Posts Tagged Fullerton School District

A Parallel Universe: No Laptops For These Kids

The school is situated in a leafy glen, smack in the middle of a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city in the Southeast United States. We’re here because kid #2 is testing into its upper school. Nervous? Well, we should be, but we know that her K-8 years in Fullerton have prepared her well. She’s had diligent teachers, a solid home environment and the helpful staff at the Richman Boys And Girls Club who’ve been instrumental in taking her and some lucky teenagers through a nationally recognized leadership program. The only thing she hasn’t had, was a laptop. Her school, Beechwood, has never embraced the program or the belief that they were necessary for success.

The private school here is the stuff you dream of: tetherballs in the lower schools situated in the middle of forest surrounded by tall trees. The sixty-five acre campus is awash with nature. Most students have attended since Pre-K and will graduate with their high school diploma.  The teachers are vibrant. Many went to Ivy League colleges, and some have doctorates. They come here because they can teach subjects in depth, while enjoying the support of parents and the enthusiasm of children and teens.

Yet, for all its bells and whistles –which are considerable, the school does not allow students to bring laptops on campus. Why? Because everything is provided for them at school. The computer lab looks similar to the ones found at the public high schools in Fullerton, as do the classrooms and library. But, while the computer is heavily used, they also put a lot of stock into writing with paper and pencil –the kind of writing that catches kids off guard, makes them think on their feet without the luxury of googling for facts, that challenges to formulate a story, idea, argument –and support it all on their own. Tiring? You betcha. That’s the point.

So, if a top tier school that has 19 AP courses, whose students apply to an average of 13 colleges, are admitted into the best colleges and universities, and has garnered over $4 million in Merit Scholarships doesn’t support personal laptops in school, why should we?

Granted, a lot of the students could probably well afford it. Most of them might have them at home.  But one thing we noticed was that the students were actively engaged with the instructor. In other words, they were being taught how to learn, to interact, to figure things out. They were listening to the ideas of the other students. They weren’t on their laptops, googling, facebooking, or IM’ing.

The Fullerton School District would be far better off taking those precious resources and investing heavily in leadership skills, the humanities, and social skills that will help the students function in times of adversity. Adversity? Of course. As much as parents want to plan their children’s lives, the only certainty in life is that  no matter how well you’re doing, bad things and unfortunate times  take place. Plans change constantly, and the more we prepare our children for it, the better they will fare. Nothing should be etched in stone except for your love.

FFFF makes no secret of its opposition to the laptop program. But, we’re not Luddites. The fight against it has been led by Travis, who makes his living in the field using and refining internet technology.  What is so appalling about the program is the presumption that laptops are the key to a portal that leads to instant success. It’s simply not true.

We also know that not all kids are college bound, and worse, many enroll without knowing why they are there. Paranoia gives rise to the worst kind of snobbishness –the type that warns children if they don’t follow a beaten path, they will fail in life. This paranoia drives parents to go in debt using high interest credit cards to buy laptops in the hope that the magic of Google will take up permanent residence in their child’s brain. This snobbery drives kids crazy, it depresses them, can even extinguish their deepest desires.

One friend of mine, a social networking theorist with many advanced degrees (and clients to boot) has said that the students who are going to do the best over the next 20 years are the ones who make their living by touching something. That is, healing, building, fixing, growing, organizing, and making things. With this in mind, the school district would be far better off giving each kid a tool kit, a community project, and a detailed lesson in financial management.

What we know is the most interesting and fulfilled adults are often the ones who have overcome great adversity and started off with little. What do they have? Passion, vision, timing. And most of all, persistence and the willingness to work hard and take risks.

This top private school has spent considerable time developing an ethics program. They care very deeply about the character of each student. They place students into very good colleges, including the Ivy Leagues. Many have gone on and will continue to do so to write books, found non profit organizations, lead corporations and be innovators in established and new fields. If they have done all of this without requiring laptops for every students, then we shouldn’t see them as a classroom necessity either.

