Exclusive to the Westside Observer
Carol Kocivar On Education
How do you thank a teacher?
Let me count some ways.
The first full week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week—a special time to say “thank you” to all who have helped our children this school year.
I really like the “Thanks a Latte” idea—the coffee gift card and the “Thanks for Helping Me Grow” flower pot. ”
It should come as no surprise that this special week of celebration was started by the PTA — The Parent TEACHER Association.
And the PTA has lots of ideas for parents and community members.
Here are some high tech suggestions and some with a more personal touch:
“Thank You” has gone digital.
Well, at least the ideas on how to thank a teacher. The National PTA has created a Pinterest page. And wow, lot’s of great pictures and suggestions:
I really like the “Thanks a Latte” idea—the coffee gift card and the “Thanks for Helping Me Grow” flower pot.
And then there is the “Great Tea-cher Wreath” made out of—yes, you guessed it—tea bags.
Looking for some ideas for your school community?
• Create and display posters, banners, and fliers in your school.
• Work with students on projects to do together to honor teachers.
• Brainstorm with your principal. How can you honor all your staff throughout the year?
• Contact area business and community groups and invite them to join you.
• Plant a tree or flowers on the school property.
• Provide a brunch.
• Wash cars or windshields.
• Design a resource file for teachers with names of parents and family members who can use their expertise to help teachers on projects and activities
• Call in to radio talk shows early and tell the host or hostess what your PTA is doing for teacher appreciation.
• Nominate a teacher for the PTA Teachers-Making A Difference Award.
National PTA has created customizable recognition tools for you and your child to use to make your teacher feel special: You can find lots more of ideas at on the National PTA website: www.PTA.org and search for PTA Teacher Appreciation Week
Or just do it the old-fashioned way. Write a Thank You note.
What are your ideas for honoring a teacher?
Carol Kocivar is President of the California Parent Teachers Assn. and lives in the Westside. Feedback: email@example.com
Finding arts in California schools is like reading
Last week, I took my smartphone out at a formal legislative meeting in Sacramento and invited folks to listen to the ”sound of music” in California public schools.
After a few moments of people straining to hear, I flipped my phone on again.
All they heard was the ”sound of silence.”
When you cut more than $20 billion dollars out of our California schools, and don’t require the arts as part of a quality education, that’s what a lot of kids get — nothing!
It wasn’t always that way. Arts once flourished in California public schools.”
That was the point.
In too many schools, too many children don’t have music education. They also don’t have quality visual arts or dance or drama.
When you cut more than $20 billion dollars out of our California schools, and don’t require the arts as part of a quality education, that’s what a lot of kids get — nothing!
It wasn’t always that way. Arts once flourished in California public schools.
Parents, teachers and communities knew arts education was important. It’s what helps keep kids in schools. It’s what helps create community. It’s what helps teach the value of hard work and responsibility.
But most important, arts education is how children learn.
There are lots of folks out there selling (yes, I said “selling”) the latest and greatest school reform theories to close the achievement gap.
Psst…let me give you a clue.
If you are looking to close the achievement gap, if you are looking to reduce truancy, if you are looking to increase graduation rates and creativity, I have a four-letter word for you: ARTS!
We truly are living in the world that Einstein only envisioned, where imagination in many ways is more important that knowledge.
And, the arts are the key to imagination and the skills our children will need for jobs for which we have not even yet thought.
I ask you to join me in celebrating March as Arts Education Month…and April and May and June and every month of the year.
Join California State PTA in our efforts to make sure that every child has a quality education that includes the arts.
Join the PTA SMARTS network to speak out for the arts in every school.
Want some more research and resources?
Just click capta.org/sections/programs-smarts/index.cfm
Carol Kocivar is President of the California Parent Teachers Assn. and lives in the Westside. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now Here is Real Education Reform
It is no mystery that early childhood education is important.
Research supports it. Economics supports it. Parents support it.
Yet until President Obama’s call to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America, other less data-driven reform agendas have dominated the airwaves.
Because early childhood education is about lowering the drop-out rates, about more children going to college and less children winding up in prison, about providing needed skills for employment, and about growing our economy”
It is time to change that conversation, because early childhood education is critical to the success of our children.
Because early childhood education is about lowering the drop-out rates, about more children going to college and less children winding up in prison, about providing needed skills for employment, and about growing our economy.
According to Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford, high quality pre-school programs — the kind that have teachers with degrees in early childhood education, and small class sizes, and hands-on learning, and parent outreach and education — provide those kinds of results.
Yet during this Great Recession, funding for our youngest students has been cut.
California’s independent legislative analyst reports that “since 2008-09, the State’s childcare and development system has experienced notable reductions.
Overall funding has decreased by $985 million (31 percent).
About one-quarter of slots have been eliminated (110,000 slots).”
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson welcomes the call for making early learning a national priority: “We know that there are significant benefits to helping children start school excited and ready to learn—and that those benefits last the rest of their lives,” says Torlakson.
What can we do to help our children?
Let our elected officials know that this kind of reform is vital.
Let’s start early—for all children. This is where our investment needs to begin.
Ah Ah Ah Ah Stayin Alive
Have you reached that point in life when—before a birthday or holiday—you talk with your kids about presents?
It happened to me this year.
My son and I were talking and I knew exactly what I wanted. You see, he bought himself this little electronic gizmo that he wears on his wrist. It measures his steps, it measures his calories, it measures how much “fuel” he uses as the day progresses.
The boy works out everyday, does weights, runs and looks—well—like I want to look—totally fit. I was suffering from youth envy.
So I thought: If I get that gizmo, somehow someway I will regain that level of fitness. Notice the use of the word “regain.””
So I thought: If I get that gizmo, somehow someway I will regain that level of fitness. Notice the use of the word “regain.”
I had just finished reading all those articles that sitting in front of a computer is today’s lethal equivalent of smoking. So I decided to take action.
Get the Gizmo. Trade in the time that it takes to get through those 500 emails with a walk in the park or a jog to the gym. Monitor my time continually throughout the day to make sure I am hitting my electronic goal.
I have two traits to fess up to: Technology compulsion and competitiveness.
Just to be sure that this was the right Gizmo, I spent a few hours on the internet looking at reviews and then maybe a little more time looking at Apps to complement the Gizmo. Yes. I downloaded a workout App to use at the same time with the Gizmo.
So now I have it and it has changed my life.
Now I not only check my email every few minutes, I check the Gizmo to see how much energy I have burned. I purposely set time aside each day so I can reach my Gizmo goal.
