Hilda Sugarman Reads Our Blog!

The well-read Mrs. Sugarman
The well-read Mrs. Sugarman

FSD Trustee Hilda Sugarman, one of the masterminds of the district’s $1500 laptop flop actually reads our blog, as evidenced by the following e-mail string. The funny thing is she thought she was sending an e-mail to somebody else (the Superintendant?) when she was actually sending it right back to us!

Our own Travis Kiger, author of the laptop post, politely notified Mrs. Sugaman of this fact, courteously invited her to correct any errors in his post, and promised to publish them. Hilda is right: Travis is a lovely person!

Sugarman has yet to respond but we’ll give her some time to get a response written for her by district staff. If and when she does get back to us, Travis will be sure to post these “corrections” – whatever they may be.

You see, unlike public agencies we always welcome correction and are not afraid to admit it if we get something wrong!

Here are the e-mails:

From: Fullertons Future <info@friendsforfullertonsfuture.org>
To: Hilda Sugarman <hilda_sugarman@fsd.k12.ca.us>
Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Subject: Re: [Friends For Fullerton’s Future] School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops

Hilda, I believe you meant to forward this email to someone else, but instead you replied back to us.

I am the author of this story. If there are errors in the story please send them to me and I will add a postscript – or feel free to reply in the comments.

Travis Kiger

From: Hilda Sugarman <hilda_sugarman@fsd.k12.ca.us>
To: Fullertons Future <info@friendsforfullertonsfuture.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Subject: Re: [Friends For Fullerton’s Future] School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops

REad the article.  Do you know who this lovely person is?  Do you think it is worth correcting the errors?

On Jun 3, 2009, Fullertons Future wrote:

Hello,You may be interested in this article:

School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops
Posted On June 3, 2009

As another school year comes to an end, the Fullerton School District is telling parents that it’s time to pay $1,500 for a brand new laptop for each of their children. Included in the presentation is a reminder that if they don’t get a laptop, the school district will ship…

View the rest of this article at http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2009/fullerton-school-laptop-program/

School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops

As another school year comes to an end, the Fullerton School District is telling parents that it’s time to pay $1,500 for a brand new laptop for each of their children. Included in the presentation is a reminder that if they don’t get a laptop, the school district will ship their children off to a lesser school under the premise that they must have 100% participation to continue the laptop program.

First, a little background — this little shakedown started as the brainchild of Fullerton School District Superintendent Cameron McCune, with the assistance of board member Hilda Sugarman. McCune had grandiose visions for his future career as an educational consultant, and he figured the best way to make himself popular was to manufacture a “digital revolution” and give away computers to every child in Fullerton.

Hey kids, everybody got a laptop? OK, building clear.
Hey kids, everybody bought a laptop right?

Predictably, there was no money in the district budget for thousands of new computers, so McCune and Sugarman led the school board to ask the parents to pay for new computers themselves. At $1,500 a piece, that wasn’t going to be an easy sell. Just as they were about to give up, the perennial big-government solution presented itself  – COERCION. The board decided that they could help Apple extort $1,500 from every parent using the threat of forced student relocation for non-participating parents.

There was a mother in Fullerton named Sandy Dingess with four children who now “needed” laptops to attend school. Being wary of disclosing private financial details in the required paperwork,  Sandy called the ACLU, who then sued the school board. In the ACLU’s words “the Program plainly violates the free school guarantee under the California Constitution”. A lengthy battle of legal letters ensued, with school board caving in and allowing a small number of parents to opt for a $65/yr insurance premium instead of an outright purchase. Obviously the Constitution was still being violated, but it was enough of a victory for the ACLU to back down.

In the end, three of Sandy’s children were forced to move to another school because they could not afford laptops.

For those of you who don’t believe that the school district would participate in such thuggery, here is a clip of this year’s presentation from the District’s technology director:

So what can the victims do today to stop this expensive charade? When the 1:1 Laptop Program survey comes to your school, you will be presented with four options…. the first two leave you with a hefty bill. The opt-out choice will allow the school to ship your kid off to a location of their choosing. The “insurance only” option is obviously the way to go, as it forces the school to procure a laptop for your child even though they still take $65 from you. Remember that this will be a high-pressure sale, as the district can only afford to purchase laptops for 10% of the students. If there are more requests for laptops, the 1:1 program could be in jeopardy at that school, which cuts into Apple’s bottom line. But do not be swayed –  let the school know that you will not be forced into participating in this high-tech boondoggle.

As Fullerton teachers and parents are losing their jobs, the district is attempting to expand this expensive program into new grade levels. It’s time to let them know that we cannot afford it.

