Tuesday, July 14, 2015

UCSD administrators punish a male student without considering the facts

UCSD is not alone when it comes to abusive administrators. A recent case at UCSD sounds sadly familiar.

In the case below, the woman who brought charges of sexual assault seems to have lost perspective about one instance of touching in between two acts of consensual sex with another student.

UCSD administrators also lost perspective.  They threw out most of the evidence in the case.

And then dean Sherry Mallory and the UCSD council of provosts made the situation worse by using abusive measures to deprive a student of due process:
Judge Pressman simultaneously found that the school's dean Sherry Mallory and the council of provosts increased the period that John Doe would be suspended from school each time he tried to appeal the board's decision.

Why do college and K-12 administrators rather frequently act in an arbitrary and abusive manner?

Because they can.

They have lawyers who will help them get away with improper actions--most of the time. Very frequently the Superior Court will rubber stamp just about any action by school officials, but in the following case, the Superior Court didn't tolerate UCSD's abusive behavior in a Title IX hearing.

In my experience, public entity lawyers FREQUENTLY FAIL to advise public officials that they must follow the law.  Perhaps the lawyers fear the officials will find other lawyers who will help the officials achieve their goals, whether those goals are lawful or not, rather than instructing them to follow the law.

Judge says "regret" at root of rape case

Administrators at the University of California San Diego failed to properly investigate sexual assault allegations against a male student and increased sanctions against him for appealing their decision, ruled superior court judge Joel Pressman on Friday, July 10. 

A female student accused the 20-year-old male, known as John Doe, of inappropriately touching her on the morning of February 1, 2014. The male student denied these allegations and later told an officer who was investigating the accusations that the two had had sex both the night before and after the alleged touching occurred. However, John Doe's statements to investigating officers, as well as other evidence, was not allowed to be presented during the Title IX sexual misconduct hearing.

"The Court finds that substantial evidence does not support the finding of non-consensual sexual activity," reads judge Pressman's July 10 ruling. "First, as stated above, crucial findings...were based upon [the officer's] investigation summary that was not presented at the hearing in any meaningful way. Given the fundamental unfairness of relying on this report without a meaningful opportunity for petitioner to challenge its contents, the court has no choice but to exclude the report from consideration in evaluating whether substantial evidence exists to support the conclusion."

Furthermore, ruled Pressman, "The only evidence presented in any meaningful way at the hearing was the testimony of [the woman]…. Additionally, Ms. Roe admitted that she voluntarily continued consensual sexual activity with Mr. Doe later that very same day. The court is not weighing Ms. Roe's credibility. But the incident on the morning of February 1, cannot be viewed in a vacuum. When viewed as part of the entire narrative, the sequence of events do [sic] not demonstrate non-consensual behavior. What the evidence does show is Ms. Roe's personal regret for engaging in sexual activity beyond her boundaries."

Judge Pressman simultaneously found that the school's dean Sherry Mallory and the council of provosts increased the period that John Doe would be suspended from school each time he tried to appeal the board's decision.

Initially, the Title IX panel ordered that John Doe serve a semester suspension, avoid any contact with the woman, sexual harassment classes, and counseling. Doe, however, appealed their ruling to Mallory. In response, Mallory increased his suspension from a semester to an entire year, forcing the student to reapply to the school. The student then appealed to the council of provosts. They denied his appeal and added an additional semester to his year-long suspension.

"Given the lack of rationale by both Dean Mallory and the Council of Provosts for the increased sanctions, it appears the increased sanctions are punitive towards Petitioner for appealing the decision of the Panel," ruled Pressman.

The handling of sexual assault investigations has come under increased scrutiny at colleges across the country. Title IX grants colleges the authority to investigate and conduct hearings on alleged assaults. The hearings are not criminal hearings, but school administrators do have the authority to expel students. 

In April 2015, a male student at San Diego State University filed a lawsuit against the school for expelling him after a female student accused him of forced copulation. According to the complaint, the student, Francisco Sousa, was not allowed to provide text messages and other evidence that proved his innocence. He has since filed a claim with the California State University's risk management department, a prelude to a lawsuit.

