Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is Arnold right when he says that Californians should speak only one language?

I like to know what other people are saying and thinking--even if they aren't saying it in English. Sometimes I'll do a Google search and the only article that talks about the precise issue that interests me is in German or Japanese. In that case, I use Google's handy "Translate this page" button.

But the results aren't always that great. As an example, I offer an article that came out in San Diego's La Prensa newspaper in October of 2004. It concerns the teacher culture that developed at Castle Park Elementary School over a period of many years. In 2004, the Chula Vista Elementary School District, which had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the criminal actions of Castle Park Elementary teachers, finally got fed up. Five teachers were transferred out of the school. La Prensa told the story of two of those transferred teachers, Peggie Myers and Stephenie Parker-Pettit.

Here is the Google translation of the article. I found the translation fascinating to read, but the Spanish version made a lot more sense.

October 8, 2004
The teachers of Castle Park count their history
By Luis Alonso Perez

The first day of classes in Castle Park Elementary did not begin like in previous years.

This year the children outside ran into with a group of parents and teachers pronouncing itself with posters of their school, against the unexpected change of establishment of a group of teachers that had been several years working for that primary one.

Some children carried in their clothes transfers with the word “Respect”. When he arrived Tom Cruz - Attending of the district inspector he bothered themselves and he asked the demonstrators who did not involve the children, who that problem did not have to do with the children.

But for Peggy Myers - One of the teachers reasignadas to another primary this has to do the children directly, its nine years of masterful effort as in Castle Park have been by the children and the community.

Now, Peggy Myers has to his position a hall fifth primary in Allen Elementary School, but she continues thinking that its change was totally injustificado and still it is furious by the form in which this situation was carried out, specially the form in which found out its transference.

In August last Myers was vacacionando in London, taking advantage of the opportunity to see his husband by five days - as she is assigned by the army to a base in Saudi Arabia when she received a call of his son Greg, informing to him that she had been notified by Tom Cruz who wished to speak with her as soon as she was of return.

In the following days Greg received calls of other teachers commenting to him that Cruz and Lowell had spoken with Billings - Inspector of the district and had been transferred to other primary ones. When finding out, Myers was disturbed totally since she never waited for it. The news obvious ruined its vacations.

Pero Peggy Myers was not the only teacher surprised by the news. Stephenie Petti, teacher of third bilingual degree received a call of Tom Cruz the 16 of August, in which it informed on a meeting the 18 to him into August to discuss on problems that arose the year last in CP and to analyze his subjet for the incoming scholastic year.

His first impression was that it was a hunting of witches to undo of the teachers who caused to problems in Castle Park. For the day of the appointment, Petti she was so estresada that it began to present/display symptoms of complications in his pregnancy. It could not sleep and it underwent panic attacks.

The day of the appointment received the surprise of which the following scholastic year was not going to give to classes in Castle the Parks, who had assigned it to Salt Creek Elementary and she was not going to have a bilingual group.

The news impressed it to the point in which it began to have childbirth contractions then, which caused that in one week it had to go to the hospital because of physical and emotional problems.

When the teachers asked the reason for the transference the answer was simple: The changes were made “By the benefit of the educative program and the students”.

When listening this Peggy Myers asked how was going to benefit to the program or the students, to transfer to a member of the only equipment in Castle Park who had developed a curriculum different from the traditional program?

Lowell Billings did not answer.

When he asked How to transfer a teacher who taught to other teachers in USD on how to give classes to bilingual groups was going to benefit?

Again Billings did not answer.

Stephenie Petti will not be able to begin to give classes in this scholastic year, since is disabled person by her pregnancy. It will return to his workings like teacher when January or February is born its baby in.

Myers and the rest of the teachers thinks that the true reason for its exit of Castle Park was because they were not scared to show his inconformidad with the way in which the director of the primary Ollie Matos directed the school.

“I am arranged to defend what I believe that he is the correct thing and to criticize what I believe that is bad, - Petti- comments concern the students and the educative programs to me of Castle Park. I have a deep interest in its well-being, the academic progress and its personal lives. The families (of the community) are my families, their children are my children”.

“I am not scared to him to the administrative ones, - Petti- added we have had many directors who arrive at Castle Park and try to change the programs that we have developed. Later they go away, and the teachers stay themselves as people in charge to badly repair the damages caused by a director. They come and they go away, but the teachers continue”.

“I widely am described to make my work, perhaps the director felt intimidated by me and my colleagues”, added Petti.

“For a pair of years - Peggy Myers- comments we had a very good leader like director, who looked for the strengths of each teacher and he fomented them, so the results of our tests were highest than it has had Castle Park. From the entrance of Ollie Matos, which has been a very weak leader, the behavior of the students is at its worse moment and the moral of the staff is in its lower point”.