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Minard Duncan and the Doctrine of Unaccountability

Minard is pleased with himself.

A few days ago on this post about Pam Keller’s blank Collaborative calendar, we received a visit from FSD trustee Minard Duncan. As is usual, Minard’s visit was vacuous and inane. Just about what you’d expect from an educrat. Minard admitted his comments were just made to “rile” us up.

But what was really interesting was when Minard dropped this spud on the Friends, unwittingly revealing a mindset that reveals all the things wrong with Fullerton’s elected representatives:

School board members do not have any power as individuals. It takes three board members out of a five member board agreeing on an issue to have authority. We are the boss of the district superintendent and no one else but not as individuals only as a collective board.

See, Minard indicates that authority (power) is only to be exercised by a majority, and, moreover, through the conduit of a Superintendent - thus effectively removing the “elected” from actually having to do much of anything except hire a single underling and ratify his decisions. And of course the consequence of Minard-think is that the responsibility and accountability attendant upon elected office is conveniently dissipated through delegation to a host of protected bureaucrats who are never held accountable either.

But whoever thought that the absence of a majority meant that a boardmember was somehow robbed of any of the authority vested in him by the electorate? While it takes a board majority to act affirmatively on a specific issue, the authority of an elected is indivisible. Minard is not just a third of a potential majority, nor does he represent only a theoretical one fifth of the property tax payers and parents – although he doesn’t seem to grasp this idea.

It is each boardmember’s responsibility to concern himself with everything that goes on in his district and to take responsibility for it.

Minard-think leads to the complete dereliction of responsibility that seems to obtain not only at the FSD, but also at Fullerton City Hall, too, where electeds delegate responsibility right along with the authority they invest in their City Manager. And of course as any honest council watcher knows, the Council, through laziness and/or inclination, is completely in thrall to the Chief Bureaucrat who is supposed to be working for them. It’s rather like the Stockholm Syndrome.

And you know what? A lot of electeds and their bureaucratic masters sure seem to like it that way.

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Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club – Educrat Edition

With the CalSTRS retirement system circling the drain and preparing to ask taxpayers for a bailout, it’s probably a good time to remind you who will be reaping the generous rewards from these unsustainable commitments made by gullible school boards under union pressure. The OC Register recently released the CalSTRS database obtained through a public records request.

We couldn’t help but notice that FFFF favorite Cameron McCune topped the list with a pension amount that is more than double the rest. McCune was the administrator who strapped Fullerton with the unconstitutional school laptop program that forced parents buy $1,500 Apple laptops for their children and is still subjecting kids to unsafe Internet access.

Fullerton School District
Name Annual retirement benefit OC Register
CAMERON M MCCUNE $243,905.16 Details
ANTHONY H ANDERSON $141,939.60 Details
LINDA A CAILLET $122,659.68 Details
PATRICK BACKUS $117,350.76 Details
GLENDA L THOMPSON $111,865.80 Details
RONALD S COOPER $111,326.64 Details
OLGA B DENTON $109,938.48 Details
EDYS M MCINTOSH $108,843.12 Details
SUSAN A FENDELL $105,805.68 Details
KATHLEEN DAMERON $103,374.00 Details
JUDY M LIEB $100,611.36 Details
Fullerton Joint Union High School District
Name Annual retirement benefit OC Register
CHARLES F MARUCA $128,653.80 Details
RONALD M GROSS $125,631.48 Details
DONALD J MORRISON $123,493.80 Details
KARLA TAYLOR $122,561.76 Details
VERNON A STEWART $115,305.96 Details
LINELLA K SELWAY $110,569.56 Details
MERTON R CLARK $105,579.12 Details
JAMES E SUTTON $103,621.20 Details
RONALD N ANDERSON $102,524.64 Details
IRIS C CHOLEWA $101,569.20 Details
JOHN K PIRKLE $100,829.04 Details
GEORGE E WEST $100,393.20 Details
MARY G KLEIN $100,132.32 Details

It is unlikely that any of these retirees were strictly teachers. Most if not all of them were superintendents, principals and other administrators who were able to eke their way out of the classroom and on to even bigger bucks.