Attorneys for the UCSD student celebrated Pressman's decision as a step in the right direction.
“It’s encouraging to see courts recognizing that sexual misconduct complaints on campus cannot be resolved at the expense of Constitutional rights and fundamental fairness,” said Mark Hathaway, an attorney for John Doe in a statement. 

“Colleges and universities must treat all students fairly, regardless of gender. All too often the male student is just presumed responsible and given no access to any campus resources. Hopefully Judge Pressman’s ruling will help correct the imbalance.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Del Mar teacher forced out: was she a brilliant teacher who got in someone's way--or was she performing poorly?

A teacher in Del Mar Union High School District has resigned for unknown reasons.  The troublesome issue here is that we can make a pretty safe bet that neither this teacher, nor any of the other teachers at her school, has been effectively observed and evaluated. In most districts, teacher evaluations are a joke.  Many principals don't bother to do observations of classrooms.  Schools in California and across the country are desperately in need of an effective teacher evaluation system.

 Did Del Mar get rid of a brilliant teacher who got in someone's way, or an ineffective, misbehaving teacher? 

The author of the article below shows no concern about the well-known inadequacy of teacher evaluations--and the shameful politics that controls many, if not most, school district personnel decisions. 


Obviously, both sides in this case have chosen to keep the facts secret, apparently because both sides have something to hide.


Education Matters: Del Mar settles with former employee, and other money matters


 
The Del Mar Union School District and permanent certificated employee, known as #199-415, have agreed to settle their differences.

This is according to an “Employment Separation, Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims” document which was approved by the DMUSD Board of Trustees on May 11 at a special closed session board meeting.

The employee, identified only as a female teacher, went on paid administrative leave at an unspecified date before May 11. The district has paid her full regular salary and benefits, less taxes and other regular withholdings, through June 30, 2015.

The district also agreed to pay the teacher, who is no longer employed by the district, the amount of $57,994.46 which is equivalent to “her compensation and fringe benefits otherwise afforded were her employment to continue through January 2016.”...

In the agreement, the district “contends that causes exist to discipline #199-415” but agreed to “cease its investigation(s) related to allegations of any misconduct” and not recommend dismissal, suspension or any other type of disciplinary action against the employee.

Employee #199-415 “denies the district’s allegations” and “does not admit that she committed acts or omissions constituting misconduct.”

The agreement states that she voluntarily chose to resign her permanent certificated employment and to waive her tenure rights and the right to future employment with the district...

Both parties release the other from all claims, grievances and actions, “whether actual or potential, known or unknown” – and agreed that nothing in the agreement “shall be construed for any purpose as an admission of fault, error, wrongdoing or liability.”...

Del Mar’s trustees met several times in closed session prior to May 11 to discuss this matter, which was referenced in board meeting agendas as “Public Employee Evaluation/Dismissal/Discipline/Release.”

Both parties agreed to keep the settlement confidential and not disclose or publish the terms of the agreement “to any third party except as may be required by court order, lawful subpoena or law (i.e., Brown Act, California Public Records Act or Freedom of Information Act).”...

Who it is doesn’t really matter. What matters is that taxpayers know that significant general fund money has been spent on this settlement. And since the public is not privy to details, we can only hope the district’s elected officials are making wise decisions and are being good stewards of public funds.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It was probably a good decision to move all 24 teachers at West Valley Elementary to other schools


Maura Larkins: In my experience some schools have serious problems behind the scenes that are caused by teachers who appear to be sweet and caring.  Often these teachers have won "teacher of the year" awards. I taught at two such schools in the 90s/early 00s: Harborside and Castle Park in Chula Vista Elementary School District.

All the teachers at Harborside Elementary were transferred out a few years later.

The same thing should have been done at Castle Park Elementary, but instead Superintendent Libia Gil, and Assistant Superintendents Richard Werlin, Dennis Doyle, Lowell Billings and Maria Guasp allowed themselves to be led by the nose by the teachers who controlled the school.  The school had 11 principals in 11 years.  Finally a few teachers, dubbed the "Castle Park Five", were transferred out in 2004.


