't work out for me".

Btw- one thing we can agree on: The teachers that don't use Schoology are nicely exposing themselves. Matter of time .


10 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I'm so tired of the negativity, it's so depressing and it starting to suck the soul of the school community. Good teachers and good parents need to come together for the common good of all and communicate and solve these problems grass roots. I'm down OPar- how about you? Let's start a parent/teacher group and show everybody how it's done and model it for these kids.....


10 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@ teacher - chin up! My kids use Schoology when I ask them to; no fighting or moaning about it. Often they use it themselves.

The one with ADHD views it as a Godsend! They use the calendar all the time.

I use it too.

Great tool. Thanks for using it.

Now let's make the tool more useful by getting the calendar filled in by all the teachers.

I feel the best way to fast track Schoology out of the fever swamp of union bargaining is to Vote No on Measure A.

If you kick them hard enough in the nuts, eventually you will get their attention. Our board may be slow and dense, but the money nerve centers still fire sometimes.

NO on Measure A!

(and it will give them about a year to get Schoology working before the next Measure hits the voters)


5 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Someone said that colleges use centralized systems like Schoology... not quite. Some professors use the *centralized* website, but it's very common at least at my college to have individual webpages or blogs for each class which are updated with work and the like -- even more common than it was in my time at Paly! And I actually prefer these other sites because I believe the way that the centralized site is organized is annoying, but that's not particularly relevant.

And to everyone: please consider that some of the teachers not using Schoology have their own websites which may be more aesthetically pleasing to students or allow for plugin features that Schoology doesn't.

Also, to check, when you say "calendar" do you mean the sidebar where it lists days and assignments? Because while I agree this can be useful, if individual monthly calendars are online and a child cannot aggregate the data I don't think that means we need to implement Schoology more I think it means we need to teach organization skills.


6 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm

I hear you Reason, I do. The problem with Schoology is at the same time the board was pushing Schoology it was also pushing the use of LibGuides and Google Sites as well. So you had people spend all summer building a beautiful site that wasn't Schoology at the same time the board neither mandated or allocated time to mandate Schoology. The result is this mess. The sad reality is that money talks- the next step will be having teachers look at the calendar and view the days we are all assigning tests and or homework on the same day. Grading homework I just looked and some of my students have 6 pieces of homework due on the same day. With the new bell schedule coming down the pipeline this will be the opportunity- let's put some of these math statistics people in the community to work and figure out how we can spread it out.


10 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@C: you should look at the schoology calendar. I am sure someone in the district can show it to you. It is a graphical representation of a calendar that looks like... well, a calendar. With today's day highlighted. It shows all projects, tests, papers. If the data is entered. You can click on the items and a little popup shows what is the assignment.


It is nothing short of modern.

I know the tool is clunky, and I don't doubt there are other tools that may be better. However I have also looked at the individual web sites - some are good. Some are crap. NONE will give an integrated calendar, no matter how hard they try.

Here is the other thing about Schoology - some teachers have placed links on Schoology to their own websites. So you can get background info, and supplementary info there, with little work. But the main stuff should be on Schoology, otherwise it is not an aggregation site for students.

That is the critical part that is misunderstood. The ability to aggregate and organize homework, projects, tests is priceless. We just don't have to play "Guess the assignment" anymore. That never worked, and frankly your teachers are pretty bad at it. Unwritten assignments, unreadable stuff on the board, verbal assignments shouted out as the bell rings, missing handouts, and teachers who refused tell the due-date. (Yes, this kind of bullshit passive aggressive stuff happens in your schools). This tool solves those problems. Like literally, it compensates for so many teacher shortcomings I cannot begin to tell you how important this is.

That is why I am voting NO on MEASURE A.

I believe that with enough swift kicks to the monetary nuts, board members like Camille Townsend will 'get it'. She may be dense, slow, old, outdated, incapable of change, and outrageously hateful of the middle students. But her last remaining nerve cells still crave our money. Even she will understand when we Vote NO on Measure A.

Her humanity may be gone, but her checkbook needs us.

... and I'll donate $758 to PiE, on a commitment to Jerry U.


9 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

With the intention of creating goodwill, consider this: Schoology is an imperfect LMS (learning management system) that was rolled out to the secondary teachers without initial training and without ongoing support - no Valley industry would ever make such an error and we (teachers) overlooked that fatal shortcoming in the best interest of our students, teaching ourselves the basics in a District IT environment that has, until recently, been fairly hostile to classroom teachers.

Let's all assume that classroom teachers, working with variable and high-need adolescents every day, are integrating ed tech as quickly as humanly possible. I assume that my students' parents are doing their very best, despite what their children say. Can we find some common ground?






8 people like this
Posted by Entering Paly
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:20 pm

To you teachers that are now contributing - where were you before this became an online talk? Can we agree the union is not efficient - can we agree many of us parents (PTA Parents, PiE Parents) we support you, and we could not thank you enough! Can we agree that the system is broken? We love our kids, we cherish what you bring to our children, and yet...come on, please help us all.

NO to Measure A!


3 people like this
Posted by PAEA power!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:21 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher does not speak for all teachers, in fact she or he speaks for her or himself. Only Teri Baldwin or the executive board speaks for all teachers, and they did just that earlier this week when they blamed Denise Herrmann for making teachers look bad. Also, so many assumptions! And they blame Schoolology, the PAUSD hostile IT department, and parents. Are teachers the only saints in this community? The above posting takes the same, if not worse, tone as the executive board letter. This is getting worse.


4 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:49 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

@PAEA power!

Wow, Dude! Really?

Blame in my post? No, just a request to find common ground. Teachers, like other employees, must regularly update their skill set AND doing so in the context of working with young people daily, stretches all of us. I meant no more, no less. No blame, just context

If you can't do empathy, try compassion. I don't really have a dog in this fight. My children attended neighborhood schools (not PAUSD) in their home town and this has been best for our family. I trust that Palo Alto families will make similar choices about what is best for their children, just as we have.

Interestingly, word on the street from Measure A supporters seems to indicate that a good number of PAUSD families are not eligible to vote. So, should Measure A fail, it may be more of function of the base than any dissatisfaction with the schools. Maybe it's not the schools - maybe it's the community (?)


21 people like this
Posted by Not ur dad's PC
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm

@all the “everyone needs to use Schoology” crowd

I teach these kids. I love them to the moon and the stars and back, every single one of them, including the ones who push my buttons, because they are teaching me more about myself than I could ever possibly hope to learn doing anything else. Some of them are geniuses and are probably hacking your PC at home better than the NSA, which is why they can use Uber with your AmEx card to go party during school hours. Some of them don’t understand the first thing about the fundamentals of tech (“Where is the file? Is it in Documents? Is it on Google Drive? Is it on the desktop?” “I don’t know. It’s on the computer somewhere.”) but are aces at posting goofy pics to Instagram and Snapchat, and playing games. Some of them don’t care. Some of them can’t be bothered. Some of them are far too busy with their phones to pay attention to anything except what Chelsea said to Simone and why Brian is being such a jerk and omg did you hear what Haley did last weekend at Sophia’s house? Some of them don’t have computers at home, so all of this just sails right by them, and that particular little gap of inequity continues to grow and widen. Some of them have parents who do not monitor a single thing they do online and then wonder why the kids are spending 4 hours per night “doing homework”, and in a brilliant feat of circular reasoning the parents then become enraged with the schools and the teachers because they must be the ones making the children miserable by forcing them to do 4 hours of homework per night.