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Pam Keller: Funneling Grant Money Into Liberal Activism for Fun and Profit

We’ve burned quite a few pixels explaining how Pam Keller’s is using her non-profit, The Fullerton Collaborative,  as a vehicle to peddle influence, fund political activists, and profit Keller herself through excessively convoluted financial relationships.

But some of our loyal Friends still don’t get it.

That’s admittedly understandable, since the entire contraption is remarkably complicated. But to help everyone wrap his or her cerebral cortex around the many conflicts of interest, we present this valuable flow chart to demonstrate where The Fullerton Collaborative’s money comes from and where it goes. Naturally the nexus of the whole tangled web is Pam Keller. And that’s the big problem.

Click for an eye-opening experience...

Enjoy following the arrows. After perusing this chart there really is no excuse for not being concerned about the manifest conflicts of interests on the part of our City Council woman Pam Keller.

Unless, of course, you are part of the web.

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Capistrano Teacher Protests Foreshadow Fullerton Fight

All eyes were on the Capistrano Unified School District this week as the CUEA (teachers’ union) deployed armies of its members to protest a 10% pay cut. The union rented school buses to bring in over 1,000 protesters to the board meeting, which was halted at least once due to outbursts from the pro-union crowd.

But protests were escalated to new levels of intimidation as union members went so far as to march around the private home of trustee member Mike Winsten and his four children on Monday.

Teachers march on the home of CUSD Trustee Mike Winsten

Teachers march on the home of CUSD Trustee Mike Winsten

A few days ago we announced that a similar pay cut proposal will be coming to Fullerton Unified School District.

Is this how the union will react in Fullerton? Busloads of unionized teachers sent to create an appearance of public support? FETA union demonstrators surrounding the homes of board members? Will children be used as metaphorical human shields to squeeze more money from taxpayers?

And most importantly, will the board have the guts to stand behind the cuts?

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FSD Teachers: Get Ready for a 10% Pay Cut

Fullerton teachers, it’s time to be frank with you because the school board and your union will not.

There will be no new parcel tax to save the FSD budget. Due to unsustainable concessions to the teachers union in previous years, the Fullerton School District will have to cut teacher pay next year. The budget hole is enormous and there are no foreseeable alternatives.

Yes, the educrats and union leadership are starting to fill your head with allusions of a new tax on Fullerton residents that will save the day. But the idea that 2/3rds of Fullerton voters would agree to a big tax increase in the middle of a deep recession is absolutely laughable.

FFFF’s appointed delegate to the FSD Budget Scapegoat Committee has provided us with this matrix of salary reductions to close the budget gap that could be as large as $11 million next year. The proposed salary cuts were put together by district administration.

FSD-Salary-Reduction

Hey, it goes all the way to 20%

Nobody likes to see their neighbor take a pay cut, but there are probably other ways for the union to deal with this. For instance, teachers might be able to make larger concessions to their lavish retirement scheme or the high-class benefits package in order to preserve salary.

Either way, the school board is going to find their hands tied and the choice will be in the hands of the union – Take the cut or strike. Is it really all about the children? We’ll see…

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Fullerton School District’s Budget is Really Screwed Up

Let’s keep this simple – today the Fullerton School Board is staring down the barrel of an unprecedented budget hole. To insulate themselves from the difficult decisions, the board is asking the “Budget Advisory Committee” to recommend a solution. This committee consists of unionized teachers, administrators and PTA parents.

At this point, the budget shortfall is at least $10,000,000. How will they bridge that 11% gap?

Of course we’ve seen plenty of threats to reduce special programs, administrative overhead and other gimmicks, but the elephant in the room is that 90% of the unrestricted funds go to employee pay and benefits.

unrestricted-funds

Mathematically there is no possible way to revive this beast without one or more of the following:

  • Increased classroom sizes (layoff teachers)
  • Reduced teacher salaries and benefits
  • New property taxes

We already know that the teachers union won’t concede to meaningful salary or staff reductions unless confronted with the apocalypse. Taxpayers are severely financially strained in the middle of a massive recession, and are clearly ready to pitchfork any elected who suggests more taxes.