All 24 teachers at West Valley Elementary will be moved to other schools, district says
By Kristi Myllenbeck and Matt Wilson
Mercury News
06/19/2015 

In a stunning move, the Cupertino Union School District announced late Wednesday night that all 24 teachers at West Valley Elementary School will be reassigned to other district campuses.
As a result, the high-performing Sunnyvale school will open in the fall with an entirely new roster of teachers as well as a new principal.
The district and the Cupertino Education Association agreed Wednesday evening to start with a fresh slate at West Valley, which by the district superintendent's own admission was rife with tension for a long time.
West Valley teachers were alerted via email Wednesday night of the decision; included in the message was an attachment of a memorandum of understanding jointly crafted by the district and union.
The latest development came as a surprise to teachers and parents, who had been told at a community meeting Monday that West Valley teachers would have to reapply for their jobs; they weren't told that the teachers would necessarily be sent to other schools.
Union president Dave Villafana said the decision to reassign everyone at West Valley stemmed from a desire to protect teachers from feeling singled out if moved elsewhere.
"We were looking at a fair process of how you would elect the teachers that would stay (at West Valley) and the teachers that would leave," he said. "The fair process would be to move everybody and we agreed with that."
The Cupertino Education Association would not have been involved in the rehiring process but wanted to avoid any fairness or perception issues."

"[Teachers would be asking], 'why did I get moved and somebody else didn't? And what criteria did you use?' " Villafana said. "We're trying to protect all the teachers when it comes to that."
The memorandum asks West Valley teachers to indicate the schools and grade levels they prefer for the upcoming school year, which begins in August.
It also states that special education resource specialists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, nurses, fourth- and fifth-grade physical education teachers and music teachers are exempt from relocation.
It remains unclear what specific event or series of events at the school resulted in the apparent turmoil. The district, citing legal reasons, said it won't release details about individual personnel or specific incidents.
But on Thursday, Superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz sent out a letter to school parents elaborating on some of the issues that sparked the dramatic changes.
"There has been a great deal of tension at West Valley among and between teachers, support staff, parents, and administration," Gudalewicz states in the letter. "If you and your family did not experience or were unaware of this tension--that's a good thing."
Gudalewicz adds that the group dynamic at West Valley created "a culture that was not serving educational needs" and that the district's decision to break up the faculty was "not taken lightly."
The letter confirms that a number of measures were taken to try to deal with issues that appear to have been simmering even before this school year.
"Multiple interventions took place throughout the year," Gudalewicz states in the letter. "A new principal was put in place at the beginning of the year. District level union leadership talked with staff. An all-day session with a facilitator took place at the end of the year to access the school climate. At this meeting it became clear that progress was minimal and internal change seemed unlikely."
Teachers were first alerted to the campus shakeup the last day of school June 11 when teachers were informed by district administrators during a staff meeting that they would have to reapply for their current jobs.

 Read more, including promotions for principals, here: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_28341929/all-24-teachers-at-west-valley-elementary-will

Friday, June 19, 2015

Popular LAUSD teacher removed from classroom after fellow teacher files complaint

Despite continual problems growing out of the lack of an effective teacher evaluation system, the California Teachers Union ("CTA") prefers behind-closed-door politics and secret "investigations" to across-the-board evaluations of all teachers.

Many, if not most, principals fail to do observations of their teachers from year to year.  We need a system that puts impartial observers in every classroom on a regular basis. See SDER teacher evaluation plan.

Nationally recognized teacher removed from class after allegations of misconduct

June 17, 2015

Attorneys for a nationally recognized Los Angeles Unified teacher, who was removed from his classroom after allegations of misconduct, are issuing an ultimatum to district administrators: publicly apologize and let him return to work, or get sued.

Rafe Esquith, a longtime educator at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School who has written several books on teaching and received multiple awards for his work, has not been allowed to return to school since district officials launched an investigation in March.
Three months later, L.A. Unified officials have not clearly outlined the allegations against the popular teacher, said his attorney Mark Geragos. But Geragos said he learned that the investigation stemmed from a complaint by another teacher after Esquith read to a class a passage from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain...
District officials declined to provide details, except to say that “the goal is to complete the investigation before school starts in August.”

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stories of sexism in science: 'sorry about all the women in this laboratory'

Discrimination against females in science continues. 

An in-house probe at UCLA concluded in 2015 that women face "demeaning" treatment at the Medical School, however, the person responsible, John Mazziotta, was promoted in March to vice-chancellor!!!