I use Schoology. I have been using it since day 1, when everyone called it “Schoolology”, which was a real tongue-twister and had everyone wondering why the hell anyone would name their software so awkwardly. Schoology is just sort of “meh”. Sometimes it’s so slow you would swear their servers must be located next to a wormhole in orbit near Saturn, sometimes it doesn’t work, it’s not integrated with the grading system, it has a crappy calendar, it’s not integrated with IC, it’s kludgy and awkward and sometimes completely counterintuitive. It tries really, really hard to be Facebook, but the problem there is that Facebook is old now and it’s populated by oldsters like you and me so the kids moved on years ago. If I open a comment thread for my class in Schoology I almost inevitably have to go in and spend time deleting a horde of off-topic, inappropriate, inane, “lol” “rofl” comments and animated gifs and imgur links that fill the thread, at which point the entire thing dies and none of the kids comment anymore because cheese it, the teacher's here. What a great use of my time and theirs. Welcome to my world. So I engage them on Instagram with a school-centric account, which sometimes works, but I’m a boring old teacher so in the long run I don’t actually have a lot of traction there. There are things about their world that are opaque to you and me, and it has ever been thus.

I was building my own customized PC boxes before any of my students were even born. I am technically adept, competent, able to adapt to and learn new software quickly and usually pretty easily, and I don’t really have a problem with Schoology. But I do not rely on it and I am just biding my time before the next shiny new tool comes along that captures the attention of the “right” person and we all have to switch again. (We’ve been down this path before - it was called “InClass”. There are also Google Drive and Google Sites to contend with, both of which are also running in the stretch here and have had equal weight at one point or another, depending on who you talked to.) I understand what is going on here at some serious depth and I CAN GUARANTEE YOU THAT SCHOOLOGY IS NOT GOING TO RESOLVE THE ISSUES WE HAVE WITH STUDENT STRESS. It has become “The Great App Hope”, some sort of miasmic mantric mirage that the angry horde has decided will be the shining, happy, bowl-of-Cheerios miraculous answer to all of our problems. That is tremendously short-sighted and shallow thinking. The software is not the issue. It’s much deeper, more systemic, and much more complex than that. It goes to the culture of Palo Alto and the valley, the economic uncertainty of our times, family values, unspoken messages to children about what success is, fear, uncertainty, the fraught college admissions process, status, money, yada yada yada. You can shout and holler and blame and name-call and union bash all you want, but it’s not going to change the fact that SOFTWARE WILL NOT SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. And to think that it will is just fallacious, wishful thinking.


11 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

@Not ur dad's PC

Could not have said this better - thank you.


14 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@PAUSD High School Teacher writes: "teachers, ... are integrating ed tech as quickly as humanly possible. ...Can we find some common ground?"


Go down the hall and learn from someone who has already picked it up. That is what I do when my company overlooks training. It happens all the time. To bad. Schools are a learning environment - learn.


'Can we find some common ground?' Sure. Here is common ground: get it done.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but you have had like 3 years to get this done. We are long since out of patience, and EVERY complaint just sounds like a thinly veiled stall tactic.

We have had enough stall tactics. If you want Measure A to pass, if you want to reestablish trust with the community, if you want to do what is best for students, if you want our money, just f***ng get it done. Do it tonight.

You see, there is an analogy here that I think is insightful - every week we get some [portion removed] assignment which was not taught in class, and a giant weekend project that is due. You know what we have to do? We get it done. We call a friend, we search online for a video, we go to Khan academy. You could go to Schoology's web site and figure it out:

Web Link


You see, the teachers treat our children this way, I find it appalling and outrageous that you cannot lift a finger to teach yourself. It is literally an outrage of hypocrisy.

Treat yourself like you treat your students: you are 3 years late. Zero. Detention. Now get it done.

It is Saturday night. At this point, we would have cancelled the family dinner, cancelled tomorrow's movie, and sent you to your room to work until midnight to get it done. [Portion removed.] Put your iPhone down and get it done.

How is this analogy working? It is everything teachers ask of parents. Tables turned and all that. But that is literally our life every single stinking weekend.


18 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@Not Ur Dad: "I CAN GUARANTEE YOU THAT SCHOOLOGY IS NOT GOING TO RESOLVE THE ISSUES WE HAVE WITH STUDENT STRESS."


Yes, it will. Stress is made of a lot of issues. We have dozens of things to fix, So get this one thing done tonight.

"I am just biding my time before the next shiny new tool comes along "

Yes, we know. It is a stall tactic that is widespread among staff.

But you see there are dozens of things that need to be improved, and you won't work on ANY of them. If a solution consists of a number of interlocking parts, and you drag your feet on every one of them, then viola! nothing done.

How can you then claim to be part of the solution? You cannot.

And you cannot get my money.

No on Measure A


11 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Reason is a registered user.

... which is yet another reason proving why site-based (mis) management doesn't work.

The board abdicated oversight years ago, and each teacher is treated as a sovereign district beholden unto themselves.


The fact that they WON"T work to get a unified tool in place is just further proof that the system is unmanaged and undeserving of our money, our vote, our patience, and our respect.

[Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by PAUSD High School Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm

PAUSD High School Teacher is a registered user.

@ Reason

[Portion removed.] I have used whichever LMS (Schoology/InClass) the district has brought on-board. As an early adopter, hands-on, fully engaged teacher, my posts have sought to build empathy and the subsequent bridges we'll need to build in order to keep our kids safe and ensure their long-term well-being.

Please re-read my posts - no excuses, just context. Understanding the other guy's perspective is the first step in finding common ground AND that common ground is our students' best interests.


12 people like this
Posted by Not ur Dad's PC
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:38 pm

@ Reason:

[Portion removed.] Your broadsides are toxic to this forum and I will no longer spend any time responding to you, because your rage has clearly blinded you to any attempt to actually reason. [Portion removed.] It is surely as toxic to your child as any struggle they are going through at school. You have lashed out at PAUSD High School Teacher, at me, and at others on this forum for no discernible reason other than blind anger. I am sorry you and your child have had such a difficult time, but your fulminations here are doing absolutely nothing to help.


12 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:56 pm


The community should be ashamed at the tone of the discourse. It is impossible to have a discussion because of the bullying. Schools are genuinely trying to tackle the problem, however; the comments posted by the adults (parents) only serve as a reminder that if they do not "grow up," then their kids will not take in the message the schools are trying to teach.

If you have a disagreement, state it without the hatred and anger.