George Giokaris: School Snitch/Team Player. But Which Team Is He On?

giokaris_gJust what does Fullerton H.S. District  Superintendent George Giokaris owe Fullerton City Manager Chris Meyer? What compels him to be a tattletale on his own Board? Unlike Mike Escalante, his predecessor, Giokaris apparently wants a McDonald’s right across from Fullerton High.

Here’s what we’ve gathered from credible sources:

Last week, County Supervisor Chris Norby (FHS ’68) spoke with former district Superintendent Escalante and current Boardmembers Dutton and Singer. All confirmed their opposition to the $6 million McDonald’s move across the street from FHS.  Escalante recounted an earlier conversation with Meyer opposing the relocation on traffic and safety grounds.

Unfortunately, these concerns were kept from the city council.

This week, Norby wrote a letter to Dutton and Singer suggesting they communicate their position to the city council, while there’s still time. Giokaris saw the letter, then quickly dispatched a “heads up” email to Meyer warning of a possible lobbying effort by members of the High School Board against the McDonald’s relocation fiasco.

Is there something we should know about these two?
Is there something we should know about these two?

Imagine that – a warning from a Superintendent that his own bosses on the School Board may actually stand up for their students’ safety and their taxpayers’ wallets! Instead of tattletaling to Meyer, he should repeat the opposition of his predecessor and oppose this super-sized boondoggle!

And we say to Dutton and Singer–if you really do oppose this $6 million move, say so now. Don’t be intimidated by Giokaris’s little intrigues behind your back – be outraged by them!

Me: Long walks on the beach and cuddling by the fire...
Long walks on the beach and cuddling by the fire?

Just Wondering: Covenant Of The Lost Art

Guggenheim Productions
Industrialist Norton Simon

Update: Please check recommended reading list based on what’s come up in the comments at: Of Interest.

As long as we’re going down the hallways of myopic design and architecture in our fair city, there is a bigger but forgotten side story that bears remembering. After all, a loss this big should never have happened.

Since almost 40 years have passed, the story bears repeating for those who were too young, and others who are new to the city.

When one sees the Hunt Library through the eyes of an architectural aficionado, one can’t help but be stunned. How did this building get here? Along with the now shuttered and desecrated Hunt Foods, it was part of an overall design by nationally renown architect William Pereira. Pereira, an architect and designer of office buildings (The TransAmerica Building), museums, university campuses (UCSD) and entire cities (the Irvine Masterplan) designed the now forlorn library. Why was this here? How? The old Hunt Foods was shuttered –a victim of an economic move out of state.  I requested the records from the city clerk and read how this building came into being. In addition, I revisited my salad-days haunt in Pasadena, watched a movie, and read the only biography of Norton Simon. (Later, the book & movie were donated to the Hunt Library).

The TransAmerican BuildingAt one point, the Hunt Library was part of the campus of Hunt Foods, owned by an entrepreneur and industrialist Norton Simon. In 1927, he and his family purchased an old orange juice bottling company in Fullerton. Over the years, they added more produce and vegetables and most notably proceeded to turn tomato sauce and ketchup into gold.

He became rich –so rich that he bought other companies. He also collected art. Loads of it. Art was on the walls of his home, in the Hunt offices and in the Periera-designed library next door. He shared his art with school children. It has been hailed as the most significant private art collections in the world. In it are collections of the Impressionists, Old Masters, Flemish, Baroque, East Indian, and Asian artifacts —his curiosity about the world was answered by art.

By 1974, he wanted to find a home for his collection.

The rest of the story and the sad conclusion may be seen in the video below.

Simon died in 1993.

Just Wondering: What else would have developed along the industrial corridors where the museum would have gone? What impact would a deeper appreciation for culture and art have on the values of a community? How would having a world class collection of art supported smaller venues such as The Muckenthaler, The Fullerton Art Museum, and even those things budgeted under community services? What effect might this have had on future building projects? What can we learn from this, and is there a place in our city for an aesthetic shaped by a deep understanding of art and culture in a time when bigger, cheaper, homogeneous and beige is deemed more reasonable?

At a time when sweeping changes are being proposed,  when city services are being cut, and when we can point to regrettable changes in our downtown landscape, it’s time to see the relationship between how we make choices to live as well as art and design.

“Art is the signature of civilizations.” –Opera Singer Beverly Sills

We Have A Winner….

Okay So It's Not Cash.....
Okay, So It's Not Cash.....

A few weeks ago we (when you blog you get to refer to yourself in the first person plural – like royalty and editors) solicited alternative mottos for Fullerton from our Loyal Friends. We (I) have chosen a winner that seems to adequately reflect the disaffected Fullertonian zeitgeist. It comes courtesy of our Friend  “EW”:

Fullerton: Smug and self-assured, welcome to the city that sleeps

Well done, EW.