 See article below showing UCLA Medical School refused to address problems even when a female instructor won a $2.95 million discrimination case in 2004.  UCLA didn't mince words at the time:

"The university respectfully disagrees with the verdict, and we do not believe it was supported by the evidence," said James E. Holst, UC's general counsel.


Stories of sexism in science: 'sorry about all the women in this laboratory'
The Guardian
June 12, 2015

Tim Hunt provoked outrage when he said that female scientists cause trouble in science labs. We speak to women in the field to find out about attitudes they’ve encountered
#Distractinglysexy Twitter campaign mocks Tim Hunt’s sexist comments

Sexism in science
Microbiologist Steve Diggle’s contribution to the #distractinglysexy hashtag used to mock Tim Hunt’s comments about women in science. Photograph: Steve Diggle/Twitter

‘There should be a rule against women having children in science’

“Following the recent comments made by Tim Hunt, I spent a little time reminiscing about my experiences as a postdoctoral researcher at a London University. I started this position full of enthusiasm but it ended quite swiftly following comments from my principal investigator (PI), such as:
  • ‘There really should be a rule against women having children in science.’
  • ‘I’m not going to teach you how to do it because you’re probably going to leave for marriage and children anyway so why waste my time?’
  • ‘Sorry about all the women in this laboratory, but at least they’re good to look at.’
  • ...

    UCLA female faculty faced 'demeaning' mistreatment, probe finds

"The former neurology chairman, John Mazziotta, was promoted in March to vice chancellor of UCLA’s health sciences and dean of the medical school. Hiatt’s letter did not mention him and did not say what role Mazziotta may have had in previous handling of the women’s complaints."
 
Women faculty at UCLA's Alzheimer's disease research center faced "a climate of conflict, tension, hostility and mistrust" for about a decade and were treated in an "unprofessional, demeaning manner," an investigation at the campus medical school has found.
The probe upheld long-pressed complaints from three women faculty that they were discriminated against by some men in the department and faced retaliation for reporting breaches in research protocol, Jonathan Hiatt, the vice dean for faculty, said in a letter sent to staff.
The result was a significantly negative effect on the center and a working environment that "compromises our research, teaching and patient care," Hiatt wrote.
The March letter, which was obtained by The Times, did not identify the women who say they were discriminated against nor the people who they say violated campus rules. Hiatt could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Dale Tate, a spokeswoman for the David Geffen School of Medicine, confirmed the authenticity of the letter but said she could not offer any more details about the situation.
"While we cannot comment beyond the contents of the letter since it involves confidential personnel matters, leadership within the university and the health system is committed to a work environment that is welcoming and free from discrimination of any kind. The letter was intended as an internal communication to describe the measures taken by the university in response to serious concerns brought forward in good faith by female members of the faculty," she said in a statement.
In the letter, Hiatt wrote that he brought in an external investigator to look into the complaints, interview current and former faculty and review documents. The resulting report was finished in October and declared that the women faculty "had correctly identified and documented the unprofessional behavior to which they had been subjected" and had brought their complaints to the attention of administrators numerous times without a proper response, he said.
Hiatt said he has made some changes in the department of neurology in response to the complaints. Without saying that anyone had been directly disciplined, he noted that the department of neurology has a new interim chair, professor Marie-Francoise Chesselet, and that another professor has been appointed as a monitor for issues of gender and equity. He said he is committed to a fair and "welcoming" school workplace.
The former neurology chairman, John Mazziotta, was promoted in March to vice chancellor of UCLA’s health sciences and dean of the medical school. Hiatt’s letter did not mention him and did not say what role Mazziotta may have had in previous handling of the women’s complaints.
The Alzheimer's research center has about 10 professors working there, according to its website, and is devoted to improving the quality of life for patients and caregivers, to develop new medications, treatments and improved and earlier diagnoses.
  • Woman Awarded $2.95 Million in UC Discrimination Case

    August 05, 2004|Rebecca Trounson | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    A former clinical instructor at the UCLA School of Medicine has won a $2.95-million judgment against the University of California from a Superior Court jury in a sex discrimination and retaliation case.
    The jury, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, found that UCLA had discriminated against Janet Conney in her efforts to obtain a tenure-track position at the university, then retaliated against her when she complained.
    Conney, 40, had worked at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital from 1999 to 2002 after she completed a year of specialty training at the university in geriatric psychiatry. She filed suit against the institute and UC's governing board in 2003, claiming that her supervisors had discriminated against her on the basis of gender when they decided not to promote her from clinical instructor to assistant clinical professor...
     

