Fourth Grade Daughter Bullied at School

My daughter has been distraught all vacation. Apparently things are getting pretty bad with the girls in her class. Yes, she is my only child, and this is only Fourth Grade. Rest assured, I know this is not the end of the world, and I was a girl once too. Christmas really was ruined this year from all the emotions and fear of returning to school with this. Normally I would think of a joke, but she sort of has me worried. OK, should I stay out of it and have her learn to do it herself, help, or go find all of their parents and threaten restraining orders? I would have to say, right off the bat, the restraining orders might be a bit much, but I think you are (partly) kidding on that one anyway. Your best bet is to combine your first two options: teach your daughter what to do for herself and help as well. She needs time at home to release feelings she may have been hiding, and she needs you to listen. Do not let the dialog go on that she is ruining Christmas. She is sad, asking for help, describing what is happening, and now it is time to gear back up for school and how to handle this mess. Because her feelings are this extreme, you have to help. Encourage her to talk, and help her whittle the situation down to some key details. Log the details down together to cut down on extraneous factors to lessen the drama. Once you have the key facts that are bothering her, look through and decide which are in her control and which are not. Some things, and some people, she will never be able to change. She can only help herself, make good decisions on whom she will be friends with, and learn to make herself happy when with her peers. The school should probably be involved at this point as well. You should ask the teacher for a conference and bring your daughter. Teachers really can help shut down a lot of the drama if they know about it. We are with the kids every day and if they are trying out some bullying when we aren’t looking, which is usually when it happens, and we start to get reports every time it happens, it happens less. No child should be depressed, but sometimes kids’ emotions get the best of them. If this sadness continues, even after you and her teacher help her, talk to her pediatrician as well. Perhaps I am making this bigger than it needs to be as well, and if you sense this, you can rest assured that this does happen, but kids learn how to manage it. Talk, listen, and watch her if she remains too emotional. You cannot be on the playground with her, so you have to help her decide what to say, when to walk away, and above all how to recognize those kids who are trying to be mean and hurtful so she can avoid them. Motherly instincts are powerful, so keep yours tuned in and listen to them. You will know what to do. Contact the writer at goasktheteacher@yahoo.com
In my daughter's school, parent volunteers correct student work and assign percentage grades and district performance levels. I am uncomfortable with this. I understand that it has been ruled that it is OK for students to correct one another's work, as that activity provides another learning experience for the students. I can understand that logic. I do not believe that having parent volunteers grading student work provides any extra learning for my daughter and violates her privacy. If I am not right, please help me understand the value of this practice. This is one of those questions that is really difficult to answer simply. On one level, I understand your point and there have been times when parents volunteer to help in the classroom only to turn around and share with others how the kids are performing. This is totally inappropriate, but it can happen with parents simply helping in the room with centers or reading just as easily as it can happen with grading papers. If we are to make sure no parent knows how another child is doing, we would not allow any parent volunteers in the classroom at all. If you are uncomfortable with your child’s papers being seen by another parent for one reason or another, just talk with the teacher and share your concerns. The teacher is simply asking for help in managing and returning papers quicker, but I am sure the teacher does not want you to be uncomfortable. She should simply pull your daughter’s papers from the group and grade them separately. Most of us, as parents, are fine with a paper being corrected by a gown up, but none of us want those grown-ups talking about our kids or judging them in some way. I understand your dilemma, but I think you and your child’s teacher can solve this pretty quickly.