And I get the optimum use of my technology.
When I leave the house, I set my workout App to measure my mileage and chart the route by GPS. I set the time splits so I know how fast (umm—or slow—) it takes for each mile.
I check the Gizmo on my arm and compare the App data with the Gizmo data.
I have even learned Gizmo tricks—or how to trick the Gizmo.
Since it is on my wrist, I realized it does not keep track of the moments I might be in Spinning Class or on a bicycle. So I attach the Gizmo to my shoes so each revolution is captured—no kidding.
(Do NOT even think that I am shackled to this thing.)
Now there are hidden benefits to the Gizmo and the App that young fit people may not even realize. For example, if you want to go for a run and forgot whether you have been there before, just check your App.
If my family suspects I have lost track of time, they can log on to “find my phone” and discover where I am, and, let’s say, I can’t remember my exact route, check the App and see a map!….Endless possibilities.
Now, my favorite thing is what happens at about 9 pm. That is the magic moment when you do your final check to see if you reached your energy output goal. Many options if you are just short of the target.
Take a walk after dinner or…my personal favorite…turn on the music and dance.
Oh, if I have not emailed you back, you are in my inbox somewhere. Will check after the music stops.
You can hear the real Ah Ah Ah Ah Stayin Alive on YouTube:
Top Ten Wishes for the New Year
1. My mom continues to beat me in every online game we play.
Almost every evening, my mom and I play a few games of Words with Friends — scrabble online for those uninitiated. She lives in Hawaii and I play on my phone from almost any destination. Don’t give her a “Q” and an “I”. She will trounce you. My mom just turned 94 and knows how to spell more words than I could ever hope to know. Not only do I wish for her to continue to beat me, but also hope that she will be able to use all 7 letters at once for an out of the ballpark score that she can boast about for years.
2. WiFi at Ocean Beach.
Don’t tell anyone—but the greatest walk in the world is minutes away from my house— below a cliff at Ocean Beach. Terry and I sneak away, crawl down the cliff and see dolphins (if we are lucky) and pelicans and seagulls and plover and fields and fields of ice plant. My camera is full of pictures but would love to share the experience in real time with the kids.
3. The end of time zones
Let’s see, if it is 10 o’clock in San Francisco it is 1 in the afternoon on the East Coast so we can’t talk because of my granddaughter’s naptime. And when I finally think of checking in again at my dinnertime, it is way past bedtime for that 3 year old. Yes…it is too fantastic that we all can do Facetime or ichat or Skype…. but now if we can only conquer time zones.
4. Bionic powers for our pick-up soccer games.
A group of women in San Francisco have been playing pick-up soccer every Tuesday morning since their kids were in elementary and middle school. Rules now include not touching or getting within a foot of each other as well as designated sideline runners for those who really want to avoid any contact. Hoping for bionic powers for each and every player.
5. Time to Read a Book
This may sound a little odd from one of the early adopters of technology but I am making a commitment to read a book. (For those who can remember what a book is —think VCR, phonograph, Polaroid, videotapes, land line phone. Yes. There still are books ….)
6. A California that finally does commit to investing in a quality education for every child.
We are not there yet. California is still languishing near the bottom of the nation in education funding.
The good news is that voters want to support our schools. However, the vote this November did NOT commit significant funding to move California out of that dubious distinction of having one of the largest economies in the world that fails to adequately invest in its schools.
Parents and teachers and administrators need to continue to let the general public know what is really happening. The lottery did not solve the school-funding crisis and neither did the vote in November.
7. Ignore the title of “Top Ten” and put as number one good health and good health care for everyone.
Pop Quiz on Prop. 38
Decisions in the voting booth should not be like the dreaded pop quiz.
“Gee… I wish I had spent a little more time studying this so I know the answer.”
This November, the children of California are counting on you to have done your homework. You will be deciding on the education and future of an entire generation of children.
The California State Parent Teacher Association helped write and supports Proposition 38 because California needs to start to restore education programs at every public school.
Now—let’s pretend you are getting ready to decide how to vote.
Here is some information about Prop 38.
The title is: TAX TO FUND EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Read the following information copied from Prop. 38 and then answer a few short questions.
e) “Educational program” means expenditures for the following purposes at a K–12 schoolsite, approved at a public hearing by the governing board of the LEA with jurisdiction over the school, to improve the pupils’ academic performance, graduation rates, and vocational, career, college, and life readiness:
(1) Instruction in the arts, physical education, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, history, civics, financial literacy, English and foreign languages, and technical, vocational, or career education.
(2) Smaller class sizes.
(3) More counselors, librarians, school nurses, and other support staff at the schoolsite.
(4) Extended learning time through longer school days or longer school years, summer school, preschool, after school enrichment programs, and tutoring.
(5) Additional social and academic support for English language learners, low-income pupils, and pupils with special needs.
(6) Alternative education models that build pupils’ capacity for critical thinking and creativity.
(7) More communication and engagement with parents as true partners with schools in helping all children succeed.
Here are the questions:
1. Does Proposition 38 tell you what the money can be spent on at our schools?
2. Can Proposition 38 be used to pay for extended learning time?
3. Can Proposition 38 be used to pay for smaller class sizes?
Answer: Yes for all questions.
Find out what your school will receive at www.prop38forlocalschools.org/restore.
You can find out more about the initiative on the California Secretary of State web site: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/38/
Parents Must Be Role Models In Our Democracy
Fault Lines in Our Democracy, a recent study from Educational Testing Service, shows that “weak civics knowledge among young people is linked to less voting, less volunteering and greater distrust in government.”
For those who are civics challenged, this has nothing to do with whether you drive a Honda or whether you get lost on your way to the polls.
It is about our democracy and how we participate in important decisions. And it also is about how we educate our children.
Before I tell you how well our kids did on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics, let’s see how well you do:
Below are some of the issues our students were asked to know:
1. What is the main source of government funding?
2. What is the purpose of the constitution?
3. Identify a right protected by the first amendment.
4. What is the role of the Supreme Court?
5. Identify the meaning of a Supreme Court decision
6. Identify the effect of foreign policy on other nations.
Piece of cake? Not so much?
The questions above that are in bold italics are the Piece of Cake questions. If you got those right, you hit “basic” knowledge.
To be proficient, a 4th grader should know the purpose of the constitution, an eighth grader should know the role of the Supreme Court and a 12th grader should know the effect of foreign policy on other nations.*
Did you beat the kids?