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teacher loses it when boy takes too long in bathroom

Ohio teacher Nicole Lemire was furious with a fifth-grade boy who took too long to go to the bathroom.

And so she stood him up at the front of the room and asked the other students to try to remember everything bad he had ever done. Everytime he objected, she recorded a check mark for a recess that would be taken away from him.

How bad was this boy?

Not bad enough that Ms. Lemire had ever reported a problem to his parents. 

Here's the truth that most of us have known for years: some teachers are vicious bullies.

Here's a truth that most people don't know: teacher culture promotes anger and retaliation far more than it promotes truth-finding and reasoned responses to problems. A lot of teachers eat lunch in their rooms because the teachers' lounge is so full of vitriol.  In my experience, students are the favorite targets of lounge gossip, followed by parents, administrators and other teachers.

Now Ms. Lemire, who has been reprimanded and suspended multiple times, has been fired.

And what does she want now?  She wants the chance to defend herself--the very opportunity that she denied to the boy in her care.  I think a court case would be a good thing, in part to teach the students in Lemire's class how accusations are supposed to be handled in a free society.

The district noted the following in its decision to fire Ms. Lemire (see pages 93 and 94 in this document):

Ms. LeMire has displayed a repeated and persistent pattern of exercising poor professional judgment. Ms. LeMire engaged in the conduct stated in paragraphs #1, 2, 3 and/or 4, and incorporated herein, even though she received an Unpaid Suspension for ten (10) days dated December 23, 2014, and an Unpaid Suspension for two (2) days dated June 10, 2014, which both were due to missed deadlines and a lack of and/or poor communication. Ms. LeMire also received a Written Reprimand dated April 11, 2014 for poor communication and a Written Reprimand dated November 11, 2013 for leaving her class unattended. These incidents reflect poor judgment and Ms. LeMire’s December 23, 2014 suspension notice specifically stated if she “engage[d] in any further unprofessional or unethical behavior, violate Olentangy Board policy or do not follow an administrative directive, you will face disciplinary action up to and/or including termination.”
Ms. Lemire, ironically, doesn't seem to want to listen when others have complaints about her:

In December, she was suspended for 10 days after she did not respond to emails about her teacher’s evaluation from her principal at Glen Oak Elementary. She missed the deadline to submit a growth plan and failed to reply to repeated e-mails from her administrator. In response, LeMire-Hecker said she misunderstood and initially didn’t think she was required to submit a plan, according to district records. She also admitted that she had other priorities and did not read an e-mail the principal sent.
--Olentangy teacher fights elementary school’s effort to fire her 
by
The Columbus Dispatch 





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHAT IT MEANS FOR A GIANT BANK TO PLEAD GUILTY TO A CRIMINAL CHARGE

WHAT IT MEANS FOR A GIANT BANK TO PLEAD GUILTY TO A CRIMINAL CHARGE

Today, five major U.S. and European banks – including giant Citicorp and JPMorgan Chase -- agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay more than $5 billion in penalties to settle charges their traders manipulated the $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign exchange currency market for the banks' profit. Their self-described “cartel” used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate national exchange rates in ways that benefited their own trading positions. It’s one of the biggest bank swindles of all times. 

But is any top executive going to jail? 
Not a chance. 
Black and Latino teenagers are locked up for selling ounces of marijuana. 
Bankers who fleece the rest of us for trillions of dollars get fat bonuses.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan (pictured below), has been lobbying on Capitol Hill to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act and eviscerate other bank regulations. If, as the Supreme Court says, corporations are people, then when Citicorp and JPMorgan plead guilty to criminal charges their top brass (including Dimon) should feel the pinch.
What do you think?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sacramento Report: What the Hell Are We Doing? Assemblywoman Shirley Weber tries to help teachers improve


After I posted a comment on this page yesterday about the California Teachers Association's opposition to Assemblymember Shirley Weber's admirable efforts to improve teacher performance, I got a nasty, anonymous and untraceable phone call from a woman who sounded completely calm and sober.  She had a nice, ordinary voice, not the drug-addled, ignorant-sounding voice of most abusive phone callers.  I've been wondering who it could have been, and this morning I decided that it was very likely a teacher who was motivated by my comment in Voice of San Diego.