So what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

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Local Church Services State For Free

Here’s an e-mail we just received from a Friend that raises all sorts of questions, enjoy!

Eastside Church in Fullerton is conducting a large scale service day today.  Not all, but most of the projects were at public school campuses.  I am very appreciative of the service to the needy which is taking place with this initiative.   Sending out hundreds of people to clean, make repairs and generally assist public schools in doing what they are paid to do already is further propagating what I believe to be that most tragic of notions, that PUBLIC EDUCATION IS UNDERFUNDED…HARDLY.  Before reading on, understand that many Fullerton teachers have already expressed concern that this endeavor is “taking jobs.” Believe me, that’s the only part of this that makes me smile.

I understand that Eastside’s mission is to be ‘out in the community’ and not locked behind the confines of their church.  I applaud that.  However, I count on (increasingly foolishly it seems) traditional community church’s like Eastside to be populated by wiser-than-typical parishioners who understand many of the most obvious problems in our state and country.

As I write this as one who works to remain informed of local school government, I know that several of the current Fullerton School District Trustees are hopeful that a new parcel tax can be passed so that we can pay an even larger percentage of our incomes to an educational system which has allowed unions to lobby any possibility for significant fiscal or moral change for that matter, out of existence.

As public education has become a jobs program and reward for liberal public employees and voters, we cannot:

  • Volunteer teach without union approval.
  • Terminate incompetent teachers within a timeframe that does not waste tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.  My daughter and her classmates are currently enduring this teacher union supported injustice and waste of taxpayer dollars.
  • Break the back of the cancerous philosophy of compensation within a matrix of TIME SERVED and EDUCATION ACHIEVED which utterly ignores competence or performance.
  • Liberally outsource functions which could drastically reduce cost and improve performance.

Those are just a small sampling of the changes which could literally solve the problems of public education but for the insane axiom dejour that teachers are heroes simply because they are teachers. Today, Eastside unwittingly (well…not so unwittingly) bolsters the notion that teachers are underpaid even though the turnover is nil for a job that thousands apply for and few ever leave before retirement.  Public teaching is a job which offers a fixed pension, summers off and nearly ironclad job security for the tenured.

The votes and common sense rationale of Christian church communities in America is one of our only remaining hopes for a continuing America which is of, by and for the people.  If they too drink from the Kool-Aid of mistaking subordinating taxes with our labor as being a form of service and not a form of foolishness, then our problems were greater than I previously thought.

Most depressing have been the arguments which I have heard defending Eastside’s service to government.

  1. This will somehow lead to a diminishing of today’s false understanding of the separation of church and state (which I certainly agree that this has become a misguided tirade of the left).I believe the reverse to be true.  This foolish service will give fuel to the fire of those who ridiculously opine that any mention of God in a Public venue is a violation of the First Amendment.
  2. That end times are near anyway, so what difference does it make?I’m not sure how to respond to this.  I guess then that we should just ignore any fight to preserve our constitutional government and just go pick flowers?
  3. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…Ironically, this is the best argument of all to think this stuff through.  From the Christian perspective, I would certainly think that America and her accompanying freedom would be considered to be an amazing gift from God.  I have news for Christians who use this as an excuse to remain blind (frequently mistaking this for politeness) to political issues.  You are squandering what is one of the greatest gifts from God in our time.   A free America.

I believe Eastside Church to be a great place both run by and attended by terrific people.  However, it would be unsupportive to stand by silently as they contribute to the very problems which most threaten government’s subordinate position to the people and in so doing, weakening the very principles which protect freedom of religion in our country.

Lest anybody think that I am over the top, understand that I am a believer in local change.  There is little hope for wisdom on a grand scale if there is none on a local scale.