According to the report, only 27 percent of fourth graders, 22 percent of eighth graders and 24 percent of 12th graders were proficient on the 2010 NAEP assessment.
The report also found that if you are young, less educated and in a lower-income group, you are less likely to vote.
These findings have big implications for our democracy and for how we make decisions about the future of our state and our nation.
So what can we do? Parents can be role models.
The report found:
“Parents… can boost the civic participation of their children. In fact, recent analysis by the Center for Labor Market Studies has shown that the home may be a much more important influence than the schools. In the 2010 election, 18- to 19-year-olds were much more likely to vote if a parent voted (32 percent versus 4 percent). This large difference held across both gender and racial/ethnic groups. These data support the notion that good civic behavior is learned in the home, as well as in school.”
Here are some suggestions:
Register to vote. Information on how to do this.
Find out how your local school supports civics education.
Support community efforts to register and encourage eligible young people to vote.
California State PTA believes civics learning should be a priority in school reform.
We helped write Proposition 38 on the ballot in November to support a comprehensive education for all our children. This specifically supports funding for civics and history in our schools.
You can find more resources to support civics education on the California State PTA website.2 With an important election coming up, we encourage you to use these resources in your school and community, including MY VOTE.
* Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2010. (NCES 2011-466), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2011.
38 is GREAT
If you have a smartphone near you or are by a computer, please take a minute to check something out. The California State PTA helped write and is supporting an initiative on the November ballot, Proposition 38, to fund our schools.
It will generate $10-$11 billion dollars each year for 12 years. This money can be used to start to restore the programs and services that have been cut out of our public schools.
How will it help our local schools?
You can find an estimate just by going to the “Yes on 38” web site. Check out “The Numbers.” You can find a calculator that estimates what your school will receive when this passes. Just type in the name of your school.
The Numbers show how the funding for our schools increases over the 12-year life of Proposition 38.
My kids attended Clarendon Elementary School. According to the calculator, here is what that school will be getting when Proposition 38 passes:
Then they attended Herbert Hoover Middle School. According to the calculator, here is what that school will be getting when Proposition 38 passes.
They then attended Lowell High School. According to the calculator, here is what that school will be getting when Proposition 38 passes:
Funding MUST go to every local public school in California based on the number of students at that school. And funding decisions are made locally, after public input.
Proposition 38 starts to restore the California dream of a quality education for all our children.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine…
Imagine a kindergarten class that is small enough for a teacher to meet the individual needs of each young child.
Imagine an elementary school with a librarian….A middle school that teaches art and music….A high school with enough counselors to help our students take the right courses to get into college.
Imagine restoring the instructional time that has been cut from our public schools.
This is what will happen in our local schools when Proposition 38 passes.
And that is why the California State PTA helped write and is supporting Proposition 38.
Parents, families, and voters throughout California believe adequate funding for our schools and access to a complete quality education for all children are urgent priorities.
It is time to STOP engaging parents and communities in heartbreaking decisions on how to cut more out of our schools and to START engaging parents and communities in the important decisions on how we can restore programs and services in every school in California
Proposition 38 generates revenue for this investment through a sliding scale income tax.
The wealthiest taxpayers pay the most, with rates rising 2.2% for individuals on incomes over $2.5 million. At the low end, taxpayers with incomes under $25,000 would pay an annual average of $7.00.
It also significantly and dramatically relieves the budget deficit — $3 billion dollars every year for 4 years and millions more for eight more years — by paying down state bond debt. This money can be used to support higher education and other important programs.
This is the biggest fundraiser in the history of PTA.
Are you in?
Just imagine ... just imagine what we can all accomplish if we work together for California’s children.
What you can do:
1. Find out how much your local school will receive. Go to Yes on 38.
2. Let your friends and neighbors know how this will help our local schools.
3. Join us on Facebook and spread the word.
The Real Me.
I just returned from a conference where they discussed generational differences.
Years ago, someone might have asked, “Do you sleep in pajamas?” (I have no idea what the right answer should be but my answer was always “Yes.”)
The question of today—just to find out what generation you belong to—is: “Do you sleep with your phone?”
Now that is getting personal.
There were people at the conference from all over the country, but I was one of the few from San Francisco. I discovered that by this one question, I had joined the Millennials. I went from a Boomer to a Twenty-Something with the answer of one question. I loved it.
I don’t think they were literally asking if I sleep with my phone. It was more like:
Is the phone charging next to your bed?
(Yes, when I manage to attach it correctly.)
Do you play games on your phone while in bed?
(Yes, indeed I do. I play Words with Friends most evenings with my mother—who I am sure is in her pajamas some of the time.)
Do you watch movies on your phone just before you drift off?
(Yes, but I don’t know if watching Masterpiece Theatre really slips me into the teen to mid-twenties demographics.)
Do you check your emails before getting out of bed in the morning? (Doesn’t everyone?)
Ok…Ok… After all these probing questions, it was revealed I am a true Millennial.
I read the newspaper in the morning—on my phone.
(“News” would be more like it—no paper whatsoever.)
I toss away paper business cards and affinity cards
(Hey, they are scanned and why do I need the paper and plastic any longer?)
There is just one niggling issue that I have to deal with related to my phone.
It happens on the muni in San Francisco. Just like the thousands of others, I board the train, earphones linked to music.
Every once is a while there is some eye contact, some signaling, and a real Millennial stands up and offers me a seat.
Should I ask them if they sleep in pajamas?
When the fog rolls out and the sunny days make their fleeting appearance in San Francisco, I hear the sound of summers gone by.
I grew up in a small town. Let me start over. I grew up near a village with miles and miles of open spaces and a pond across the street.
Summer was little league baseball and visits to the library and hour after hour sitting by a lake hoping a fish would find the bait on the end of the hook dangling in the water.
It was discussions about catfish and bass, of double plays and singles. But most of summer was a time of dreaming with a pile of books from our local library.
It was a special trip—about three miles—to that small village library and the corner where I knew they had all the editions of the Oz Books. No movies. No videos. Just books with wonderfully colored pages and stories that went on and on and on.
This was way before Summer in the City*or Hot Fun in the Summer Time.**
The Beach Boys had not even found their groove.
But imagination and the freedom to read, to find out more and more about a world outside of a little village—that was the summer after summer that I remember.
I was thinking of this as I read the recent reports on summer learning loss and the efforts to make summer count.
New research points out cumulative summer learning loss—especially for low-income students—makes a significant contribution to the achievement gap.
So how does this happen?