I considered changing my comment. I realized it was too harsh.  I should have done a better job qualifying my statement.

But I am not going to edit my comment in Voice of San Diego.

Instead, I'll qualify it in this response.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that ANYONE WHO RISES TO POWER IN ANY ORGANIZATION ON THIS PLANET is subject to a lot of pressure. I know for a fact that perfectly-decent people who become school administrators or school board members not-infrequently set aside their principles under pressure. They go along to get along, just like officials of CTA--and members of the California Assembly, both Democrats and Republicans.

Also, I think there's a big problem with the Vergara decision.  It puts the cart before the horse.  It gets rid of tenure WITHOUT HAVING A GOOD EVALUATION SYSTEM IN PLACE.  This is a very bad idea.  Vergara would increase the politics in schools instead of increasing the effectiveness of teacher evaluations. 

But isn't this exactly why CTA should agree to a plan like Shirley Weber's?


My conclusion is that CTA wants teacher evaluations to remain political. Why?  Because sometimes the worst teachers are the most loyal supporters of CTA officials and their pals.


Here's the comment I published yesterday in Voice of San Diego regarding the difficulties Democrats have in resisting the power of the California Teachers Association:
A few years ago at the California Teachers Association's yearly conference for the presidents of all the local affiliates, I heard then-executive director Carolyn Doggett tell teachers that they needed to take responsibility for good teaching or the responsibility would be taken from them.  [I was not a union official, just a lowly teacher.]  Clearly, CTA continues to refuse to take responsibility.  I'm afraid that the type of teacher that rises to power in CTA is not the type that's deeply interested in children.

Democrats should be ashamed of kowtowing to CTA instead of supporting principled reformers like Shirley Weber.

Below is an article from Voice of San Diego .--Maura Larkins


...During the Assembly Education Committee’s Wednesday hearing, the San Diego Democrat gave an inspired speech in support of her bill to require that student achievement be used as a factor in job evaluations of teachers and school administrators. Weber’s bill is one of several competing proposals for a comprehensive revision to the state’s teacher evaluation rules.

“Unlike the current way of doing things, AB 1495 would structure our evaluations around student achievement and help teachers improve their classroom outcomes,” Weber said.

Weber, who is considered one of the legislature’s most knowledgeable members on education issues, lined up support from several of the state’s leading education groups, including EdVoice, StudentsFirst and Students Matter. But her bill had one very powerful opponent: the California Teachers Association.

That opposition from the state’s teacher’s union was enough to kill the bill on a 3-2 vote — with fellow Democrats Kevin McCarty and Tony Thurmond opposed and Republicans Rocky Chavez and Young Kim backing Weber. (Other members abstained from voting, which meant the bill didn’t have enough votes in favor to move on.)

The hearing was shocking on several fronts. First, it’s rare for a member of the majority party to have one of their priority bills – on their expert subject matter – fail in committee. Even if members are opposed to the bill, they’ll commonly pass the bill out as a courtesy.

Second, Weber’s not a far-right ideologue that views the California Teachers Association as “the worst union in America.” Rather, she’s been featured frequently in the CTA’s magazine and received the California Federation of Teachers‘ endorsement for her re-election.

Finally, she’s chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, a position that gives her influence over every lawmaker’s pet project or legislative agenda.

The fight over AB 1495 reflects a growing divide among California Democrats over how to respond to Vergara v. California, the pending challenge to the state’s teacher tenure and dismissal process. On one side, those loyal to the state’s teacher’s union have refused to cede any ground, while others, such as Weber, view Vergara as “a wake-up call.”

“If we are not about improving the lives of children,” asked a frustrated Weber, “then what the hell are we doing? … What am I going to do after 40 years of working in a system I am frustrated by? Just go along to get along?”...

Chlamydia Outbreak Hits Texas High School With No Sex Ed

Apparently ignorance isn't as great as some people think.