7 people like this
Posted by PAEA power!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Looks like the anger is coming out, and that's not a bad thing. People are angry. If one is not going to respond to someone, just don't respond. The lie of site-based management led to many classrooms being vastly different from many other classrooms. PAEA has enjoyed unchecked power since the arrival of Kevin Skelly in 2007, peace was needed after a messy, ugly breakup between Mary Frances Callan and our principals, but the suicides in 2009-2010 were major red flags for PAUSD. Then the 2012 public records act gave us our first glimpse into the dysfunction. 2014-2015 has been exceptional in that Max McGee came in like a showman trying to sell us a monorail, he thought he was following an unpopular first-time superintendent, and he, like most of us, did not anticipate a fresh batch of suicides. I support McGee more than ever, but the released documents showed that he was nowhere near assertive enough with Teri Baldwin and the other watchdogs of the principals last fall. In short, he blew it. It was an easy call for McGee to get rid of zero period. He has too much experience to not take immediate action. He has a lot farther to go, though, to fix this district. Apparently without public records act requests and this Town Forum, we would still be cheerleading our district ranking, our admissions to top universities, and our new multimillion dollar buildings. I see that some PAEA posters are already spinning an eventual parcel tax renewal failure on folks who can't vote. Frankly, I think the loss is far from certainty, so save the spin, PAEA, and redirect your energies towards repackaging all the good things that Palo Alto teachers are, and simply get a public relations scalpel and cut away all the bad things. Yep, PAEA has bad things, as the revealed documents and executive board letter show. Pretend they didn't happen and move on. Stay off the Town Forum, don't email, and include one special effort PAEA is doing for PAUSD students in every board meeting appearance and any other communication.


8 people like this
Posted by We Are Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:05 pm

I would like to thank both PAUSD High School Teacher and Not ur Dad's PC for participating on this forum and sharing their thoughts, ideas, and insights from the trenches. I am also tremendously grateful to them and to the many other teachers like them in the district who care for our children, who teach them and watch after them every day of the school year. These men and women are our partners. They are part of our children's village. Many, perhaps most, of them deserve respect. We need to keep the lines of communication open - there should be NO us and them. There needs to be a village gathering to protect, defend, and support our children.

As PAUSD High School Teacher has already stated, not all teachers are in agreement with the PAEA. Some teachers are actively working for positive change at the school sites. There is enough problem here for all of us to accept some responsibility. We are all in this together. Let's all pull together for our youth.

I am reminded of something my parents taught me - where you stand depends on where you sit. A good thing to remember as we all exchange ideas with one another.


15 people like this
Posted by Union mmaid
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:09 pm

Yes that blind rage is what PAEA has driven us to. I sincerely hope measure A fails since I am confident it will be blamed on the union. 13 million is a message even this idiot board and narcissist superindent cannot miss.

What a circus.

No.


3 people like this
Posted by Hard Time Believing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:29 pm

@ PAUSD High School Teacher

While I am sure we have some parents in the district who are not citizens, and therefore not eligible to vote, I have a hard time believing there are enough of them to decide an election. Besides, not voting is better in this case than voting NO, so the important thing is that the voters who are really in favor of Measure A vote yes and turn in their ballots on time. To my mind the problem for Measure A supporters is not the people who don't vote it's the people who vote no.

Additionally, I would like to add my voice to the people who have requested that if you do vote no on the parcel tax, please email the District offices or the Palo Alto Weekly to tell them (anonymously) WHY you voted no.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:48 pm

>> "a good number of PAUSD families are not eligible to vote."

856 PAUSD students of the 12,532 total are non-resident.
I assume their parent(s) were not sent ballots. Anybody know for sure?
That's about 7%, which can be a significant part of the required 67%.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm

856 PAUSD students of the 12,532 total are non-resident.

What are you saying? Are these non residents of Palo Alto? Are these teachers' kids? Are these illegal immigrants?

PAUSD do a lot to check residency. If we have over 856 students whose residency is in doubt this is not the place to discuss it.

If we are talking about citizenship and eligibility to vote, there are probably a lot of non US parents who have kids born in the US. I doubt very much if PAUSD knows how many parents are US citizens or not, or just one parent who is.

However, presumably those who own homes are property tax payers and parcel tax payers. They are stakeholders in this issue regardless of whether they can vote or not.




Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Sorry, I thought we were all on the same page by now.

PAUSD 2014-15 Budget Book page 43 table entitled "Non-Resident Students"
Students of District Employees: 220
Regular Interdistrict Transfer Students: 16
Voluntary Transfer Program Students: 620
Total Non-Resident Students: 856

Nothing is said or implied about citizenship.
A map of the district boundary appears on page 41.


23 people like this
Posted by NO!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2015 at 7:53 am

I think everyone is missing the point here. Schoology was evaluated and approved by teachers, administrators and student representatives years ago. Teachers were even trained on Schoology. So it is totally irresponsible for teachers to come back after years and state that Schoology is not adequate. How can you explain this to your students? Most public and private schools use a class management system. Why are we having such a big problem?
It is a joke to make anymore excuses!


31 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:12 am

@observer said

"The community should be ashamed at the tone of the discourse."

I disagree completely. The level of discourse is completely appropriate to the situation. We have child after child who has committed suicide. This is a civic emergency, the school district is in very serious trouble (potentially legal trouble) and the teachers and administrators are in denial.

We need to break through that denial. We need urgent action and heads rolling.


13 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:20 am

@Reason said:

"Yes, it will. Stress is made of a lot of issues. We have dozens of things to fix, So get this one thing done tonight."

Excellent comment, direct on the mark.


3 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Teacher,

You know *nothing* about my kid or my parenting--so quit jumping to conclusions.

You use Schoology--great. So maybe you can get the half of the Gunn teachers who don't to start using it.

Because, let's face it, if *all* the homework is on Schoology then it's more likely people will use it because it will, in fact, be more useful.


7 people like this
Posted by Gunn Junior
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Schoology isn't perfect. It's clunky and limiting. It's a great tool to post what the homework assignments are and tests dates on, but further than that it has issues. If they're not using Schoology, all teachers at Gunn have some sort of website. These websites, usually Google Sites, are great. My math teacher has one of the best Google Sites in the entire district, and my friends who are in the same class but have different teachers frequent his website for lecture slides, homework pdfs, etc. Migrating all of those materials to Schoology is already challenging enough, but let's put that aside since the counter-argument here seems to be "DO YOUR JOB TEACHERS WE PAY YOU FOR THIS". As a student, turning in assignments on Schoology doesn't always work. I've had problems with certain file types, especially audio files, for which Schoology does not have a "record audio" option which is necessary to have for, let's say, a Spanish online oral exam. The point is, we all don't like teachers who don't have any sort of online presence. But it is simply not a reality at Gunn; every teacher has an online presence. Every teacher posts their homework schedule, every teacher posts their test dates. Every worksheet I've ever had in my 2.5 years at Gunn so far has been online in one form or another.


3 people like this
Posted by teacher organization
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:43 pm

Gunn Junior,

It could be ANY tool.

The teachers could lead and decide what system works better. Whatever it is, it needs to be

1) used consistently by all teachers

and

2) have a way to track homework levels

The excuses are to resist #2, and resisting this should be cause to not give any raises in the future.


4 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2015 at 11:20 pm

O'Par-

I use Schoology but I can't go around with a clipboard monitoring my colleagues who don't. That's the board's job. Just like it's not your job to take time out of your private sector job day to expose the asinine ninnies at your job. So write the board a letter, vote no on Measure A because you wrote it 20 times now and practice some free speech. Conversely, you don't know *anything* "anything" or is it ANYTHING about me either. The only thing you know about me is that........I use Schoology.In fact, I updated it all day. Peace out brotha.


