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Archive for the ‘TVUSD’ Category

I have come to the conclusion that this blog needs to change. I don’t have a lot of new information on SL to report, but I do have plenty to say about the state of education; education in this country and the education taking place in my classroom, district, and state.

Reading an Education Week article about President Obama’s stimulus package, I came upon this tidbit:

“Every school district throughout the United States will benefit from this increase in special education funding,” Sen. Collins said. “That, in turn, will help communities retain support staff and teachers in the classroom because, after all, they cannot cut back on funding for special education because [of federal law].”

But Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, worried that the bill wouldn’t do much to jump-start the economy.

The legislation “spends everything we have on nothing we are sure about,” he said during floor debate. And he worried that the spending hikes would be difficult to trim down the road.

“Lawmakers [will] simply come back to the well in a few months and exert even more pressure to maintain the new programs and keep these new jobs and keep the bloated spending that supports them. There is nothing temporary about that kind of spending,” Sen. Enzi said.

What the ????? No wonder our education system is BROKEN! Why can’t these fools understand that education in this country has been woefully neglected in lieu of mandated (and expensive) testing that serves to destroy the kinds of real constructivist learning our students need? And that is just a tiny part of what is wrong.

There is no more “fat” to cut! Programs that were mandated by NCLB were underfunded or not funded at all, district and site programs and PD have been eliminated, teachers are losing their jobs at the expense of our childrens’ education, and our districts (in California) are facing multi-million dollar deficits.

I am over the politics, lies, and B.S, sick of administrators and politicians playing games at the expense of the good teaching and learning that needs to happen. I have also come to the sad conclusion that one person cannot make a difference given these restraints. The best I can do is shut-up and give-up trying to change anything outside of my own classroom. All I can do is to be the very best learner and teacher I can be for my students.

Unfortunately, a recent poll on the Google Certified Teacher blog by KJ, exemplifies the fact that I am not alone, and that there are brilliant teachers out there doing everything they can to uplift teaching and learning just to be ignored, cut off, and shut down. We pay for our own PD and trips to conferences, volunteer to deliver PD at our sites, and when professional educational associations accept or request our presentations, our administrators discourage us and/or do not give props or credit for the excellence we exhibit. Someone please, tell me what more we as individuals can do?

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Budget Update

Many of you have expressed concern over the state of education in CA and in my district specifically as it relates to my upcoming travel for conferences, so I thought I’d keep a running update. Yesterday, we received an email containing the following information:

Update on the State Budget Crisis and the Impact of TVUSDMonday, January 28, 2008 Thank you for the feedback you have given me regarding the email sent to all staff regarding our immediate budget reductions. As I have mentioned to a number of people I have met with this week, I am very concerned about the lack of information available to us and what occurs in the absence of information. Therefore, each week I will send out an email informing staff of where we are in the process, adding any new information and answering some of the many questions which are popping up every day. There will also be a “Budget Crisis” link added to the district web site where we will list facts and resources for you as well as the public. Please know that as we address how to reduce our 2008-2009 budget by at least $10,000,000 all input, ideas and questions are welcomed.  FACTS

  • This budget crisis has been caused by the state’s spending problems not TVUSD.  It will affect all 950+ districts in the state of California as well as many other state agencies.  While we will cut as far away from the classroom as we can, a reduction of this magnitude will impact the classroom as well as administrative, teaching and classified jobs.
     
  • For the 2008-2009 school year, the Governor is proposing to:
  1.  Suspend Proposition 98 which guarantees a minimum level of funding to the schools

  2. Cut all district general fund budgets by 10%   
  • Reduce funding by 6.5% to categorical programs including  
  •          a) Special Education   b) Class Size Reduction  c) Instructional Materials       

            d) Home to School Transportation       e) Supplemental Instruction           

            f) Supplemental School Counseling    g) Various career-technical programs

    This causes us to dig deeper into the general fund to support these programs or we reduce them. 

    4.  This results in a minimum of $10 million dollars less in our district budget for next year as compared to this year 

    ·        The California state budget development process:

    1. This is the Governor’s proposal
    2. The legislature has to approve a budget, and things change as negotiations continue
    3. In order to prepare our budgets for next year we are required to work with the figures the governor has given us 

    Important Current Information:

    1. All districts in California are required to give letters to their certificated employees by March 15th indicating they may lose their jobs due to budget reductions.

    2. The board has made NO decisions regarding what programs or what positions will be cut. 
  • There may be some reduction in hours this school year for some CSEA employees.  NO positions will be cut for the 07-08 school year.
  • Certificated employees will be receiving a letter requesting that you verify your seniority date and all credentials that you hold.  This information is critical as we develop seniority lists. These lists must be accurate.  We appreciate your co-operation.
  • What you can do: .     

    1. Keep our students as our highest priority.  While it may be difficult remember why we are here and focus on the students.
    2. Write your legislators and the governor and let them know the drastic affects these cuts will have on our students and staff.
    3. Talk to your neighbors and friends asking them to do the same. 

    Today I was allowed to buy a case of copy paper (my only supply order for the year), what a sorry state of affairs! 