Chlamydia Outbreak Hits Texas High School With No Sex Ed
PHOTO: A colorized scanning electron micrograph shows a cultured human cell infected by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, appearing as small round particles inside the cell wall.
A Texas high school is in the middle of a chlamydia outbreak, officials say. But according to the school district's student handbook, it does not offer sexual education.
Several students in one Crane, Texas, school district contracted chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, according to a letter obtained by ABC News that went home to parents Monday. According to the letter, the surrounding counties were also in the middle of an outbreak.
"Crane Independent School District would like to make our parents aware or more aware of a problem that has been identified in our teenagers and young adults of our community," the letter reads.
Crane County has had three reported chlamydia cases in the last two weeks, but health workers have seven days to report them to the state, according to the Texas State Department of Health.
Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's caused by a bacteria, and can be passed between sexual partners who aren't using condoms, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is treated with antibiotics, according to the NIH.
Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms, but some men and women can develop discharge, burning and tenderness, according to the NIH. In women, chlamydia can prompt pelvic inflammatory disease or liver inflammation. It can also make it harder for women to get pregnant.
PHOTO: A letter sent home to parents of students in the Crane Independent School District in Crane, Texas states that several cases of chlamydia have been reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Crane Independent School District
PHOTO: A letter sent home to parents of students in the Crane Independent School District in Crane, Texas states that several cases of chlamydia have been reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The school does not have a sexual education program, according to Crane's student handbook for the 2014-15 school year, which is posted online.
"Currently, Crane ISD does not offer a curriculum in human sexuality," the handbook says, explaining that if it ever does institute such a program, the parent can opt out. According to the handbook, state law requires more attention must be spent on abstinence than other behavior.
The school district did not respond to a request by ABC News for comment beyond the letter.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor for ABC News and practicing OBGYN, said half of her patients are women under 21 years old.
"The factual knowledge regarding [sexually transmitted infections] is generally poor," she said, adding that it prompted her to write a book, "The Body Scoop for Girls."
"Reproductive health or sex ed courses have enormous variability in their content and teaching approach. Factors such as geographic region, school district and teacher beliefs/comfort with this subject matter all come into play," Ashton noted.

"Abstinence only may sound ideal but it's not realistic," Ashton said. "And in theory, better education reduces adverse outcomes."


Republican ‘Abstinence-Only’ Crusader’s 17-Year-Old Daughter Is Pregnant

Author:  
Addicting Info
July 10, 2014 
bill-cassidy-congress
A Republican lawmaker who promoted legislation to teach “abstinence-only” sex education in schools announced that his own unmarried high school-aged daughter has gotten pregnant.
Bill Cassidy, a state Senator from Louisiana released a statement to NOLA.com announcing that he was to be a grandfather and expressing his support for his daughter during this “challenging” time:
“Earlier this year, Laura and I learned we will become grandparents this summer. Our children have been the greatest blessing of our lives and we welcome our grandchild as a joyous addition to our family. Our daughter now faces a more challenging future than her peers. She has our unconditional love and support.”
Cassidy has made a name for himself as somewhat of a “abstinence-only” crusader. Last year, he co-sponsored the Abstinence-Only Reallocation Act, which would award grants and special funding to public and private schools which stuck to teaching only abstinence instead of a more comprehensive lesson plan on sexual behavior. The bill, authored by perennial bad ideas machine Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), has been tabled in Congress, but Louisiana teens aren’t in the clear.
Despite efforts by some legislators to address this problem, Louisiana is one of the leading abstinence-only promoters in the country. In roughly one-third of all schools in the state, students are taught exclusively abstinence. No safe sex. No birth control. Nothing but “Don’t do it.” And you know how good kids are at listening to adults when they tell them not to do something…
It might explain why Louisiana currently has the 6th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. And while most of the country has been seeing major declines in teen births, Louisiana’s has hardly changed.
Now, it appears Cassidy’s own daughter contributes to those statistics.
Who could have seen this coming? Oh, right, the scientists who study teen sexual behavior:
States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined.
The researchers looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states’ approaches to sex education, as prescribed by local laws and policies.
“Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates,” said Kathrin Stanger-Hall, assistant professor of plant biology and biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. [source]...