Take a student who starts out behind others in kindergarten. Even if that student shows a year’s worth of progress at the end of the school term, that student is still behind. And then if learning is not continued during the summer, that student falls further behind.
Now multiply this by year after year of no summer learning.
“By the end of 5th grade, the cumulative learning loss means that low-income children are more than 3 grade-level equivalents behind their more affluent peers.”
“Middle income and low-income children progress at about the same rates during the school year. But the research found that while middle-income children on average increase their reading level a small amount in the summer, children from low-income families are losing more than 2 months in reading achievement levels. The gap widens every year.”***
This is a BIG DEAL.
Our schools have cut summer school. Our schools have cut instructional days.
Silence on this is not golden. Take a moment and see what you can do to help. Communities throughout California are taking action. Will you join?
The California State PTA has a great set of resources for PTAs: You can find them under Summer Matters on the state education page.
Let’s make sure all our kids have time to read, to dream, to be involved and engaged every summer.
* Lyrics by Lovin Spoonful
** Lyrics by Sly and Family Stone
*** National Summer Learning Association, Research Brief: “Doesn’t Every Child Deserve a Memorable Summer?” www.summerlearning.org
Celebrate the Arts in
Our Public Schools
One of the greatest assets of San Francisco is the support of arts education in our public schools. And it you live in the West of Twin Peaks area, you are lucky enough to be close to some wonderful opportunities to experience this in our own backyard.
Here is a quick run down of some “not to miss” events in May.
Young at Art: May 12-20 at the de Young in Golden Gate Park
This 8-day celebration of student creativity in visual, literary, media and performing arts is hosted by the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park from May 12-20, 2012 (closed Monday, May 14, 2012). Brought to you by the SF Unified School District, this unique San Francisco event displays the talent and artwork of students in schools throughout the City.
The 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge is a theme of many pieces of artwork in the lobby of this year’s festival. Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge at the de Young Museum on Friday, May 11, 2012 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM!
This is one event I never miss. It includes a comprehensive Visual Arts Exhibition, Student Performances and a “Family Day” Celebration. You can find more info: www.youngatartsf.com/
If you would like to volunteer to help support this event, please call the San Francisco Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) office at 415-695-2441 and ask to speak with our Volunteer Coordinator, Sylvia Walker. You may also contact email at email@example.com
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
555 Portola Drive, SF
Another great resource for families throughout the West of Twin Peaks area is the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, and in May there are many performances to enjoy.
Tickets, times, and more information can be found at: www.sfsota.org/sotaPerformances.cfm
A sampling of coming events:
MUSICAL THEATRE CABARET
Monday, May 07, 2012 at4:30 PM and 7:30 PM;
Drama Studio: Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts
Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 pm
$12; Students/Seniors: $5
Spotlight Reception/Perf.: $25
Dan Kryston Memorial Theater: Ruth Asawa School Arts
Student pianists will take you on a musical journey from the mathematical precision of the Baroque era, to the evocative rubato of the Romantics, and the Jazz influence of the modern era. Highlights include Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances”; “Romance” from Arensky’s two-piano Suite Op. 15; Milhaud’s “Boeuf sur la Toit”; Gershwin’s four-hand arrangement of “I’ve Got Rhythm”; and Brubeck’s “Points on Jazz.”
Friday, May 11 & Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 pm Spotlight Reception on Saturday at 6:30 pm $15 Students & Seniors: $10 Spotlight Reception & Show: $25
Saturday’s Spotlight Reception
with author, activist, and Salon.com founder David Talbot, who has been reporting on global and local issues for decades and is a staunch advocate for arts education in the district and beyond.
Dan Kryston Memorial Theater: Ruth Asawa School Arts
30 YEARS OF DANCE!
Directed by Elvia Marta
Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:00 PM;
Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM
Advance purchase: Adults: $25; Students/Seniors: $15. At The Door: Adults: $28; Students/Seniors $18.
Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St.
30 Years of Dance! is a dance concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and SOTA Dance program, performed by extraordinarily talented students.
THEATRE TECH FASHION SHOW: UNDERLINED
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:30 PM
Online: Adults: $10; Students/Seniors: $8. At the Door: Adults: $15; Students/Seniors: $10.
Design students showcase their creative style and skills. Dan Kryston Memorial Theater: Ruth Asawa School Arts
My kids always used to tease me when I stopped to turn and look at a new baby. It usually started with a smile to the mom or dad and then the question, “How old is your baby?’
It was really a conversation starter just to spend a little more time looking at the miracle.
I still do it—but with a little more knowledge about the public policy implications of how we support new parents and young children.
So when support for early childcare is on the chopping block, it is time for people to speak up.
And when it is time to make decisions on how and when we invest in early education, it is time to speak up.
There are two issues we need to look at right now.
• Proposed cuts in the state budget for early child care
• Investment of ballot initiative revenue in early child care and child development
State Budge Cuts
The proposed state budget would cut more than $500 million from childcare programs statewide, cutting services to as many as 62,000 low-income children. The new cuts would come on top of nearly $700 million in reductions to these programs over the last four years—a 42 percent reduction in state funding.
According to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, “For decades, California has been committed to a simple but powerful idea: Children deserve more than just a safe place to wait while their parents work. They also deserve a chance to learn and to grow. It pains me to say it, but California’s budget crisis has put that commitment to our children in jeopardy.”
It is no mystery that early childhood education is important. We have a growing field of research that tells us that this is where to start providing all our children with the skills they need to succeed.
“If we are to be serious about reducing the dropout rate in this country,” says Madelein Kunin, “we have to begin much earlier. Many low-income children fall behind their classmates as early as kindergarten. If we want to increase the number of high school graduates we have to focus on the years one through five. That’s when critical brain development takes place that often determines whether the young child will grow into a successful, productive adult.”
So what do we do?
First, let’s not be silent. Let your elected officials know this is an important issue.
The California State PTA has written to both the Senate and the Assembly budget committees opposing the Governor’s proposals to reduce childcare and preschool availability and devolve significant programmatic responsibility to the Department of Social Services and ultimately to counties.
Second, when the issue of new revenue for education is discussed, ask an important question:
Does this invest in early childhood education?
And let me give you a clue—if you ask that about the Our Children Our Future Initiative for the November 2012 state ballot, the answer is clear and the answer is “Yes.”
Funding is provided to help prepare disadvantaged young children to succeed in school and in life by raising standards for early childhood education programs and by expanding the number of children who can attend.
Let’s start early—for all children. This is where our investment needs to begin.