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    F.U.D. in Temecula Valley Unifed

    Today we received confirmation of the biggest helping of  FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) in recent memory. Thanks to the impending (growing IMHO) recession, we received email from our superintendenet today which included the following:

    “Today I met with our Principals and District Office Administration to discuss the impact of Governor Schwarzenegger*s proposed budget, which was announced last week. The Governor has proposed sweeping cuts, most severely effecting education. Due to the fact that education comprises the largest portion of the state budget, it is the hardest hit when it comes to budget cuts.

    What this means to our school district is that we must reduce a minimum of $819,000 from our current budget, and a minimum of $10,000,000 in 2008/09. Inevitably this will impact our schools, our classrooms, our programs, our teachers, our staff, and most importantly our students.

    Today I announced to our Administration that the following actions will be effective immediately: Hiring freeze for all positions Purchasing freeze for all items other than basic classroom supplies and health or safety essentials No travel or conference expenditures which have not already been paid for No classroom substitutes for professional development or curriculum development Freeze on *one-time* 2007/08  money from the state
    No funding of field trips or assemblies from the General Fund or Categorical dollars Reduce costs where possible such as conserving utilities”

    My heart goes out to our (2 years new) superintendent who has thus far done a tremendous job in a difficult position, and who has been supportive of me personally with regards to Second Life and my professional growth. She had planned a new position for a technology lead and six trainers in the district (we now have none), and that clearly can’t happen; as a result, I have volunteered personal time to help with tech at the district level in any way I can. Also, I have been told that every administrator in the district will be pink-slipped. How is it that the state of California, which has the fourth largest economy in the world, can get itself in such an outrageous financial bind? Not only do we have a huge economy, we are 43rd in per student spending in the country. WHY WHY WHY???

    What does this have to do with Second Life? Well, my first professional presentations ever are about Second Life, first at the CUE Conference in Palm Springs in March which my site was going to pay for, and then again at NECC in San Antonio where my airfare was to be paid by the district (I will be covering the rest).  Additionally, I was asked to present to the Gifted Student Council and the School Board in hopes of piloting an eighth grade program for the next school year.

    So where  does that leave me? Up in the air I guess. I will try to use air mileage from my husband to get to San Antonio in June, and will have to use sick days and pay the $800.00+ for the four night hotel stay in Palm Springs in March. This after having paid entirely out of pocket to attend NECC last year in Atlanta.

    “Hey brother, can you spare a dime?” takes on a whole new meaning in light of what’s happening to our economy right now. Based on what the DOW did this morning, and Yahoo’s rumored cutting of 700-1400 jobs, I’m inclined to think we’re heading into a depression rather than a recession -at least in the state of California.

    The most pathetic part of the whole thing? The kids lose -again 😦

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    First Preso ever –> FUBAR!

    This last week I had the opportunity to present SL to a group of parents and educators at a district Gifted student council meeting. Cool beans right? Well, not exactly!

    A presentation about bleeding-edge technology generally comes off best when the technology actually works, and mine didn’t. I had my Pwr Pt slides, my script, my SL pics, and the Starry Night video all ready to go, so far so good. I plugged into the mounted ceiling projector and first problem, I couldn’t get my laptop screen to show on the laptop. Never ran into that problem before, but ok, I can work around that. Next, the top four pages of my script disappeared -I think they were picked up by the custodial lady as she emptied the trash before the meeting. Ok, I know everything that was there, I can get through this. But then BAAM! My computer wouldn’t read my flash drive. After changing back and forth between my four USB ports, it finally decided to read. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere! Except the slides wouldn’t play or stop as I needed them to. Quick! talk! show other pics! dance! sing! do something! I did and people were looking at me like I was certifiable. They didn’t “get it.”

    Long story short, I finally got  “Starry Night” to play after the room had cleared of all but three people. Lessons learned -numerous, but the most important lessons were:

    1) I can do a preso with technology without freaking out even when things don’t work. This was HUGE for me. A year ago I would have been unable to do anything, and even though I was upset because I couldn’t share something about which I am passionate, I didn’t lose it. That lead me to…

     2) It is far better to put together a loose outline and materials about what I know well, and can speak about extemporaneously, than to write a script that I must follow. I am not advocating being unprepared, but I realized that having a script was a disadvantage; passion transmits better without the stiffness that accompanies scripted material -no matter how well you know it.

    I will present to the same group next month, and do it much differently, without a script, and hopefully far more effectively than last week’s effort. I bet it won’t take me nearly as long to prepare either!

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    Long time no see…

    …and I’m sorry about that, but my life has been  CRAZY for the last couple of months. So, I’ve decided to do a quick update and then write more often. (Yes, I know I’ve said it before, but I have a hard time writing short posts ergo the time between.)

    So first, My personal ed-tech story of Second Life, learning and growth was accepted for presentation at CUE 2008 -first application, first acceptance:-D

    Second, what started out as a convo with my superintendent about a possible after school Second Life club at the local library, has turned into a full presentation for the GATE (gifted and talented education) parent council, and another to the School Board for the purpose of starting a pilot program on the Teen Grid, in a Temecula Valley middle school using Second Life. Pretty cool huh?

    And last and definitely NOT least, SLedupotential panel proposal has been accepted for presentation at NECC 2008 OMG! God bless Scott Merrick for his brilliant idea!

    There have been so many other things happening that I’ll never get caught up, so I won’t try. Suffice it to say my life is radically changing and it’s (mostly) for the good.

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