First Grader Having Trouble with Math

My child is having a really hard time with timed tests in First Grade. We practice the flash cards, but he cannot remember. Each time it is like he has never seen them before. Is this normal?
I completely understand the question, but it is a tricky one. Parents often get nervous when they notice something different about their child. Being different is never bad, and being different is normal. We are all unique. Some kids catch on to math facts right away. Some resist learning the facts. Some love to count on their fingers. Some have no idea what the teacher is talking about and they wait for someone to tell them the answers. Everyone is different.
Before starting math facts, kids should be able to count from at least 1-30 aloud. They should also be able to count objects, such as blocks or something small, and have what we call one-to-one correspondence which means they touch and count one object at a time, without counting objects twice or losing count and saying two numbers at once while touching the object, etc. This is why playing board games is so meaningful for young kids. Also, make sure kids can identify written numbers out of order 1-30. These steps usually happen in Kindergarten, over the course of the whole year.
In First Grade, kids need to start off the year demonstrating that they can still do all of the above, and then we move into addition and subtraction concepts. The kids have to understand what it means to add and subtract. Hold out a number line and show him that if you are asking 3+1, you are asking for the next number on the number line. Show him also that you are talking about counting objects. Use something like blocks and show him that if you have 3 and then add 1 more, you will have 4. Stop to check if your child seems to understand these concepts.
After this is established, we begin memorizing facts. I would say that if a child is having trouble with facts in First grade at this time of the year, you would have to go back through each of the steps I described and make sure there are no gaps. If your child seems stuck or troubled by the concepts in some way, talk to your teacher about your concerns. If your child can do all of the things described, you can have him begin memorizing math facts. If he is resisting flashcards, you could try online math games (you can find some free games at my website www.goasktheteacher.com) You can also write out math problems on paper, starting with 10 problems, then 20, then 25, then move up to 40, then 50 problems after he gets strong. Give him 5 minutes to do the 10 problems at first. Sometimes these tests are better than flashcards. On these types of math tests, you would do only addition, then only subtraction, and you would start with 1-10 before moving up to 1-20.


I have written to you on several occasions for help and advice. You are calm (I am not) and sensible and I appreciate your input. I have a huge problem with my principal and really could use some help. I have a fairly inept union rep so I need outside advice.
I teach elementary and have a co-worker who is mentally unstable. She is a pathological liar, and when she gets upset, she makes up horrible stories. My principal's response to this problem is, and I quote, "Everyone knows it's not true, so it is not a big deal." As you might imagine, this is not the answer or help I was looking for.
For next year, the principal has left me with this problem teacher and at our grade level. I asked my principal for the following: Either move the problem teacher, give me a partner teacher at the grade level, or move me to another grade. He said no to all requests with the statement, "I have my reasons." I am afraid of this woman. All she would have to do is lie and my career would be over. What can I do? I was at this school long before this principal came and I do not want to leave. It is my home. I am a really hard worker and a good teacher. I have been crying for days. Please help.

(My answer) You could ask for another meeting with your principal to discuss your concerns over working with this woman. Be clear, be honest, and be direct about not wanting to work with this person, not trusting this person, and not wanting to be near her, essentially. If he will not move you after you are clear that you do not want to work with this woman, ask if there are any other schools available. You may not want to move schools, but this request will make your passion known to the principal and you might want to get out of there any way if you are this afraid of another teacher.

I must say, it is odd to be this afraid of working with another teacher, no matter how weird she is. It is not true that your career would be over if she lied. You are giving her an awful lot of power over you. She sounds like she has a reputation for being "out there" so steer clear of her. Tell your principal you will not work with her or plan with her or in any way associate with her at the grade level because of your fear and mistrust for her professional ethics.

Don't stress over this anymore. If you are crying about it, make a change. Most likely you will have to move to another grade level or school. Or, just decide to ignore this person and maybe even tell her that you would like some distance from her since you are so different professionally and leave it at that. Be happy, teach, and do not let her get in your way.


Urge Political Leaders to Let Voters Decide How to Fund Schools

Here are the 5 political leaders who are not allowing this issue to come to a vote by the people in California.

Call or Email Senator Tom Berryhill
Phone: (916) 651-4014
(highlight and cut and paste the address if the link is not working here): Goto: http://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=SD14&inframe=Y&

Call or Email Senator Sam Blakeslee
Phone: (916) 651-4015
(For email, highlight this address and paste it to fill out an email to him:)http://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=SD15&inframe=Y&
Email Anthony Cannella
(For email, highlight this address and paste it to fill out an email to him:)

Call or Email Bill Emmerson
Phone: (916) 651-4037
(For email, highlight this address and paste it to fill out an email to him:)

Call or Email Tom Harman here Phone: (916) 651-4035
For email, highlight this address and paste it to fill out an email to him:


Stay Home Mom not Watching her Own Child

Comments written by a reader: I’ll have you know my child loves going to preschool, and I send her from 8 to 530 all summer long, even though I am home. I think she will benefit from it, and I do enjoy the time to myself. I still think my child is a ‘gift’ and I do not think I am escaping my responsibilities by finding somewhere for her to go that she likes.