PTA Supports “Our Children Our Future” School Funding Initiative
Within moments of each other, two important education news flashes recently hit the internet:
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson: “One Student in Three Attends a School District in Financial Jeopardy”
Our Children Our Future Education Initiative Launches Signature Drive
One sets out the problem. The other sets out the path to a solution.
The state’s First Interim Status Report for fiscal year 2011-12 indicates that 127 districts are either in negative or qualified financial status, totaling 17 more than at this point last year. Combined, nearly 2 million students attend school in a district with serious financial challenges.
“The financial emergency facing our schools remains both wide and deep,” Torlakson said. “The deep cuts made to school funding—and looming uncertainties about the future—are driving school districts to the brink of insolvency. Plain and simple, our schools need new revenues to get back on solid financial ground.”
This is not news to parents throughout California. Anyone who has stepped into a school or has a friend or a neighbor with children in a California public school knows the impact of billions of dollars in cuts to our schools over the last few years. Per-pupil funding in California is 47th in the nation.
And now, in a neighborhood near you, parents are not only getting mad, they are getting organized.
PTA volunteers throughout the state are asking their friends and families to help with a signature drive to qualify Our Children, Our Future: Local School and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act for the November ballot.
Here is what the initiative does:
Raises approximately $10 billion to $11 billion a year in new revenue for local public schools and early childhood programs.
Revenues would be deposited into a newly created California Education Trust Fund.
Money would be allocated 85% for K-12 public schools and 15% for early childhood programs.
Gives local school boards the authority to decide, with community input, how new education funds will be spent at each public school site.
No more than one percent of the K-12 funds may be spent on school-district administration, with the rest going directly to school sites on a per-pupil basis.
The initiative also spells out what the K-12 money can be used for:
Instruction in the arts, physical education, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, history, civics, financial literacy, English and foreign languages, and technical, vocational or career education;
Smaller class sizes;
More counselors, librarians, school nurses and other support staff at the school site;
Extended learning time through longer school days or longer school years, summer school, preschool, after school enrichment programs and tutoring;
Additional social and academic support for English language learners, low income students and students with special needs;
Alternative education models that build students’ capacity for critical thinking and creativity; and
More communication and engagement with parents as true partners with schools in helping all children succeed.
Training, technology, and teaching materials grants will be provided on a per-pupil basis and can be used for professional development activities, new technology, or teaching materials.
Because it will be taking effect as California grapples with one of the worst economic downturns in its history, it will be implemented in two stages.
For the first four years, thirty percent of the funds, about $3 billion, will go to pay school bond and other bond debt-service costs, freeing up a like amount to meet other budget needs critical to the overall well-being of children, families and communities.
How is this paid for?
The initiative raises income tax rates on a sliding scale from four-tenths of one percent to 2.2% on multi-millionaires. It applies to incomes after deductions are taken, and before tax credits are given. The proposed additional tax rates would expire at the end of the tax year 2024.
For more information:
Legislative Analysts Office: www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2011/110816.aspx
Our Children Our Future: www.ourchildrenourfuture2012.com/
Happy Birthday San Francisco PTA
Take a deep breath. Make a wish.
And together, let’s try to blow out all the candles.
In case you are counting, that would be 100 candles because this month the San Francisco Parent Teacher Association is 100 years old!
You may not immediately tie progressive San Francisco to what has become a venerable name throughout the world: PTA
But it is that same spirit of innovation, advocacy and hope that our City is known for that created the PTA and continues to drive the PTA.
A little history….
In 1897, the California Home and School Child Study Association was organized in San Francisco. Around the same time, Phoebe Apperson Hearst of San Francisco helped fund a school to train kindergarten teachers and started the first free kindergarten in the United States. * Also in 1897, she co-founded, with Alice McLellan Birney, the National Congress of Mothers, a forerunner of the National Council of Parents and Teachers.
Think back on history. They created this association and a national movement at a time when women did not have the vote, at a time when women were not at the forefront of political advocacy.
• The United States was feeling the impact of the Industrial Revolution.
• Few children’s educations went beyond the 5th grade.
• Children (most often immigrant children) worked in industrial jobs, factories, often doing dangerous work.
• Children had little recreation.
• Millions of children died of childhood diseases.
• What many of us take for granted today was created through consistent hard work, sometimes after years of perseverance, of the Parent Teacher Association:
• Kindergarten classes
• Child labor laws
• A public health service
• Hot lunch programs
• A juvenile justice system
• Mandatory immunization
PTA’s founders Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Alice McLellan Birney, and the founder of Georgia’s Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers, Selena Sloan Butler, understood the power of individual action, worked beyond the accepted barriers of their day, and took action to change the world.
In 1897, Mrs. Birney appealed “to all mankind and to all womankind, regardless of race, color, or condition, to recognize that the republic’s greatest work is to save the children.
The republic’s greatest work is to save the children.
The San Francisco PTA has played a role, big and small, is this great effort.
From making sure there are safety cross walks in front of all our schools to advocating for arts education and healthy school food, from supporting grass roots campaigns to fund our schools, to volunteering in our classrooms, parents and teachers in San Francisco have been at the forefront of a community dedicated to improving the lives of children.
Happy Birthday San Francisco PTA. And may you have many more.
For more information about the history of the PTA go to:
*For more history on the work of Phoebe Hearst, go to:
Funding, A Complete Curriculum, And Health And Safety Are Top Concerns
Adequate funding for education is the most important policy issue that parents and families want the state to address, according to a recent survey conducted by the California State PTA.
The survey showed that 98.6 percent of respondents think adequate state funding is important or extremely important.
The survey measured the importance PTA volunteers place on 33 different legislative and policy issues related to PTA's major focus areas: education, health, safety and parent involvement.
Nine out of every 10 say adequate funding is extremely important. That was by far the highest response for any single issue in our survey.
On behalf of its more than 900,000 members statewide, California State PTA is calling for a united effort to qualify and pass a ballot measure in November 2012 to begin restoring funding for education programs that have been cut.
Last year PTA also joined as a plaintiff in a historic lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's school finance system, and PTA has been active in opposing legislative proposals to make deeper cuts to education funding.
Education, Health, Safety and Parent Involvement
The survey showed parents and families place the highest education priority on ensuring that every student has access to a complete curriculum that includes the arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as on smaller class sizes, strengthening teacher and administrator effectiveness, and reducing the dropout rate.
Reforms such as common core standards and more choices for parents such as charter schools – while generating interest – were not seen as nearly as critical.
Preventing bullying and cyber-bullying rated extremely highly in the survey, with 95.2 percent saying it is important or extremely important.