Like this comment
Posted by let action flow from the students and teachers up
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:41 am

The question was raised:
"Why would a caring teacher not post homework on Schoology?"

Because, Schoology is stupid. This being Palo Alto, the teachers have developed better, more appropriate websites, by listening to the students. The Union offered to mash the individual websites with Schoology, but no, the principal must have her way. The PAUSD administrators believe anything they have not paid for to commercial for-profit companies is useless. The rest of the world knows that things developed locally, bottoms-up, is more effective.

just like the administrators and the School-board believes that bullying has to be fought by employing a lot of lawyers and writing a lot of prescriptive text, instead of, like most other western countries, having small groups (20-30) of students being together most of the time. That is, a real class with a real home room and a real home room teacher who knows the kids. They are together in as many subject classes as possible, go on trips together, develop a group dynamic. Those students then defend the "odd balls" among them (nerds, autistic, you have it) against outside bullying, and from experience, do not have inside bullying.

Ugh, not invented in Palo Alto. But see here, how such attitude fits into a low-ptessure effective system
Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:21 am

@let action flow from the students and teachers up

The school is suffering a rash of suicides. Letting "action flow from the students and teachers up" has been failing for years.

At this point, both from a liability standpoint and from a moral standpoint, there is no way in heaven that we can afford to let this continue. We need urgent and emergency action. That includes:

-- No on A. You don't give more money to people who have already failed so badly
-- McGee resigns
-- Other emergency measures to preserve the future of the school.


7 people like this
Posted by Union Maid
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:08 am

@let action wrote "Because, Schoology is stupid. This being Palo Alto, the teachers have developed better, more appropriate websites, by listening to the students. The Union offered to mash the individual websites with Schoology, but no, the principal must have her way. The PAUSD administrators believe anything they have not paid for to commercial for-profit companies is useless. The rest of the world knows that things developed locally, bottoms-up, is more effective."

[Portion removed.] The PAEA is endangering Measure A because it is full of people like this person who just won't want to do their jobs and don't care about what parents want. Schoology was SELECTED BY TEACHERS. There was a committee, it was staffed by the district and included TEACHERS. This was supposed to be a great tool. It replaced a different systems you also refused to use and did not like.

There is a 10 year history of trying to get teachers to just use the tool that will work for the majority of students.

Now you are claiming that the tool you yourselves picked is also not the right one.

Parents have had it. We are fed up. We want to fire about a third of you. This is an outrage and your obvious contempt for Denise and the parents of this community speaks for itself.

I believe in unions for farmworkers and Walmart employees. This isn't a union negotiation it's a hostage crisis. We need the SWAT team.



10 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:24 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@ 'Let action flow' - brings up a philosophy that really encapsulates a very high level dysfunction in our schools - the model of governance itself.


There are three levels of school management that we could imagine:

District, Site, and Teacher.

When all management flows from ONE place, we get issues. When the District dictates ALL matters (literally writes the individual class lessons) then we have a model called TOP-Down. It is uniform, consistent, but has drawbacks of low innovation

When the Teachers control ALL matters (literally, all matters, even systemic issues between sites, classes, departments, community) then you have the Snowflake model. Every teacher gets to decide what is right for the community, and every student has to adapt to every unique decision on every aspect of their schooling as differntly applied by every teacher.

Site-based is somewhere in between.

Today, our Board told the voters "we have a site-based model" without really checking that they do. In effect, they abdicated to the sites, without giving sites any authority to manage teachers. Union contracts are negotiated at the District, so Sites have little to do with managing classrooms, teachers, quality, or complexities of the system.

So we have a Board that effectively abdicated authority to a Snowflake model.

That is self-evident from the very clear positioning of teachers posting to this subject. They are actually offended that anyone even have an opinion on classroom issues, muchless admit that someone has authority over them.

But, keep in mind the Voters have authority over the whole mess, and should consider voting NO to put an end to the Snowflake model where each teacher sets their own rules.

Here are the problems with the Snowflake model:
- there is no effective board policy. All policy is optional/advisory to the teachers.

- there is no accountability to voters. The teachers do whatever they want.

- there is no accountability to the students. When one teacher decides to make a web site that doesn't include class handouts, or doesn't include this weeks assignment, there is no fixing it. They are unique snowflakes and cannot be questioned.

- there is no concept of an integrated system. There are literally no system-wide controls in PAUSD today to address issues that are systemic:

-- integrated calendars, so students can go to one place to find due dates
-- integrated solutions for test stacking - THE NUMBER ONE STUDENT STRESSOR
-- end-to-end coordination of curriculum. The writing in this district is a mess because Middle and High school don't talk. Neither do classes within each school. Neither do teachers within a department. IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SNOWFLAKES TO COORDINATE. In fact, they resist it. It means a loss of sovereign rights of teachers.
-- Consistent homework policy is not applied across teachers.
-- Consistent grading policy is not applied across teachers.
-- Consistent discipline policy is not applied across teachers. And none are accountable to the site, district or board. For example, we have seen homework overload, with disorganized teachers failing to handout clear homework instructions and due dates. Then the resulting grading policy dictates a ZERO upon student failure, which was then followed with disciplinary DETENTION for late homeowrk. The teachers in Jordan were criminalizing homework in an environment they created to fail the students.

This is probably the biggest issue with the Snowflake model: cruelty arrises both intentionally, and unintentionally within a school where the students are in "a system" but the teachers are not in that "system". The kids cannot choose not to go. The kids cannot change teachers to get some that line up. They have to eat whatever is dished out across all teachers.

Some teachers bully, intimidate, pressure and overload students. Some create so much chaos in class that the students are setup for failure. There is no oversight in a Snowflake system.

Some teachers are well meaning, but inadvertently create stress because they are not presenting a coordinated user experience to the students. A common calendar is one small example. There are many others - why are some teachers allowed to teach very poorly, while others teach clearly? Why are some allowed to overload homework while some have thoughtful homework?

It is the snowflake model.

We do NOT have a site-based model. These issues are not managed at a site. They are not coordinated among teachers within a site. Our model is every man for himself and the Devil take the hind-most.

Time to start managing the teachers. Sure, as you see above, some will not like it. They don't recognize that their independance is coming at a cost of student stress, pressure, hospitalization, and student lives.

But the Voters recognize something MUST change. Let's start by changing the model. Some attributes of the school MUST be owned by the District, some MUST be owned by the Sites, and some can be owned by the teachers. But this needs to be defined in a way that is BEST for STUDENTS.

The Snowflake model puts teachers first, and often Students last.

Vote No on Measure A.

Send a message that this must change!



5 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 10:21 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

...some further thoughts on the Snowflake model that need to be considered when defining a real system.

Today there are no checks-and-balances.

The IS have no authority over the teachers, and are effectively managing their peers. It is an awkward position that lacks authority both explicitly, and implicitly they find it difficult to enforce a classroom department issue.

The Principals largely do not exert authority over the teachers, because these are the same teachers who have all the power (due to district contracts), and these are the staff that the principal has to rely upon for future work. It is too cozy a relationship to expect any real management of issues.