Every parent is different. I would not send a child to preschool all day every day for this long if I were home, yet if I was working I would work to find somewhere my child enjoyed to spend his time. There are great programs all over.

My mom worked 2, sometimes 3 or 4 jobs at a time while I was little. I went to after school programs, babysitters, or whatever my mom arranged, and I was fine. I knew she needed to work for us. Kids adjust to all kinds of situations and we should find places where they will learn and grow as they mature. But, if you are home and not watching your child, then I think that is sad. The program you found may be best since they will welcome her in each day. You will not get this time back, however, and just because there is somewhere for her to go, that does not mean she should leave.


Summer and Overweight Children

Question: I keep seeing obese and overweight children this summer. What do you think schools can do to make the kids healthier? What do schools do with all of these overweight kids?
When schools resume in September, there are many things schools can do to help all students.
Children are in school for at least 6 hours, and they should exercise a good portion of that time. Elementary teachers are required by law to give students 100 minutes a week of physical education instruction. Not all of this has to be aerobic exercise, but a great deal of the time kids spend in PE should be physical.

Certainly making school lunch options healthier is essential. If schools are not presenting healthy options to children, parents need to do it themselves.
An important note is that our students have at least one 15-20 minute recess, and another 50 minute lunch. If kids know that time spent outside should be full of running and playing, those kids get enough exercise on their own.

In schools, you do find overweight children unwilling or unable to keep up with peers who are at a healthier weight, and those overweight children do not find enough physical outlets on their break time to start to make changes in their health. As teachers, we can encourage all children to play together and include one another. We also need to make sure there is no teasing going on as kids make attempts to be healthy and active.

Principals need to take the lead on encouraging physical play at recesses and finding activities in which all kids can participate. It is not enough to tell playground supervisors to set the tone. Sometimes parents will complain when schools make kids do things, like play and stay active, even when those things are beneficial for children. Some overweight children now have additional health problems including asthma, diabetes, and bone and joint problems, but doctors still give guidelines to parents oftentimes prescribing physical activity. If those parents share those guidelines with the school, activities can be devised to specifically address those needs.

Remember, kids go to school from around 8-2, and while they sit for much of that time the time is spent engaged in learning. If they go home and are allowed to relax the rest of their day, 6-7 hours, with the TV, computer, and/or video games, they will eat more and exercise less. Parents have to be part of the solution when it comes to setting up a healthy environment for their kids.


Should Naughty kids miss recess for a week?

How often should a Second Grade child be placed in time out missing his recess? Is it OK for teachers to take away recess for the entire week?
What did your child do? It all depends on how mischievous or naughty the child is being. Yes, there are certainly times when children earn the time outs all week. If the child earned the time outs, he or she should serve the time outs, and then stop earning them.


Will CAPO teachers strike for 3 months?

Question: Do you have any updates on the teacher situation in the Capo district? I am hearing rumors of teachers walking off the job for the last 3 months of school (for all grade levels) and new substitutes brought in to fill the positions.
Answer: I have not heard of this rumor stated in this way. Don't worry. There won't be anything like this happening without tons of notice and a 3 month walk out would be next to impossible. I am almost positive it is just talk.


More information on Social Security Windfall Act and Teachers

Many readers have been asking for more information. Here is some details people have asked me to find:

1. What is the name of the current legislation trying to end this Windfall Act?
A new bill from the House of Representatives, HR 235 and a Senate bill, S484, were reintroduced to do the same thing – "repeal the government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions."