In terms of children's health, 94.2 percent rated physical activity and physical education as the most important issue, followed by nutrition and healthy school meals, and preventing alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
Parent and family engagement has been a longstanding focus of the PTA. In this year's survey, parents rated the importance of several specific issues related to parent involvement, noting a particular need for greater involvement at the middle school and high school levels.
The impact of budget cuts
PTA members throughout the state also highlighted the severe impact of budget cuts on their schools. Of those surveyed, 96 percent said that in the past few years state budget cuts have forced their local schools to cut or eliminate programs and services to students.
Hardest hit have been programs and services that provide students with extra support or that help all students receive a well-rounded educational experience.
Summer school topped the list with 33 percent saying it has been eliminated, and another 28 percent saying it has been cut significantly.
Arts education programs have also suffered dramatically, with 22.6 percent reporting they have been eliminated and another 42.7 percent saying they have been cut significantly.
Other programs and services deeply affected by budget cuts include buses and transportation; instructional aides; physical activity and sports programs; Gifted and Talented Education; enrichment programs, such as field trips and assemblies; libraries, librarians and media centers; school nurses and student health centers.
Thank you for all you do…..
I remember the day I wrote my first "thank you" note to a teacher. My daughter was just completing kindergarten. I wanted her teacher, Mrs. McKay, to know my daughter looked forward to going to school almost every day and came home after school to excitedly show me her drawings.
So I wrote a short note thanking her for making my daughter's first year of school such a success.
I loved saying thank you to someone who made such an impact on my daughter's life. And Mrs. McKay made a point of stopping me at school to let me know how much she appreciated the note.
A lesson learned about the importance of "Thank you".
Ever since then, I tried to let my children's teachers know how much I appreciated their work.
You may well ask: "Why am I saying this? It is not teacher appreciation week."
Here is why:
We are living at a time when our teachers—now more than ever—need a note of thanks.
Every year teachers—good teachers—get pink slips and don't know if they will have a job.
We are living in a world where teachers have many more students in their class and less support to help them.
Like that old children's song about "no more pencils and no more books," our teachers are living in a classroom world of "no more" lots of things.
And while they are helping our children learn to read and comforting a struggling child, the political "noise" somehow blames our teachers for the havoc caused by massive budget cuts to education.
Our teachers have furlough days and less support to improve their practice. Yet they are held accountable as if they live in Lake Woebegone during this Great recession.
I don't want to live in a world of "us" versus "them"
I want to live in a world of "us"—A world where "we" can work together.
And let me follow up on my story:
Years later ... and I mean lots of years later ...after my daughter was through high school and even through college, I ran into Mrs. McKay. We looked at each other.
And then she asked, "How's Deane?"
After hundreds and hundreds of students, she looked at me and remembered my daughter's name.
It's just a hunch but I bet when you hear the words "Parent Teacher Association" you don't think of a parent coup or parent revolution.
You might think of the dad helping teachers move books and materials into a new classroom or organizing the school fitness fair.
You might hear about a mom speaking at a school board meeting.
But revolution? Nah.
Well, let me share an insight.
PTA volunteers have been on the front lines for years.
From helping in the classroom to campaigning for a parcel tax or a school bond, PTA members gain the knowledge of how schools work—or don't work—and the leadership skills to make a difference.
And then an amazing thing happens....
PTAs take ordinary people from where they are to where they dream they can be. Making a difference for children. And for our communities
This does not happen by chance.
PTA invests in its members.
Our PTA University trains regional leaders throughout California on how to run their 501(c) (3) not for profit. A legislative conference teaches advocacy skills. A new School Smarts Parent Academy teaches parents how to support their children and their schools. The annual PTA convention provides workshops in leadership, communication, health, and parent engagement for thousands of volunteers. Local council and district PTAs hold training events that provide thousands more with important skills.
It starts out as a parent wanting the best for a child. Then throughout California, it morphs into community organizing, alliance building, and public engagement for public education
From the historic creation of kindergarten nearly a century ago to sponsoring legislation to support arts in the schools, PTA members identify a need and work for change.
They track bills in the legislature and speak up at the state capitol on major policy initiatives.
PTA is a plaintiff in an historic lawsuit to require the legislature to establish a new system of school funding that meets the needs of all students.
It supports healthy foods in our schools, not just through legislation but also through monitoring the salad bar and the vending machine.
It sponsors legislation to protect children from bullying, and partners with community organizations to create toolkits for parents and teachers to use at home and in school.
PTA partners with other organizations that share our commitment to children in order to make our voices even stronger.
It provides resources and training for parents new to the US school system so that they can understand how their schools work and how to help their children succeed.
PTA is the largest and most consistent voice for adequate school funding. The parent who sells gift wrap to pay for school supplies learns pretty quickly the system is broken, and that the best fundraiser of all is a line item in the state budget.
With a more than 100 -year track record, PTA is not a one trick pony or the reform du jour. It builds community-- school by school. We've been carrying on a different sort of revolution for decades: bringing people together to speak with one voice on behalf of all of our children.
The California State PTA has nearly 1 million members throughout the state working on behalf of public schools, children and families. The PTA is the nation's largest and highest profile volunteer association working to improve the education, health and welfare of all children and youth. Find out more at www.capta.org.
Exercise for the Brain
I can still remember the day I went to visit my daughter's first grade classroom.
I saw an empty desk just outside the open classroom door.
Hmmm. I wonder which child has that spot?
This was about the same time my daughter had gleefully announced to the whole class that her mommy had just turned 14.
40 ... 14.. Close enough. I like that new math. It was going to come in handy one day.
When I entered the class, I saw my daughter standing ...happily talking with some other children.
But... I couldn't find her desk.
You guessed it. That was her desk outside the room!
Time for a quick conference.
What was going on?
It turns out my daughter was active..very active
Her teacher had figured out that if she let her sit by the open door, just outside the room, my daughter could let off a little steam by walking over to the desk to get her work done and then come back into the room.
I was reminded of this as I spoke recently with Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard professor, who has done some fascinating research on the relationship between exercise and academic achievement.
This is fascinating not only because it helps parents and teachers understand how children learn but because of its implications for how we can improve our schools.
According to Dr. Ratey, exercise is the best way to optimize brain function.
"What we know from our work in neuroscience is that exercise is a very potent energizer of the brain. It stimulates much of the brain function and stimulates brain growth."
And that — he says—translates into better academic performance, fewer suspensions, and fewer absences.