We can see this in the Union Grievance filed against Dr. Herrmann - she cannot manage something that is clearly an issue that spans across teachers and departments. There is no check-and-balance to ensure issues get solved. When all power is assumed by the teachers and Union, there is no possibility that systemic issues will be managed.

Any remake by the Board to actually migrate from a Snowflake system to a Site-based system must have checks and balances to ensure that checks are put in place to ensure not only do Principals have authority over site-based issues, but also ensure that Principals exercise that authority.

What would this look like in practice? Well there would need to be some oversight of the Principals to ensure they are enforcing site-based systemic issues. Principals who are not should be evaluated, and disciplined for failing to exercise their authority.

Issues that are legal, or involve student safety are District managed. The district must enforce these issues on the sites, and teachers directly. Failure to do so must also be evaluated and disciplined by the Board. However the Board in general has too cozy of a relationship with the District. I would create a policy oversight committee that can hear community complaints, and adjudicate issues.

The entire purpose of higher level government is to oversee lower level government.

It is this basic function that has been lost.

For issues that span between teachers (quality, consistency, grading policy, fairness, overload, test stacking, etc.) the Site must be responsible and enforce policy. The District must oversee this and enforce compliance when complaints are heard. I recommend an independent structure within the District that reports directly to the Board for this purpose. Much like the City Attorney reports to the Council rather than Manager.

For issues that span between schools (curriculum alignment, student safety, student well-being and consistent user experience, Schoology, consistent services) the District must manage and enforce policy. Failure to do so should be overseen by this independent person as well.

Essentially, we need a division of powers within the school system to ensure fair implementation of the policies at each level. Call it a judiciary, whatever. It's function is to enforce the execution of policy where today's single executive branch is failing.

In addition to a division of powers, we need a careful alignment of what powers are delegated to Sites, and what powers are delegated to Teachers. This is lacking today, and causes all manner of confusion. Like individual teachers imagining that they can somehow coordinate on a single system to aggregate homework data, scheduling, and communication. They cannot. It's not working.


5 people like this
Posted by teacher organization
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 10:35 am

Organized teachers, you CAN have action flow but you cannot have unilateral micro-systems.

If you have alternatives, do they fulfill these two imperatives?

1) used consistently by all teachers (by all schools)

2) have a way to track homework levels

Does the district hire professionals for this?

What are the professional opinions on data management, and organizational tools which tie into data management?

The whole point of organization is that, ORGANIZATION.

Very poor modeling that the teachers want Individualized systems. Would you give your students that option?



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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:21 am

"-- integrated calendars, so students can go to one place to find due dates"
It is a skill to learn to balance workloads, and later on in life students will not have calendars that perfectly balance their clubs, jobs, schoolwork, etc. for them. Is it so bad to suggest that if they want everything in one place they should create it themselves (a valuable skill)? All the information is available, just perhaps not in the most ideal places. I can't think of any class where the teacher doesn't have homework information available somewhere. Would it be so terrible for Schoology just to contain links to teacher sites?

"-- end-to-end coordination of curriculum. The writing in this district is a mess because Middle and High school don't talk. Neither do classes within each school. Neither do teachers within a department. IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SNOWFLAKES TO COORDINATE. In fact, they resist it. It means a loss of sovereign rights of teachers."
Teachers within departments DEFINITELY coordinate, or at least they do at Paly. There's a reason that teachers generally give the same tests (with the exact author rotating) and same assignments. It's not sheer coincidence. Also, the problem isn't that the middle school and high school don't talk per se -- it's that middle school - outside of the language and history programs - is a joke, or at least it was when I was there. English class didn't teach you to write, and 6th grade math was a complete (unnecessary) review of 5th grade (fractions, etc). I went to Jordan, if that's relevant, and this was my experience and I can't speak for other students.


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Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:52 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C writes:

"It is a skill to learn to balance workloads, and later on in life students will not have calendars that perfectly balance their clubs, jobs, schoolwork, etc."

It is a skill that develops with the frontal cortex. 13-year-old students are not executive admins. They can learn the skill when developmentally appropriate.

It is again a situation that the Snowflake model allows inadvertent over-stress on students. While each teacher may feel that their class is not overloaded, in sum total it is clearly overloading.

Additionally, each teacher is NOT a good estimator of their own over-load. Because they have no feedback from Principals in a Snowflake model, and they have no means of getting feedback from students we see that the worst teachers actually contribute a great deal of confusion, chaos and discord to student schedules.

How do you answer about teachers that refuse to post any homework online?
How do you answer about teachers that refuse to indicate any due date, either in class, or online, or anywhere?

So you have the sum of two problems originating with the teachers:
- just flat-out bad performance
- inadvertent stress-stacking by the sum of all teachers.

You see, the students are victems in a "system" that is an ad-hoc agglomeration of the worst-practices of all teachers.

While the teachers are in control of a "system" where they do whatever they want, and evaluate themselves as doing great!

Pushing this burden onto children and claiming they need to executive function skills of an adult is unfair, and developmentally inappropriate.

Plus, the schools don't teach these skills, they only punish them.

Vote No on Measure A.




8 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:59 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C writes: "Teachers within departments DEFINITELY coordinate, or at least they do at Paly. "

Not really. We had two different English teachers for Eng 9, and had experiences that were worlds apart. Sharing the same test is not the same as teaching the same material. The Test-fetish is just measuring the output of the teaching; don't confuse it with the actual teaching.

When you go on a diet, it is not the scale that makes you lose weight. You can measure a hundred times. It is eating one less cupcake that makes you lose weight.

So while test-coordination is one small step, it is insufficient, as the teachers are not teaching to the test. Often we find the test is MUCH harder than the quality of teaching. Again - the snowflake model fails the students here. Quality of instruction, by your own reckoning is terrible in Jordan. I agree.

But there is no mechanism to fix this. The teachers are sovereign, the board has abdicated and nobody is really representing the student.

This shows up exactly in English. If you got a sequence of crappy teachers at Jordan, by the time you get to Paly, you are far behind. And the "system" does not fix it by giving you a good teacher next year. (because there is no system).

So sure, great. You get a common test between teachers. Lotta good that will do you when the instruction is so dismally fractured and inconsistent.

The common test just reinforces the despair students feel: you are inadequate because 'Hey - we gave you a crappy teacher, why don't you perform better?' It puts all the burden of responsibility on the student, who definitely feels the pressure, feels the hopelessness.

And there is nobody willing to stand up to this broken system.


2 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

...oh forgot.


Vote No on Measure A


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Posted by teacher organization
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

C,

"is it so bad?"

Yes, it is bad to run a large organization and schools with unilaterally imposed micro-systems.

Yes it is bad to not have a consensus about shared systems and shared goals about their use.

It is bad.





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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm

"It is a skill that develops with the frontal cortex. 13-year-old students are not executive admins. They can learn the skill when developmentally appropriate."
How on earth did the generation before me survive schooling years when students aren't capable of looking at a calendar! What a struggle it must have been! Also, when is "developmentally appropriate?" Because apparently not in HS, because Schoology applies there too.

