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Comments from Aug 14 School Board Meeting
Good Evening Trustees, Colleagues, and Community Members,
Welcome to the start of a new school year, my 30th in Evergreen. 2014-15 promises to be an eventful period, filled with many challenges and opportunities. The ongoing implementation of the Common Core Standards will continue. Thank goodness California, unlike many other states, has postponed incorporating the testing component thereby allowing additional time for a successful transition. Ideally, with all stakeholders working together, we can break this national obsession with high-stakes testing. The results of which do nothing to actually help students, but instead are invariably used to denigrate public education in general and classroom teachers in particular.
While I'm on the subject of misguided attacks against my colleagues, I invite you to join me in denouncing the Vergara decision. This meritless lawsuit scapegoates teachers and ignores the real challenges facing public education, including a severe lack of funding, inadequate resources, overcrowded classrooms, economic inequality, and student poverty.
It is based on the false permise that state statutes designed to help attract and retain quality teachers are failing public education, when research confirms most public schools are a success and student learning is improving in California. I have a copy of a resolution for each of you, and I hope you will seriously consider adopting it at next month's school board meeting. It would be an excellent example of collaboration between ESD and ETA to begin the school year.
We have salary re-opener negotiations scheduled for 2014-15 as well. It is a process which can and should be both collaborative and mutually beneficial, especially since attracting, developing, and retaining quality staff remains one of Evergreen's LCAP priority areas. I'd like to introduce ETA's new bargaining team. If you're here, please stand up. Chair, Suzanne Lima (Millbrook), Mike Atkins (Chaboya), Christine Bowers (Silver Oak), Susana Faria (JF Smith), and Desiree Russell (Cedar Grove). I look forward to working with each of you as the opportunity certainly exists for negotiations to reach a successful conclusion fairly quickly.
Election season is once again upon us, and my theme is maintaining and restoring function at all levels of state and local government. In Sacramento, I believe Governor Brown's second term is almost a foregone conclusion, and I have to admit I'm a big fan.
California Superintendent of Public Schools is a crucial race pitting a proven incumbent against a challenger with zero educational experience. My concern is a great deal of corporate money from outside the state will once again pour into the race, but I'm confident we will all see the wisdom of reelecting Tom Torlakson. He spoke recently, and I still remember his powerful words. "Every single public school in California is worth investing in, but none are for sale!"
At the county level, the Santa Clara County Board of Education campaign is vital, particularly Area Seven which includes Evergreen. This board has become truly dysfunctional, disregarding its role as a support system for local public schools, and completely losing touch with the needs of the community it serves. Even though she was elected to represent us, I have never seen the incumbent set foot in Evergreen in the six years I have been ETA President. I wonder if anyone in the room even knows who she is.
Luckily, help is on the way. Claudia Rossi, a Morgan Hill School Board Trustee, has agreed to run and is with us tonight. I encourage you to say hello and get to know her. She is exactly what is needed to help restore functionality to this important level of government.
I could go on at length about the San Jose mayoral race. Suffice to say, our city is broken, and only one candidate, Dave Cortese, has a viable plan to repair the damage and get our city moving forward again together. Feel free to contact me anytime if you'd like to hear more about why teachers all over the city are supporting his campaign.
Evergreen will undergo it's own school board election again this year due to a last-minute entry. Trustee Jeff Fischer has decided to step down after 32 years of distinguished service to the community. The Evergreen Teachers Association has already endorsed incumbent Sylvia Alvarez and former ESD Trustee Balaji Venkatraman with the goal again being to restore functionality. I encourage everyone to read my editorial on page 2 of the Evergreen Times entitled, "A cut above hits below the belt!"
Speaking of making repairs, Evergreen has placed a bond on the November ballot. While our school facilities remain very functional, there is always a need to maintain and update buildings to ensure continued student safety and success in 21st century classrooms. I hope you'll join the Evergreen Teachers Association in supporting much-needed Measure M.
Brian Wheatley, ETA President
408-272-0601 ext. 215
Dates to Remember
Rep Council - Sep 16 (Mt. Ham @ 3:45 pm)
Negotiations - Oct 7 & 8 (TBD)
LCAP July 1 Budget
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