Friday, May 01, 2015

Sacramento Report: What the Hell Are We Doing? Assemblywoman Shirley Weber tries to help teachers improve


After I posted a comment on this page yesterday about the California Teachers Association's opposition to Assemblymember Shirley Weber's admirable efforts to improve teacher performance, I got a nasty, anonymous and untraceable phone call from a woman who sounded completely calm and sober.  She had a nice, ordinary voice, not the drug-addled, ignorant-sounding voice of most abusive phone callers.  I've been wondering who it could have been, and this morning I decided that it was very likely a teacher who was motivated by my comment in Voice of San Diego.

I considered changing my comment. I realized it was too harsh.  I should have done a better job qualifying my statement.

But I am not going to edit my comment in Voice of San Diego.

Instead, I'll qualify it in this response.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that ANYONE WHO RISES TO POWER IN ANY ORGANIZATION ON THIS PLANET is subject to a lot of pressure. I know for a fact that perfectly-decent people who become school administrators or school board members not-infrequently set aside their principles under pressure. They go along to get along, just like officials of CTA--and members of the California Assembly, both Democrats and Republicans.

Also, I think there's a big problem with the Vergara decision.  It puts the cart before the horse.  It gets rid of tenure WITHOUT HAVING A GOOD EVALUATION SYSTEM IN PLACE.  This is a very bad idea.  Vergara would increase the politics in schools instead of increasing the effectiveness of teacher evaluations. 

But isn't this exactly why CTA should agree to a plan like Shirley Weber's?


My conclusion is that CTA wants teacher evaluations to remain political. Why?  Because sometimes the worst teachers are the most loyal supporters of CTA officials and their pals.


Here's the comment I published yesterday in Voice of San Diego regarding the difficulties Democrats have in resisting the power of the California Teachers Association:


A few years ago at the California Teachers Association's yearly conference for the presidents of all the local affiliates, I heard then-executive director Carolyn Doggett tell teachers that they needed to take responsibility for good teaching or the responsibility would be taken from them.  [I was not a union official, just a lowly teacher.]  Clearly, CTA continues to refuse to take responsibility.  I'm afraid that the type of teacher that rises to power in CTA is not the type that's deeply interested in children.

Democrats should be ashamed of kowtowing to CTA instead of supporting principled reformers like Shirley Weber.

Below is an article from Voice of San Diego .--Maura Larkins









...During the Assembly Education Committee’s Wednesday hearing, the San Diego Democrat gave an inspired speech in support of her bill to require that student achievement be used as a factor in job evaluations of teachers and school administrators. Weber’s bill is one of several competing proposals for a comprehensive revision to the state’s teacher evaluation rules.

“Unlike the current way of doing things, AB 1495 would structure our evaluations around student achievement and help teachers improve their classroom outcomes,” Weber said.

Weber, who is considered one of the legislature’s most knowledgeable members on education issues, lined up support from several of the state’s leading education groups, including EdVoice, StudentsFirst and Students Matter. But her bill had one very powerful opponent: the California Teachers Association.

That opposition from the state’s teacher’s union was enough to kill the bill on a 3-2 vote — with fellow Democrats Kevin McCarty and Tony Thurmond opposed and Republicans Rocky Chavez and Young Kim backing Weber. (Other members abstained from voting, which meant the bill didn’t have enough votes in favor to move on.)

The hearing was shocking on several fronts. First, it’s rare for a member of the majority party to have one of their priority bills – on their expert subject matter – fail in committee. Even if members are opposed to the bill, they’ll commonly pass the bill out as a courtesy.

Second, Weber’s not a far-right ideologue that views the California Teachers Association as “the worst union in America.” Rather, she’s been featured frequently in the CTA’s magazine and received the California Federation of Teachers‘ endorsement for her re-election.

Finally, she’s chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, a position that gives her influence over every lawmaker’s pet project or legislative agenda.

The fight over AB 1495 reflects a growing divide among California Democrats over how to respond to Vergara v. California, the pending challenge to the state’s teacher tenure and dismissal process. On one side, those loyal to the state’s teacher’s union have refused to cede any ground, while others, such as Weber, view Vergara as “a wake-up call.”

“If we are not about improving the lives of children,” asked a frustrated Weber, “then what the hell are we doing? … What am I going to do after 40 years of working in a system I am frustrated by? Just go along to get along?”...