Does anyone hear some themes that might have an impact on the achievement gap?
According to Dr. Ratey, exercise affects the brain systems and makes the attention system better, the memory system better. It improves motivation and decreases impulsivity, thus decreasing discipline problems.
"It helps better than anything else we know to boost the development of brand new nerve cells every day."
"We have to change the culture of our schools that says the best way to learn is to drill drill drill."
Suggestions for schools from Dr. Ratey:
• Implement 20 minutes of vigorous activity every morning for all students.
• Create brain breaks during the day. For example, give students four to five minutes of exercise by their desks to get their heart rates up and make their brains work harder. (Dance, calisthenics, etc.)
"The big currency we are dealing with is not money but time."
Want more information about exercise, academic performance and healthy lifestyle?
Here are some resources:
PTA Healthy lifestyles pta.org/healthy_lifestyles.asp
Let's Move www.letsmove.gov/
Shape Up SF sfgov3.org/index.aspx?page=1007
John Ratey Spark sparkinglife.org/
PTA MOM—Now more than ever….
When my son was a junior in high school, he put a song on my computer that reminds me why I am a PTA volunteer.
Whether it is writing an agenda for a meeting, or calling PTA parents, or just clearing emails, it always makes more sense listening to Eric Clapton singing "If I Could Change the World."
It was my son's subtle way of telling mom, "I understand what you are doing."
This school year, now more than ever, our children need PTA to change their world.
Improving the lives of children has a new urgency. Pundits are now saying that this may be the first generation of children in America to grow up less healthy and less educated than their parents.
Stop right there.
Less healthy and less educated?
We need to write the new script: And it is NOT Waiting for Superman. It is The Power of PTA.
This Great Recession makes the work of PTA in our schools and our communities even more valuable. If there was ever a time for us to speak loudly and clearly for the rights of children, it is now.
Imagine, just imagine, the power of almost one million PTA parents and teachers working to improve the lives of children.
We want our children to be healthy, to live in a safe community, to attend quality schools. We want our children to have the skills they need to support themselves and their families. We want our children to be responsible citizens in a democratic society.
These are the dreams we have for every child. This is not something we leave to chance, or leave for someone else to do. We know as PTA that every day we can improve the lives of children.
We need to remind our elected officials, whether on the school board or the city council or in the California legislature, that meeting the needs of children is the responsibility of all of us. That means investing in children.
Investing in children is not an issue of Republicans versus Democrats. It is not an issue of left versus right. It is an issue of right versus wrong.
As we begin a new school year, the planning you do today will pay off in dividends for our children. As Diana Scharf Hunt once said, "Goals are Dreams with Deadlines."
So take a few moments to dream. Imagine.
What can I do each day to improve the lives of children?
How can I change their world?
For resources and ideas on how YOU can be involved, visit the California State PTA web site at www.capta.org Want to contact the district PTA in San Francisco, just email: 2nddist@ sfpta.org
Don't have much time but want to support the cause? You can join the Golden State PTA on line: http://www.capta.org/sections/membership/join-support.cfm
Every once in a while I decide I am going to be more efficient. I am going to learn a new skill or learn how to work with people. I am going to learn a new language. And I am going to get organized. Unfortunately, I usually decide to do ALL of these things at once.
You would think I would learn.
Well, I guess I have. I have learned the 7 habits of highly effective multi-taskers.
1. Program a shuffle on your IPhone that includes multiple learning opportunities.
Now this is really fun.
Just last week on a two-hour drive to Sacramento, I hit the jackpot. Not only did I hear Tina Turner remind me that I am the BEST, Better than All the rest, but through the magic of shuffle, this was followed by a five minute podcast in Japanese helping me find the ladies room on the second floor of a department store. And then Ricky Martin sang to me in Spanish. Could I ask for more?
2. Create a new calendar that works on your phone and your laptop and the computer at work.
This is really a good thing to do when you are traveling. Before you do this, make sure you download all of your meetings onto your phone. Be really efficient. Eliminate all paper, including your airplane ticket and your hotel reservation. Store it in the cloud. Now update your calendar so everything works soooo smoothly. The multi-tasking involved here is hitting your phone, your laptop, and your head all at the same time.
3. Download one of those simple checklist apps so that you know the best ways to get anything done.
I just did this and discovered a world of possibilities. There is the checklist to make sure I know what to buy at the grocery store. And while I am at it, I can select wardrobe basics. But who knew I could also organize a wedding and work on getting out of debt at the same time.
4. Clean your office.
5. Clean your office.
6. Clean your office.
7. Clean your office.
This is the best opportunity of all, especially if this is your home office.
It can involve washing dishes, shredding highly confidential notes, and finally discovering where you left your stash of secret passwords—all at the same time.
(Are these the old secret passwords or the new secret passwords?)
The most exciting part of steps 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 is that after you have carefully labeled all your binders and even made notes to yourself in a computer folder, someone calls you and asks for that one sheet of paper you just filed.
And you put it……..?
Never mind. I think it is time to cut the grass and find my car keys.
Carol Kocivar feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cut$ Hurt Kids:
Coming to a School Near YOU!
If a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at the picture below:
It is a picture of spending on California's schools.
See those lines that just go down and down and down? It shows how California's per student spending lags the rest of the nation. If the descent was a ski slope, it would be marked with triple black diamonds. Down, straight down.
Looks bad, huh?
Well, to steal from one of my favorite songs, BBBbaby—You ain't seen nothin yet!
The failure of the legislature to put a measure on the ballot to let the people decide if they want to support education and children's services, has school districts scrambling with what they thought was only a doomsday scenario. It is here today.
Unless the Legislature acts quickly, the Governor has said he will present an all-cuts budget in mid-May. This would mean an additional $4 billion to $5 billion reduction to K-12 education and even more drastic cuts to children's services.
That is in addition to the already $18 billion in cuts our schools have suffered in the last several years. (Take a look at that picture one more time.)
Schools have many budget choices—None of them good:
Shorten the school year
Close school libraries
Crowd more students into each classroom
Lose our counselors, classroom aides, reading specialists and more
Reduce summer school
End of music, art and drama in our schools
Now, more than ever, your voice is needed to speak up and let our elected officials know that CUT$ HURT KIDS!
Don't just get mad. Get Active.
Join the PTA campaign to support the children of California.
Sign Up for PTA Legislative Alerts. Urge 5 friends to sign up too. http://www.capta.org/sections/advocacy/legislative-alerts.cfm
Make a video, using your phone or camera, about the impacts of the cuts on the children in your school and community and upload it to Facebook.