“The problem is not the five teachers in Castle Park - the problem added Meyers- is that if Lowell Billing allows the transference of teachers simply because the directors cannot work with them, then all the teachers of this district run the irrigation of being transferred to express itself in favor of the well-being of the children and the community”.

“The parents of family of the community need to know that they have the right to show his inconformidad before the decisions of the directors if they think that they do not benefit his children, - Petti- commented need to know that their voices have value, that their opinions tell and that it has the power to change the things in the primary ones and the scholastic district. The teachers, and the employees of the district we worked for the families of the community. The parents must of knowing and believing this”.

Note: The correct spelling is Peggie Myers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why is Randy Ward covering up waste and wrongdoing?

Randall Ward, Superintendent
San Diego County Office of Education

Dear Mr. Ward:

Instead of keeping public documents hidden from me, why don’t you investigate wrongdoing by the SDCOE JPA, and take appropriate action?

It’s the taxpayers who pay your salary, and to whom you owe loyalty, not attorneys Diane Crosier, Daniel Shinoff, Bonnie Garcia, and their ilk.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Duke University reaches settlement with falsely-accused lacrosse players

CNN reports:

(CNN) -- Duke University has reached an undisclosed settlement with three former lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape, the school announced Monday.

"This past year has been hard for many people who care about Duke -- for students, faculty, staff, alumni, families and friends -- and for the three students and their families most of all," the Duke board of trustees said in a written statement.

The three students posted a statement on Duke's Web site saying, "We hope that today's resolution will begin to bring the Duke family back together again, and we look forward to working with the university to develop and implement initiatives that will prevent similar injustices and ensure that the lessons of last year are never forgotten."

David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were accused of sexually assaulting an escort-service dancer at a party in March 2006.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper reviewed the case and exonerated the three men in April 2007, saying the charges never should have been brought against them.

The prosecutor who brought those charges, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, was disbarred Saturday by a disciplinary panel that said he violated the majority of at least 19 ethics offenses in prosecuting the case...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The connection between school violence and the special ed lawsuits won by Daniel Shinoff et al

As I sat listening to Superintendent Terry Ryan (Grossmont Union High School District) say that he wanted to hire lawyers who wouldn't cost much and would win cases, I shook my head. Mr. Ryan doesn't want to be advised as to the appropriate legal actions he should take. Ryan wants his main lawyer to be Daniel Shinoff, who offers districts the service of helping them get away with breaking the law. Shame on you, Mr. Ryan, for wanting that kind of lawyer.

Susan Ohanian recently published an article that talks about the efforts of school districts to save money on special education students by mainstreaming them instead of sending them to special schools.

The article brought back the memory of Mr. Ryan saying that special education lawsuits were a big part of the district's legal budget.

Gary Mayerson, a New York attorney whose firm has litigated cases on behalf of special-education students in 30 states, says:

"There is nobody more pro-inclusion than myself, but many school districts are using it as a pretext to avoid having to pay for appropriate special education."

Here's a quote from the article:
"On the morning of Sept. 29, 2006, Eric, then 15 years old, walked into Weston Public with two guns and shot dead the school's principal, John Klang, police reports indicate. He told investigators he was tired of taunting by other students and aimed to "confront" Mr. Klang, teachers and students. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

""Could anybody anticipate this?" asks Eric's attorney, Rhoda Ricciardi. "I think everybody could have." "

Why can't San Diego schools do this?

Susan White, the San Diego Union Tribune staff writer who's been working on the series DESPERATELY SEEKING AMERICA, wrote on June 10, 2007 about a place where they've figured out how to teach high school:

"In a perfect world, the ceiling in the photo lab at Duke Ellington School of the Arts would not have collapsed between classes. And the pianos wouldn't constantly be out of tune because of the leaky roof.

"This isn't a perfect world, however, so Duke Ellington's faculty and students make do with what they've got. Talent. Passion. Resilience. Make that lots of resilience.

"In many ways, this public high school in Washington, D.C., represents everything that is good about America.

"Duke Ellington's graduation rate is 99 percent, a stellar achievement in a city where the average is 54 percent. Ninety-five percent of the students go on to college, many with full scholarships, even though more than half of them enter Duke Ellington with reading and math skills at a sixth-grade level or below.

"The school's faculty boasts seven Fulbright scholars, including talented singers and musicians who also maintain professional careers. Its alumni, including comedian Dave Chappelle and opera singer Denyce Graves, support the school personally and financially.