2. How do I find my political leaders to contact to support this legislation?

Find your representatives and assembly members here:


Click “find my district” on this page http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/defaulttext.asp

3. Where can I learn more about this provision?


Peanut Butter Bans in Schools

I was outraged at the insensitive attitude of the parent who cares more for her child eating peanut butter than the lives of children that are DEADLY allergic. No one chooses that our children are allergic to peanuts, but we adapt. Quickly when the allergist tells new parents that your child has a 50% chance of dying if they ingest anything with peanuts!
My family grew up eating peanut butter, my parents grew up with peanut butter but when you know it may KILL you child or grandchild you stop using it, period, no question!
The parent that whined that their child cannot have peanut butter at preschool is insensitive! Peanut allergy is the FASTEST growing allergy in the world. If the parent does not like that there preschool does not allow nuts, then change preschools. Parent, remember it is preschool, not Harvard so you can easily find another preschool.
This parent should be teaching their child that life is not a free for all and we must follow some rules and be respectful of others too.
My 3 year old was taken by ambulance to the hospital in June due to someone NOT listening about his allergy. Out of pocket was thousands of dollars, but the money is not the issue. Seeing my son in the ER with IV’s in his arms, oxygen on his face and his red swollen body is something I will never forget!

Sometimes, other parents need to hear how this allergy really presents in young children. I thought more people would agree that banning peanuts in a preschool when a small student has allergies was the logical step, but some parents were up in arms at that suggestion. Lucky for them, their children are not allergic. They do not know or want to consider what it would be like if their children were allergic. Your description might help them understand.


Swine Flu Experiment for Teachers

Question: I am a teacher and I am trying not to overreact to the Sine Flu, but I kind of am already overreacting. I must tell you I am afraid of what this will mean for my students. I teach Second grade. Our district has it on the agenda for teaching training before school starts. How am I going to teach second graders about what we need to do without scaring them? I always teach hygiene, but this year there is another layer. What is overreacting and what is normal?

Answer: I have an experiment I plan to do with my First Grade students to help them understand how and why we wash our hands. All you need is pepper, water, and a bar of soap, so the ingredients are affordable and easy to gather. Fill a bowl with water and sprinkle the pepper on the surface of the water. Put soap on your finger and dip it into the bowl. Your students will see the soap repel the pepper. It is pretty neat for such a simple experiment. It looks like the pepper explodes out. Then talk to your students about how some students use only water to wash their hands, but this does not work. We need soap to repel the germs. It makes the lesson meaningful for them. This is a great segue into a lesson on hygiene and keeping ourselves clean.
All any of us have to do is watch the news to get a little frightened of the flu season this year. I sought help from a doctor to properly answer your question. Dr. Erika Schwartz, Medical Director of Cinergy Health, gave me a list of things we can do as teachers and even added a few tips on what would be considered overreacting. Here are some of her guidelines:
• Teach students to wash hands throughout the day.
• Keep anti-bacterial pumps accessible. Explain when it is appropriate to use them.
• Remind the students not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands.
• Explain to students the importance of getting at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
• Teach your students to eat three full meals and several snacks a day which are balanced complex carbohydrates, protein and are chock full of fruit and vegetables. Stay away from pre-prepared, high sugar, soda and preserved foods.
• Keep children hydrated. Kids should be drinking 4-6 glasses of water a day.
• Dissuade children from sharing cups, straws and bottles
• Make sure the children are getting sufficient exercise. Children should be doing aerobic activity at least 5 days a week during recess, gym class or after-school sports.
• Don't send sick children to school; likewise, send them home if they get sick at school.
• Send a "Flu Prevention Tips" letter home with students. The same tips should be practiced at home to assure a healthy school year.
• If you notice a child with the beginning symptoms of a flu or cold, let their parents know immediately. Helping prevent the flu or cold developing with vitamin C, hydration, rest and chicken soup is critical.
• How to NOT go “over board” with Swine Flu Prevention:
o There is no need to frighten the children by wearing a mask or using gloves. If they see their teacher being hysterical or nervous they will imitate and results will be counter-productive.
o There is no reason to explain in detail the symptoms or effects of the flu to children. Younger children will not understand and adolescents will get scared. Teaching them to maintain healthy lifestyles is all they need to learn from you.
Contact the writer by visiting her website at http://www.goasktheteacher.com or email her directly at goasktheteacher@yahoo.com


What is your professional background?

I put myself through college and I received my first degree in English Education. I took a year in the Sacramento area to begin substitute teaching while I decided on elementary education as my specialty. I started teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). While in LAUSD, I taught students with diverse language and economic backgrounds. I then moved to Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD). While in teaching, I have taught Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, and Fifth grades. I really do not have a favorite, each was just as fun as the next.