Wednesday, May 11: Celebrate California Day of the Teacher by letting your child's teachers know you appreciate them and take a moment to send an e-mail or call your elected representatives to tell them you value education.
Friday, May 13: Participate in one of the rallies being held around the state by members of the Education Coalition.
Remember: Cut$ Hurt Kids: Coming to a School Near YOU!
Thank a Teacher
I am a little confused.
Let me take that back. I am a lot confused.
In January, I watched the State of the Union message on television. The only part of the speech that everyone agreed on was a statement thanking teachers. Red and Blue and everyone in between, they all stood up and applauded.
And now, just a few months later, I see the way we really thank our teachers.
On March 15, we fired about 20,000 teachers in California. These are the folks who work over the weekend on lesson plans and who correct homework late into the night.
And before we fired them, we decided to have furlough days—a euphemism for cutting their pay and cutting instruction.
And after we cut their salaries, we increased class size. Talk about doing more with less.
And we make sure they have old textbooks.
And here in the technology capital of the world, many teachers can't connect to the internet.
And we have our schools and our teachers measured by an accounting system that will result in almost every school being labeled "failing."
As my mom, a 92 year-old retired public school teacher, would sometimes say, "Thanks a lot!"
We do this at the same time we wring our hands over the global competitiveness of the American economy.
We cut art and music from our schools in spite of research telling us that this is exactly the wrong thing to do.
We do this at the same time we spend almost three times more to keep someone in prison than to keep a child in school. Thanks a lot!
Teacher appreciation week is coming up.
Thank your teacher by advocating for funding for our schools and our children. Tell all of the teachers you know 'We really do care'. For ideas on how to celebrate teacher appreciation week, go to: http://pta.org/TAW_Activity_Ideas.pdf
X + Y = Success????
We learn lots of lessons when our children are in middle school.
• There is the amnesia lesson: Your child no longer recognizes you in public places.
• There is the 'stylin' lesson: Nothing you wear is ok with your 13 year old. Nothing.
• There is the 'who is right' lesson: Clue—it is never mom.
• Then there is the math lesson: Should your child really take algebra in the 8th grade?
When my kids were attending Herbert Hoover Middle School in San Francisco, they had a really great math teacher—Shirley Huizenga. And as they moved from 7th to 8th grade, we had the math discussion.
Both kids were doing fine in math. No problems. But should they take 8th grade math or go for algebra?
Mrs. Huizenga was not one to push for algebra just for the sake of getting a head start on high school math. No, she carefully assessed each student's math facts and skills and made a recommendation. There is no rush. Let's make sure they have everything down. They can take it in 9th grade.
So my kids did not hop on the algebra train early. And I am here to tell you they did just fine in high school and college math.
So it is with more than just a little bit of personal experience that I have watched the push for all kids to take algebra in middle school — the great gate keeper to their future.
Is the equation 3(2x − 4) = −18 equivalent to 6x−12 =−18?
(I just threw that in to see if you are paying attention.)
A recent report from EdSource on the subject finds that "California's Push for Algebra I in 8th Grade Has Had Mixed Results"
According to the study, "since 2003, California schools have increased by 80% the number of students taking Algebra I in 8th grade. That change has been most dramatic among low-income, African-American and Latino students, many of whom did not previously have access to the course in the middle grades."
And how did they do? The findings:
• "While the state's push to put students into Algebra I in 8th grade has opened up opportunities for many, it has also had some negative consequences."
• "For the state's most prepared math students (as measured by their 7th grade CST scores), placement into Algebra I in grade 8 appears to have served them well, with these students generally (but not always) scoring proficient or higher on the Algebra I CST"
• "Placing all 8th graders into Algebra I, regardless of their preparation, sets up many students to fail."
I told you Mrs.Huzenga was a great teacher.
Read the report for more insight. Go to http://www.edsource.org/ and look for Improving Middle School Math Performance.
And remember: The sum of two binomials is 5x2 −6x. If one of the binomials is 3x2 −2x, what is the other binomial?
By Carol Kocivar©2011
As more grim budget news makes its way into parent meetings and school sites, the reality of what is happening to our schools and our children is finally hitting home.
The casualties: Our children and the future of California
• A shorter school year
• Less instruction for students
• Larger classes
• Fewer counselors
• Fewer librarians
• Cuts in arts and music programs
• Teacher and staff support lay-offs
The budget is presented in numbers—large numbers with lots of zeros.
Education in California has suffered staggering cuts--$18 billion dollars from schools in the last three years.
Another $2 billion in deferrals of funding.
AND-This is then topped by the loss of one time federal money!
I try to picture this. A google search came up with a visual:
"If a billion kids made a human tower, they would stand up past the moon."
If 2/3rds of those children were traveling at the speed of light and one-third were coming at them from the other direction, how cold would it be in Alaska?
No No No. That is another math problem I am not going to tackle right now.
But if a million parents lined up end to end from here to Sacramento, there would be no doubt—regardless of political affiliation—of the real crisis facing our schools and our children.
It is little wonder that a survey of PTA leaders throughout the state identified school funding as the most urgent issue facing our schools
Parents overwhelmingly support the need to advocate for school funding, according to a survey recently released by the California State PTA, which represents nearly 1 million members. (Ahhh. More zeroes.)
Conducted in the fall of 2010, the survey of PTA leaders rated adequate school funding as the highest priority: 97.5 percent said they are interested or extremely interested in PTA continuing to advocate for it.
Respondents were asked to rate the importance of more than 20 policy and legislative issues in education, children's health and safety.
Other major concerns
Complete curriculum that includes arts
In addition to funding, parents also reacted to what they see as a narrowing of the curriculum--with 90.6 percent indicating they are interested or extremely interested in advocating for a more complete curriculum that includes arts education.
Small class size
Eighty-nine percent indicated they are interested or extremely interested in advocating for class-size reduction, especially as school districts have been forced to drastically increase class sizes due to budget cuts.
Highly qualified staff
Other issues of utmost importance to parents included recruiting and retaining qualified teachers and administrators (88 percent are interested or extremely interested), and supporting teacher effectiveness (91 percent are interested or extremely interested).
Budgets reflect our values.
Speak out for the health and education of our children.
Stay tuned as we enter into budget discussions and decide on ballot measures that will decide quite literally the future of California.
You can get more information on the budget and children's issues at:
California State PTA: www.capta.org
California Budget Project: www.cbp.org
Previous Carol Kocivar Columns December 2008-December 2010