"But . .Duke Ellington is – quite literally – falling apart. While most of its arts programs are supported by the Ellington Fund, George Washington University and the Kennedy Center, it must rely on the District of Columbia Public Schools system for repairs and maintenance..."

Here are some statistics from the California Department of Education:

99%: Duke Ellington School of the Arts
54%: District of Columbia Public Schools
82%: San Diego Unified School District

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why did Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox foment fear at Castle Park Elementary?

After she was falsely accused, Maura Larkins, teacher at Castle Park Elementary, voluntarily spent hundreds of dollars to get a fitness for duty examination by a psychiatrist. The doctor faxed his report to CVESD.

Why did Cheryl Cox and the CVESD board and their attorneys Daniel Shinoff and Kelly Angell continue to foment hysteria at Castle Park Elementary even after receiving this doctor's letter in August 2001?

Answer: They wanted to smear Maura Larkins in order to prevent her from revealing their violations of law. Was this smart? It would have been smarter to retract the false accusations and apologize. Instead, they stopped Maura Larkins pay (in violation of the contract) and refused to grant her the hearing to which she was entitled (also in violation of the contract).

Robin Donlan (who became famous in 2004 as one of the San Diego Union-Tribune's "Castle Park Five," then in 2007 for claiming that she had no idea how her school teacher husband suddenly came to possess 7 million dollars) also worked hard, along with her personal friend, Chula Vista Educators' President Gina Boyd, and Beverly Tucker of the California Teachers Association, to smear Larkins.

But it appears that there was another reason for Cheryl Cox's support of violations of law and the contract: she wanted to get rid of Superintendent Libia Gil.

In May 2002 Cox was willing to violate yet one more law against Maura Larkins, Labor Code 1102.5, in order to get rid of Libia Gil. Cox and Bertha Lopez went along with the BIG THREE, PATRICK JUDD, PAMELA SMITH, AND LARRY CUNNINGHAM, and voted to dismiss Maura Larkins less than two months after Larkins filed suit against the district.

Cox and Lopez got something in return: Libia Gil's resignation.

Clearly, these people felt so certain that they were above the law, that they were not afraid to flagrantly violate it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Steve Padilla and the California Teachers Association (CTA)

Dear Mr. Padilla:

Since you have a very young daughter, it seems to me that you might be interested in the California educational system. Republicans use school board positions to make sure that education is limited, in most classrooms, to rote skills and memorization. In other words, our kids are getting a nineteenth century education. In 2004, Chula Vista Elementary School District trustee Patrick Judd stated in the Chula Vista Star-News that education hasn't changed much in a hundred years. He said his interest was in building new schools. I think his real interest is in making friends with developers so they'll keep his campaign coffers filled.

The best and brightest teachers are systematically eliminated in many schools. Castle Park Elementary is a shameful example of this.

People who have achieved power in the educational system tend to focus on their personal goals, not the goal of teaching children. This includes those who control the California Teachers Association and Chula Vista Educators. Yes, Democrats work with Republicans in education to protect their own careers. The education of children is a secondary concern to most of these people.

Do you have the courage to challenge corrupt Democrats in the educational system? I believe you would have prevailed over Cheryl Cox in the last election for mayor of Chula Vista if you had dared to expose her wrongdoing as a school board member.

By the way, I must apologize, as a citizen of San Diego County, for the shocking actions of D.A. Bonnie Dumanis against your aide, Jason Moore. I am ashamed to say I voted for her. I thought that Judge Brannigan was an extreme right winger. It turns out that Bonnie Dumanis is an extreme right winger. I believe that Peter O'Toole is calling the shots in the District Attorney's office, because Bonnie Dumanis is afraid he'll run against her if she doesn't kowtow to him.

I believe that Dumanis was forced to beat up Jason Moore as part of her initiation into the inner circle of extreme right-wing politicians, much like teenagers are forced to beat up a complete stranger when they join one of the gangs that Bonnie is supposed to be fighting. Obviously, the target was chosen by the Cheryl Cox campaign. Dumanis has wasted enormous resources on prosecuting Jason Moore, a city employee who took two hours off work. Dumanis' actions have caused Chula Vista to spend over $400,000 on lawyers to represent city employees. This is tax money that has been shamefully misspent.

I also believe your administration was targeted by Dumanis so she could prove she's not soft on gays. She pleases right-wingers by being their token gay official, beating up on gays for them--while no one would think to accuse her of being anti-gay. I sure hope someone who respects the law will run against Dumanis in the next election.

You'll lose a lot of campaign money if you challenge the corrupt California Teachers Association, but you'll be doing the kids of California a big favor.