Sunday, June 21, 2015

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

This story is updated HERE.
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

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:

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...