I decided to get my Masters of Science while teaching and I was inspired by the administrators in my district, SVUSD. My superintendent, the late Peter Hartman, was one of my instructors in my Masters program and he opened my eyes to all that administrators do for schools and how difficult, yet necessary it was to do the job right. He filled our district with quality administrators, and his legacy is still felt today.

After receiving my Masters with a 4.0 GPA, I was hired as an elementary assistant principal in SVUSD. I served as an assistant principal for a school with over 1400 students and 75 staff members. It was a wonderful experience. I took a year off to start my family and decided to teach while I raised my little boys. This was when I decided to pitch an educational advice column to the Orange County Register. The editors were excited, and I began writing the column in 2004. The column has provided me with an array of contacts, information, and insight from readers on all the different aspects of education from Kindergarten through College. I never stop learning, and I love that I have a career that allows me to do that every day.


Schools are not the only ones suffering in this economy

Question: I am frustrated and out of work. Schools are not the only ones suffering. I just thought you should know.

Answer: I absolutely know that schools are not the only ones suffering. My brother is caught in this economy with a wonderful resume looking for a job at a more than difficult time. He has worked for Disney and United Rentals (the largest equipment rental company in the country), and he has a stellar resume as a CPA with accounting, supervisory, and finance experience.

Yes, I am listing his credentials in case anyone knows of an opening. If you have leads, advice, or encouragement for him, send it to me.

We all need to help one another. You cannot receive help if you do not ask for it. My little boy asks if wishes he makes on his pennies into fountains really work. I answer, "Those are the beginning of your wishes. A wish can never come true unless you first imagine it and ask for it...then you decide if you want to work to make it come true."

I write about the troubles our schools are facing and often make those cuts clear to readers interested in helping schools. Have no doubt about it, I know how difficult this time is for all of us. We are in it together and we will come out of it together. Hang in there and let me know how things go for you as well.


I Really Don't Like My Child's Principal

I have two children in a public elementary school. It is one of the top schools in the area. Our school draws from many wealthy areas and many of the families at our school have the option to send their children to private school. Houses in our neighborhood are sold at a premium because of our elementary school. We chose to move here in order to send our kids to this school.
Our principal has been at our school for a few years. She is not popular among the parents or the teachers. She treats the parents as meddling nuisances rather than a resource. In meetings between our principal and prospective parents, parents come excited to attend the school and leave considering other options.
Our parents do expect to have power within the school and get ruffled pretty easily. Many of the mothers do not work outside the home and the school is flooded with volunteers on a daily basis, even the dads help out. However, if our school remains strong, I think it may be in spite of our principal. Most of the teachers are fabulous and we have some wonderful individuals in administrative positions.
After a few years with my children at this school, I wonder if I just expect too much of our public school. If you decide to send children to a public school, are you just at the whim of the principal, the school board and the superintendent of schools? Sometimes I wonder if I am just not cut out for the public school environment. Am I too uptight to be a public school parent?

Even with her rough exterior, this principal is running a school that you enjoy. You do not have to like her, and remember that you may not like everyone at a private school either.
If you pay for private school it does not necessarily give you a louder voice. Parents often feel more at liberty to say things in a private school, but hiring decisions are made by the school and parents are often told to leave private schools if they are unhappy with the people they have working there. It can be the same with public schools. You have a voice and the school and district will listen, but they have to run their schools. So you may not like the principal, but you do like the school and she is running it. Find peace with the fact that you just do not communicate the same. You do not have to be her friend. That does not mean she does not have strengths. On the other hand, if she is doing something wrong or harmful, report her.
It sounds like she is blunt, perhaps too much so, and she is managing a group of parents that are very involved and may want to run the school. So she may be putting up a front to keep the parents at arm's distance so that all the kids, even those with less involved parents, get access to an education.
Ask yourself this: why move to an area just for the schools, enjoy the schools, send your children there and watch them receive a quality education and then worry too much about how friendly the principal behaves?