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Fullerton Parents and Teachers Confirm Laptop Porn is Widespread

Back in September we published a mothers’ letter accusing the Fullerton School District of ignoring the pornography problem on school-issued laptops. At the time, the school district responded to the an OC Register reporter by claiming that this was the “first reported case of a student using the laptops to log on to pornographic sites”.

Today we know that statement is a flat-out lie.

confused

I have been contacted by numerous parents and several FSD teachers who were each directly involved with cases where school children used their laptops to view pornography or chat with strangers online. Some had grade-school children who became addicted to pornography, while others were teachers who dealt with these issues on a regular basis in the classroom.

Witness one post by and FSD teacher to our blog following the OC Register story:

I am a Fullerton Elementary school teacher and a parent of elementary school children who have been a part of the laptop program. First, I am aware of numerous children who have accessed inappropriate sites and viewed illicit images while using their school issued laptops. Furthermore, we discovered inappropriate material on our son’s laptop. For those of you who would blame this on “bad parenting” get your heads out of you a#%! These are curious adolescents, who if given the opportunity, will venture into areas they shouldn’t go. In giving these laptops to children to take home and expecting them to refrain from inappropriate sites is equivalent to putting dirty magazines in a young boys closet but telling him to not look at them. When not monitored (and what parent can do this 24/7 ?) they will act on their curiosity. Unfortunately, this can lead to emotional, psychological and even physical harm through sexual predators who are just looking for an opportunity to catch a young child who has wandered into the dangerous world of the internet.

To the mother of the daughter who was caught up in this unfortunate situation please be encouraged. What others may mean for harm God can use for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). May you and your daughter experience His all-sufficient grace! (2 Cor. 12:8)

It is clear that many parents are not monitoring their childrens’ use of the laptops, finding it impossible to watch them twenty four hours a day. For those super parents who disagree, please think about all of those open wireless networks across the street of your school or on your child’s way home. In this day of dual-income and single-parent families, how many children are left alone on the Internet under the guise of doing their homework? Are most parents technically adept enough to even recognize a problem when it occurs?

The prevalence of pornography on school laptops is a direct result of the district downplaying and misrepresenting the laptop safety issue to parents. Unfortunately, many children are being permanently harmed by the district’s failure to address the problem.

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Pension Reform Is On The Way

Let’s be realistic. No matter how dire the situation gets, there’s no way our brain-dead state legislature will ever find their way out of California’s massive black hole of public employee pensions. Most of our representatives are too entrenched, too well-lobbied and too gutless to take effective action against the powerful public employee unions.

Thankfully someone is going to put real reform out for a vote to the people. Our Friends over at the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility have filed two pension reform initiatives with the state Attorney General’s office on Thursday, which will be put on the 2010 California ballot after the foundation gathers enough signatures to qualify.

empty-pockets

Say, how did that happen?

The initiatives would apply a benefits cap to the benefit plans offered to all new state, local government, school district, university and special district employees beginning July 1, 2011. Savings to taxpayers are expected to reach over 500 billion dollars over the next 30 years if adopted.

The plan saves money by limiting guaranteed benefits for government works to 75% of pay and requiring employees to wait until they reach MediCare eligibility age before retiree health benefits kick in.

California will never escape the budget crisis and its massive unfunded pension liabilities without enacting legislation built on solid fiscal principles. CFFR spells out the new rules in “The 10 Commandments”

  • Honor all pension contracts
  • Death and disability benefits shall not be changed
  • Pension benefits must be fair and adequate
  • Pension benefits must be guaranteed
  • Pension spiking abuse must be discouraged
  • Future generations should not pay retirement costs for today’s workers
  • Retiree health funds must not be diverted to any other purpose
  • Retirement benefit costs must be sustainable
  • Local agency voters shall retain the right to change benefits
  • Bankruptcies must be avoided

Democrat Bill Lockyer has admitted that the state will go bankrupt without serious changes to the pension system. Will angry voters support reform in 2010? I think so.

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