"How do you answer about teachers that refuse to post any homework online?"
Well.... most of the times it is online, just not always on Schoology. I can't think of a teacher who didn't have assignments online, but it's plausible that there is one so I'll give you this. Still, they almost certainly give something out hardcopy.
"How do you answer about teachers that refuse to indicate any due date, either in class, or online, or anywhere?"
Where are these mythical teachers who don't mention due dates in class? I never had a single one, EVER. Almost every class gives out a syllabus at the start of a unit which has all the HW on it -- are you sure someone just didn't lose this, and because the teacher didn't remind students (because it's all on a calendar for them) they THOUGHT that no due date was indicated?

"Not really. We had two different English teachers for Eng 9, and had experiences that were worlds apart. Sharing the same test is not the same as teaching the same material. The Test-fetish is just measuring the output of the teaching; don't confuse it with the actual teaching."
To be honest, I explicitly said "test" so as to avoid discussing the English department because I think it has the most teacher-variability of any department. But don't tar everyone for the mistakes of a few. English classes don't give "tests" per se, they give quizzes and essays hence my wording. Regarding teacher consistency, the Math Department compares student scores (on the same test) teacher by teacher -- in theory this would be a fair measure of how well the teachers are teaching! (but of course we have to demonize the Math department, rather than acknowledge that they do a lot right...). And I agree with you about Jordan's English department being a joke (been there done that) and Paly's does need some work. If you read alumni surveys they agree with me in that they felt unprepared for collegiate level writing because they never assign any *actual* writing...


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Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C doesn't remember the olden-days: "How on earth did the generation before me survive schooling years when students aren't capable of looking at a calendar! What a struggle it must have been! "

When I was in high school, we had math every day, and all other classes assigned on Monday, collected on Friday. Only rarely did papers take more than a week. It was so well organized that we did not need a calendar. You see, it is possible to organize teaching to obviate the need for technology, but that skill is lost on our teachers. And impossible to impose because they are snowflakes.

"Also, when is "developmentally appropriate?" Because apparently not in HS, because Schoology applies there too."

Most psychologists agree that the frontal cortex is still developing until about age 25. Teenagers have very little organization of the frontal cortex, leading to, well, teenage behavior: disorganization, impulse control, risk taking, etc.

It is shocking how few teachers understand developmentally appropriate strategies. Normally, a 'system' could compensate for shortcomings in such skill and understanding; but we don't have a 'system'. We have an agglomeration.





"How do you answer about teachers that refuse to post any homework online?"
Well.... most of the times it is online, just not always on Schoology. I can't think of a teacher who didn't have assignments online, but it's plausible that there is one so I'll give you this.


I could name names, but the PAO moderators have deleted them in the past. It runs about 1-2 teachers/year for Paly for each student we have. If you had none, then I think you got lucky.

"Still, they almost certainly give something out hardcopy."

Never. In fact, that was a serious point of contention when we tried to get 504 accomodations for medical reasons for one of our kids. The guidance basically said that the district discourages it, and anyway don't bother because teachers refuse to provide written directions, written homework, written anything. Even if she put it on the 504, it would not be implemented. It was an appalling realization that the English teachers do not believe in written communication. But hey, they're high quality - right?



"How do you answer about teachers that refuse to indicate any due date, either in class, or online, or anywhere?"
Where are these mythical teachers who don't mention due dates in class?

[Portion removed] at Paly.

(this will probably be deleted by the moderator. But it happens. She adhered to this philosophically). Many others were just sometimes careless, yelling out assignements as the bell rings. Not intentionally cruel, just inattentive, unorganized and unaware of the chaos they were sowing.

"I never had a single one, EVER. Almost every class gives out a syllabus at the start of a unit which has all the HW on it -- are you sure someone just didn't lose this, and because the teacher didn't remind students (because it's all on a calendar for them) they THOUGHT that no due date was indicated?"

Lucky you. Was it lost? No. I attended class and saw it myself. Talked to the teacher about it. No shizzle.

Very few classes give a sylabus with written homework. Did you really go to Paly? It sounds like you went decades ago. Anyhow, ONLY the math department provides a syllabus with homework assignments. And they provide this per-chapter, not for the whole semester. They do NOT put this calendar info into Schoology to this day. It is a link to a different pdf file which they make. Sooo tedious.



"I explicitly said "test" so as to avoid discussing the English department because I think it has the most teacher-variability of any department. But don't tar everyone for the mistakes of a few. "

Not few. Most. The testing inconsistency is across the board, every department. But I agree English is terribly inconsistent. I blame the IS, who is about as incompetent a people manager as one could imagine.


"the Math Department compares student scores (on the same test) teacher by teacher -- in theory this would be a fair measure of how well the teachers are teaching! "

How do you know this? I have had students in the school for years and this was never discovered. Anyhow, it does not matter, because they are not taking action on the data. [Portion removed] are without a doubt the most terrible communicators ever, and have zero teaching skills."



"And I agree with you about Jordan's English department being a joke (been there done that) and Paly's does need some work. If you read alumni surveys they agree with me in that they felt unprepared for collegiate level writing because they never assign any *actual* writing... "



Similarly, the curriculum clearly expects analysis (compare Lord of The Flies with Freud's Theory of Psychology) without teaching either psychology, or without teaching analysis, or synthesis. It is a cruel, cruel joke that they assign projects that are so far beyond what they teach. The entire lot, with the IS should be fired.

You call it a 'joke'. It is a cruel joke. Yet another 'joke' on our students that they are expected to know this stuff, yet nobody is teaching them. Don't you think this contributes to student stress?

Are you really ready to defend the Snowflake model? Do you think the Board has done any service to the students at all by allowing this mess to continue for years? How long ago did you graduate Jordan? How long should such a fiasco remain un-addressed?

If this were private sector, and my group performed so poorly for so many years, not only would I have fired them, but I would have been fired for not firing them sooner.

There is not greater evidence that the schools care little for students than the existence of the Jordan English department. Or frankly, the existence of Jordan. All of it.

Vote No on Measure A

End the snowflake teacher model.
Return authority to the voters.

By the way... I don't agree entirely with 'Middle Ground' that we should Vote No on Measure A, while sending the same money to PiE. I think these problems are so old, so well known, and so poorly addressed that we are into punitive measures now. So I will NOT be sending PiE money.

My punitive actions reflect the punitive actions of teachers who mistreat our students. Tough love. Builds Responsibility and all that...


2 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 2:05 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

If we had half the quality of teaching you had, we would have gotten twice the quality of experience that we received.


Consider your self outrageously lucky. Those days are long gone for many of us.


2 people like this
Posted by TheFakeGregBarnes
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 2:18 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Teacher,

No, I don't expect you to go around with a clipboard to check compliance with Schoology. I *do* expect your union to not file a damn grievance when the principal requests that teachers use Schoology.

It's kind of impressive how little you teachers seem to get it. Blame it on the kids, blame it on the parents, blame it on the program--blame anyone but a union idiotic enough to file a grievance about this.

I get that the system is not perfect--they never are--but getting everyone on it is still a improvement over the status quo. And while I don't expect the named-names above to stay there--I don't see any reason to think people are making up bad teaching out of whole cloth. There are disorganized teachers. There are burnt-out teachers. There are spoiled teachers.

As for you, in your position, I would point out that it's a mistake for teachers to take a stand against using Schoology when there's a parcel-tax up for vote and a concern over teen stress and homework loads in wake of a second cluster of teen suicides. You're doing PA school teachers far more harm than any attack from another source could.