When Translators are Needed to Get Parents Involved

I am a 5th grade teacher with 33 students. 6 are English language learners. They speak Spanish and Korean. There are other students who come from homes where no English is spoken. I am beginning to schedule

Parent Teacher conferences. More than ever, I have parents requesting that I provide a translator for the conference. (I speak English only.) I've asked our school secretary what the provisions are for translators during conferences. She indicated that there is no money to pay translators. There are some school staff members who speak Spanish and Korean, however they will have gone home when school is out and when conferences begin. Is it the responsibility of the school or the responsibility of the parent to provide a translator? I feel like

I'm spending too much time addressing this problem, when I could be working on report cards!

The school and the principal should help you in this area, but that doesn’t always happen. Still, you need translators if you are going to have a valuable conference with the parents. We need all parents to be partners in education and communication with them needs to be clear.
My suggestion to you is to write a letter in English, Korean, and Spanish and send it home to your students explaining your dilemma. If you have school staff members who can speak these languages, just write the letter and give it to them to translate for you.
In the letter, tell the parents you need their help in finding translators. Perhaps some parents will volunteer for each other, you never know. Ask for volunteers to send you their name, time availability, and contact information. Encourage the families to bring their own translators. Suggest that they consider asking older children, relatives, teenagers, neighbors, co-workers, or friends. If you are all working together, as you should, translators will come forward.
Have a portion at the bottom of your letter for parents to indicate times they choose to come to conferences, and have a space for them to check if they need a translator, can bring a translator, or can volunteer to be a translator.
Once you come up with the letter this year, keep it and use it each conference time. Conferences are already upon us, and you are working on borrowed time here, so make sure to start this process earlier before the next set of conferences in Spring.


From the Reader this week Upset with Whining

This was sent in from the reader who wrote in upset with teachers whining as well (click at the bottom to see my comments as well as many other readers who wrote in response to this):

I have much to say, but will try to keep this as brief as possible.

First, I wanted to comment on your comment to my letter. You said that I consider the teaching profession to be of "such little significance". That is so far from the truth it is amazing. I am a person who LOVES to learn. My life is all about learning. My vacations are about learning (Lay on the beach? Hardly. Museums, historic home tours, factory tours, botanical gardens, etc. Yes). My free time? All about learning. What part of my email gave you the impression that I believe that what teachers do is insignificant? You may want to read my email again.

As for teachers serving the kids and the communities, I agree. Many do. But my kids have had quite a few teachers (at both private and public schools) who were sub-par.
The private school: My daughter had a science teacher in HIGH SCHOOL who gave extra credit to anyone who brought in videos that relate to science in any imaginable way. It seems unbelievable, but the teacher showed videos almost every day of the year, including The Magic School Bus (isn't that supposed to be for young kids?) on many occasions. He allowed the class to be so out of control that kids would jump up on their desks, run around the room, etc. The great majority of their teachers were great, but some were not what I expected to pay for, like the 2nd grade teacher whose grammar and pronunciation was severely lacking. The administration kept parent comments and complaints to a minimum by offering veiled threats ("maybe this isn't the right school for your child" was heard by several parents I knew---I was too scared to complain about ANYTHING--maybe that's one reason I wrote to you---no fear of dismissal).

Public schools: My son has had a teacher who admitted to the kids that he is a lousy teacher (he was fired last year). He had the kids read for the whole class period so he wouldn't have to teach. The problems with this teacher are too numerous to mention. My son had a science teacher 2 years who spent the whole period yelling at kids because he couldn't control his class like other teachers do. My son was the only kid who he didn't yell at. Last year's science teacher spoke of everything BUT science, and was so boring that kids fell asleep on a semi-regular basis. When I went to Back To School Night and listened to his little talk, I knew my son was headed for trouble... Then there were the math teachers all 3 years of Middle School. The first was forced to teach Math even though she told the admin. that she's horrible at math (I found this out after the year was over and the damage was done). She didn't know how to do the 6th grade math, so if the kids didn't work out a problem EXACTLY the way the teachers' manual showed, she marked it wrong. I had to go over every homework assignment, quiz, and test to make sure they were corrected properly, then contact her so she could adjust his grade each time. I also had to tutor him because the teaching was counter-productive. 7th and 8th grade were spent with a teacher I had high hopes for. Her major was Math!! YEA. NOPE. She messed up the kids as badly as the previous teacher had. She was banned from teaching math like the 6th grade teacher was eventually (but again, the damage was already done). The kids who had those 2 teachers were behind, and couldn't take Geometry in 9th grade like they should, because they were behind in their skills.