Little Pawns in the Big School Budget Battle

“Our teacher is going out of business!”

Those were the words that came from an 8 year old child at Golden Hill Elementary on March 13th as the names of freshly pink-slipped teachers were posted on a special sandwich board in front of the school. Balloons and pink hearts marked the classrooms of teachers who were on the list. The children pondered aloud “Who’s going to play the guitar?” One distressed child finally announced “I’m packing up and going to where Mr. D goes. I’m running away.”

Pink hearts let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.
Pink hearts at Golden Hill Elementary let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.

While some Fullerton elementary schools protect their children from the politics of school funding, the faculty and PTA at Golden Hill Elementary decided to stage their own on-campus rally, dramatically putting their students on notice that unfortunate changes were ahead.

I understand the frustration and worry that teachers have about the district budget, but it is not right to flaunt a budget battle to an impressionable and captive audience on school grounds. Children deserve to know when something is going to change, but it needs to be presented in an encouraging way to ensure that each child can cope with the potential loss that may be ahead.

Child development experts express the importance of being sensitive when explaining job loss to young children. The most critical items on the list are: Be positive about the situation; leave out the gory details; don’t disrupt your child’s routine and keep everything as normal as possible. Since our teachers are required to take child development classes, most of them should know this, and yet all of this advice was ignored at the expense of our children on Pink Slip Day.

Young children were used
A young child holds up a sign at the pink slip protest in Downtown Fullerton on March 12th, 2009.

As teachers and parents continue to fight the noble political battle to keep our classrooms funded, they should be careful to hold our children’s emotional wellbeing above the fray.


The Education Community

On a recent post, frequent commenter van get it da artiste keystroked this gem: “I hate fullerton and its weird fusion of provincial liberals and extremist republicans.”

Now, we know exactly what “van” means. For we, too, have discerned a collection of know-nothing liberals dedicated to touchy-feely abstractions like “the arts” and “social justice” paired off with  a sort of proletarian Republican claque that is terrified of anybody who would even use the word “abstraction.”

Now, Loyal friends, please fell free to share your pithy descriptions of our lovely burg. All opinions are welcome!

Dinner Reservations Cancelled

On January 20th, the Fullerton Elementary School District voted on a consulting contract of up to $100,000 which would assess the “viability” of implementing a parcel tax on every property owner in Fullerton.  This tax was ostensibly being considered in order to bridge the currently projected $17 million, 3 year FSD budget gap created by the state’s financial crisis.

For those who are blind to the perpetual folly, the ever-present elephant in the room that is the ridiculous manner in which public education is financed as a result the mafia-like tactics of our child-hating teacher’s unions, I will not attempt to educate here.  Suffice it to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to current FSD Board Vice President, Beverly Berryman for her singular sage leadership in saving Fullerton citizens from an unbelievable attempt to raise our taxes…especially the taxes of parents struggling to save their homes for their children in these painful economic times.

Any manner of idiocy is pursued under the banner of FOR OUR CHILDREN which ultimately hurts children by destroying the future of public education with unsustainable financial foolishness.  The Grand Dame of the Fullerton School District, Hilda “have you met my husband the doctor?” Sugarman actually argued that the board needed the “courage” to risk negative public reaction in order to continue to support her wasteful spending.  Laptops for all is Hilda’s favorite cry.  She is particularly fond of her unbelievably expensive International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program(me) which flushed thousands of dollars down a Geneva, Switzerland toilet.

In all fairness, I must give Lynn Thornley her due props on opposing this contract.  Very surprised I was, but Lynn has surprised before on the side of reasonable decision making.  And, finally, dear, sweet Minard Duncan.  Once again too frightened, too kind, too very, very sweet to take a position which might hurt somebody’s feelings.  Take heed my young liberal students of politics.  Minard knows the path to garnering the many votes.  Stand for children.  What does that mean you ask?  Weren’t you listening dummy? Stand for children.  You need not know how to stand for them…just stand for them.  Unbelievable.

Fullerton School Board to Discuss New Parcel Tax

This Tuesday evening at 5:30, the Fullerton School Board is expected to hire a consultant to do a feasibility study to determine the viability of a special school parcel tax in Fullerton. Any time I read “feasibility study” in a staff report, it’s code for “see even the consultant thinks we need to…”. When was the last time you looked on your property tax bill and noticed the long list of special tax’s to do this, that and the other thing? Isn’t it time that we learn how to survive in these tough economic times without a new tax.