As someone with teachers in the family, I'm still kind of shocked by the union's attitude and the attitude of many of the teachers who have posted here.

You do realize that taking such an obstructionist stand on the minor matter of Schoology won't help when we get to more serious matters--i.e. renegotiating tenure rules and actually firing teachers? Because the union is opening up that matter for discussion.

Use your head and quit antagonizing the people who vote on your salary.


3 people like this
Posted by Piece o' cake
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

It's my understanding that San Jose State has a pretty good program for getting both administrative and teaching credentials, the tuition is not outrageously high for California residents, and it's just down the road. Perhaps all the armchair quarterbacks here who have time to write dissertation-length theses about how the schools ought to be run and classes ought to be taught could put that time to better use by going back to school and then actually getting into the real game, instead of screaming from the sidelines until they are purple about how badly everyone on the field is screwing up.


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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Firstly, it's unreasonable to want to put off allowing people to schedule until they're 25 and fully matured. If you go to college, you make your own schedule, if you don't, you probably have a job. Both of these require the ability to create your own "calendar" so to speak.

And yes, I went to Paly and graduated not too long ago. The math department always made the PDF of the math homework due available, no matter the class. For classes in the history department I've seen "lib-guide" online sites, calendars, and chalkboard writing (or some combination, or something else) but I truly never had a single one not tell me what the homework for the day was. In sophomore chemistry if I recall most homework was print-out worksheets that had the due date mentioned (or you could tell what was due based off what you'd learned recently). In English it's true I didn't receive a syllabus, but I would be told towards the end of class "Reach chapter xxx or pages xxx to yyy by next class." The onus was on us students to write it down or contact a classmate later in the day. Yes, it would ideal for the English department to improve - but it doesn't mean we should throw all departments (or teachers) into the same pot. PE essentially didn't give homework.

As for only being given one chapter's calendar, why does this matter? You have all the information you need to have, and are given more as it becomes necessary. Plus the calendar is subject to change, so it's almost better to have *accurate* one-unit calendars than an overall calendar subject to change.

"Similarly, the curriculum clearly expects analysis (compare Lord of The Flies with Freud's Theory of Psychology) without teaching either psychology, or without teaching analysis, or synthesis."
I don't know about this -- my English class had us do presentations on various views on psychology, including Freud, so it was covered in class. And they *do* teach you analysis and synthesis, the problem is they don't teach you how to write a college research paper (largely because they don't even assign them). If it's true there's a teacher doing this (and not assigning readings on Freud or anything) that teacher should be reprimanded - but from what I've seen it's not the whole department.

And by joke I didn't mean something that's actually funny, but rather more along the lines of "joke class" (which doesn't actually mean funny). I remember being given poetry and being told to annotate it -- I wasn't particularly interested and didn't understand any of it, so wrote fairly random notations and underlined things I thought were important after skimming it yet still managed a decent grade. I remember reading the Diary of Anne Frank and absolutely despising the project on the book, and I remember reading the short story "The Lottery" and enjoying it (though finding it odd). I also remember reading about Whirligigs and thinking it was a totally unrealistic premise, and letting the underlying themes go over my head. What I remember from Jordan isn't vocabulary, grammar, or writing skills, but the extent to which I was able to make my way through classes learning approximately nothing (and the assigned reading). And this is why I called Jordan's English department "a joke."


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Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:23 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@Piece recommends we go to San Jose State.

Ummm, San Jose State does not teach Governance in their school of eduction. Nor do they cover management of systemically dysfunctional organizations.


So that suggestion won't help. In fact, the reason we are in this mess is that such knowledge of systemic organizational behavior is not generally known to teachers, yet they continue to grab the reins and manage to their each individual goal of "my own website is better".

But the voting public is fed up with the Union defense of this.

Vote No on Measure A.


2 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:30 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C confuses developmental psychology: "Firstly, it's unreasonable to want to put off allowing people to schedule until they're 25 and fully matured. "

Nobody indicated this. It is a proposition of your own manufacture. Look, you are a high school grad, maybe college. I wouldn't expect you to grasp neurology, and development unless you studied it.

The point is that frontal cortex organization growth occurs over time, just barely starting at age 13, and finish around 25. Operationally, this does not mean that you delay all organization until 25. That is as unreasonable as expecting all org skills to be in place at 13.

The school could attempt to create a user-friendly environment, but instead teachers are fighting this.

They are fighting the policy of the Board, the tool (Schoology) that they themselves selected, that the teachers have been trained upon.

I have seen no good reason for this other than they feel it is their right to build a fractured system that suites their own personal needs.

As someone above posted: 'unilaterally imposed micro-systems'

Its a mess. It stresses students. It has to go.

I am not arguing with you about the fact that it has to go. I am discussing why a Vote NO on Measure A will jolt this Board into acting to create a system with good governance. (some feel this is wishful thinking).

But a well-designed system would place authority where it makes most sense (hint: it is not all at the bottom) and would put in place checks on power to prevent abuse of the students. (which we don't have today).

And until that time, the community will struggle to understand why the teachers are pressuring our students, and why the students are pressured, hospitalized, and dying.


2 people like this
Posted by teacher organization
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm

C,

Luck of the draw that your experience was so bad with Jordan English. Our family experience is that we got got lucky with our teachers. I realize it was luck and the match and so forth.

Yes many things are luck, or an art form, but accountability is not. You need objective measures to manage.

Your arguments about kids having to suck it up are also wrong. When an organization sets high standards, that informs the community of that organization about those high standards. You would be surprised by how the small things are just as telling.

Now, just wondering what about the combination of unilateral micro-systems in a world which has luck of the draw events like your not learning anything in English at Jordan.

And what about the time and energy going on to deal with this situation.


1 person likes this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C shows her limited experience with Paly:

"If it's true there's a teacher doing this (and not assigning readings on Freud or anything) that teacher should be reprimanded - but from what I've seen it's not the whole department. "


It is the whole departement. This was done by multiple teachers in Soph english, for the last few years.

And no. They don't teach analysis. Maybe, again, you got outrageously lucky, but I am starting to feel like you attended a different Paly than I see. It must have been a while ago...in a galaxy far away.

The Paly we see absolutely fails to teach analysis, and absolutely expects this level of research paper.

And as for 'reprimanding' anyone - forget it. You have missed the point entirely. The system does NOT MANAGE ANYONE. It is a snowflake system, where each teacher is unique and unassailable, unmanagable, and any mention of a problem draws immediate retaliation against the students.

See the problem yet? I suspect not; you just had a dreamy experience in Paly. Not at all like the rest of us.

Vote No on Measure A.


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Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C writes: "PE essentially didn't give homework. "


Okay - I know we are having a heated discussion, and I hope you don't take it too negatively. But this one made me chuckle!! Your view is so sweet and naive and supportive of the schools, I just have to share this story:

When my eldest was at Jordan, the PE department assigned an Essay!! No kidding. They did not teach writing, they did not teach sports journalism, nor anything that you would write about, yet they expected an ESSAY!!