There have been some good teachers along the way, but there have also been some really poor teachers. I don't understand how or why poor teachers are allowed to continue to teach. It does our kids a disservice, and wastes our money. In case you think that I am an unsupportive parent, let me tell you that is not the case. I volunteered in my kids' classrooms once a week(until the teen years), chaperoned field trips, substitute taught at my daughter's school, have always written encouraging notes to the good teachers, and even some of the not so good ones, gave ALL of the teachers gifts (even the ones I've mentioned above) until my son was said it embarrassed him this year, volunteer at teacher appreciation events and many, many other events that benefit the teachers, administration, and students. I donate several hundred dollars to my son's school each year. Etc., etc., etc.

I asked my son to read your article this morning before school. He is almost 17 years old, and is NOT the type who sides with his parents, except with regard to politics. He said that even his English teacher knows that there aren't any real cuts coming. The teacher says," There are no cuts,ha, ha, no cuts", with a smirk. At least he's honest.
I won't tell you about what my son said about your response (the tone of your response). But you should know that people who read your column, and hear other teachers and their union speak about their plight, aren't moved in the way you would hope and expect. It comes across as whiny and sad. And I stand by my previous sentiment: If a person doesn't like the working conditions inherent to a position, he/she should make the mature, intelligent decision not to pursue it. And if he/she does anyway, either he/she should quit or give it his/her all and not complain. Physicians, fire fighters, police officers, military personnel, etc. know what they are getting into, just like teachers. They know that long, irregular hours are required. When was the last time you heard or read of one of these people complaining about their job? They knew what they were getting into. They can either do their best, or quit. But I don't want to hear how hard they have it. We are all free to choose our own career paths. We should choose wisely, and make the most of it...

I was surprised that you considered my email to be a "razor sharp attack" that you considered "a disturbing lack of respect", which even you can't stand for. I was "voicing" how I'm tired of hearing the disinformation (the kids will suffer, it's only about the kids, etc.), and the teachers' complaints. I have the right to voice my opinion and experiences just like anyone else. I didn't write the email intending for you to print it. I wanted you to know what OC Register readers are thinking and going through. You are a teacher, and don't know what it's like to have a child in school being just a regular parent. You must realize that it is different for us. I have no doubt that you are an excellent teacher, which is why you believe that all other teachers are as dedicated as you are. Some are, some are not.

I will end here.


How far back will the lay offs go this year?

How far back will the layoffs go this year in Orange County? Are the districts making any comments yet?

Districts have only said that all items are on the table. We are in the business of educating children, so I think it is better not to start guessing at rumors because it raises the levels of stress for our teachers. Districts do not know the full extent of what is going to happen this year and next. They do not know if there is any room to hope for an improvement from the rather bleak picture currently being painted. All of Orange County districts are on notice from our Department of Education that they need to halt all unnecessary expenditures and save as much as possible in preparation for mid year cuts. Districts have to send out layoff notices to show they will be able to balance their budgets in the worst case scenarios. Layoff notification must begin in March, according to California Education Code, so we will know soon enough how far back each district decides to notify.


LAUSD Will not be laying off???

Did you see that LAUSD announced there will be no layoffs? Is the news getting better?

Eyes were on LAUSD because they had permission to begin significant teacher layoffs next month. They announced there will be no layoffs before the end of the year. The whole statement released to the press included preminitions that layoffs will occur for next year, but they want to see what money comes in the Stimulus Package. There could be significant relief and Sacramento is due to release its budget package in Feb. Everyone is watching each other unsure of what is to come. There are avenues of hope, but also significant fears out there. The news got better for the students of LAUSD, however, alongside the teachers. The kids' classrooms would have been significantly interrupted had they followed through with mid year layoffs. Students would have been moved and services stopped. It is good news for LAUSD, but even they warn the news is not expected to be good for next year.


Where do I find the link to write letters to my legislators?

Scroll down to find many links for your representatives. The heading is Stop Mid Year Cuts, although I am not sure that is even possible. Still all of our ideas should be heard, so send yours.

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