Ha Ha Ha!!! If it weren't so dysfunctional, it would be funny. Alas it is not funny. This is just another vector that the system could use to pile MORE homework on the kids. It gives you some insight into the level of dysfunction in the schools. This is at the same time that our child was working until midnight on other school work, and getting detentions for late work. [Portion removed.]

Then to add insult to injury, the essays were never graded and returned. There was literally NO EDUCATIONAL VALUE AT ALL. NONE. It was done purely to overload kids who were already at the breaking point. I didn't think it could be done.

But they found a way to stack more homework on already overloaded students.

And the principals do NOTHING to stop this kind of insanity.

If that is not further proof that Jordan needs to be completely Reset, I don't know what is. But the Board refuses to exert any oversight. None. No matter how many kids choose suicide as a way out of this craziness.

It is literally evil what is being done to our children. Evil.


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Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:45 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

...oh, I forgot:

Vote No on Measure A


2 people like this
Posted by teacher organization
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

C,

When I mentioned setting high standards - I was referring to high standards of Organization.

Your theory that a little mix-it-up is good for the kids is not really a high standard of organization. I wouldn't even know what to call your suggestions, purpseful disorganization?


15 people like this
Posted by former Paly student
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Managing my time in college is WAY easier than it was at Jordan or Paly because my professors plan the semester well AND share their information ONLINE, using one system, Blackboard. I had a 504 at Paly that required my teachers to either give me my assignments in writing or post them in Schoology. Guess what, didn't happen. BTW my college grades are so much better than high school in part because my professors are organized, which helps me to be.

One of the biggest arguments against Schoology or any other systems is that kids need to learn to manage their own time. As a college junior here is my comparison in almost every class (except a flaky Philosophy professor).

ASSIGNMENTS AND TEST DATES
College - Syllabus with ALL major assignments, tests and project and their due dates handed out at the beginning of the semester. Dates are adhered to. Assignment details provided at least a week in advance of due date. Midterm and Final guides given.

High School - Syllabus contained curriculum only, a few major dates, assignments randomly assigned, due dates changed frequently.

TEST CONTENT
College - Material covered was on the test. Test was on the material covered. Midterm and Final Study Guides usually provide a week or so in advance.

High School - Material covered was sometimes on the test. Test was often on material not covered. Study guides sometimes given, sometimes not.

ESSAY FEEDBACK
College - comments on essays in 75% of classes, including history, sociology, psychology, etc. VERY clear rubrics for all essays, reports, etc. Essays graded within a week or less (even in classes with 300 plus students). TA's clearly assigned and announced to students for follow-up

High School - English, very little or no feedback, 4-6 weeks for essays to be returned. History - prompt grading and feedback.

So in college, I feel like I can manage my time. In middle and high school it always
felt like "what is going to get dumped on me today"... Guess which place was more stressful?


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Posted by TheFake
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:45 pm

@FormerPalyStudent shows us a great comparison between a well organized classroom, and classrooms that suck organizationally.

And I bet he didn't need a teaching degree fro SanJose State to figure that out.

The real question is why organization sucks - well I can tell you when I manage The Fake Jordan Middle School, I demand so little from my teachers because it makes my Fake Principal job easy. And I know that the Board has no interest in oversight at all.

So if organization sucks, too bad for the students. Heck, it's even funny - I know all the parents will try to clean up this organizational mess by helping their children organize when we try to trip them up. They try tutors, they try calendars, but we stay one step ahead with 'purposeful disorganization'. I learned it fro Grierson, who told me he studied this in school as a way to build Resilience.

Priceless - force some chaos on the kids and watch 'email cry! That man is genius. All true - no shizzle!

Anyhoo, about the suckkage in schools, when the parents try to help, then you get to call them names like 'Helicopter' parents! Makes their blood boil. [Portion removed.]

You see it drives donations. If they thought everything was going great they wouldn't see a need to donate to PiE and PTA.

How the hell else are we supposed to fund our coffee fund?

[Portion removed.]

Vote yes, keep sending the dough!! Sheep.


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Posted by Class act
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:27 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Earlier, you posted this: " [initially quoting me]"Also, when is "developmentally appropriate?" Because apparently not in HS, because Schoology applies there too."

Most psychologists agree that the frontal cortex is still developing until about age 25. Teenagers have very little organization of the frontal cortex, leading to, well, teenage behavior: disorganization, impulse control, risk taking, etc."
Because you gave no other suggestion - like the brain has developed enough to organize things properly by 16 or 18 even not fully developed - I just took your 25 at face value. While I was aware you probably meant that they can't be good organizers until say 20, I only had a quote to go off of and my point about college and jobs still stands starting at 18: at least 7 years before the brain is fully developed.

"When my eldest was at Jordan, the PE department assigned an Essay!! No kidding. They did not teach writing, they did not teach sports journalism, nor anything that you would write about, yet they expected an ESSAY!!"
Well, I can't say I've heard of this. My only PE "homework" over many years of required PE was taking resting and active heart rate and writing a paragraph or so comparing the two, why they were different, and what were safe rates of BPM (although I think I did this assignment multiple times). I do think assigning an essay in PE is a bit ridiculous....but I still think if it were only 1 essay per year it would be "essentially" no homework when averaged over an entire school year. But I have no idea how many of these essays they assigned, because I'd never even heard of them being given.

"They don't teach analysis."
In my experience, one of the topics English teachers love to emphasize is how to analyze a book with regards to motifs and themes and metaphors, etc. I don't know if your child's English class had "fishbowl" discussions (some do, generally sophomore/junior year) but in these students often discuss things like the significance of the conch from Lord of the Flies, what Holden's hunting hat from The Catcher in the Rye signifies, and what fire in The Crucible means. All of which aren't particularly useful unless you're going to be an English major of the like -- we need more longer research papers and to break students out of the 5-paragraph essay trend that they'll never see post-HS. I want to be very clear here that in my opinion Paly's English department *does* teach analysis but isn't particularly great at actually teaching students to write or preparing them for college. And just because they "teach" analysis doesn't mean that they give good feedback on essays or teach you how to organize an argument.

"you just had a dreamy experience in Paly."
To be honest, I strongly disliked my sophomore history classes, freshman and sophomore English classes, physics, and a chem class I wish I hadn't opted in to. And these are just the ones that immediately come to mind. As I'm typing this I remember not particularly liking math freshman year either. Just because I was able to know what homework I had to do didn't make my experience dreamy -- judging by the fact that Paly has fairly high GPA averages (last time I checked the decile rankings I saw this, though I think they've since stopped releasing them) either I am not alone or homework doesn't count for much, because otherwise students wouldn't be getting such good grades. Sure, I learned how to "analyze" -- but what am I to do with a skill I don't find particularly useful (and doubt I ever well)? I wouldn't call my experience dreamy but I wouldn't call it the hell many here are making it out to be. Overall I would say I enjoyed Paly because of my peers.


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Posted by Redonculous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:58 pm

It's shameful that the Palo Alto Weekly will delete comments that are critical of the paper and of this forum and yet allow a commenter to use the name of a community member and school admin as a username and make comments that are openly demeaning to that person. Any pretense this forum may have had to impartiality are a joke and have gone straight out the window as this thread and others spiral into a reprehensible pit of open character assassination and ad hominem attacks.


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

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